Is William Lane Craig a Christian?

Below is a presentation I recently made at a local apologetics discussion group I am a member of. I’ve known about this issue for a long time. I thought it would eventually resolve itself, but it seems to have only gotten worse. I have noticed over the years that a few bloggers here and there have tackled this issue, but they have only done so piecemeal and they by and large really lacked the competence to represent Christian theology accurately and provide a proper diagnosis. Given this blog’s focus on the theology of St. Maximus the Confessor, I saw that I was well placed to address it more fully and adequately.  So I have undertaken to address it as part of a wider project. I hope you find it profitable.

I. What is the Question?

“Christology is the doctrinal locus where Christianity has the greatest need for theological precision. To be wrong here is to be wrong everywhere.”[i]

Now that I have your undivided attention, I need to take some space to toss out the questions that I am not asking. This list will not be exhaustive but sufficient to narrowImage result for big fish movie down the question to something workable.

  1. I am not asking if Craig is a recipient of divine grace. I am not asking if Craig is regenerate or “born again.” This is something neither I nor anyone else could know, maybe not even Craig.
  2. I am not asking if Craig thinks of himself as a Christian. A person may take themselves to be a Christian and may not in fact be one and likewise, one may be one and not know (e.g. Crucified thief)
  3. I am not asking if Craig is a nice person or a mean person. Nothing I write here implies or is meant to imply that Craig is malicious, intentionally deceptive or any other deliberate gross moral failure. Whether Craig secretly eats baby hamsters or some such thing is not something I know nor is it relevant to what I write here.
  4. I am not asking if Craig is the member of a or the Christian church. Whatever Craig’s ecclesial membership is (I simply do not know) is irrelevant to the question I am asking.
  5. I am not asking if Craig has done beneficial things to the furtherance of Christian belief in the world. Whatever good things Craig has done elsewhere or on other topics is irrelevant to whether what he professes in core areas of Christian doctrine count as Christian doctrines or not.

The Question: Is what Craig professes a credible representation of Christianity?: Does  Craig’s Christology count as Christian doctrine? It is possible to rephrase the question inImage result for william lane craig different ways, but this seems sufficient for our discussion purposes. In what follows, I argue that the answer is no. I also sketch some reasons for thinking that his proposal is philosophically incoherent and that it fails to adequately map the biblical data.



II. The Material and Formal Issues

“It is in fact when one does not know how to unite things well that one particularly fears confusing them.”[ii]

  1. The Material Issue

The material issue is Craig’s proposed Christology.[iii] Craig offers what he self designates as a “Neo-Apollinarian” model. What is supposed to be the difference between a straight up Apollinarian model and Craig’s “Neo-Apollinarian” model?  On the straight up Apollinarian model, the Logos replaces the human soul of Christ, specifically his rational or cognitive faculties referred to as the nous. This was in part because Apollinarius took the source of sinful acts to be the mind or reason of man and only a divine mind could master human desires. On Craig’s “Neo-Apollinarian” model the Logos still occupies the “place” of the human soul but it manifests or exemplifies the properties of a human soul, thereby completing human nature in a body-soul composite. That is, as Craig sees it, Apollinarius’ problem was not that he took the Logos to replace the human soul, but that what did the replacing did not exemplify the appropriate human qualities and thereby made the Incarnation a sham.Image result for philosophical foundations for a christian worldview

Why does Craig make this move? Craig subscribes to a form of substance dualism which takes the soul to just be the person. Now, on the traditional Christian picture, Jesus is all and only a divine person who assumes into his divine person human nature, consisting of a physical body and a human soul which includes a human intellect and will. Because this union is a union in and by the divine person or hypostasis, it is called the hypostatic union. It is not a union at the level of essences or natures. Given this model, if we come to it with the philosophical assumption that the soul just is the person, either it will be the case that Jesus is two persons (human and divine) or Jesus lacks a humans soul. The former would be a form of Nestorianism and the latter is Apollinarianism. Both these views share a common assumption that the soul or individualized nature is identical to the person. Craig finds Nestorianism to be philosophically distasteful and so opts for Apollinarianism, with what he takes to be the due corrections.[iv]

Some of those corrections amount to a form of kenoticism, that is, a self-imposed limitation of the Son in the incarnation. So Craig posits that the Son deliberately limits the exercise of his divine power relative to knowledge, will, etc. and he does this by making the full exercise and contents of those powers “subliminal.”  So unconsciously, the Eternal Son is omniscient, but consciously he is ignorant and limited. The consciousness of the man Jesus represents as it were, the tip of the hypostatic iceberg. Consequently, with the withheld or reserved powers to the subliminal level, Christ, Craig argues, has a genuine struggle with human fears and trials.

The second material issue is that of Monothelitism, which is roughly that Christ has only one volitional causal power or one faculty of will, namely that of the divine. Craig’s move to Monothelitism is motivated for similar reasons as those seen above. Since Craig takes the substance that is the soul to just be the person, and persons will things, he thinks that the will is a feature of the person or hypostasis and not the nature. Craig thinks this because it is “almost obvious” to him that the will is a faculty of a person. After all, it is persons who do the willing. So, Craig thinks because it is persons that exercise the will, the will must therefore be hypostatic.[v]

2. Material Evaluation 

Scriptural Considerations

The first thing to note regarding Craig’s “proposal” is that while he appeals to Scripture, he does not actually appeal to scripture. There is no effort made in any of his published works to offer an exegetical case for his Neo-Apollinarianism or his Monothelitism. What I offer here are some relevant passages that do not seem to obviously fit Craig’s model or at the very least, Craig owes us an exegetical case to show how they are consistent with it, if not derived from it. It will become clear in other sections why I don’t think he can give a plausible read to these and other passages.

The Soul of Christ

Matt 26:38 “Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”


Psa 139:8  “If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.”


Heb 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

The Wills of Christ

Heb 2:17 “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Mat 8:3 “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

Mar 7:24 “And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.”

Luke 2:51 “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

Jhn 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Phl 2:8 “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Matt 26:39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”


Considerations from Historical Theology

Here I offer some considerations from Historical Theology. The first thing to understand is that the Apollinarians were not the only sect to deny a human soul to Christ or affirm that he had one will, and they were not the first. It is probable that the Ebionites also denied Christ a human soul, but I am not going to hang my hat on that Image result for the search for the christian doctrine of godpoint. A more fixed pin is that it was a cardinal point of Arianism to deny that Christ had a human soul long before Apollinarius proffered his view. They did so because they were insistent that the divine had to suffer in order to make salvation possible. Positing a human soul was thought to shield the deity from suffering. Since the Father was completely impassible, a lesser deity had to do the soteriological work.[vi] Because the Arians predicated everything of the nature to the person, and vice versa they also held that there was only one will in Christ as well. At the root of their heresy was the confusion between person and nature.

The Nestorians also posited a single will in Christ. This was because they took the person of Christ to be the outward manifestation of the Logos using the man as a tool to manifest himself through a relation of will or “Good Pleasure.” Hence “Christ” had only a single will.[vii] And of course the Monophysites also affirmed a single will in Christ. It should be noted though, that neither the Nestorians nor the Monophysites to this day deny that Christ had a human soul. So Craig’s position finds no ecclesiastical home anywhere.

In relation to Monophysitism Craig remarks that while monophysitism implies monothelitism, it is not necessarily the case that monothelitism implies monphysitism.[viii] He says this because one of the objections from the 3rd Council of Constantinople (680-681) which condemned monothelitism was that it implied monophysitism.Image result for leontius of jerusalem

There are two important considerations here. Severan Monophysitism (from Severus of Antioch) posited that there is one nature with different subsisting properties both human and divine. So the human nature doesn’t exist as an individuated thing even though its properties persist. Craig’s view of the Logos exemplifying human properties begins to appear much closer to Severan Monophysitism. There is no underlying human nature qua Logos even though the Logos manifests human properties.

Second, while it is true that Monothelitism doesn’t singularly imply Monophysitism, it does imply it as a member of a set of heresies that collapse the person-nature distinction and this is what the 6th council points out. These include Modalism, Monophysitism, Apollinarianism, Arianism, and Nestorianism. It is no great victory for Craig then to point out that Monothelitism doesn’t solely imply Monophysitism. It provides nothing exculpatory because his own view is not only implicated but operates on the same heterodox principles common to all the major Christological heresies, which is why the 6th council grouped them together for condemnation.

Trinity Monotheism: Cerebus is a Bad, Bad Dog.

An implication of Craig’s view which makes the will hypostatic is that instead of there being one will in the Trinity there will be three. This is significant because the traditional arguments for the deity of Christ and the consubstantiality of the three persons rely on Image result for Maximus the COnfessorthe assumption that a common activity-volitional, intellectual, etc. imply a common essence via a common faculty. Theologically then, it seems as if there will be three gods (tri-theism) or there will be one God who is manifested in three different ways (Modalism). This was clearly seen by both Maximus the Confessor as well as the Fathers of the Sixth Council.

“For if anybody should mean a personal will, when in the holy Trinity there are said to be three Persons, it would be necessary that there should be asserted three personal wills, and three personal operations (which is absurd and truly profane).  Since, as the truth of the Christian faith holds, the will is natural, where the one nature of the holy and inseparable Trinity is spoken of, it must be consistently understood that there is one natural will, and one natural operation.” Letter of Pope Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council [ix]

Craig’s model of the Trinity is therefore a necessary alteration to the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity given his metaphysical constraints. He posits that there is one “soul” that is the being of God that “supports” three divine centers of consciousness, each with their own will. While Craig posits a common substance, it is difficult to see what justification he could offer for thinking that this is so, given that we are no longer licensed to infer a common being or substance

Image result for Cerberus
Craig uses the mythical hound Cerberus as a metaphor for his Trinitarianism-cough.

from any of the information provided in revelation.[x] Common acts no longer license the inference to a common nature but only pick out distinct persons. This gives Watchtower advocates everything they could ever want exegetically speaking. I am not clear then on how this helps Christian apologetics.

On the other hand, if the soul just is the person it seems as if Craig is inconsistent here because he posits three persons but only one soul. Either the three persons are just manifestations of the one person because there is only one soul or there isn’t one soul and we are back to tri-theism. On the other hand, if it is possible for there to be a metaphysical distinction between soul and person here in the Trinity, why not in the incarnation? We aren’t given a reason for thinking there is some principled difference between the two doctrines. If there can be a difference between the soul and the person, then there is no reason on offer to accept Craig’s appeals to his intuitions that the soul just is the person. It appears here that Craig is inconsistent with his own metaphysical commitments regarding substance dualism and his revision of Trinitarianism.

The relevant point here is to note that Craig’s assumption, brought in from his substance dualism that the soul is the person acts as a constraint on his Christology, motivating a revisionary account of the core doctrines of Christianity. This has implications for and motivates a revision of Nicene Trinitarianism. There is therefore good reason to believe that this philosophical constraint will continue to act as a motivation for a continued revision of Christian theology by Craig.

Philosophical/Theological Considerations

Craig’s stated motivation as seen in the above referenced material is a desire to avoid Nestorianism. What I aim to do here is to show that his understanding of the traditional Christian picture is a straw man and so his move to Apollinarianism and Monothelitism lacks motivational grounds.

I first want to make a methodological point. A big part of the project of analytic philosophy of religion for Christians is to utilize the tools of analytic philosophy to explicate and defend the doctrines of Christianity. Opting for a heretodox model instead of the traditional model signals that the project is a failure for a given doctrine. Jon Kvanvig, although writing in another context correctly expresses what is wrong with such a move.

“It need not be said, but I will say it anyway: this is not the way to defend traditional Christianity. (Destiny and Deliberation, p. 60)

Craig’s shifting over from a traditional Christian Christology to a form of Apollinarianism and Monothelitism seems to indicate that he believes that that project for traditional Christianity is a failure, at least as far as Christology goes. But at that point, he isn’t defending traditional Christianity anymore, but something else. So it is difficult to see how Craig can claim that in this area he is doing Christian apologetics.

Moving on to the substance of Craig’s proposal, Craig just asserts that the soul is the person because it seems “obvious” to him that it is so. While it may strike him as obvious that is not a reason for thinking he is correct. Plenty of Christians in history have not thought so. So Craig owes us an argument here. But that is exactly what we don’t get. What is more, he is arbitrarily privileging his substance dualism which then acts as a constraint on Christology and Triniarianism rather than correcting his substance dualism by Trinitarianism and Christology. Second, Craig argues that a body/soul composite seems sufficient for human personhood. And because the body/soul composite is sufficient for human personhood, Christ would be two persons if he had a human soul and/or a human will. But apart from telling us what seems to be true to him, this only tells us that if we think the soul is the person, we might very well be stuck with a specter of Nestorianism. But if we deny that the body/soul composite is sufficient for human personhood and that persons are something else other than substances in either the primary or secondary sense, then there is no reason to think that Nestorianism is implied. Craig would have done well here to look at how patristic figures modified the concept of hypostasis to make it more suitable for Christian theological usage. There is no shortage of professional literature on this point over a long period of time. But he doesn’t interact with it in any substantial way or at all.

More directly, Craig reasons that the existence of a human soul would imply two thinkers because natures do not do the thinking, the persons do. Craig is right to point out that natures are not agents but his reasoning here rests on a mistake. Craig is confusing the faculty by which a person acts, with the person itself or with a feature of person per se. But that doesn’t follow. Here is how we can tell. On Craig’s substance dualism it will be the case that the soul and the brain are involved in thinking. Are to conclude that every human is two persons because there are two things involved in the thinking? Plausibly Image result for Too many thinkersCraig would say no and argue that the brain is something that we think with or in or some such gloss, noting that the brain is a faculty of sorts of our bodies. But the Christian can argue in the same fashion, namely that the will and the other powers of the soul are simply natural faculties that the person utilizes. It would still be true therefore, that there is one person acting even if there is more than one power utilized for different acts by the one person. This is just to say that there is a difference between the power of will and the act of willing, and these two things Craig seems to confuse, just as the Monothelites did. This is why Craig’s claim that two wills implies two persons is a straw man because it attributes to the Christian model a position that it does not adhere to. The Christian position never conflated the act of willing with the power to will. Maximus for example is quite clear repeatedly on this point.[xii] What is more, Craig reputedly speaks of the will as a Image result for seventh century heresy“faculty” of the person. On Craig’s own reasoning if the faculty and the act of utilizing the will are identical, then every person will be two persons since on his view the faculty just is the exercise of the power. His own view would be guilty of a Nestorian homunculism. In any case, there is no reason on offer to think that the existence of multiple faculties implies the existence of multiple users of them. Hence Craig’s motivation for rejecting the Christian position lacks motivational grounds, which is a nice way of saying, there are no good reasons offered to think there is the problem Craig says there is. And so, there are no good reasons on offer from Craig to shift over to Monothelitism.

Another problem with Craig’s account can be seen the following remark,

“Human beings do not bear God’s image in virtue of their animal bodies, which they have in common with other members of the biosphere. Rather in being persons they uniquely reflect God’s nature. God himself is personal, and in as much as we are persons we resemble Him. Thus, God already possess the properties sufficient for human personhood even prior to the Incarnation, lacking only corporeality. The Logos already possessed in his pre-incarnate state all the properties necessary for being a human self.” Craig, “The Coherence of the Incarnation”, Ankara üniversitesi ilahiyat fakültesi dergisi, 50:2 (2009) p. 195.[xiii]

Did you catch that? So the Logos prior to the incarnation possesses the properties sufficient for human personhood. If the Logos fulfills the conditions for human personhood prior to the incarnation, then a body soul composite can’t be anything more than super-sufficient for being a human person. What is more, Craig’s remarks imply Related imagethat the Logos is a “human” person prior to the incarnation. This seems like a serious flub that needs correction. If anything it smacks of genuine Apollinarianism whereby Christ brings his humanity with him into the Virgin’s womb.

Second, the qualities that Craig picks out as being indicative of the imago dei won’t do the work he wants, unless he wishes to extend the imago dei to angels and demons since they too have all of those properties (minds, wills, awareness, etc.). Here it seems Craig is confusing the sufficient conditions for personhood with the sufficient conditions for human personhood. Moreover, if Christ fulfills all the conditions for human personhood prior to the incarnation, it seems rather difficult to see why he would need to exemplify or manifest the properties of human personhood after or at the moment of the incarnation to be fully human if he already is doing so prior to the incarnation.

Another issue is with respect to his subliminal demarcating line in the Logos. Recall that on Craig’s model, the consciousness of Jesus is limited by the unconsciousness of the Logos. This is a kind of functional limitation. While this may not be ontological Nestorianism, it certainly seems like psychological Nestorianism. Why? Because the unconscious Logos is exercising agential control over what the consciousness of Jesus knows, does, etc. So while it isn’t problematic that we have an unconsciousness as Craig notes, it is problematic if this exerts direct agential control over us. (Is the Logos conscious in its unconsciousness of doing this? What could that even mean?) It starts to look like the consciousness of Jesus is ephemeral and just a puppet of sorts. Moreover, ifImage result for Kane the Significance of Free Will what the unconscious limits is not up to the consciousness of Jesus it starts to look like we are in fact back to the same fundamental problem of Nestorianism, namely two subjects or persons with the former operating as a covert counterfactual controller. If on the other hand, it is up to the consciousness of Jesus what the unconscious limits, etc. then Craig’s model collapses because then he is aware of what he is unaware of, in which case he is fully aware.  And of course Jesus manifests divine awareness in the Gospels, so much so that omniscience is (legitimately) attributed to him, which should not be case on Craig’s account. (John 16:30). He seems to manifest both human and divine consciousness simultaneously. Note, this is not an attribution of special knowledge in a specific case but of omniscience. But this is what Craig’s model seemingly can’t allow. So his model fails to map the biblical data which requires a simultaneity of ignorance and omniscience in the life of Christ.

One of Craig (and Moreland’s) main arguments for substance dualism is that the same substance cannot have contradictory properties. Mind has specific properties that body cannot have and vice versa. Therefore they cannot be the same substance. But on Craig’s Christology, this seems not to be so. It seems to be the case that contradictory properties are predicated of the same substance, namely the soul of Jesus which is on Craig’s account just the Logos. Christ is both omnipotent and weak, omniscient and ignorant, etc. It is difficult to see how the traditional appeal to reduplicative predication can help Craig here. So it seems as if contradictory properties can be predicated of the same substance. So either it is the case that the argument for substance dualism from contradictory properties is a bad argument or Craig’s model is incompatible with substance dualism.

Another issue is that Craig seems to take the will to be a causal power simpliciter (much the same seems to be the case with the soul). It is neither distinctly human nor divine. As such the will and the soul can be changed out with no metaphysical difference. Craig offers no reason for thinking this is so and I have no reason for thinking so.

It also seems quite implausible that the metaphysics of a divine soul and a human soul (or a divine will and a human will) are equivalent or would permit a simple change out of one for the other. For example, divine existence is, if anything, non-contingent. On the Christian model, Jesus’ human soul is contingent. It simply isn’t mimicking that contingency. More to the point, the natural impulse for self-preservation in human life is genuine in the soul of Christ because his human soul is created and contingently united to his body. It is naturally averse to death. The separation of soul and body in a natural Image result for dark knight take the jumpdeath is therefore a real possibility on the Christian account. But it is difficult to see how on Craig’s account that this could be so. On his account the fear of death is contrived by a deliberate ignorance. And there is no natural fear of death relative to the soul of Christ since this is a fear that God simply doesn’t have since God is not a contingent being. So the strongest natural impulse of human life is lacked by Christ on Craig’s account. It can only be mimicked.

And of course, Craig’s account entails that the hypostatic union is broken in the death of Christ, which is not the case on the Christian account. This is so because on the Christian account, while the human soul of Christ and his body are separated from each other, they are both still united to his divine person so that the hypostatic union is never broken.[xiv] It is on this basis that the victory over death is built. On Craig’s account by contrast, since the soul of Christ just is the Logos, the death of Christ entails a separation from his humanity. While Craig views the soul of Christ as uncreated and the body created, the whole composite can still legitimately be thought of as created. But since on Craig’s account the body soul compositional unity just is the hypostatic union, the dissolution of that in death by the separation of soul from body entails that there is no longer any hypostatic union.

Another piece of Biblical data that creates problems for Craig’s account is the intervening period between the death of Christ and the Resurrection. Christ is generally three days in the tomb. Remember though that on Craig’s account the functional limitation on Christ is Image result for Orthodox Icons burialdue to the embodiment of the Logos. But between the Cross and the Resurrection, there is no embodiment of the Logos. So if this limitation is accidental relative to embodiment, and it is necessary on Craig’s account for Christ to be fully human, then it follows that Christ ceases to be human during the three days. Then upon the Resurrection, Christ would become human again. (Incidentally, this has curious similarities to the model proposed by the Watchtower.) Craig could say that Christ continues to exemplify those human properties qua the Logos in the intervening period, but this I think smacks of being ad hoc and shows how contrived Craig’s account is. After all, no matter how much functional mimicking Craig wishes to postulate here, none of that will make Christ’s human existence as Craig thinks of it to actually be contingent and genuinely subject to death and the related fears.

At one point, Craig comes close to engaging this problem directly[xv] but I think he fails to do so. He argues that a human soul still counts as human even with the loss of the body because it was once united to a human body. It isn’t clear to me that it is the mere past uniting relation that makes the human soul to be such. It rather seems to me that the human soul generally has a specific nature or exemplifies specific properties qua soul (which ever account of properties one wishes to favor here) that makes it a human soul. Chief among these properties would be a contingent existence and the related natural desires and impulses associated with human life. In any case, it isn’t clear why on Craig’s account Christ continues to or needs to exemplify human properties while there is no embodiment.

On the Christian model by contrast, it is much easier to see how Christ could have genuine human fear and suffer a genuine human death with the separation of soul from body, without dissolving the hypostatic union. This is so because Christ has a genuine human soul with all the natural impulses that all humans have. And it has them precisely because the soul has a contingent human existence. These natural impulses and desires do not imply that the soul is a person as should be clear from my remarks Image result for the byzantine christ bookabove regarding the distinction between power and use. It is Christ’s natural human life that in part what makes the victory of the Cross so significant, namely that Christ overcomes death and the fear of death in his humanity, which lays the groundwork for Christian martyrdom.  Christ has a natural human life from beginning to end.

In sum, it is difficult to see how Craig’s account doesn’t merely posit a mimicked humanity. Christ exemplifies on Craig’s account concrete properties that are not proper to the nature of the Logos. It is at this point that Craig’s account seems to be (no pun intended) a form of Docetism, where Christ merely appears to be truly human without being so. What would after all be the principled difference between Docetism and Craig’s position? Granted that the Docetists didn’t think Christ has a physical body, but the idea of manifesting properties without any underlying nature appropriate to those properties strikes me as fundamentally Docetist.

One way to see this is to think about Old Testament theophanies. At various points in the OT God appears or manifests himself to his people. There are various ways to cash out a theory of theophanies. I am not concerned with picking out any particular theory at this Image result for jacob wrestling with god iconpoint.  But take the account in Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with God. Now there it certainly seems as if God can manifest human properties, specifically human physical properties. The manifestation of these properties traditionally doesn’t amount to an incarnation. But on Craig’s account, even though he doesn’t postulate that the Logos manifests the properties of the physical body, he does posit that the Logos manifests the properties of the human soul. So if that is possible, why isn’t it possible for the Logos to just go the whole way and manifest the physical properties of the body along with the soul? Why wouldn’t that count as a genuine human nature on Craig’s account? Why wouldn’t that be an incarnation? Why is the flesh of Christ taken from Mary theologically necessary for Craig?

Lastly, a problem with Craig’s Monothelitism deserves our attention. Because Craig posits that the will is hypostatic, rather than natural, he posits contrary to Christian teaching, that there are three wills in the Trinity. So when he reads the relevant scriptural passages from the Passion in Gethsemane, he reads them as the hypostatic will of the Image result for christ gethsemane iconFather and the hypostatic will of the Son.[xvi] The first thing that should be apparent is that this certainly seems like a clear case of the persons of the Trinity on Craig’s account willing contrary things. Secondly, even if Craig were to modify this such that what the Son is expressing is a human desire rather than an act of volition, this wouldn’t actually help. Here is why. To say that the Son merely desired, rather than willed contrary to the Father would implicate Christ’s humanity in a very problematic way. For it is the case that Christ’s humanity is sinless and without corruption. So either it would be the case that human nature in a sinless state was naturally opposed to God and hence human nature is per se evil or, it is good and God is evil. Neither option is available to the Christian. In any case, Craig is stuck with volitional opposition between persons of the Trinity.[xvii]

3. The Formal Issue

The material issue is concerned with what the proposed idea in fact is and its evaluation. The formal issue is concerned with the normative standing or theological/ecclesiastical permissibility of maintaining the issue.

A Proposed Model?

Craig frames his position as a possible model for consideration. Philosophers and theologians in their tinkering work often construct models for discussion. They aren’t “wedded” to them but they are just thrown out there for discussion purposes. There is no “dogmatic” commitment to such models. When problems are pointed out, often academics will withdraw them and try to revise them or scrap them altogether. The issue here is made more complicated by the fact that the appropriate sphere is not limited to what is academically permissible, which in this day and age, is anything. Rather the other relevant sphere is what is permissible ecclesiastically, whether that be Catholic, Orthodox or Confessional Protestant.

So is Craig “wedded” to his model? It certainly seems so. He has been promoting it in writing and speaking and that for the better part of twenty years. He also uses it in debates with non-Christians as his debate with Muslim Yusuf Ismail makes clear. So he is proposing it to non-Christians as well as Christians.

Image result for maximus confessor documents from exileSo what is Craig proposing it for? Is he proposing it for debate? How about simply proposing it for consideration? Does he frame it in such a way that he thinks that the church’s teaching on this matter is acceptable and fine but he just has another way of thinking about it? Is he proposing it for our belief?

It seems to me that Craig is sufficiently clear that he thinks the church’s view of Jesus’ human soul and two wills is wrong, not supported by scripture[xviii], goes beyond scripture[xix], and/or implies heretical doctrines.[xx]  So it doesn’t seem to me that he is tossing out an alternative model for academic discussion. He is actively promoting it in writing and speaking over a very long course of time. So it seems as if he is proposing this for belief. This is why the remarks that it is a merely proposal really does no exculpatory work.

Now others have tried to defend Craig by saying that we can’t infer heresy because he doesn’t follow specific logical entailments (or implications?) of his views to heretical ends.[xxi] But this provides nothing of exculpatory value for Craig. Here is why. First, figures such as Nestorius were condemned by the church for the implications of their doctrines. Nestorius did not explicitly assert two Sons. In fact he denied it. But it was an implication of his view. So defenders of Craig simply have their facts wrong on this point. Second, Craig’s views are heretical on their face. His position just is a denial of dyothelitism and just is a denial of the traditional doctrine of Christ’s soul. There is no implication relation there. And so there is no distance between what Craig says and any implications that the proffered reasoning can show do not follow. This is why Craig’s position just is heterodox on its face.

Sola Nothing: Craig’s Appeal to Scripture

Craig is aware that his position, at least his monothelitism, is directly contrary to the teachings of ecumenical councils.[xxii] But he appeals to scripture, in apparently an appeal to the Protestant principle of Sola Scriptura. It is quite true that Protestants reject the teachings of various ecumenical councils (2nd Nicea for instance) as well as rejecting their formal authority. Protestants take the councils to be normative because they agree with the Protestant reading of scripture. But I don’t think Craig’s appeal to Scripture here works on even Protestant grounds.

First, if Craig is appealing to scripture in saying that practically the entire church is wrong in a core area of theology, such as Christology, then he actually has to make a biblical case. Given that he is up against not merely Orthodox or Catholic bodies here but the entire Confessional Protestant tradition, he bears an incredibly heavy burden of proof.  So Craig owes us all a substantial and sustained case exegeting the traditionally offered texts and showing how his view is derived from them and consistent with them. But this is exactly what we don’t get. What we get are assertions that there is no scriptural support for Dyothelitism or that his constraining philosophical view that the person is the soul just seems “obvious” to him.[xxiii] Neither of those are arguments, exegetical or otherwise.

What is more Craig doesn’t engage really any of the literature on Dyothelitism either primary or secondary. Thirty years ago he may have had a legitimate excuse as there didn’t exist a substantial amount of professional literature in English, translated texts or secondary literature. But even Lars Thunberg’s rather large work, Microcosm and Image result for microcosm and mediatorMediator, from the 1960’s would have been sufficient to provide a more substantial case for Dyothelitism. And Maximus the Confessor’s Disputation with Pyrrus presents a scriptural case for Dyothelitism all by itself, not to mention Maximus’ other disputations and works. These are available now and have been for some time in either selections or complete translations. And on top of this there is no shortage of secondary literature either in journal articles or monographs. But Craig never references them or engages them. It is as if Craig isn’t even aware of the existence of the entire body of professional literature in this area for the last forty years or more. [xxiv] For someone of Craig’s caliber to speak and write on this topic for nearly twenty years and to challenge universal Christian teaching without engaging any of the existing literature is rather inexcusable.

So when Craig says that there is no scriptural support for Dyothelitism, I really can’t take this seriously because he doesn’t substantially engage what is already on offer. What Craig needs to do is actually engage the existing literature and provide an actual demonstration as to why its proffered texts and exegesis, along with its attending argumentation fails to support Dyothelitism. He doesn’t get to just assert that it lacks support or assert a Monothelite reading of a primary text used to support Dyothelitism. (Likewise, he needs to also show that the Christian portrait of Christ’s human soul actually implies Nestorianism rather than merely provide autobiographical information that he can’t see how it doesn’t.) Here again, Craig bears a very hefty burden of proof which he hasn’t even started to meet. And this was a burden that should have been met prior to making these claims nearly twenty years ago.

Getting back to Craig’s appeal to scripture, appealing to scripture won’t help him. First, this is not a Protestant vs. non-Protestant issue. Second, as I have previously argued (here and here) there is no substantial difference between Sola and Solo scriptura. But let’s run through Craig’s formal stance on either reading of Sola Scriptura. So we’ll designate Sola Scriptura that is substantially different from Solo, SS Alpha and Sola Scriptura that is not substantially different, SS Beta.

On SS Alpha there are supposed to be secondary authorities and some kind of process of review and permission for dissent from doctrinal standards. The individual doesn’t get to just toss out from established doctrine whatever he doesn’t like, especially when he hasn’t done any substantial work Image result for The problem of authority in the continental reformersto engage what is already on offer. He has to go through some kind of review process where the church revises its doctrinal statements or gives permission for dissent. Now perhaps Craig’s individual church does this for him, but I have yet to see any evidence that this is so. Second, even if Craig’s church had, this would not make his view ecclesially permissible for any other body. At most it would just show that Craig’s church holds to a heterodox position just as he does.

But what about SS Beta? Suppose Craig takes the upshot of Sola Scriptura to be that he is not normatively bound by any doctrine he doesn’t see to be scriptural and so he is unbound and hence free to contradict the teachings of all of the historic churches without engaging and refuting the secondary authorities. This seems to me to be his only real escape route, but it comes with a price. To hold that he is free to reject, without review or approval by any ecclesial authority, any doctrine he doesn’t take to be scriptural will commit him to taking Sola Scriptura to be just what its non-Protestant critics have claimed it is, namely a wax nose that licenses every man to be his own pope. Therefore, Craig has no formal Protestant grounds to stand on or his position reduces to Solo Scriptura.

Universally Controversial

While it is the case that Protestants reject the judgments of various ecumenical councils, Craig’s case is not a case of Protestant vs. Catholic/Orthodox. Craig’s position is a case of Craig vs. all historic Christian bodies. (Even the Copts and Assyrians affirm Christ has a human soul). So the position I have staked out is largely not an Orthodox position. It is a position affirmed by all of the major Christian traditions and that for a very long time. Here Craig is arguing against not just Orthodox and Catholics, but against the entirety of the Confessional Protestant tradition. It is Craig’s position which is controversial and not mine. More to the point, since churches have historically provided a fair amount of supporting material on these questions and are in a position to make ecclesial judgements, not only does Craig bear the burden of proof here but the benefit of the doubt goes to the Christian position and not to Craig. Why? Because not only has the lionshare of the work already been done, but it is far more probable that Craig is in error than that the entire Church and/or all professing Christian bodies have been professing a false view of Christ for nearly two millennia.

Chalcedonian: You Keep Using That Word

Both Craig and his defenders argue that his Christology falls within the bounds of Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. They both seem to think so because Craig’s view posits two natures and one person and his view uses the word “soul” that it counts as Chalcedonian.[xxv] The problem of course is that many views can adapt conciliar language by redefinition to make it compatible with their view.[xxvi] So for example, Chalcedon condemns Apollinarianism and affirms that Christ has a rational soul. It is only by redefining what the Council members meant by that term that Craig and his defenders can make good on the claim that their view is Chalcedonian. But then of course the term “Chalcedonian” as they are using it doesn’t mean what it historically meant. Here we have legerdemain and nothing else.

Moreover, a relatively strong case can be made from Chalcedon that the council at least implicitly included the idea of two wills and two energies through its approval of the theology of each nature having its own distinct operation or activity, as expressed in Leo’s Tome and other documents. And of course the 5th and 6th councils were taken by the Church to be the official interpretations of Chalcedon to boot. In sum, Craig’s view is not Chalcedonian.

Combatting Nestorianism

Both Craig and his defenders point out that Craig is simply trying to defend against Nestorianism by proffering his Christological alterations. This may be quite true. But a number of things need to be said here. First, Craig exemplifies no great or perceptible command of the literature regarding what actually constituted Nestorianism. It never was a crass or Image result for cyril of alexandria and the christologicalcrude promotion of a two son Christology. The issues were much more complicated. If Craig is really interested in combatting Nestorianism, then he has a lot more academic work ahead of him. Second, while I am all for combating Nestorianism, I am not for it if that means adherence to some other heresy. Arius was combating Sabellianism but that doesn’t provide anything of exculpatory value for Arianism. So the mere fact that Craig is combating Nestorianism tells us nothing that is of real value in terms of exonerating him from the charge of heterodoxy.

It should also be noted that historically speaking most of the major heretics were trying to avoid some other heresy. Sabellius was trying to avoid tri-theism. Arius was trying to avoid Sabellianism. What is important to note is that these and other figures in trying to avoid some heresy go so far in the other conceptual direction that they end up advocating some other heretical position. The salient point being that heresy often results from overcompensation to avoid some other heresy. So the question here is not whether Craig is combating Nestorianism, but whether he avoids heterodoxy in doing so. And this is something that neither Craig nor his defenders have shown.

And if Craig is willing to set aside the decisions of multiple councils and the universal judgment of the church, I find it difficult to see on what grounds it is open to him to say that Nestorianism is heretical. If he isn’t bound by the judgements of ecumenical councils, he can’t turn around and appeal to them to designate Nestorianism as heretical and therefore out of bounds for others. Craig occupies no privileged position here. [xxvii]

Pump Up the Volume

Craig also writes that we “can’t be dogmatic” on these points.  But this seems entirely wrong not the least of which reason is that Craig’s view doesn’t in fact fall within Chalcedonian bounds or any other conciliar framework. The condemnation of the denial of Christ’s human soul goes back as far as the council of Constantinople I (381 A.D.) as held by the Arians. Image result for dogma lives loudly memeMoreover, the church has chosen to be dogmatic on these two points of Dyothelitism and the reality of Christ’s human soul. This judgement is not limited to the bodies of antiquity either. Craig offers no reason to think he is in a position to determine for others what we can or can’t be dogmatic about. So here we have a case of Craig saying we can’t be dogmatic and the church saying we should. Since Craig has offered no reason as why he gets to decide such a matter I see no reason to think we can’t be dogmatic on these points. Besides, between Craig and the Church I’d put my money on the Church any day of the week.

Divine Providence and Conciliar Accuracy

Defenders of Craig and other heretical Biola faculty members have tried to address the worry of trumping conciliar authority. Jordan Wessling[xxviii] has argued that we should not view conciliar accuracy as some like an a priori truth. His arguments for thinking that conciliar accuracy can plausibly fail go something like the following.

If we think of any given theory of providence, it will be the case that God allows (or causes, determines, or ordains) all sorts of horrible and immoral things to occur both within and outside of the church. There is no reason then on any given theory of providence to think that God would secure conciliar accuracy since God permits all sorts of terrible things to occur, including the teaching of false doctrines. This excludes of course issues not central to the Gospel on Wessling’s account. So Wessling thinks it is possible for Monothelitism to be an acceptable position for Protestants since it doesn’t affect matters central to the Gospel and it still falls within a Chalcedonian model.

There are a number of problems for Wessling’s account relative to defending Craig. The first is this is not likely to work for Craig’s Apollinarianism since that falls afoul of Chalcedon. Second, as noted previously a case can be made from Leo’s Tome and other Chalcedonian texts for dyoenergism and hence dyothelitism as implicit within Chalcedonian Christology. Third, given that most if not all of the major Christological heresies (Arianism, Apollinarianism, Monophysitism and Nestorianism) were all Monothelite, this renders Monothelitism all the more improbable as being consistent with Chalcedon and the preceding conciliar tradition. Fourth, Wessling’s argument from providence seems to me to get the matter entirely wrong. This is because it uses providence to flatten out the distinctive promises and properties of the church such that the church in its teaching power and authority are on the same functional plane as everything else in history.  This simply ignores the relevant biblical material concerning the preservation of the church and the impossibility of apostasy of the church per se. If all things were equal, Wessling might have a point, but all things are not equal here. And of course, we’d be stuck on Wessling’s account with the result that the church taught serious Christological error universally for a very long time and continued to do so after the Protestant Reformation up to our own time. If Monothelitism (or Apollinarianism) is the true doctrine, it isn’t clear to me why this wouldn’t constitute an apostasy of the church universally.

What is more, Wessling would have to actually demonstrate that Monothelitism doesn’t impact the Gospel, but like Craig and other Monothelite Biola faculty, he has yet to substantially interact with the primary and secondary literature on Monothelitism and Dyothelitism, let alone demonstrate that Monothelitism does not impact the Gospel. (This also assumes that there is some common notion of “the Gospel” to be had.) In any case, Wessling has to implicitly sneak in the Protestant doctrine of the Right or Private Judgement (DRPJ) through the back door for this to even have a chance to work. For it is only on those grounds that the individual would be licensed to resist the church’s judgement that Monothelitism does seriously impact “the Gospel.” But it is then difficult to see why someone can’t run this same line with any other doctrine and just say that their alterations doesn’t impact “the Gospel” as they understand it.

Whether on Catholic/Orthodox grounds, or Protestant grounds Craig lacks any formal legs to stand on. Even if it were the case that the councils could err in the way Craig thinks they do, he has to actually show this to be the case or at least refer us to someone who has demonstrated it. But we never get this in any of Craig’s published writings or from any of the other Monothelite/Apollinarian Biola faculty.

The Heterodox Question

It should be clear now that Craig’s account is materially heretical. But this leaves the  question of formal heresy. Formal heresy goes beyond the question of the concept being expressed and advocated. Formal heresy turns on the willing assent, adherence and promotion of heresy. The error has to be in an area of dogma and sufficiently defined and the expressed view has to be a denial of that dogma or contradictory to it. The person has to freely adhere to, express and promote the view, and do so over a period of time. They also have to be fairly obstinate in their adherence to it.

Craig has advocated for material heresy in an area of Christian dogma and he has done so for a substantial period of time. It has been brought to his attention that it is contrary to the teaching of the church universally speaking, even extending into Confessional Protestantism. So it is not that he is unaware of the heterodox status of his views. Nor does he lack the resources to adequately research the issue nor the intellectual or academic competence to do so.  He seems to freely adhere to and promote it. Given Craig’s somewhat hedging language it seems more difficult to say that the obstinacy condition has been fulfilled. It should be kept in mind that heretics often use such language to cloak their heresy until such time as it gains acceptance. Craig has persisted in teaching and promoting it with full knowledge of its heretical status. The only relevant piece of exculpatory information that I can see is that Craig isn’t familiar with the primary and secondary sources and so really doesn’t understand the Christian position.  So the only saving grace is that Craig just doesn’t know what he is talking about here. So If William Lane Craig is not a formal heretic, he is uncomfortably close to being one. That should be cause enough for him to take a step back and conduct an appropriate investigation. Now we return to our initial question, Is what Craig professes a credible representation of Christianity? I believe the answer is very clearly no.

In memoriam

Fr. Michael Trigg

[i] Fred Sanders, “Chalcedonian Categories for the Gospel Narratives” in Sanders & Issler, Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective, 2007, p. 4

[ii] Henri De Lubac, Letter to Maruce Blondel, Aril 3, 1932.

[iii] Qua “proposal” will be evaluated later under the formal issue.

[iv] “DR. CRAIG: What he is saying here is that if Christ had a merely human soul and merely human body in addition to the divine person then to me it is very difficult to understand why there wouldn’t be two persons in Christ – one human and one divine. Think about it. What goes to constitute a human person? It is a rational soul and a body. If you have a rational soul and a humanoid body, you have a human person. That is all it takes. So if you say that Christ had a merely human soul and a human body then why wasn’t there a human person, Jesus? Yet orthodoxy denies that. Orthodoxy says there is only one person in Christ (or who is Christ), and that person is divine. There is no human person, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is a divine person with two natures. I can’t make sense of that if we say that Christ had, in addition to his divine person, a merely human soul conjoined with a human body. That seems to me to be sufficient for another person in which case you have two Sons – one the divine Son and the other a human Son. So I am constrained to avoid Nestorianism. Here I think Apollinarius has pointed the route that we could take, namely, you say that there is a common constituent which is shared by the human nature and the divine nature. That would be the person – the soul of the human nature is the person of the second person of the Trinity. By having this common constituent, there is overlap so to speak between the divine and the human natures.”

(See also Craig, Philosophical Foundations, pp. 606-612). All references are taken from the 2003 edition of Philosophical Foundations. I have read the chapters in the 2017 edition and there are no detectable changes in the material presented there.

[v]   Craig writes, “What the Council presupposed and what seems dubious to many is that the faculty of will belongs properly to one’s nature rather than to one’s person. That’s why the Council thought that if Christ’s human nature lacked the faculty of will, it was not a true, complete human nature. By contrast, it seems to me almost obvious that the will is a faculty of a person. It is persons who have free will and exercise it to choose this or that. If Christ’s human nature had its own proper will so that Christ had literally two wills, as the Council affirmed, then there would be two persons, one human and one divine. But that is the heresy known as Nestorianism, which divides Christ’s person into two. I cannot understand how Christ’s human nature could have a will of its own, distinct from the will of the Second Person of the Trinity, and not be a person.”

“These later councils do not have the sort of weight or gravitas as the earlier councils like Nicaea and Chalcedon. I, along with certain others I think, believe that this council really went wrong and got it wrong in affirming that Christ has both a human will and a divine will – Dyothelitism (Christ has two wills). This seems to fairly propel you to Nestorianism. How could Christ have two wills and yet not be two persons? How could he have a human will and a divine will and yet not be two persons – a human person and a divine person? What the orthodox have to say is that the will is something that is a property of the nature and not of the person. But that doesn’t seem right. The will seems to be something that belongs to a person. It is a person who wills to do this or that, not an impersonal nature. It seems to me that here the church got it wrong in affirming Dyothelitism and condemning Monothelitism. It seems to me that they should have affirmed that it is all right if you believe Christ has one will, a divine will which is the will of the second person of the Trinity.

And again Craig writes, “When Jesus prays in the Garden, Not my will but thine be done, he is not talking to himself. He is talking to his Father. The contrast in that prayer is not between Jesus’ divine will and Jesus’ human will. It is between the will of the second person of the Trinity and the will of the first person of the Trinity. Jesus says, Not my will be done but thine will, Father, be done. That verse doesn’t support Dyothelitism. On the contrary, there is one will which Christ has there, and he subordinates that will to the will of the Father.”

[vi] “Why do they think it important’, he says, ‘to demonstrate that Christ assumed a body without a soul, in the course of thinking up deceptions that the savour of the earth? It is in order that if they can bamboozle some people into concluding that this is true, then because they attach the mutable nature of passions to the divine Spirit, they may easily persuade these people that the mutable should be begotten from the Immutable (and therefore that the pre-existent Son was mutable.” Eustathius of Antioch, cited in Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 111.

[vii] “When the Nestorians state that there is in Christ one energy and one will, they did not hold that the created nature and the created will in Christ were abolished. The one energy and will of the Nestorians relates to the person of the union in Christ of the two natures, which is the result of the union of two persons or hypostaseis.” John Romanides, An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics, University of Thessaloniki, p. 71

[viii] “The question is not, as you have it, whether Monotheletism follows necessarily from Monophysitism–it seems obvious that it does, for if there is only one person and one nature in the incarnate Christ, where would the second will come from?–, but whether Monophysitism follows necessarily from Monotheletism, as the Council thought. I don’t see that it does. In the chapter on the incarnation in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, I provide a possible model of the incarnation according to which the human nature of Christ becomes complete through its union with the Second Person of the Trinity. Because there is only one person in Christ, there is but one faculty of will, and that faculty serves both the humanity and deity of Christ, exercising itself through both the human nature and the divine nature. So Christ has two complete natures but a single will, just as–and because–he is a single person.”


[x] “By a soul I mean a living, spiritual substance. In characterizing God as a soul, I mean what Jesus meant when he said, “God is spirit” (John 4.24). A human soul has rational cognitive faculties but is not identical with its rational faculties, since faculties are not something that exist on their own in abstraction from the thing that has them. What is a soul? It’s what you are without your body. We normally assume that a rational soul is identical to a person. But that’s because we are familiar only with souls endowed with at most one set of rational faculties sufficient for personhood. My suggestion is that we think of God as a soul endowed with three sets of rational faculties, each sufficient for personhood, so that God is tri-personal. Your question, “what would it even mean for God to have three souls?” is reminiscent of Cerberus, the mythological three-headed dog, which might be taken to have three souls inhabiting one canine body. But obviously God is not like that, since God has no body. If you mean, “what would it mean for God to be three souls?”, then the answer is that God would be a group, like the Boston Red Sox. Obviously, that is polytheism, not monotheism, and therefore unacceptable. “What exactly is this nebulous ‘thing’ that unifies . . . these persons?” It is the spiritual substance whose faculties they are. It is the immaterial entity or being which has these faculties.”

“Suppose, then, that God is a soul which is endowed with three complete sets of rational cognitive faculties, each sufficient for personhood. Then God, though one soul would not be one person but three, for God would have three centers of self consciousness, intentionality and volition, as social trinitarians maintain. God would not be three discrete souls because the cognitive faculties in question are all faculties belonging to just one soul, one immaterial substance. God would therefore be one being that supports  three persons, just as our own individual beings support one person. Such a model of Trinity monotheism seems to give a clear sense to the classical formula “three persons in one substance.” Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, p. 594

[xi] The Dark Knight Rises.

[xii] “For the natural will is ‘the power that longs for what is natural’ and contains all the properties that are essentially attached to the nature. In accordance with this to be disposed by nature to will is always rooted in the willing nature. For to be disposed by nature to will and to will are not the same thing as it is not the same thing to be disposed by nature to speak and to speak.” Maximus Opusculum 3.


[xiv] “You were slain, O Word, but were not separated from the body, which You shared with us, for even though Your temple was destroyed during Your Passion, the Person of Your Divinity and humanity was still one; for in both You are One Son, the Word of God, God and Man.” Selections from Great Friday Vespers.

[xv] “1. It seems to me that Christ’s possessing a human nature in the time between his ascension and return does not necessitate his having a human body during that time, anymore than my possessing a human nature during the intermediate state between my death and resurrection requires that I have a body during that time. Someone whose body has been vaporized in an explosion, for example, has no body at all during the intermediate state, not even a dead one, yet he is still a human being. Why? Perhaps we could say that he is a human being because his soul was united with a human body. For that reason he is not an angelic being or some other sort of being. But we can say exactly the same about Christ in his ascended state. Moreover, as the tuning fork illustration makes clear, Christ’s human nature is not at all incomplete in such as state; it’s just that he’s not in the environment (namely spacetime) in which his human nature would manifest itself as a body.

As for your second concern, understand my use of “spacetime” or “four-dimensional spacetime manifold” as just a façon de parler. It’s like talking about the sunrise or sunset—literally false but colloquial ways of speaking. One can re-phrase what I mean by saying that Christ no longer exists in space.

It seems you’re not familiar with my proposed neo-Apollinarian Christology in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. It was crafted precisely because I think the usual model tends to Nestorianism for the reasons you mention. On the traditional model the human soul of Christ is not a person, which I find baffling. On my model the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the soul of Jesus Christ. By taking on a human body the Logos completed the human nature of Christ, making him a body/soul composite. So Christ has two complete natures, divine and human.

The death of Christ should be understood as the separation of his soul from his body. On my proposed model the Logos is separated from his body, but Christ retains his human nature in virtue of what I said above concerning why we remain human even after the destruction of our body (though in Christ’s case his body still existed; it was just lifeless).”

[xvi] “This implication [monothelitism] of the model is in our view unobjectionable, since dyothelitism, despite its conciliar support, finds no warrant in Scripture. Passages in the Gospels usually used as proof texts of this doctrine – such as Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, ‘Yet, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42)- do not contemplate a struggle of Jesus’ human will with his divine will (he is not, after all, talking to himself!) but have reference to the interaction between Jesus’ will (‘my will’) and the Father’s will (“yours”). Craig, Philosophical Foundations, p. 611.

[xvii] “No matter how loosely human beings might agree on shared desires and choices, the decisions remain individually distinguishable movements of the separable wills of the persons involved….By comparison, were volition for God to be a personal property apart from the divine nature (as in Monothelitism), discord among the triune persons seems unavoidable. Distinct wills entail distinct desires. For example, the Son possesses desires that the Spirit does not, nor the Father. What would prevent three agents with different desires from willing against each other?” John E. McKinley, “A Model of Jesus Christ’s Two Wills in View of Theology Proper and Anthropology”, Southern Baptist  Journal of Theology 19:1 (2015) p. 80.

[xviii] “This implication [monothelitism] of the model is in our view unobjectionable, since dyothelitism, despite its conciliar support, finds no warrant in Scripture.” Craig, Philosophical Foundations, p. 611.

[xix] “It seems to me that in condemning Monotheletism as incompatible with Christian belief the Church did overstep its bounds.”

[xx] “It seems you’re not familiar with my proposed neo-Apollinarian Christology in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. It was crafted precisely because I think the usual model tends to Nestorianism for the reasons you mention. On the traditional model the human soul of Christ is not a person, which I find baffling.”

“So while I don’t like contradicting the decrees of an ecumenical Council, I think that the danger of falling into Nestorianism is far greater than the danger of falling into Monophysitism. I think we can coherently and biblically be Monothelites without being Monophysites.”

[xxi] “This means that you can accuse him being inconsistent (as a result of the logical entailments of his view), but not heretical, (for he does not follow those alleged logical entailments to their conclusions).”

[xxii] “So while I don’t like contradicting the decrees of an ecumenical Council, I think that the danger of falling into Nestorianism is far greater than the danger of falling into Monophysitism. I think we can coherently and biblically be Monothelites without being Monophysites.”

[xxiii] It seems very strange for Craig to say, as he does, that Dyothelitism seems to imply Nestorianism, when figures such as Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of Maximus the Confessor, the chief defender of Dyothelitism as “the most determined conqueror of Nestorianism.” Cardinal Ratzinger, A New Song for the Lord, p. x.

[xxiv] I looked in vain through Craig’s published works or on line venues to find any substantial interaction or awareness of the primary or secondary literature on Dyothelite/Monothelite theologies, history or philosophical background/structure.

[xxv] “Our rehabilitated Apollinarian Christology thus lies safely within the boundaries of orthodoxy marked out at Chalcedon.” Craig, The Coherence of the Incarnation, p. 196.

“Does William Lane Craig have an orthodox Christology? He falls right in line with the ancient Council of Chalcedon.”

[xxvi] This is exactly what both Nestorius and Theodoret of Cyrrus did, and so argued that Chalcedon vindicated their view. See Clayton, The Christology of Theodoret of Cyrrus, Oxford, 2007.

[xxvii] I garnered this from remarks made by Steve Hays at Triablogue.

[xxviii] “Christology and Conciliar Authority: On the Viability of Monothelitism for Protestant Theology” in Crisp & Sanders, Christology: Ancient and Modern-Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics, Zondervan, 2013.

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