Friday, July 24, 2015

Would you rather be on the wrong side of history or the wrong side of Christ?

Quick question: what do an Arminian theologian, a "progressive" OT scholar, and a "devout gay Christian" share in common? Answer: kenotic Christology:

i) This isn't new. Some professing Christians in Warfield's day who likewise denied the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture made the same move. There's a certain refreshing candor and consistency about "progressive Christians" who defend homosexuality by admitting that their view is contrary, not only to Paul, but to Jesus. Having lost the exegetical argument, they not only repudiate the authority of Scripture, but the authority of Christ. That's more honest than reinterpreting the Bible. But it also exposes their ultimate commitments. They will sacrifice anything and everything else, including the authority of Christ, to maintain what is more important to them. Shows you their core identity. They'd rather be on the wrong side of Christ than the wrong side of history. 

A lower doctrine of Scripture carries with it a lower doctrine of Christ. They begin by demoting Scripture and end by demoting Christ. 

ii) It is, of course, true, that Jesus qua man is not omniscient. Jesus qua man would be fallible, absent something to protect him from error. One dynamic that can protect a human from error is divine inspiration. The Holy Spirit can protect a human from error. 

However, Jesus has something even stronger than that. Jesus is divine in his own right. Although, considered in isolation, his humanity is fallible, his humanity doesn't exist in isolation. Rather, his humanity subsists in union with his divinity. If inspiration can protect from error, divinity is an even stronger principle. In the case of inspiration, a divine agent external to the human agent protects the human mind from error. But in the case of the divine Incarnation, divinity is integral to the (complex) person. 

iii) BTW, Rauser's appeal to Phil 2 is uninformed. As commentators like O'Brien, Fee, and Silva explain, the passage doesn't mean the Son divested himself of divine attributes. 

If, moreover, God could cease to be God, he'd be a contingent being. 

iv) The Incarnation admittedly has some mysterious aspects. That's not something you and I can directly experience, from the inside out. 

Last month I explored an analogy:

An actor knows more about the character than the character he plays or portrays. The character is a timebound agent. He only knows about events as they unfold. 

By contrast, the actor has read the script. He knows the future. 

But there's a paradoxical quality to acting. Even though he memorized his lines, even though he knows what questions will be asked, he must recite his lines as if this is the first time and only time he said it. He must act as if he thought about it just now. It hadn't entered his mind before then. He must feign surprise. Take a comparison:

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true” (Jn 4:16-18).
Jesus affects ignorance of her marital state to draw her out, then reveals uncanny knowledge of her personal life, even though they never met before. He steers the conversation in the desired direction based on his omniscience. Yet that may sometimes involve concealing his omniscience. Here's another example:
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do (Jn 6:5-6). 

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