Original Class Date: 17 March 2013
What is Divided Christ Theology
Divided Christ Theology is a term adapted from what A.W. Tozer referred to as, “a notable heresy.” It’s the notion that a Christian can self-identify as a Christian and not conform to the Christian life or mind. Tozer described it as,
“The widely accepted notion that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need him as Savior and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!” -Tozer, 9-10
“The Scriptures do not teach that the person of Jesus Christ nor any of the important offices which God has given Him can be divided or ignored according to the whims of men.” -Tozer, 9
Jesus as Savior AND Lord
These two aspects of Jesus’ position in our lives should not, rather, cannot be mutually exclusive.
To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is a bad teaching for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the person of Christ!” -Tozer , 10-11
First, this false doctrine states that we understand our need for a savior and recognize Jesus as that savior. Second, we are willing to accept the gift, freely given by God, of salvation; however we fail to submit to His authority and leadership.
Jesus’ Divine Authority
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.‘” -Matthew 28:18
“I saw the nigh visions, and behold, with the clouds of Heaven came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingom one that shall not be destroyed.” -Daniel 7:13-14 [emphasis added]
If all authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, then our sin (anything that is not in line with the Lord’s commands) is nothing less than open rebellion against Him because the antithesis of obedience is disobedience. We are subject to Christ in the following ways:
- As created beings we are subject to (or, under the authority of) our Creator. We see this clearly in Genesis 2:15-17 when God creates man and places him in the garden. God gives the command that man can eat of any plant in the garden, save one and that if that command is not obeyed there will be consequences.
- Jesus was with God when creation occurred. In Genesis 1 we see the creation of the universe and everything in it. God speaks creation into existence. In other words, God’s Word has power and is authoritative. In John 1, the disciple being carried along by the Holy Spirit (who was also present with God before creation) speaks of the Word who was with God and who WAS God. This is the same word, John says, who came in flesh to dwell among humans to save us from everlasting death and to reconcile us to God as we were created to be. This is the gospel that we cherish.
- All authority in creation was given to Jesus. Refer back to Matthew 28:18 above.
- Therefore, everyone of us, whether we believe in Jesus as Lord or not are under his authority. Non-Christians really don’t like this, and will fight tooth and nail about it, but nevertheless, Jesus rules over all people, all nations, and all ages. We get glimpses of His power and authority in Revelation 19 and 20 when we see things like Jesus, the white rider wearing a white robe dipped in blood being called Faithful and True, with writing on his robe and a tattoo on his thigh that reads King of kings and Lord of lords (19:11-16); and Jesus sitting on the great White Throne where he casts the final verdict on the all of creation, not just those who believe in God and/or Jesus.
While considering this problem of the Divided Christ, I heard a sermon by Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. He did a good job of putting into words what I was thinking. The first problem is what he called, “A Truth Problem”. We may or may not believe we are sinners who need a savior and we are unsure if Jesus is that Savior, and if he is we are unsure of what God would have for us or may want from us.
The second problem is the “Obedience Problem”. It’s not that we don’t know we’re sinners or that Jesus is the Savior we need, and it’s not even being unsure of what God wants from us. It’s that we know exactly what God wants and we don’t want to do it. It’s as Søren Kierkegaard said,
“The matter is quite simple. The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.” -Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Tozer rightly says,
Salvation without obedience is a self-contradictory impossibility… The essence of sin is rebellion against Divine Authority.” -Tozer, 11
I would encourage all of you to be open and honest with God, with yourself, and with others. Where, in your life, have you failed to submit yourself to the commands that God has given, and the things He’s asked you to do? How have you tried to manipulate scripture to allow yourself to continue rebelling against God? What would God be calling you to do in response to this blog? Consider these questions not as a guilt, but to be sure you are not falling into this popular heresy, and to correct your doctrine if you have.
Sources: Kierkegaard, S. (2002). C. E. Moore (Ed.), Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Soren Kierkegaard. Farmington, PA: Plough Publishing Co. Tozer, A. W. (1974). I call it heresy . (pp. 9-17). Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc. Driscoll, M. (Pastor). (2010, March 25). The Beatitudes, Part 2 [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://marshill.com/media/luke/the-beatitudes-part-2