Friday, February 03, 2012

Read Along: Christian Apologetics Ch21

Today we continue with chapter twenty-one of Read Along with Apologetics315, a weekly chapter-by-chapter study through Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity by Douglas Groothuis. Please leave a comment on your reading below. This is where you can interact with others reading the book, ask questions, or add your own thoughts. Series index here. Click below for the audio intro, chapter 21 study questions PDF, and summary:

[Audio Intro] - Dr. Groothuis introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 21 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Twenty-One: Defending the Incarnation
(pages 507-526)

Chapter twenty-one is really two parts. In the first part, Groothuis looks at the argument for Jesus' divinity, using a disjunctive syllogism. If Jesus claimed to be human, but was not divine, he was a bad man and merely human: that is, he was deceived or a deceiver. Jesus was not a bad man and merely human: that is, he was neither (a) deceived nor (b) a deceiver. Therefore, Jesus was divine (in addition to being human). The author unpacks the possible options that have been presented for Jesus (legend, guru, deceiver, deceived, idiosyncratic, mad), then offers reasons why these fail.

The second part delves into the incarnation, arguing for its coherence as a doctrine as well as offering answers to common objections. The author explains that the incarnation may appear initially to be paradoxical, but it is not a concept that is contradictory. He argues that, "when carefully stated and explained, the idea of the incarnation is shown to be logically coherent, awe-inspiring, unique and wonderful for errant mortals in need of divine rescue."

Notable quotes:
If Jesus really meant to teach an esoteric message that differs completely from what Christianity has always taken it to mean, he was one of the worst teachers in the history of humanity, since for two thousand years he has been taken by his followers (and his critics) to teach monotheism. (Christian Apologetics, p. 511)  
If Jesus were wrong about this all-encompassing fact of his own identity, his entire worldview would be skewed, thus revealing that he was radically out of touch with reality. (Christian Apologetics, p. 514)  
...the idea that Jesus was wrong about his deity but right about most all other things-even brilliant on moral matters-is extremely unlikely. (Christian Apologetics, p. 514)
If he were not God and he taught with the moral authority reserved for God, he would not be a good moral teacher overall, since he would lack the intellectual and moral integrity required of a good moral teacher. (Christian Apologetics, p. 515)    
  1. Why does the argument for Jesus' divinity not present a false dilemma?
  2. Based on your reading, how would you assess the statement of "100% God, 100% man"?
  3. How would you present the "God or bad man" argument in a conversation?
Next week
Chapter Twenty-Two: The Resurrection of Jesus


Unknown said...

Our discussion group is a bit behind in reading this book, but we're making it! Anyway, we were all a bit "confused" or, at the least, "concerned" about Groothius's use of the words "merely" human and "fully" human. According to his definition, no one but Jesus is "fully" human, because he defines it as having a divine nature. Is this the way others interpreted his statement (p.524, k.5754), or are we all missing something?

Unknown said...

Although our study group is a bit behind, I hope someone will help clarify a point for us, because we're concerned about Groothius's use of the terms "merely" human and "fully" human. It would seem that, according to his definition, none but Jesus is "fully" human, since he defines it as having divine properties. Is our understanding correct and, if so, how do others take this explanation?

Brian said...


Thanks for dropping a comment—and great to hear that you and your group are sticking with the read-along.

As for the section you are talking about (found in Kindle location 5755, or page 524), here are a few thoughts...

First, a point about the definition of being human. Groothuis doesn't define being human as having divine properties. But he says that a human may have a divine nature without ceasing to be human.

Remember, he is saying that to have the necessary and sufficient conditions for being human means that one is merely human. And, commonly, everyone has those "mere" properties, so everyone is human who has those minimal properties.

But for Jesus, he also has a divine nature in addition to the necessary and sufficient conditions for being human. He had something more than the "mere" human properties. And this is where Groothuis calls him "fully" human, not because everyone else is not human, but because Christ had additional properties (the divine nature) that made him human in a fuller sense. This is how I interpret what Groothuis is saying.

This distinction stops someone from objecting to the idea that Jesus couldn't be human because he had a divine nature, I think.

Let me know if that helps illuminate this section at all! : )

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