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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Jewish-Christian Perspective on the Dual Nature of Christ

Here is an article by Asher Intrater, a messianic Jewish (i.e., Jewish Christian) pastor in Israel, on the dual nature of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully human.  The messianic Jewish movement is relatively young, and therefore it is interesting, though to be expected, that its leaders are grappling with the nature of the Son of God, because that is the doctrinal question that dominated the ancient church more than any other.

Intrater's exposition of the dual nature of Christ, not to mention the application he draws from the doctrine, is peculiarly Jewish.  That is a big deal, because for centuries skeptics of the dual nature of Christ have argued that the orthodox dogma was an attempt to force foreign, Greek philosophical categories onto the tradition of the Jewish Messiah.  Therefore, the reasoning goes, the ancient church's creedal formulas (such as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Athanasian) aren't authentic to the real Jesus, so they are wrong or simply irrelevant.

But the modern-day laboratory of the messianic Jewish movement may prove that the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ is not a Greek imposition onto early Christian thought but is intrinsic to New Testament teaching itself.  Intrater's argument contains little classical Christological jargon, and his reasoning based on a three-part analysis of the New Testament (recalling the three-part division of the Old Testament into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings) is truly novel.  So there is little evidence that he is influenced by classical dogmatics.  But lo and behold, he arrives at the exact same conclusion: Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God!  It suggests that even if the theological center of gravity of the early church had gone East after Pentecost instead of West, or if it had remained in Jerusalem where it started, or if by a completely different plan of God nearly all Jews who heard the gospel would have believed it, the church would still have come to the same conclusion about the dual nature of Christ.

Here you can check out Intrater's logic for yourself.

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