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In Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Volume 1, Donald G. Bloesch argues that "real incarnation means that Jesus entered into our historical and cultural limitations though he also transcended the times in which he lived and indeed all historical time in the message that he embodied." He worries that assuming the onmniscience of Jesus of Nazareth "betrays a Monophysite tendency" (140)--that is, it expresses the heretical notion that "the human nature [of Jesus] merged into the divine [nature]" rather than it being the case that "the Son of God adopted human nature and united it with his divine nature in the unity of one person" (128).

Bishop Wright echoes this point: "If we are to locate [. . .] Jesus [. . .] within the world of first-century Judaism, within the turbulent theological and political movements and expectations of the time (and if we are not than we should admit that we know very little about [Jesus]) then we must face the fact that [he was not] teaching a timeless system of religion or ethics, or even a timeless message about how human beings are saved" (178-9).

Thus, asking the question "WWJD" is revealed to be a deeply misleading act, or at least one which might yield answers which would not always perfectly coincide with those to "What does God want me to do?" or "What would the Risen Christ have me do?" (This is sort of the flip side of the fact that asking "What would the Only Child of God, Eternally Begotten from. and of One Being with, the Parent God, do?" doesn't seem very helpful either.)

Note that both Bishop Wright and Prof. Bloesch are far more conservative than I am, theologically--I'm not citing radically revisionist liberal theologians here, but rather well-respected conservative theologians whose location within the orthodoxy of the faith is relatively uncontested. The Scriptural evidence for the non-omniscience of Jesus is, in my opinion, overwhelming--there are relevant passages through all four Gospels (including in St. John, whose Christology is so high that the Johannine community would become the main source of docetism in the early Church) and in the epistles.

But my fundamental argument relies less on proof-texts than it does on poetry. The gravity of the Christ myth in many ways resides precisely within the humanity of Jesus: for me, the central moment of the Passion is Gethsamane, where Jesus, afraid to die, prays to the Parent God:
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.

If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done.
Tim Rice re-interprets the prayer in the garden this way:
I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don't want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me,
I have changed I'm not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I'm sad and tired
Listen surely I've exceeded
Expectations
Tried for three years
Seems like thirty
Could you ask as much
From any other man?

But if I die
See the saga through
And do the things you ask of me
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me
Nail me to their tree
I'd want to know
I'd want to know my God
I'd want to know
I'd want to know my God
I'd want to see
I'd want to see my God
I'd want to see
I'd want to see my God
Why I should die
Would I be more noticed
Than I ever was before?
Would the things I've said and done
Matter any more?
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord
I'd have to see
I'd have to see my Lord
I'd have to see
I'd have to see my Lord

If I die what will be my reward?
If I die what will be my reward?
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord

Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain
Show me there's a reason
For your wanting me to die
You're far too keen on where and how
But not so hot on why
Alright I'll die!
Just watch me die!
See how, see how I die!
Oh, just watch me die!

Then I was inspired
Now I'm sad and tired
After all I've tried for three years
Seems like ninety
Why then am I scared
To finish what I started
What you started
I didn't start it
God thy will is hard
But you hold every card
I will drink your cup of poison
Nail me to your cross and break me
Bleed me, beat me
Kill me, take me now
Before I change my mind
This is moving stuff precisely because of the power of the paradox: God, omniscient and omnipotent, self-emptied (kenosis) so as to suffer fear and doubt.
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My Prayer

"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

All entries copyrighted © 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Cole J. Banning


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