Theology in a Dirty Glass

The insipid cosmopolitan cocktail that is evangelical churchianity is comprised of one part orthodoxy to ten measures of water; shaken, stirred, and cut again with simple syrup. Having all the potency of a feather duster, it lacks both the vigor and viscosity to even make its little pink umbrella stay afloat. Those who imbibe such are nonetheless inebriated, even if only by pomposity, and still prove brazen enough to belly-up with the big boys. “I’ll take mine in a dirty glass,” they bluster. So the barkeeper pours a few strained ounces of weaksauce into a sugar-coated martini glass while the new patron struts upon his stool. This kind goeth not out but by prayer and a much older vintage—a vintage distilled in antiquity—to be served neat without a water back.

In that spirit I suggest that a strong shot of Chalcedonian orthodoxy would clear up most of the christological confusion that permeates our present cultureJesus, we confess, is both truly divine and truly human. But those two natures, while inseparably joined together in the person of God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, are distinct and unconfused. There is not a scrap of human nature in his eternal Godhead, and there is not a smidgen of deity in his manhood, any more than is present in yours or mine. He came to save us, in our nature, not to put on some flamboyant, theandric, superhuman performance that would be fundamentally irrelevant to the human condition.

Whenever we see an instance where the deity of Jesus acts or impinges upon his humanity, it doesn’t do so according to the order of nature—by souping up his humanity into something a bit more than human—but according to the order of grace; that is, by divine influences that empower human nature but do not in any way tamper with it. In the Scriptures it is precisely the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, who is credited with enabling, empowering, and enlightening the humanity of Jesus. For example, Jesus casts out demons not by means of some turbo-charged, deity-injected human power that he has within his humanity by nature, but by the Spirit.

Jesus is not the original Superman. He is not from some distant planet; he is from this one. He does not have, in his human nature, powers beyond those of ordinary moral men. He is not immune to any of our debilities and limitations: not hunger, not thirst, not exhaustion, not exasperation. He is not faster than speeding locomotives, and he can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. He probably even suffered from a runny nose a time or two. He was completely Clark Kent. Never was he some alien strongman in spandex. His power was left-handed power—that paradoxical potency which is born of weakness completely submitted to will of the Father and the enablement of the Spirit.

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