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Questions on God and Gender, Eternal Life, and the Resurrection

Dr. Craig fields questions from Australia, Iran, and the U.S.

KEVIN HARRIS: Bill, are you ready for some questions? Because we have them. Let’s look at some questions from all over the world. We will start here at random with Joel in the USA. He says,

Hi, Dr. Craig. I recently listened to your podcast about whether or not your Christology is orthodox, and I greatly enjoyed it. I think the view makes a lot of sense, and I am troubled by how many people have considered it heretical when it is clearly historically orthodox. I did have a question about it though. Most theologians believe God is genderless, but if that is true doesn’t that mean a genderless spirit was inhabiting a male body in the incarnation? That seems potentially problematic from an ontological perspective as humans are, of course, male or female. What are your thoughts on the matter?

DR. WILLIAM LANE CRAIG: I am inclined to think that because the Genesis narrative says that God made man in his image –male and female he created them– that men and women alike are created in God’s image and that, therefore, God includes in himself the properties that go to make up masculinity and femininity. Therefore, it is not that Jesus would be genderless. He would be a man – he would have a male body – and included in the divinity are the properties that go to make up masculinity that would be represented in him.

KEVIN HARRIS: A question from Will in Australia.

In your article, What Was Herod Thinking?,  you say it is blindingly obvious that Herod didn’t mean to say that Jesus was literally a revivified John because Jesus and John were contemporaries. Is it so obvious? Couldn’t one suppose that Herod wasn’t very well informed in this matter?

DR. CRAIG: Since he’s got more than one question, let’s take them one at a time. It is obvious because John and Jesus were about the same age, and Herod certainly knew that Jesus was a person who was having a ministry in Judea at this time and that John the Baptist was doing the same thing. It is not as though one man was from one generation and the other man from a later generation after the first had died. They were about the same age and therefore clearly contemporaries.

KEVIN HARRIS:

Secondly, you make a clear distinction between revivification and resurrection. That is fair. However, couldn’t Jesus’ disciples have believed he was revivified initially and the claim have been heightened later, sort of like arguments made about the people’s view of Jesus becoming more exalted over time?

DR. CRAIG: I think this is implausible.If Jesus were simply revivified in the way that Lazarus was (a return to the earthly mortal life but would die again) then his resurrection from the dead would not have the theological import that the earliest Christians attributed to it. There is no evidence that early Christians considered Jesus to be anything less than raised to glory, immortality, eternal life, and thereby was vindicated in his messianic claims. So the earliest sources we have which are in Paul would, I think, say that right from the beginning the disciples were proclaiming that Jesus was raised from the dead in the proper Jewish sense of that word.

KEVIN HARRIS:

Lastly, and I am sorry you may have addressed this elsewhere but, how is the reliability of the disciples’ timidity prior to the resurrection appearances established historically? Yes, it is fair to assume that they would have been timid, maybe terrified, but if the Synoptics were written from a shared source and John was aware of them at the time of writing his Gospel, couldn’t a skeptic suggest that this was all part of an early Christian apologetic established only by one independent source? Or does this defame the apostles too much to be a fabrication?

Could the Gospel writers have wanted to defame the apostles?

DR. CRAIG: I would say that this is not only independently attested by multiple witnesses, such as John and the Synoptics as well as multiple sources within the Gospels themselves, but the criterion of embarrassment (which is what he refers to in defaming the apostles) would be a very powerful reason for thinking that in fact the disciples upon Jesus’ crucifixion were afraid and cowering. There wouldn’t be any reason for the Gospels to invent stories like the apostasy of Peter or the women disciples being courageous and observing the crucifixion and the burial and the empty tomb and the disciples cowering in fear unless this were in fact the case. I think there is a sort of, as he says, verisimilitude to these narratives as well. This is exactly what one would expect in such a case in which one’s leader has been arrested and brutally executed. You would fear for your life as well.

KEVIN HARRIS: This is a question from Chris in the USA.

Dr. Craig, I have a question that has been vexing me for some time. It has to do with the eschaton and the nature of everlasting time. [The eschaton being the end times, end things. Jumping down to the third paragraph, he says. . .] Here is my vexation. As a Bible-believing Christian I do believe that I will have an embodied, finite existence in the eschaton. I do believe it will be an everlasting experience, world without end. However, I cannot fathom how my finite mind could possibly process an unending succession of moments. Given an infinite future, would not all probabilities be realized and all potentials become actual? Wouldn’t I master every instrument in the symphony orchestra? Wouldn’t I play chess better than Deep Blue? Wouldn’t I memorize every word of every book? Wouldn’t I converse with every redeemed being an infinite number of days? Wouldn’t we all? After 10 billion billion successive moments, wouldn’t all residents of heaven become drearily identical? Dr. Craig, can you help me escape this vexation?

DR. CRAIG: I agree with Chris that we will have finite human minds in the new heavens and the new Earth, but we need to understand the difference between a potential infinite and an actual infinite. Our lives in the eschaton will be potentially infinite in that they will go on and on and on forever. But they will always be finite. There will always be a finite number of experiences or memories or facts that one will know even though the limit of those is infinite. So one will never arrive at an actual infinity of experiences or knowledge. It will be an unending quest for greater and greater knowledge and more and more experiences. I would agree with him that no finite good could ever suffice to satisfy such an infinite longing. That is why we should think of the eschaton primarily as coming to know God more and more deeply because God as infinite and truly inexhaustible and therefore can never be completely plumbed by any finite being.Given the infinite good that God is, I think that the eschaton will be an exhilarating and thrilling experience as our experience and minds grow and grow without limit in our knowledge of God.

KEVIN HARRIS: I will tell you what else will help him is, by the same token, if all these possibilities and potentialities are realized then the possibility and the potentiality of him figuring out how to handle it will also be realized.

DR. CRAIG: He also doesn’t take an account of the fact that maybe you would forget certain things. If it is true that the finite mind can only hold so much, well then you simply forget things that are far in the past just as we forget now.

KEVIN HARRIS: From Iran it says,

Hello, Dr. Craig. Peace and greetings. I watched one of your debates with Yusuf Ismail regarding the identity of Jesus – Is Jesus Man or Both Man and God? In that debate you provide a model for proving the hypostatic union based on the movie Avatar. The question that I have is if we accept that God and man are two contradictory notions – man is limited in the full sense and God is unlimited in the full sense; for example, God is omnipotent whereas man is not – then using that analogy would become fallacious because Jack Sully in the movie has two natures but they are not contradictory. He is limited in both his natures and therefore it could not be a good model for proving Jesus to be fully God and fully man. First, how can you logically make these two natures on logical grounds possible? Thanks, Ali from Iran.

DR. CRAIG: I appreciate the question. It is important to understand that I am not appealing to this movie to prove that Jesus is truly God and truly man. It is meant simply to be an illustration of a person who has two different natures. I think it is a very effective illustration. If you have seen the movieAvatar you can see that this character has a human nature and then he has a Navi nature. Ali objects to the analogy by saying that these two natures that Jack Sully has are not contradictory. But I would say the same thing of divinity and humanity – these are not contradictory. It would be contradictory to say that Jesus is merely a man and that he is also God, but it is in no way contradictory to say that he has both a divine nature and a human nature. He is omnipotent in his divine nature but he is limited in strength and power in his human nature. He is omniscient in his divine nature but he is limited cognitively in his human nature. There just isn’t any inconsistency between those. The divine nature exceeds the powers and capacities of the human nature, but there is no contradiction between one person exemplifying both of these natures.

KEVIN HARRIS: Final question today.

Hello Dr. Craig, thank you for your so needed work. I am having a little trouble with your hypothesis for the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ. If Christ was fully God and fully man then you suggest that somewhere in the unconscious/subconscious part of the mind of the man Jesus that the God or divinity aspect of Christ was present according to some insights you suggest come from some discipline related to deep psychology. But if the man Jesus had a less than human unconscious/subconscious aspect in his human nature then it seems to follow that Jesus wasn’t fully human since all humans share an equally fully human conscious and subconscious mind. If something in the human subconscious mind of Jesus was not human in nature but divine then Jesus was not fully human since all humans have both a fully human conscious and subconscious mind. Maybe I misunderstood something in one of the premises of your argument. But if I’m making a strawman then it is an unintentional one. Again, thank you for your work and your response. Felix in Puerto Rico

DR. CRAIG: I appreciate Felix’s question. I think it is important to understand that the orthodox doctrine of Christ is not that Christ is fully God and fully man but rather that he is truly God and truly man. To say fully God and fully man makes it sound like he is 100% God and he is 100% man which is a contradiction in terms. Rather, it is that he has all of the essential properties that make up divinity, and he has the essential properties that make up humanity. I think that when the second person of the Trinity brings to the body of Christ – the biological body of Christ – a rational person, that completes the human nature of Christ because what it is to be a person is already included in the divine nature. So the divine nature by its union with the human body makes a complete human nature. It brings a rational soul to this human body so that you have here a body-soul composite which is a human being. Now, he is not merely human, as I said a moment ago, because he is also divine. But he is truly human. So that is why we should reject this language of “fully God and fully man.” That is ambiguous. That would suggest that Jesus had to be merely human, and that is not the orthodox view. Jesus is truly human but he is not merely human. He has the essential properties that make up humanity (being a rational soul and body) but he has additional properties that we don’t possess in virtue of which he is divine.

(This podcast is by Reasonable Faith / William Lane Craig. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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