Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections on the Human-Divine Nature of Christ

Years ago I read that Christ had two wills: a human as well as a divine will. While on Earth, however, the divine will was present in the historical being, Jesus Christ, but it took a back seat to the extent that it did not reveal itself very often except at the transfiguration.

The same author--probably Ellen White and/or Elder John Wood of Atlantic Union College-- states that only human Christ died on the cross. The divine Christ cannot die since God cannot die. (End of reference to either White or Wood.)  How could a member of the Godhead, which is One, die without all three dying?

For argument's sake only, let's suppose human-divine Christ died and not just human Christ, died. It follows then that the Trinity died for "our God is One." If God died on the cross--and He did through Jesus Christ--then it's conceivable that He raised himself by his own power as the New Testament states. At the cross when Christ cried "my God, my God why have you forsaken me" it was because the Godhead was dying with Christ and would be resurrected with Christ. The universe had its automatic laws and could function until the divine watchman rose from the tomb three days later.

Would Gabriel, who is in the presence of God, have been temporarily in charge of heaven--if anyone really needs to be in charge God's absence?

Another matter presents itself: what would have happened if human Christ had failed the test in the wilderness with the Accuser? He probably would not have to go through with the crucifixion since his sacrifice would have been incomplete or unacceptable to God the Father. What then would have become of the human Christ? Could he have been destroyed and die as a mortal man dies? He then could have died on the cross though it seems pointless to have done so if it no longer carried cosmic significance. Or, as John Wood stated in the 1970s, human Christ would have been kept in heaven in a comatose state throughout eternity, since even human Jesus of Nazareth was Christ, nevertheless, and could not be allowed to die as a mere human man dies.

Here we get into tricky waters. Since human-divine Jesus of Nazareth couldn't die, then he was not as human as mere men since mere men who fail in life's cosmic struggle die as mere men and don't have the option to remain comatose throughout eternity. We now get back to the age-old questions about was Christ fully human and fully divine but perfectly fused together as one inseparable entity or could he, in some way, separate the human from the divine?

If you state that only human Jesus of Nazareth died and rose again while the Divine Christ, of course, would still be alive since he was a member of the Godhead then you may be able to say that Christ of Nazareth had an advantage that we don't have. We can't, of course, separate our divine nature--which is God-given and frequently not apparent as we disconnect from God the only source of divinity--from our human nature. We are only human and can only depend on God for the gift of divinity through his divine Spirit. However, this may suggest that Jesus of Nazareth was not like us, in a way. In other ways, of course, he was very much like us. Just read the gospels and you see a very human man who cried, hungered and got tired and had to sleep as you and I sleep.

Finally, it is said that Christ paid the ultimate price in sacrificing himself to save the human race. The Bible says that Christ died once for us all. It has been bothering me for years that if you die as Christ did for the human race, then rise again after three days and live eternally after that, how is that a sacrifice? When you and I sacrifice our last dollar bill so a poorer or needier person can eat while we starve temporarily, we experience real hunger, and/or eventual death. It is a sacrifice that cannot be gainsaid.

However, if you die and suffer and live again and remain alive, it presents other ramifications. Perhaps the sacrifice was in that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, could have failed, and could have been comatose throughout eternity. That, my friend, is a big sacrifice. For a divine being to risk ceasing to be divine just to save a wayward world of created beings, is more than anyone can fathom. It truly boggles the imagination. Jesus Christ, if only his human nature, comatose throughout eternity could be looked upon as either two things:
  1. A  kind of death for the divine-human entity known as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. One of your two natures would be unconscious and would remain so throughout eternity.
  2. A reminder that the human side of Jesus of Nazareth had failed and in him failing, God failed in proving that a human-divine entity could succeed as Adam was supposed to have succeeded when offered the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

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