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Let's assume that God is omnipotent in the sense that he can do anything which is logically possible (so that he cannot create square circles because a square circle is a contradiction).

Now it is thought that God cannot do things like make himself cease to exist, or to become contingent. How does this square with the idea that (at least some part of) God became a man. By entering into time and assuming a bodily form, is that not the meaning of becoming contingent?

I can anticipate the answer that Jesus has two natures, the human one that is contingent (and does not exist anymore) and one that is divine (which was never contingent), but this seems to me to just split Jesus into a divine part (which was never contingent) and the ordinary human part, so that the Jesus that walked on Earth was an ordinary human, and hence no need fore the idea of the trinity.

Any way to resolve this dilemma?

Edit: Perhaps to restate: Do we have to accept that God - in his omnipotence, must be able to create the logically impossible, in order to believe in something like the trinity?

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    Very similar to the question of how God can be immutable and then become man. I'm not sure there's much of an answer beyond it being the miracle of the incarnation! – curiousdannii Apr 10 at 13:07
  • " it is thought that God cannot become contingent.". Where is this idea coming from? – DJClayworth Apr 10 at 13:31
  • @DJClayworth Isn't the idea that God can become contingent - blasphemous? God is supposed to be unlike any finite thing? I believe this is shared among all orthodox/mainstream monotheistic faiths. – K9Lucario Apr 10 at 13:39
  • This may be related to the question of the peccability or impeccability of Jesus. If he is impeccable (incapable of sinning) then perhaps he is also not contingent? See gotquestions.org/could-Jesus-have-sinned.html for an opinion that Jesus was impeccable. – Paul Chernoch Apr 10 at 18:58
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    The idea that Jesus's human nature no longer exists (which you mentioned parenthetically in the question) is certainly contrary to Catholic doctrine; I think it's also contrary to the beliefs of the Orthodox and most Protestant denominations. Jesus's human nature still exists and is still hypostatically united to His divine nature. – Andreas Blass Apr 11 at 1:15
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"Do we have to accept that God - in his omnipotence, must be able to create the logically impossible, in order to believe in something like the trinity?" In a word, no.

In the person of our Lord Jesus, God did not become man in the sense of ceasing to be God.

Jesus was fully God and fully man - two natures in one person, the two natures entirely distinct. When Jesus spoke it was God speaking (perhaps with very rare exceptions such as Matthew 26:39, 27:46), when Jesus healed it was God healing, when Jesus wept it was the character of God expressing himself through the humanity of Christ. If Jesus was not God then we have no direct evidence of the real character of God.

Jesus is still both God and man, two natures in one person, in heaven. That he is still a man is shown by 1 Timothy 2:5 - "there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus" and as shown in the letter to the Hebrews, he is a High Priest who is able to sympathise with our weaknesses, who is taken from among men (Heb 5:1). A careful reading of Hebrews, prayerfully depending on our Teacher (John 16:13), will surely plainly reveal Jesus is a living, bodily resurrected man in Heaven right now, just as He himself said "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up"... he was speaking about his body. It is from Heaven that he will come back again to judge the living and the dead: because "God has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that MAN whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men in that he has raised him from the dead. But when they heard of the resurrection some mocked..." (Acts 17:31,32) (because they were Greeks, and Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul but not of the body).

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Not in the slightest. The Incarnation does not involve the assumption of contingency. The Incarnation adds nothing to the person of God the Son, only to creation (inasmuch as the human nature of Jesus is a creature).

That is, the soul created for Jesus, is Jesus' soul, but in not too dissimilar a way to how creation is God's own also, created for Him. When God creates souls, He by so doing, or perhaps simultaneously, creates a new person that this soul is the soul of. However, in the Incarnation, God created a soul for Jesus, which assumes His Person, instead of a created person.

The very fact that Monophysitism is a heresy proves that contingency is not affected, for the divine and human nature of Christ are not mingled, and there is absolutely no admixture or confusion of natures (Monophysitism meaning, 'One-natureism,' referring to the heretical idea that Christ's divine and human nature melded into one Supernature).

Truly, the human nature of Christ is a Tabernacle: "the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" (John 1:14). (I don't intend to give the impression it was a puppet for the Son, but rather a vehicle for His Person, or a mode of living on earth; the former would be heretical.)

In other words, in the Incarnation, nothing is added or which, taken away, changes Who or What he was before. That is, the Hypostatic Union (meaning the unity of natures in the one person of Christ) could theoretically be undone, and Christ's human nature destroyed; inasmuch as it was not necessary for Him to be incarnate in the first place).

Also, Christ's human nature still exists. It didn't get destroyed.

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God cannot do everything. The Bible says God cannot lie.

Numbers 23:19 King James Version (KJV)

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Titus 1:2 King James Version (KJV)

2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Hebrews 6:18 King James Version (KJV)

18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

At least Biblically, this proves that your understanding of God's omnipotence is flawed.

Also, why do you believe that Jesus' human nature does not exist anymore? According to the Bible, Jesus was raised in His human body and as far as I know, doesn't mention anything about His human body ceasing to exist.

There are too many assumptions here that are simply not Biblical.

So on to my answer.

God is God and infinite. You are a creature, finite. You, a finite being in a fallen state, wish to understand the nature of the Infinite. God has reveled what is necessary for our salvation through Jesus and the Bible. Does He go into detail about His own nature? No, and we probably would not understand it. The Trinity (a word not used in the Bible) is the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And these three are one. United in purpose, yet separate beings. Similar to the union between husband and wife,

Mark 10:8, 9

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Two are one. A beautiful example of the union between the Trinity or Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A union of purpose, sacrifice, submission, but above all love.

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You haven't specified any particular denomination, so I'll stick with a view that is Biblical without any later doctrinal additions.

That there is "no need for the idea of the trinity", is fine. Certainly the original Apostles had no such concept. It is sufficient for Christianity that the Son and the Father exist.

What the being we know as the Son did, was to completely empty himself of all divinity and become a fully human being. As such, he was subject to the same temptations as anyone else, and would have become subject to the eternal death penalty if he ever sinned. Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15).

This is a key point that many Christians fail to understand when they quote John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son".

If it were certain that as a human being Jesus would never sin, and that as a result he would be resurrected back to his fully divine spiritual self, then there really wasn't much of a sacrifice. And Jesus's temptation in the desert etc. would have been nothing more than symbolic rituals.

But this wasn't certain. The great sacrifice was that Jesus could have sinned; that had he done so, he would have died and stayed that way. He would no longer exist, and God the Father would be left alone for all eternity.

This is the central key to what Christianity is all about. The life of a spirit being that had existed for eternity was contingent upon the ability of a single human being to live a life without sin. That is what the Father's sacrifice was. That is what "so loved the world" really means.

EDIT: I wonder why this is generating negative votes. Is there something fundamentally wrong with what it says, or are people downvoting simply because it conflicts with their own beliefs about Christianity?

  • Is what you say factual, or merely subjective interpretation (within the scope of Christianity)? – Mr Pie Apr 10 at 14:13
  • I'll stick with a view that is Biblical without any later doctrinal addition is a major point of disagreement between denominations – depperm Apr 10 at 14:56
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    @user477343, I do try to be objective. If someone believes that it was impossible for Jesus to sin, then the concept of temptation becomes meaningless. If someone believes that Jesus would have been resurrected even if he had sinned, then the concept of redemption, sacrifice, and the famous 3:16 become meaningless. – Ray Butterworth Apr 10 at 19:02
  • @RayButterworth true, but say Jesus decided to jump off a cliff and trust that God will save him. If God does not save Jesus and he tragically dies... what's the point? Jesus would have consequently provided false hope, to which nearly nobody would ever believe in Christianity ever again, most likely. If Jesus didn't, well... here we are now. Why would God risk something like that? Unless it wasn't a risk, and it was buried in the heart of fatalism; i.e. perhaps it was impossible for Jesus to sin, but that does not mean the concept of temptation is meaningless for us. Get what I'm saying? – Mr Pie Apr 10 at 19:10
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    @user477343 says "say Jesus decided to jump off a cliff and trust that God will save him." But that would be "temping God" or "testing God". This example is mentioned in Matthew 4:5-7: "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." – Ray Butterworth Apr 10 at 19:18
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This is indeed beyond the scope of actual knowledge for humans. I will speak some nonetheless.

Firstly, to suggest that Jesus had two natures on the Earth is essentially a superficial analysis. Humanity was created in the image of God. Jesus was the image of God. He was, by nature, the prototype human, before the incarnation. The Church is the female version of Jesus, so in a sense, one might say Jesus and the Church are of the same "species" and Jesus just became one of that species, which He already was.

"Species" is typically used to refer to created animals, so it sounds weird, but when you consider species' have a female and a male and that Christ and the Church are in that mold, you can see what I mean.

Edit: Perhaps to restate: Do we have to accept that God - in his omnipotence, must be able to create the logically impossible, in order to believe in something like the trinity?

What we consider logical is based upon that which God has created, and I would argue, what He has instituted. Him recreating things is perfectly within His authority, but I think that with Him there are promises He has made and He has otherwise made His intentions known and unchanging. His intentions unchanging isn't the same as His creation unchanging, but God has established the Earth forever (Psalm 104:5).

I don't think the Trinity is outside of our current logic. I could hypothesize plenty, but without me doing so, you can even see the idea of unity in the biblical worldview. Marriage is the idea of two people that are so unified that they are considered one. Additionally, literally, a human's DNA is an exact replica of the DNA of their parents.

Imagine if you were Jesus and you only had only a Father. He gave you His DNA, per se. You are an exact replica of Him now (see Hebrews 1). The question of whether Jesus and His Father are 1 person or 2 people is now a genuine one. Sonship is about accurate representation of parent(s).

I'm not suggesting that the Father is finite the way Jesus is. I'm suggesting that Jesus exactly reveals in a finite way, the infinite nature of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Are they three or are they one. Well it's kinda both. I'd recommend asking God when Jesus comes back.

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