Challenge: 100% Man or 100% God?

Posted: May 10, 2011 by Amy Hall in Jesus Changes Everything, Weekly Challenge

Prompted by Kyle’s suggestion on a previous challenge post, I found this question on Yahoo Answers:

This is something a friend told me, but I don’t understand how Catholics can believe Jesus is both 100% man and 100% God considering that there is no such thing as 200%. In fact, the very words ‘per cent’ mean out of 100. You cannot have 200 out of 100!

Or as this person put it:

Was Jesus 100% man or 100% god? (Don’t say both, that’s statistically impossible.)

So which do you choose, or how do you reconcile both? Tell us how you would explain this bit of theology to your friends, and then as usual, come back on Thursday to see Brett’s video response and see how you did.

  1. Seth says:

    I say he is 25% man and 75% God!

  2. Category error. God and Man are of two different categories.
    My wedding ring, for example, is both 100% metal AND 100% yellow.

    • Sam Harper says:

      Mike, I’m not so sure they ARE different categories. Both his humanity and his divinity are natures. In your analogy, metal is a material, and yellow is a colour, so they are different categories. Since humanity and divinity are both natures, they’re not different categories, are they?

  3. bobby says:

    he’s 50% man 50% god
    Father – God (Christian View) Mother – Mary

  4. Albert says:

    Can I be 100% husband and 100% father? Sure I can. Does this explain Jesus being 100% God and 100% man? Not exactly.

    I’m one person and only one person. Husband, father and friend are all “persona’s” that I might be considered for different people. Jesus was not a persona of God in the flesh. Jesus was truly all man as well as all God.

    I think any real world explanation that I use would fall short at some point.

    It’s not an easy thing to explain, at least for me. It would be easier to explain that scripture shows that this is possible even though it seems like a mathematical inconsistency.

    In part, I think we are mixing up apples and oranges per say.

    God is not physical, right? So Jesus, the man could have God the spirit as part of him, right?

    Non-physical God and physical Jesus in one place. Again, not a good explanation.

    I guess it could possibly be a category error but I’m not sure on that one.

    I’m going to wait for the response on this one. Scripture makes so much more sense to me then trying to put it into my own words.

  5. Sir says:

    Okay, so I would approach this with the opening of God’s nature, which would also bring up the trinity. The trinity illustrated as time. Time is easier because we often look at persons or personages as a complete being with mind, soul and spirit, where God is one being but three personages or better explained as three individual subsistences. CARM uses a great analogy of time, which I will hi-jack for the moment.

    As the Trinitarian doctrine maintains, each of the persons of the Godhead is distinct, yet they are all each, by nature, God.

    With time, for example, the past is distinct from the present, which is distinct from the future. Each is simultaneous, yet they are not three ‘times,’ but one. That is, they all share the same nature: time.

    Now about Jesus. All cults deny that Jesus is God, the creator of the universe, in flesh. Various objections are raised saying that Jesus could not be God, otherwise, He would be praying to Himself, etc. Let’s work with the analogy above, and continue with ‘time’ as our illustration.

    Let’s take ‘present’ and add to it human nature. Present, then, would have two natures: time and man. If ‘present’ were truly human then he would be able to communicate with us, tell us much, and we could see and touch him. But, because he is also ‘time’ by nature, he would be able to tell us both the past and the future as he manifested the ‘time’ nature within him. If ‘present’ then communicated with the past and the future, it would not mean he was communicating with himself, but with the distinctions known as the past and the future.

    Jesus is the most important person who has ever lived since he is the savior, God in human flesh. He is not half God and half man. He is fully divine and fully man. In other words, Jesus has two distinct natures: divine and human. Jesus is the Word who was God and was with God and was made flesh, (John 1:1,14). This means that in the single person of Jesus is both a human and divine nature, God and man. The divine nature was not changed when the Word became flesh (John 1:1,14). Instead, the Word was joined with humanity (Col. 2:9). Jesus’ divine nature was not altered. Also, Jesus is not merely a man who “had God within Him” nor is he a man who “manifested the God principle.” He is God in flesh, second person of the Trinity. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word,” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus’ two natures are not “mixed together,” (Eutychianism) nor are they combined into a new God-man nature (Monophysitism). They are separate yet act as a unit in the one person of Jesus. This is called the Hypostatic Union.

    For a proper understanding of Jesus and, therefore, all other doctrines that relate to Him, His two natures must be properly understood and defined. Jesus is one person with two natures. This is why He would grow in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52) yet know all things (John 21:17). He is the Divine Word that became flesh (John 1:1,14).

    The following verses should help you see the two natures of Jesus “in action”:

    He is worshiped (Matt. 2:2,11; 14:33).
    He worshiped the Father (John 17).

    He was called God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8)
    He was called man (Mark 15:39; John 19:5).

    He was called Son of God (Mark 1:1)
    He was called Son of Man (John 9:35-37)

    He is prayed to (Acts 7:59).
    He prayed to the Father (John 17).

    He is sinless (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15).
    He was tempted (Matt. 4:1).

    He knows all things (John 21:17).
    He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52).

    He gives eternal life (John 10:28).
    He died (Rom. 5:8).

    All the fullness of deity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9).
    He has a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39).

  6. Adrian Urias says:


    Actually, I have no idea how to answer this. But I am interested in the answer because there has been an idea spreading in my church that Jesus is 50% man and 50% God. I said this wasn’t correct, showed them he’s full deity, and they asked me the same question and why it matters and what the difference is…and I wasn’t sure how to respond.

    Upon reflection though, I suppose you would have to answer that they are not mutually exclusive and one doesnt take away from the other, in order to avoid the charge of incoherence. Or you could say that there is something divine about the human nature (thus being made in the image of God), but then I suppose that would mean there is something human about the divine, and that seems counter-intuitive.

    So like, here’s what I got in mind. I write a paper and im graded against a typical grading scale, 90-100% A, 89-80% B, and so on. So lets say I get a 85%. Im a B student. And because I’m finite, it’s not possible that I exceed 89%. I’m just finite like that (I’m not stupid, im finite, lol). But then the guy in the front row gets 100% on his paper. He’s an A student. He’s gotten the maximum grade. So In a way, he’s gotten my B, but then surpassed it, and has an A. So Jesus has both grades? he’s fulfilled one grade though, and then some. Like if I have two donkeys, I also have one donkey. He’s got the B, but he’s got more as well, and got the A.

    Man, thats a terrible analogy. lol. But thats the best I got. Look forward to it.

    • Sam Harper says:

      A nature is what something is essentially.

      • Adrian Urias says:

        haha…ok, that helped.

        but seriously, what does that even mean? I think I’m essentially a male, so it part of my nature to be male? just trying to understand here.

        but concerning Jesus, I dunno. To say that Jesus human nature means its essential for Jesus to have this human nature would seem to imply its a metaphysical necessity. But I think that’s obviously false, since the taking on of a human nature is not necessary. It’s not essential to the Son.

      • Sam Harper says:

        Adrian, when I say a nature is what something is essentially, I don’t mean that if something has, say, a human nature, then it has a human nature essentially. I mean that if something has a human nature, then everything that is essential to human nature, the something has.

        Imagine that somebody is a human. If somebody is a human, then there are certain thing that are true about that person. But not everything that’s true about that person is essential for that person to be a human. Some of those things could be false, and that person could still be a human. For example, it may happen to be the case that most humans have hair on their heads. But having hair on your head is not essential to being human because it’s possible to be human and NOT have hair on your head. There are other things that ARE essential to being human. It’s essential that you have a soul, that you have a certain kind of DNA, etc. If you didn’t have a soul or if you didn’t have a certain kind of DNA, then you wouldn’t be human.

        If you take all the essentials of what something is, then those essentials make up that thing’s nature.

        But, of course, people use the word “nature” in different senses. It’s not essential to being human that we are sinful, but we still say that people have a “sinful nature” or that it’s “in our nature” to be sinful. In that case, “nature” is being used in a different sense. It just means “the way something or somebody is.”

  7. Sam Harper says:

    Ronald Nash said in his book, “Worldviews in Conflict,” that if ever there were a contradiction in the Christian worldview, this would be it. On the face of it, it seems like a blatant contradiction since God is not man and man is not God.

    But to be a contradiction, we would have to say that Jesus is God in the same sense that he is man, and vice versa, because the law of non-contradiction states that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and IN THE SAME SENSE. According to the doctrine of the incarnation, Jesus has two natures–one human and one divine. So he is not human in the same sense that he is divine. He is 100% human with respect to his human nature, and he is 100% God with respect to his divine nature.

    To be 100% human, a person only needs to have whatever essential attributes are necessary for humanity. And to be 100% God, a person only needs to have whatever essential attributes are necessary for divinity. Some people have argued that none of the essential attributes of divinity are inconsistent with any of the essential attributes of humanity. One might think they are inconsistent because, for example, gods are immortal, but humans are mortal. However, mortality is not an ESSENTIAL attribute of humanity. It just HAPPENS to be the case right now that all humans are mortal.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to reconcile the incarnation that way since Jesus has two natures. The two natures do not have to have consistent attributes since they are distinct. One can be physical and the other can be non-physical. One can have powers the other doesn’t have, etc. I don’t see a problem with that.

    And what, really, is the difficulty in imaging an all-powerful God having the ability to create a physical body and animate it himself?

    The only difficulty I have with the incarnation (and I talked to Amy about this once) is the idea that for Jesus to have a human nature, he must not only have a human body, but he must also have a human soul. The reason I think that’s a difficulty is because the soul is the self. It’s the person. Or at least it’s the seat of the person. So if Jesus has a human soul, and he also has a divine soul, then Jesus would have to be two persons. I don’t think that’s even possible. Jesus is only one person.

    Some people (including William Lane Craig) seem to not think Jesus must have a human soul in order to be human. It’s enough that he has a human body. They look at the incarnation similarly to substance dualism. In the case of ordinary humans, we have a physical body and a non-physical soul. But in the case of Jesus, he has a physical body, and he himself is his soul. That is the view I held right up until I had that conversation with Amy, then started reading more about it. I’ll be interested in what Brett has to say about it.

  8. JonathanB says:

    God’s nature isn’t a quantity. Saying God is “100%” something is thus a little misleading.

  9. I’m glad my question is getting such feedback.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Me too! Thanks! I’m actually going to post an answer to your other question next week, as well.

  10. annemarie says:

    IF there is a loving designer and creator of all of living creatures, and if He really came to earth in human form…and if history has recorded from unbiased sources that no one found any fault in him except that he claimed to be one with God…then my descriptions of that historical being will never completely describe him. Our word pictures can be compared and contrasted some day if and when we see this one face to face.

    • Albert says:

      Anne Marie, I am “okay” with your answer but I really believe this could have an adequate answer.

      People that bring up this type of question will not be satisfied with, “then my descriptions of that historical being will never completely describe him.”

      We must strive to give an answer that will not leave them with a, “Just as I thought.” reply. This will leave them thinking that why should they believe when we, ourselves, can’t make sense of it.

      IMHO. Please don’t take offense.

  11. Philip Motes says:

    It would appear that this question has been adequately answered, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyway! What we want to do here is clarify what the doctrine of the incarnation actually says. The questioner has put us in a false dilemma by asking if Jesus is 100% God or a 100% man. Indeed, if we say both, that would be a logical contradiction. But, the doctrine does not say that. The doctrine of the incarnation says that Jesus is “authentically God” and “authentically man.” Jesus is one person or self with two natures, a human nature and a divine nature. He has a set of essential attributes that make him truly human and a set of essential attributes that make him truly God. The difficulty is trying to explain how Jesus could simultaneously maintain conflicting attributes. For example, how can Jesus be omnipresent in his divine nature, but localized in his human nature? Dr. Craig explains it as Jesus willingly keeping his divine attributes in his subconscious in order to live consciously as a human being and have our same limitations. Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled or emptied himself of his divine attributes, so he could ultimately suffer and die on the cross for sin. I am looking forward to the video response!