Most Christians know you’re supposed to say that Jesus is divine. After all, you’ve got the Trinity, so you know you have to connect the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in some way. And you’ve probably heard that Jesus needs to be divine for salvation to work. It might be tragic for some random human to get crucified, but it’s hardly going to save the world. If Jesus is going to accomplish our salvation, he has to be divine.
But what if he was just mostly divine?
That’s the question I received in an email from a friend the other day. He knew perfectly well that the gospel doesn’t work unless the Son is divine, but he still wanted to know if mostly divine was good enough.
Princess Bride Theology
If you’re like me, anytime “mostly X” comes up in conversation, you hear echoes of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride. And I can imagine how the relevant christological conversation might have unfolded:
Inigo Montoya: He’s divine. He can’t be otherwise.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly divine. There’s a big difference between mostly divine and all divine. Mostly divine is slightly not-divine. With all divine, well, with all divine there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through your clothes and look for loose change to tithe.
Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have gone quite like that. But you get the point. Does it make sense to draw a distinction between “all divine” and “mostly divine,” affirming only the latter of the Son?
This approach would seem to have some real advantages. On the one hand, you’re still saying that the Son is divine. So you don’t seem to have any problems affirming that he is the Savior of the world. Since he’s not as divine as the Father, though, you have a neat way of distinguishing the Son from the Father, thus avoiding all the complex logical problems those goofy trinitarians face.
Mostly divine. Sounds good.