Jmac

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Relating the trinity and incarnation
« on: December 20, 2011, 11:22:37 am »
I have a couple of questions for those who are familiar Craig's model of the incarnation and his model of the trinity. I suspect that I have misunderstood some element of the models, and I am seeking clarification. My questions are about whether to the two models can successfully be brought together.

1. According to Craig's model of the incarnation, the Logos possessed all the essential properties of the human nature except for a physical body until he took on a body at the incarnation, thereby becoming fully human. But when humans die, our souls separate from our bodies without ceasing to be human, which suggests that having a body is not essential to the human nature. But if this is so, then two problems result. First, the Son would have been fully human even before he was incarnated. And second, both the Father and the Spirit would be just as fully human as the Son even though they didn’t take on bodies (for they possess the same properties of personhood that the Son does). How can this problem be resolved?

2. It seems that one of the essential properties of the human nature is having (or being) a soul. But according to Craig's model of the trinity, the Son is not a soul; he is only part of a soul. There is one single soul that is God, and it supports three persons (the Father, Son, and Spirit). So either Jesus did not have a complete soul, or all of God (i.e. the one tri-personal divine soul) was united with Jesus’ body. But both of these are problematic. If Jesus did not have a complete soul like other humans, then he was not fully human. But, on the other hand, if the complete divine soul united with the body of Jesus, then how can we avoid the conclusion that all three persons were incarnated?

Any help with this would be appreciated.

     

 

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Robert Harris

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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2011, 09:27:07 pm »
I've thought of several various ways to respond but I think there is a lot of explanation that has to happen first which I think I will not be effective enough on the finer points but none the less I want to respond. Essentially I think there are just some misunderstandings. Or it could be the case I have some! lol.

The doctrine that man is made in the image of God does not mean that we have a bipedal mostly symmetrical tangible body; rather, like God, we are personal. Since the divine Logos is already a person when he came down and took on flesh (read Philippians Chapter 2:5-11) he brought to it all that was necessary for a complete human nature. The divine Logos wasn't "fully human" before the incarnation but rather possessed all the attributes, minus corporeality, essential to being human; of course he was much more than what is necessary to be human.

In response to 2: Jesus isn't part of the Trinity in that he is 1/3 of the Trinity. In trying to respond I am re-reading parts of Ch. 30 of Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Dr. Craig & Moreland). In it they state on pg. 608 that the Son--divine Logos--IS the soul of Jesus.

I myself am not sure what to say of what humans consist of--Mind, Soul, Spirit, Body--and where the words or definitions overlap.

----

If you found any of this helpful let me know and we can try to discuss what works further. If you think anything is lacking I will try to read up more and provide a more informative answer.

Very interesting questions.

Who needs cable when you can watch Dr. Craig all day long on YouTube?
-ebeatworld

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Jmac

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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2011, 10:00:33 pm »
RobertH,

Thanks for your reply. I think I need to clarify my questions/points, so let me try to do that:

In (1) I am making an argument that corporeality is not essential to the human nature, and then pointing out that this has problematic consequences for the trinity. What I am looking for is either a refutation of the argument that corporeality is not essential to humanity, or, if that argument cannot be refuted, then I am looking for some way to escape the problematic consequences that it seems to entail.

For (2) I recognize that Craig and Moreland propose that God the Son is the soul of Jesus. However, in the previous chapter on the trinity they maintain that the entire trinity amounts to just one soul. So the problem that I see is the apparent conflict in claiming that 1) the whole trinity is one soul, and 2) just part of the trinity (i.e. God the Son) is one soul. Unless the idea of a soul composed of some sort of "sub-souls" is acceptable, there seems to be a conflict.

You say that Jesus isn't part of the trinity in the sense that he is 1/3 of the trinity, and this may be where I have misunderstood something. As Craig and Moreland have presented their model they do seem to be suggesting that the trinity is "composed" of three "parts" (in some sense of the word). At the very least, I can't escape the idea that God the Son is 1/3 of the persons of the trinity.

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2011, 01:31:46 pm »
Jmac wrote: I have a couple of questions for those who are familiar Craig's model of the incarnation and his model of the trinity. I suspect that I have misunderstood some element of the models, and I am seeking clarification. My questions are about whether to the two models can successfully be brought together.

1. According to Craig's model of the incarnation, the Logos possessed all the essential properties of the human nature except for a physical body until he took on a body at the incarnation, thereby becoming fully human. But when humans die, our souls separate from our bodies without ceasing to be human, which suggests that having a body is not essential to the human nature. But if this is so, then two problems result. First, the Son would have been fully human even before he was incarnated. And second, both the Father and the Spirit would be just as fully human as the Son even though they didn’t take on bodies (for they possess the same properties of personhood that the Son does). How can this problem be resolved?

2. It seems that one of the essential properties of the human nature is having (or being) a soul. But according to Craig's model of the trinity, the Son is not a soul; he is only part of a soul. There is one single soul that is God, and it supports three persons (the Father, Son, and Spirit). So either Jesus did not have a complete soul, or all of God (i.e. the one tri-personal divine soul) was united with Jesus’ body. But both of these are problematic. If Jesus did not have a complete soul like other humans, then he was not fully human. But, on the other hand, if the complete divine soul united with the body of Jesus, then how can we avoid the conclusion that all three persons were incarnated?

Any help with this would be appreciated.

     

   

1. I think it's best to be agnostic on what properties are essential to be human.

2. That is indeed a problem, one which Daniel Howard-Snyder has brought up.  Craig's reply fails to address the issue, possibly because he knows what sort of treatment Swinburne has received due to his model of the Trinity.  That is, Craig's model would then seem far more tritheistic then it currently does.  Rather than tritheistic, it seems incoherent.
"We have no past, we won't reach back..."
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Jmac

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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2011, 03:35:56 pm »
MorleyMcMorson,

1. Normally I would agree that it doesn't ultimately matter. However, in this case there appears to be a dilemma. Either corporeality is essential to humanity, or it is not. But both alternatives seem to be problematic.

2. Craig does mention in his reply to Howard-Snyder that it is possible to conceive of the trinity as being one substance composed of three substances, so that each person is its own substance. Perhaps that could be an opening to defend something like a single soul composed of "sub-souls" or something like that?

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2011, 04:13:54 pm »
Jmac wrote:
MorleyMcMorson,

1. Normally I would agree that it doesn't ultimately matter. However, in this case there appears to be a dilemma. Either corporeality is essential to humanity, or it is not. But both alternatives seem to be problematic.

2. Craig does mention in his reply to Howard-Snyder that it is possible to conceive of the trinity as being one substance composed of three substances, so that each person is its own substance. Perhaps that could be an opening to defend something like a single soul composed of "sub-souls" or something like that?

1. Corporeality probably cannot be considered essential to humanity if Christianity is correct.  The Bible, many argue and I agree, teaches that there is an intermediate state in which people exist incorporeally.  I don't see the problem with the other alternative.  Christians can obviously claim that Christ's taking on humanity entailed more than (or other than) his taking on human flesh, DNA, or whatever.

2. I think the major problem is the one Howard-Snyder points out: you can't both claim that persons are essentially souls, claim the Trinity is three persons, and then claim that the Trinity is just one soul.  As for substances, you could pretty much say anything since substance-talk is rather abstruse.
"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.

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Jmac

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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2011, 06:52:58 pm »
MorleyMcMorson wrote:
Quote from: Jmac


1. Corporeality probably cannot be considered essential to humanity if Christianity is correct.  The Bible, many argue and I agree, teaches that there is an intermediate state in which people exist incorporeally.  I don't see the problem with the other alternative.  Christians can obviously claim that Christ's taking on humanity entailed more than (or other than) his taking on human flesh, DNA, or whatever.

2. I think the major problem is the one Howard-Snyder points out: you can't both claim that persons are essentially souls, claim the Trinity is three persons, and then claim that the Trinity is just one soul.  As for substances, you could pretty much say anything since substance-talk is rather abstruse.

1. The problem with the other alternative would be resolved if, as you suggest, that Christ's taking on humanity entailed more than his taking on a human body. But then it becomes tricky explaining how this might work without positing that Christ had a human as well as a divine mind, which makes it tricky to fend of nestorianism.
I believe Craig's view on this issue is that having a body or having once had a body is a necessary property of humanity. That might be another way to approach the problem.

2. Some other possible solutions to this problem that I have been entertaining are these:
a) perhaps having a soul is only essential to being human insofar as it allows a human to have attributes such as consciousness, rationality, volition (etc.). If this is so, then perhaps we can think of the union of the mind of the Logos with a body being sufficient for a human nature without maintaining that the entire soul of the trinity was in some sense incarnated.
b) Another possible option is to think of the entire soul that is the trinity becoming the soul of the human nature of Christ, but we avoid the incarnation of the entire trinity by positing that a center of consciousness is not a human person unless it is united with a body. For on this view it would remain true that only one divine center of consciousness was incarnated.

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2012, 06:29:59 pm »
1. The problem with the other alternative would be resolved if, as you suggest, that Christ's taking on humanity entailed more than his taking on a human body. But then it becomes tricky explaining how this might work without positing that Christ had a human as well as a divine mind, which makes it tricky to fend of nestorianism.
I believe Craig's view on this issue is that having a body or having once had a body is a necessary property of humanity. That might be another way to approach the problem.


I don't personally know Craig's view on that matter precisely.  However, that would be an odd construal, since it is very time-relative.  Obviously Jesus would have eternally had the property of "possibly having a body."  It's a very small step from this to that time-relative property.  The property I mention would make any sense of putting on human nature impossible.

As for nestorianism, I don't see that you need to posit two minds.  All that would be required is that Jesus take on certain properties at incarnation that would then amount to adding a human nature.  What these are is unclear, but that is a far cry from incoherence.

2. Some other possible solutions to this problem that I have been entertaining are these:
a) perhaps having a soul is only essential to being human insofar as it allows a human to have attributes such as consciousness, rationality, volition (etc.). If this is so, then perhaps we can think of the union of the mind of the Logos with a body being sufficient for a human nature without maintaining that the entire soul of the trinity was in some sense incarnated.


I guess this is possible, but it does require giving up the 1 soul/1 person ratio normally adhered to.

b) Another possible option is to think of the entire soul that is the trinity becoming the soul of the human nature of Christ, but we avoid the incarnation of the entire trinity by positing that a center of consciousness is not a human person unless it is united with a body. For on this view it would remain true that only one divine center of consciousness was incarnated.


But if the whole soul of the Trinity becomes the soul of the human nature of Christ, how does this avoid, for example, patripassianism?
"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.

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Jmac

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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2012, 09:54:34 pm »
MorleyMcMorson wrote: As for nestorianism, I don't see that you need to posit two minds.  All that would be required is that Jesus take on certain properties at incarnation that would then amount to adding a human nature.  What these are is unclear, but that is a far cry from incoherence.

Point taken. Though I confess I still find the idea of a soul somehow composed of separable parts a little odd (or is there another way to think about it)?

jmac wrote:
2. Some other possible solutions to this problem that I have been entertaining are these:
a) perhaps having a soul is only essential to being human insofar as it allows a human to have attributes such as consciousness, rationality, volition (etc.). If this is so, then perhaps we can think of the union of the mind of the Logos with a body being sufficient for a human nature without maintaining that the entire soul of the trinity was in some sense incarnated.

I guess this is possible, but it does require giving up the 1 soul/1 person ratio normally adhered to.

True, but Craig's model of the trinity by itself has already done that. So if that is the cost of bringing together his model of the trinity and his model of the incarnation, then there is no additional loss.

jmac wrote: b) Another possible option is to think of the entire soul that is the trinity becoming the soul of the human nature of Christ, but we avoid the incarnation of the entire trinity by positing that a center of consciousness is not a human person unless it is united with a body. For on this view it would remain true that only one divine center of consciousness was incarnated.
But if the whole soul of the Trinity becomes the soul of the human nature of Christ, how does this avoid, for example, patripassianism?

I would attempt to answer that by pointing out that the Logos is united directly to the body of Jesus, while the other two divine persons are not directly united with the body of Jesus (i.e. incarnated). While the entire soul counts as the soul of Jesus, it does so only because one of its three centers of consciousness (or minds, as Craig sometimes calls them) is united with the body of Jesus. It was Jesus' body that was nailed to the cross, but the mind of the Father was not (directly) united to Jesus' body in the way that the mind of the Logos was/is. Only the Logos accessed the world exclusively through the body of Jesus.

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2012, 11:13:16 am »
Point taken. Though I confess I still find the idea of a soul somehow composed of separable parts a little odd (or is there another way to think about it)?

I personally think three souls is the best option.  A soul with parts is problematic, as usually the soul is thought of as a metaphysically simple entity.

True, but Craig's model of the trinity by itself has already done that. So if that is the cost of bringing together his model of the trinity and his model of the incarnation, then there is no additional loss.

Right, I just think that loss is too much, and as it stands his model seems to contradict other metaphysical tenets he holds elsewhere.

I would attempt to answer that by pointing out that the Logos is united directly to the body of Jesus, while the other two divine persons are not directly united with the body of Jesus (i.e. incarnated). While the entire soul counts as the soul of Jesus, it does so only because one of its three centers of consciousness (or minds, as Craig sometimes calls them) is united with the body of Jesus. It was Jesus' body that was nailed to the cross, but the mind of the Father was not (directly) united to Jesus' body in the way that the mind of the Logos was/is. Only the Logos accessed the world exclusively through the body of Jesus.

I'm not sure I fully understand this.  You're saying the whole soul was the soul of Jesus, but only the mind of Jesus was incarnated.  Aren't the minds on Craig's model just parts of the soul?  I don't see how both could be so.  It seems like we'd just be saying that bit about the soul by fiat.
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Jmac

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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2012, 04:07:24 pm »
MorleyMcMorson wrote:

I would attempt to answer that by pointing out that the Logos is united directly to the body of Jesus, while the other two divine persons are not directly united with the body of Jesus (i.e. incarnated). While the entire soul counts as the soul of Jesus, it does so only because one of its three centers of consciousness (or minds, as Craig sometimes calls them) is united with the body of Jesus. It was Jesus' body that was nailed to the cross, but the mind of the Father was not (directly) united to Jesus' body in the way that the mind of the Logos was/is. Only the Logos accessed the world exclusively through the body of Jesus.

I'm not sure I fully understand this.  You're saying the whole soul was the soul of Jesus, but only the mind of Jesus was incarnated.  Aren't the minds on Craig's model just parts of the soul?  I don't see how both could be so.  It seems like we'd just be saying that bit about the soul by fiat.

Craig seems to think that the tri-personal soul of the trinity is united with a body via only one of its three "minds." I am basically just suggesting that Jesus does have a soul (or in this case he belongs to a soul--the triune soul), but only the mind of the Logos can be considered incarnated since only that mind accesses the world through the body of Jesus (the other two are not limited in that way).

Not sure if that will help... I'm having a hard time articulating what I'm thinking here.

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2012, 09:13:15 pm »
Jmac wrote:
Quote from: MorleyMcMorson

I would attempt to answer that by pointing out that the Logos is united directly to the body of Jesus, while the other two divine persons are not directly united with the body of Jesus (i.e. incarnated). While the entire soul counts as the soul of Jesus, it does so only because one of its three centers of consciousness (or minds, as Craig sometimes calls them) is united with the body of Jesus. It was Jesus' body that was nailed to the cross, but the mind of the Father was not (directly) united to Jesus' body in the way that the mind of the Logos was/is. Only the Logos accessed the world exclusively through the body of Jesus.

I'm not sure I fully understand this.  You're saying the whole soul was the soul of Jesus, but only the mind of Jesus was incarnated.  Aren't the minds on Craig's model just parts of the soul?  I don't see how both could be so.  It seems like we'd just be saying that bit about the soul by fiat.

Craig seems to think that the tri-personal soul of the trinity is united with a body via only one of its three "minds." I am basically just suggesting that Jesus does have a soul (or in this case he belongs to a soul--the triune soul), but only the mind of the Logos can be considered incarnated since only that mind accesses the world through the body of Jesus (the other two are not limited in that way).

Not sure if that will help... I'm having a hard time articulating what I'm thinking here.

That all sounds about as acceptable as such a model could be.  However, I still think there are problems for saying Jesus was fully divine and fully human.  If humans are simply identical with souls, then if Jesus was fully human he had to be identical with a soul.  On Craig's model, that soul would have to be the Trinity.  But you can see the problems this would lead to.
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Jmac

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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2012, 10:15:48 pm »
MorleyMcMorson wrote:
That all sounds about as acceptable as such a model could be.  However, I still think there are problems for saying Jesus was fully divine and fully human.  If humans are simply identical with souls, then if Jesus was fully human he had to be identical with a soul.  On Craig's model, that soul would have to be the Trinity.  But you can see the problems this would lead to.

The tricky part is the "if Jesus was fully human" part. Jesus is the name of a person, which Craig (if I am interpreting him correctly) would identify as a center of self-consciousness. And Craig would further point out that a center of self-consciousness is not equivalent to a soul (on his view). The significance of this being, "Jesus was fully human" doesn't seem to be an identity statement. So the reasoning that humans are identical with souls, Jesus is human, therefore Jesus is a soul, wouldn't follow given Craig's assumptions.

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MorleyMcMorson

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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2012, 11:04:26 pm »
The tricky part is the "if Jesus was fully human" part. Jesus is the name of a person, which Craig (if I am interpreting him correctly) would identify as a center of self-consciousness. And Craig would further point out that a center of self-consciousness is not equivalent to a soul (on his view). The significance of this being, "Jesus was fully human" doesn't seem to be an identity statement. So the reasoning that humans are identical with souls, Jesus is human, therefore Jesus is a soul, wouldn't follow given Craig's assumptions.

I'm not sure about all this.  I want to say that Craig says conflicting things on this count, although I have no quotes handy right now.  I would be interested to know, however, how Craig (if he thinks what you describe) differentiates a "center of self-consciousness" from a soul.  What more does a soul provide, basically.
"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.

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Jmac

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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 09:09:57 am »
MorleyMcMorson wrote:
The tricky part is the "if Jesus was fully human" part. Jesus is the name of a person, which Craig (if I am interpreting him correctly) would identify as a center of self-consciousness. And Craig would further point out that a center of self-consciousness is not equivalent to a soul (on his view). The significance of this being, "Jesus was fully human" doesn't seem to be an identity statement. So the reasoning that humans are identical with souls, Jesus is human, therefore Jesus is a soul, wouldn't follow given Craig's assumptions.

I'm not sure about all this.  I want to say that Craig says conflicting things on this count, although I have no quotes handy right now.  I would be interested to know, however, how Craig (if he thinks what you describe) differentiates a "center of self-consciousness" from a soul.  What more does a soul provide, basically.

I have wondered the same thing. It's hard to see how "soul" is anything more than just a word on his model. However, one possibility is that, by "center of self-consciousness" Craig does not mean to refer to a substance but the set of cognitive faculties (volition, intellect, etc.) that any person has, and that the soul is the actual mental/immaterial substance in which those faculties consist. Or, again, it is possible that each divine person has/is it's own soul, necessarily united, and Craig simply refers to the united whole as a single soul. But this would bring his view closer to that of Swinburne's and Yandell's.