Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 6

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 6 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7

It is unquestionable that Scripture affirms the sinlessness of Jesus Christ from the mouth of both believers and unbelievers (see for example 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, 9;14; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5 just to name a few). The natural question however, is could Jesus have sinned? There are two basic issues at hand here. First, how can we really consider Jesus human if He never sinned? As the old phrase goes, "to error is human . . ." Isn't this right? Secondly, can God be tempted to sin? Would that not contradict his very nature and holiness?

In his systematic theology, Dr. Millard Erickson takes on this question. Crediting Leon Morris in his book Lord from Heaven, Erickson notes that The Person who resists knows the full force of temptation (737). We must here differentiate between temptation and sin.  The two are not the same. It is not a sin to be tempted, but to act upon that temptation. In His humanity, then, Jesus faced real temptation most notably in the wilderness before the Devil. Morris' point, highlighted by Erickson, is an important one. To fight temptation is to experience its full force, to give in is to never fully experience it. This means, then, that Jesus, who never sinned in the face of temptation, experience real temptation in its fullness.

Furthermore, if we define humanity as one that is flawed with sin, we have committed a serious heresy. Erickson writes:

But the question remains, "Is a person who does not sin truly human?" If we say no, we are maintaining that sin is part of the essence of one who believes that the human has been created by God, since God would then be the cause of sin, the creator of a nature that is essentially evil. Inasmuch as we hold that, on the contrary, sin is not part of the essence of human nature, instead of asking, "Is Jesus as human as we are?" we might better ask, "Are we as human as Jesus?" For the type of true humanity created by God has n our case been corrupted and spoiled. There have been only three pure human beings: Adam and Eve (Before the fall, and Jesus. All the rest of us are but broken, corrupted versions of humanity. Jesus is not only as human as we are; he is more human. Our humanity is not a standard by which we are to measure his. His humanity, true and unadulterated is the standard by which we are to be measured. (737)

Amen indeed.

Regarding this question, Dr. Russell Moore in his book Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, writes:

In any discussion of Jesus' temptations, someone will typically ask, "Could Jesus have sinned?" To answer that, I would simply ay that it depends on what you mean by "could." I’ll respond with another question. Think of the person you love the most. While you have this loved one’s face before your mind, let me ask you: “Could you murder that person?” Your response would probably be, “Of course not!” You would then tell me how much you love the person, what the person means to you, and so forth. You’re incapable of murdering this person because the very act is opposed to everything that you’re about. (Note: If you answered with a cheery, “Boy, could I!” to that question, please put down this book and seek professional help.)

In your response to my question, you would be assuming “could” to mean a moral capability. But “could” here could also mean a natural ability. You tell me you “couldn’t” murder your loved one, but that’s no sign that you are saying you couldn’t physically take this person on. You're saying you would never do such a thing.

Jesus is himself the union of God and man, with both a human and a divine nature. God is, of course, morally incapable of sinning. But Jesus, in his human nature, really desires those things humanity’s been designed to desire. Could he have sinned—is his nature one that is capable of being both light and darkness? No. Could he have sinned—was he physically capable of eating bread, of throwing himself from a temple, of bowing his knee and verbalizing the words “Satan is lord”? Yes, of course.

It’s at this point that we often further misunderstand Jesus’ solidarity with us. We too often assume our current sinful status is what it means to be “real.” That’s because we’ve never known a world in which there is no sin. If you grow up all your life on a coastline near an uncapped oil spill, you might conclude that seagulls are covered in tar. As you read or travel, though, and see the birds in their natural state, you’ll discover your experience was abnormal; that’s not the way it’s meant to be. Too often we dismiss as “all too human” what is not human at all; it’s a satanic nature parasitically imposed on the human after the fall of Eden.

Jesus “sympathizes” with us in our temptations, the Bible tells us (Heb. 4:15). Yet we err when we think of this sympathy as some kind of psychologically motivated dismissal or minimizing of sin. Just think about the reactions if you were to sit around with your friends as you all talk about your temptations. One friend might confess to lust, and many in the group would nod heads in understanding. Another might confess an unforgiving spirit or a tendency toward hotheadedness. Again several would offer the words “I know how that is” as a means of encouragement. Probably, though, if someone were to say, “I have this persistent desire to throw kittens in a wood chipper,” the nods and affirmations would end. You’d probably be nudging the person next to you under the table in disbelief and exchanging looks with the person across from you that would mean something along the lines of, “Man, is this a sick one or what!” We often are most able to justify the sins in others if they correspond with our own failings, because we understand them
. (43-44)


For more:
John Knox on the Threefold Office of Christ
John Knox on the Importance of the Ascension
The God Who Became Man: Millard Erickson on the Implications of the Humanity of Christ 
Alumni Academy Christology Lectures From Dr. Bruce Ware
"The Jesus We Missed" by Patrick Henry Reardon 
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