Has Jesus’ science some limits? Did Jesus know everything?

Among  the propositions of the modernist heresy condemned by pope Saint Pius X in  “Lamentabili[10]”, we find the following false ones:

Nº.32: “ It is impossible to match the natural sense of the evangelical texts with those   taught by our theologians about Jesus Christ’s infallible conscience and science” and  Nº 34:  “ The critic cannot assert  that Jesus’ science is somehow limited, were it not for….”

So the Pope asserts that Jesus Christ’s consciousness and science are infallible (excluding any error) and that the science of Jesus Christ was limitless.

This is a natural consequence of being truly God and truly man. As true God, He knew and knows everything. To remind that he is truly God we read the following passage of Saint John’s Gospel:“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made”(S. John 1, 1-3).  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. And we saw his glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”(S. John 1, 14) and later:“No one has at any time seen God. The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has revealed Him”(S-John 1, 18)

The Word was God and the Word was made flesh (was made man). The “only-begotten” God (Jesus Christ, Word made man, the only “engendered” and not created) made us know God. The expressions “only-begotten God” and “only-begotten from the Father”  mean that Jesus is not merely a son else of the Father but his only Son: only begotten: only engendered. And being God, engendered by God Father from all eternity.

Theologians preach that Jesus Christ being truly God and truly man, Jesus’ person is divine, the higher value (to be God) includes and surpasses the lesser value (to be man). A person who is God forcibly knows everything, has a limitless science and an infallible consciousness.

We have evidence in the Gospels that Jesus infiltrated men’s consciousnesses, that he knew about acts that took place far from where he was, that he foresaw events in the future, a.s.o.: As a sample, we can mention the following passages of the Gospels:

When he meets his future apostle, Nathaniel (Bartholomew): “Nathaniel said to him,“Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee”. Nathaniel answered him and said,“Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel”.(Saint John 1, 48-49)

As for the knowledge of man’s inners,  Saint John (Saint John 2, 24-25) narrates“But Jesus did not trust himself to them in that he knew all them and because he had no need that anyone should bear witness concerning man, for he himself  knew what was in man”.

He also predicted what would happen (Saint John 2, 19,22): “In answer, Jesus said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. The Jews therefore said, “Forty six years has been this temple in building and will thou raise it up in three days?” “But he was speaking of the temple of his body. When accordingly he had risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that had said this and they believed the Scriptures and the word that Jesus had spoken”.

Many other passages of the Gospels show his supernatural cognition: when he knows Lazarus  has died,  when he reads the Samaritan’s mind and tells her she is living with someone not her husband, when he heals far away from the sick person, when he knows Judas will betray him, when he predicts “he will be raised up” (on the cross), when he praises Mary Magdalene for having spread out perfumes on his feet and he says “he has been anointed for the grave” predicting that he will soon die, and so on.

But Jesus, besides a true God is also a true man and, as well as he opened Himself to suffering and to feel warm or cold, he wanted to be equal to us, except in sin, so that he also learned as man what he already knew as God, by living the experience of learning with effort. Christ’s soul, besides a limitless, inspired knowledge, had also an acquired or experimental  science[11];  so the Gospel (Lc 2, 52) tells us:“And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.”Jesus, who could do everything, wanted to work like everybody and so, he was a carpenter and wanted to suffer and die as every man and wanted to acquire human science experimentally, he who knew everything: Here we have the mystery of God effacing Himself through the act of becoming man.

Those who do not accept the limitless knowledge of Jesus (Arianism and other heresies of the past and modernists of today) mention the passage of Mc 13,32, where it is said that just the Father knows the day of the Last Judgment:“But of that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only”. It is a matter of fact that if Jesus is God, he knows everything, therefore he is saying that he doesn’t know  the date by acquired science or that he doesn’t know it to reveal it to men (such was the opinion of the Saint Fathers of old times)[12]. Saint Gregory says that Christ knew the day of the Last Judgement in his human nature because of his innermost union to the Word but that he hadn’t such knowledge through his human nature (Saint Gregory Magnus, Denz.248).

On the other hand, modernism and liberal protestant Theology preach that Christ incurred in error, because He considered the end of the world and His new coming as a near event. 24,34):“Amen. I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things have been accomplished”. But, before, Jesus has spoken about the downfall of Jerusalem and, perhaps, we can understand He is predicting that downfall, as it happened.

On the other hand, it is clear in the Gospels that, after Jerusalem’s destruction (prophesied by Jesus Christ), the world will continue at least until Jerusalem is inhabited again by the Jews (Lc 21,24). “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led away as captives to all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the time of the nations be fulfilled”. And he also predicts that the gospels will be preached to all the nations (Mt. 24, 14):“And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations, and then will come the end”.  

Therefore, if we consider the conditions of communication and transportation in those times and that, without extraordinary ways, the preaching of the gospels to all the world had to last a long time, with such words, Jesus is announcing that it would take quite long until the end of the world occurs.

On the other hand, even if we literally interpret the sentence that says: “this generation will not pass away” before Jesus comes back, we must also think that the death that everyone must endure, represents a second coming of Jesus Christ to each particular man, followed by the personal judgement, as different as the definitive coming back of Jesus for the whole Humanity, followed by the Last Judgement. Therefore, we can say that, from the times of Jesus Christ on, until the end of the world, the coming back of Jesus, personally, is something imminent for each generation and for each man.

Clarifying on the subject is what the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in the IV. Section:- “The way how the Son of God is man” (Nb 470-474): “The soul and  Jesus Christ’s human knowledge”:

470.- As in the mysterious union of the Incarnation “the human nature has been assumed not absorbed” (GS 22, 2). With the running of the centuries, the Church has even admitted the full reality of the human soul (with its faculties of understanding and will) and the human body of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, she has been forced every time to remind us that the human nature of Christ belongs properly to the divine person of the Son of God, who has assumed it. Everything that is in it or acts in it belongs to “one of the Trinity”. The Son of God, therefore, transfers to his humanity his own personal way to exist in the Trinity. Thus, in his soul as well as in his body, Christ conveys in a human way the divine customs of the Trinity (cf Jn 14, 9-19).

472.-This human soul, that the Son of God assumed, is endowed with a real human knowledge. As such, this knowledge couldn’t be in itself limitless and worked under the historical  conditions of its existence in space and time. That’s why the Son of God, when He became man, wanted to advance in wisdom, age and grace (Lc 2, 52) as well as to acquire everything that in the human condition is acquired in an experimental way (cf Mc 6, 38; 8,27; Jn 11, 34). That corresponded to His wish to reduce Himself  “to the condition of a slave” (Flp 2,7).

473.-But, at the same time, this really human knowledge of the Son of God conveyed the divine life of His person (cf. Saint Gregory Magnus, ep. 10, 39: DS 475). “The human nature of the Son of God, not by itself but by his union to the Word, knew and expressed all that is suitable for God (S. Maxim the Confessor, qu.. Dub. 66). This happens mainly in what concerns the innermost and immediate knowledge that the Son of God,. made man, has about his Father (Cf. Mc 14, 36; Mt 11,27; Jn 1,18; 8,55). The Son, through his human knowledge, also demonstrated the divine insight he had of the secret thoughts  of men’s hearts (cf. Mc 2, 8; Jn 2, 25; 6, 61).

474.- Due to its union with the divine Wisdom in the person of the incarnated Word,  the human knowledge of Christ enjoyed the science of the eternal purposes He had come to reveal (cf. Mc 8,31; 9,31; 10, 33-34; 14, 18-20.26-30). What, in some passages, He recognizes to ignore in this field, is, in other passages, what He has not the mission to reveal (cf. Acts 1,7)

To conclude with this section and in order to verify that the gospels assert that the divine person of Jesus knew everything, let us mention this passage of the fourth Gospel of Saint John:“A third time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, doest thou love me?. Peter was grieved because he was asking him for the third time: “Doest thou love me?” And he said to him: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee”, (Saint John 21, 17), Let us confess together with Peter the omniscience of our Lord, by repeating to him with a faithful heart:”Lord, thou knowest all things”.

[10]Saint Pius X, “Decretum S,Officii “Lamentabili”, 3th July 1907,  nb 32-38 (Denzinger 3432-3438), specially Nb. 32 and Nb. 34 (Denz.3434)

[11]Ludwig  Ott, “Manual de Teología Dogmática”, Barcelona, 1986, Herder, Pgs. 266-268