Monday, January 26, 2009

Response to Jay Dyer on Calvinism (Part 2 of 13)

This is part 2 of the thirteen part series in response to Jay Dyer. The previous part may be found here (link).

Jay Dyer says:
1) "[A consistent Calvinist must be] Nestorian, in that the Logos cannot assume a fallen human nature."

I answer:

a) The Calvinist Position (whether right doctrine or error let Scripture decide)

Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). Christ, however, (and only Christ) was immaculately conceived. He was like the sinful flesh of Mary from whom he (after the flesh) came, but his flesh was not itself sinful. He was a true human, but he was the second Adam. He was not under Adam's federal headship and he did not inherit Adam's fallen and depraved nature. This is, of course, not only the Calvinist position but also the position of at least most of the major early church fathers who addressed the subject.

b) The Accusation Disputed

The Nestorian error is (to put it concisely) to deny the hypostatic union. Nestorianism, as it is classically defined, argues that Christ was not one person with two natures, but two persons. The existence of the hypostatic union is critical to the Calvinistic view of the atonement. The fact that the person of Christ was of infinite dignity on account of His divine nature makes the atonement of infinite intrinsic worth. The fact that the person of Christ had a truly human nature made the atoning death of Christ possible, as well as making the form of the sacrifice (death of man) a proper suffering of the penalty due. Without one or the other, the atonement would be impossible. Consequently, it would be impossible for a consistent Calvinist to embrace Nestorianism.

Furthermore, this alleged Nestorian error has been disputed. As A.A. Hodge explains in his Outlines of Theology:

The Nestorian heresy charged upon Nestorius, a Syrian by birth, and bishop of Constantinople, during the fifth century, by his enemy, Cyril, the arrogant bishop of Alexandria. Cyril obtained a judgment against Nestorius in the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431, to the effect that he separated the two natures of Christ so far as to teach the coexistence in him of two distinct persons, a God and a man, intimately united. But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.


c) The Accusation Redirected

The Nestorians (those associated with the historical Nestorius) never went away, and (ironically) Rome now accepts the Nestorian communion under certain qualified circumstances (link), which (as the linked document cautions) should not be confused with the idea there is full communion between them.

On the other hand, Rome has proven Nestorius' apparent concerns over the term "theotokos" (literally "God-bearer" but often translated "mother of God") to be well founded. In the years since "theotokos" became accepted terminology, Mary grew to have an increasing role in the worship of Rome, until today we have apologists for Catholicism insisting that devotion to Mary is a mandatory part of religious life. Now, an official document from the Vatican from the 1970's states: "With his mind raised to heaven ... the priest should very often turn to Mary, the Mother of God, ... and daily ask her for the grace of conforming himself to her Son." (source) If Nestorius were still around today, he'd feel vindicated in opposing the term "theotokos" on the ground that it can lead to what amounts to Mary-worship (though modern Catholicism is careful not to call this sort of veneration of Mary "worship").

Continue to Part 3

-TurretinFan

8 comments:

natamllc said...

This quote stands in stark contrast to the Lord's Words:::>

the quote:::> "....Now, an official document from the Vatican from the 1970's states: "With his mind raised to heaven ... the priest should very often turn to Mary, the Mother of God, ... and daily ask her for the grace of conforming himself to her Son."

The Lord's Words which seem to moot the quote:::>

Joh 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
Joh 19:27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

It can be assumed that Joseph, Mary's husband is dead by this time in history, [by the way, it was this Joseph who "named" Jesus Jesus by direction of the Angel] and the means whereby Mary is to be cared for in her old age is passed to John. I would say that official document to priests, of the 1970's, equally got it wrong when you consider what Jesus was instructing John to do whereby it was given to him to care for Mary until her passing.

In any event, to pray to one human passed on, whether male or female, is forbidden in Scripture with the exception of Christ seeing He is God and He Himself said this when rebuking Satan:::>

Mat 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

As you can see, if Jesus wanted us to do as the RCC seems we should do with regard to Mary, wouldn't Jesus have included that piety when He rebuked the devil or at least made a point of such pious behavior during His public Ministry before being put to death at the hands of ungodly men?

I will gladly pray to and serve Christ. Mary, well I will gladly read about her in Scripture going no further than that.

Nick said...

First off, I don't want to answer for Jay, I'll let him respond as he sees fit.

That said, I would actually object to what you said, at least the way it is phrased right now.

The two issues I have, which hopefully you could clarify:

1)What do you mean by "He was LIKE the sinful flesh of Mary"?
This seems to imply he was not a human. But I'm not accusing you of anything, I'm just saying this could be phrased differently or clarified.

2)You also said: "but his flesh was not itself sinful"
Does this imply OUR flesh IS itself sinful? I would strongly object to such a notion.

Turretinfan said...

Nick,

I was referring to this verse:

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

And to Patristic views such as this:

Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe (c. A.D. 467-532): For the flesh of Mary, which had been conceived in iniquities in the usual manner, was the flesh of sin which begot the Son of God in the likeness of the flesh of sin... .

Augustine, bishop of Hippo (c. A.D. 354-430): Let us hold fast, then, the confession of this faith, without filtering or failure. One alone is there who was born without sin, in the likeness of sinful flesh, who lived without sin amid the sins of others, and who died without sin on account of our sins. “Let us turn neither to the right hand nor to the left.” For to turn to the right hand is to deceive oneself, by saying that we are without sin; and to turn to the left is to surrender oneself to one’s sins with a sort of impunity, in I know not how perverse and depraved a recklessness. “God indeed knoweth the ways on the right hand,” even He who alone is without sin, and is able to blot out our sins; “but the ways on the left hand are perverse.”

As I said in the post itself "He was a true human ... ."

-TurretinFan

Sean Gerety said...

You wrote that "the hypostatic union is critical to the Calvinistic view of the atonement. The fact that the person of Christ was of infinite dignity on account of His divine nature makes the atonement of infinite intrinsic worth. The fact that the person of Christ had a truly human nature made the atoning death of Christ possible, as well as making the form of the sacrifice (death of man) a proper suffering of the penalty due."

Just curious, since the 2nd person of the Trinity cannot die, who died on the cross, a person or a nature? Also, why wouldn't it be possible to have a two-person theory without denying that Christ was both a fully divine and a human person? After all, as a boy Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40) and there are things, like the date of his return, that he didn't know (Mark 13:32) -- just two things for the divine 2nd Person.

I ask because you commented on my blog concerning Gordon Clark and probably know that Clark had a two-person theory of Incarnation that, I believe, successfully navigates around the errors of Nestorianism, not least of which Nestorius' failure to define "person." Also, if I'm not mistaken, the attack on Nestorius was in large part political stemming from his refusal to identify Mary as the "Mother of God." Sounds good to me. Anyway, interesting post and challenge you were given, even if we must tread lightly. :)

Turretinfan said...

Definition of terms is very important. Leaving Clark's discussion aside, if Christ were simply a human person into whom a divine person entered (the error attributed to Nestorius), that human person would not have the intrinsic dignity necessary to redeem a whole race of fallen men.

That's the very short answer to part of your question. The other part of your question related to whether a person or nature died. Christ's death was personal, but death is not something that was communicated to his divine nature, at least because it is (a) a matter of mutability but the divine nature is immutable and (b) a matter intimitately connected with bodily existence, and God is Spirit.

But, yes, the cross separated the Spirit of Christ from his body until the third day - it was a true human death.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

With regard to "His" body, here are some interesting verses:

Deu 21:22 "And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,
Deu 21:23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

By God's own admission, Christ had a "body" seeing His curse does remove mine and maybe yours?

Now that "His" body had a connection to "his" body, it is evident here:

Psa 132:11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: "One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.

The capstone for me is this one:

Mat 27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.
Mat 27:59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud
Mat 27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

He, My God, sent His Son to die on a cross, cursed so I could be "un"cursed, buried, rose again the third day, was seen of Angels and man, vindicated by the Spirit through whom He offered His "living" sacrifice that Salvation and washing may come to me that I might be saved and washed and justified to serve Him in His holiness and in His righteousness the rest of my days:::>

Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Oh the Word of God, the Word of God, so wonderful, so alive, so briming with Truth!

Luk 1:67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
Luk 1:68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
Luk 1:69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
Luk 1:70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
Luk 1:71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
Luk 1:72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
Luk 1:73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
Luk 1:74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
Luk 1:75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.


It certainly is true, He is True man, and True God! His name is:

God with us!

Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Heb 2:16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

And Paul's understanding here:::>

1Co 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
1Co 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

Sean Gerety said...

But, yes, the cross separated the Spirit of Christ from his body until the third day - it was a true human death.

Thanks for that candid answer.

I confess I have struggled with Clark's arguments in The Incarnation (which is built on his study of the Trinity where he rightly jettisons the idea of "substance"), particularly in light of Matthew 27:46: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" That sounds to me like the cry of a real and very human person -- not some impersonal nature(as some theologians have suggested). Yet, the alternatives are limited. FWIW I have even heard well meaning folks suggest that God died on the cross, to which I replied; So was God a bianity for the days of Jesus' entombment? Anyway, this is one of those areas where I think a serious re visitation is in order.

It's a shame Clark died when he did as The Incarnation was his last book and the concluding paragraphs were written by John Robbins (which alone is a gold mine). I really don't believe Chalcedon is the last word. That's why I thought the first part of your interlocutor's challenge was interesting; "[A consistent Calvinist must be] Nestorian...." Of course, as you demonstrated, his reasoning was wrong, but perhaps the two person theory has more merit than many suspect and are too afraid to consider.

That's why I particularly liked your quote from A.A. Hodge:

But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.

Food for thought. Thanks again.

A Concerned Puritan said...

Here are my two cents regarding Your poster-modification:

cent #1) It's very beautiful. :-)
cent #2) IDOLATER!!!