Was Jesus Christ Human from Mary, or Human from God?

(Note: This is an edited version of a response I recently wrote to some questions on an LDS (Mormon) discussion site here.)

God is human. In fact, God is the only truly and fully human being. Genesis 1:26-27 says:

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.

In other words, we physically mortal human beings are only a reflection of humanity. The true reality and source of humanity is God.

(In the future I plan to write a full article about the humanity of God. Meanwhile, please see this answer that I wrote on Christianity StackExchange: “Was Adam anatomically God’s image?”)

The humanity of God is mainly a matter of the divine characteristics of infinite love, infinite wisdom, and infinite power. These are what we humans on earth would call the mental characteristics of a human being. And these are the characteristics that make a being human rather than something else—such as an animal, plant, or rock. The physical characteristics of a human being are human only as a reflection of these mental (or really, spiritual) characteristics.

The Divine Humanity

In speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) commonly uses the phrase “the Divine Humanity” to express this nature of God as fully human and fully divine.

There is no dual nature in Jesus Christ in the sense that one part of Christ is human and another part is divine, as in traditional Christian theology. Rather, what we humans on earth see as the human side of God is simply God’s divine humanity in a form that we can approach and interact with. The human nature of God that we see as Jesus Christ is simply the “body,” or outward expression, of the eternal human nature of God. And this “body” of God is also fully divine.

In other words God is fully human, fully divine, and fully one, just as each one of us is one human being whose soul, a body, and actions together are us as a human being. There is no “duality” in us in the sense that our body is somehow a different “us” than our soul. Our body is an expression of our soul.

In the very same way, in God there is no duality in the traditional Christian sense that there are two distinct beings or natures of Christ, one human and the other divine. Rather, Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine in one and the same divine being.

The two natures of Jesus Christ during his lifetime on earth

However, when Jesus was born on earth, he did temporarily take on a finite human nature that was distinct from his inner divine nature. That finite human nature was his maternal heredity from Mary—and it lasted only until the end of Jesus’ life on earth. The last of it was expelled from Jesus in the tomb after the crucifixion. When Jesus rose from death there was nothing of that finite maternal heredity left. Jesus was from that point forward fully divine: the Divine Humanity.

It was necessary for Jesus to take on a finite human heredity, with the same tendencies toward evil as any other human being (not Original Sin, a non-Biblical dogma that Swedenborg rejected), in order to provide a field on which God could face, fight against, and defeat the Devil, which is a collective term for hell, or the combined forces of all evil humans banded together—and abstractly, of all human evil. (See: Is there Really a Devil? Why??)

If God were to approach the Devil directly, the encounter would instantly destroy the Devil. This would mean annihilating all of the evil spirits in hell, and all human beings on earth who were committed to evil. Evil cannot withstand or survive the direct presence of God.

But God has given every human being the gift of an eternal soul—even if we choose to spend eternity in hell instead of in heaven. And God will not take away that gift.

The battlefield on which Jesus Christ defeated the Devil

In order to face and overcome the Devil and the power of evil without annihilating all evil, and along with it all humans and human spirits who are evil, God took on a finite human nature from Mary, and used it as a battlefield on which to face the Devil on his own turf, defeat him, and reduce him to eternal servitude in hell under God’s power.

Ever since then, God has used that power to maintain the balance between good and evil, or between heaven and hell. This ensures that we humans on earth remain in freedom to choose between good and evil.

If God had not defeated the Devil in this way—through being born on earth and engaging in spiritual battles against and victories over the Devil throughout his lifetime on earth—we humans would all have been overwhelmed by evil, and dragged down to hell whether we wanted to go there or not. By our own power, we could not possibly face and overcome the vast power that the Devil had gained over humanity by the time in human history when God came to earth as Jesus Christ in order to redeem and save us from the power of the Devil.

For a fuller explanation of this view of the Incarnation (God being born as a flesh-and-blood human being) and of Redemption, please see, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?

Jesus Christ is now fully Divine

Once Jesus Christ had defeated the Devil—a herculean task that he brought to completion on the Cross—he no longer had any need for the finite human nature from Mary. He completed the process of putting it off from himself and replacing it with the divine nature that came from his own inner divine soul (which is called “the Father” in the New Testament). From that time forward, he no longer had a dual nature, but was, as Swedenborg called him, “The Lord God Jesus Christ.”

This is the Jesus Christ we worship. We worship a God who is both fully human and fully divine.

There is no distinction between Jesus Christ and God. Jesus Christ is God.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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3 comments on “Was Jesus Christ Human from Mary, or Human from God?
  1. Mark says:

    I think the only thing that exists in this reality is the Source Consciousness/God. We see this clearly with people who have merged with the “all loving light” (God) during their NDEs. After they merge, they report that they feel an incredible sense of being loved, and they also realize we are made of the same “conscious stuff” that God is made of. (This makes sense, that we are all made of the “conscious stuff” that God is made of, since the only raw materials “he” had to work with when he created our souls was his own consciousness. And so he created us out of himself, so to speak.) And as these NDEers temporarily feel one with God during their merger, they report that they know everything that God knows – because they are at that moment one with “him.” But when they separate from the “all loving light” they lose most of that knowledge (because they are no longer coupled with the source of everything), but they do retain the deep, overwhelming sense of feeling loved by God. And most people, when the “come back to their bodies,” really want to share this heightened level of love with all of humanity. And now we know for sure. God is love, only love because it is all “he” is capable of. And anything that paints him in a non-loving way is just plain wrong, no matter what the source. All the best!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your thoughts. While I see things a little differently, I do agree with you on most of what you have expressed.

      For example, I do believe that the universe and everything in it, including us, was not created ex nihilo (“from nothing”) as traditional Christian doctrine holds, but rather from God. However, in the process of creating the universe from himself, God also created a distinction between God and creation in creation is finite and created, whereas God is infinite and uncreated. Still, everything in the universe expresses the nature of God in some way. For more on this, see: How did God Create the Universe? Was the World Really Created in Six Days?

      So I do believe that we can share in the mind of God. However, I don’t think we can actually experience the full consciousness of God. That is beyond the capacity even of our spiritual mind. Those who have an experience of oneness with God do indeed experience a far higher level of consciousness than we ordinarily do here on earth, but it is really, I believe, more along the lines of what the higher angels are open to perceiving rather than the full mind of God. And yet, it is still so far above our ordinary, earthly consciousness that it feels like we have an experience of “knowing everything” during that moment.

      I do agree with you 100% that an experience of God is especially an experience of being fully and deeply loved in a way that we can scarcely comprehend with our material mind. That, to me, is the true gift of near-death experiences and other genuine spiritual experiences: the deep awareness of how much God loves us.

      • Mark says:

        Yes, what could be a better description of “heaven” than merging our individual conscious with the Universal Source Consciousness/God. Whether we have full access to all knowledge or not, I don’t think it matters; what we really crave is the love. Now that’s a “heavenly communion,” an actual merging with God.

        I agree with you that material reality (what you call creation) is separate from God, as well. And I think science is now beginning to show us that our physical universe may be more along the lines of the Buddhist “illusion.” Or to put it in terms of modern digital physics, a virtual reality. Of all the virtual reality theorists, I think Brian Whitworth lays out the most comprehensive case for this model of reality. Perhaps you would be interested in his input in regard to what “creation” actually consists of: http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT1.pdf

        What this all means is that if it turns out our material reality actually is an illusion/virtual reality, it means the only thing that is or was ever real is our consciousness, or our soul. In fact, when Max Planck (often called the father of quantum mechanics) was first interpreting the implications of quantum theory in general and the classic double slit experiment in particular, he came to this conclusion: “I regard consciousness as fundamental; I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.” Many physicists of the day (early 20th century) agreed with him, but since then, mainstream science has decided to ignore this interpretation, I believe, because of the implications: that consciousness can exist independently of the body – because they reject the idea of a soul out of hand. But newer experiments are showing that Planck may very well be right (In particular, Delayed Choice Quantum Erasure back in the 90s and this new one, performed within the last year: http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/experiment-confirms-quantum-theory-weirdness

        So, interestingly enough, more and more physicists are opening up to the idea of “non-local conociousness” or a soul: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/rolf-froboese/scientists-find-hints-for-the-immortality-of-the-soul_b_5499969.html

        So I think it’s only a matter of time before science demonstrates the existence of “non-local consciousness” or a soul. All the best!

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