Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Do You Believe In Logic?, Part II: Jesus' Identity

The ultimate example in the Gospels (according to me, at least) of the Law of Non-Contradiction occurs in the seeming paradox of Jesus as both Son of David and Lord in Matthew:

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’? IF DAVID THEN CALLS HIM ‘LORD,’ HOW IS HE HIS SON?’” (Matthew 22:41-45)

Jesus’ earth-shattering question to the Pharisees is the ultimate question of the Law of Non-Contradiction in the Scriptures. Here, we have on our hands what seems to be a blaring contradiction: how can a “son,” one under a father (who is over the son), be the “Lord” (a position of superiority)? It is a “seeming” paradox: only the father can be “Lord,” right?

How can one who is the Son (of David) be over David (as David’s Lord)? If we examine the Pharisees, we will find that they could not answer Jesus’ question. Why? was it because it was a contradiction? Maybe they thought it was; but as those who love God’s Word, we know that Jesus titles as “Son” and “Lord” are not contradictory: they are reconciled within both of His natures, the human and the divine.

Most believers don’t think about it, but they come to the Bible with a presupposition of reconciling one seemingly contradictory passage with another. As believers, we operate by the Law of Non-Contradiction. According to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (Article 17):

We affirm the unity, harmony and consistency of Scripture and declare that it is its own best interpreter.
We deny that Scripture may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that one passage corrects or militates against another. We deny that later writers of Scripture misinterpreted earlier passages of Scripture when quoting from or referring to them.

According to the statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, there is a “unity, harmony, and consistency” to Scripture. This means that Scripture will always confirm itself; never will Scripture contradict, or speak against itself (in any part). The idea that “Scripture is its own best interpreter” is a view of the Reformers, such as John Calvin (see Henry Virkler’s work on “Hermeneutics”). And all believers use the Law of Non-Contradiction (that the Scriptures must always confirm each other) when they interpret Scripture. Hence, ALL BELIEVERS USE LOGIC!!! Why? because logic comes from God, and is how we make sense of God’s special revelation (i.e., His Word, the Bible).

Now using the idea that all of Scripture can be reconciled, let’s approach this question of Christ as “Son of David” and “David’s Lord.”

How was Christ “The Son of David”? He was born in the physical lineage of David (descendant), according to the Matthean genealogy (Matthew 1). How then, is Christ “David’s Lord”? Christ is David’s Lord because He is not just human, but divine:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder: AND HIS NAME WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. OF THE INCREASE OF HIS GOVERNMENT AND PEACE THERE WILL BE NO END, UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID AND OVER HIS KINGDOM, to order it and establish it from that time forward, even forever” (Isaiah 9:6-7, NKJV).

In Isaiah 9, we find that a “Son” is given; notice that “the government will be upon His shoulder,” which means that He will be king (“government” gives this away!). What is His name? He is not a special name of a physical descendant of David, but “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”...in other words, this Son of David that will rule “upon the throne of David and over His kingdom...even forever,” is Christ.
As I aforementioned in the first part of this mini-series (Part I), the Scriptures themselves have a logical nature to them. If this be the case, then how can we choose theological systems with contradictory elements and then throw up our hands and say, “It’s a mystery”, or “My theological system doesn’t have to be consistent”? Our theological systems DO have to be consistent, if for no other reason than that they reflect the nature and character of our God!!

I will discuss more regarding the logical consistency of Scripture and much-needed consistency in theological systems in the coming days.

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