Is Christ’s Nature Contradictory?

Is orthodox Christology merely paradoxical or actually contradictory?

That’s the topic of a conversation I had recently with Dr. Jc Beall, author of The Contradictory Christ, hosted by the exquisitely groomed Cameron Bertuzzi of Capturing Christianity fame:

Dr. Beall was unquestionably the heavyweight in this exchange, and we barely scratched the surface of some of the issues, but I think it was a productive dialogue.

For further discussion of Dr. Beall’s proposal, check out the symposium in volume 7 of the Journal of Analytic Theology.

5 thoughts on “Is Christ’s Nature Contradictory?”

  1. James,

    Regarding the two propositions

    P Jesus is mutable
    P* Jesus is immutable

    isn’t at least one apparent contradiction allayed by adding more to the story?

    P**Jesus is mutable in his humanity
    P*** Jesus is immutable in his divinity.

    It seems to me that by elaborating upon the respective premises the initial equivocation disappears along with the initial apparent contradiction. As now stated, P** and P*** no longer violate the law of non-contradiction (as P and P* originally did).

    The difficulty in grasping how one divine person is both mutable and immutable remains, but it seems to me that this is a different kind of difficulty (a mystery), and that it is no longer formulated in contradictory terms once we introduce the respective natures of the one hypostasis.

    So, what began as an apparent contradiction would seem to end in mystery without any semblance of contradiction.



    1. That’s basically the so-called “qua” solution (Christ is X “qua human” and non-X “qua divine”). Beall addresses it in his book. Basically his objection (as I recall; I don’t have the book to hand) is that either it has to divide Christ into two subjects (to avoid positing incompatible predicates of one subject) or it ends up failing to avoid contradiction (because you’re still positing incompatible predicates of one subject). There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist.

  2. It appears to me that he hasn’t identified a logical contradiction in any specific way. It’d be nice if he at least stated two contradictory propositions that we might examine. Or perhaps I missed it.

    But anyway, my question was intended to understand your position. I understood you to pretty much clear up the equivocal nature of P and P* by elaborating with something akin to P** and P***. (That’s how I’d handle it, and always have.) From there we seem to be left with merely mystery rather than apparent contradiction, whereas with P and P* we would still be operating under apparent contradiction. Yet after you cleared up the equivocal ambiguity by elaborating on P and P*, you still seemed to want to call the clarification of p** and p*** apparent contradiction.

    So, it seems as though you were calling both pairs of propositions seemingly contradictory without drawing even a distinction between the first pair and the second pair as they relate to apparent contradiction. Although the first pair is an apparent contradiction, it’s also salvageable by the elaboration contained by the second pair, of which I cannot discern any apparent contradiction whatsoever as written, though I admit mystery in the second pair.

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