Christ’s Socratic Method

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  April 27, 2022   

Jesus was not ignorant

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So-called Scripture scholars claim Christ asked questions in order to learn information. As "proof," they point to His asking questions in the Temple. Verily, Luke 2:46–47 recounts that Christ was "in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions." Such scholars leave out the next part: "And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and his answers."

Some cite Luke 2:52, which says Jesus "increased in wisdom." But the likes of Pope St. Gregory the Great, a Father and Doctor of the Church, explained (in the sixth century), "This is said because He chose to manifest increasing signs of wisdom as He increased in years."

From eternity, Christ was a single Divine Person. He didn't stop being that all-knowing Divine Person when He assumed a human nature 2,000 years ago. To claim the single Divine Person of Christ (though incarnate) asked questions to learn would split Him into two persons — one Who is omniscient and one Who knows less than the scribes and Pharisees. To claim Christ is two persons is to commit the fifth-century heresy of Nestorianism.

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It is OK, however, to ask, "What did Christ, in His human nature, know?" But this has already been answered by saints who showed that even Christ's human nature had beatific and infused knowledge. And the single person Who is Christ has knowledge accruing from both His all-knowing divine nature and from His ultra-informed human nature.

Another question-and-answer moment in Luke 5:22, however, clarifies that Jesus is the all-knowing teacher and not an unknowing student: "And when Jesus knew their thoughts, answering, He said to them: 'What is it you think in your hearts?'"

 Christ's human nature had beatific and infused knowledge.

Finally, those who opine that Jesus asked questions to learn are at odds with the belief of Christ's disciples, as John 16:30 makes clear: "Now we know that Thou knowest all things, and Thou needest not that any man should ask Thee. By this, we believe that Thou camest forth from God."

To learn more about the Catholic faith, check out Church Militant's Catholicism series. 

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