Friday, June 13, 2008

Mystery, Necessary but Unexplainable

I joined a church for the first time in my life two years ago. I had to go through an interview with one of the elders to ensure I understood the Gospel (and to talk to me about it if I did not) before welcoming me in as a member to receive all the privileges of membership.

In the interview, the elder asked me, "Who was Jesus?". I paused, knowing one cannot sum up God's character in a 30 second monologue, and then proceeded to toss out some things about salvation, identity, and freedom from anxiety. He smiled and told me he was blessed by my answer but would not let me leave until I answered his follow-up question:

"Was Jesus man or God?"

I responded "fully God and fully man," as I had been taught to do by my three years in InterVarsity (shameless plug!). Poof! I was a member. I remember thinking it odd though that of all the questions he could have asked, my interview turned, indeed depended on, this one about Christ's divinity.

Any time the Trinity comes up in any discussion on campus I almost automatically default to "God's mysterious"/"If we could understand God, he wouldn't be God"/"There's just some things we can't know" language. This is all true. The Trinity is, and has been, an unexplainable mystery, how one God can exist in three persons.

100% + 100% + 100% = 100% Go ahead, Math majors. Try to explain that one to me.

The end of Part 2 does help our understanding of this mystery though, not that we know how it works but that we know why it's necessary and what the consequences of Jesus being fully God and fully man (or to use other language, not just a human but also a divine part of the Trinity) are.

"Anselm was right that only man should make reparation for his sins, since it is he who has defaulted. And he was equally right that only God could make the necessary reparation, since it is he who has demanded it. Jesus Christ is therefore the only Savior, since he is the only person in whom the 'should' and the 'could' are united, being himself both God and man" (157).

If Jesus is not a complete human, he is not qualified to receive the punishment due to sinful man. Mankind as a race will not have received its punishment, and there is no second Adam to undo the first. God would not be holy and just.

If Jesus is not completely divine, then our salvation cost God nothing. He merely would have poured out his wrath on a 3rd party which would have been either unjust, immoral, or unfair (depending on who the party was). Either way, God would not be loving.

Now how does this "fully God, fully man" thing work? I have no clue. But it is indispensible to our salvation from a God of holy love. In fact, without the "fully God, fully man" doctrine (which one could say makes no sense), our salvation makes no sense.

I think I have confused myself. Somebody push back on this. Can someone explain this better? Are my above "If" clauses heretical?

1 comment:

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Ben

The truth of the matter is, none of Jesus' disciples would be eligible of membership in your new church!! Why?

Because none of them, ever taught that Jesus was "fully God and fully man!"

Jesus was and is a man! Not just any man, but GOD's Son, the promised Messiah.
As far as Christ's apostles, the early church, including Paul; are concerned; scripturally, Jesus was a man born into the world [Luke 1.35], who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of GOD [Luke 4.43], he was the Messiah [Matt 16.16], he died for our sins [1 Cor 15.3]; GOD Almighty, that is, the ONE GOD, the Father [1 Cor 8.4,6] raised Jesus from the dead, immortalized him, and made him both Lord and Messiah [Acts 2.34-36].

So now ...
(1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Also, neither Jesus nor any of his disciples believed in a so-called trinity, one God can existing in three persons.

No Jew of Jesus' era believed such things. Daily to this day, the Jews would confess the Shema, Deut 6.4 which defines GOD as ONE Person!

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest of all the commandments?
He began with:
(Mark 12:29) And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

Note the scribe's response:
(Mark 12:32) And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

Obviously then, neither Jesus nor the scribe were trinitarian!

Now there is nothing in Scripure that says "If Jesus is not completely divine, then our salvation cost God nothing."

Methinks you need to read John 3.16 again.
It costed GOD, His Son!!
Such a sacrifice was pre-figured by Abraham in Genesis 22.
If Abraham was allowed to go thru with it, do you think it would have "costed Abraham" nothing?
Yet he was willing to do it to please his GOD!
(Gen 22:12) And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

GOD Almighty spared not His only Son for us. [Rom 8.32]
Jesus said: (John 14:31) But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Out of his love for his Father, Jesus sacrificed himself for us.
It costed both him and GOD, something!!

The "3rd party" you speak of, is GOD's only son whom GOD loved. Yet because GOD so loved the world, including you & I, He sacrificed His only son for us.
[John 3.16]
It costed GOD!!

GOD did it out of love. Jesus did it out of love.
You need to take another look at the Scriptures before using words such as "unjust, immoral, or unfair" on their part.

We are the "unjust". Was it fair for anyone to die for us??
(Rom 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

So this "fully God, fully man" doesn't work, because it isn't scriptural.
These concepts are totally foreign to Scripture.
As far as Paul is concerned, a man got us into sin & death; it took therefore a sinless man to get us out of this mess into eternal life & righteousness. That man is Jesus, GOD's Son!
See Roms. Chp. 15 & 1 Cor. 15.20-22.

Think about it. Would Paul be comparing GOD with Adam??

Ben, for more info on the subject of the trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor