Jesus is not God

There’s an interesting follow-up to last Friday’s post on the so-called “dual nature” of Christ. As we discussed before, the reason Christians have come up with the idea that Jesus possessed both a human nature and a divine nature is because the Bible very clearly states, in a number of places, that Jesus had certain weaknesses and limitations that were inconsistent with the idea that he was God. Consequently, theologians needed some way that two contradictory claims could both be true, and they “solved” the problem by assigning Christ a dual nature. Geisler and Turek illustrated this approach by showing how it allows Christians to ask simple questions about Jesus, and claim that the true and correct answer is both yes and no.

[D]id Jesus know the time of his second coming? As God, yes; as man, no. Did Jesus know all things? As God, yes; as man, no… Did Jesus get hungry? As God, no; as man, yes. Did Jesus get tired? As God, no; as man, yes.

In other words, the whole point of the “dual nature” Christology is to make it possible to make true statements about Jesus having the characteristics of being God, and at the same time make equally true statements about Jesus not having the characteristics of being God. That is, Geisler and Turek think that you can truthfully say that Jesus did know the time of his second coming, even though you can also truthfully say that Jesus did not know the time of his second coming. That’s important (to Christians) because Jesus himself claimed ignorance of the date, so if he did know, then he was lying to us.

The point I want to emphasize is that, according to this system, it doesn’t matter whether the statement about Jesus having non-divine characteristics is a contradiction of the claim that he was God. His human nature is supposed to allow us to say anything we like about him lacking the traits of deity, and these things are still true despite the fact that they contradict his dogmatically asserted deity.

The fun part starts when we use Geisler and Turek’s framework to ask the simple question, Is Jesus God? You know the formula, right? The answer is, “As God, yes; as man, no.” In other words, the same principle that allows trinitarians to claim that Jesus was both fully God and fully man also allows us to declare, as Biblical truth, that Jesus was not God. As man, Jesus did not possess omniscience, even though God is supposedly omnscient. As man, Jesus became hungry and weak and tired, even though God is supposedly omnipotent. Thus, as man, Jesus possessed the traits of not being God, because as man Jesus was not God.

The thing is, when the Bible talks about Jesus’ weaknesses and limitations, it does not qualify the claim with the magic formula “as man.” Jesus didn’t say, “As man, the Son does not know the day nor the hour.” You don’t state the “as man” part, you just say that Jesus had the non-divine trait. So the true, Biblical, undeniable statement is, “Jesus was not God.”

I think Christians might have a hard time dealing with this. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, Jesus was as human as me,” but it’s another thing to come right out and say “Jesus was not God.” The contradiction is easier to ignore when you can tell yourself that Jesus just had a dual nature, but when you come right out and say the words “Jesus was not God,” it puts the contradiction right in front of your nose.

The trouble is, Christians can’t deny the truth of the statement “Jesus is not God,” according to dual nature Christology. They can assert the contradictory premise that Jesus is God, but the whole point of dual nature Christology is to sustain the conclusion that both contradictory claims are equally true. If you can’t declare that it is absolutely true that Jesus is not God, then neither can you claim that it’s true Jesus lacked the attributes of deity, like omniscience and omnipotence. And that brings the clear statements of the New Testament in direct conflict with the idea that Jesus was God.

For skeptics, this may seem like no big deal, because we don’t buy into the whole God-can-contradict-Himself notion in the first place. For the believer, though, this might prove to be a serious problem, because it speaks the unspeakable. Christians have been indoctrinating each other for centuries with the idea that it’s heresy to say that Jesus is not God, yet the very Church dogmas that make it heretical to deny the deity of Christ also make it inevitable that Christians must not deny the statement “Jesus is not God.” It’s inherent in dual-nature Christology itself.

The only way we have to detect when men are lying to us about God is by looking for the contradictions that are characteristic of untruth. Only genuine truth is fully consistent with itself; the falsehoods men tell always contain contradictions, either self-contradictions or contradictions of real-world fact. There is a fundamental and inescapable self-contradiction in Christian theology regarding the so-called deity of Jesus, a whopper of a contradiction, a Big Clue that this doctrine of men is not genuine truth. If we cannot recognize this as a human-invented falsehood, then we can never detect any lie at all.

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Unapologetics. 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Jesus is not God”

  1. Tacroy Says:

    It’s kind of funny, really. In math and logic, when you reach a contradiction you know that your premise is false.

    For instance, one of the easier to understand proofs that the square root of 2 is irrational begins by assuming that it is rational, and ends up saying that therefore there exists some number that is both odd and even. This obvious impossibility leads us to discard the original proposition, and thus we know that the square root of 2 is irrational.

    This is not some sort of new thing; this proof is included in Euclid’s Elements, written more than 200 years before Jesus was born. Why is it so important to hold on to an absurd position? Mathematics would have gotten nowhere if half the mathematicians said “well then, in that case we’ll just accept that there exists a number that can be both odd and even at the same time” (though that may be an interesting thing to explore).

  2. cl Says:

    I’ve taken your side against G&T before and here seems no different – since from what you’ve shared of their opinion it seems I don’t share it – but I don’t think a believer has anything to fear if we remove or modify G&T’s “dual nature Christology.” IOW, to me it’s not a dichotomy between “G&T’s dual nature Christology” and “the Gospel is false.”

  3. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Well, now that you mention it, perhaps I should clarify that this is not Geisler and Turek’s invention. The doctrine of the dual nature of Christ was originally proposed by the great Ecumenical Church Councils as the official, orthodox Christian solution to the contradictions and confusions that had plagued the church for the first couple centuries regarding who and what Jesus was. It was a political attempt to appease those within the church who thought Jesus was just a creature (not the Creator) and those who believed him to be God.

    The Arians, who denied the deity of Jesus, were actually winning the debate at one point because they had so many verses documenting the human weaknesses and limitations of Jesus; the “dual nature” dogma gave trinitarians an excuse to effectively ignore all of the Arians’ scriptures and claim that Jesus was indeed God no matter what the Bible said.

    The “dual nature” theory is absurd, though, which leaves Christians back in the same mess the Church Councils were convened to try and solve. It’s an insoluable problem, because Christianity is a mish-mash of superstitious and confused human thinking, and its inherent contradictions cannot be resolved. They are genuine contradictions.

  4. cl Says:

    I realized the ‘dual nature Christology’ wasn’t G&T’s original idea, I was just trying to stay in scope. Although I understood your argument, at present, although less than satisfying, I don’t see the dual nature Christology as necessarily contradictory. That’s what I meant by “not a dichotomy between ‘G&T’s dual nature Christology’ and ‘the Gospel is false,'” – that I haven’t seen genuine instances of X and ~X that would support the claim.

    Still, at present, I do see the ‘dual nature Christology’ as an intellectual impediment, a sort of “magic hypothesis” that can explain anything conveniently via post hoc reasoning: those parts where Jesus seems divine? He was God there. Those parts where He seems more human? Oh, he was human there. That sort of thing.

  5. snickels Says:

    I am new to this site and diving deep into questions of faith. Just when you had me going with your logical thought stream you move into the personal attack mode against Chrsitian orthodoxy. Help me understand why you would say “The “dual nature” theory is absurd…which leaves Christians back in the same mess…because Christianity is a mish-mash of superstitious and confused human thinking.” Comes across gratuitous upon reading.
    Just began reading C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine (will have to skip Dancing with the Stars tonight!) and they do not exhibit these negative tendencies nor do they spit vitriole at the skeptic.
    Thanks for the help!

  6. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Hi, snickels, thanks for posting. I’m afraid that, in the interests of trying to keep my comments terse, I may at times come across as flippant. I do try to keep that to a minimum though, and I also try to document such claims more fully when I post.

    Of course, there is ample precedent for the practice of speaking harshly about false doctrine, as Jesus himself was known to do on occasion. ;)

  7. Deacon Duncan Says:

    By the way, I don’t believe that I am so much “spitting vitriole” as I am referring to a carefully considered conclusion that I developed over the course of about 25 years as a faithful, evangelical, Bible-believing Christian. I do not describe Christianity as being a mish-mash of confused and superstitious thinking out of some thoughtless desire to insult. I have studied it deeply, from the best and most Christian of motives, and the evidence has persuaded me that it is indeed a man-made conglomerate of errors and wishful thinking.

    Also, before you judge me too harshly, please remember that I do not go around claiming that those who disagree with me about God are thereby proven worthy of suffering agonizing torture for all eternity. I may speak frankly regarding the doctrines, but I do not wish evil on those I disagree with.

  8. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl —

    Jesus = God (X)
    Jesus = ~God (~X)

    In order for dual nature Christology to be true, both of the above statements must be true. One, however, is the contradiction of the other.

    Is that what you were looking for?

  9. cl Says:

    Is that what you were looking for?

    No. I was just saying that although I find the “dual nature Christology” an intellectual impediment, I don’t necessarily accept your claims of contradiction, either. IOW, this time I still take your side against G&T, but for my own reasons. Let’s back up a bit. You opened with,

    ..the reason Christians have come up with the idea that Jesus possessed both a human nature and a divine nature is because the Bible very clearly states, in a number of places, that Jesus had certain weaknesses and limitations that were inconsistent with the idea that he was God. Consequently, theologians needed some way that two contradictory claims could both be true, and they “solved” the problem by assigning Christ a dual nature.

    In order to discuss this in any productive way, we’d need specific verses else we’re simply arguing subjective generalities, but taking your “dates and times” argument as an example. You said that “Jesus as God” was incompatible with Jesus not knowing the dates and times – that such entails an instance of X and ~X. Well, it may or it may not. It does if we force the premise that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit necessarily share the exact same set of features, functions, and characteristics – but I see no mandatory reason to force that premise. Point was, it’s going to be hard to make a solid contradiction case against those who argue dual nature Christology, as they can just go back and forth between, “Oh, Jesus was God there, but man there,” which presents a forever-moving target. That’s what I meant by intellectual impediment.

  10. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Hmm, so perhaps Jesus’ human weaknesses were not due to him being human but due to him being a different kind of god than the Father? That’s an interesting way of avoiding the problem, although that opens up a whole new can of worms, because that means Jesus and the Father have to be different gods (polytheism). They can’t be the same God and have different divine characteristics.

  11. cl Says:

    Hmm, so perhaps Jesus’ human weaknesses were not due to him being human but due to him being a different kind of god than the Father?

    Well, I didn’t say that; I said “I see no reason to force the premise that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit must necessarily share the exact same set of features, functions, and characteristics.” I’ve always assumed many or most skeptics have implicitly granted this much, as to date I’ve never heard anyone make an argument that the Trinity is false because Jesus is different than the Holy Spirit (the former occupying a corporeal form while on Earth, the latter an ethereal or spiritual).

    That’s an interesting way of avoiding the problem, although that opens up a whole new can of worms, because that means Jesus and the Father have to be different gods (polytheism). They can’t be the same God and have different divine characteristics.

    I disagree per the aforementioned, and I’d add that IMO, about as much as scripture supports is the idea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit couldn’t have evil characteristics. That they had different characteristics seems to have always been implied. At least, that’s what I got.

    As an aside, my response to your contradiction matters is not how I ‘rationalize’ the Gospel story. I have my own way of looking at the situation – which I think makes sense – or at least more sense and with less problems than this ‘dual nature Christology you mention. If you’ll permit another aside, I enjoy talking to you sans the intervention of others because we typically concur on the shortcomings of mainline Christian dogma.

  12. Deacon Duncan Says:

    The problem is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are supposed to be the same God. It is necessarily true that the same God must have the same characteristics as Himself. If you buy into the dual nature Christology, then you might at least argue that Jesus also has different characteristics as man in addition to his divine qualities, but the latter must be the same qualities whether they’re the qualities of Jesus “as God” or the qualities of the Father “as God” or the qualities of the Spirit “as God.”

    Now if you’re a polytheist, then yes, you’re right, each of these three gods can have different characteristics because they’re not all the same God. If there is only one God, however, then their is only one set of divine characteristics. Different characteristics for different gods requires polytheism.

  13. cl Says:

    The problem is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are supposed to be the same God.

    Consider a computer network with three components; all three components are the same network, with only one set of network functions and programs, but each component might run different functions and programs at different times. That sort of thing. Such is not polytheistic, rather plural.

  14. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Plural gods are polytheism. A network of individual units, each of which has its own independent set of individual characteristics, is analogous to a species of many members. It’s polycomponentism, not monocomponentism: you’re saying there are many components, not just one component. It’s just like Zeus and Hera and Apollo and Venus: they’re all equally divine, but they’re not all the same god, and therefore each has his or her own independent individual characteristics. The ability to possess independent individual divine characteristics is necessarily a property of being different deities, because if they were all the same deity, the properties of that deity would be the same as those of itself.

  15. John Morales Says:

    Consider a computer network with three components; all three components are the same network, with only one set of network functions and programs, but each component might run different functions and programs at different times.

    Category error, therefore invalid analogy.

    The components are not the network – the network is an emergent property of the components.

  16. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Right. If you disconnect one component from the network, that component is not the network all by itself. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are each supposed to be God all by themselves.

    Another way to understand the problem is to ask, Does God know when the Second Coming is supposed to happen? The Father knows, and He’s God, so the answer is Yes, God does know. Jesus, however, does not know, and Jesus is supposed to be the same God, therefore the answer is No, God does not know.

    (Jesus knows) = ~true
    Jesus = God, therefore
    (God knows) = ~true

    (The Father knows) = true
    The Father = God, therefore
    (God knows) = true

    Combining the terms for (God knows), we have

    true = (God knows) = ~true

    which reduces to

    true = ~true

    QED.

  17. pevo Says:

    I’ll play Jesus’ advocate:

    Jesus = God(form=man)

    (God(form=other) knows) = true (assumed, for now)
    (God(form=man) knows) = false

    This is not a contradiction as long as (X knows) can return different results for X1 = God(form = man) and X2 = God(Form = other)

    If God = {X1 U X2}
    (God knows) = true => ({X1 U X2} knows ) = true

    If ‘knows’ is such that knows(S) = true if knows({E, E=subset(S)}) is true, then God can ‘know’ even if Jesus doesn’t.

    Note this requires a) subdividing god into a partition and applying ‘knows’ to each partition b) ‘knows’ has to be reinterpreted as X knows if any member of X knows. Like how ‘humanity’ knows how to perform heart surgery, even though I do not.

  18. pevo Says:

    Also, it means “Jesus is god” is supposed to be translated as “Jesus is a *part* of god”, that’s the partition part. And, well, that is against the trinity doctrine as I understand it.

  19. Deacon Duncan Says:

    It also begs the question of what a “form” of God means. If form refers to a change in outward appearance that does not affect the essential nature of the thing, then changing form would not affect God’s knowledge. It might change what He appears to know, but His actual knowledge would not be affected. Creating false appearances, however, is a form of lying, when used to persuade people that something false is really true.

    On the other hand, if “form” means something more substantial, then we might get away with God having multiple forms, each of which possesses its own distinct set of characteristics. Perhaps “God” is like a kind of template that needs to be instantiated as discrete, individual instances. Applied consistently, though, this leads us eventually to the conclusion that knowledge (and other personal characteristics) reside within the form and are not attributes of God per se.

    What we end up with in that case is the concept that “God” is not a person Himself, but rather is a species (like humanity in your example), which is made up of multiple distinct divine individuals. Thus, God has no personal knowledge of His own, but rather the knowledge resides, with different content and in different amounts, in each individual deity. This way we preserve the idea that the Father and the Son can have different knowledge, but at the cost of once again becoming polytheists. God as a species of distinct divine individuals is polytheism, whether we admit it or not.

  20. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Note to cl —

    I’m sorry, but I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on. We’ve indulged you on that sort of thing before, but you’ve used up your lifetime allotment. No more.

    As I’m sure you know, my argument is not that I’m having trouble understanding the Trinity, and therefore it must be wrong. The Trinity is not hard to understand. If you go to your math teacher and try to tell her that 36 is a prime number, your claim is not difficult to understand. If you try to tell her that you should be allowed to believe that 36 is a prime number because you believe that God is so smart that surely HE could find some convincing argument for 36 being a prime number, your argument is not difficult to understand. It’s just wrong.

    The Trinity is similarly easy to understand: in God’s continued absence, men realized that there were contradictions in the myths they had been taught, and tried to invent a new doctrine to reconcile the contradictions, and failed, and re-labeled their failure as “holy mystery,” and claimed success anyway. But the fundamental contradictions are still there. The Bible still treats God as though He were a person (note, third person singular) and as though “God” were a category shared amongst multiple, distinct, individual persons. That’s a contradiction. It’s not incoherent because I lack the CPU registers to process it, it’s incoherent because it embodies some fairly simple, mutually-contradictory concepts.

    If you want to try and address the points I’m making here, I invite you to begin by trying to come up with a coherent explanation of what you think the Gospel is, as it relates to the principle divine character(s) at its center. Don’t just admit that the dual nature of Christ is wrong; explain to us why the Bible calls him both man and Creator. Explain in what sense Jesus is indeed God (if you believe in the Trinity, anyway). If you think that Jesus has a divine nature that’s different from the Father’s, explain how that is different from Zeus having attributes that are not the same as Apollo’s.

    Truth is consistent with itself. In order for the Gospel to be true, it should demonstrate consistency with itself and with reality at every point. If you can show me a Gospel that is self-consistent, and consistent with reality, then you can convince me. If all you have to offer are defensive maneuvers that focus on creating confusion and avoiding a clear and consistent exposition of your actual beliefs, then I’m afraid you haven’t got anything solid to contribute, and would invite you to post such things on your own blog instead.

  21. Wayne Essel Says:

    I suppose I should apologize for resurrecting an old thread, but I found this one interesting and thought of a couple things that might come closer to an appropriate analogy for the dual nature of Christ, other than a network.

    One would be a hologram. Break a hologram into a thousand pieces and any one piece contains all the information to necessary to reproduce the original image.

    Another would be light, which can behave as both wave and particle, two seemingly exclusive sets of characteristics.

    And this may go into digital space and never return…

    Regards,

    Wayne

  22. John Morales Says:

    Wayne,

    Break a hologram into a thousand pieces and any one piece contains all the information to necessary to reproduce the original image.

    True, but the resolution is dependent on the size of the piece, due to diffraction. There are physical limits (cf. Airy disk)

    Also, matter also exhibits wave-particle duality (cf. de Broglie waves)

    PS Are you saying that godhood and humanness are not logically exclusive, but only seemingly so?

  23. Wayne Essel Says:

    John,

    Thanks for the references, as those were two pieces of information of which I was not aware.

    I had sent a note to Deacon apart from this thread in which I mentioned that when reading his description of patron goddess, being reality, I thought it to be eerily similar to my own description of God.

    So I guess I view humanness as an extension of God, and therefore not apart from God, and therefore, not logically exclusive.

    My questions have more to do with whether God is aware of this extension, and how aware God is of God’s extent, and subsequently, me.

  24. John Morales Says:

    Wayne, thanks for the response.

    Seems to me you hold a kind of panentheist position, whilst DD’s is more akin to pantheism.

    I wish you well in your search for answers to your questions.

  25. Wayne Essel Says:

    John, that is such a subtle difference. I did not know that it was even classified as such. And I would agree with you that I lean more towards Panentheism.

    I also have retained a couple of Christian-leaning twists. These twists are more hopes than beliefs and I’m reluctant to shed them for that reason (particulary that consciousness could exist apart from physicality or that there might be a resurrection of the body, more of a parallel universe kind of thought process). Then, I suppose I should be careful what I hope for.

    Thanks for your good wishes.