According to nominalism, “being” – that which is common or universal in any given category – is no more than a “name,” a concept or term. Accordingly, the doctrine of the Trinity in this philosophy leads to tritheism. Excessive realism, on the other hand, associates the word “essence” with some subsistent thing that stands behind or above the person and so leads to tetratheism or Seballianism. – Herman Bavinck (God and Creation 2004, 299)
Recently, Dr. Craig spoke on his podcast about his Christological Position. This was in response to an article forwarded to him from Richard Bushey titled Does William Lane Craig Have An Orthodox Christology?
Some have asked me why this series has stalled out, wondering if I am done with my critique. I am not, but given that the second edition of Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview is due to be released soon, and my understanding is that it contains some new content regarding abstract objects that may be pertinent to the critique, I have decided to wait until then to continue my series.
However, this recent podcast episode does have a few things that I wanted to respond to.
First, it is notable that the only thing that Craig actually does in this episode is restate his position. That does not resolve any of the concerns or objections that I have lodged. In fact, some of what he says actually reinforces them. He makes the comparison between Christ’s human consciousness and his divine subconsciousness with an iceberg where there is a visible mass above the water with an unseen mass below the water. As I noted previously, an unintended entailment of Craig’s position that natures are only collections of attributes, and not some concrete object, is that the combination of two sets of attributes results in results “in a tertium quid, that is a new third kind of nature that is neither human nor divine.” Craig’s use of this iceberg analogy lends support to this, since even though there is a seen portion of the iceberg and an unseen portion of the iceberg, there is still only a single iceberg. The human (visible) part of the Christological iceberg is not a distinct nature from the divine (invisible) part of the Christological iceberg.
Second, Craig makes a big deal out of the fact that Neo-Apollinarianism is only a proposal. He seems to imply that it is a proposal that he does not himself believe. I find this difficult to believe. Although I understand that at times philosophers put forward theoretical views to be tested and critiqued by other philosophers, to sort of test the waters, this does not seem to be the case in my estimation.
In a 2010 debate with Yusuf Ismail, Dr. Craig responds to Ismail’s claim that the hypostatic union is incoherent. He responds (starting at 6:54) by presenting his Neo-Apollinarian proposal, using the analogy of the popular movie Avatar to explain the incarnation. After explaining the concept present in Avatar he says “In exactly the same way, Christ has both a divine nature and a human nature, and these two natures have different powers.” (9:36) He then goes on later to say “I think [Neo-Apollinarianism] makes perfect sense of the incarnation, and there is nothing [illogcal] or incoherent about it.” (10:05)
It seems to me these statements are much less tentative than Craig wants to make them appear in this episode of Reasonable Faith. Are we to believe that he would say of a view that he doesn’t actually hold that it “makes perfect sense of the incarnation”?
Statements like this are simply duplicitous and are a way of dancing around the objections people have. If I were to say “My proposal is that Craig is an idiot heretic.” Craig and his supporters would not accept “It’s only a proposal” as a legitimate way to dismiss their critiques.
The fact that Craig couches his thoughts in the philosophical language of “possibility,” “proposal,” or “model” does not change the fact that he is advocating this model for Christian belief. Even if it did, Craig is saying that it is possible that although the Scriptures teach that Jesus “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect” (Heb 2:17b, ESV), that in a fundamental way he actually didn’t become at all like us. My mind is created, finite, and knows external facts because they are impressed upon me. Christ’s mind, so says Craig, is uncreated, infinite, and knows all facts as a result of his knowledge of himself.
Brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled by Dr. Craig’s disingenuous language. If he doesn’t believe Neo-Apollinarianism to be true, let him explicitly state that. If he is unwilling to do that, then I fail to see how a model that he says “makes perfect sense of the incarnation” should not be considered to be his belief simply because he says “it is only a proposal.”
The Scriptures teach us that “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’” (Prov 26:18-19, ESV) Well, I say “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘It was only a proposal!’”
- Bavinck, Herman. 2004. God and Creation. Edited by John Bolt. Translated by John Vriend. Vol. 2. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker.
- Bushey, Richard. 2015. Does William Lane Craig Have an Orthodox Christology? July 14. Accessed July 10, 2017. https://thereforegodexists.com/does-william-lane-craig-have-an-orthodox-christology/.
- Craig, William Lane, and Kevin Harris. 2017. Does Dr. Craig Have an Orthodox Christology. July 9. Accessed July 10, 2017. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-dr-craig-have-an-orthodox-christology.
- Craig, William Lane, and Yousef Ismail. 2010. Identifying Jesus: Is He Man, or both Man and God? Capetown. Accessed July 10, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfiD6Zr4q50.