I was largely challenged by Dr. Glenn Peoples article Nuts and Bolts 012: Kenosis, were he brilliantly presented Kenotic Theology. This article is largely my edited comment/respond at his wonderful philosophy, theology, and social issues blog: Say Hello to my Little Friend.
Dr. Peoples argued that:
[Y]ou could maintain that Jesus did set aside his divinity and call it kenosis, because that is an emptying of sorts, it is an extreme kind of kenosis. Instead, the (in my view biblical) doctrine of Christ’s emptying himself is that in becoming human, Christ gave up much of what he, as fully divine, had a right to. He did not simply have his omnipotence and omniscience at his disposal throughout his earthy life, choosing never to make use of it. He actually set those things aside and genuinely took the form of a servant. It was not an act or a ruse. The incarnation, in short, was genuinely as it appeared to be.
I am deeply grateful for Dr. Peoples’ knowledge, kindness and steady fast love towards God and his people. There is a great ocean of theology were I am 98% swimming with Peoples, but kenosis theory is in the 2% that I do not see myself taking a dive.
Subtraction By Addition
Kenosis theory by and large depends on Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
This passage explains how Christ emptied himself by taking the form of a servant. Paul argues Philippians to humble themselves by giving up of their status and privilege/position, imitating Christ. This text does not mention that Logos “emptied himself of his nature i.e omnipotence and omniscience” but taking of a new nature. Subtraction by addition.
Giving up the nature would be, I believe, a long short from Paul’s teaching in this passage, since it would imply that the Philippians were to give up or lay aside one/or more of their natures(in light of Matthew 24:36, their intelligence).
Over and above that, verse 4 increases the plausibility of giving up of status and position than that of giving up of nature.
A God That Changed His Nature!
I do believe that Logos emptied((kenosis) himself in humbling himself by taking the form of a servant. I find it hard, be that as it may, to take a step forward, which I believe misses the spirit of Philippians 2(cornerstone of kenotic doctrine), to undress omniscient and/or omnipotent in Christ Jesus ministry on earth.
Furthermore, taking up of form does not entail change in nature since nature is a necessary condition of the form, but the form is not essential to the nature. If this is true, then Philippians 2 should be understood as Logos in form of God took up human nature(form of servant), without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation. Thus Logos who is fully God, became also fully man.
If its possible that Logos nature changed, then his deity would also change, and he would no longer be God because its his nature that determines his deity.
N.B: Remember we are using the term nature as that which is a sine qua none – that without which something isn’t what it is.(and not the loosely usage. Example sinful nature)
The Undressed God! Is God Still God If He Is Not Omniscient Nor Omnipotent?
I am trying to grasp how Christ Jesus could be considered fully God if indeed he was not omniscient and omnipotent. If omniscient and omnipotent are not essential to deity, then were do we draw a line to which natures are essential and which are not?
For these reasons, I don’t buy Kenotic Theology.