The Relation of Christ’s Divine Mind to His Humanity: A Logically Coherent Model of the Incarnation – Part 3/5

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The Act of Becoming Incarnate
Keeping in mind the distinction between qualitative and quantitative sense of an archetype, my model needs one additional feature, which will help in avoiding one apparently undesirable consequence of the model provided by Moreland & Craig. Their model postulates that “the divine aspects of Jesus’ mind were largely subliminal during his state of humiliation” .[12] While this seems to resolve the issue of how Christ’s conscious mind could have the kinds of typical limitations that a human mind normally has, it does seem to lead to a problem. For if a mind has the resources of an infinite divine mind in its area of the subconscious, is it not in a very obvious way different from a human mind? While this problem might not be fatal for Moreland & Craig’s model, it does seem to be somewhat undesirable. I believe that there is a better alternative to which I will now turn.

The Incarnation seems to require a kind of a change in the mind of the pre-incarnate Logos at the point that he becomes incarnate. By becoming incarnate, the Logos chooses to join a limited area of each of the aspects of his mind with a human body in the same way as any human mind is joined with its body. As a result, there also comes about a type of self-imposed restriction in the way that those particular aspects relate to the Logos as a whole. He chooses to bring about what could be called (for a lack of better term) an asymmetrically independent subsystem. All of his mind is informed by (and has causal access to) this subsystem, and thus the whole mind of the Logos is not independent of the subsystem, but the subsystem acts  as an independent system in the sense that it does not draw on the resources of the whole mind. As a result, the subsystem is in every respect (not only qualitatively, but also quantitatively) what a human mind is. Given that the subsystem forms an integral whole that contains all the faculties that a human mind contains, it follows that Christ has a fully human mind. But given that this subsystem is properly a part of the divine mind of the Logos, and does not constitute a mind that is (from the perspective of the whole mind) another, independent mind, it seems to be the case that the Nestorian implications are still avoided.

Something should be said here about the meaning and the metaphysical requirements of the types of mind-body connections and the ownership relation to a particular body that the idea of the Incarnation requires. Mere appeal to the doctrine of divine omnipresence as a way to understand how God can be present in the human body of Jesus is nowhere near sufficient to do justice to the idea that in some unique way , the mind of God the Son was associated with and connected to a particular human body . In the case of an ordinary human soul, it seems quite clear that the restriction in the range of immediate causal powers to the actions of one particular body, as well as similar restriction in the ability to gather sense data to the organs of one particular body, are rather simple and precise implications of the body-ownership relation, which can be taken to establish the fact that a mind owns its body. But it is precisely because of the divine properties of omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence that such restrictions do not seem to apply in any straightforward and natural sense in the case of Jesus. However, it seems to me that all of the ingredients that are needed in finding a solution to this problem lie in what has already been said above. I will only add what I take to be a succinct and insightful comment by Stephen T. Davis: “The will of God is the glue of the world .”[13] Davis uses this idea to solve the puzzles associated with the continuity of personal identity in the resurrection of the dead, when the issue is viewed in the context of a non-dualistic anthropology within a Theistic worldview, but it seems to me that the idea is applicable here as well. Davis’ statement points to the deep and foundational truth that the most fundamental determiner of the structure of reality is God himself. Within the limits of logical consistency, it can and should be affirmed that God’s will is what determines events and relationships in reality: “Let there be… ”. A limited analogy from the human sphere for this kind of determination is the way in which the so-called performative utterances [14] can be said to “establish realities”. Consider the sentence “I promise to pay you 50 dollars within a month .”  That is not a description of a state of affairs, but rather itself constitutes the state of affairs, namely, the obligation to pay 50 dollars within a month. Even better example may be the sentence “I now declare you to be husband and wife .” when uttered in the appropriate circumstances by a suitable person. Obviously, these analogies are imperfect, as human beings are not in the position of ultimate metaphysical determinership. But they may help to illustrate the idea that for God who is in such position, as long as the idea of some aspects of God’s mind being connected to a particular human body by the relation of ownership is logically coherent (and it appears to be), nothing beyond simply willing it to be so is required to bring about this metaphysical relation.

The Operation of the Logos in the World

When compared to the model of Moreland & Craig, one apparent advantage of my model is that it seems to allow for the independently plausible doctrine that the Logos continued to operate outside the body of Jesus. Aside from the concern of Christological heresy, there do not seem to be any plausible reason to doubt that the Logos continued in whatever operations he had prior to the Incarnation.[15] Moreland & Craig note that the Reformed tradition has held to this view, but they object that “it is very difficult to see why two self-conscious minds would not constitute two persons ” (thus implying Nestorianism). However, it seems to me that the location of the human mind of Christ as a subsystem in his divine mind (rather than as a separate mind) answers this worry in a satisfactory way. In such model, there is no distinction of two separate minds.[16]

12. Moreland & Craig, 2003, 610.
13. Davis, 1993, 130.
14. For an account of performative utterances, see Swinburne, 2002, 18.
15. These operations of the Logos would probably include at least his upholding of the creation, but according to the Filioque clause, also his involvement in the proceeding of the Holy Spirit from the Father and him (the Son). At least if these operations are thought of as something that requires conscious awareness, this appears to be a problematic doctrine to fit with the model provided by Moreland & Craig.
16. However, as this criticism was aimed by Moreland & Craig at Morris’ model, it may be somewhat weightier in that context.

Continue to Part 4


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