Jesus: God and man
I recently received a message from an old friend with whom I have been engaged in discussion on the question of Jesus' divinity — was Jesus an angel incarnate, God incarnate, or merely an ordinary man who had access to unlimited help from God? My friend is a Socinian Unitarian who believes the last of these options. One of his comments got me to thinking:
In its comment about John 1:1, the Life Application Bible says “... John shows Jesus as fully human and fully God”. If we take this statement out of its religious context, then it makes no sense at all. With our present understanding of the world around us, we cannot have an object that is fully organic and fully mineral, or fully liquid and fully solid at the same time. Using the same logic, we cannot have someone who is fully human and fully God… Since I reject the statement “Jesus was fully man and fully God” because it is not possible for one object to be 200% as we use our language today, there are only two alternatives left. Either Jesus was “fully man” but with access to unlimited amounts of the Holy Spirit to help Him, or He was “fully God” and took on the appearance of a man.
Is he right? I believe he is right in one sense, but wrong in another. It depends how you interpret the word “fully” in the phrase “fully human and fully God”. If one takes the word
“fully” to mean “exclusively”, then my friend is absolutely right, the whole idea being a logical impossibility. However, if the word “fully” is given the sense of “in a real way”, then you are not confronted with a logical impossibility. Better still, reduce the sentence to the simplest possible statement, “Jesus was God and man”. No logical objection can be raised. We might not believe it, and we will have trouble understanding it, but it should not be rejected on logical grounds. Let me explain.
Does the sentence, “I am a man and a mammal” present a logical contradiction? Not at all. Both are true. However, it doesn't work the other way around. You cannot say of your pet dog that it is “man and mammal”. To believe the proposition that Jesus was both God and man does not lead to the conclusion that you, too, are God and man. He was unique. The biblical data certainly suggest the staggering, unbelievable thought that Jesus was indeed God-in-the-flesh (or, more accurately, “the Word” in the flesh — John 1:1 & 14). That God was willing to somehow enter flesh in a real way, to walk among us, talk with us and be tormented and killed by us should be sufficient to make us drop on our knees and declare loudly, “How great thou art”. But note that heaven was not emptied through the Incarnation. God is so great it's not a challenge for Him to both be in heaven and to be manifest in flesh on the earth at the same time. The idea might sound crazy to the human way of thinking, but it cannot be rejected on logical grounds.