Help with doctrine

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by webdog, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. webdog

    webdog
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    In talking to someone last night, they mentioned a doctrine formed from a passage in Phillipians (can't remember where) about Christ "emptying Himself". Anyone ever heard of this?
     
  2. Andy T.

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    The doctrine of "Kenosis":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosis

    Haven't read this article, so I'm not sure if it is pro or con. The error in Kenosis is that it downplays Christ's deity in favor of his humanity.
     
  3. Baptist Believer

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    It is a vital doctrine regarding the nature of Christ:

    Phillipians 2:5-8

    "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
     
  4. Andy T.

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    There are essentially two ways you can intepret these verses:

    1) Christ emptied himself of his divine attributes (Kenosis)
    2) Christ emptied himself of his rightful position as Lord over all

    The former errs into dangerous ground regarding the doctrine of the Trinity. The latter, I believe, is the right intepretation in light of other Scripture.

    Maybe I'm misrepsenting Kenosis? I don't know.
     
  5. webdog

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    Christ did put aside some divine attributes...like His Omniscience and Omnipresence ("only the Father knows the day and the hour..."). Is kenosis dealing with this, or is it an even deeper, new age sort of thing?
     
  6. DHK

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    The kenosis theory, as Andy put it, is error. It teaches that Christ emptied himslef of his divinity and was just a man.
    The passage teaches that Christ voluntarily laid aside certain aspects of his divinity to become as a man, to be tempted in all point such as we are. Yet during his earthly ministry his divinity shone threw. He demonstrated his divinity by the works (the miracles) that he did. "No man can do the things that thou doest except he be from God," Nicodemus testified.
    DHK
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    If you mean that Christ surrendered his divine power and privilege, I would agree with this statement. The fact that Christ surrendered His divine power and privilege does not make Him, as a Person of the Trinity, any less divine.

    The reason Christ was able to exercise divine power was that He was doing everything in the power of the Holy Spirit, modeling the type of life we are to live as His disciples.


    I strongly disagree with this perspective. Christ has always been Lord over all, even during the Incarnation. Now I realize that some folks have a perception of power, according to the ways of this world, that does not allow for God to allow humankind to do things contrary to His perfect will, or that would allow Jesus to be injured, abused or murdered, if He was truly Lord Over All. In that way of thinking, someone can only be recognized to have power when they actively exercise it, at all times, to enforce their will upon others (that is, no one else’s will is allowed any expression). But the gospel narrative disputes that point-of-view.


    I respectfully suggest that you are.
     
  8. Baptist Believer

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    Who teaches that nonsense?

    Kenosis, as rightly understood, is that Christ emptied Himself of His divine attributes (not Who He Was/Is) and became fully human (as well as fully divine).

    I think the confusion comes in when we only deal in the realm of categories and ignore that fact that God is Person.

    Yes, but not just to endure temptation. Christ endured the rigor of everyday life and communicated the message and life of the Kingdom of God through His works, actions, and example.

    Yes. The Father and the Spirit worked with Him to demonstrate the truth of His Person, His message, and His life.
     
  9. Andy T.

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    "If you mean that Christ surrendered his divine power and privilege."

    That's what I mean in my no. 2 above. So I probably didn't phrase it correctly.

    But I think some people take it too far and say that Christ was no longer fully divine - that he became just a man. That is what I equate with Kenosis.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    Okay. Thanks for the clarification.

    That heresy is new to me. Can you name any groups that you know of who believe that way?

    Hmm... I've never heard Kenosis expressed in a heretical way before.

    In my theology classes, both in my undergraduate theology program at a Texas Baptist university and my M.Div work at Southwestern (before and after the takeover of SWBTS), I've never heard it taught the way you describe.

    I wonder if it is coming from some of the younger, postmodern church planters that don't have a strong background in theology.

    Any thoughts, webdog?
     
  11. Andy T.

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  12. StefanM

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    I've heard it as going back about a century:

    Grudem confirms:

    "...several theologians from Germany (From about 1860-1880) and in England (from about 1890-1910) advocated a view of the incarnation that had not been advocated before in the history of the church. This new view was called the 'kenosis theory.' [. . .] The kenosis theory holds that Christ gave up some of his divine attributes while he was on earth as a man. [. . .] According to the theory Christ 'emptied himself' of some of his divine attributes, such as omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, while he was on earth as a man. This was viewed as a voluntary self-limitation on Christ's part, which he carried out in order to fulfill his work of redemption." (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 550)
     
  13. webdog

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    I agree with Grudem except for Christ's omnipotence. I believe He remained all powerful.
     
  14. StefanM

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    That isn't Grudem's position. He's summarizing the kenoticists.
     
  15. DHK

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    If he maintained his deity and was fully divine as you admit, then he didn't empty himself of anything. He didn't do away with his dvinity which "emptying" infers. He "laid aside" voluntarily certain aspects of his deity. He didn't give them up. He didn't empty himself of them. He didn't throw them away. He always had them. He simply laid them aside. Otherwise how could Christ make such a statement as this:

    John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    Here is a direct affirmation of his omnipresence, and thus his deity.
    DHK
     
  16. AresMan

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    An evangelist in a church to which I used to go announced once that the church would no longer sing the third verse of "And Can it Be" because that verse contains the phrase "emptied Himself of all but love."

    I do think that many misunderstand what kenosis should mean. I think the word carries the idea of "supressed within Himself." Rather than "emptying" being "pour out" it's more like "hide within." Think of being "filled with the Spirit." We know that no one ever gets more quantity of the Holy Spirit at different times; but rather the Holy Spirit is made more outwardly manifest and is more "in control" so to speak.

    Think of putting a drop of food coloring into a glass of water. The same quantity of food coloring can take up a small spacial volume in the glass, but can also spread and "fill" the whole glass, wherein the effect of the food coloring is more manifest.

    So, "empty" is not "pour out" but "suppress within."
     
  17. Marcia

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    I constantly come across people who misunderstand the term "empty" in this passage. One Christian was even equating it with the Eastern idea of "emptying" one's self during meditation (Eastern practice), and so he was saying this kind of meditation was biblical.

    I think because of the influence of the Emergent/Postmodern church, we are going to see more of this kind of thinking. A lot of them have little or no theological training (which they seem to despise), so it's all just up to how they think the Bible should read. Some of the things they say actually remind me of being in the New Age again.

    I don't know if Jesus set aside any of his divine powers. Just because at one moment he said he did not know the day and hour of his return, does not mean those powers were set aside during the whole incarnation. Jesus often knew what people were thinking, he saw Nathaniel under the tree, etc. indicating he had omniscience.

    I tend to think that it was more that Jesus set aside his glory to incarnate as a man.
     
  18. canadyjd

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    Exactly. The context points it out clearly. He gave up the Glory He had in heaven to assume the role of a humble servant/slave; something we should emmulate.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  19. DHK

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    I chose to use the term "set aside" to be more accurate than "empty oneself." He could have called 72 legions of angels to fight for him on the way to the cross. But he chose not to. He laid aside that power of omnipotence for that time and period that he might take upon himself the full weight of bearing our sin as a man. He chose to lay aside, not to exercise his power and might, throughout his ministry. That is why he was hungry, thirsty, tired, etc. He didn't have to be. He could have miraculously provided food for himself as he did for the 5,000. He had the might to calm the seas, and yet was often tired himself. He laid aside his powers, but did enough miracles or signs to demonstrate that he was God incarnate.
    DHK
     
  20. Tom Bryant

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    I believe that it means that he laid aside the free use of his power in order to live his life on earth as we have to live it. His miracles were done out of obedience to what God was telling Him to do. He said that he always did what his Father did and spoke what His Father told him to speak.
     

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