I find it rather odd that William Lane Craig, as a self-proclaimed enthusiastic molinist, claims that God is bounded by logic. Molinists, definitionally, support the concept that God cannot make a four-sided triangle or a married bachelor on pain of of logical incoherency. Most molinists, at least that I'm aware of, make the case that logic is a characteristic of God and manifests itself as true much in the same way that God doesn't create Goodness, Goodness is just part of his nature and can't act any differently. Now, forget whether or not this disqualifies him as omnipotent, because that isn't the point I'd like to make. But the reason I find it odd is because in this Q&A titled, "The Death of God and the Death of Christ", Craig seems to dispose of logic when it suits Christian dogma.
Hello Dr. Craig,
I would firstly like to thank you for your time and your work you put into your ministry. It has greatly benefited me and has also made me want to pursue a degree in philosophy.
My question is one I have never been able to get a clear answer on. When Jesus died on the cross, did God die? That being, did the essence of Jesus actually die?
I couldn't resist your question, Jesse, since it appeals to my favorite hymn, the magnificent "And Can It Be?" by Charles Wesley. I urge anyone who knows only praise songs and choruses to listen to this hymn and contemplate the wonderful lyrics about God's amazing love.Something tells me that Christians mistake warm fuzzy feelings of unity they get in church with experiencing God. Can't just be me.
What kind of music do you think Craig listens to? Obviously gospel has to be high on the list. But what else? He doesn't seem like much of a classic country guy like most Christian 60-year-old conservatives (he is verifiably a conservative), but George Jones and Porter Wagoner could be his stuff. He could be an adult contemporary guy, but he'd have to be in his 40s to dig that.
I apologize for this minor digression. Moving on!
The Council of Chalcedon (451) declared that the incarnate Christ is one person with two natures, one human and one divine. This has very important consequences. It implies that since Christ existed prior to his incarnation, he was a divine person before taking on a human nature. He was and is the second person of the Trinity. In the incarnation this divine person assumes a human nature as well, but there is no other person in Christ than the second person of the Trinity. There is an additional human nature which the pre-incarnate Christ did not have, but there is no human person in addition to the divine person. There is just one person who has two natures.Hmmm? One person and two natures? Do I even have to explain how that is incoherent? As human beings, according to these spiritual dualists, we are supposed to have one nature tethered to a physical and bodily manifestation that is directed by our spirit. But I guess God can have two natures in one body because, hell, he's God! He can do whatever he wants, and that includes being logical when fending off atheistic dissent and illogical when Christians feel like it.
Therefore, what Christ said and did, God said and did, since when we speak of Christ we're talking about a person. For that reason the Council endorses speaking of Mary as "the mother of God." She bore the person who is a divine person. Unfortunately, this language has been disastrously misleading because it sounds as though Mary birthed the divine nature of Christ when in fact she birthed Christ's human nature. Mohammed apparently thought that Christians believed that Mary was the third member of the Trinity, and Jesus was the offspring of God the Father and Mary, a view which he rightly rejected as blasphemous, though no orthodox Christian holds it.It seems whenever Craig opens his trap, he spouts out the word "therefore" for two reasons. First, he is a "trained" (and by "trained", I mean theologically trained) philosopher so it's probably second nature. But secondly, it seems kind of hasty and rushed in an attempt to move along so the point he just made is swept underneath the rug and accepted on the spot. Who knows.
At any rate, who cares about Mohammed?
To avoid such inevitable misunderstandings it is helpful to speak of what Christ does or how he is relative to one of his two natures. For example, Christ is omnipotent relative to his divine nature but he is limited in power relative to his human nature. He is omniscient with respect to his divine nature but ignorant of various facts with respect to his human nature. He is immortal with regard to his divine nature, but mortal with regard to his human nature.[facepalm]
As someone who prides themselves on a rational defense of the Christian faith (after all, what else is apologetics supposed to be?), he sure is doing a whale of a job tinkering around with rationality.
You can probably see now where I'm headed. Christ could not die with respect to his divine nature but he could die with respect to his human nature. What is human death? It is the separation of the soul from the body when the body ceases to be a living organism. The soul survives the body and will someday be re-united with it in a resurrected form. That's what happened to Christ. His soul was separated from his body and his body ceased to be alive. He became temporarily a disembodied person. On the third day God raised him from the dead in a transformed body.Okay, so Craig, I'm sorry but I have to ask this question: What was the point?
Christ's human nature therefore becomes irrelevant, does it not? He was supposedly an incarnation of an ultimate God. If Jesus is not God, then God is condemning an innocent person, but if Jesus is God, then he's killing himself, but only part of himself that doesn't really matter because he'll be resurrected in a matter of days and be in heaven. So did Jesus really die?
If I were to sacrifice myself knowing in advance that I would be in eternal paradise, is it really then a sacrifice? No, absolutely not. To sacrifice is to help another at your expense. The only way to determine if Jesus' human nature is valuable at all in relation to a potential sacrifice is to determine what Jesus has to lose. The answer? Absolutely nothing. A Christian who sacrifices himself out of love for his fellow man only has hearsay as to what awaits him on the other side. No matter how confident, he cannot be assured. So sacrificing his life still holds more weight than Jesus', because the possibility remains that a) he will die, be judged by God, and sent to hell or b) experience the void. So there's some risk involved that Jesus obviously had no qualms about.
In short, yes, we can say that God died on the cross because the person who underwent death was a divine person. So Wesley was all right in asking, "How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" But to say that God died on the cross is misleading in the same way that it is misleading to say that Mary was the mother of God. So I think it better to say that Christ died on the cross with respect to his human nature but not with respect to his divine nature.Again, how was this a sacrifice in any way, shape, or form?
Besides that, my other point is how can any human being even conceive of what it means to have a dual-nature? I'm definitely a verificationist-leaning person on these types of issues. Of course Craig would retort with some "witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart" baloney, but I would still maintain that even he does not know what he is speaking of. He is giving a false presentation of assuredness and authority that can be established merely by stating so. I have no reason to believe that we do experience the Holy Spirit in any way. Regardless, I would like for Craig to explain what having a dual nature even means because I certainly have no prior experience with such a concept or scenario.