was he both God and Man?
Jeremy W. Gannon
What the critics say3
What the early church said:4
The Apostles’ Creed4
The Nicene Creed5
Jesus has two natures -- He is God and man.7
Jesus is Fully God7
Jesus is Fully Man9
When Jesus was on earth, was he both God and Man?
What the critics say
There are many who claim Jesus was not incarnate. Various opinions are given to try and explain who Jesus “really” was. Some say he was a great prophet, some say he was an “enlightened” angel, while still others see him as nothing more than a good man. Anne Graham Lotz relates it this way, “The world sees Jesus as a man, perhaps even a good or great man and possibly even a prophet, but still a man." (Lotz, 2000), p. 138. Prison Fellowship International Ministry founder Charles Colson states “The world can accept that we love Jesus—they can even acknowledge the social benefits of religion—and yet they can still think that he is merely a human or mythical figure.” (Colson & Pearcey, 1999), p. 31. Other religions also try to explain away Jesus without acknowledging Him as God. Hindus have many gods and they view Jesus as just one of those manifestations. “Gandi represented typical Hindu thinking when he said, “I…do not take as literally true the text that Jesus is the only begotten son of God. God cannot be the exclusive Father and I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is divine as Krishna or Rama or Muhammed or Zoroaster” (Halverson, 1996), p.97. More problematic than those who deny that Jesus was divine are those in religious circles who try to bring understanding to their confusion about who He was. Some say Jesus was created by God, others have said Jesus was God only appearing human. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics defines this heresy as Docetism which is “the assertion that Christ’s human body was a phantasm, and that his suffering and death were mere appearance” (Hindson & Caner, 2008), p.179 Still others explain that Jesus stopped being God when he was man on earth. All of these miss the mark and are distorted views of who Jesus was. What the early church said:
The early church believed and understood that Jesus was both God and man. They defined their faith and the core articles of their beliefs through the use of creeds. What is a creed? A creed is “a confession of faith for public use, or a form of words setting forth with authority certain articles of belief, which are regarded by the framers as necessary for salvation, or at least for the well-being of the Christian Church.” (Schaff, 1878) p.3-4 Through these creeds we can see that the early church very clearly understood that Jesus was both God and man. The three widely accepted creeds are as follows:
The Apostles’ Creed
The first that we will look at is the Apostles Creed. The Apostles Creed States “I believe in God The Father Almighty, And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, Who was born by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried, The third day he rose from the dead He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Church; The forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body.” (Schaff, 1878), p.21. Phillip Schaff states “The Apostles' Creed, or Stmbolum Apostoliccm, is… an admirable popular summary of the apostolic teaching, and in full harmony with the spirit and even the letter of the New Testament.” (Schaff, 1878), p.14. From the Apostles creed we have the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith. “As the Lord's Prayer is the Prayer of prayers, the Decalogue the Law of laws, so the Apostles' Creed is the Creed of creeds. It contains all the fundamental articles of the Christian faith necessary to salvation, in the form of facts, in simple Scrip” (Schaff, 1878)...