Could Jesus Be “Mostly” Divine?

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?

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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.

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11 Reasons You Should Drink Coffee Every Day

I don’t need an excuse to drink coffee. But I certainly won’t object if someone hands me one. Or eleven.

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But if you need a little extra convincing, here’s a post offering eleven reasons to imbibe the divine beverage every day. Check out the post for all the data, but here are the highlights.

  • Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else. I’m not convinced that antioxidants are all that, but they sure sound healthy.
  • Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed. Even my daughters agree that coffee smells good. And they think it tastes like boiled dingo.
  • Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. We have some family members who struggle with Parkinson’s, so I’ll take any advantage I can get.
  • Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol). Um, no comment.
  • Coffee can make you feel happier. Duh.
  • Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide. See the previous point.
  • Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman). I’m not, but I’ll err on the side of caution.
  • Coffee can make you a better athlete. Since I’m not much of an athlete, that’s not saying a whole lot. But I’ll take it.
  • Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. I think that means I can eat more chocolate.
  • Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer. Sweet.
  • Coffee may make you more intelligent. This might be a correlation/causation problem. It’s entirely possible that smarter people drink coffee, rather than that coffee makes you smarter. But I’ll stick with coffee either way.

So, if you want to be healthy, happy, and smart, grab a cup of coffee this morning. That’s what I’m doing.

Flotsam and jetsam (10/21)

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Good Reads

  • What Does It Mean to Be Charismatic? There seems to be a failure to recognize how influential and growing the charismatic movement is these days among the most theologically astute. What I mean by theological “astuteness” is that this new breed of charismatics is thoroughly evangelical, orthodox, and Christ-centered. (Michael Patton)
  • How Cereal Transformed American Culture: More than a century ago, Christian fundamentalists invented cereal to promote a healthy lifestyle free of sin. Little did they know, their creation would eventually be used to promote everything from radio and cartoons to Mr. T and tooth decay. (Mental Floss)
  • Why Do Teachers Quite? And Why Do They Stay? Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all. With teacher effectiveness a top priority of the education reform movement, the question remains: Why are all these teachers leaving—or not even entering the classroom in the first place? (The Atlantic)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Ignatius of Antioch)

Ignatius of antiochOne of the ealiest leaders of the Church after the apostles had passed from the earth, Ignatius of Antioch was a key figure in the transition from the age of Jesus to the “Apostolic” age. According to tradition, he was a disciple of John the Apostle and was eventually martyred for his faith. His seven letters to various churches are among the earliest post-NT writings we have, establishing him as one of the earliest leaders of the post-disciple church. And he is often credited as being one of the earliest voices in Christian theology and ecclesiology.

In light of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him. To be fair, though, it’s really more a reflection on the life of a disciple in the midst of persecution than a true prayer. But it still works.

I know what must be done.
Only now am I beginning to be a disciple.

May nothing of powers visible or invisible prevent me,
that I may attain unto Jesus.

Come fire and cross and grapplings with wild beasts,
…..the rending of my bones and body,
…..come all the torments of the wicked one upon me.

Only let it be mine to attain until Jesus Christ.

Saturday Morning Fun…What Goes around Comes Around

Check out this fun black-and-white cartoon on why you should not mock the dog behind the window. Remember, God can see you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTWuZav-elY

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in John MacArthur’s Opening Address

John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference enters its third and final day today, continuing to stir things up with its message that the modern “Charismatic Movement” is not just wrong, but badly wrong, dangerously wrong. And MacArthur’s opening address kicked things off with a bang, but one that needs a closer look.

Strange-Fire

I wasn’t sure that I was going to weigh in on the conference, since plenty of people have already done so. But most of the coverage I’ve seen so far falls into one of two categories: (1) basic summary and (2) strong critique. What I haven’t seen is anyone try to comment on both the good and the bad in the conference. So that’s what I’m going to try here, which means I’ll probably just succeed in annoying everyone. But that’s what I like to do anyway.

The quotes in this post will come from the transcript amazingly compiled on the fly by Mike Riccardi. So the quotes may not be 100% accurate, though they look pretty close. You’ll have to wait until they release the audio/video if you want to double-check everything.

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Developing a Doctrine or Transforming a Tradition: A Review of the Quest for the Trinity

One of the most remarkable features of twentieth century theology was its emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity as one of the most central and important aspects of Christian theology. The Trinity isn’t some abstract and speculative idea that we can discard in favor of the more important and practical aspects of the Christian faith. According to many modern theologians, what we believe about the Trinity shapes Christian faith and ministry.

quest for the trinityThat all sounds great. But in his new book, The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity (IVP, 2012), Steve Holmes argues that there’s a lot more to the story. These modern theologians haven’t just reemphasized the importance of the Trinity. Along the way, they have reconstructed it, subtly changing the doctrine in ways that run contrary to what the church has always believed.

This outstanding resource should be in the “must read” category for anyone wanting to understand the doctrine of the Trinity and/or the contemporary theological scene.

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Flotsam and jetsam (10/18)

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Good Reads

  • The Double-Edged Sword of Being a Female Bible Scholar: There are still tremendous challenges for women in evangelical scholarship, and I’m just not sure how to go forward because of the tokenism mindset. I want to encourage female scholars, but I would want a young, male New Testament scholar to look up to me as much as a female New Testament scholar would. I want to move beyond thinking that I should just mentor women. I should also mentor men, and I think that would be the next frontier. (Hermeneutics)

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If You Want to Be Missional, You Need to Support Higher Education

Does the church need Christian colleges? Or have Christian colleges passed their “best when used by” date? In “An Open Letter to American Churches: The Crisis of Christian Higher Education,” Chris Gehrz makes an impassioned plea for the church to understand the vital contribution that Christian colleges make to the life and mission of the church. As he provocatively asserts:

“If you want to be missional, you need to support Christian higher education.”

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A Growing Financial Crisis

Gehrz is Professor and Chair of History at Bethel University, which has apparently decided to lay off a significant number of faculty in an attempt to address a large budget shortfall. And, of course, Bethel is not alone. Many colleges, both Christian and secular, have their own financial woes, including Calvin College which made the news last spring when it announced a $69.4 million budget gap. As Gehrz points out, 74% of the schools in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities received a grade of C or lower in a recent Forbes study, and 32% were declared “financially unsustainable” in another report. However you slice it, these numbers aren’t encouraging.

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When God Introduces Himself

nametag (300x300)What’s your name? That seems like a relatively simple question. If someone asks, you probably have a ready answer. Maybe you have a few nicknames that complicate things a bit, but generally this is not one of the more challenging questions you’ll face today.

But when Moses asked God for his name, he got a little more than he bargained for.

In Exodus 3:14-15, we find a fascinating exchange between Moses and God about God’s proper name. Moses is about to go speak to the people in Egypt, and he wants to know what to tell them if they ask for God’s name. And this is God’s response.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”* And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD,’ the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

So Moses asks for God’s name, and he gets three different responses? What’s going on here?

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