4

I (a Christian) have been in several groups and see this argument poised here and there. I believe they get it from the Mormon apologist Blake Olster, but I could be mistaken. However, the problem below is the supposed “issues” with Christology. Any sort of information to help rebut these arguments would be much appreciated. Edit: I did not come up with this question, a Mormon did. I am simply asking for clarification, a new perspective or if there’s something I’m missing. I fully disagree with the below “argument.” It’s fallacious and completely wrong.

The Problem of Christology:

A. If God is the essentially uncreated and the only one of its kind, then Christ cannot be fully divine.

  1. It is possible for a single person to be at once both fully human and fully divine.

  2. Human nature is such that it is essentially created at some time.

  3. Divine nature is such that it is essentially uncreated and timeless.

  4. A nature defines what is essential to the kind that an individual is.

  5. It is impossible for a single person to be both human (created) and also divine (uncreated) natures. (From 1, 2, and 3).

(65) Premise #4 entails the denial of #5 and therefore one of them is false.

B. If God possesses essentially attributes that humans cannot possess essentially, then Christ cannot be both human and divine.

  1. God is essentially omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent (essentially good, immutable, impassible, timeless, a se, etc.)

  2. Jesus Christ was and is fully God/divine.

  3. Jesus Christ was and is fully human.

  4. Necessarily, no human is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent (essentially good, immutable, impassible, timeless, a se, etc.)

Whatever God’s nature is, human nature essentially cannot be / Whatever God’s nature is, human nature must be essentially different.

16
  • 2
    There are multiple issues and questions contained within the above, all of which have been repeatedly dealt with in the archived questions on this site. If the issues and questions covered above were to be stated, one by one, then each can be answered from the archives of the site, individually, as duplicate questions. The questions lacks focus and needs to cover each aspect as one, single question.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 20, 2023 at 19:38
  • 5
    @RayButterworth Your personal theory is not a valid expression of scripture. You merely focus on a single text and misrepresent its concept. I know of none who share this idea, save yourself, either in history or contemporaneously.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 21, 2023 at 2:06
  • 3
    @RayButterworth the poster appears to be asking for the orthodox Christian answer. All three major sects of Christianity agree (in general) that adherence to the doctrines codified in the very early councils of the Church, especially at Nicaea, must be adhered to. Rejecting that Christ has a Divine nature is "simple," in a certain sense, but it rejects one of the few orthodox doctrines every Christian actually agrees upon.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 21, 2023 at 3:10
  • 4
    @ReadLessPrayMore just because you refuse to grasp the logical structures of Trinitarian theology doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The top answers on your questions generally attempt to explain the orthodox and traditional understanding. Kindly keep your judgement on other people's long-held beliefs to yourself (or save for other sites)
    – eques
    Aug 21, 2023 at 18:12
  • 3
    @ReadLessPrayMore I don't care if you agree with the "popular belief". I care if you disrespect the rules of this site because you ruin the experience for everyone else. "This is what trinitarians tell me as well." No, that is what you have interpreted Trinitarians to say. I have never said it is not rational. I have said it is a mystery (meaning it cannot be fully comprehended by us) but it does have rational explanations. You choose not to engage with them and instead sneer, criticize and act holier-than-thou.
    – eques
    Aug 21, 2023 at 22:22

2 Answers 2

8

The early Church debated this question in-depth over the course of a few centuries. What it means for Christ to be fully human and fully Divine is well-defined by the Church. This means that He is a Divine Person (specifically, the logos) united to a human nature.

The first argument contains a false premise, or, at least, an equivocation on the term nature. C3 says "A nature defines what is essential to the kind that an individual is." This is true, but we can talk about an abstract human nature, which no man has, and a particular human nature, which is this or that human body-soul composite. C3 gives the former definition of human nature, or really it gives the definition of any nature which is abstract. What we mean when we say Christ is full human is that He has a complete particular human nature, a complete body-soul composite.

This is important because many heresies will say that Jesus does not have a full human nature. For example, Apollonarism states that Christ had a human body but not a human soul, and that His intellect and will were only Divine. Some gnostics might say that the body of Christ was illusory, that He only appeared to have a body, the way that Old Testament angels do (see the book of Tobit for an example in Scripture of an angel appearing as a man, but we do not believe that he really took on flesh).

So, this first argument fails to establish that Christ cannot fully have a human and a Divine nature, because it fails to understand what the Nicene Christian means when he says that Christ has a full human nature and is fully Divine. For further reading on this topic, I'd recommend JND Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines. It is a bit academic, but it covers these various heresies and the arguments that were had and settled in the early Church.

The second argument begs the question. Premise 4 states "Necessarily, no human is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent (essentially good, immutable, impassible, timeless, a se, etc.)," but whether that is actually necessary is just the question at hand. Our claim is that Jesus is a particular human who is omnipotent, omniscient, etc in His Person, though not in His human nature, because His Person is the Logos. This cannot be proven false by merely asserting that it's impossible, which is what the argument tries to do.

It also shifts the terms used in the conclusion. Premise 4 states no human can be... and the conclusion says that human nature necessarily is not Divine nature. Very well, nobody ever claimed that it was. The claim that Christ is fully human and fully Divine is and always has been (at least since Nicaea) linked to the claim that He has two natures, not one.

3
  • "This is true, but we can talk about an abstract human nature, which no man has, and a particular human nature." I'm reminded of Diogenes' rebuttal to Plato's definition of a man as being a featherless biped. Diogenes plucked a chicken, brought it into Plato's Academy and declared, "Behold! I've brought you a man!" This same thing happens in so many other circles, as well. When some people try to define a woman as being able to reproduce, they're effectively declaring that infertility (or menopause) makes you "not a woman", which is not their intention (presumably). Aug 21, 2023 at 14:40
  • 1
    @BenHocking I think your comparisons miss the point, because you're talking of insufficient definitions. The answer is talking about how in particular beings their natures will always be present alongside non-essential traits. As an analogy, the triangular nature in the abstract is not equilateral, isosceles or scalene, but particular triangles always are either one of the three.
    – Mutoh
    Aug 21, 2023 at 18:38
  • @BenHocking a similar thing is happening here, but it is not quite the same. As Mutoh says, the Diogenes story is about an insufficient definition. It either includes too much (as in Plato's definition) or too little (as in your example definition of 'woman'). The issue with the Mormon argument presented above is that it tries to attack the Trinitarian claim using a different definition of nature from the one the Trinitarian is using in his claim. In fact, the Trinitarians have dealt with all of these misunderstandings over 1500 years ago.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 21, 2023 at 19:28
1

I'll break down each point in order. It's often easier to see the problem with an argument when you examine each part carefully.

Note that this Mormon argument's part A uses the word "Divine" to refer to God. I would use the word "divine" to refer to angels as well but angels were created. Therefore I will substitute the word for clarity below.

A. If God is the essentially uncreated and the only one of its kind, then Christ cannot be fully God.

  1. It is possible for a single person to be at once both fully human and fully God.

Yes. As a Christian I do claim this to be true. Hebrews 2:17 "fully human in every way" and Colossians 2:9 "For in him, bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is.".

  1. Human nature is such that it is essentially created at some time.

No? The argument hasn't defined what exactly "human nature" is. This premise is not obvious enough that I can accept it at face value without such a definition. While the Bible does state that Jesus was human, it doesn't go into details on the requirements for being considered fully human. Human bodies are created and Jesus did have a normal human body for a time however this doesn't make him stop being God. Modern Christians have the Holy Spirit which is timeless but doesn't cause us to stop being human. Most human souls are created but if this argument is trying to claim that "to be considered a human you must have a spirit that was created and Jesus doesn't have such a spirit" then the counter is that neither of those 2 statements are confirmed by the Bible and as such they may or may not be true (I'd argue false and true but that doesn't matter).

  1. God's nature is such that it is essentially uncreated and timeless.

Yes. It is true that God wasn't created and has/will exist for all time. See Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, Revelation 22:13.

  1. A nature defines what is essential to the kind that an individual is.

This statement appears to be a definition of "nature" however terms should be defined before they are used. Additionally this "definition" doesn't accomplish anything since I still don't know the requirements for human essence.

  1. It is impossible for a single person to be both human (created) and also God (uncreated) natures. (From 1, 2, and 3).

No. Yes it is impossible for a single thing to be both created and uncreated but humans are made of multiple parts. My human body was created but the Holy Spirit in me wasn't created. I'm not sure if this argument is asserting that humans don't have souls at all or if "to be considered a human soul it must be created" but I'll disagree with both.

(65) Premise #4 entails the denial of #5 and therefore one of them is false.

Not really? Premise 4 doesn't appear to be saying anything at all. Point 5 (which is a conclusion rather than a premise) states that there is a contradiction so #4 doesn't need to be here in order for #5 to state what the problem is.

B. If God possesses essentially attributes that humans cannot possess essentially, then Christ cannot be both human and divine.

  1. God is essentially omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent (essentially good, immutable, impassible, timeless, a se, etc.)

For simplicity, this is true.*

  1. Jesus Christ was and is fully God/divine.

Yes. Colossians 2:9 "For in him, bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is.".

  1. Jesus Christ was and is fully human.

Yes. Hebrews 2:17 "fully human in every way"

  1. Necessarily, no human is omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent (essentially good, immutable, impassible, timeless, a se, etc.)

No I don't agree with this premise because, in fact, I can name exactly 1 human who is omnipotent: Jesus.

Whatever God's nature is, human nature essentially cannot be / Whatever God's nature is, human nature must be essentially different.

This is a logical fallacy called "begging the question". The argument has done nothing to prove the claim that a human can't be omnipotent. It effectively says "assume that no human is omnipotent (#4) therefore no human is omnipotent". This is also called circular reasoning because (despite the other premises) it has just gone in a circle and accomplished nothing.

*If you want to get technical (and off topic) it's a little more nuanced than that. Omnipotent: God is truth, he can't lie. Therefore there is something that God can't do. He can still do everything that matters but doesn't fall into the omnipotence paradox. This doesn't contradict scripture but explaining how would be large enough for its own question. Omniscient: yes: past, present, future, and even alternate timelines (Matthew 11:21). Omnipresent: he can influence anywhere but Jesus is in a single location. The Holy Spirit can be in multiple places (every Christian) but isn't everywhere (not in non-Christians). The Father is in a single location. Immutable: there are verses where God "changed his mind" (eg Exodus 32:14) although this change would've been determined ahead of time and as such is getting really off topic...

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .