MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« on: April 07, 2009, 11:57:41 am »
I think that Craig's view on Jesus' knowledge during the Incarnation, that is, that Jesus was still omniscient but was unaware of some of his knowledge (it was subconscious), does a good job of reconciling what the Bible says about Jesus' knowledge at that time as far as his omniscience goes with the general view that God is essentially omniscient.

However, I think there's still a major problem with this.  The problem is that, just as omnipotence isn't maximal power, omniscience isn't maximal cognitive power.  I think it's pretty clear that one whose knowledge is largely subconscious is not as "cognitively powerful" as is one whose knowledge is entirely conscious.  Surely God, as the greatest possible being, is a cognitively perfect being, and thus one whose cognitive power cannot be surpassed.  So, although Craig tried to avoid kenosis, I think he has failed in this attempt.  If you accept what the Bible says at face value, Jesus was at the very least unaware of certain facts (even if he subconsciously knew them), and this entails that he had to, at the very least, give up his supreme cognitive power of being consciously omnisicent, for lack of better words.

Also, another interesting facet of that verse, which I've never seen touched upon, is that it says "only the Father" knows "about that day or hour".  This would seemingly mean that even the Spirit did not know, at least at the time Jesus uttered this, about when these things would occur.

So, what are your takes on this?
"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

1

Max Andrews

  • **
  • 39 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 04:45:10 pm »
MorelyMcMorson,

   

   I came across your question and found it to be odd that no one has ever commented on it.  I sat for a while and contemplated your assertion (that there is an implication of the Spirit's ignorance).  I believe I may have found a possible solution to the implication.

   

   Let's assume that Craig's thought on predicate reduplication is true as far as the hypostatic union is concerned.  Jesus says that "only the Father knows."  If we make the implication that this knowledge only pertains the Father then Jesus is ignorant in this case too, but not if Craig's thought is correct.  So when Jesus says "only the Father" I don't believe it is exclusively the person of the Father in the Godhead.

   

   Let me explain.  In the context the Spirit had not yet been revealed, and won't be until Pentecost (yes, the Spirit was at work but had not been revealed).  I believe Jesus is saying that between Him (in His humanity) and the Father, the Father is the only one that knows.  If Jesus had said, "I know in my divinity, the Spirit knows, and the Father knows" the disciples may have been completely perplexed, maybe even more than our problem!  But, to a first century Jew, they wouldn't know how to mentally process that.  Jesus had alluded to the Spirit (e.g. Jn. 16.8 as a Helper "when He comes"), but had not completely been revealed.  It just wouldn't come together for them.  So because the revelation of the Spirit doesn't occur until later, Jesus is only referring to Himself (in His humanity) and the Father, excluding the Spirit.

   

   I think this could be a possible solution to the problem you've raised.  I think if we put the text in context, and use the control doctrine of divine omniscience (God knows all real truths), this could be a solution:  Jesus only included Himself and the Father in His statement.  If this is true then I believe that we don't need to abandon Craig's view of omniscience and view of the Incarnation.

   

   Let me know if this makes sense at all to you.
-Max
“For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself,
as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living
in the periphery of responsible intellectual existence.” -Charles Malik

2

MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 06:07:52 pm »
^

Hey.  Thanks for the reply.  I was wondering if anybody was ever gonna see this!

As for your reply, I think that what you say about the Spirit is probably correct, or at least the general idea.  I don't really take that text to mean that the Spirit didn't know.  I personally think that something like what you say is correct.  I was only bringing that issue up as something interesting to consider that I'd never heard anybody bring up.

However, my main contention with Craig's model is that his model seeks to avoid a kenotic interpretation of the Incarnation, but I don't think this can be so since on Craig's "subconscious" view, Jesus' knowledge is still not as high as knowledge can be.  A higher form would be omniscience and full awareness.  What do you think about this in particular?  I personally don't think that this is a problem; I think a form of kenosis is perfectly acceptable (something like Feenstra's essay in Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement is very near the truth, in my opinion).
"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

3

Max Andrews

  • **
  • 39 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 11:57:41 am »
I don't see a problem in his thought (if I understand it completely and if I'm understanding your point).

I agree with the notion that omnipotence does not mean "capable of anything."  Omnipotence only includes the capability of anything logically possible.  If we define omniscience as God knowing only and all truths then I don't see a problem.  I don't see Jesus' omniscience in anyway "lower" or of less quality if it is subconscious.  If we hold to his predicate reduplication, it in no way impedes the divine cognitive faculty, thus being able to affirm complete divinity and complete humanity.  If we predicate His omniscience to His divinity and predicate His ignorance to His humanity, neither nature is impeded.  His knowledge in His full consciousness (His humanity) is what it should be, not-omniscient.  His knowledge in His subconscious (His divinity) is completely omniscient and is not "lower" or lacking in any quality.  In His subconscious He is fully aware and fully knowledgeable.

I'm not sure if I've proposed a solution to your objection or have repeated myself  If it makes any sense or if you still have an objection let me know, maybe I didn't fully understand your objection.  I think, if we predicate His omniscience to His divinity, then there shouldn't be any lack of quality to His omniscience and because it is subconscious there isn't any lack of quality to that either.  So I believe Craig's thought on this plausible.

Questions or comments you'd like to elaborate on?
-Max
“For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself,
as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living
in the periphery of responsible intellectual existence.” -Charles Malik

4

Timothy Campen

  • ***
  • 3144 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2009, 01:53:20 am »

I think this all goes back to the massive debate among the earliest christians about who and what Jesus was. This division within the body of christ was a major influence for the Nicean Council to set in stone who Jesus was, and eliminate the opposing views. The Jesus of that Council is pretty much the Jesus that remains today.

I raise a pint to WLC and all of you, even if I often disagree.  For I am convinced thoughtful people can disagree without being disagreeable.

5

MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2009, 11:19:32 pm »
tcampen wrote:

I think this all goes back to the massive debate among the earliest christians about who and what Jesus was. This division within the body of christ was a major influence for the Nicean Council to set in stone who Jesus was, and eliminate the opposing views. The Jesus of that Council is pretty much the Jesus that remains today.

I don't see how this goes back to that in any relevant manner.  He and I aren't debating whether or not Jesus was divine; we're debating how best to construe the incarnation of the Son of God.

"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

6

MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2009, 11:27:36 pm »

Maxa wrote: I don't see a problem in his thought (if I understand it completely and if I'm understanding your point).

I agree with the notion that omnipotence does not mean "capable of anything."  Omnipotence only includes the capability of anything logically possible.  If we define omniscience as God knowing only and all truths then I don't see a problem.  I don't see Jesus' omniscience in anyway "lower" or of less quality if it is subconscious.  If we hold to his predicate reduplication, it in no way impedes the divine cognitive faculty, thus being able to affirm complete divinity and complete humanity.  If we predicate His omniscience to His divinity and predicate His ignorance to His humanity, neither nature is impeded.  His knowledge in His full consciousness (His humanity) is what it should be, not-omniscient.  His knowledge in His subconscious (His divinity) is completely omniscient and is not "lower" or lacking in any quality.  In His subconscious He is fully aware and fully knowledgeable.

I'm not sure if I've proposed a solution to your objection or have repeated myself  If it makes any sense or if you still have an objection let me know, maybe I didn't fully understand your objection.  I think, if we predicate His omniscience to His divinity, then there shouldn't be any lack of quality to His omniscience and because it is subconscious there isn't any lack of quality to that either.  So I believe Craig's thought on this plausible.

Questions or comments you'd like to elaborate on?

Sorry for not responding sooner.

Predicate reduplication faces some severe problems, it seems.  Jesus was only one person, and thus, one mind.  Jesus has two natures-divine and human-but this doesn't mean he has two minds.  The same mind can't be both omniscient and ignorant.  Moreover, Craig doesn't argue for predicate reduplication; he thinks it's problematic for roughly the same reasons I do.  What Craig thinks is that there's one mind of Christ (contra Nestorianism), but that the mind can be thought of as having "two layers," if you will, just as our minds have different "layers".  A lot of our knowledge is stuff we're not conscious of, and a lot of our knowledge is stuff we are conscious of.  However, we're not omniscient; there's knowledge that's not to be found in either the conscious or un/subconscious levels of our minds.  Not so with Jesus, says Craig.  Jesus, in the Incarnation, kept his omniscience, but some of his knowledge was "demoted" to the lower level.  I don't think this is correct (Jesus says he doesn't know certain things, not that he's unaware of them), but even if it were what I'm debating really is just Craig's denial that this is a kenotic view of the Incarnation.  Since arguably the highest knowledge would be omniscience and total conscious awareness of all this knowledge, then Craig's model of Jesus' earthly knowledge has to be considered kenotic.  Craig elsewhere says the kenotic interpretations are rather ghastly, but I think that's precisely what Craig has himself devised-another kenotic model.  Keep in mind, I actually favor a kenotic model, just not Craig's.  I think Feenstra's is very close to the truth.

If you don't think that it's a lesser form of knowledge to not be aware of something you might actually know, just think of all the frustration experienced when trying and failing to recall things that you know and that you know you know but can't draw up to the surface.
"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

7

William Bryant

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 05:14:23 am »
I agree with Dr. Craig's model of the incarnation of Jesus being the mind of the Son inhabiting human flesh.  However, I do disagree with the subconscious knowledge idea.  My main contention is that instances of ignorance displayed by Jesus are nothing more than devices He used in teaching.  For example the incident of the woman who touched His robe and was healed of a bloody discharge is used to show that Jesus did not know who touched Him, thus showing a lack of knowledge.  I contend Jesus used the question of "who touched me" to get the woman to give her testimony of how she was healed.  Had Jesus just said "I just healed Ruth" we would not have known Ruth's story.  Had Jesus stopped and said " I just healed Ruth" and then gave a history of Ruth's illness the validity of Ruth's testimony would be in question to a skeptic because they would say she would feel pressured by the crowd of Jesus' followers to agree with what He said.  But by her confession of touching Jesus without being singled out by name makes her story more convincing.

Christ often asked questions He knew the answer to as in the book of John when He asked Phillip how they were going to feed the crowd.  I think another reason Jesus asked questions is because he wanted the interaction.  It would have been hard to interact with Jesus if He kept speaking to you before you spoke because He knew your thoughts.  Also He is in divine character by having interaction with people even though He knows their thoughts.  We are told that we should pray even though the Father knows our needs before we ask.


8

William Bryant

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 05:38:57 am »
Concerning Mark 13 where Jesus said He was ignorant of the day and hour of His return; I do not think it is a statement of Christ being limited by His nature on earth.  Personally I believe that Basil of Caesarea had the correct view of this verse by saying it was mistranslated and should read something like this: (loose paraphrasing) "nor would I know the day or the hour if the Father and I were not one"  Unfortunately, I do not know the reasons why Basil's view was not adopted.  So I will address the current translation.

The view that Jesus does not know of the time of His return because his knowledge was limited by being in the flesh calls into question the reliability of anything that Jesus said.  The statement Jesus is making says that the Son does not know the day or hour of His return.  This is a declarative statement made by Jesus that the second person of the Trinity is ignorant of the return time.  Jesus does not give any indication that this lack of knowledge is limited to  His earthly ministry.  In the Gospel Jesus usually refers to His incarnate self as the Son of Man.  In John He uses the term" Son" to show relationship to the Trinity.  Had He used the term "Son of Man does not know" you could argue His ignorance was limited to His Earthly ministry but you would still open the Gospel up to criticism about other things that Jesus could have said as doctrine but were said in ignorance.

That still leaves the problem of the Son not knowing the time of the return.  Even though the Son proceeds from God , is of God and equal to God the Father scripture states clearly that He is submissive to the Father both on earth and in eternity.  In this role of submission I see no problem of the Father keeping the time of Christ's return to Himself.  Acts 1:7says that the times of Jesus' return is under the Father's authority.  This supports the submissive role position but does not rule out Basil's translation either.


9

MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2011, 05:49:01 pm »
vemee wrote: Concerning Mark 13 where Jesus said He was ignorant of the day and hour of His return; I do not think it is a statement of Christ being limited by His nature on earth.  Personally I believe that Basil of Caesarea had the correct view of this verse by saying it was mistranslated and should read something like this: (loose paraphrasing) "nor would I know the day or the hour if the Father and I were not one"  Unfortunately, I do not know the reasons why Basil's view was not adopted.  So I will address the current translation.

The view that Jesus does not know of the time of His return because his knowledge was limited by being in the flesh calls into question the reliability of anything that Jesus said.  The statement Jesus is making says that the Son does not know the day or hour of His return.  This is a declarative statement made by Jesus that the second person of the Trinity is ignorant of the return time.  Jesus does not give any indication that this lack of knowledge is limited to  His earthly ministry.  In the Gospel Jesus usually refers to His incarnate self as the Son of Man.  In John He uses the term" Son" to show relationship to the Trinity.  Had He used the term "Son of Man does not know" you could argue His ignorance was limited to His Earthly ministry but you would still open the Gospel up to criticism about other things that Jesus could have said as doctrine but were said in ignorance.

That still leaves the problem of the Son not knowing the time of the return.  Even though the Son proceeds from God , is of God and equal to God the Father scripture states clearly that He is submissive to the Father both on earth and in eternity.  In this role of submission I see no problem of the Father keeping the time of Christ's return to Himself.  Acts 1:7says that the times of Jesus' return is under the Father's authority.  This supports the submissive role position but does not rule out Basil's translation either.



Unfortunately translations don't help at all.  The Greek is:

Peri de tes hemeras ekeines e tes horas oudeis oiden, oude hoi angeloi en ourano oude ho huios, ei me ho pater.

Literal translation:

But concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, not the angels in heaven and not the Son, but only the Father.

The "oude...oude" construction is rather common in ancient Greek: it sets up a parallelism here between the angels and the Son.  The angels are certainly not one with the Father, so Basil's reading is pushing it, it seems to me.  He is reading a lot into the text.

This also ignores the passage in Luke which speaks of Jesus' growing in wisdom:

Kai Iesous proekopten [en te] sophia kai helikia kai chariti para Theo kai anthropois.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.
"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

10

William Bryant

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2011, 05:02:03 am »
Originally posted by MorleyMcMorson

Unfortunately translations don't help at all.  The Greek is:

Peri de tes hemeras ekeines e tes horas oudeis oiden, oude hoi angeloi en ourano oude ho huios, ei me ho pater.

Literal translation:

But concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, not the angels in heaven and not the Son, but only the Father.

The  "oude...oude" construction is rather common in ancient Greek: it sets  up a parallelism here between the angels and the Son.  The angels are  certainly not one with the Father, so Basil's reading is pushing it, it  seems to me.  He is reading a lot into the text.

This also ignores the passage in Luke which speaks of Jesus' growing in wisdom:

Kai Iesous proekopten [en te] sophia kai helikia kai chariti para Theo kai anthropois.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.

You are probably right about Basil's interpretation.  I would think that this interpretation would have been quickly accepted in light of the arian heresy that was going on at that time if it had been considered valid.

I think we can view the Luke passage the same way we view Hebrews 5:8
though He was a Son, [yet] He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
.
This does not mean He lacked obedience to the Father before His incarnation but that through the incarnation He had the experience of the temptation to be disobedient. The same can be said about Jesus advancing in wisdom.  It does not represent a lack of divine knowledge but it represents the addition of the experience  of living in a Human body. The Son joining with human flesh was something entirely new to Him. Christ knew how the human body worked and was the one who created it but when He became flesh he had to experience what is was like to learn to walk while His body developed it's motor skills.  For lack of a better way to express it I have to resort to; it is probably the difference between book learning a trade skill and actually doing it.



11

MorleyMcMorson

  • ***
  • 2603 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2011, 12:27:49 pm »
That all could be, but I still have some reservations:

1. The passages, especially the Mark passage, are clearly speaking of knowledge, not experience.  The experience most relevant to the Mark passage won't take place for a while still, so clearly Jesus didn't experience it while on Earth.  The plain text reading is that Jesus advanced cognitively in some way, not that he merely experienced certain things, so minus some reason to interpret it nonliterally I think we should take the passages to mean what I said earlier.

2. Even if the passages could be interpreted along lines of experience as opposed to knowledge, there's no reason to think Jesus couldn't have the relevant knowledge even without the experiences.  For example, Jesus could know how to walk from a muscular-skeletal point of view from all eternity even though he wasn't incarnate until a couple thousand years ago.  He could even know what it's like to experience certain unbecoming, sinful feelings even though he could never even possibly have them.  Thus, I think there's no reason to express experience in terms of knowledge as the two can be clearly separated.

Out of curiosity, is your view of the Trinity more Social or Latin?

"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
-Ardent A-theorist Cyndi Lauper in her song "All Through the Night", singing about the impossibility of time travel on her presentist metaphysic.

12

William Bryant

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2011, 09:15:15 pm »
If there is no issue of translation, then Mark 13 is  a statement admitting the lack of knowledge of a future event by the second person of the Trinity. In my opinion it really does not tie in to the statement in Luke about Jesus increasing in Wisdom since I do not believe this ignorance results from Jesus' incarnation but has to deal with the relationship within the Trinity.
I am not very familiar with the details of the definitions of the ideas of the Latin and Social Trinity but from what I do know I would say my view is more of the Social Trinity.  The reason being is that scripture speaks of Christ being in submission (not subordination) to the Father.  In order for there to be submissiveness there must be more than one will involved; the primary will and the will which submits to the primary.  Separate wills also involves separate minds which is why I think it is possible for the Father to know the time for the end when the Son does not.  This submission is a matter of role and not of rank or value much like in a Christian marriage a wife should submit to her loving husband although in Christ they are both equal.
I like to use the sun as an example of the Father /Son relationship.  The moment the sun ignited and became the sun, it gave out light.  The light is not the sun but it is the image of the sun and is generated by it.  There was never a time when the sun did not generate light (I am referring to the sun in it's present state).  So it is with the Son and the Father.  The Son's very being is from the Father and the Father was never without the Son.  We see the Son to see the Father.  I didn't mention the Holy Spirit but He is also included.
I will have to think of a better way to explain my position on how Jesus could retain His divine knowledge and still grow in wisdom.  I believe it can be explained in the same way that we can explain how Christ learned obedience from suffering without implying that Christ lacked obedience before suffering.  I may be spitting hairs in my mind which makes it difficult to explain to others.


13

FNB - Former non-believer

  • ***
  • 4048 Posts
  • Do you REALLY make your decision based on reason?
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 03:16:38 am »
vemee wrote: If there is no issue of translation, then Mark 13 is  a statement admitting the lack of knowledge of a future event by the second person of the Trinity. In my opinion it really does not tie in to the statement in Luke about Jesus increasing in Wisdom since I do not believe this ignorance results from Jesus' incarnation but has to deal with the relationship within the Trinity.
I am not very familiar with the details of the definitions of the ideas of the Latin and Social Trinity but from what I do know I would say my view is more of the Social Trinity.  The reason being is that scripture speaks of Christ being in submission (not subordination) to the Father.  In order for there to be submissiveness there must be more than one will involved; the primary will and the will which submits to the primary.  Separate wills also involves separate minds which is why I think it is possible for the Father to know the time for the end when the Son does not.  This submission is a matter of role and not of rank or value much like in a Christian marriage a wife should submit to her loving husband although in Christ they are both equal.
I like to use the sun as an example of the Father /Son relationship.  The moment the sun ignited and became the sun, it gave out light.  The light is not the sun but it is the image of the sun and is generated by it.  There was never a time when the sun did not generate light (I am referring to the sun in it's present state).  So it is with the Son and the Father.  The Son's very being is from the Father and the Father was never without the Son.  We see the Son to see the Father.  I didn't mention the Holy Spirit but He is also included.
I will have to think of a better way to explain my position on how Jesus could retain His divine knowledge and still grow in wisdom.  I believe it can be explained in the same way that we can explain how Christ learned obedience from suffering without implying that Christ lacked obedience before suffering.  I may be spitting hairs in my mind which makes it difficult to explain to others.



I think you described it well. A person has a mind, will and emotions. And God in Christianity is three persons. Therefore, it is perfectly possible for one person to different content in his mind as others. Perhaps the "growing in knowledge" could be explained by Jesus undergoing a gradual realization of his divine nature, since Jesus, according to Christianity, has a divine and human nature.

14

William Bryant

  • **
  • 13 Posts
    • View Profile
A Problem with Craig's Take on Jesus' Knowledge
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 09:36:23 am »
Posted by emailesthoume
 Perhaps the "growing in knowledge" could be explained by Jesus  undergoing a gradual realization of his divine nature, since Jesus,  according to Christianity, has a divine and human nature.


You could be right, but it also could be explained by Jesus realizing His human nature since that was new to Him.