answers to "questions for christadelphians"
A document written by Matt Slick has been circulated to various brethren headed: “Questions for Christadelphians.” This missive seeks to challenge our position on the Nature of Jesus Christ, and we propose to address the questions in this and future issues.
According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature.
- Deut. 17:1 says, “You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God,” (NASB, See also Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23). Of course, Jesus is not an animal. The point is that the sacrifice to a holy God must have no blemish or defect.
“defect” in Hebrew is ra. In this verse, it is translated as “evilfavouredness” in the KJV, as “defect” in the RSV and NKJV, and as “flaw” in the NIV.
- Question: If Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature, then isn’t that a defect?
C. Question: If Jesus’ sinful nature is not a defect, then what would you call it?
D. Question: If Jesus sinful nature is a defect, then doesn’t that mean His sacrifice is insufficient?
E. Question: If you state that being obedient is what makes a person “unblemished,” then why are we damned by nature (Eph. 2:3) if it is only our sinful deeds that condemn us?
“According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature”
There is no such thing as “Christadelphian theology”. There is, however Bible teaching which Christadelphians believe and teach. The Bible teaches concerning Christ that “he himself likewise took part of the same” flesh and blood (nature) as his brethren (Heb. 2:14). Therefore, if one accept that their nature is “sinful” and “fallen” (whatever that means), then one must also accept that so was his. There is another point: Animals are also mortal, dying creatures, yet that fact did not affect their being considered physically unblemished, or without defect under Mosaic law.
If Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature, then isn’t that a defect?
Scripture does not use the word “defect” in relation to Christ. However, it does teach (see above) that Christ was physically identical to his brethren. That means he had to be sent in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3). He was also under the dominion of death (Romans 6:9), and needed to be saved out of death (Hebrews 5:7). These were aspects of his nature which he inherited by being “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4), but did not constitute any deficiency for which he was accountable.
You need to define precisely what you mean in your use of the word “defect”. The dictionary definition is: “1. lack of something essential; imperfection. 2. A shortcoming or failing,” which suggests a moral deficiency. If you mean this, then, No, there was no moral shortcoming in Christ. However, there was something in his nature which he had to “condemn” and “destroy”, called “sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3, cp Romans 7:17). Therefore, if you mean a “defect” in the sense of a physical flaw, or imperfection which had to be overcome, then Yes, Scripture is clear that he did inherit this from Adam. Not only so, but he had to be a partaker of such a nature, in order to overcome its resident law, or imperfect principle, styled “the law of sin”, or the “diabolos” (Hebrews 2:14), and bring it to the grave.
If Jesus’ sinful nature is not a defect, then what would you call it?
Again, you must define precisely in what sense you are using the word “nature”. If you use it in the sense of embracing all the aspects, attributes and characteristics of a man, then this is a different sense to using it solely in relation to his physical make-up. Physically, he partook of the same flesh of sin as his brethren (see above), but morally, he was absolutely without any defect whatsoever. If you refer solely to his physical constitution, then see above.
If Jesus’ sinful nature is a defect, then doesn’t that mean His sacrifice is insufficient?
Again, you must define in what sense you are using the word “defect”. According to Scripture, Christ had to partake of the same “flesh and blood” nature in order to “destroy” it’s resident principle of the Diabolos, or Devil, through death (Hebrews 2:14). If he did not partake of that nature, he would not have been able to overcome the Law of Sin, as it would not have existed in him for him to be able to overcome it. So, no, the fact of Christ himself also likewise partaking of the same nature as his brethren does not render his sacrifice as being “insufficient”, rather it is part of it’s very virtue.
If you state that being obedient is what makes a person “unblemished,” then why are we damned by nature (Eph. 2:3) if it is only our sinful deeds that condemn us?
There are 3 elements to this question: 1) what we state, 2) what does Ephesians 2:3 teach, 3) what condemns us:
We do not state that rendering obedience “is what makes a person “unblemished””. Believers in Christ, who have previously been disobedient, having sown to the flesh in making provision for the lusts thereof, are themselves considered as “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing … holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). This is not through works of absolute obedience (Ephesians 2:8), but “through faith” in the revealed Gospel. Scripturally therefore, faith, and a cleansing by the word (see context of Ephesians 5:27) not lack of sin, renders one “without blemish”.
Eph. 2:3 does not teach that we are “damned by nature”. It rather states that “we all … were by nature the children of wrath …”. We are told that the Greek for “nature” here carries the sense of “from birth”. So, Ephesians 2:3 conveys the same principle as that established by Psalm 58:3: “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” – a very different concept than what you suggest.
Having said that, there are other Scriptures which teach that we all inherit a condemnation from Adam, though physical descent from him. See for instance, Romans chapter 5. Through partaking of the physical make-up of Adam, we inherit “the law of sin and death” as an overriding principle of our being – that is, the principle of the diabolos, and the Father’s Judgment upon it. As the Christadelphian Statement of Faith puts it, Adam broke Yahweh’s Law, “and was adjudged worthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken – a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity”. Not that we are individually held accountable in any way for his sin, or for the misfortune of bearing his fallen nature, but rather because the unclean can only bear the unclean (Job 14:4), or in other words, sinful mortal men, can only naturally bring forth sinful mortal men. Lord Jesus Christ also inherited mortality from Adam, for the Scriptures are clear in stating that during his mortal life, he was under the dominion of death (Romans 6:9). However, he declared the Righteousness of his Father in condemning human sin-nature to death, by allowing himself to be taken by wicked hands, and crucified and slain. In allowing himself to be put to death, he brought “the law of sin”, or “the diabolos” to the grave with him – that through death he might destroy that which had the power of death.
God determined that Christ was to be a partaker of our nature. “God made him sin for us, who knew no sin”, for the specific purpose “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ was a perfect sacrifice for sin because God in His wisdom determined that His Word would be made flesh (John 1:14).
Jesus lived a life of sinless perfection, overcoming his Adamic nature with which God had “made him”.
Jesus declared the righteousness of God in submitting to shedding of his blood for our redemption. (Rom.3:24-26).
Jesus understood this aspect of God’s purpose because when the time had come for him to submit to the cruel death on the cross, he prayed that his Father would glorify him (i.e by resurrection) but note, Jesus also prayed that, “the Son would glorify thee”. (John 17:1).