By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (October 15, 2015) — Recently on the radio broadcast I co-host, Theology Thursday , a caller told a story about a friend of his who said, “Don’t worry about the humanity of Jesus, it doesn’t matter as much as His divinity.”
The caller felt uneasy about the answer his friend gave to him—as he should.
The humanity of Jesus is imperative to a Biblical understanding of the Christian faith. Theologically and historically, the two natures of Christ are called the hypostatic union. This is a technical phrase used to designate the union of Christ’s humanity with Christ’s divinity. The early creeds (Caledonian, etc.) used phrases such as “eternally begotten, and not made” to help define the two natures. The various terms were specific in that they expressed precise designations for Christ as functionally subordinate to the Father (His humanity), but not ontologically subordinate (same essence as God—His divinity).
When you add to the equation that Jesus claimed to be God, and that the Bible—in both the Old and New Testaments—claims both Jesus’ divinity and humanity, a clear picture of Christ’s two natures becomes well-defined.
Furthermore, a dilution of the two natures of Christ leads to many wrong teachings concerning Christ’s nature, many of them turning into heresy (meaning “false teaching”). These include: Arianism (denied the divine) and Gnosticism (denied the human).
Many complain that the two natures of Christ is an illogical position. The thought process goes as follows: 1 +1=2, not 1. Critics would say that two complete natures (100% God and 100% human) shows that there are two persons not one. But much like the math used in relationship to the Trinity, it is not addition we use to describe Christ’s two natures, but multiplication. Concerning Christ’s two natures, we should use: 1×1=1. And though we can’t fully comprehend the hypostatic union, we can apprehend it; it does not go against clear logic.
Norman Geisler puts it this way: “The incarnation does not claim God became human. The infinite cannot become finite…Rather, it affirms that the second person of the Godhead became man. Jesus assumed a human nature without laying his deity aside. The incarnation was not the subtraction of deity but the addition of his humanity.”
And though we don’t fully grasp the fact that two natures are found in one Person, it’s not a contradiction, but a mystery.
To help a little more with this concept, I summit to you an analogy, using the cross of Christ.
Think of the cross Jesus died on. On that cross there were two posts—a horizontal post (that held his arms up) and a vertical post (that held his body—legs to head). When contemplating the two natures of Christ, think of the vertical post: towards one end of the post you have Christ’s head, towards the other end of the post you have his feet, nailed to the wood. Though there are two ends to the post (the top and bottom of the wood) they are the same post: two realities (points on the beam) of the same post.
The picture painted by the Bible is that Christ is God—symbolic of His head pointing towards the heavens, and that He was man—symbolic of His feet pointing towards the Earth. Like the one post with two ends—a top and bottom, the beam of wood that held Jesus points us to the Man with two natures, a union of the human and divine, two natures in one essence.
For more information on issues important to the Christian faith, check out Veritas Evangelical Seminary: http://www.ves.edu/
All quotes from Norman Geisler are taken from The Big Book of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books.
Photo captions: 1) Christ on the cross. 2) Veritas Evangelical Seminary. 3) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon
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