Responding to Christianity's Critics

Still Talking About Logic

Seriously? I almost feel bad for what I’m about to do here. So on the one hand you’re speaking about a God that is unchanging and has no likeness (Jeremiah 10:6, Isaiah 46:9). Then later you talk about the divine nature, which is infinite and unchanging, adopting the nature of humanity, and thus the divine nature having at some point an end to its old nature without humanity and therefore can’t really be called infinite and unchanging anymore. Then you assert that in taking up the nature of humanity, it included everything that comes with it including being finite, all the while having the divine nature maintaining its infinity. — Mr. Mohamed Ghilan

I take it he’s not a fan.

The above is an extract from the discussion that is happening here. I have just given my wonderful Triangle-Box analogy and to this Mr. Ghilan has claimed that God would still be undergoing change; ergo Christians have just violated the law of non-contradiction (in reference to the Hypostatic Union). We should note that at this moment, the individual has not in fact given any argument for how this is the case nor has he clarified what manner of change he is referring to: whether intrinsic or extrinsic (i.e. a Cambridge change). Within the following we will assume that he is against both forms of change.

Defining Change:

That said, at this point it would prove wise to actually set out some definitions for if such isn’t done then, as Mr. Ghilan has kindly pointed out earlier, “we risk talking past one another.” With that in mind, we must first define what we mean by change.

Change can concisely be defined as the process of becoming different. Now there are actually two types of change and what the aforementioned definition primarily has in view is intrinsic change. Intrinsic Change is a change in being (that is to say essence/nature etc.)—a definitive change in one’s ontology. This is the type we most often think about when we speaking of a thing undergoing change. The second form of change is an extrinsic change (i.e. Cambridge change) and this form of change deals with change that is actualized outside of a person, place or thing. Here is an example of what is meant by a cambridge change (compliments of wikipedia):

Suppose that at t1, person A is 180cm tall and person B is 175cm tall, while at time t2 A is still 180cm tall but B has grown to be 185cm tall. Since the predicate `is taller than B’ is true of A at t1 but not true of A at t2, A has changed according to the Cambridge change definition of “change”—he has gone from being taller than B to not being taller than B.

Intuitively, however, it is only person B, and not person A, who has changed: B has grown by 10cm, but A has stayed the same. This problem with Cambridge changes is usually thought to call for a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic, or natural and non-natural, properties. Given such a distinction, it is possible to define “real” change by requiring that the predicate involved express an intrinsic property, like being 175cm tall, rather than an extrinsic property, like being taller than B.

Now the above certainly does do a better job in defining extrinsic change than my—in retrospect—pathetic attempt. Now why is all of this at all important? Well because the Abrahamic religions hold it as an article of faith that God is incapable of change and yet of these, Christianity quite famously holds that this very same unchanging God did in fact assume a human nature some two thousand years ago. Is this a violation of logic? The Christian says no.

Defining the Immutability of God:

When it is said that God cannot change, we simply mean to say that God cannot fail to possess his great-making attributes; that is, that his nature cannot be altered. These qualities are inherent in his nature and as such, God as he is in himself (i.e. intrinsically), cannot undergo any alteration. Now I have placed the phrase, “as he is in himself” in italics partly because this will go a long way in explaining the Christian understanding and also because this is completely true, and far more precise than the vague phrase, “God does not change.” Once again, if God cannot lose his divine attributes, and if these attributes are inherent in the nature of God, then it follows that God cannot experience any change within the divine essence (for by listing God’s various attributes what we really are enumerating is what God truly is/possesses). As such, the phrase “as he is in himself” should be understood as “the divine essence”. I trust that so far, nothing I have said is contentious and if this is the case, then so far, we can list the following as that which has been agreed upon:

1. God does not change.
2. In the above point, what we mean by ‘God’, is “the divine nature” and what we mean by ‘change’, is “fail to possess the attributes inherent in the divine nature.”*

* If it should happen that one finds qualms with the above wording, particularly the part about the word ‘God’ really referring to the divine nature/the divine attributes, then I would remind them to think about what is meant by the word ‘change.’

I certainly do understand that I am repeating myself yet such is the case when one seeks to make a logical argument. They must make certain that all the premises are explained to the best of one’s ability and God knows, I would not have needed to write this post if I had not rushed through my first response. Luckily for us, we have in fact accomplished much and in breaking down what is really meant by the teaching of the immutability of God, we have gone a long way in demonstrating how the Muslim fails to grasp the intricacies of logic when it comes to decrying the Hypostatic Union as contrary to logic.

Of the Hypostatic Union:

The Hypostatic Union posits that the Son took on a human nature aside from his divine nature–such that there now resided two conflicting natures within the person that is Christ Jesus. As can be seen from Mr. Mohamed Ghilan’s comment, he claims that such would introduce change (though he doesn’t explicitly mention what type of change he has in view) within the being of God. Assuming that what he has in mind is inherent change within the divine nature, then our first objection would be that such a claim is blatantly false. By definition, to take on a second nature does not imply changing the first nature at all. This can be readily seen from my, much-maligned, analogy of the Triangle-Box:

Keeping in line with my wish for simplicity, let us imagine a triangle. Now we all know the nature of a triangle i.e. it’s attributes, the things that make a triangle a triangle as opposed to a rectangle or circle. Good. Now let us at this point imagine a box. Once more we know what is the nature of a box and furthermore, we are also aware that the nature of a box is in direct contradiction to the nature of a triangle. Now suppose that we were to place the triangle within the box, would we then have a confusion, a mixing, an intermingling of the two essences/natures? No, we would possess one unit (the Triangle-Box if you would like) with the essences of both objects intact.

The triangle would not cease to be a triangle and neither would the box cease to be a box—on the contrary we would now have a unit that possesses in its being the very attributes of both in that it is not half a box and half a triangle but rather a full (perfect) triangle and a full (perfect) box. A veritable Triangle-Box, wherein the unit is one but the essences are two.

In just the same manner does the Christian speak of God becoming man. God did not cease being God, he did not convert the divine essence into a human essence; instead he took on a second nature aside from his divine nature. As such in the unit that is the individual, Christ Jesus, there are two natures with contradicting attributes simultaneously present. As with the Triangle-Box, Jesus can claim the otherwise mutually exclusive prerogatives that come with each nature because of them being simultaneously existent in his being. Such that he can increase in knowledge as man, but always have known all things as God. Such that he can pray to the Father as man, yet have no need to do so as God. Such that should he will it, he is able to give his life unto death as man, and yet death never having any power or hold over him as God.

He does everything as the God-Man—mystery upon mystery. In short, He is both three-sided and four-sided at the same time.

Now logic dictates that to take on a second nature need not mean intrinsically changing the first. Furthermore, logic also stipulates that contradictory qualities can in fact be true of a single object (as has been shown in my previous post, and to which Mr. Ghilan subsequently agreed) as long as the referent is not the same thing. At this time, I am reminded of a wonderful thing that Mr. Ghilan had said:

Here is the problem with your example of the divided paper: you wouldn’t say that it’s black and not black at the same time when you’re referring to the paper as a whole. Instead, you would say it’s a black AND WHITE paper.

Nevermind the fact that he has misunderstood both myself and logic in the above (for even when speaking of the paper as a whole, one can never get away from speaking of its parts. As such, to call something ‘black and white’ would mean that this thing is black and not black at the same time for we know that ‘white’—among other things—means ‘not black’. ) the important thing we have here is that we find ourselves with a tacit admission that a single unit (in this case the sheet of paper) can possess in it’s being, two contradictory natures (that is, whiteness and blackness) simultaneously. We also see the above truth in my Triangle-Box example. We have a single unit (the triangle-box) which perfectly and fully possesses the contradictory natures of a triangle and a box within its being. These are indeed basic principles of logic.

Miscellaneous Objections:

I seem to have overlooked something and so before it is claimed that I have wilfully ignored his point, let us deal with it now:

So let me get this straight, having two things, whole in nature, but inside each other without a mixing/intermingling of the two essences/natures is what God is. How is your box/triangle example any different from the example of a lady who is 8-months pregnant? There is a whole being inside of her that is part of her that aside from genetic resemblance is not taking all her qualities on. They’re 2 in 1. You’re still finding yourself forced to make silly analogies to explain an illogical and incoherent theology. Moreover, you’re violating your assertion from your Bible that there is no one like God. — Mr. Mohamed Ghilan

I must confess that I’m having troubling seeing his point in the above. Is Mr. Ghilan asserting that there are two human natures within the woman? If so then this only goes to show that this individual is dealing with things he does not understand. No matter how many children a pregnant woman has within her, all these participate within the single human nature—i.e. humanity. Currently there exist some 7 billion people on the planet and yet what we have are not 7 billion human natures, but rather 7 billion participants within the single human nature.

Mr. Ghilan’s problem is that he doesn’t seem to know the difference between a person and a nature/essence. A person is, “who one is”, and a nature is “what one is.” As such, unlike with my Triangle-Box example (or the Hypostatic Union for that matter), we do not find ourselves with a case of two different essences/natures subsisting within one unit/being, but merely one nature (which incidentally is shared by both the mother and her child). Yet what exactly does the matter of the pregnant woman have to do with my point? From what I can make of the nonsense above, the author mistakenly thinks that I’m trying to say that nothing is vaguely resembling to God (as such he brings up the matter of the pregnant woman as some sort of, in hindsight, unsuccessful rebuttal) and this is not the case (as I he certainly knows for I had explicitly said as much in my earlier response to him). I trust that this was a simple mistake on his part instead of willful deception.

Regarding your analogy, it is in fact ridiculous. You’re putting an entity within another then claiming they are one because they’re inside each other. I fail to see how that logically follows. — Ibid.

Again I must sincerely ask the Muslim to stop embarrassing himself. To begin with, an entity is a being and as such the word cannot be used to speak of natures but let us ignore this and assume that this is merely an oversight on the part of Mr. Ghilan. Furthermore, I am not in fact claiming that the two natures become one. I would sincerely like to ask where at all this individual gets such an idea from. Can he quote me to such an effect? What about the fact that I quite explicitly state that we really do have two natures and not one? Recall: “Now suppose that we were to place the triangle within the box, would we then have a confusion, a mixing, an intermingling of the two essences/natures? No, we would possess one unit (the Triangle-Box if you would like) with the essences of both objects intact. […] As such in the unit that is the individual, Christ Jesus, there are two natures with contradicting attributes simultaneously present. As with the Triangle-Box, Jesus can claim the otherwise mutually exclusive prerogatives that come with each nature because of them being simultaneously existent in his being.” And I could go on but suffice to say that my replies to Mr. Ghilan have been replete with explicit statements to the effect that the two natures do not suddenly become one nature. This is not only logically sound but it also steers clear of implying the Monophysite heresy. I certainly don’t know how I could have made myself any clearer and yet the odd thing here is that earlier in his reply, Mr. Ghilan admits himself to be quite aware of the fact that we are always dealing with two natures and not one:

“So let me get this straight, having two things, whole in nature, but inside each other without a mixing/intermingling of the two essences/natures is what God is. How is your box/triangle example any different from the example of a lady who is 8-months pregnant? There is a whole being inside of her that is part of her that aside from genetic resemblance is not taking all her qualities on.”

In the above the author quite clearly speaks of two distinct natures! How then does he seemingly forget all about this later on? I certainly am not omniscient but at present must understand his claim as simple deception to save face before his readership.

If Jesus Christ was just a representation of a human quality that God took upon Himself, then it’s more appropriate to say that the box took to itself a new color. Moreover, your analogy does represent an inherent change in the divine essence in that you can no longer speak of an empty box, but a box-triangle if you would like to refer to it as a single unit, or just speak of it as two separate units; a box AND a triangle. — Mr. Ghilan

Notice how once again the individual displays his misunderstanding of the analogy. If one were to read the Triangle-Box example carefully, it would readily become apparent that the divine nature in this example is the triangle and not the box! We start with a triangle and then add a box to it just as the divine second person of the Trinity assumed a human nature later on at some point in time. The issue really is quite clear. If then the divine nature really is referring to the triangle, then the above objection doesn’t hold up. Also, Mr. Ghilan now wants to present us with a cambridge change, and imply that such is an inherent change. An inherent change within the divine nature would imply that it has lost some of its attributes and we are still waiting for proof that such is the case. What the author has in view in the above, is merely a change of title. In becoming man, the divine son gained the title of theanthropos—the God-man just as in becoming one unit the triangle gained the title of Triangle-box. This is strictly a change in one’s title (i.e. assuming a new relationship) and is not representative of an inherent change. If such weren’t true, then the title that God assumed in creating the world (that being the titles of creator and sustainer) would also imply an inherent change in God’s nature (for he did not possess the title of creator before creating the world just as one does not possess the title of husband until one is married) yet Muslims don’t claim this. Please, let us give rest to self-serving arguments.

Moreover, if we were to apply the proposition of the Trinity onto your analogy, both the box and triangle must share the all too important quality of divinity, otherwise it would be crazy for you to be worshipping Jesus Christ. — Ibid.

At this point we are introduced to, perhaps, the most inane statement so far. The simple answer is no, the human nature does not need to become divine so that one can worship Jesus Christ. God is worshipped for his divine nature: for being our creator, our sustainer, for being perfect as he is in himself, for loving us and taking care of us, for saving us from sin etc. all these are still true of the Son even as he is now the God-man. Christ is worshipped for his divine nature and not for his humanity, simple as that.

So either we speak of the box AND triangle being both equally divine, which is preposterous because that would mean we have two Gods, or we speak of a box-triangle that is wholly divine, which means that neither an empty box nor a lone triangle can be divine on their own. Basically, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. — Ibid.

It would seem that the author is having a hard time understanding the logic and so let us try to make things as simple as possible for him. I will reproduce the author’s words here while replacing the word ‘divine’ with ‘three-sided’ and the word ‘God’ with ‘triangle’. In so doing, we will once again see how much trouble the general Muslim position has with logic: “So either we speak of the box AND triangle being both equally [three-sided], which is preposterous because that would mean we have two [triangles], or we speak of a box-triangle that is wholly [three-sided], which means that neither an empty box nor a lone triangle can be [three-sided] on their own. Basically, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

At times I find myself simply astounded by the level of ignorance that Mr. Ghilan displays. Look how vacuous and ridiculous his objection becomes when we keep things simple and remove ourselves from loaded words such as divine nature, human nature etc. The reality is that when speaking of the unit that is the Triangle-Box (or the God-man), we can in fact say that this unit is three-sided (or divine). When we speak of an individual nature within this unit, we can only say that the triangle (the divine nature) is three-sided (divine). It is however in virtue of the unit, the Triangle-Box (the God-man), possessing three-sidedness (divinity) as an attribute, that we can at all speak of it having three sides (having divinity; being God). In short, we speak of the Triangle-box (the God-man) being three-sided or four-sided (divine or human) in reference to a specific nature. Hey, doesn’t this sound a lot like the very thing Mr. Ghilan admitted to be true of a sheet of paper in the following:

Here is the problem with your example of the divided paper: you wouldn’t say that it’s black and not black at the same time when you’re referring to the paper as a whole. Instead, you would say it’s a black AND WHITE paper, which is different than saying it’s black and not black. The former would add a second property to the paper, while the latter negates the very quality it affirms. If you’re going to speak about each side, you would have to indicate whether the side is black OR white.

Here again is proof for my claim that the Muslim ought to be learning logic at the knee of the Christian. For when we pick apart their arguments we find that they were but smoke and mirrors. Truly, Mr. Ghilan never ceases to amaze me.

Conclusion:

So where then does this leave our would-be authority on logic? Well although Mr. Ghilan certainly couldn’t claim—well let me rephrase that: although Mr. Ghilan certainly couldn’t prove through reason that an inherent change within the divine nature must have occurred (such that God had lost any of his perfections) he could still in fact claim that even extrinsic change is denied of God.

Such a statement would only furthermore accentuate the desperate situation that the Muslim now finds himself in seeing as extrinsic change, for one thing, has to do with a change in relation between two things. Just as the Hypostatic Union is merely a cambridge change where all that changes is the relation between the divine nature and the human nature (these natures now being united—not diluted nor mixed together to form a hybrid—within the unit/person that is Jesus Christ) so is God’s relation as Creator and Sustainer of the world an example of an extrinsic change. Yes, post creation God did come into a new relationship that he did not previously possess (that of being the sustainer of the world) for creation did not yet exist and as such there was nothing to sustain. This however does not mean that any inherent change has taken place within the divine nature but rather merely an extrinsic change.

Now, the Christian is not asking the Muslim to believe that God really did assume a human nature (though this certainly would be for the best, especially if one cares at all for their eternal soul), we are merely pleading with them to cease making flagrantly erroneous claims about the Hypostatic Union being illogical. Such claims are a clear abuse of logic and, quite frankly, embarrassing.

For the Muslim: a Puzzle

Now we understand that according to Islam, it is impossible for God to enter his creation because how could the infinite become finite so as to enter his creation, because if he were to take on the properties of his creation, he would cease to be God, et cetera, et cetera (might one say, yada, yada, yada?). If such is the case, could Muslims explain this (please read the section in red)?

It clearly says that Allah will take on a shape. Now a shape consists of something which is constrained by certain dimensions; these being length, width, height and so forth. Furthermore, we understand that length, width, height refer to area/space and such did not always exist. They are a creation of Allah. If then Allah can take on a shape (i.e. limit himself to certain dimensions) and as such exhibit the properties of what he has created (i.e. area/space) then has he changed the divine nature? Clearly Allah has just changed from how he existed before having created anything, to taking on the very properties of his creation and if any change in God must mean an inherent change in the divine nature then this must mean that Allah too is guilty of losing his divine attributes. Now of course Muslims will not like this but how will they explain away those clear statements by their Prophet?

If the divine nature does not in fact change, then Allah must actually momentarily take on some other nature/properties (in this particular case: dimension—which is actually an aspect of his creation: space) while still possessing the divine nature. Hmm, now what does this sound like? Muslims, could you please give us Christians a logical explanation for this apparent contradiction?

Of course Muslims won’t be able to come up with a response—other than perhaps, waxing poetic about the esoteric nature of hadiths and how these can often be unclear, or how you need to be able to read Arabic to understand what is really being said, or something equally as ridiculous—seeing as it is either the case that Allah does not change at all (and as such Muhammad is a liar), or he can assume a certain shape (and as such exhibit properties of his creation) without this impinging on his divine qualities.

Addendum:

Divine nature. Box-triangle analogies. Contradictions being accepted as logical. Mental gymnastics that deserve an Olympics gold medal. […] I’ll leave it to the readers to determine who “refuted” who. I’m convinced that I’ve deconstructed your so-called arguments and shown them to be weak enough to be discarded. — Mr. Mohamed Ghilan

Essentially, such is the response to the argument I have maintained above (I certainly encourage the reader to read his full comment). Having realized that he can no longer maintain an argument for the illogical nature of the Hypostatic Union, he now claims that the analogy I have used throughout this post is mere mental gymnastics. Note, dear reader, once again that there is no proof as to why (and if such an analogy was indeed mental gymnastic why then was he seemingly fine with trying to refute it before I set out to systematically dismantle his claims one by one through this post?).

Furthermore, what such an analogy has to do with are principles of logic—such hold true irrespective of what is being discussed as long as the factors are properly defined. We are not in fact saying that God is a box or a triangle but rather that the same principles of identity and non-contradiction (and I suppose also the principle of excluded middle) that operate in the Triangle-box analogy also hold true for the being of God. Any student of logic would know as much and yet Mr. Ghilan pretends otherwise. Make no mistake about this, dear reader: in deriding my analogy, Mr. Ghilan is attempting to draw one away from the crucial principles of thought which are presented therein for he understands that he has been completely refuted. Alas, when one can’t defend their point, I suppose that ridicule is the next best course to undertake.

Finally, the individual makes the claim that he has deconstructed my argument and shown it to be faulty. There’s not much I can say to that except that those who have bothered to read this post certainly know otherwise.

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6 responses

  1. I think it is now even about logic. Because you can find login in both sides if you want.

    The main problem i strart to see in islam wiew is actually, idoltary, as I see more deep.

    One testament about this. Here in Croatia I had a contact with one former exorcist. He now is spiritual father approved by Catholic Curch for charismatic community where I go often.
    That priest was also worked with publically know father Rufus Pereira which exorcised too (I don’t know if he still is). He told us one story of father Rufus. Intriging testament about muslim Eid al-Adha feast. One girl had a little hitch or unnatural jerk or snatch (I can’t find the correct word, I’m from Croatia, it thik “hitch” is ok) with her feet while walking, like the goat. Little hitch.
    Father Rufus saw that, but he did not know she was eating at Eid al-Adha. He saw womans walk, and question abiouvisly came in his mind, and he asked her if he had eaten od that muslim feast. She could not believe that he would knew that. After she confirmed, he I think had a removing prayer (I can’t find the correct word, I think “removing” is correct), and after that, she never again walked like that!
    Priest explained why that happened. We christians must bless food from a Eid al-Adha if we eat there, because as he points, it is a idol feast, instead it can bring a curse. He points that Qur’an has some God’s words included from Old Testament, but he also states that God described in Qur’an is not the God of the Bible, but the idol.

    About idol feast, we have even part of text whic Paul explains as important:

    1 Corinthians 10 –

    Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

    14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

    18Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

    27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ saked— 29the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

    Also about idol feasts we have many views at Old Testament.

    You can see this testimony here, but you should translate your text because you probalby don’t know Croatian:
    http://www.svjedocanstva.com/svjedocanstvo/svjedocanstva/slucaj-patera-rufusa-o-djevojci-koja-je-jela-na-bajramu-i-meso-zrtvovano-idolima/3-19-133.html

    March 24, 2012 at 8:04 AM

  2. If, as is most implicitly assumed by everyone, we *explicitly maintain* that God alone is the primary and originating category of being, then to say that ‘God became a man for our sakes’ cannot rationally mean that an infinity has turned into itself a finitude. Rather, it must mean that ‘an imperceptible door, in an otherwise impenetrable mile-wide wall in total darkness, becomes luminous red’.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    • Sorry for the late reply. I may be misunderstanding you here but it seems that you overlook the fact that no one claims that “infinity has turned into itself a finitude” or any such thing. Rather, the true God simply took on a second nature without changing the divine nature. We have seen that such is logically possible and as such, God did not lay aside the “infinity” that is the divine essence.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:33 PM

  3. As well to simplify things for some, The Creator being unchangeable in His Way and Essence, Even though His Son came to be a man on earth, and as that He and His Father are One, His Essence did not change none at all for He never sinned. As well, for His true name, revelations says that everyone shall receive a new name., and on Him is His name which only He knows. Thank you again methodus. Shalom.

    June 26, 2012 at 12:41 AM

  4. To understand the Word of God (Logos in Greek and Dabar in Biblical Hebrew with philological history predating the New Testament and Dabar therein as an exact equal to Logos at that time) pre-existing as the Son of God and upon His Incarnation subsuming flesh and Incarnate as the Son of Man (Adam is meant through the blessed virgin Mary, his virginal mother) — one has to understand the Kenosis of the Christ. One has to know why that is utterly necessary for the salvation of fallen man and can ONLY be accomplished by a Person (the Second Person of the Holy Trinity) possessing the nature of the Godhead.

    http://bellesheures.wordpress.com/confession-of-faith-in-the-true-god/

    “Salvation by Christ is by His Kenosis (the elect angels do not stand in need of salvation for they never sinned and are God’s servants forever).

    Holy Holy Holy Lord God of hosts who will return in glory and in flaming fire taking vengeance upon those who know not God and who obey not the Lord Jesus Christ

    Heb:5:
    1 ¶ For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins:
    2 Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
    3 And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.
    4 Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.
    5 So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest: but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.
    6 As he saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
    7 Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.
    8 And whereas indeed he was the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.
    9 And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation:
    10 ¶ Called by God a high priest, according to the order of Melchisedech.
    11 Of whom we have much to say and hard to be intelligibly uttered: because you are become weak to hear.
    12 For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat.
    13 For every one that is a partaker of milk is unskilful in the word of justice: for he is a little child.
    14 But strong meat is for the perfect: for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil.
    (DRV)

    St. Paul explains this same thing with different wording in Philippians.

    Phil:2:
    5 For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
    7 But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
    8 He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
    9 For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names:
    10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
    11 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
    (DRV)

    This is crucial to our understanding of Christ’s mission to save us. In the above “emptied” is kenosis in the Greek. Christ’s kenosis (He Who is the Immortal Son of God and has always existed from before He created anything, His emptying out of Himself for us and to us) consists of “taking the form of a servant” at His incarnation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, “being made in the likeness of men” extremely important — His incarnation in the flesh, “in habit found as a man” this part explains phrases like “learned obedience”. Jesus never had to learn anything for Himself since He is God and Omniscient – All Knowing. But He willed to be born and grow up and be taught by Joseph and Mary. Think about it, it was the Blessed Virgin who taught Him the Psalms that He was the Mediator for David to receive by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and record for us. In simple terms He taught David the Psalms and willed that Mary would teach Him on earth the same psalms, though, of course He knew them already. So all references to His learning and growing and being perfected are only those things that He willed to go through for two basic reasons for our sakes. Number two first: to show us what our attitude and efforts should be on His behalf as His ambassadors to the rest of mankind. He “learned” but is actually teaching us. Number one in importance: “being made in the likeness of men” extremely important — His incarnation in the flesh. St. Athanasius Contra Mundum (against the world [opposing heresy]) addresses this when he explains that had Christ the Immortal Son of the Father in the Unity and Power of the Holy Spirit simply have erased Adam’s sin then the natural debt we all inherited to die from that sin would have meant that all men would die forever and be lost since God doesn’t lie and He pronounced that the separation of man from God due to sin would by the natural property of human nature make anything else impossible. In other words if God simply erased the sin He would have erased men as well thereby. Worst yet, St. Athanasius tells us, the devil would thereby have won that round. But what God did, the Son, Who because of His Divine substance/essence – nature cannot die, is to take upon himself the real human nature of all men subsumed from Mary — and therefore of Adam (see the genealogies in St. Matthew’s, Chapter 1, and St. Luke’s, Chapter 3, Gospels; in St. Luke’s Gospel all the way back to Adam). Since of Adam, then, of all men. Since He had and has that nature in total union with His divine nature, when he suffered and died (it is in this sense that St. Paul says “learned obedience”) in our place as the ransom from death then we become sons and daughters by adoption unto real eternal life at the future Return of Christ and the General Resurrection of the flesh, each of us, our bodies reunited with our same soul and same spirit. Therefore death, which insured that God’s law would be obeyed, was originally God’s way to insure that man would not become a diabolic creature totally in bondage to the devil, incapable of being in union with the Holy God, Himself. Christ took death, merited by all men, upon Himself preserving what God had said to Adam and Eve “upon that day (of disobedience) you will die”. Therefore, Christ’s death, then becomes the ransom to bring us out of thralldom to the devil and into union with God in Christ. Christ’s Resurrection then becomes the guarantor of our resurrection — which will absolutely happen. This is a brief description of Christ’s kenosis. Christ’s kenosis is the weightiest subject in the whole Bible. Christ’s obedience loosed the debt of Adam’s disobedience as Mary’s obedience undid the knot of Eve’s disobedience (that last is from St. Irenaeus). A note of warning: those who retie the knot of Eve’s disobedience and who bind themselves again in the debt of Adam’s disobedience by becoming part of pagan religions, who profess atheism or agnosticism, who follow after the Antichrist or who walk not in God’s commandments though they pretend to be Christ’s, will certainly be resurrected, but to eternal undying destruction in the lake of fire with the devil and all the fallen angels and all of the demons. Only the saints will inherit paradise with the elect angels in this universe recreated by God at the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of this age of grace.”

    November 6, 2012 at 4:37 PM

  5. Pingback: Logic is all there is | Epimetheus

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