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.

Jesus’ Two Natures (1 of 2)

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Q. All Christians should have experienced what Paul felt regarding the struggle between the two laws inside him (Rom 7:21-23). Some say that Jesus appeared to be well aware of His Dual Nature, e.g. Satan repeatedly reminded Him as Son of God in the temptation, but He refused to perform miracles and willingly subjected Himself to the trial as a man. Another example is when Nathaniel affirmed Him as the “Son of God”, He replied using the term “Son of Man” (Jn 1:49, 50). Hence the conclusion is Jesus’ Dual Nature is in perfect harmony, so unlike Paul and us, there is no struggle. Is this true? How about His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane?

A. Paul’s struggles and ours are between the sinful nature (Rom 7:18, 25), the old self (Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9) and the new self (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). Jesus had no struggle as He does not have a sin nature by virtue of His Virgin Birth. In theology the union of Christ’s two natures, namely His divinity and His humanity in one substance, is called the hypostatic union. He is 100% God and 100% man.

Your question reminded me of a very controversial movie years ago, “The Last Temptation of Christ“, which depicted a very human Jesus struggling with his self-identity. The film, based on a novel, showed Jesus to be uncertain of his role, and suffered internal conflicts between his being called by God and his human desires. Nothing is further from the truth, as the Gospels indicate that He was never in doubt as to who He was, even at the age of 12 when His parents lost Him in the Temple:
Lk 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Then what about His agony in Gethsemane? Let’s examine what the Bible says. His agony is recorded in all 3 Synoptic Gospels:

Mt 26:38-39, 42 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” … He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
• Mk 14:33-36 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”
• Lk 22:42-44 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

(To be continued)