The Incarnation And Logic: Their Compatibility Defended -- By: Norman L. Geisler

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 06:2 (Fall 1985)
Article: The Incarnation And Logic: Their Compatibility Defended
Author: Norman L. Geisler


The Incarnation And Logic:
Their Compatibility Defended

Norman L. Geisler

Dallas Theological Seminary

William D. Watkins

Fullerton, California

In The Myth of God Incarnate, the British theologian Maurice Wiles asks, “Are we sure that the concept of an incarnate being, one who is both fully God and fully man, is after all an intelligible concept?”1 John Hick replies firmly in the negative. He claims that the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation is contentless because it is logically incoherent, hence meaningless:

… to say, without explanation, that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was also God is as devoid of meaning as to say that this circle drawn with a pencil on paper is also a square. Such a locution has to be given semantic content: and in the case of the language of incarnation every content thus far suggested has had to be repudiated. The Chalcedonian formula, in which the attempt rested, merely reiterated that Jesus was both God and man, but made no attempt to interpret the formula. It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that the real point of the incarnational doctrine is not indicative but expressive, not to assert a metaphysical fact but to express a valuation and evoke an attitude.2

Hick, therefore, concludes that “the idea of divine incarnation is a mythological idea.” By “myth” he means “a story which is told but which is not literally true or an idea or image which is applied to someone or something but which does not literally apply, but which invites a particular attitude in its hearers.” Thus, the idea “that Jesus was God the Son incarnate is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it is an application to Jesus of a mythical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship ascribed in the ancient world to a king.”3

The denial of the logical coherence of the incarnation by many of the myth-of-God-incarnate advocates is a very serious matter. For if it could be shown that the doctrine of the incarnation is on the same logical footing as, say, a square circle, then Christians must either (1) give up the faith, (2) reconstruct the doctrine of the incarnation, or (3) abandon the noncontra-dictoriness of reality. Instead, we shall attempt to demonstrate that the incarnation of Jesus Christ, even as traditionally understood, is logically coherent, hence meaningful. Unfortunately, not all evangelicals share this position. Those who do not and yet wish to retain their Christian faith

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