Could Jesus Fail?

March 7, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 6:27 pm   Category: Life

So last night, I suddenly became distracted by a new theological puzzle. I wondered to myself, Could Jesus Fail?

By this I mean, could Jesus have not lived a perfect life and brought forth the atonement?

If he couldn’t fail, then is Jesus different than us, and our trying to be like Jesus is merely vanity, something we cannot accomplish? If he can’t fail and we are utter failures, how do we take being called to be perfect even as the father in heaven is perfect?

On the other hand, If he could fail, then why didn’t he? Are there other Jesus’ out there in our history who didn’t make it? Could I live a perfect life without Jesus’ help? If so, why don’t I?

I can’t even articulate how confused this is making me, or the scope of the conundrum. But I did want to throw something out here for discussions.


61 Comments »

  1. No, Jesus could not have lived a less-than-perfect life and still been “qualified” to atone for imperfection.

    My opinion only..mileage may vary.

    Comment by Bruce in Montana — March 7, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  2. The first thing one has to answer is the requirement for a sinless Messiah a natural requirement, a social requirement, or a divine decree. If a divine requirement, then God can presumably change his mind in the event of a problem and everyone will be fine.

    If a social requirement, in such a contigency perhaps we should change ours as well. If a natural requirement, then we appear to be left without an argument for why nature should care one way or the other, and we have no apparent basis for answering the question.

    Comment by Mark D. — March 7, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  3. We can be perfect in our generation like Noah (Moses 8:27).

    The Savior was a “God” before he was born. The first born of all God’s children. The only begotten son. Sounds like He was one of a kind. How can the rest of us comprehend a being like that without revealtion. I don’t think failure was possible because of who He was.

    Of course, this is one of those questions that remain unrevealed. So spending a lot of time dwelling on it is a waste. I like to spend my time pondering the ponderable.

    Comment by Jared — March 7, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

  4. Of course. Not to have agency would make him less than you or me, wouldn’t it. And the notion of agency is unrevealed? How so?

    Comment by Walt Eddy — March 7, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

  5. Of course Jesus could have failed because he was free in a morally significant sense. He didn’t fail. So stop worrying. He is due praise because he could have failed but didn’t.

    Comment by Blake — March 7, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  6. I think you are asking a couple of very different questions in the post Matt. As Blake mentioned, Jesus has free will so of course he could have failed. (In fact I would argue that any individual person who belongs to the union of persons that makes up the One God could theoretically “fail” even today because they all have free will. See the “cease to be God” scriptures on that.)

    An interesting question is what kind of back-up plans the One God might have for such possibilities though… Anyway, the degree to which universalism holds true matters here. Plus the question of which theory of atonement is most accurate makes a world of difference here too. So there are a lot of foundational assumptions that one would need to iron out before arguing one way or the other on your question I think.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 8, 2009 @ 12:05 am

  7. Geoff: I think that is what makes a question (or questions) like this so difficult for me, in that I theologically play fast and loose with so many of the details, leaving them open to a range of options.

    Blake: Yes, I agree that denying Christ free-will is problematic, but that’s what makes the question so interesting to me. It almost pushes me to believe there could be an ontological gap, as Stapley suggests, between myself and Christ, in that there must be something fundamentally different between myself and Jesus for him to have free agency and succeed where no one else can. But then, that doesn’t correspond with the any of us “trying to be like Jesus”, in that he has some equipment that enables him to suceed that we just don’t have. And I’m not worried, just curious.

    Mark D.- I guess for the requirement to make any sense to me, it would either need to be natural or social.
    If a social requirement, in such a contigency perhaps we should change ours as well

    Not sure what you meant here.

    Jared: I am pondering this, so it must be ponder-able. I guess for me the question may boil down to “Is there an Ontological Gap between us and Jesus?”

    Comment by Matt W. — March 8, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  8. Regarding agency: For a God, like our Savior, does agency exist? Or has He arrived at a point where choice between good and evil doesn’t exist, at least, the way you and I would understand it?

    The scriptures teach He was tempted in every way but didn’t yield. This of course infers agency, but I wonder if some things just aren’t possible–like Jesus failing.

    We believe their are many Saviors, possibility one for each “eternity”. Could a First Born have failed in one of these eternities? I feel God the Father’s perfection disallows this.

    Comment by Jared — March 8, 2009 @ 8:14 am

  9. Matt W., My position for various reasons is that the efficacy of the atonement has little or nothing to do with the technicalities of sinlessness.

    So if the community mandates a requirement for their Savior to be technically sinless, in the event of a minor problem, the community could presumably decide that the atonement is worth accepting anyway.

    As to your more fundamental question, I suggest you consider the possibility that the atonement is more an ongoing process than a one time event. I thought you had this principle worked out in your atonement as theodicy post. My position is that Jesus Christ’s earth tenure terminating suffering and sacrifice was a personal demonstration of the extent of a rather more active, efficacious and ongoing divine sacrifice.

    Comment by Mark D. — March 8, 2009 @ 8:29 am

  10. Matt, I think the biggest problem in the questions is that I believe they might be formed on a different definition of “perfect” than I embrace.

    I don’t know how this site handles multiple links, so I’m going to include one in this comment on the idea of perfection and our need to pursue it, then post another comment with a link to a post that discusses what it meant for Jesus to be “perfect”.

    I hope they help you think about your questions in a slightly different light.

    What Wouldn’t Jesus Do

    Comment by Ray — March 8, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  11. Here is the other link, this one to a much more “controversial” perspective / possibility:

    Revisiting Perfection and the Atonement

    Frankly, I think until we discard the apostate definition of apostasy we inherited from our forefathers, we are going to struggle with Matthew 5:48 – but embracing its original meaning is an incredibly “freeing” experience.

    Comment by Ray — March 8, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  12. I think it was possible for Jesus to fail. I suspect that Lucifer used this point to sow doubts in the hearts of that third part that followed him. “There’s no way he will go down and accomplish something so huge. I have a better idea…”

    Comment by Bradley Ross — March 8, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  13. Bradley, that is exactly one of the things that I propose is what made him the “accuser”.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 8, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

  14. #10 & 11 Ray–You have an interesting take on, “It is finished”. Question: What is the main reason the Savior came into the world?

    1. To become perfect
    2. To do the Father’s will
    3. To save mankind

    I would think when He uttered the phrase, “It is finished” he was referring to the main reason He came.

    Even though He accomplished all three of the above there is a main reason He came, and He said it over and over again.

    Note: these questions are entertaining but have no saving power.

    Comment by Jared — March 8, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  15. Note: these questions are entertaining but have no saving power.

    Har! Do you have an example of a question that does have saving power?

    Comment by Geoff J — March 8, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  16. I think it depends on the answer to other questions: Are you speaking of the historical Jesus, the Jesus of Christian theology, or the Jesus of Mormon tradition?

    Comment by Jeff Day — March 8, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  17. 15 Har!

    Not all truth is of equal value. Not all scripture is of equal value.

    If we spend too much time studying “truths” that are entertaining, but fail to embrace those truths that have saving power then we will eventually miss the boat (Matt 25: 1-13).

    When we’re baptized members of the church we are commanded to receive the gift of Holy Ghost. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the most important thing any of us can do, bar none.

    Here are two questions that have saving power:

    1. How can I fulfill my baptism covenant and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

    2. How do I know if I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost?

    Comment by Jared — March 8, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  18. Jared,

    Those questions have no saving power. God has saving power.

    Also, the wording in the confirmation ordinance is “receive the Holy Ghost”, not “receive the gift of Holy Ghost” as you said. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is an ordinance (also doubles as confirmation) so there isn’t really much question about how or when we can do that.

    Now actually having the Holy Spirit always be with us is a more difficult thing to accomplish…

    Comment by Geoff J — March 8, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  19. #18 Geoff J.

    I think the answers to the two questions in #17 do have saving power because they focus our minds on the doctrine of Christ enabling us to exercise faith.

    Baptism by water is only half a baptism. To have a complete baptism members need to receive baptism of the Spirit (fire and the Holy Ghost). When a member receives both baptisms they are born again, having a remission of their sins.

    The gift of the Holy Ghost is a superior blessing to having the Holy Ghost. Members are entitled to the gift of the Holy Ghost, but need to diligently seek for it or they will be as though they were never baptized. The gift of the Holy Ghost isn’t bestowed just because of baptism.

    Comment by Jared — March 8, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  20. Regarding the constant companionship of the HG I like what Elder Eyring said.

    Church News July 8, 2006

    PROVO, Utah — Addressing the New Mission Presidents seminar June 28, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to the theme, “Teaching by the Holy Ghost.”

    Getting revelation, he said, “is hard. It is not easy. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is possible, but, oh, it is so hard.”

    Comment by Jared — March 8, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

  21. Jared: I think the answers to the two questions in #17 do have saving power

    You originally claimed there were saving questions. Now you are saying they are saving answers. Make your mind up bro.

    And if it seems like I am being short with you it is because I am. Your comment implying Matt was wasting his time by not asking questions with “saving power” was simultaneously inane and boorish. I am mostly reacting to that. If you don’t like the discussions at a blog don’t comment and don’t read that blog. (Your subsequent remedial doctrine lessons like in #19 aren’t making you any more likable either BTW)

    Comment by Geoff J — March 8, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  22. This was a question I asked myself after watching “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Obviously there are a lot of extremely negative reactions to that movie, but it was the first time I’d ever thought of Christ as a man who had had challenges and temptations (and possibly doubts?), and probably more than anything else that movie has kept me active in the Church. I think it’s an unanswerable question, but, unlike Jared, I think, like Joseph Smith, that “pondering upon the [sometimes unanswerable] mysteries” is central to our purpose on earth.

    Comment by Davey — March 8, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

  23. Matt:

    These are interesting questions, I might quickly throw in my meaningless speculations…

    Philosophically, I think that Jesus had free will like everyone else, so technically He could have ‘failed’.

    I believe that even if Christ had failed, the purposes of God would not have been frustrated.

    I did a quick search at lds.org… Is there clear, unambiguous scripture that states that Jesus must be sinless to execute the atonement? Hypothetically, could Jesus have paid for his own sins along with everyone else’s? I know this is against standard thought and belief, but I couldn’t find clear scriptures on it. I would be glad for some references.

    Why didn’t Christ fail? He’s pretty good. Not all intelligences are equal, some are greater than others.

    Are there other Jesus’ out there? I would say no. He was chosen before the foundations of the world.

    Could I live a perfect life without Jesus’ help? No. Even with his help it is iffy :) . Also, did Jesus have help? I think he did.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 9, 2009 @ 5:55 am

  24. Eric: Here is the first scripture I found searching for without sin.

    Do you think this inequality in intelligences is enough to be a “ontological gap”.

    Davey:
    I asked myself just before watching the Temple movie. I too think that it is healthy to think about hard things.

    Jared: If you really want to discuss that thread further, take it here. It is too much of a thread jack to continue here.

    Jeff: Interesting, please elaborate.

    Bradley and Kent: I guess I wonder that if Jesus could fail, why didn’t he? It’s pretty amazing.

    Ray: Alas, I have no working definition of perfection, outside of the greek “complete” and the idea of sinlessness. No more depth than that.

    Mark D: I do believe in an ongoing atonement, I just also believe there is great significance in Jesus’s Life and Times, and especially in the Gethsemane Event. I think I had always held on to much to the idea of an exemplar theory in that, Jesus showing the way. But sometimes that feels like Lance Armstrong giving me pointers on my cycling. It’s very kind and loving of him, but I am never going to be Lance…

    Comment by Matt W. — March 9, 2009 @ 6:52 am

  25. Excellent scripture Matt. I had forgotten that one.

    And no, I do not consider the inequality an ontological gap. (As far as I understand the word ontological that is).

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 9, 2009 @ 8:30 am

  26. But it is a gap of some sort, right Eric? If Christ is eternally superior to us, even though we are of the same kind, can we not say that he is superior in his very being, existence and reality? Thus can we not say there is a gap between his greatness and our greatness, even an ontological gap?

    Yes, I know I am fundamentally changing my long held opinion of no ontological gap, but I am not sure how else to take such a notion. J. Stapley, if you are out there, congrats, I think you are winning another point.

    Comment by Matt W. — March 9, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  27. If Christ is eternally superior to us, even though we are of the same kind, can we not say that he is superior in his very being, existence and reality?

    No, not without ignoring the clear meaning of those words. I’ll be honest that I baffled by this constant return to the question of an ontological gap. If you believe Christ is a different kind of being than we are, then fine, say there is an ontological gap. But you are clearly saying above that you think we are the same kind of beings but that we have different degrees of righteousness/greatness. There are words to describe such differences and “ontological gap” are not among them.

    Is there an ontological gap between me and Lance Armstrong because he won the Tour de France seven times? I don’t think I could do that even if I tried really hard. Is there an ontological gap between me and Angelo Moore because he has black skin and mine is white? Is there an ontological gap between me and Spencer W. Kimball because he was way more righteous than I am? No, no, and no. A difference does not imply an ontological gap unless you can show that the difference is ontological.

    Now, as to the question of “If Jesus could fail, why didn’t he?”, what sort of answer would suffice? We can ask why I didn’t eat breakfast this morning and it might be just as perplexing as your question. I could answer that I woke up late, but does that really solve it. After all, I could have decided to eat breakfast anyway and gone to work late. But why didn’t I? What sort of answer would suffice? Christ didn’t fail because when faced with the bitter cup he chose to go through with it and do the father’s will. Because he loved us.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 9, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  28. What Jacob said.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 9, 2009 @ 9:36 am

  29. Jacob that is a fair and excellent response. I will have to think on it some.

    My first reaction is just to off-handly say, but Jesus is eternally more great, but I guess that begs the question: “Is he?” Isn’t the promise of Jesus, “come here, learn of me, and you can be this great too.”

    As to why the return to this, I guess we always return to things we don’t fully get to begin with. Like a Dog to his Vomit, and all that…

    Comment by Matt W. — March 9, 2009 @ 9:42 am

  30. Matt W., I am not claiming that Jesus Christ’s earthly example is all that was necessary to make the atonement effective. I am saying that what he did here on earth is a live metaphor for the sacrifice involved in the complete scope of his pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal life.

    I find the suggestion that passive suffering on the part of anyone has intrinsic redeeming value rather questionable. Suffering incident to the active operation of service and sacrifice is something else entirely.

    I also claim that any sincere sacrifice for the benefit of others is a legitimate, principled, and efficacious part of the atonement. Grace vs. works is a false dichotomy. One only receives grace because someone else (primarily God) engages in work on your behalf. This is my work and my glory, etc.

    So my general answer to your question is that there are no more permanent failures than permanent successes. I am sure God is more than capable of devising and administering an effective plan of atonement that doesn’t hang on pins and needles. The above summarizes my position as to why it does not. Losing a battle does not mean losing the war.

    Comment by Mark D. — March 9, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  31. Is there an ontological gap between me and Angelo Moore because he has black skin and mine is white?

    Awesome.

    In honor of this world-class reference I submit this video of Angelo and the boys.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 9, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  32. Mark D.: I think we are speaking past each other. Sorry, the fault is probably mine. I was not claiming that you felt Christ’s earthly example was all that was necessary, I was saying that perhaps I had over emphasized that in my thinking up to this point. Perhaps it is more important that the superior being is demonstrating “See, I love you enough to do this for you, thus you are worth it” or some such, rather than “Look, this is how YOU do it.”

    Comment by Matt W. — March 9, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  33. Great link. Here is another classic.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 9, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  34. Matt W., I belong to the no-free-lunch school of soteriology. I see the atonement in terms of repentance, reconciliation, restitution, and resurrection. A perfect example is wonderful, but it is at best the beginning, not the end of the atonement. That is why I think pure exemplar theories are inadequate.

    Comment by Mark D. — March 10, 2009 @ 12:15 am

  35. I feel the same Mark, I just perhaps was over emphasizing exemplar theory as a component of the whole.

    Comment by Matt W. — March 10, 2009 @ 6:50 am

  36. Interesting discussion. Again, I arrive too late on the scene.

    Comment by BHodges — March 19, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  37. Consider this.

    Christ, being half-human, could die, and being half-God, only once dead could bring about the resurrection.

    Being half-human, he could not dwell in the presence of God with “sin,” of which there is never a completely distinct and clear explanation, but seems to vary from culture to culture and time to time. Being half-God, only he could actually ascend to his Father unaided, but only if he remain pure in the sight of God.

    Basically, only Christ could be totally separated from the Father and make it back by his own effort. So yes, he is especial indeed. But we are told to be perfect, even as he and our Father in heaven. What does this word, perfect, mean? Complete. Interesting, that.

    Comment by Tom Rod — March 25, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  38. Tom, to phrase it more precisely, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. To describe Christ as half-God and half-man is actually heresy in historical Christian theology.

    Even in Mormonism Christ is divine before the Incarnation and divine after the Incarnation and so, in my view, it is better to avoid the application of “half” descriptions of Christ in either tradition as it tends to lead to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was somehow less than divine or that somehow he didn’t really condescend and experience mortality. In other words, using language like “half-god” “half-human” ends up having the same effect as saying Christ is “neither really divine nor really human” which I don’t think is what you want or intend to say, but because this is how the language has been understood and is understood by many, it is important to avoid language that will invite this misunderstanding.

    Comment by aquinas — March 25, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  39. Excellent point, aquinas. Would “Jesus had a mortal mother and an immortal Father” be acceptable and understood for what we mean?

    Comment by Ray — March 25, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  40. Christ wasn’t “fully” divine though when he was born or as a child. He developed into receiving a fullness. In Mormon thought, I don’t think it matters much though since humans are also divine, just not fully developed. I don’t see the importance of Christ having an immortal Father, because if it did make a difference for him, he wouldn’t be “fully” human now, would he?

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 26, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  41. Kent, I think what aquinas is saying is that it’s problematic to talk in terms of percentages. Our theology is a bit wonky in this arena when viewed by those on the outside, since it is very easy to site all kinds of apparent contradictions in however we phrase it. (For example, “Jesus wasn’t fully divine? But, you say he was the God of the OT! That’s not divine? That’s makes no sense.”)

    That’s why I think it might be better to talk of those things that are articulated straight from the scriptures in ways that others might have a shot at understanding – like “Jesus was born of Mary and conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost – the son of woman but also the son of God.” We then can talk of him growing “from grace to grace” and “in favour with GOD and man” – and the theological implications of those statements. That probably has much more chance of being understood and much less chance of being misunderstood than falling back on words that talk of “partial divinity” or “partial humanity” – even though we can see how those terms can be just fine if understood in the way we mean them.

    Comment by Ray — March 26, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  42. In Mormon thought, I don’t think it matters much though since humans are also divine, just not fully developed.

    I really cringe when we conflate divine potential with divinity itself. Personally, I would never say that “humans are also divine,” just as I wouldn’t say that “humans are gods.” To me it is a crucial distinction between potential and actual which we should take care not to obscure.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 27, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

  43. Great points. I agree that the phrase “fully God” is not language traditionally employed in general Mormon discourse. This is the language consistently employed in historical Christian theology, where the historical concern was determining which ontological category the second person of the Trinity falls into: creator or created? One cannot be half-in or half-out of an ontological category. In that case, “fully” corresponds to being and not becoming. By contrast, I understand others to be using “fully” in terms of becoming and progression.

    I think the main difficulty in the Mormon context is the meaning of divine. In classical Christian theology, the definition is simple. Only God is divine and eternal and uncreated, and everything else that is not God, is by definition, not divine, not eternal, and created.

    Mormonism completely changes the rules. “Divinity” is no longer defined by “eternality.” Joseph Smith taught that not only is the spirit of man also eternal, but the elements are eternal. Thus, the definition of divine, as it apparently does not flow from ontological distinctions, needs more explanation. From the perspective of traditional Christian theology, Mormonism makes God, the spirit of man, and element all “God” because all are co-eternal with God.

    The problem isn’t just explaining what we mean by “fully” divine, but what we mean by “divine” at all in Mormon discourse. If, for example, we say that whatever is eternal is also divine, this would mean element is divine and also the spirit of man is divine. It’s almost saying everything in existence is divine (or that nothing is divine). However, if the spirit of man is divine, what is the reason Mormons do not worship each other, but rather insist on worshiping the only one true and living God? On the other hand, if we say that there are non-divine beings and divine beings, then this leads to the question of what conditions need to be met such that a non-divine being becomes divine, and we have to decide whether some beings can be eternally divine. In turn, such discourse leads to a fear that some ontological distinction is emerging (or leads to the tendency to call any distinction “ontological”). If we say there is spectrum of divinity, then we still are faced with trying to explain when “divineness” is sufficient such that a person is to be considered fully divine or whether a divine person can ever be “fully” anything in the sense of becoming.

    Various thinkers have grappled with the issue. Some have spoken in terms of being and others in terms of becoming. Some have suggested divinity is a state of achieving a certain stage in progression; or having certain experiences; or possessing divine attributes; or entering into a covenantal relationship, or requiring resurrection. At this point, I’m merely trying to give a basic overview of the issue and how some have sought to address it.

    Now, I personally find the description of Christ as not fully divine before the Incarnation (although I understand the need to incorporate scriptures that speak of Christ growing in mortality, emptying Himself, and receiving a fulness from the Father, etc.) to be problematic for various reasons. It gives the connotation that God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Old Testament, the God that created the heavens and the earth, wasn’t fully divine. It can give the connotation that only God the Father is fully divine and the other two personages of the Godhead aren’t fully divine. It seems unsatisfactory to me to consider a person who can create the heavens and the earth, who is the second member of the Godhead, who can give men prophecies from heaven, a person who is not “fully divine.”

    Ultimately, I think there is a unique tension among Mormon thinkers when trying to articulate distinctions between man and God. For some, there is an inherent resistance (or acute sensitivity) because they feel this was one of the main problems with traditional Christian theology that was cured through the Restoration, and yet, eliminating any and all distinctions between man and God somehow just doesn’t seem to reflect how we experience life and it doesn’t seem to reflect what the scriptures say about God and I think we can see this can lead to statements like “humans are divine” and “God isn’t fully divine” and I believe it is not unreasonable to say that such statements need more fleshing out.

    Yet, there is a general tension inherent in the Incarnation or Condescension narrative. Even this post is essentially observing that the scriptures speak of Christ as unique individual who lived without sin and apparently no other human being in the history of mankind has been able to duplicate this singular performance. Therefore, to say that Christ was exactly like you or me, tends to be less convincing, given the account in the scriptures. Yet, on the other hand, to describe Christ in such a way as to make him “wholly other” or completely different from the rest of us, tends to lead people to feel he didn’t really experience humanity like the rest of us, or wasn’t really one of us, and that we really can’t become like he is.

    Comment by aquinas — March 27, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  44. Jacob: just as I wouldn’t say that “humans are gods.”

    Jesus did say that.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 27, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  45. Geoff, there are several things Jesus said that I would never say myself. Count this among them.

    aquinas, that is a good summary of the issue, thanks.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 28, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  46. Yet, on the other hand, to describe Christ in such a way as to make him “wholly other” or completely different from the rest of us, tends to lead people to feel he didn’t really experience humanity like the rest of us, or wasn’t really one of us, and that we really can’t become like he is.

    Comment by aquinas — March 27, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

    Good points! Let me follow up on that…

    On the subject of half-human/half-god…

    His conception alone makes Him completely different than all the rest of us…

    How would you describe his conception? Half DNA from Mary, half DNA from God the Father? If you concur with that, then he was arguably half man, half god.

    Or was it like cloning done today? DNA of egg scrapped out and replaced by DNA of the Father?

    It is said they look a LOT a like. In that case, perhaps All god (DNA), in a mortal shell (mortal egg).

    Or was it like IVF? Egg fully from heaven composed of DNA from Father and Mother, placed in human mother? Mary like a surrogate mother? Then perhaps all god in complete fullness, forced to develop in a mortal woman.

    Maybe ultimate test tube creation? God just makes it like designer eggs are being proposed today?

    And so on and so on…

    His virgin birth alone made him very different.

    And THEN…
    He had divine teaching (angels teaching, etc). He knew the truth through those teachings in its entirety.

    Most humans never have this! Look at us here discussing theology! Jesus didn’t have to sweat over what the truth was… he was taught it divinely. WHAT AN ADVANTAGE!!! No questions over what church/synagogue/religion is true… what the scriptures mean… what interpretation is best… what is a sin or not a sin…

    He had answers.

    Now, given a divine birth with a divine birthright and perfect knowledge (whether he got it gradually or not…) and who is to say many of us couldn’t had at least come close to perfection?! How much easier it would be!

    Hungry… no problem, he knew how to fast for 40 days. Who here can say they can do that with a straight face? He knew how to control his mortal (or semi-mortal) body COMPLETELY. Heck, if hungry, he could really turn stones into bread if desired. If he’s sick (if that was possible), he simple healed himself. No mental illness, poisoning that can lead to brain damage that can affect behavior, or heavy metals that can affect the brain or virus that can cause mental issues…

    He had advantages we will never have.

    With perfect knowledge and knowing sinning can never lead to happiness… why sin? Its easy to avoid if you know what sin is and how stupid it is. With complete control over the mortal shell, mortal weaknesses that lead to sin are easily over come. Avoiding sin becomes much much easier.

    (not to mention that if you believe he was not married that he had none of the marital stress that is involved. And he got to skip out on the whole raising kids and the stress that comes with it.)

    He was chosen to be King… He became King. There was no question. He was set up to succeed. He succeeded.

    A King’s son, gets a King’s treatment. In order that he’s not spoiled, he has to live with a lower-middle class(?) family and suffer an earthly life (which honestly sucks). But then he only has to live here approx 33 years; and only 3 of those in “missionary” mode. His torture on the cross was brief compared to many others on the cross. The thieves had to have their legs broken to speed it up.

    He was born to be King.

    Comment by SpeakingUp — April 14, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

  47. Where have you been SpeakingUp? It has been years since we last saw you around these parts.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 14, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  48. Hi Geoff,

    Oh, I’ve been swinging by from time to time. Although not as often as I wish I had time for.
    I just haven’t commented.

    In fact, I’ve drastically diminished the amount of comments I’ve made in most blogs that I drop by, compared to earlier.

    You still run the best Christian blogging site in my opinion. So I can’t ever stay away. Your subjects are just too thought provoking.

    This subject has been on my mind recently, and when seeing that you’ve kind of touched on it, I wanted to share what I’ve been bouncing around in my head about it.

    I see myself as a truth-seeker. And admittedly, I’m a little jealous… I wish I had some kind of angelic teacher; some divine teaching, if you will.

    Comment by SpeakingUp — April 14, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  49. “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

    I always thought that when Christ posed this question that he was desperately trying to come up with a solution that would let him avoid the atonement while still allowing us to progress.

    For example – since you were able to do this previously daddy, can you take my place and do it in my stead. Although I though I was strong, I grossly underestimated the demands of justice. I think that he was willing to accept any consequences including even annihilation, or reorganization.

    I also recently read Jacob’s Atonement Paper and love the idea that Christ’s atonement is what produced the light of Christ. The leads to lots of questions: 1) if the light of Christ was already in the world prior to the atonement then failure was not possible? 2) Did Jehovah have to borrow some of Elohim’s honor to make the light of christ prior to the atonement?

    Finally, what do you think the angel said to Christ to push him over the edge and convince him to do what he did? And who was the angel? Luke 22:43

    Comment by Mike M — April 25, 2009 @ 9:57 pm

  50. You raise an important question with respect to how the atonement as operative before Jesus came to earth. This is definitely one of the places my theory has been criticized (and rightly so). This question has come up a few times and here is a post Matt put up on that topic. Sorry to keep directing you back to old discussions, but since we can’t likely recreate them now hopefully they are still of some use. Pretty much all of our old threads are still open for comments.

    As to who the angel was in Luke 22 and what s/he said, I can’t think of any possible basis for an opinion (apart from special revelation) nor can I think of any reason it would matter for us to know. That’s not to say there isn’t one, but I have a hard time caring about things until I can see a meaningful implication. I think it was McConkie who speculated that it was Michael the archangel. Is there a reason we should care who it was?

    Comment by Jacob J — April 26, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  51. “what do you think the angel said to Christ to push him over the edge and convince him to do what he did?”

    Fwiw, that’s a unique way of phrasing “strengthening him” – one that I personally would not use. I don’t like the connotation of either of those phrases nearly as much as what the verse actually says.

    Comment by Ray — April 26, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  52. Atonement? huh? did it actually happen then?

    Comment by lord reaver — April 26, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

  53. oh, hehe , yeah, you mean when jesus died on the cross?

    Comment by lord reaver — April 26, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  54. You smell like a troll “lord reaver”. I recommend you do something about that odor if you wish to comment here in the future.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  55. Jacob,

    First off, I do think that failure was an option. Without failure there is no success. Christ obviously succeeded!

    But if christ could have failed then option #1, the atonement is not bound by linear time, from Matt’s post (Life before the atonement) dosen’t work.

    Of the options presented in Matt’s post, #5 seems like a best fit. Trying to figure out how much of the Light of Christ was produced prior to the passion kinda makes me dizzy though.

    I agree with McConkie that the angel was probably Michael. I think Michael went to Christ and said something along the lines of: I never asked you to do THIS for me, or my family.

    If so, it changed the atonement from a chore to a total gift.

    Comment by Mike M — April 26, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

  56. I think Michael went to Christ and said something along the lines of: I never asked you to do THIS for me, or my family.

    What do you base this on? For fun, let me play devil’s advocate. As such, I disagree with the idea that it was Michael. I think it was Gabriel and that he told Jesus everyone was counting on him and reminded him that he promised to go through with it in the pre-existence. Is there any basis for argument about our opposing points of view, or is this just an opportunity to make things up knowing that whatever we say cannot be disproved?

    Comment by Jacob J — April 26, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

  57. It has no concrete basis, just a concept I had on an early morning jog. Years later I then read McConkie’s statement. Exactly as you presumed.

    Comment by Mike M — April 26, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  58. “First off, I do think that failure was an option. Without failure there is no success. Christ obviously succeeded!” – Mike M

    Free Will would demand it to be an option.

    However; the option of failure was so stupid, that no rational being would ever consider it.

    Sinning is unhappiness; Jesus knew what was sin and what was not; He had complete control over His body and its weaknesses.

    Sinning is going against God’s will; it was God’s will for him to complete His mission; not to complete His mission would lead to eternal unhappiness; Hence, it would be absolute stupidity to not to complete the mission.

    He would have to choose to fail in order to fail. To choose to fail would cause eternal unhappiness. He had the power/tools/knowledge to complete the mission. Completing the mission was the only rational choice.

    There was really no question as to whether he would complete the mission.

    Comment by SpeakingUp — April 27, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  59. As concerning the archangel strengthening…

    I assumed the archangel assisted Christ somehow physically. The “pressing” Christ had to go through in the garden was incredibly, physically stressful. Since, there is no mention of Christ being bloody (or his clothes bloody) during the Judas betrayal and subsequent night trial (something that would seem very out of the ordinary and worth mentioning), I assumed the angel helped to clean the blood off.

    Or course, there is the chance that Jesus was able to change clothes prior to the betrayal. There is a mention of nude man running away during the betrayal. Perhaps he had given Jesus his clothes to replace the bloody ones?

    Comment by SpeakingUp — April 27, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

  60. I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..

    Comment by Lacy Becklin — April 28, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  61. I was in a stake meeting with an apostle, who, from the stand, said “Of course it had to have been possible for Jesus to fail, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a real test.”

    FWIW.

    Comment by Log — April 30, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

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