Seventh-day Adventist Theology - Trinitarian Development, Christology and Pneumatology - The Human Nature of Jesus Christ

The Human Nature of Jesus Christ

Since the middle of the 20th century, there has been ongoing debate within Adventism concerning whether Jesus Christ took on a fallen or an unfallen nature in the Incarnation which was precipitated by the publication of Questions on Doctrine in 1957, which some claim advocated the latter interpretation, while others see the quotes given, such as, Jesus took "man's nature in its fallen condition" or "our fallen nature" and claim it is the former. Adventist doctrine is that He took "man's nature in its fallen condition," but yet "Christ did not in the least participate in its sin", which shows Christ with post fall humanity but a sinlessness of Adam before the fall

The debate revolves around the interpretation of several biblical texts:

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3 (ESV)
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
"...concerning his Son (Jesus), who was descended from David according to the flesh..." Romans 1:3 (ESV)
"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17 NKJV

According to Adventist historian George Knight, most early Adventists (until 1950) believed that Jesus Christ was born with a human nature that was not only physically frail and subject to temptation, but that he also had sinful inclinations and desires. Since 1950, only the "historic" wing of the church holds this view of Christ's human nature.

Mainstream Adventists since 1950 believe that Jesus was beset with all of the weaknesses and frailties that ordinary humans experience, such as sickness and hunger. However, He did not have the propensity to sin. Christ could be tested by temptation, but did not have our ungodly desires or sinful inclinations. Ellen White states "The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what a God could do, but what a man could do, through faith in God’s power to help in every emergency. Man is, through faith, to be a partaker in the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset."

The controversy within Adventism over Christ’s human nature is linked to the debate over whether it is possible for a "last generation" of Christian believers to achieve a state of sinless perfection. These matters were discussed at the Questions on Doctrine 50th Anniversary Conference. Both points of view are currently represented at the Biblical Research Institute.

According to Woodrow W. Whidden II (himself a supporter of the "unfallen" position), proponents of the view that Christ possessed a "fallen" nature include M. L. Andreasen, Joe Crews, Herbert Douglass, Robert J. Wieland, Thomas Davis, C. Mervyn Maxwell, Dennis Priebe, Bobby Gordon and Ralph Larson. Proponents of the view that Christ's nature was "unfallen" include Edward Heppenstall, Hans K. LaRondelle, Raoul Dederen, Norman Gulley, R. A. Anderson, Leroy E. Froom and W. E. Read.

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