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Something I hear a lot is "Jesus has to be God because it took an infinite sacrifice to appease the infinite anger of an infinite God", or something like that.

My question concerns whether God the Son's blood is human or divine.

If human, then I don't understand how it was infinite enough to be an acceptable sacrifice, why he needed to be God, and how this is not an abomination.

If divine, then it must carry the supposed qualities of divinity (infinite, eternal, and unchangable) so that he is not a real human.

According to Protestant trinitarianism, when God the Son's blood was shed, was this a shedding of human, finite blood, or was it divine, infinite blood?

  • Jesus also shed pieces of His flesh during the terrible scourging. Hope you are not asking for its classification. – Kadalikatt Joseph Sibichan May 5 '17 at 10:12
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    What does "infinite blood" mean? And I think it would help to add the "life is in the blood" thought to the question, I didn't know you had that in mind. – curiousdannii May 5 '17 at 12:32
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    ""Jesus had to be God because it took an infinite sacrifice to appease the infinite anger of an infinite God" ... dates from Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). See Cur Deus, Book II, Ch. XIV. The theology of penal substitutionary atonement stems from medieval Roman Catholic theology and is at odds with what the eastern Church Fathers taught (e.g. Athanasius, On the Incarnation - written about 700 years earlier). – guest37 May 5 '17 at 13:00
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    @guest37 I'd love to discuss this with you in chat - if only I had time, which is questionable. I see nothing in that chapter which suggests the infinite anger of God; and Catholicism has for a long time made some strong statements to the effect of the heresy of penal substitutionary atonement. – Matt Gutting May 5 '17 at 14:51
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    I think you mean Eastern Orthodox, not Eastern Catholicism. There are "Eastern" Catholics - usually called Byzantine Catholics by the Roman Catholic Church and "Uniates" by the Orthodox. There is a fundamentally different understanding of human nature by the Orthodox on the one hand and Roman Catholics/Protestants on the other. Despite some residual similarities between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Liturgies, Orthodoxy views Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as two different sides of the same coin. – guest37 May 5 '17 at 21:35
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Jesus's blood is strictly part of his human nature

According to Chalcedonian Christians in the incarnation Jesus took on a complete human nature which was united to the divine nature of God. Jesus's body is part of his human nature and was created in the incarnation. The divine nature of God is spirit, uncreated, non-physical. The Chalcedonian definition says that the two natures of Christ are united without separation, but also without mixture or confusion. Jesus has two distinct natures, not one hybrid nature, which means that his blood is strictly human, not divine.

The infinite nature of sin

I think the infinite nature of sin could be better referred to as the total, complete, and unquantifiable nature of sin. Under the Jewish law there was a sense in which individual sins were to be atoned for by individual sacrifices, that certain sins needed certain sacrifices. But none of these sacrifices could actually deal with the sinful nature we possess (Hebrews 10).

Our sinful nature is all-encompassing - none of us are only partially sinful, we just are sinful. We don't need partial saving, we need complete saving. We aren't partially dead, we are dead, and Jesus doesn't make us partially alive, he makes us alive. So when we consider the atonement Jesus brings us, it's not like we count up our sins and subtract them from Jesus's sacrifice. Jesus brings us complete redemption, regeneration, and reconciliation.

If there is an "infinite anger" (a phrase I haven't heard before) then it would be in the same sense: as we are totally unquantifiably sinful, so God is totally unquantifiably angry at our sin. But God is not only angry at us. Though we may not be able to understand how, at the same time as God is unquantifiably angry with us, such that he can even call us his enemies, he loves us enough to die for us to save us (Romans 5:6-10).

The infinite nature of the atonement

While there is a debate within Protestantism over the scope of the atonement as it applies to humanity (the debate over so-called "limited" atonement), all would agree that Jesus's sacrificial atoning death was of infinite capacity, sufficient to cover every sin of every human who has ever existed.

While the blood of Jesus is important, because Jesus paid the blood debt we all owed (or the blood punishment for those who are okay with that terminology), we shouldn't think of the atonement being accomplished solely or even primarily by his blood. The 5 litres of his blood don't need to be distributed among humanity as if we need one red blood cell each. While we Western Christians like to think individually, and while it is necessary that we do each have a personal faith and receive salvation ourselves, the atonement was for the church as a group.

On the cross Jesus received the condemnation which the whole world deserved. He destroyed the power of sin and death, and he initiated the end of the time of Adam. In his resurrection he is like a new Adam (Romans 5, 1 Cor 15), bringing new life to a new humanity. His death is the end of the old and his resurrection the beginning of the new, although we are waiting for judgement day when the beginning will be completed. We receive this not through an individual gift or transfer but because we are united to Christ, we are "in Christ" as the NT frequently says. I think we can say that we are in effect one step removed from the blood of Jesus: Jesus sheds his blood in the judgement of the old humanity and destroys sin and death, and then receives vindication, new eternal life, and initiates the new humanity in his resurrection. We die and are raised in him (Romans 6), so that the death of one man can cover us all because we are united to him.

  • Great answer curiousdanni. I still don't understand why it is necessary that Jesus be god, when the abomination of a human sacrifice was good enough. I guess this means only "god the son's" "human nature" died, so how was it an infinite sacrifice? Also, what does "new eternal life" mean? – Cannabijoy May 6 '17 at 4:13
  • Why Jesus's divinity is necessary is a huge question (and not this question), but Union with Christ may be the clearest way to get at an answer. Jesus is what unites humanity to God because he is true God and he is true man. If he was not God then even if he could somehow atone for us he couldn't bridge the fundamental gap between God and humanity, between Creator and creation. The hypostatic union means it wasn't only Christ's human nature which died, Christ died as a person, not as a nature. And new eternal life means what it normally does, resurrected eternal life with God without sin. – curiousdannii May 6 '17 at 6:48
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    @anonymouswho Blood represents the sacrafice. It could have just as easily been His sweat we symbolically drink (if God set up the OT symbolism that way - of course life is in the blood, and sweat is a sign of the fallen world). Jesus died as a human (He was fully human and fully God, but death is within creation and divinity outside it), but the important thing wasn't humanity vs divinity, but purity/righteousness and willingness. That's why human sacrafice wouldn't work - you have to find a human sinless (and we're sinners from the womb), and that person has to lay down their life willingly. – Jamin Grey May 7 '17 at 4:44
  • The focus on the nature of the blood might distract you from the importance of the Person and the Act. Whether the blood is ""infinite"" or not is, as far as I know, unimportant. The act is once for all, the person outside time, but the blood was a human's blood, because a created substance cannot physically be a part of an uncreated God who is physically outside of physics itself. Jesus is fully God and fully man, but the man is inside space and time and creation, and has all the limitations mankind has. He has a glorified body, but so will we when we are changed in the twinkling of an eye. – Jamin Grey May 7 '17 at 4:52
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    Human sacrafice is an abomination because it's murder (unwilling) or else suicide (willing). It's not murder or suicide if I am condemned to die, and you volunteer to be killed in my place (the volunteer doesn't want to die, but chooses to because someone is required to die, and the volunteer would rather it be him out of love or even any other motive). This is true irregardless of sin or crime or divinity, and irregardless of the purity of the person volunteering. Where the purity comes in, is you can't pay my debt of sin if you have your own debt that hasn't been taken care of. – Jamin Grey May 7 '17 at 5:16
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I have heard this to be a reason why Jesus is God as well, but I cannot find any biblical reference for this belief. One way to think about this is that if Adam, a finite human, was enough to bring sin into the world and to affect his progeny, then Jesus needn't be God in order to appease some "infinite anger" of God. Remember, Jesus was the incarnation of God's word. The words and deeds of Jesus were according to God's will. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets, so placing one's trust in Jesus (faith) and following him (the fruit of one's faith; see James) brings one to salvation.

  • Can I ask which denominational viewpoint your answer correlates to? This answer might get deleted because I edited the question to be specifically about Protestants, but I'm interested to know who else holds your interpretation. Thank you. – Cannabijoy May 5 '17 at 20:23
  • Nondenominational. The answer I offered considers a purely scriptural perspective, i.e., sola scriptura. (That is a Protestant belief.) Note that there isn't any biblical reference where Jesus needs to be God incarnate in order to appease "infinite anger" of God. The hypostatic union makes it so that Jesus' natures aren't mixed, so the blood would not be divine. Still, the shedding of blood was required and Jesus lived sinlessly as the unblemished lamb of God. – Mea quidem sententia May 5 '17 at 21:51
  • Thanks for clarifying. Yes, I know there are no verses that say "god the son" had to be god to appease his own infinite anger, or anything about a hypostatic union. So why is it necessary that Yeshua be god, if the abomination of a human sacrifice was acceptable enough? – Cannabijoy May 6 '17 at 3:22
  • I couldn't say. guest37 provided a link to Anselm of Canterbury regarding the reason to its necessity that Jesus be God incarnate. However, you are seeking a Protestant answer. – Mea quidem sententia May 6 '17 at 3:33
  • The offense was towards God. Who else could forgive that offense? – Abstraction is everything. Jun 7 '17 at 1:32
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In the olden days, people believed that the fetus received the mother's blood. Since Jesus' blood was pure that must mean, they thought, Mary's blood must be pure. This led to the doctrine* that Mary must have been conceived without sin (immaculate conception, Roman Catholic) or she became pure at the annunciation (Eastern Orthodox). But this was bad science that led to divisive doctrine.

The baby in fact creates its own blood**.

Now, we also know that the virgin conceived and bore to term the baby. So, it was divine blood, which is to say, not of the fallen Adam nature, not of Mary. Yet, Christ did have flesh, so it was human blood, but again, without sin or its consequences (death), which is why Christ resurrected on the third day.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception **http://www.justanswer.com/pediatrics/1f2ym-does-baby-s-blood-father-mother.html **https://www.babble.com/pregnancy/anatomy-fetus-placenta/ **many other references are available

  • I don't see any evidence from your reference that the Immaculate Conception of Mary had anything to do with a requirement for the Mother to provide "pure blood" for the Child. In fact, Thomas Aquinas implies pretty much the opposite. – Matt Gutting May 5 '17 at 18:06
  • See Aquinas' Reply to Objection 3.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.TP.ii.TP_Q31.TP_Q31_A5.html – SLM May 5 '17 at 19:29
  • Aquinas references John of Damascus' "pure blood" idea here. "... and from her holy and most pure blood He formed flesh ..."ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iii.ii.html – SLM May 5 '17 at 19:35
  • And yet there was no requirement that Mary be "pure"; see Question 31 article 4, ad 3. – Matt Gutting May 5 '17 at 19:40
  • Can you provide a link to Q31, 4, 3? – SLM May 5 '17 at 19:44

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