We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.
Did Jesus Have Two Minds?
As I laid out in the previous post, I believe Jesus is fully God and fully human. The question is: How is this possible? How do we talk about the way that Jesus was fully God and fully man?
The Creed of Chalcedon (451) tries to answer the question this way:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, … truly God and truly man, … to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons…
While the Creed defends against basic Christological heresies of the early Church, it actually does not answer our question. It just sets the boundaries that must be observed to avoid heresy. We must still make sense of the incarnation within these boundaries.
The way most theologians in the church tradition have done this, at least as it concerns the question of Jesus’ knowledge, is often called a “two minds Christology.” This view holds that Jesus walked the earth with both the all-knowing mind of God and the limited knowledge of a human being. And one could argue that the Bible supports this claim. Jesus occasionally demonstrated an omniscient awareness of people’s innermost thoughts and motives (Jn 2:24-25; Mt 9:4). He expressed a divine knowledge of Judas’ deceitful heart and future betrayal (Jn 13:18-19, 21-27), of Peter’s future denial (Lk 22L31-34) and the exact mode of his death (Jn 21:18-19), of a stranger who would open up his house to him and his disciples (Mk 14:12-16), and of a coin that would be found in a fish’s mouth (Mt 17:24-27). At the same time, as a full human being, Jesus often indicates that his knowledge was limited. So, this tradition concludes, Jesus somehow simultaneously possessed “two minds”: a divine omniscient mind and a human finite mind.
This view is not without its problems. To be honest, I have always had trouble rendering this view coherent. It requires us to imagine that Jesus was aware of what was happening with every molecule on every planet in the universe even while he was a zygote in the womb of Mary. And it requires that we imagine this while also affirming that, as a fully human zygote, Jesus was completely devoid of any awareness. Is this a legitimate paradox or an unacceptable contradiction? One could easily argue the latter. If being God means that one is omniscient and that being human means that one is not omniscient, then it seems we are asserting A and not A in claiming Jesus was both. We could argue along the same lines regarding God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. And if this is true, then in asserting that Jesus was a single person who was fully God (and thus fully omniscient) and full human (and thus not fully omniscient), we are asserting nothing, just as when we say “married bachelor” or “round triangle.”
There is an alternative way of talking about how Jesus was fully God and fully human, however. It has been labeled the “kenotic Christology,” based on the word kenosis, which is Greek for “to empty.” More specifically, it is based on Philippians 2:7. In my next post, I’ll begin with a discussion of this passage.
If you want to read a basic introduction to the Classical view of the Incarnation, I recommend G. Boyd, P. Eddy, Across the Spectrum, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 111.
Tags: Essay, God, Incarnation, Jesus, Kenosis, Omniscience, The Mind
Guest Post: Culture War Neighbors by Bonnie Kristian
Matteo Parrini via Compfight The first time I was aware of meeting a gay person, I was 18. I took a summer job waiting tables, and it turned out two of my coworkers were attracted to people of the same sex. One, a waiter in his 40s, fit every stereotype on Will and Grace. The…
Was Jesus Really Human Like the Rest of Us?
Did Jesus really live as a human like you and I do? Or did he walk around with special divine powers that we don’t have? In the previous post, I introduced the question: How was God both fully God and fully man? I explained the classical model of the Incarnation which views the incarnate Jesus…
How Should We Respond to Bullies?
Greg answers a question from parents as to how their child should respond to a bully.
Twenty Arguments Against Cameron’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”
On March 4th, 2007, the Discovery Channel aired James Cameron’s much celebrated documentary, “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” The documentary basically gives a new spin on an old discovery. In 1980, a first century tomb was discovered in Talpoit (a southern suburb of Jerusalem) that contained 10 ossuaries (that is, boxes that contain the remains…
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
This is the first week of Advent, the season where we anticipate the coming of Christ. It’s a time to hear and enter into the story of how Jesus came out of love to give his life for us. This grand love story of Christmas taps into a deep intuition we have about the centrality…
God Became a Zygote
Has the Christmas story become so familiar that you’ve lost any sense of how spectacular it is? The great creator of the universe became a microscopic zygote. The all-powerful being who spoke the stars into existence came in a very small and vulnerable way. He crossed an infinite distance to become one of us. You can watch…