According to the Council of Chalcedon in C.E. 451, the incarnate person of Christ had two natures, one divine and one human. The Council did not specify how these natures were united (yet distinct) in the same person, but theologians have since offered their own speculative proposals. One recent proposal, by William Lane Craig, uses depth psychology to argue that the incarnation is a coherent doctrine.
Craig argues that because Christ was one person, he could only have had one mind. But how can the divine and human natures of Christ function together in one mind? Craig’s answer is thatthe divine aspects of that mind functioned subliminally and were therefore absent from Christ’s conscious awareness.
Craig uses analogies from depth psychology to argue for the coherence of this proposal. Through hypnosis, for example, a person can be made oblivious to a table that is in front of their eyes. Yet, when the hypnotized person is told to exit the room, that person will walk around the table, rather than bump into it, in order to make their way out. One might ask, “Is such a person aware or unaware of the table?” Craig would reply, “Both!” But how can this be?
The hypnosis example suggests that the human mind is a complex, multi-layered system in which knowledge (in this case, subliminally) and ignorance (consciously) can be experienced on various levels in the same person. The important point is that these levels of awareness can remain distinct from each other without compromising the unity of a person’s mental life.
Similarly, Craig thinks it is possible that Christ’s mind was both omniscient and ignorant in a way similar to one’s being aware and not aware of a table. Because the divine aspects of Christ’s mind played only a subliminal role in his mental life, Christ truly experienced uncertainty and ignorance.
Now, let’s assume for the sake of argument that Craig’s proposal renders the doctrine of the incarnation coherent. What, then, are its implications for the correctness of Christ’s conscious beliefs? Perhaps Christ did not hold any false beliefs because he was perfect. Another possibility is that Christ was perfect in character, but was still subject to epistemic errors, ignorance, and human vulnerabilities. For example, he hammered his thumbs while learning carpentry; he mistakenly believed (like his contemporaries) that the earth was flat and that mustard seeds were the smallest seeds in the world (Matt 13:31-32); he did not know the time of his return (Matt 24:36), he grew in maturity through suffering (Heb 5:8), and he had to fight against internal and external pressures to maintain purity of character (Heb 4:15). On this latter view, a divine Jesus can have false beliefs because those beliefs (1) do not issue from culpable negligence or defects of character on his part, and (2) are incidental to his teachings.
But let’s press this chain of reasoning a bit further. Could a divine Jesus have had false theological beliefs? What if they were incidental to his teachings, and did not issue from any character defects or culpable omissions, vis-à-vis (1) and (2) above? Does his divinity require that all of his theological beliefs be true?
These are important questions, which I take up in my next post.
 Craig, William Lane. (2009) “The Coherence of the Incarnation.” Retrieved on February 16th, 2013, from: http://dergiler.ankara.edu.tr/dergiler/37/1146/13444.pdf
 By saying that the divine influence in Christ’s mind was subliminal, Craig is not asserting that Christ was consciously unaware of his own divinity. Quite plausibly, Christ’s conscious belief in his own divinity may have grown and developed over time, perhaps through his own prayerful reflection on the Hebrew Scriptures.