What happened was that at the incarnation, while continuing to exist eternally in the form of God, He added to that by taking the form of a servant.
— J. N. D. Kelly —
Given the importance of the extra in historical theology, it is surprising how quickly it is rejected or replaced with something else. The extra is crucial in helping the church to explain the full scope of the Scriptural presentation of the incarnation and how the Son functioned in and through both natures,
— Stephen J. Wellum —
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. And with candles glowing and carols singing, we draw near to the babe born of Mary and celebrate the fact that God is with us—Immanuel.
At the same time, when we celebrate Christ’s condescension, there can arise a significant misunderstanding about Christ’s humanity. In song, as well as sermon, we find lyrics that describe Jesus “leaving heaven,” or not knowing about why he is coming to earth—“Baby Jesus, do you know you will die for our sins?” These boilerplate Christmas tag lines, but are they true? Do they faithfully represent the miracle of the Incarnation?
On the surface, they may sound fine. They praise God for Christ’s birth and his sacrificial mission to bring salvation. Yet, when we probe more deeply, it becomes apparent lyrics like these and many unchecked thoughts about the birth of Christ assume beliefs that have often been described as heretical in church history.
In particular, Christmas has a way of unwrapping the kenotic heresy—the belief that when Jesus emptied himself (ekenōsen) and became a man, he also left many (or all) of his divine attributes behind. The theory, expressed in many ways, asserts that for the Son of God to become human, he must set aside his omniscience, his omnipotence, and his omnipresence. After all, true humanity does not uphold the universe, right?! For Jesus to be fully human then, his humanity must be fixed in one place, ignorant of many things, and unable to do all the things that God does. Continue reading