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#714 Zygotic Jesus

January 11, 2021

Hello Dr. Craig! I want to profoundly thank you for your work, You have been one of the most important means God has used to keep me from backsliding! You have also been my personal hero both intellectually and because of your Christian character. As we wait for Christmas during this advent season, I decided to ask you two questions related to the incarnation of Christ. The first is this: in what sense was Jesus omniscient while in the form of a zygote or fetus? It makes sense to use concepts of the subliminal and subconscious or preconscious for when He was an adult, already having a brain, but how can a zygote have a subconsciousness?

The second question is this: if presently, after His ascension to Heaven, Christ is not in his physical resurrected body, and if Christ's human nature is formed only by the union of His divine soul and human body, does that mean he does not presently have a human nature? Also, if he will reassume his glorified body only at his second coming, would that be a second incarnation? Thank you so much for taking my question!


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Dr. craig’s response


Thank you for sending some seasonal questions, Rodrigo, and such interesting ones!

With respect to Jesus when he was still a zygote in Mary’s womb, we want to affirm that he was fully omniscient. The reason is because he was fully divine, the second person of the Trinity, now in human form. It’s crucial that we understand that according to orthodox Christology, Jesus is not a human person. There is only one person who is Jesus, and that person is the Logos, the pre-existent, eternal second person of the Trinity. To think that in addition to that divine person, there is another human person Jesus is to fall into the error of Nestorianism and so to divide the single person of Christ into two persons, one human and one divine. The Church rejected Nestorianism, affirming that in Christ’s incarnate state (even as a zygote) there is one person, a divine person, who has two natures, one human and one divine. We must neither divide the person nor confuse the natures. So as a divine person, Jesus had all the essential properties of God, including omniscience. Obviously, as a zygote, and even later, he was not consciously aware of all that he knew. We needn’t say that the zygote had a subconscious but that it was simply unconscious, and that needn’t affect the divine nature or person. 

As to the second question, we want to affirm that Jesus has a human nature even in his ascended state. The incarnation is not a temporary state of Jesus’ thirty-odd years on earth. Rather his resurrection shows that he has permanently assumed a human nature, the strongest possible affirmation of the worth of human corporeality. One could say that in his ascended state Jesus is spatially located somewhere, perhaps in another space-time different than our own. But like you, I’m inclined to say that between his ascension and bodily return, Jesus, while having a human nature, does not have a body. The reason is because he has exited our space-time manifold. By way of analogy, imagine a tuning fork placed inside a vacuum jar. If you were to pluck the fork, it would vibrate, but there would be no sound because there is no medium to conduct sound waves. Were you to introduce air into the jar, then the vibrations would be manifested as sound. The vibrating fork remains intrinsically the same in both scenarios, but its manifestations are different depending on the medium. Similarly, Jesus’ human nature is not now manifested as a physical body because, since he is not in space-time, there is no medium for the expression of his human nature in a three-dimensional form. When Christ re-enters our space-time manifold, then—voilà! —his physical body will again become manifest. This will be in a literal sense a re-incarnation, but not a second assumption of a human nature, since that remains constant throughout.

- William Lane Craig