The Twofold Nature Of Christ -- By: Nathan S. Burton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:248 (Oct 1905)
Article: The Twofold Nature Of Christ
Author: Nathan S. Burton


The Twofold Nature Of Christ

Rev. Nathan S. Burton

All who accept the doctrine of the incarnation admit that it is environed with mysteries. Not the least of these mysteries pertains to the person of Christ in his incarnation.

A careful reading of the New Testament makes two distinct, if not irreconcilable, impressions on the mind of the candid reader. One is that Jesus was as truly a man as any man that ever lived. His whole life on earth was that of a man. He is called a man. He calls himself a man, and the Son of Man. He is the ideal man, the highest conceivable type of humanity. The other impression is that he was more than a man, and more than any other man that ever lived. Though he was born of a woman, like other men, he was supernaturally born, and declared when born to be the Son of God. He is called the Son of God, and accepts the appellation. He claims divine authority (Luke 5:24. He claimed divine honor (John 5:23). He declared his oneness with God, whom he calls his Father, as no mere created being could have done (John 10:30). He is called God (John 1:1; Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8), and he puts himself on an equality with God, as no created being would dare or desire to do, as in the baptismal formula.

The New Testament conveys each of these impressions with equal distinctness. We might accept either one alone and reject the other (in which case we must set aside the divine authority of the New Testament), or we must believe that Christ was both human and divine, whether we can or can-

not see how the two beliefs are consistent with each other.

Three theories seem possible: (1) We may suppose that in Jesus Christ, during his life on earth, there were two distinct personalities, mysteriously united, with two consciousnesses and two wills. Such was evidently the case with demoniacs; though in the case of Jesus these two wills were in perfect harmony, as was not the case with demoniacs. Or (2) we may suppose that the human and divine natures were mysteriously blended in him, so that they constituted one personality, with but one consciousness and one will. Or (3) we may suppose that he had but a single nature,—that in the image of which man was created,—and that at his incarnation he voluntarily limited himself in the exercise of his divine prerogatives to the measure of humanity; so that, while he remained divine in his essential nature, he was human in the exercise of his powers.

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