The Incarnation a Contradiction?

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Q. I don’t understand you Christians. You say Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. Isn’t that a contradiction? 100% God leaves 0% man. 100% man means 0% God. You can’t have 200% of a single person. Don’t you mean 50-50, or some other combination adding up to 100%? You can’t have it both ways!

A. I’ve heard the accusation that the Incarnation is a contradiction in other forms. For example, as God Christ is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent etc. As man, Christ is not omnipotent, not omniscient, not omnipresent etc. You can’t be both at the same time. Isn’t this a contradiction? You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

No, this is not a contradiction. When we say Jesus is fully God, we mean He has all the fullness of Deity:
* Col 1:19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
* Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Although fullness means 100%, it is not additive. For example, I am 100% my father’s son, and 100% my children’s father, but that does not mean I am 200% of a father-son hybrid. You cannot sum them.

Secondly, according to the law of non-contradiction, in order for there to be a real contradiction, something needs to be both true and not true at the same time in the same respects. Otherwise you only have an apparent contradiction or paradox, not a true one.

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The Incarnation states that Jesus the Son of God took on human flesh i.e. became man. He thus has two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. His divine nature has infinite power, knowledge, and is not limited in space and time. His human nature, however, is finite and has limited power, knowledge, and subject to limitations of space and time. So He is at the same time God in His divine nature, and human (not God) in His human nature. There is no contradiction as we are referring to two different natures. It would only be a contradiction if He is both God and not-God at the same time within His divine nature, or both man and not-man at the same time within His human nature, but that’s not what the doctrine states, hence no contradiction.

The Trinity a Contradiction?

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Q. You Christians believe in three Gods: the Father is God, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet you say there is only one God. You are contradicting yourself and totally confusing! How can anyone believe you?

A. Christians believe in one God who exists in three persons, not three Gods. There is no contradiction. The answer involves classical logic, the law of non-contradiction, which states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time when dealing with the same context.

Those who say that the Trinity is a contradiction misunderstand what the doctrine actually said. They think that it said:
* God is one being and God is three beings, or
* God is one person and God is three persons
at the same time and in the same respect, in which case it would indeed be a contradiction. However, that’s not what the doctrine states.

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The doctrine actually says that God is one being in three persons. Being is the essence or nature. It is who you are. God’s essence is that He is deity, that which makes Him God. Persons means independent individuals, distinct from each other. The Bible teaches that there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are distinct from but equal to each other. Rightly understood, the doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one God, one essence, and this one essence exists in three Persons. God is one in one sense (being), and three in another sense (persons). It does not state that God is one and God is three in the same sense at the same time. There is no violation of the law of non-contradiction once you define everything clearly.