One of the most terrifying things about going through depression is the idea that it will never end. Our minds are terrificly mysterious. Our minds play tricks on us. Whatever disposition we find ourselves in we believe it is permanent. When I experienced my time of depression last month, ignorance was not a friend. I did not know what was going on. I did not know why my mind was broken. This added to and, probably, prolonged the depression. Was it something I did? Was it something chemical in my brain? Did I need anti-depressants? Was there a lifestyle choice that built up over time and was taxing me? I did not know. Had I known it would have been much easier. If I had omniscience, I could have looked ahead into the future and known with certainty that it would subside in a few weeks. If I knew everything, I could correct the problem by taking the most definite measures to overcome it. But such is the plight of man. We don’t know everything. We don’t know the future. We have to live in such way where we attempt to make the most appropriate decisions as they seem to us at the time. We have to learn to trust the Lord, placing the future in his hands.
The Bible tells us that Christ can sympathize with us in all our weaknesses and that he has been tempted like us in everything (Heb 4:15). Many times I don’t really believe this. Think about it. There are some things that Christ was not tempted to do. For example, Christ was never tempted to tell a lie to cover up another lie! As well, there are certain weaknesses that I have which Christ does not seem to have had. For example, as I said above, I don’t know the future. Because of this, decision making is very difficult. It makes depression much more depressing. If I knew the future, this life would be much, much easier. Exhaustive knowledge of all things would be even better. So many problems and so much weakness would be done away with. Who should I marry? How many kids should I have? What vocation should I pursue? Why am I down? Should I send this email or not? How exactly should I respond in this or that difficult circumstance? If I could draw upon omniscience, all of these questions—all of these weaknesses—would be a snap. I would always know exactly what to do.
What were Christ’s limitations? Did he have any? Was he ever depressed, not knowing what the future holds? What did Christ know and when did he know it? What could Christ do and how could he do it?
Most Christians see Christ first through his deity. Sure we believe that Christ is both God and man, but when it comes to our default understanding of him as we read the Scriptures, we normally see only his deity. If he knew something which ordinarily could not be known, we attribute it to his deity. If he did something that could not normally be done, we credit his divine nature.
However, when it comes to some of the more troublesome passages, we often find our theology insufficient to cover the details. When Christ was in the Garden and asked that the “cup” of suffering pass from him (Lk 22:42), we are confused. When he asks the Father, “Why have you forsaken me” from the cross (Mk 15:34), we don’t know how to take it. And when he says that he does not know the day or the hour of his coming (Matt 24:36), we are baffled. In fact, so confused was some early scribe concerning Christ’s confession of ignorance, he omitted the phrase “nor the son” from the manuscript. The question is: How could Christ, who is God, not be omniscient (know everything, including the future)? Why didn’t Christ know the time of his coming?
There are a few options:
1. Christ really did know; we just don’t know why he said this.
2. Christ did not know for some unknown reason reason, but he knew everything else.
3. Christ did not know because, being a man, he was no longer omniscient.
4. Christ did not know since he did not access his omniscience due to the rules of the incarnation.
My contention is that number four is correct.
Let me be brief and clear with my thesis:
Although Christ was fully God, he never independently accessed any of his divine powers or knowledge. All of his miraculous actions and understanding were the result of his submission to God and came by way of the power of the Holy Spirit. Further, if Christ had at any time accessed his own power or omniscience independently, he would not be qualified as the second Adam and could not represent us in redemption.
This means that there were many things that Christ did not know. It was not simply that Christ chose on a one-by-one basis what not to know, but that he, like every human, had limitations of knowledge. He had to grow and learn just like all people. When he knew things that are beyond the abilities of normal humanity, like when he knew the background of the woman at the well (Jn 4:17-18), he knew them by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, just like the prophets. When he did things that are beyond the abilities of normal humanity, like walking on water, he did so by the power of the Spirit.
In summary, I believe that while Christ exercised divine prerogatives (forgiving sins, claiming to be God, receiving worship, etc.), he did not ever exercise his own divine attributes independently of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. His knowledge and miracles do not alone substantiate his deity, as parallels to all Christ’s miracles and knowledge can be found in the prophets. But his miracles substantiate his deity because they substantiate his testimony. Continue Reading →