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Will you comment on the ‘kenosis’ heresy?

There is a true and biblical doctrine of kenosis, but the Greek used by Paul in Philippians 2:7 has been wrenched out of its New Testament context to make it mean what it does not. It does not mean that Christ divested Himself of His divine attributes, but only that He veiled them and laid aside the voluntary use of those attributes when He took the form of true humanity. They were still His and He still possessed them, for as God the Son who is immutable (unchangeable) and eternal, He could never cease to be God. One of the attributes of God is immutability from the standpoint of His divine essence. Deity cannot stop being deity or He would never have been truly God.

One of the things we must understand about the person of Christ is that, according to Scripture, He is both undiminished deity and true humanity united in one person. This is, of course, a mystery and most difficult for us to grasp because of our finite minds. Nevertheless, it is the plain teaching of the Bible including the Old Testament. In keeping with this, it is also important to understand that when things were prophesied about Jesus as to His life, actions, and thoughts on earth, though always speaking about the person of Jesus Christ, some statements applied to His human nature while others applied to His divine nature. For instance, as man Jesus grew tired, He learned, and experienced all forms of human pain, even temptation. But from the standpoint of His divine nature, none of these things applied. As God the Son, even while in human form, He was omnipotent, omnipresent, and even omniscient. It appears that for the most part, when He manifested His divine power (e.g., calming the sea or knowing men even before He met them) that He did this at the direction of the Father and the Spirit. Again, as God, He had all the divine attributes of God, but in becoming man, He humbled Himself as a servant, and this included, not the removal of His attributes, but the veiling and surrender of their use voluntarily. From the standpoint of His humanity, He walked in dependence on the Father and the Spirit (Matt. 12:17f; John 5:30; 8:28; 14:10f; Phil. 2:8).

When Jesus made the statement in Mark 13:32, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” Jesus openly expressed this limitation and affirmed His humanity. In His Incarnation Jesus voluntarily accepted human limitations, including this one (cf. Acts 1:7), in submission to the Father’s will (cf. John 4:34). On the other hand, Jesus’ use of the title “the Son” (only in Mark) instead of the usual “Son of Man” revealed His own awareness of His deity and Sonship (cf. Mark 8:38). Nevertheless He exercised His divine attributes only at the Father’s bidding (again cf. 5:30; John 8:28-29). Undoubtedly, this is a mystery, but it does express the plain truth of Scripture. Note that Paul plainly affirms that in Jesus Christ is all the fullness of God and this includes all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Carefully read Colossians 1-2.

All of this means that it is was Christ, the Son, who created the angels before the world was created as described in Genesis 1. Jesus, the humanity of Christ, was miraculously conceived in the womb of Mary and was born on earth as described in Matthew and Luke. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the person of Christ as creator, etc., it is making a statement that relates to his deity, not the humanity of Jesus. This is part of the mystery of the incarnation.

Related Topics: Christology