By Mike Willis and Steve Klein
The recent controversy over the nature of Jesus has caused anything written on the subject of Jesus to be carefully scrutinized. Brother Gene Frost has called our attention to an article in Guardian of Truth which, in addition to teaching the truth that Jesus resisted sin without relying on his divine attributes, conveys some wrong impressions about Jesus (Gospel Anchor, Sept. 1991). The article was written by Steve Klein and titled “The Human Life of God.” The primary thrust of the article was to teach that Jesus resisted sin without using his divine powers (man does not ”have” to sin). With this I am in agreement.
In the article, brother Klein quoted with approval from The Gospel for an Age of Doubt by Henry Van Dyke which said Jesus “was subject to ignorance, to limitation, to weakness, to temptation, even as we are. The only point of difference between Him and us is that we sin, but He sinned not. The Godhead that was in Him was such as manhood is capable of receiving.” Both brother Klein and I disagree with these statements, realizing that they emphasize the humanity of Jesus at the expense of his deity. I have not read the book quoted by brother Klein but have since learned that its author is a modernist who denies the deity of Christ. Brother Klein cited the quotation only to emphasize that Jesus partook of the flesh (Heb. 2:14), experienced the same weaknesses (became tired [Matt. 8:241, hungry [Mk. 11:12]), and was subject to temptation as other men (Heb. 4:15). As intended by Van Dyke, brother Klein also disagreed with the statement and acknowledges that he used the quotation with a meaning other than what the author apparently intended.
Brother Klein’s article contained other statements which described Jesus as the “God-man,” saying that in him ”dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), that “he was the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” “he who has seen men has seen me Father,” and other such statements as to show clearly that he believes that Jesus possessed all the attributes of deity while on earth. The meaning of the quotation from Van Dyke disagrees with the Bible verses quoted by brother Klein.
However, to remove any doubt about where the editor of Guardian of Truth or brother Klein stands on this issue, we want to publicly repudiate these statements from Henry Van Dyke quoted by brother Klein. To remind our readers that this is the same position which I always have held, I remind you of several articles addressing this subject which already have appeared in Guardian of Truth, including a series which I wrote (“The Deity of Christ” [1-4], Nov.-Dec. 1990; “Revival of An Ancient Heresy,” Weldon Warnock [21 Feb. 1991],102). Both brother Klein and I reject the idea that in emptying himself Jesus laid aside his divine attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, etc.) just as we reject the idea that Jesus could only overcome sin by relying on his divine attributes.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 18, p. 566
September 19, 1991