Is it a contradiction to say that Jesus is both 100% God and 100% man?
I was talking to a fellow believer who said it was a contradiction, but that he believed it anyway.
I tried to explain why it wasn’t a contradiction at all, and that if it were, he literally couldn’t believe it.
He seemed to be thinking of Godhood and manhood as two different kinds of stuff.
“You’re either one thing or the other, not both,” he insisted. “So it’s a contradiction! I don’t understand it, and neither can you!”
Instead of thinking in terms of stuff, I told him he should think of it in terms of properties or attributes, and gave him the example of Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses.
On the one hand, you can describe the statue solely in terms of physical properties. Your list might look like this:
- It is made of marble which is mostly composed of calcite CaCO3.
- It has a certain height.
- It has a certain weight.
- It is located in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, in Rome.
On the other hand, the sculpture depicts Moses, so it also has representational or artistic properties:
- Depicts Moses.
- He is seated.
- He is holding the Ten Commandments.
- He is glaring.
- He has two horns, due to a mistranslation in the Latin Vulgate Old Testament.
In other words, you could say that Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses is 100% physical and 100% artistic. Is there a contradiction between the two? Of course not. It’s two different ways of looking at the same thing.
The statue also has many historical properties:
- Commissioned in 1505.
- It was for the tomb of Pope Julius II.
- It was finally completed in 1545.
So you can say the statue of Moses is 100% physical, and 100% artistic, and 100% historical. Those aren’t contradictions. Those are just different ways of looking at the same thing.
Wearing Multiple Hats
Or think about yourself. Maybe you are an accountant. In which case, you have the following attributes:
- Good at math.
- Graduated with an accounting degree.
- Can use Excel.
- Work in accounts payable.
Maybe you are also a father. In which case, this might be true:
- Biologically related to two sons and a daughter.
- Have been a father for seven years.
- Tough but fair.
- Provides for children.
In other words, you can be 100% an accountant and 100% a father without there being a contradiction between the two.
So, is there a contradiction in saying Jesus is both God and man?
Not if you think of it in terms of two different sets of properties.
In terms of Jesus’ deity, you could list many divine attributes, such as:
- Perfectly good.
In terms of Jesus’ humanity, you could list many biological attributes, such as:
- Member of the species Homo sapiens sapiens.
- Has kidneys that process about 50 gallons of blood each day
- 23 pairs of chromosones
Jesus can have all the attributes of divinity, and all the attributes of humanity, without there being an obvious contradiction between the two. It’s just two different ways of describing the same Person.