Jesus

Incarnation

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jbejon

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« on: April 26, 2008, 04:30:41 pm »
Recently, Craig has been discussing the nature of the incarnation in his podcasts.  One of the issues under consideration has been whether Christ had two natures, or whether he gave up part of his divine nature in order to become human, and so on...

   

   However, I'm finding it hard to get much of a handle on the whole issue, since I don't really have much of an understanding of what it means to have a human nature apart from having a human body.

   

   I'm not, of course, saying that being a human is reducible to possessing a human body.  But if, for instance, one says that humans are essentially rational animals, then the only thing that really happens in the incarnation is that Jesus acquires a human body (since he was already rational), which is precisely, I think, what Craig is alleging to be a deficient understanding of the incarnation.

   

   Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

   

   James.

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 06:13:36 pm »
As I understand nature, it refers to the set of capacities that demarcate one type of thing from another.  Those capacities can be both material and immaterial.  For God to assume human nature means He assumes the full set of capacities that makes humans human.  In doing so, He Himself became human--both spiritually and physically.

Normally, a single person has a single nature.  Human persons have a human nature.  The divine person has a divine nature.  Angelic persons have an angelic nature, and so on.  In the incarnation, however, the divine person brought into union with Himself a second nature without relinquishing His divine nature.  Rather than a human person existing via the range of capacities inherent to human nature, the divine person came to exist via the range of capacities inherent to human nature, all the while continuing to exist via the range of capacities inherent to divine nature.  He came to be man, not by merely indwelling a human person with a human nature, but by personalizing a human nature Himself, so that He really was man.  

What I am interested to know is Craig's view of the ontological status of "nature."  Given his nominalism, I tend to think he would consider all this talk of two natures to be a useful fiction; i.e. natures do not exist as such, but refer to a set of capacities unique to one set of things versus another.  But then again, I may just be trying to make Craig into my own image!

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jbejon

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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 06:21:29 pm »
Hi Jason.

   

   Thanks for the response.  I think I agree with pretty much everything you say.  But I'm still no closer to knowing what kind of properties Jesus gained by becoming human.  About the only properties I can think of that humans possess which God doesn't possess are imperfect ones: in which case Jesus's incarnation is a case of loss rather than gain (which, as I understand it, is what WLC denies).

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2008, 02:24:52 pm »
The doctrine of the incarnation holds that in becoming man, God did not cease to be God.  Early theologians expressed this by saying God became what He was not while remaining what He was.  So even though the attributes God assumed were inferior to His own, they were a set of attributes in addition to the set He already possessed.  God did not lose any of His own attributes (inherent to the divine nature) in order to become man.  He simply gained a set of human attributes.  That's why we speak of it being an addition.

I think you are viewing this as a comparision, in which God's attribute of infinitude is pitted against humanity's attribute of finitude, and one must cancel out the other.  That's not the way to look at it.  The natures are distinct from one another, being held simultaneously.  Furthermore, I would argue that Jesus only and always operated according to human attributes, so there was never a conflict.

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jbejon

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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 04:49:13 pm »
I still don't quite follow, I'm afraid.  Can you give me an example of an attribute Jesus gained in the incarnation?

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2008, 05:45:19 pm »
Name any characteristic innate to human beings, and you will have named several yourself.  He took to Himself all the characteristics of human beings, including finitude, spacial locatedness, the ability to hunger, limited knowledge, etc.  We refer to the sum total of characteristics and potentialities as a nature.  

Maybe it is best to just dispense with the word nature, and say that God became man by adopting all those characteristics germane to human beings.

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jbejon

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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2008, 05:57:13 pm »
OK.  I think I'm closer.  But doesn't this then mean that the person of Jesus had the properties of, say, having limited knowledge and having all knowledge at the same time?

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2008, 06:12:41 pm »
Now we're getting somewhere!  Yes, it does mean that, but that doesn't mean that Jesus qua Jesus had both properties functioning in Him simultaneously.  As I said previously, God became man, but did not cease being God.  He retained His divine nature.  But functionally speaking, in His human mode of existing the divine person "operated" exclusively according to the human nature.  The divine attributes of the divine nature were latent within Him.  Only as that same divine person continued to exist transcendent to the incarnation were those prerogatives exercised.  In Christ, the divine person always functioned according to the manner of existence He found Himself in: human, according to human nature.  But that divine person was not limited to His incarnate existence.  He continued to exist transcendent to his human mode of existence, and in that (divine) mode of existence, the divine person always functioned according to the manner of existence He found Himself in: divine, according to divine nature.  So not only are the natures ontologically distinct from one another, but functionally distinct as well, with one nature being operative in the divine person's incarnate mode of of existence, and the other nature being operative in the divine person's transcendent mode of existence.  Others may disagree with me on this, but that is my take.

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jbejon

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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2008, 03:28:08 pm »
Hi Jason.

   

   Thanks for the reply.  I think I may be getting what you're saying.  Though I'm still struggling.

   

   It sounds like you're suggesting that Jesus as a man has the property of being, say, spatially located but Jesus as God is omnipresent; or that Jesus as a man has the property of having limited knowledge, but Jesus as God is omniscient; etc.  Is that right?

   

   If so, I still can't see this as a coherent model.  We're not, presumably, saying Jesus is two persons.  Yet, certain of Jesus's properties are undeniably personal ones (e.g. his being omniscient).  So, aren't we still stuck with the problem that the person of Jesus possesses two contradictory properties at the same time: e.g. knowing everything and not knowing everything...?

   

   Cheers for all your thoughts so far,

   

   James.

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2008, 06:35:42 pm »
Correct, but this does not suggest Jesus is two persons.  It means that the one and self-same person exists in two distinct ways simultaneously, and functions differently in each respective mode of existence.  In His human mode of existence, the divine person functions exclusively as man via the human nature He assumed.  In His continued divine mode of existence, the divine person functions exclusively as God according to His divine nature.  So while the one person possesses both natures, He "operates" them from two distinct modes of existence.  Jesus qua Jesus is not functionally experiencing both omnipresence and limited presence.  In Jesus, the divine person only experiences limited presence. And yet that same divine person transcends the incarnation as the unlimited God, and in that mode of existence He continues to experience omnipresence.

So while the divine person possesses two "contradictory" properties, they are not opposing each other because they are not being operated simultaneously in Jesus.  Ontologically, one person possesses both sets, but functionally, that person does not execute them at the same time in a singular mode of existence.

P.S. I put "" around contradictory because I don't think omnipresence and limited presence, for example, are contradictory.  One is simply a subset of the other.  They do not contradict each other.

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jbejon

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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 09:31:24 am »
Hi Jason.

   

   I still don't see how this resolves the dilemma, to be honest.  I mean, either a person possesses a certain property or he doesn't.  Either one knows something or one doesn't.  It doesn't seem that possessing a given property (e.g. being able to do X) is something one can "experience".  Either one is capable of doing X or one isn't.

   

   Hence, properties like "being all-knowing" and "not knowing everything" do indeed seem contradictory to me.  You mention subsets, and I can see that, say, "knowing X" is a subset of "knowing everything".  However "not knowing the complement of X" is clearly not -- yet this is the "property" which many people predicate of Jesus.

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Jason Dulle

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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 05:07:06 pm »

The divine person possesses both sets of properties, and exhibits both sets of properties simultaneously.  He simply doesn’t exhibit them both at the same time in the same manner of existence.  In His divine mode of existence He only exhibits the divine properties, whereas in His human mode of existence He only exhibits the human properties.

I’m not distinguishing capability from experience.  If anything, I am referring to the capability to experience.  Human properties give the divine person the capability to experience existence in a human way.  Divine properties give the divine person the capability to experience existence in a divine way.  I am arguing that the divine person experiences existence in both a human and divine way simultaneously in two distinct modes of existence.  So not only does one person have both sets of properties, but one person is exercising both sets of properties in such a way that they do not conflict.  

If you are trying to compare this to something you are familiar with, good luck!  It’s not.  The incarnation is unparalleled.  There is no other instance in which a single person has taken on an alien nature while retaining their own, and begun to exist in a new way without ceasing to exist the way they always had.  No other person has been able to exist in two different and distinct ways simultaneously.  

I’m not sure of what you mean in the last sentence.  Can you please clarify for me?  Thanks.


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M. W. Ward

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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2008, 04:09:48 pm »

Hey Guys!  I am not as knowledgeable on this subject as some, but I will attempt to state my understanding.  First, God choose to come to this earth down to our human level to demonstrate his love for us.  God did not come to experience human existence, he created us.  God took on human form in the body of Jesus, so that we could experience his divine nature, not the other way around.  How could we possible understand his divine nature and love for us, without him coming down to our plane of existence.  Since we are finite beings, he had to demonstrate this love for us in a way would could understand.  He did this by giving up his life, the one thing we all hold precious.  And so that we could understand that he was truely God, he raised the body of Jesus.


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God and Man
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2011, 02:03:34 pm »
I have been struggling with this issue and wonder whether there is any books on Christiology that William lane Craig would recommend.
If God is fully god and fully man and both natures are inter-twinned according to the council of chalcedon. How can one nature grew and another nature stay the same.
If this is true does the human nature have a body and a mind and then does the god nature have the same thing. When he died on the cross was the wrath of sin on both natures if it is not it is heretical.Also how do you define the difference between a human and an animal?
How does one nature essentially grew and yet one stay the same
If the God nature how can you justify the nature being in the subconscious(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subconscious) as it not biblical terminology.
Charles Spurgeon is his sermon says that Christ used his God nature to block out the sun
This question has been fascinating me for ages as essentially this incarnation incorporates the doctrines of man, sin and god in one concise.
Another question is says that we will become like Christ.

1 John 3:2 KJV- Beloved,  now  are we   the sons  of God,  and  it doth   not yet  appear   what  we shall be  : but  we know   that,  when  he shall appear  , we shall be   like  him;  for  we shall see   him  as  he is  .

What does that essentially mean. I have also been thinking about the Image of God. As man we are simply more than a cognitive animal or a god breathing ape as some of the atheists say. As God is only the one who really knows what man truly is. Language is something that is different from apes and the ability to think or plan. The bible states that man was made to rule or have dominion over the earth

Genesis 1
26             And God said , Let us make  man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion  over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth  upon the earth.                                     27             So God created  man in his own image, in the image of God created  he him; male and female created  he them.                                     28             And God blessed  them, and God said  unto them, Be fruitful , and multiply , and replenish  the earth, and subdue it : and have dominion  over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth  upon the earth.                                     29             And God said , Behold, I have given  you every herb bearing  seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding  seed; to you it shall be  for meat.                                     30             And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth  upon the earth, wherein there is life , I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Say you have a chemical you can detail its properties but sometimes you can only tell what it is when it reacts with another chemical. Say you detail the properties of say Copper. It would not detail it reacts or oxidizes when in the presence of oxygen and can conduct electricity.

Is the nature of God simply more than properties as the bible defines mans nature as sinful but essentially if you were to call man a bag of chemicals of carbon and other molecules with say a soul.

The other question is how was the human fallen nature different from the human nature that say adam and say jesus had?

Genesis 3:19 KJVIn the sweat   of thy face  shalt thou eat   bread,  till  thou return   unto the  ground;  for out of it wast thou taken  : for dust  thou  art, and unto  dust  shalt thou return  

Does this mean our unfallen bodies will not experience tiredness.
It is fascinating ?
I have had so many other questions. Concerning every aspect. When thinking did as both natures were intertwined as one, was it his human brain thinking or a mixture. Did he will not to choose to think or use his omniscient as there are some passages when he did know the thoughts of others.
I have so many unanswered questions ?
Please can you help me
Dom



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jayceeii

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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2018, 10:45:22 am »
A marvel of the human body is that it can support souls of an almost infinite array of power and potential, and the Creator can also enter it in the Incarnation. So you really have to think of the material body and the spirit that dwells therein, as entirely separable. Using the criterion of “rational,” you’d be entirely ignoring the existential situation, what is really happening in the regions of spirit. But furthermore one can find different degrees of “reason,” as well as reason that is oriented externally, to the body, and reason that is oriented internally, to the spirit. These two types of reason are opposed in most respects.