“Fully God, Fully Human” – Why it matters

I love teaching the Foundations class.  I especially love working with people who are newly coming to the faith or returning after a hiatus because these folks often have challenging questions that make me think!  In my latest class, someone asked a simple but profound question relating to the Trinity and the two natures of Christ.  I had explained that in the 4th century some Christians were teaching “there was a time when the Son was not.” In essence, that Jesus, although God, was a lesser God to God the Father. I then went on to say that the church believed the only way to rightly take into account New Testament claims about Jesus was to affirm in the Nicene Creed that Jesus was “God from God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.”  Then came the question: Christ Two Natures “Why does it matter?”  This awesome inquiry sent me back to scripture and my Systematics books and proved very fruitful for me and I hope for the class participants as we worked through the importance of the two natures of Christ and him being “fully God” and not a subordinate or created God.  Here is a wonderful excerpt from theologian Dr. Carl Braatan on why Jesus being fully God and fully human matters. I hope it gets you thinking and is helpful as we continue to explore the riches of our proclamation, “Jesus is Lord.”

Here we are simply underscoring that when Christians speak of God, they do so on the basis of the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Their reasoning illustrates the logic of salvation. To bridge the chasm between God and the world, between the infinity of God and the finite human world, the Savior must be in good standing on both sides. 1 Tim. 2:5 puts it this way: “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” If Jesus were merely a man, he would share the predicament of all human beings. He would himself need to be saved; he could not be the Savior. Jesus is the solution and not part of the problem. Likewise, if Jesus were only God, as the docetists claimed, and not fully human, he would have no point of contact with those who need to be saved.
A good mediator is one who can negotiate the differences between two parties. To do that a mediator must be in good standing on both sides. If there is to be reconciliation between two parties at enmity with each other, a go-between is needed. Jesus is the go-between who represents God to humans and humans to God. The logic of salvation affirms that if Jesus were not both God and man, he would be impotent to deal with the religious predicament of human beings in bondage to what Luther called the “unholy trinity” of sin, death, and the devil—enemies of God and oppressors of humanity. Hebrews 9:15 says, “He [Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.”

Braaten, C. E. (2011). Who Is Jesus?: Disputed Questions and Answers (p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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