In Part One, I introduced the implausible situation that Jesus lived from His infancy with full divine awareness. I presented one argument that the New Testament presents Jesus as functioning with a human mind. This claim has been affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon (451) in opposition to some teachers such as Apollinaris, who denied that Jesus possessed a human mind and will. An incarnation involving two minds is complicated, but such is the historic teaching of the church.
My second argument is that for the Incarnation to work for salvation, Jesus must be consubstantial with humanity, which includes a created human mind. Being the second Adam, Jesus is the new root and head of the new humanity that is created from Him by resurrection. Were He to lack a human mind, then so would we. One feature of His solidarity with us is obeying in our place for righteousness so that we may be justified in Him (Rom 5:12-21; 10:4; 1 Cor 1:30). The emphasis on His human obedience shows in Phil 2:8 and Heb 5:8-10.
Another feature of His solidarity with us is enduring temptation to sin. Briefly, it seems difficult to me to imagine how Jesus could be truly tempted “in all ways as we are” (Heb 4:15) were He functioning continually with divine omniscience about His impeccability (see my book Tempted for Us for more on this). Temptation for a God-man seems more reasonable if we can see that He lived within the limits of a true human mind, and lacking the omniscient certainty at all moments regarding His inability as God the Son to commit sin. Gaps in knowledge (“I’m not certain that I can’t sin”) seem to support the reality of His many temptations as a true man. Perhaps the Holy Spirit could have been active to form those gaps or clouds of uncertainty in Jesus’ mind about Jesus’ inability to sin.
Thomas V. Morris, in The Logic of God Incarnate, has used the locked-room model to helpfully explain this situation for Jesus. Consider that you are told to wait in a room for three hours with the door shut, and you will receive a reward of $300. You would like to leave the room before the time is up because you have an appointment, or you are hungry, but you choose to wait it out for the cash. When the time comes, you speedily depart and collect your prize. The next day, you are told that once the door shut at the beginning of the three hours, it locked from the outside. Your departure was impossible, but you did not know this. Similarly, Jesus could not sin (being God), but as a man He did not know this. For you and for Jesus, the situation as you understood it was sufficient for a temptation struggle between two choices.
Finally, Jesus is the model for our daily life. To be a reasonable model of godly living as a human being, Jesus would need to be consubstantial with us, which requires a true human mind, such as we have it (and not otherwise, living by a divine omniscience).
The point is that the New Testament seems to speak clearly that the Son of God took up a true human mind as part of His Incarnation, and there are good theological reasons for doing so.
Now the explanation for Jesus’ two minds. In The Logic of God Incarnate, Morris helpfully proposed that we could think about Jesus living with two minds in a unified incarnate experience. One problem with the model is the appearance of a Nestorian division of the two natures. It seems strange to us to consider living with two minds; we cannot imagine it. Morris counters that we can imagine it by analogy, and then he proposes a way to unify the Son of God’s experience of two lives, with two minds.
Morris reminds us that we all experience dual consciousness, two levels of consciousness, in dreams. It may be that a person is dreaming, and simultaneously becomes aware of the dream so that he both knows he is the dreamer and knows he is living within his dream. Sometimes we have the dream so real that we don’t know we are dreaming until we wake up (with relief!). Also, bilingualism can be a dual cognitive experience in which a person can know and express things in one language but faces constraints in the other language, such as the inability to tell a joke or express deepest emotions. For Jesus, we’re thinking of the Son of God living two ways simultaneously.
Against the charge that the full duality of being human and divine is a separation of the two natures, Morris offers that there could be an asymmetrical accessing relation between Jesus’ two minds. His divine mind has access to His human mind, as if containing it, but He does not have access from His human mind to His divine mind. The unity is the person who possesses both, and the duality is preserved in that in His humanity He does not know things beyond the limits of that human existence. The divine Son is constrained by His human existence, mind included.
So what about His special knowledge of others’ thoughts, His divine identity, and revelation from God? We can guess that there was occasional access from His human mind to His divine consciousness, as suited the needs of His mission. Or, a better guess is that the Holy Spirit provided these details in His human mind. In this second explanation we have continuity of Jesus’ true humanity “in all ways as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15), and continuity of Jesus’ experience with the prophets, the apostles, and Christian experience—the Holy Spirit reveals things as we need.
With this explanation, I think we have a reasonable way to think about Jesus being one person while He possesses two natures simultaneously. The heavy involvement of the Holy Spirit makes sense as necessary for His miracles, special knowledge, and guidance (even as for us). We need not look to any event before the cross as a marker of Jesus’ deity that also discounts Him from being a true man. In this way, through a true human mind, and without giving up His divine mind, He leads us and models the same human mindset and proper uses of mind in submission to God that we are called to follow. In some sense, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16), and may live by adopting His attitudes (Phil 2:5). They are truly human, and such did He take on for us.