by Thomas Morris.
This is an incredible primer in analytic theology. Not the first intro text to be sure (that would be McCall), but indispensable nonetheless.
Does the claim “Jesus is God the Son” introduce incoherence into the Incarnation? Morris says no, provided that we properly understand what is meant by key philosophical terms. His argument trades on a number of similar philosophical tools: what is a concept? What is a natural-kind? Does fully-human = merely-human? Modern theologians who reject the Incarnation rarely examine these issues.
According to Morris (Morris 21ff), we hold to the proposition
(C) Jesus is God the Son
(C’) Jesus is God
Modern critics of the Incarnation say that humanity and divinity are contraries, so one subject cannot exemplify both. The heart of Morris’s book is that these are not contraries and Jesus does, in fact, exemplify both the properties of humanity and the properties of divinity.
Some of the difficulty comes with the undefined usage of the term ‘nature.’ Critics of the Incarnation think that the properties in human nature and in divinity are logical complements, thus precluding any bearer to exemplify both. Morris argues this isn’t necessarily the case. We aren’t saying that Jesus held to two undefined natures, but rather two natural kinds, or kind-nature. Natural kind: a shareable set of properties (39ff). Jesus had all the kind-essential properties of both humanity and divinity (40). It’s not clear where the contradiction, if any, is.
So far Morris has cleared orthodoxy of the charge of incoherence. But are divinity and humanity compossible?
Divine and Human Existence
Is Death annihilation? If it is, then Jesus, as one bearing divine properties, cannot die.
But why should the theist accept this? Doesn’t the soul outlive the body? Morris doesn’t take this argument, though. He rather points out that Jesus bore essential, if not common, human properties. Either one works.
Jesus and the Attributes of Deity
Problem: how can Jesus bear the property, say, of omnipresence during the Incarnation?
Anselm: God is a maximally perfect being who exemplifies a maximally perfect set of compossible great-making properties.
Great-making property: a property it is intrinsically better to have than to lack.
Degreed: something you can have more of
Logical maxima: highest possible degrees
Non-logical maxima: capable of infinite increase
The Properties of the God-man
Alvin Plantinga: the divine persons can differ in the modal status of their properties (94-95). The Son can exemplify some of those properties contingently.
Morris explores a number of options to avoid the kenotic conclusion.
Range of consciousness = collection of belief-states (102).
Two minds = two ranges of consciousness. Morris writes, “The divine mind of the Son of God contained, but was not contained by, his earthly mind” (103). There is an asymmetric relationship.