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How can Jesus be 100 percent God and 100 percent man?

BY CAREY KINSOLVING Modified: August 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012
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"He did things like his dad (100 percent God), and he did things like we do (since he's 100 percent man)," says Candice, 10. I'm impressed, Candice! You have succeeded where others have failed.

Probably no question in all of theology and philosophy has spawned more debate.

An accurate answer can be given in one word: mystery.

"Great is the mystery of godliness," wrote the apostle Paul to Timothy (I Timothy 3:16).

Attempting to explain this mystery has gotten many of my friends into trouble. But they aren't the first, and they won't be the last.

"Jesus grew up as a man, and then God turned him into a God," says Brian, 8, little realizing he has an ancient idea. Brian, this error started in Rome around A.D. 190. The first to be credited with this deviation was Theodotus the tanner, who would have fared better if he had stuck to making leather sandals.

Theodotus said Jesus was a "mere man" whom God "adopted" when the Holy Spirit came upon him at his baptism. Today, there's a popular variation of this idea: Jesus was a mere man who attained a higher form of godly consciousness. We, too, can achieve the same oneness with God. Right?

Think again.

Listen to the angel who appeared to shepherds in the field at the time of Jesus' birth, "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Did the angel mistake a "mere man" for "Christ the Lord?"

Nope! Next error, please.

"Jesus is not 100 percent man because then he wouldn't be perfect," says Caroline, 10, who is probably reacting to all the imperfections she has observed in people. And so did the Gnostics of the first century.

Modern people find it easy to believe Jesus was a man but difficult to believe he was God. Gnostics, however, didn't believe Jesus was a man with a material body because they thought matter was evil. They proposed that either Jesus had a body temporarily, which he left at the crucifixion or had none at all, only seeming to be a human being.

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