Yesterday, a student came up to me and wanted to talk about the nature of Jesus. He’s a staunch Roman Catholic, and if the Pope said it, he believes it. He’s also a seventh grader.
Mike: Did Jesus have a kid?
Me: What level of proof do you want?
Me: Well, what level of truth? What the pope says?
Mike: yes, that’s exactly right.
Me: No. Jesus didn’t have a kid.
Mike: OK, good.
Me: What about proof in a court of law?
Mike: (staring) you can do that?
Mike: have different levels of truth.
Me: Quite probably. See, in a court of law, you could argue that Jesus didn’t have kids. But you couldn’t PROVE it. You couldn’t prove he did have kids either. The judge and the jury wouldn’t be able to separate religious doctrine from provable fact, one way or the other.
Mike: Well, he couldn’t have had kids. He was God, he wasn’t like us.
Me: See, Mike — That’s just where you run into trouble. He was like us. That’s why we say the Nicene Creed in church.
Mike: The What?
Me: The thing that goes: I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…. that thing?
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Me: Well it says in that, “I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God: god from god, light from light, true god from true god, begotten not made of one being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and our salvation, he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
Me: Well, in 325 AD, all these church leaders got together, and decided that’s what all Christians everywhere believed. And the popes accepted it, because everyone else accepted it. And that word incarnate is really important. The Latin word for meat is ‘carne’. So Incarnate means — “became meat”. Jesus is God, yes, but he’s also meat. He’s flesh, just like you or me.
Me: So… you and I can both help women have kids. We’re men — our bodies function that way. That phrase “incarnate from the Virgin Mary” means that Jesus was a man. His body wasn’t some weird costume he wore when walking around — he really was exactly like us. So he might have had kids. The pope says he didn’t, and I know that’s your standard of proof. But the pope also says you have to believe that he’s flesh, and God, at the same time — and that means he could have had kids.
Mike: OK, that makes sense. I see what you mean.
He scampered off in a hurry. I love discussing Nicaean theology before lunch.