It seems as if CRN will never tire of re-hashing the same old tired arguments concerning Rob Bell. The Editor claims this piece demonstrates the “propensity of Rob Bell of the emerging church to over-emphasize the humanity of Christ Jesus of Nazareth and turn our Creator into a first century rabbi.”

So does Rob Bell over-emphasize the humanity of Jesus? It seems like a very odd claim to me. After all Jesus was both fully God and fully man. There of course is much of this union that will always be a mystery to us. However to claim that Jesus didn’t learn, wasn’t at all affected by the culture He grew up, and somehow wasn’t quite all human seems to go against many of the details we’re given in the Gospels.

First, we aren’t given a lot of details about Jesus’ childhood and adolescent years. Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” This is the sum of the information we’re given about Jesus’ life between the ages of 12 and 30. Interestingly enough, this is the exact phrase used in 1 Samuel 2:26 to describe Samuel’s development while he served in the temple. It seems that Luke was trying to tell us something about Jesus’ education. It seems very likely that Jesus would have studied using the same methods as other Jewish children at the time.

The fact that Jesus was viewed as an average Jewish man prior to the beginning of His ministry is emphasized later in Luke 4. Jesus is at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, and is asked to read (a very common practice for a Jewish man at sysnagogue), and He reads from Isaiah 61. After reading, we are told Jesus

“rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ “

This outraged the people from His hometown. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. It seems to me that they had no reason to suspect Jesus was anything but a common working man prior to this.

So, even from this brief look at Scripture, we get a picture of Jesus that paints Him as fully human. This in no way denies He was fully divine, but it does enforce that Jesus was a real person in history, in Israel, and entrenched in Jewish society at the time. Jesus wasn’t born with all Scriptures in His head. He worked to memorize them. He studied, and he humbled himself to learn from other people.

When we think of how much God humbled himself to live on this planet, it is truly amazing. So let’s not fall prey to an old heresy that Jesus only looked human. Let’s embrace the mystery of the Incarnation in it’s full beauty.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2008 at 3:01 pm and is filed under Commentary, Editor, Emergent Church, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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8 Comments(+Add)

1   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
March 3rd, 2008 at 3:57 pm

They’re almost gnostic in the way they deal with Christ’s humanity.

2   Neil    
March 3rd, 2008 at 5:25 pm


Please elaborate.


3   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
March 3rd, 2008 at 5:37 pm

The gnostics had a dualist system in place in which everything was either spiritual or material. Material = bad, spiritual = good, and never the twain shall meet. Christ as the God-man was explained in a number of ways that separated him from the material world.

While, obviously, the ODMs don’t go that far, their reviling of Christ’s humanity is somewhat reminiscent.

4   Christian P
March 3rd, 2008 at 7:11 pm

I concur with Tim.

5   iggy
March 3rd, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Actually all I get from reading is that Rob might be guilty of pushing John 15:15 a bit out of context.

Yet, as I talk to many of the ODM’s it seems they have a very high standard for everyone else but (as in the case of Pastorboy) when cornered to add clarity they seem to bristle at being corrected or asked to clarify their own position.

It is fine to attribute motives like hate to me for asking to clarify their “squishy” theology, but not hate if they demand others to give an answer that they like… man their ears must itch or something.

To me Jesus was taught by man and God as Luke 2:52 states;

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

I doubt Rob Bell believes Jesus was JUST taught by humans and denies that Jesus was also taught by the Father.

It appears that Jesus was impressive in how fast He learned to humans.

Now, as far as this seeming that the ODM’s have an aversion to Jesus being fully human as well as fully God, I seem to see it also as they seem to think that to acknowledge Jesus’ humanity denies His deity. Yet, to deny Jesus humanity denies the incarnation and leads us straight to Gnostic Dualism and was directly confront by John in 1 John 4:

2. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3. but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

So though I see a grave danger in losing sight of Jesus divinity there is not as much waring against denying His coming in the flesh.

At least I see not warning of this…

Again, I am not promoting Jesus was not God, just that the importance is more on His humanity.


6   TimB
March 4th, 2008 at 1:31 am

When I was a kid I had a hard time wrapping my head around the humanity of Jesus. I thought he glowed and floated a few inches above the ground.

7   Neil    
March 4th, 2008 at 6:20 am


Sometimes I try to imagine what what life would have been like had Jesus had a glowing head. Several years ago a local Christian radio station aired a dramatized reading of the Gospels – dramatized in the sense that it was read like a script with different readers taking on the various roles… whenever Jesus said anything he sounded like he was on an echo chamber with the reverb set on high. That only added to my imagining…

Whatever happened to Pastorboy?


8   iggy
March 4th, 2008 at 8:08 am

Pastorboy is busy checking for clarity on his theology as i have been grilling him over it.