Does Jesus have His own Independent Will?

Q. Does Jesus have His own will independent of the Father before the incarnation? Isn’t “Three in One” always be of the same will and mind? Can Jesus choose to disobey the will of the Father if He chooses to? Or is it incarnation as a human brought the choice of free will to disobey God?

A. This is an interesting question debated by theologians. Let me answer it by going back to the meaning of words. We say that Jesus is the second person in the Trinity. What is a person? According to “The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms”, a person is an individual being with attributes, capacities, and activities constituting personhood. Philosophers differ in their views about what these attributes & capacities consist of, but the common denominator is that “personality” or personhood is marked by two characteristics: (a) self-consciousness; (b) self-determination. According to Dictionary of Theological Terms, self-determination is freedom to act according to the inclination, bias, or disposition of the will. Since Jesus is a person, by definition He has free will & can act independently.

Having said that, “independently” does not necessarily mean they will disagree. Can Jesus choose to disobey the Father? Some say yes because otherwise how can His will be independent? Others say no because Scripture teaches that the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are always in agreement, because they cannot deny themselves (2 Tim 2:13) i.e. act contrary to their nature. Since their nature or essence is God, and God never changes, they always agree. I side with the latter.

This is similar to asking “Can Jesus sin?” Some believe yes because Jesus is also human, & humans can sin. These acknowledge that Jesus did not sin because He is “able not to sin“, as He is also God. In theology we call this peccability. Others believe no, Jesus is “not able to sin” because His sinless human nature always submits to His divine nature, and God cannot be tempted by evil (Jas 1:13). This is the impeccability view, which I hold. If He could sin while He was on earth, He could sin now because He retained His human nature after His death & resurrection, & that is an impossibility because by His nature God cannot sin.

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.