Maybe you have heard of it.
The Kenosis Theory has to do with the nature of Jesus. Orthodox Christian doctrine states that Jesus was and is fully God and fully man. Kenosis theory states that in his incarnation, Jesus gave up some of his divine attributes, typically his omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. The theory was popular around the turn of the twentieth century, finding its beginnings at the beginning of the 19th century. This doctrine diminishes the deity of Christ and has been dismissed amongst Christians. Not everyone has gotten the memo.
Typically this issue is raised with passages like Mark 13:32: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Often the answer given is the Kenosis theory. Basically the Kenosis theory answer goes like this: Jesus laid aside his omniscience when he took on humanity and this is why he “doesn’t know.”
Now the word kenosis comes from the Greek word “kenoo“, which means “to empty.” It is used in Philippians 2 and based upon a bad interpretation of this passage, people have concluded that Paul is referring to the nature of Christ in this passage. He is not.
Now, I have heard one popular pastor/radio personality consistently and regularly use Kenosis Theory to answer this particular question. I have written two letters to him in the past (and received no reply), and will write him another with regard to this particular instance. But since he is so prominent (especially in my region of the country) and is on the radio here (one of the few options for Christian radio in our region) I am going public in this blog in pointing out that Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel) holds to the Kenosis theory. Some have called kenosis theory a heresy. In fact in an unfortunate juxtoposition of questions and answers, Chuck Smith referred his listeners to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) to get information about Christadelphians in one call, then referred to Kenosis Theory in the next. CARM categorizes Kenosis Theory as a heresy and a dangerous doctrine (Click here for article on Kenosis at CARM).
I don’t know who Chuck listens to, obviously it isn’t me – but it needs to be pointed out to him. This is not a small error, it has to do with the nature of Christ. Years ago, Benny Hinn described God has being three trinities. Each person of the trinity is himself a trinity, there are nine of them.
Who disciplines these guys when they speak and teach things contrary to Christian doctrine? That is an important discussion that needs to happen in the church.