”God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself”. That is the heart of the Christian message. While this central affirmation of the Gospel inspires awe in a positive sense of uniting joy with profound wonder, it can also inspire doubts and skeptical charges concerning its logical coherence. After all, God is defined by a set of unlimited perfections, whereas human beings are limited in the many and various ways of which we are so well aware. In this paper, I will briefly state some problems pertaining to the idea of the Incarnation, and then I will proceed to a presentation of a rather simple but seemingly powerful and easily illustrable model of the relationship of Christ’s divine mind to his humanity, which results from certain modifications to the models proposed by Thomas V. Morris and J. P. Moreland & W. L. Craig.
A PRESENTATION OF THE MODEL
Philosophical Problems Related to the Idea of the Incarnation
As was noted in the introduction, some important problems concerning the incarnation arise from the apparent incompatibility of the attributes of God and the attributes of man. This problem can be stated more exactly as follows: For any individual being, there is an essence, or a set of essential attributes, which that individual being must have. Those attributes are what make that being identical to itself. The essence of God and the essence of man seem to contain incompatible attributes. God is omniscient, omnipotent, eternal and perfectly good. Man is a limited being in his power and knowledge, and man’s existence has a beginning. Man – at least in the current state – is obviously a sinful being. Apparent incompatibilities of this kind are also often evident in Biblical passages concerning Jesus. For example, Jesus Christ as the God-man is supposed to have been tempted by Satan, whereas it would seem to be both commonsensical and Biblical to suppose that a morally perfect God cannot be tempted.
The Hypostatic Union: Two Natures Unified in One Person
Though there have been alternative ways to conceptualize the Incarnation, the orthodox understanding that postulates the union of divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ seems to be the preferable view on both Biblical and philosophical grounds. Therefore, I will presuppose such understanding of the Incarnation in my model. The objections to the coherence of this idea can be dealt with by employing certain conceptual distinctions that are often neglected. The first one of these distinctions is the distinction between a common attribute and an essential attribute. There can be attributes that are even universally exemplified by beings of certain kind, but without the implication that the attributes in question are therefore essential to that kind. Another important distinction is the distinction between a kind-essence and an individual essence. Finally, the distinction between being merely x and being fully x is very useful to keep in mind. A thorough analysis of the significance of these distinctions is beyond the scope of this paper, but the issue can be summarized as follows: The relevant limitations belong to the individual essences of human beings that have them, given that they are merely human beings. But from this, it does not follow that those limitations belong to the kind-essence or individual essence of a being that is fully human , but not merely human .
NOTES TO PART 1
1. A citation from 2 Corinthians 5:19.
2. I am unaware of any presentation of my exact model in the literature that deals with the Incarnation, but I would not be surprised if it has been proposed somewhere. In fact, prior to reading Morris’ more thorough presentation of his model in the book “The Logic of God Incarnate”, I was under the impression that this is the model that Morris intends to present in his book “Our Idea of God” (albeit without visual illustrations). However, after reading Morris’ more thorough presentation, I tend to think that he in fact does not intend to make the important point concerning the location of the human mind of Christ, which I am suggesting in this paper.
3. See Moreland & Craig, 2003, chapter 30.
4. These distinctions are skillfully argued for in Morris’ books. See especially Morris, 1986.
5. While this statement is very brief, it is substantially based on the rigorous argumentation provided by Morris, 1986.