Tag Archives: incarnation

Can the Incarnation of Christ Be Explained by Multiple Personality Disorder?

It is interesting to note that modern Christian philosophers, in seeking to make sense of the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ, have seen it appropriate to speak of their ‘God’ as one with a multiple personality disorder. One such philosopher, Thomas V. Morris writes:

And then there are numerous, powerful, partial analogies available in the literature dealing with human cases of multiple personality. In many such cases, there seem to be different centers or spheres of consciousness standing in an asymmetric accessing relation to an overarching or executive self, and ultimately belonging to one person. Of course, human cases of multiple personality involve severe dysfunction and undesirable traits starkly disanalogous to anything we want to acknowledge in the Incarnation. But this just helps us to see where the specific limits of this sort of analogy lie. There are also certain phenomena having to do with hypnosis, brain commissurotomy, self-deception and akrasia, or weakness of will, in which there seem to be operative different levels or spheres of awareness, information retention and processing, or, in general, mentality which are, in important metaphysical ways, analogous to what the two-minds view recognizes in the case of the Incarnation.1

He goes on to state:

Again, it must be stressed that the negative aspects of these extraordinary, worldly cases of multiple mentality are not meant at all to characterize the Incarnation, and in fact can be argued decisively not to cloud Christ’s case in the least. These are only partial analogies, which provide us with some imaginative grip on the two-minds picture. One of the best analogies may be provided by the claim of twentieth-century psychologists that every normal human being partakes of a variety of levels of mentality. Consider for example the very simple distinction of the conscious human mind, the seat of occurrent awareness, from the unconscious mind. In most standard accounts of such a distinction, the unconscious mind stands to the conscious mind in much the same relation that the two-minds view sees between the divine and human minds in the case of Christ. God the Son, on this picture, took on every normal level or sphere of human mentality, but enjoyed the extra depth as well of his properly divine mindedness.2

In another work, he also spoke about this analogy:

As a matter of fact, in some cases of multiple personality, there exists one personality with apparently full and direct knowledge of the experiences had, information gathered, and actions initiated by one or more other personalities, a sort of knowledge which is not had by any other personality concerning it. In other words, there seem to exist asymmetric accessing relations in such cases, interestingly though of course not perfectly parallel to the sort of relation claimed by the two-minds view to hold between the divine and human minds of Christ.

Does the two-minds view then present the Incarnation as a case of split personality on the part of the son of God? And if so, should not the recognition of this alone suffice for a rejection of of the view as an unworthy, demeaning characterization of Christ? Does what initially can appear to serve as a partial explication of orthodoxy end up amounting to no more than a gross impiety?

First of all, the reference to some phenomena of multiple personality here is intended only to provide a partial for some of what the two-minds view claims to be true in the case of Christ. It is no more than to have the limited but, I hope, helpful function of providing some understanding of, and imaginative grip on, the central elements of the two-mind view. It thus is intended to serve the same function as the computer analogy, the dream analogy, and the reference to the classical distinction between the conscious and unconscious, or subconscious mind. It is not intended to be a complete modelling of the noetic features of the Incarnation.3

Is this an isolated author, whose use of multiple personality disorder to explain the Incarnation been condemned? No. In fact, Thomas Morris stands among Christianity’s current greatest apologists. Morris has been published alongside Christian apologists and scholars such as William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Peter Forrest, Peter van Inwagen, Brian Leftow, Richard Cross, Jeffrey E. Brower, Michael C. Rea, Craig A. Evans, Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Howard-Snyder, Marilyn McCord Adams, Eleonore Stump, Richard Swinburne, David Lewis, Steven L. Porter and Philip L. Quinn4.

There is no doubt that most lay-Christians would find offense with such an analogy, yet these same lay-Christians would readily use the works of many of the aforementioned Christian scholars who have seen no issue with using this mental illness as an analogy to explain the Incarnation. Many of whom have defended and used the multiple personality disorder analogy themselves. If the most educated of Christians scholars and apologists have to resort to using a mental illness to explain Christian doctrine, what does that tell us about the state of modern Christianity?

and God knows best.

Sources:

  1. Morris, Thomas V. Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1991. 170-171. Print.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Morris, Thomas V. The Logic of God Incarnate. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UP, 1986. 106-107. Print.
  4. Rea, Michael. Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology Volume 1 : Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement. Vol. 1. Oxford UP, USA, 2009. Print.

Does Jesus’ Holy Spirit Make him Divine?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Responding to the Christian claim that Jesus’ body was human and his human spirit was replaced with the Holy Spirit (God). Therefore when Jesus died on the cross it was the body that died and not the spirit (of God) which is eternal.

Such a claim placed forward adds further complications to the divinity problem of Christ:

1) The above statement is in conflict with the catholic understanding of Jesus whose body and spirit are fully human and fully divine.

“461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,82 the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.83

“464 The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.”

“469 The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother:

“What he was, he remained and what he was not, he assumed”, sings the Roman Liturgy.95 And the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom proclaims and sings: “O only-begotten Son and Word of God, immortal being, you who deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, you who without change became man and were crucified, O Christ our God, you who by your death have crushed death, you who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us!”96”

“470 Because “human nature was assumed, not absorbed”,97 in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ’s human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from “one of the Trinity”. The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:98

The Son of God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.99

– Source http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm

2) A human being is composed of a human body and a human soul in order to be fully human, a divine being (God) in His perfection is not attributed to any weaknesses. The replacement of the human spirit with a divine spirit, clearly does not state one being is fully divine and fully human, but instead partly human and clearly not divine.

3) If the Christians insist on such a definition for the divinity of Jesus, as his human spirit was replaced with the Holy Spirit, and therefore Jesus is worshipped. We would further have to conclude that any object or being that is filled with the Holy Spirit should be worshipped as well. For Instance:

– Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- – Exodus 31:1-3 (NIV)

What is interesting about Bezalel is that he was filled with the Spirit of God to build the tabernacle. When we think of people filled with the Spirit, does a builder come across your mind? How about an accountant? A doctor? A housewife? When we see the ramifications of Bezalel, we see that God’s anointing is not just for pastors on Sunday services with music, but God’s empowerment was meant for all areas of life. Find out that you are uniquely empowered by God to do, then do it with all your might.

Today’s commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org

– The Disciples of Jesus (at Pentecost) were filled with the Holy Spirit:

Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them

– The Tabernacle (including the temple) should be worshiped as well as it was filled with the Spirit of God:

Exodus 40:34-38
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

40:34-38 The cloud covered the tabernacle even in the clearest day; it was not a cloud which the sun scatters. This cloud was a token of God’s presence to be seen day and night, by all Israel, that they might never again question, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? …

4) With respect to the death of Jesus (God) , if Jesus’ body was the only part to die while the spirit lives on as God and does not die. Then how can the flesh of a human body (as humans are born with the original sin) bear the sins of mankind?

Ecclesiastes 7:20
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.

Job 15:14
“What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?

In the end, we conclude that the division of the nature of Jesus is a baseless, irrational and a self-contradictory claim. We praise Allah for guiding us to Islam, for Allah’s attributes are perfect leading us to one decisive conclusion that no other being (spirit, man, rock, cow … ) besides Allah is worthy of being worshipped.

Quran 112: 1-4
1 Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
2 Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
3 He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
4 And there is none like unto Him.

For additional reading on the Christian concept of the Soul, Spirit and Body, please see: