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Theology: Two Natures

June 5, 2011

For some reason, some Christians say that the concept of “two natures” is more understandable than other Christian doctrines, because it is also similar to many other philosophies that people invoke everyday to explain why they don’t always do the things they believe they should do. This is, though, the greatest weakness in the doctrine.

This probably won’t be a very long post, because my thoughts about this are easily explained. First, though, I will have to define some things. I need to explain what the “two natures” doctrine is: Christians teach that at the New Birth, the regenerated believer receives “the mind of Christ,” a renewed spirit that is connected to the Spirit of Christ. Some Christians, and I’ll admit I’m not sure if this is the vast majority of them, as I assume, also say that the regenerated person still retains his or her previous nature of sinfulness and disobedience to God. These natures conflict, because they give contrary desires to the individual.

This is supposed to be easily understood, because people have conflicting desires about many things. We know we need to get up and get to work; we feel like staying in bed. We know we need to eat healthy; we feel like ordering fast food. This is very similar to the classic distinction between “needs” and “wants”: sometimes we do or buy things that our rational nature (no pun intended) knows will not be beneficial. (Now I would say that everything is needed for certain desires; therefore all “wants” are “needs.” It’s the desires behind the needs that are the unneeded. However, that’s kind of irrelevant semantics.)

One could expect that a spiritual reality would be distinct from the metaphors that are used to help people understand it. This doesn’t seem to be the case with this teaching. It never seems that this doctrine is ever described as being anything more than the conflicting desires everyone may receive about anything. No one would go so far as too say he or she had too appetites, one for healthy food and one for unhealthy food, though.

Maybe I can’t say that this doctrine is any less proven or more easily disproved than other Christian doctrines, because unprovable things that can’t experienced are standard fare for Christianity. However, it shouldn’t be claimed that the “two natures” teaching is more understandable or concrete.

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