Damascene Cosmology – The problem of the Incarnation

While the aforementioned problems certainly pose a problem for proving that the Christian God is immutable, it is the act of the Incarnation that is seemingly the nail in the coffin for Christianity. In the act of the Incarnation we have God becoming man, which indicates a drastic change. Likewise, if we say that Jesus was God, then how can it be said that God does not change? After all, Jesus grew older and grew in knowledge, both of which are indicative of change. Thus, if Jesus changed and Jesus is God, then certainly the God of Christianity must be mutable.

While a human being, God grew in knowledge. There is little evidence to suggest that Jesus came out of the womb acting like an adult. In fact, we know from his stay at the Jewish temple that he continued to grow in knowledge. We know that he didn’t come out of Mary’s womb fully grown; he was a baby. This means that he grew into a man, indicating that he changed physical status while growing up. If Jesus was God, then certainly this would indicate that God is capable of change.

Another objection critics could bring up concerning the Incarnation is that we have God changing into another nature. By taking on a human nature, so the critic says, God became something different. God didn’t have a human nature and now he did have a human nature, which indicates a change. This would show God to be mutable.

The critic could point out that no matter how nuanced we are in explaining the Trinity, the change encountered in the Incarnation proves that the Christian God cannot be immutable. For instance, if we say that is true of the part is also true of the whole, then what is true of Jesus is true of the Trinity. If my hand is infected, then it is proper to say that I have an infection. If the person of Christ changes, then it is proper to say that the Father and Spirit change as well.

The Christian is seemingly left with only a few choices:

1)   Deny the Damascene Cosmological argument – they can deny that the argument is true or valid, but to do so they would need to show how the argument is logically invalid or how one of the premises is untrue. Since the argument is sound and the premises are true, this isn’t a plausible choice for a Christian. While this option would be the least damaging to the Christian’s faith, it is also the most difficult task to accomplish because a Christian would have to argue for an infinite regress, which is the counter-intuitive thing to do if you’re a theist.

2)   Believe that Jesus is not God – If a Christian cannot deny the Damascene Cosmological argument, then they can always deny that Jesus is God. They could side with Arius, say that Jesus was a created being and though higher than the rest of creation, he is created, and therefore subject to change. If we place such an argument in a philosophical vacuum (that is, only looking at how the Incarnation applies to the Damascene argument), then this seems like a preferable option. However, once we apply this teaching to the whole of Scripture, we see that it has drastic consequences on soteriology. While one might be able to explain how the Incarnation doesn’t change God, one creates the problem of explaining how humans are saved or why Jesus acted like he was God. If a Christian wishes to remain true to his faith as well as theologically and logically consistent to the whole of the Christian method, this option is simply not available for the Christian.

3)   Say that Jesus and Christ are separate persons – One thing Christians could do to avoid committing to Arianism is to say that Jesus was a human who was born of Mary that was then inhabited by Christ. Thus, all the recordings we have in the Bible of Jesus are from Christ. When we see growth, this takes part in the human person of Jesus, but the divine person of Christ is not affected by such change. Shortly before Jesus dies upon the cross, the spirit of Christ leaves this man, hence his crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Of course, the obvious problem with this argument is that it runs up against the same rocks that Arianism did. The Church combated such a teaching called Nestorianism back in the 4th century. Aside from the obvious soteriological problems (if what is not assumed is not saved, then we still are not saved as Christ did not take on a human nature under this view), a further problem is that the Word resides within us, so wouldn’t this make us just like Jesus the man? If a Christian desires to remain biblically and theologically accurate and consistent, then he cannot accept this view.

4)   Embrace “anythingism” – Another choice for Christians is to embrace the idea that God is beyond logic. Under this view, Christians could say that God is beyond the law of non-contradiction, in which case God can do anything he desires. This means that he could both be mutable and immutable within his nature. Surprisingly enough, many Christians actually embrace this view already. Sadly though, such a view is misguided. For one, if God can break the law of non-contradiction then he is bound by nothing. This means he could lie without it really being a lie. He could sin within it being sin. But this doesn’t gel with what we know of God. Rather, as theologians have said for years, logic is something discovered and not invented, meaning that logic bursts forth from the nature of God. If logic is from God, then he is not going to violate his own nature, which is logical (though beyond our logic).

In light of Damascene Cosmology, the Incarnation presents a problem for Christians. All four options in responding to the critic’s objections require great compromise or the blatant denying of facts for Christians in light of Damascene Cosmology.

But what if there is a fifth option? What if there is an option that refuses to let the critic set not only the terms and definitions, but also the understanding of the Trinity? What if the critic’s objections arise not out of observing contradictions between Damascene Cosmology and the Incarnation, but rather out of misunderstanding the Incarnation? If this is the case, then Christianity is safe from contradicting the findings of Damascene Cosmology.