Christ – A Contradiction: A Defense of Contradictory Christology

Jc Beall

Abstract


The fundamental problem of Christology (as Richard Cross famously coined it) is the apparent contradiction of Christ as recorded at Chalcedon. Christ is human (with everything entailed thereby) and Christ is divine (with everything entailed thereby). Being divine entails (among many other of God’s properties) being immutable. Being human entails (among many other of our essential properties) being mutable. Were Christ two different persons (viz., a human person, a divine person) there’d be no apparent contradiction. But Chalcedon rules as much out. Were Christ only partly human or only partly divine there’d be no apparent contradiction. But Chalcedon rules as much out. Were the very meaning of ‘mutable’ and/or ‘immutable’ (or other such predicates) other than what they are, there’d be no apparent contradiction. But the meaning is what it is, and changing the meaning of our terms to avoid the apparent contradiction of Christ is an apparent flight from reality.

What, in the end, is the explanation of the apparent contradiction of Christ? Theologians and philosophers have long advanced many consistency-seeking answers, all of which increase the metaphysical or semantical complexity of the otherwise strikingly simple but radical core of Christianity’s GodMan. In this paper, I put the simplest explanation on the theological table: namely, Christ appears to be contradictory because Christ is contradictory (i.e., some predicate is both true and false of Christ, and hence some logical contradiction is true of Christ). This explanation may sound complicated to the many who are steeped in the mainstream account of logic according to which logic precludes the possibility of true contradictions. But the mainstream account of logic can and should be rejected. Ridding theology of the dogma of mainstream logic illuminates the simple though striking explanation of the apparent contradiction of Christ — namely, that Christ is a contradictory being. Just as the simplest explanation to the apparent roundness of the earth has earned due acceptance, so too should the simplest explanation of the apparent contradiction of Christ.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12978/jat.2019-7.090202010411

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The Journal of Analytic Theology is a publication of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame.

ISSN 2330-2380 (online)