Saturday, December 05, 2009

Apollinarianism vs. Orthodoxy

One commenter on my blog requested an explanation of the difference between Apollinarianism and orthodoxy.

Apollinarianism is the view that Jesus had a true body and human soul, but not a rational human spirit/mind - instead he had (according to Apollinaris the younger) only a divine spirit/mind. In some ways this is similar to the monophysite position that alleged that Jesus had only one will, namely the divine will. By this, Apollinaris created a union that blended the human and divine natures. Thus, Apollinaris could speak of the crucifixion of the Logos and the worship of the flesh of Jesus, since there was only one nature of Jesus - a blended human/divine nature.

The Orthodox position is that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Thus, Jesus was one person who had both a true human nature and a divine nature. The proof of this doctrine, against the Apollinarian doctrine, can get somewhat nuanced. However, the basic argument might be summarized in this way: if the divine nature is changed in any way it is no longer the divine nature: similarly if the human nature is incomplete (such as by lacking a rational spirit/mind), then Jesus was not made in every way like us, yet without sin.

-TurretinFan

77 comments:

wtanksley said...

Warning: my keybard is malfunctining.

"In some ways this is similar to the monophysite position that alleged that Jesus had only one will, namely the divine will."

Not at all. Monothelitism said that Jesus had only one will; it was rejected in Third Council of Constantinople that was finally accepted by all the branches of the Church. My problem is that I dn't understand the cuncil's decisin at all. Isn't a will an attribute f a persn? Thus, if Christ had tw wills, wuldn't that make Him tw persns?

(I'm very srry abut my keybard!)

D yu knw any explanatins that can help this make sense t me? I tried t talk t an Eastern Orthodox guy abut it, but the gap's inseparable; they think Gd has nly 1 will. (Huh?)

William Lane Craig says it's nt bligatry, and I have sme respect fr him (aside frm his incredible ignrance f Calvinism); but it seems a rapid dismissal.

I'm writing because yur wrds seem t hint that yu may understand... Can yu explain?

-Wm

beowulf2k8 said...

Yet technically since the Logos is a rational spirit/mind, he does not lack a rational spirit/mind in Apollinarianism. That's why I can't really see the distinction between the two positions.

Coram Deo said...

TF - Did this controversy spawn the development of the concept of the hypostatic union?

Additionally in your opinion what implications, if any, does Apollinarianism have upon the concept of non posse peccare; the impeccability of Christ?

In Christ,
CD

Viisaus said...

Here Apollinarian Christ is cleverly compared to "Terminator":

http://www.westmont.edu/~work/classes/rs20/wrongway.html

Turretinfan said...

The link is interesting, though the remedies are not really celebrating the birth of Christ and respecting Mary. The remedy is searching the Scriptures.

Turretinfan said...

It's one of several disputes about the Incarnation. The expression "hypostatic union" comes earlier at least as early as Cyril of Alexandria.

Turretinfan said...

B2k8:

Jesus has both a rational human mind, and Jesus is the Divine Logos. He has a human mind and the Divine mind.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

wtanksley:

Apollinarianism was rejected at the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). The Eastern Orthodox do accept this council, so I don't know what guy you talked to.

It seems apparent that having a rational mind is part of the human nature.

The question of whether a person can have both a rational human mind and a divine mind is hard to answer simply on the basis of intuition, since the Incarnation itself is not intuitive.

natamllc said...

I am thinking of three places in the New Testament where we see each of Them, the Three in One saying that Christ was raised from the dead by Their power of the resurrection. God is the Resurrection and the Life.

God, Our Heavenly Father, the Scripture teaches, raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus Himself says of Himself that He lays His Life down and raises it up again. And the Holy Spirit, it is written of Him that He raises Jesus up from the power of Death.

For me, as an unlearned soul, I see now the necessity for Christ being both, the Son of God, fully and the Son of Adam, fully. It was the Son of Adam who died and was raised up from the dead.

It is the innocent Son of Man that was sinless at His earthly execution. So, if there wasn't a resurrection of His "Adamic" spirit, soul and body from the grave, His crucifixion would have been "justifiable".

Seeing an innocent and sinless "man" was executed, Jesus Christ, He was justly raised from the dead, by Our Heavenly Father, by Himself and by the Holy Spirit!

Without His resurrection, I would not and neither would any of you, for Whom He died, was buried and rose again, be able to pass through Him from death to Eternal Life by One Spirit.

As I pointed too in an earlier comment on another thread, [that may not have been published because of moderation], Satan came and tempted Jesus in the desert to get Jesus to reveal Himself to be the "Son of God" instead of Who He is for the Elect's Salvation, the Son of Adam while being tempted by the devil. Jesus remained in that station, as a man, to which He was born to be, a son of Adam for the purpose of becoming the Savior of His World and overcame everything, everything, everything in the world, in His flesh and by the devil who tempted Him to conquer Him and rule over His human, sinless Soul as he still tries to conquer and rule of our human soul. His own flesh, this world's lusts and the devil, could not overcome Him. The devil was defeated. The beast was defeated. The false prophet was defeated. Death was defeated. Hades was defeated. And everyone whose name is not found "written" in the book of Life remains blind, deaf and dumb to Our Savior and to Salvation.

They are not going into the lake of fire blind, deaf and dumb! No, no, everyone who will find themself in the lake of fire will know it for eternity! :(

Those appointed to Eternal Life, believes and are saved and will know it for eternity, too! :)

beowulf2k8 said...

Are you saying the orthodox position is that Jesus has two spirits? A purely human spirit and then the Logos also?

Christopher said...

Wtanksley,

The issue with these heresies are that they function with an Eastern view of anthropology.

Monothelitism is a form of Apollinarianism because if Christ did not have a human will, then His human MIND/ANIMATING PRINCIPLE was faulty. The will is similar to an "emanation" of the mind which is the faculty of the will. The mind is internal to the nature, the will comes from the nature but is not internal to it. Athanasius argues with Arius in this way: A man by COUNSEL (will) builds a house; a man by NATURE (essence) begets a son.

Technically the Coptic Church ("Monophysite") does believe He has two wills...they handle the theological issue differently.

As far as how the two natures work together, that's part of the mystery. The will does not come from the person, and this is where the Western/Catholic church REALLY screwed up with the conversation of free will (as well as created grace). The will is substantial, that is coming from the substance. God has a Divine substance, which all three Persons have...hence, there is ONE divine will. The differentiation in scholastic theology of multiple wills is just a theological construct, similar to talking of divine attributes even though God is simple. The human will is the same then...so technically, Adam and Eve had one human will since they both had the same human nature. When each did what they themselves wanted (autonomous will)...that brought about the fall. They had the ability to use their will contrary to their nature.

Constantinople III declared that Christ was a divine person with a human nature brought into His person. Therefore there is one person with two natures (human and divine). Each nature has an "energy" or driving force where the will comes from, therefore monothelitism is also related to the heresy of monoenergism. Thus, Christ has a "divine mind" and a human mind, and thus two wills.

Does this help, or is it still clear as mud? This theology comes from Maximus the Confessor, whose theology is RIDICULOUSLY difficult, especially since he waffled on his views regarding monothelitism/dithelitism as he wrote.

Chris

Christopher said...

correction: I should have said these heresies work "within the mindset" of Eastern anthropology...and "violate it."

wtanksley said...

Chris, that's phenomenally better! Thank you. Yes, I tried to parse some people's explanations of Maximus, but failed.

I don't understand, then, why the western churches approved this conciliar decision. It appears simply irrelevant given the different philosophical definitions of "will" in the two areas. And not just irrelevant, because if you fail to notice the different definitions, you can run into claiming that because Christ had two wills, He must have been two persons (this is inescapable using Western terms).

Is the implication here that Western theology took an objectively wrong turn? I'm not willing to accept that quite yet, but I'm willing to listen.

-Wm

Turretinfan said...

"Are you saying the orthodox position is that Jesus has two spirits? A purely human spirit and then the Logos also?"

He is not simply part of man, but a whole man. So, yes.

Christopher said...

wtanksley,

I'm not sure I would say that all Western theology took a wrong turn. That's a generalization that I think is not only too broad in potential condemnations, it is also not necessarily accurate. From my work on comparing the Lutheran and Orthodox views of humanity and the human will, they are quite similar. The issue comes in how the Lutherans speak of free will (we don't have any with things above us [salvation], while we do with things below us [everyday matter]) and how the Orthodox say it (we do have free will, but only with divine grace is this truly applicable to things "above us").

Both Lutherans and Orthodox see the will as operating fully only with divine grace (which is uncreated, against the Romanists) which is God Himself dwelling in us. The will for Lutherans seeks to love God through faith and this living faith which is a gift (though ALSO a virtue if you read Krauth) leads to us loving our neighbors as ourselves. For the Orthodox, the will is what operates in every day life, leading to prayer (love and speaking with God) and works of love and charity (for neighbor). The big issue for the Orthodox is unequal love.

To see how potentially similar they are, read Palamas' homily "On the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Most Holy Place II" and the Formula of Concord article on Free Will. Pay very close attention to how they speak of faith and how it works in those who are regenerate.

wtanksley said...

Christopher, sorry I asked the wrong question. I meant to ask whether you thought Western Theology had gone off the right track specifically when it abandoned what you refer to as "an Eastern view of anthropology" (actually, of course, this view was developed in the East, not really abandoned in the West). I ask because it seems clear that this conciliar decision doesn't seem to apply at all to Western categories. Does that mean the Western categories are (by implication) entirely invalid, or does it mean that the decree applies only to people who hold the Eastern categories?

I have, by the way, thought of a way to apply some part of the decision to Western Calvinistic Compatiblism... It's not perfect, and probably is a waste of time, depending on how I'm supposed to understand the decision.

-Wm

Turretinfan said...

Monothelitism was held by a Roman bishop (Honorius I) as well as by Eastern bishops. They were condemned by the 6th Ecumenical council, which was mostly Eastern bishops, though the council was (at least in part) also accepted in the West.

wtanksley said...

"Are you saying the orthodox position is that Jesus has two spirits? A purely human spirit and then the Logos also?"

Impossible -- John 1:14 says that the Logos became (egeneto) flesh. That means -- at least -- His kind, His idios, His properties became those of flesh.

The Logos took on flesh; He didn't merely join Himself to a separate-but-equal human spirit.

-Wm

Turretinfan said...

Separate but equal is not at issue. Christ is fully God and fully man. Having a human spirit is a very important part of being a man, if we didn't have that we'd be a corpse or a statue. So, Christ had both a human body and a human spirit. That is how he could suffer anguish in anticipation of the cross, as well as how he could weep at Lazarus' tomb.

wtanksley said...

Part of my confusion here, I think, is understanding what is meant by "spirit" here. Does a spirit include a will? A mind? Emotions? Or is the spirit the part that died in the Fall, and is enlivened when Christ regenerates us?

But even past that confusion: if the Logos was distinct from the humanity of Christ, not merely in nature but in being, how can His sufferings apply to us?

Turretinfan said...

The non-physical portion of man that lives on when he dies and his body decays is the spirit/soul of the man.

The physical and spiritual come together in a man's mind - how much is physical and how much spiritual is probably difficult to say with any precision.

I would agree that it is the spiritual that is reborn in regeneration.

"But even past that confusion: if the Logos was distinct from the humanity of Christ, not merely in nature but in being, how can His sufferings apply to us?"

His sufferings (and death) are applied to his people in the following way.

Christ offered himself up as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile to God those people whom the Father had given him.

The Father accepted the sacrifice of Christ for those for whom Christ offered it.

In that offer and acceptance there is a double-substitution: that can be expressed as our sins being imputed to him, and his righteousness being imputed to us.

He stood like Adam as a representative of his family. Unlike Adam, however, Jesus did not fall. He remained innocent, and yet underwent a death that he did not personally deserve instead of the life which his obedience to the law merited under covenant of works.

Thus, he received death in place of life, and we who trust in Him receive life in place of death.

-TurretinFan

wtanksley said...

Good summary (and it's good to read the gospel often!), but this definition of "spirit" doesn't help me understand how it's possible for Jesus to have two spirits.

The clearest contradiction I can see is that Jesus is one Person, not two; and a human person has its own spirit. Thus, if Jesus had two spirits, with one of them being the non-human Logos, then He was two persons as well, one human and one Divine. And that's just nonsense, and heresy as well.

No, the Logos took on humanity; He didn't take on (or merge with) a human.

For the second part: yes, that's clear. What I'm asking is how the dual-spirits argument can possibly work with the argument that Christ is our representative because He is like us (one of us), and yet able to represent perfectly because He is God (this argument is ancient). If He had two spirits, one was unlike us and one was not God -- neither one could represent us perfectly.

Christopher said...

wtanksley,

I think the Western church got off track when it accepted the Christological decisions of the later ecumenical councils without really understanding the theology (which was part of eastern thought since at least Athanasius).

In answer to your question of "spirit," think of spirit as "energy." Both God and humanity have an energy (this is how monothelitism is related to monoenergism). The divine energy is movement producing the will from the nature (though not as internal to it). The human soul does the same.

The human nature has two aspects, a physical quality (body) created from the dust which we share with all other animals. This is what experiences mortality and decay (death). The spirit is also called the "rational soul." The soul's lowest function is "human reason," but its highest function is to contemplate God and love Him through creation (this includes the neighbor). This however is now turned inwards because of the corruption inherited from our first parents (meaning the soul is also produced from the parents). Without divine grace, it cannot look to God. This is what Jesus had as well as a divine nature with a divine "spirit" or "soul." In fact, Luther rejected Hebrews as part of the canon because it referenced "the soul of God" (see his Lectures on Habbakuk).

I simply think it's inconsistent on the West's part that they don't accept or FOLLOW the eastern anthropology. The closest I think is the Lutherans, and this is most likely debatable. Luther in "Bondage of the Will" is thoroughly a monothelite, while in his Genesis lectures, he is not. Also, the Formula of Concord is not monothelite.

Does this help?

Chris

Turretinfan said...

There certainly are differences between the way that Eastern and Western thought developed - and the early councils were primarily Eastern (primarily dealing with heresies that arose there, and primarily attended by bishops from that area).

Whether one uses an explanation with respect to energies or essence, the fact remains that Christ was both fully God and fully man.

Let's note the options:

1. Christ had a human body and a divine spirit.

2. Christ had a human body, a human spirit, and a divine spirit.

3. Christ had a human body and a spirit that was a blending of the human and divine.

In the case of (1), Christ clearly is simply God inhabiting a human body. He's not fully man.

In the case of (2), we have the orthodox position.

In the case of (3), Christ is no longer either fully God or fully man, since his spirit is neither properly human or properly divine.

Does that make sense to you?

-TurretinFan

speigel said...

Can you explain how if Jesus was fully human having a human soul, then how is he also not a human person, which leads to Nestorianism? I'm curious about this.

Turretinfan said...

"Can you explain how if Jesus was fully human having a human soul, then how is he also not a human person, which leads to Nestorianism? I'm curious about this."

I'm curious too: can you explain to me why Nestorianism, as you understand it, is wrong aside from the fact that it was condemned? In other words, can explain the reason why it was condemned?

But to answer your question, Jesus is one person with two whole natures - fully God and fully man. Nestorianism is defined as Jesus being two persons, not one person.

-TurretinFan

Christopher said...

Nestorianism would claim that there were really two persons, namely the human person and the divine person. This would really involve a union of two entities which was neither substantial nor personal (though "personal" was used), that is, it is not "within" the substance, nor "within" the person. The relationship would be between two external figures, and therefore the only real union left would be one of will. This would make Jesus no different than any other Christian, simply a man whom God favored and who replied with a perfect will towards God. This also does not allow other Christians to be brought into the human nature of Jesus, and so salvation again is purely of the will, either of God (Gnosticism/fatalism) or of man (Pelagianism). This does not allow for both to work synergistically throughout the life of the Christian.

Thus, in order for salvation to be of grace and be given for all humanity (in other words, to REALLY undo the action of Adam and his action on all his offspring), the incarnation as understood is necessary. Nestorius' Christology is inherently adoptionistic and Pelagian (no real surprise that both Nestorius and Pelagius were condemned at Ephesus), denying both the grace of God and the sin of humanity.

This decision also was fed by the religious practices of the time, wherein the Virgin Mary was called "Mother of God" or "Theotokos" as a confession of who Jesus Christ was, namely, God incarnate (or the God-Man).

This decision assisted the Alexandrian school of thinking who emphasized the divine nature and person, an extreme form of which was Eutychianism. As a result, the Antiochian school (who emphasized the divine nature and sought to keep the two natures distinct) lost this, and won in the later councils.

The question therefore is how can Jesus be truly God, yet speak to His Father in Gethsemane? Who does Jesus pray to? What is going on when He walks on the water (for example)? The answer to this is found in the operation of the person, but in later councils, a distinction of human and divine wills and operations occurs.

Christopher said...

Maximus the Confessor synthesizes the Trinitarian language, that is "person," "nature/substance/essence," and "will." While he waffled on this early on, Maximus makes this distinction within "wills." The will is NOT that aspect which needs to deliberate and choose. This is called the "gnomic" or "personal deliberative will." Jesus DOES NOT HAVE the GNOMIC WILL, and the use of this will is what brought sin into the world by Adam (this would be "autonomous will"). Instead, by submission to God, we are to make use of our "natural" will (which Jesus has). In other words, things such as "faith," are not miracles, but a very natural thing done with God's grace.

Maximus helps distinguish the theology of Athanasius against Arius regarding COUNSEL (Will) and BEGETTING (nature). Begetting according to nature is to act according to the natural will. The natural will does not need to choose between dialectics, as if there is always only one good act and the rest evil or bad. The deliberative will is the one which needs to choose between good and evil, because the person who is fallen has corruption in his soul, and thus it always moves and never finds its rest. The soul also knows the bodies mortality and it leads to evil done by fear of death(Hebrews). In this way, the natural human will (external acts) is driven by an internal energy (internal drive/soul), and thus Jesus can have both a truly human will and soul and not need a human person.

St. Thalassios says this regarding a person: "A person may be defined as an essence with individual characteristics. Thus each person possesses both what is common to the essence and what belongs individually to the person" ("On Love, Self-Control and Life in accordance with the Intellect: Written for Paul the Presbyter," 388).

Note that while this theology seems to be overly philosophical and highly technical (it is, but again, we don't deal in these categories as often as the fathers did), it is ultimately geared towards practical living as those who have been baptized and brought into the body of Christ. Palamas will discuss how human reason can be considered the lowest aspect of the image of God, and instead, the image is really the spiritual ability given to humanity (thus, even brain-dead people and infants are truly human persons and capable of faith, even though they are not capable of "rational acts" or logical dialectic). Again, I would highly recommend reading Palamas' sermon on the entrance of the Mother of God into the Holy of Holies II. There are several paragraphs near the end where he not only synthesizes earlier fathers, he also explains it and makes use of it for Christians to move the passions (which can be deadly to faith) towards spiritual things and contemplation of God through nature.

speigel said...

I find problems with Nestorianism with regards to issues with the atonement. Who saved us if there are two persons? Are there other problems with Nestorianism?

But if Jesus was truly human, how is he not a human person? What is a soul if it is not a person? I am asked that many times. I have no problem when I think of Jesus' divinity, but I have a harder time about his humanity and giving answers to those questions. (Though I have some difficulties, I don't believe in the two-person theory.)

I thank Christopher with his insight and information. I am very glad to have posted my question and to have received some answers.

Turretinfan said...

"But if Jesus was truly human, how is he not a human person? What is a soul if it is not a person? I am asked that many times. I have no problem when I think of Jesus' divinity, but I have a harder time about his humanity and giving answers to those questions. (Though I have some difficulties, I don't believe in the two-person theory.)"

The union of the two natures in one person has been called a mystery. Jesus Christ is a human being and Jesus Christ is God. He was a person who was both human and divine. Thus, it is right to say that he is a human person - and it is right to say he is a divine person. He is, however, only one person. Understanding how this can be possible is difficult. I recall reading that Cyril of Alexandria used the analogy of a piece of wood burning to illustrate the union of the human (wood) and divine (fire).

I'm not sure whether that is helpful to you.

speigel said...

Thanks for your answer TF. Cyril's analogy was coal, I believe.

I think it is wrong to say that Christ is a human person and a divine person yet one person. I think it is more proper to say that Christ is the divine person with two different natures.

I understand that the human nature is given personality by the divine person. I have heard it argued that that must mean Christ was not truly human. I think there is an assumption as to what being truly human entails. I am wondering if you had thoughts about this. Does a human nature require a human person?

Turretinfan said...

A person who has a human nature, is consequently a human person - just as a person who has a divine nature is consequently a divine person.

Otherwise, what justification is there for calling a person "human" or "divine"?

-TurretinFan

Christopher said...

Some confusion continues to abound. Jesus Christ is one person, we're all in agreement on this, and also we're in agreement that both human and divine natures are truly present.

The confusion lies in precisely how, after the incarnation, the two natures relate to the one person. The divine person of the Son of God IS the person of Jesus Christ, and will be for all time. This would mean the human nature taken into the Son of God had no personality of its own (enhypostatic), and so it was never at one point another person which subsisted apart from the Son (else you get Nestorianism and Adoptionism). The two natures are not merged into a third nature, on this we are in agreement as well (I hope). Speigel is correct that the Son of God supplied the personality of the God-man, as long as one does not understand "personality" in the sense of contemporary psychology. What we often think of as "personality" would have been an aspect of His human nature, and explains why Jesus can grow in knowledge and favor with God while still being God.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, it is good to remember that although Jesus' human nature makes him a person with a human nature, but the Word was made flesh, it did not seize a previously existent human nature (which would necessarily be a second person before the union, if it existed before the union).

speigel said...

I question the notion that a person with a human nature must neccessarily be a human person. The orthodox position on the Incarnation vitiates that notion. The orthodox position leads us to believe that one can be truly human without being a human person. I think there is a question as to what are essential human properties as opposed to common human properties.

It seems contradictory to state that Christ is both a human person and a divine person, yet only on person.

Turretinfan said...

What else does "human" mean in "human person" than "having a human nature"?

-TurretinFan

speigel said...

As I understand it, "human" in human person refers to the human nature. So a human person is a person with a human nature. But this does not preclude the idea that a divine person can have a human nature. This is to say that a human person necessarily has a human nature. But having human nature does not necessarily entail being human person.

If it were not otherwise, that is if human nature necessarily entails an attachment only to a human person, then the Incarnation, as traditionally understood as a divine person assuming a human nature, would be an impossibility. We would have to say that there are two persons, each aligned with the requisite nature. But this latter is not the traditional understanding of the Incarnation.

The question then becomes does being a fully human require being a human person. If the answer is yes, then the Incarnation must mean that there are two persons with the requisite natures. If the answer is no, then the Incarnation as traditionally understood is possible.

Turretinfan said...

I guess I don't understand why you don't think a divine person cannot also be a human person, so long as the person has both natures?

speigel said...

That is a good question. I should have thought it out a little more. Sorry for my haste.

For now, I must admit that either my previous answer to the description of "human" in "human person" is deficient somewhere in that the term may means something else or more than what I had written. When I work it out more, I will give a better response.

To ask a question, is it then right to say that the divine person is also a human person so long as he has a human nature? So the divine person at the time of the Incarnation became also a human person? Does this express some change or addition to the divine person? Or is the "human" in "human person" some nominal term?

speigel said...

I forgot to add that a possible solution would be perhaps to assume that a human person necessarily entails having only one nature, a human one, and excludes the possibility of having other natures.

Turretinfan said...

There doesn't seem to be much reason to adopt that assumption without saying that a divine person entails symmetrically only a divine nature.

The problem is the "only."

Turretinfan said...

"To ask a question, is it then right to say that the divine person is also a human person so long as he has a human nature?"

Right.

"So the divine person at the time of the Incarnation became also a human person?"

Yes.

"Does this express some change or addition to the divine person?"

Yes, but not to the divine nature and essence.

"Or is the "human" in "human person" some nominal term?"

I'm not 100% what that would mean.

Christopher said...

Turretinfan,

Does your view on this then mean that the Person of Jesus Christ consists in a merging of two natures to make one person? I'm confused as to what you are getting at, and this seems to be more like Moltman's view which merges two persons into one (though I know you aren't taking a pre-existent human person in this equation).

The person of Jesus Christ is always God. The human nature is assumed into the divine person, and as a result has no person apart from the divine. Even though Christ has a human nature He is not a human person. That would be a subtle form of Nestorianism (unless you take the Motlman option before, which I would consider modified Eutychianism).

Turretinfan said...

The natures remain distinct, but both are properly predicated over the person of Christ.

"The person of Jesus Christ is always God."

That's an imprecise way of stating the matter. The Logos has always been and always will be God. He has always and will always possess a divine nature, and therefore he always was and always will be a divine person.

Jesus Christ is and always will also be man.

"The human nature is assumed into the divine person, and as a result has no person apart from the divine."

The human nature remains distinct from the divine nature - both are united in one person. The human nature that was assumed did not exist before the union.

"Even though Christ has a human nature He is not a human person."

Two questions:

What does "human" in "human person" refer to if not to "having a human nature"?

Same question with respect to "divine" in "divine person."

-TurretinFan

speigel said...

TF: Sorry about my last two responses. I answered them too quickly and read too much into your question. I would agree with you when you say that Jesus is one person and that we can say he is a human person and that he is also a divine person.

Thanks.

Christopher said...

Turretinfan,

I think a problem still exists in terminology. To say that Christ is a human person is simply to say the Divine person has human nature, not that Jesus is a human person. This would make Him no different than other human persons.

When Jesus asks St. Peter and the Apostles who do they say He is, they don't say, "you are the Christ and you are the Son of God," but "you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." One title (Christ) for the human nature and its anointed role for salvation and deliverance, and the other for the divine nature and PERSON. Hence, the title Son of God is given and not just predicated of the human nature, but finds its origin in the divine nature.

When the two come together, they are no longer to be separated in anyway. This is both Chalcedonian and Ephesian (council of Ephesus). The person is what relates (not the nature). Thus the Son of God is the Son of Mary and both are the same person, namely the Divine Son of God. The person is united hypostatically with humanity, but no human person exists or is created.

Christopher said...

The issue once again involves the identification of what a nature and what a person are. In Christ, human nature (but no human person) exists. This is what allows for salvation to be universally offered to humanity, both the forgiveness of sins and the completion of the human nature (the telos).

If this sounds too much like Eastern Orthodox theosis, it is, and it is an opinion shared by Luther as well. This is why Orthodox and Lutheran Christology is the same, and the remainder of Protestants (MAYBE save Wesley) is more Antiochene.

Calvinist Christology is Chalcedonian, but not in accordance with the Council of Ephesus. This is bolstered when Calvin uses one of the two historical illustrations of the relation of the two natures (soul and body) in his "Institutes," but not the other (fire and iron). This also explains the arguments you used against William Albrecht regarding the orthodox title Theotokos to Mary.

Remember that salvation is both from sin and death as well as salvation UNTO the Lord. God wasn't taken by surprise, and so the incarnation would have happened anyway had man not sinned. Once again, Luther agrees with Irenaeus and a great many other Eastern fathers (though I know that Athanasius does not seem to share this view in his "On the Incarnation").

Turretinfan said...

"This would make Him no different than other human persons."

Actually, this is key. As to his humanity, Jesus is just like other human persons, except for one crucial difference: he is sinless.

-TurretinFan

Christopher said...

Actually, Jesus is like ALL human persons, except His humanity has its personality from the Son of God, which is WHY He is sinless (non posse peccare). The Person of the Son of God does not have a Gnomic will (as in St. Maximus) because He is omniscient, and so sinning was not in the cards for the human nature. This is why many ancient hymns speak of salvation through the incarnation (though of course understanding this as being the whole of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension).

Turretinfan said...

That sounds a bit like incipient monothelitism. Christ was impeccable, no doubt - but not because he lacked a true human will and a true human mind that could learn.

-TurretinFan

Christopher said...

Actually "non posse pecarre" is the orthodox position (dithelite). The personal union allows for no gnomic will in Christ (which is the source of sin in humanity). For Christ to have two natural wills (that is wills originating from the two natures) is perfectly in keeping with this statement regarding His true humanity.

The problem is that it seems for some that Christ is not truly man without being a human person, and this is an error. Christ heals and redeems the image (which is according to the nature) by taking on human nature. But He never ceases to be a divine person "incarnate" (in flesh, i.e. true human flesh, mind, will, soul)...all of which are passed on from parents to children via traduceanism, and as a result, these are "natural properties."

Turretinfan said...

There's something just wrong about using a Latin phrase to try to describe an Eastern position.

But the issue of impeccability can be answered either by a monthelite or dithelite explanation. The dithelite explanation is, as you know, the orthodox (correct) position.

My point is that the attempt to eliminate a gnomic will from Christ is actually a way of denying that he had a true human will. I realize that it is not an outright denial.

As for the remainder of your comments:

"The problem is that it seems for some that Christ is not truly man without being a human person, and this is an error."

No, it's not. It can lead to Nestorianism if it is not affirmed that Christ is only one person, not two persons. But itself, it is a correct statement that naturally flows from the fact that Christ is a person with a human nature, hence a human person.

-TurretinFan

wtanksley said...

Christopher, when Augustine coined non posse peccare, he used it to describe both Christ and ourselves in His image. Thus, Christ's non posse peccare cannot be explained simply by claiming that "His humanity has its personality from the Son of God, which is WHY He is sinless"; that explanation would make it impossible for us to be conformed to His image in sinlessness, since our personality is not from the Son.

Now, the person of Jesus is indeed the eternal Logos (I don't deny that part of your claim). But when He took on man, His person fully took on humanity; it's impossible to say that His person isn't human in any way, although it was possible before the Incarnation.

Christopher said...

1. The use of "non posse pecare" is used principally in modern dogmatics to affirm the inability of the human nature of Christ to sin (see Francis Pieper's "Christian Dogmatics").

2. The use of this phrase is still consistent with Eastern/Lutheran thinking on the person of Christ and soteriology. The problem is that both groups have a heavy sacramentality, while the remainder of Protestantism does not. When one views the grace given in Baptism and the sacramental life (that is, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) as what brings one "into" Christ (John 17), then those persons who are brought into Christ partake of His human nature (that is, the deified human nature).

3. Indeed, if Jesus is viewed as a HUMAN PERSON, then the Logos is a human person. If you can't say that the Logos becomes a human person, but merely that He takes on human nature.

Christopher said...

4. Once again, a failure to determine what a person is leads to problems. To say that Christ is truly human and hence a human person, is to confuse person and nature. The Logos is the personal subject with both natures. This is why the person acts according to BOTH natures. The subject of Jesus Christ however is never and cannot be a human person.

5. The natural human will is that which stems from inborn logoi (those attributes in the image of God). Fallen man has tropoi, namely the state of being of these logoi, and this is where the passions come into play.

6. If Christ becomes a human person, there would be no internal relationship possible for other human persons, but instead an external relationship of will.

Christopher said...

To sum up: If Christ becomes a human person, then He becomes a subject similar to anyone else (any other human person), and so we can't be brought "into Christ," but instead all that is left is predestination or Pelagian freewill.

Christ can be called "human" and all things predicated of the human nature is carried over into the person (the Word suffered, died, etc.), but to call the Word a human person is not an accurate statement.

Turretinfan said...

Jesus wasn't just human, he was a man.

wtanksley said...

This is indeed the result of failing to define terms. Christopher, can you explain why a human person and a divine person must be of entirely different types? It seems to me that only the essence/substance/nature is different, not the person; when the Son took on the essence/substance/nature of man, his person took on full humanity. At that point the only difference between His person and our person as such is His person's pre-existence.

To sum up: If Christ becomes a human person, then He becomes a subject similar to anyone else (any other human person), and so we can't be brought "into Christ," but instead all that is left is predestination or Pelagian freewill.

How does that follow? More aptly, how does that follow from Scriptures? Even if you can construct a philosophical proof that nobody can be brought "into Christ" if Christ is a human person, can you be sure that your definitions and terms are the only ones that apply? I'd accept a direct proof (Bible citation) or a proof by contradiction (i.e. if we didn't use this definition these three Biblical passages would contradict); but from my studies I don't think you've got that at all.

Furthermore, how can it be the case that we could not be brought into a fully human person, when we are "in Adam" or "in Abraham", who are both fully human and nothing else. Isn't that covenantal language?

I've heard people claim that we could NOT be brought into union with Christ if he did not fully partake of our humanity; that this partaking is precisely why the Incarnation was needed. I admit that this doesn't contradict what you're saying, but it can be taken much further than you're taking it; in particular, it seems to allow the implication that if Jesus' person was not fully human, than our persons cannot be brought into union with Him.

By the way, your discussion of the commonalities between Lutheranism and Eastern Orthodoxy reminds me of the language used by the Federal Vision people and the Westminster Confession. There are high sacramentalists in the Western church outside of the Lutherans.

-Wm

Christopher said...

What I am saying can be demonstrated thoroughly from Scripture, and has been done so in the past. The misunderstanding between us can be demonstrated. With regard to the language similarity between Orthodox and Lutheranism reminding you of Federal Vision, I am not aware of Federal Vision. I am familiar with Lutheranism (being raised and trained in orthodox Lutheran scholasticism) and Orthodoxy (somewhat at least, as I have become such and have good friends who attend Orthodox seminaries). I can assure you this is not simply using similar words differently (that [dis]honor belongs to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification).

1. With regard to the human nature of Christ being enhypostatic, consider this from Scripture itself. Why would the wise men worship the "child" in Matthew 2:11? What does Scripture ITSELF say? Surely a human person is not to be worshiped, but only God as the Old Testament makes abundantly clear. How do YOU explain this passage?

2. Because of the hypostatic union both Orthodox and Lutheran accept the communication of divine attributes to the human nature. This point of Christology radically separates the Lutherans from the other Protestants, sometimes leading the Protestants to points of absurdity. For example: Upon Christ's ascension into Heaven...what happened to His human nature? How does the manner in which He ascends "into the cloud" affect your answer?

I ask for clarification on these matters because I think your answer will better allow me to proceed with my biblical arguments regarding Christ's enhypostatic humanity (both before and after) the incarnation. That the Logos gives the human nature its personality is accepted by both of us, but "personality" is not an attribute to be communicated, but a subject...That's why there is one person. Christ consistently refers to Himself as "I am."

wtanksley said...

Thank you again, Christopher, for your explanations. You've clearly put considerable effort into the study on both sides of this doctrinal divide that allows you to communicate with our side so well.

This time I'm more confused by your questions than in the past. I'll try to give straight answers, but I don't understand the questions...

I can assure you this is not simply using similar words differently (that [dis]honor belongs to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification).

Yes, I wasn't intending to accuse you of THAT. Any similiarity of words is due to history, not careful editing.

1. With regard to the human nature of Christ being enhypostatic,

I know those as two Greek words, but not as one technical term. I'm guessing that it refers to how the human nature of Jesus was taken into the pre-existing Person of the Son, as opposed to how all other humans have their person subsist entirely in their humanity (I hope I'm not abusing the word 'subsist').

consider this from Scripture itself. Why would the wise men worship the "child" in Matthew 2:11? What does Scripture ITSELF say? Surely a human person is not to be worshiped, but only God as the Old Testament makes abundantly clear. How do YOU explain this passage?

I explain this passage, and much more importantly all the passages in which Jesus allowed people to worship Him, by pointing out that we are never commanded to not worship human persons; rather, we are commanded to worship God and Him alone. Because Jesus is God (albeit in the flesh), worshiping Him is obligatory, whether He's a human person or not.

2. Because of the hypostatic union both Orthodox and Lutheran accept the communication of divine attributes to the human nature.

That does kind of feel like an anti-Chalcedonian statement: "the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union... not parted or divided into two persons". This statement seems to require God to alter the nature of Jesus' humanity especially for Jesus simply in order for the Logos to subsist in it.

Surely the communication of attributes happened not between the two natures (that would seem to be a mixing of natures), but rather from each nature to the subsistence.

This point of Christology radically separates the Lutherans from the other Protestants, sometimes leading the Protestants to points of absurdity. For example: Upon Christ's ascension into Heaven...what happened to His human nature? How does the manner in which He ascends "into the cloud" affect your answer?

I can't give any answer to the question... It simply makes no sense at all to me. Why should anything at all happen to His human nature at that point? (Does that answer your question?)

I ask for clarification on these matters because I think your answer will better allow me to proceed

Thank you! I hope I've made my mistakes out loud.

with my biblical arguments regarding Christ's enhypostatic humanity (both before and after) the incarnation.

Surely you don't mean that Christ was human before the incarnation, do you?

That the Logos gives the human nature its personality is accepted by both of us, but "personality" is not an attribute to be communicated, but a subject...That's why there is one person. Christ consistently refers to Himself as "I am."

Why do you say I disagree with this?

-Wm

Chris said...

Wm,

As to the last point, I'm sorry if you understood that as saying you disagreed with the statement regarding the personality. That was not my intention. Please forgive that.

1. We are told to worship God and not to bow down to graven images in worship (the 10 Commandments) of anything on earth or above it in Heaven. This pretty much means we worship only divine persons. You are correct in saying the Son of God is worshiped "in the child." I was wondering if you would do as Zwingli did with alloiosis and say it says "the child" but it really means the divine nature of Jesus.

2. This is not an anti-chalcedonian statement. Chalcedon really did not fix the Christological problems generated from Ephesus (which this Christology is firmly in agreement). Chalcedon preserved the personal union but was ambiguous with regard to the natures. Though in reference to the communication of attributes, neither nature undergoes a change from its original nature. To prove this from Scripture, let us take into account the walking on water. The answer which is in accordance with the councils and Scripture is that the divine nature communicated divine attributes through the personal union to the human nature and the one person walks on water. Now, the crafty theologian will rightly ask, "how does Peter walk on the water then?" The answer is that what is true of Christ's human nature by virtue of the personal union (what is His by nature) is Peter's by the grace of God (Holy Spirit's operation). This is how in Scripture miraculous operations by human persons are done with the Holy Spirit's aide, and this so only through the Logos or the Word.

It is interesting that I can speak of a communication of attributes (Ephesus) and still two natural wills (Constantinople III), both councils being a move against Nestorius and the Monophysites (respectively).

Chris said...

My question regarding the Ascension is merely this. Something happens to Christ's human nature or commonly "the body." He ascends "into the cloud," the Old Testament language for the presence of God. In Reformed Christology, the human nature of Christ and therefore His body is thought to occupy a set and fixed place and have all things characteristic of a human body, and this is granted before His ascension. However, the Lutherans and the Orthodox are clear in this, that at the time of the incarnation, the human nature which is possessed by the Son, is in possession of omnipotence, etc. Thus there are times when Jesus appears to be ignorant (when operating according to the human nature), and at other times to know the hearts of hearers (communicated omniscience). The Reformed stated against the Lutheran view of the Lord's Supper that Christ's body cannot be substantially present on the altar because He is in Heaven at the right hand of God. Thus, you can have the Logos apart from the flesh. The Lutheran/Orthodox view does not allow for this. This is what allows me to worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is God and not myself who has Christ's righteousness by faith through the Holy Spirit and IN Christ. Jesus is truly human apart from sin, but this also involves the lack of a subsistent human person both before the incarnation and after it (with the personality being purely the eternal Son of God).

I'm not saying you are making mistakes and I'm waiting to thrash you for them. I want to get a handle on how you understand the questions which have been historically posed with regards to the relation of the two natures. The incarnation, ascension, (temptations) and Garden of Gethsemane are crucial in this discussion.

No, Christ was not human before the incarnation.

speigel said...

I can understand some aspects of the relationship between the two natures and to the single person through something like a two-minds view.

My question is whether reduplication works. Is it coherent to say that "x as N is A and x as N is not A"? For example, "Christ as man is able to suffer pain and Christ as God is not able suffer pain"? Is this coherent?

I have two views about the reduplication. One is that reduplication is coherent because one person may have contradictory attributes or be in contradictory states. I say this because if the Incarnation is not contradictory then it is not contradictory for one person to have contradictory states or attributes based on having two natures.

The other is that if one person cannot have contradictary states or attributes then I can't see how reduplication is coherent - but I am willing to hear anyone else out on it.

Christopher said...

speigel,

You are somewhat on the right track in your thinking. The Theopaschite controversy was a discussion of this. If Christ is a divine person with human nature, can it be correct to say that "God suffered" or that "God died?" The answer was yes, that the Second Person of the Trinity suffered "in" or "according to" the human nature. Thus God Himself (the hypostases of the Son) took human nature into Himself and embraced our suffering and sin as fully human (that is, fully sharing in the common human nature of all mankind).

I've been trying to think of how to describe a hypostasis (person) in such a way as to be palatable, but no good way seems to present itself. I did find an interesting fact while reading Vladimir Lossky as to why the Reformed have had some trouble in this regard (and the Western church as a whole for that matter). Because the East starts with the hypostases as concrete reality, they understand the Father, Son, and Spirit as ultimately one and three at the same time. They describe the hypostases in relation to what they are NOT from each other. The Father in unbegotten, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Son is not the Spirit who proceeds from the Father.

In the West, the common place to start was with the unity of the divine nature, and at times, this unity overtakes the differentiation of the hypostases. The ultimate statement of this was the inclusion of the filioque in the Nicene Creed against the Arians in Toledo. Because this gives the Holy Spirit a dual causation within the Trinity, and confuses the role of Father and Son, the Trinity is seen as purely relational, with the Holy Spirit almost appearing as a force between the Father and Son. This can come out in worship at times, with the West often focusing on the glory and majesty of "God," while the East retaining Trinitarian statements throughout their liturgy.

Note, Lossky isn't necessarily saying one is good and one is bad, but each method has its pitfalls. The West often leading to Modalism where there is difficulty distinguishing between the nature and the person(and inherently a Nestorian Christology), and the East often leading to a distinction between the hypostases and a subordinationism more similar to Origen or Arius.

And here we are, yet again, with an inability to see Jesus as human without thinking of Him as a human person. Jesus is a concreted Divine Hypostases, and never ceases to be such. This is why St. Paul says that the "fullness of deity dwells bodily in Him." This is not to say that no other human has God subsisting in and through him (as indeed, God is omnipresent in all creation), but dwelling as in a tent, or a temple, which Jesus speaks of as His body. Where one can fall into Apollinarianism is in seeing the body as ONLY physical, when the body (or human nature/flesh) also denotes the rational soul (the immaterial part of humanity) and also a natural will, a will aimed towards God and with the final end as Jesus Christ Himself (to become "like God" or "Christlike").

Does this help?

Turretinfan said...

"If Christ is a divine person with human nature, can it be correct to say that "God suffered" or that "God died?" The answer was yes, that the Second Person of the Trinity suffered "in" or "according to" the human nature."

It can be acceptable to say those things, although it is imprecise or improper to say those things. Properly, of course, only the humanity of Christ suffered and so forth, since only human nature (not the divine nature) is capable of suffering.

Nevertheless, it is sometimes acceptable to speak improperly (i.e. imprecisely) and say that God suffered, in the sense that He who is God suffered.

-TurretinFan

Christopher said...

Turretinfan,

But here-in we hit on the fundamental problem, and the problem which manifested itself in your debate with William Albrecht concerning the title "Theotokos." Because there is one concrete subject (hypostasis) which is the eternal person of the Logos, it is not improper to say that God was born of woman or that God suffered. After all, this is why it is stated that He suffered "according to the human nature," but what is true of one nature is therefore true of the person. This is the importance of the incarnation. It allows God to suffer and identify with our weaknesses without changing into a human person.

To say that Jesus becomes a human person is both to change the inter-trinitarian relationship, making a human person that is not eternally begotten of the Father, but is only temporally begotten of Mary (but these are the substances). Ultimately, if God (the 2nd hypostasis) cannot suffer in the incarnation, this would make of "the human person" of Jesus (or however you mean that), nothing other than another human person who is simply the perfection of humanity, but who ultimately cannot share His perfections (similar to the "two sons" of Theodore of Mopsuestia). The Son of God and Son of Mary are the same Son and hypostasis, namely the Second Person of the Trinity, who simply gets His human nature temporally from Mary, while His hypostasis gets its origin as begotten from the Father eternally.

wtanksley said...

Guys in general; Christopher and Turretinfan in specific: thank you VERY much for this forum and discussion. I apologize that my responses have been so incredibly slow, and although I can't respond now, I've found your posts to be extremely enlightening, and have modified my thinking.

Although I can't respond in depth, let me make one minor comment that I don't see Scriptural or philosophical reason to think that there's a divide between "human person" and "divine person" such that Jesus could not possibly be referred to as both (while being one eternal Person). I don't see how any attributes of Jesus flow from his Person and not from His Nature -- His eternality flows from His nature as God; His beginning in conception and birth flow from His nature as Man.

Equally, the prohibition against worshiping other gods and against worshiping idols is not due to them being non-"divine persons", but due to them not being the I AM. (It's especially odd to see you quoting the prohibition against idols in support of your argument here, since idols are not any kind of persons at all, thus making the prohibition irrelevant to the argument.) Nor is any type of personhood ever cited to rebuke any false worship.

-Wm

wtanksley said...

One other thing... I shouldn't take the time...

Properly, of course, only the humanity of Christ suffered and so forth, since only human nature (not the divine nature) is capable of suffering.

I'm not sure about this, but wouldn't it be reasonable to say that only a person can suffer, and they suffer according to their nature? Thus, God (in essence) did NOT suffer, nor did God (frequently used to refer to the Father as God) suffer; rather, Jesus suffered, and Jesus is God; but He suffered according to His human nature ("being found in the form of man, He became obedient unto death").

-Wm

Christopher said...

Wm,

I quoted the prohibition against idols because demons most likely are the real object of affection (or nature itself according to Paul). I can agree that the divine I AM is alone worshiped, but that all three persons have the fullness of the divine nature within themselves and yet they cannot be separate or divided. Thinking about the Trinity often involves thinking of them as one and three so you don't fall into either the tritheist trap or the modalist trap.

As to your clarifying point with regard to the suffering of Christ...congratulations! You've got it! That's exactly how Constantinople II phrased the Theopaschite formula. :-)

Chris

Turretinfan said...

"Thus, God (in essence) did NOT suffer, nor did God (frequently used to refer to the Father as God) suffer; rather, Jesus suffered, and Jesus is God; but He suffered according to His human nature ("being found in the form of man, He became obedient unto death")."

I don't have a problem with this way of saying it.

wtanksley said...

I quoted the prohibition against idols because demons most likely are the real object of affection (or nature itself according to Paul).

The difference is crucial to your argument, though: if the prohibition is personal (in that we're forbidden from worshiping specifically because of the type of the person) then it follows that Christ must be a divine person. But if the prohibition is universal and ontological (in that we're forbidden to worship anything except the One that is God), there's no implication regarding the question of whether persons are inherently divine or non-divine.

Of course, the verses themselves don't settle the point (because your claim is external to the verses, that *in fact and by implication* idols are always demonic, and therefore the verses don't need to mention that). But other verses seem to me to contradict the claim. Paul's discussion of worshiping "the things created" in Rom 1 doesn't give a clear distinction, but it does hint that the entire range of creation-worship is cursed, not merely person-worship. But the rest of the Bible seems to make it clear that idols are a worthless pursuit because they do not hear, cannot act, are simply wood or metal, or (in 1 Cor 8) are figments of imagination. These claims are never given to reduce the culpability of the people worshiping the idols; rather, they're given to underline their foolishness in disobeying the commandment.

Thus, I conclude that the commandment against idol worship does not pertain to our argument, and should not have been cited.

And I don't see what other argument you have. I propose that the statement "Jesus is to be worshiped" is not contradicted by the statement "Jesus is a human person". We agree that the first statement is true; I propose that the second statement should be accepted if you define "human person" as "a person with a human nature", and I propose that this is the correct way to understand Christ's humanity.

Now, one could possibly reject that by saying "A human person is formed when the person came into existence, and Jesus' personhood has always been." But this ever-existence is an attribute of Christ's divine nature and being, not of His person; His person is eternal because it subsists in a being Who is eternal.

As to your clarifying point with regard to the suffering of Christ...congratulations! You've got it! That's exactly how Constantinople II phrased the Theopaschite formula. :-)

Wow, that's amazing. :-) This highlights to me my need to study the councils. I'm glad my teachers have gotten that little part right; but I'd rather not be right by accident.

-Wm

Christopher said...

Wm,

The verses cited to deal with idolatry have everything to do with this.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;" - Exodus 20:4-5.

A human person is that which arises from human intercourse, and is thus the work of the parents (yes, I am aware of the various passages in the Psalms describing God "knitting together" infants), thus the importance of Daniel 2 and Genesis 3:15 as messianic passages. Christ is the stone not cut with hands from the mountain in Daniel 2 (hence, why Joseph is a "carpenter" and this can also mean "one who works with his hands" which can include "stone-cutting") and He is the seed from the woman (and indeed, children are not referred to as the seed of women, but from the seed of men).

Thus, the human nature of Christ is formed by the Holy Spirit from the womb of Mary, and thus is a work of God...a physical embodiment which has as its subsistence not a human person (that is, a person with an origin), but the divine second person of the Trinity. Divine persons have no beginning in time, while human persons do.

Couple that with this verse from Matthew 2:11 where the Magi worship the "paidion." Thus, the child is worshiped, something which if the person were not divine would be idolatry.

So I don't think my quoting the verses about idolatry were out of order in this discussion. Paul himself calls the idols which the Corinthians worshiped in 1 Corinthians 10 "demons." This world belongs to Satan, the ruler of the power of the air, because Adam gave it to him (see the temptations of Christ where Satan offers the kingdoms of the world to Christ who doesn't dispute that he has that ability).

Your point of Romans 1 would include non-human or non-angelic/demonic objects, and so "creation" in the term "creation-worship" can be mocked as stupid. The fact remains that divine persons are worshiped because they are all in perfect communion with one another. They are always one God in three persons, even now that one is incarnate. Hence, the flesh of Christ becomes not just the gateway of God on earth, but our "door" to God. If we have seen Christ, "we have seen the Father."

Your statement regarding persons is also fairly blatant Nestorianism. Christ's personhood is divine and eternal. He didn't become a separate human person at His conception...that would be to ultimately say a different person was present. The only explanation for your statement is a confounding of person and nature, which is not an uncommon problem in the Western church. It is very present in Augustine's neo-Platonism and affects both his Trinitarian theology (the reason many Western Christians tend towards Modalism) and his anthropology (seeing the solidarity of humanity as encompassing both natural corruption AND original guilt because we were all "in Adam" - as nature, not as persons).

In other words: the councils (Constantinople III to be specific) decreed Christ's two NATURAL wills...one human and one divine, with each doing "what is proper to it" in accordance with the Council of Chalcedon. HOWEVER: The ACTOR is the one theanthropic person. If Christ is a human person from "one perspective," he is a divine person from another...you have TWO ACTORS, not one. Will and action are not the same thing: The Trinity (divine substance) willed to create, yet the action of the Son and the Spirit were different from each other and that of the Father, leading to all three having an external (nonsubstantial) relationship to creation, and yet preserving the unity of purpose yet diversity of action among the three.

Is this as clear as mud? If I made any sense in what I typed, I think it would be a miracle...I need sleep!

Chris

wtanksley said...

which has as its subsistence not a human person (that is, a person with an origin), but the divine second person of the Trinity.

But the aseity of Christ is an attribute of His divine being (which He shares with the other Persons), not directly of His person.

I'm so easily confused by terminology. (So were my Church Fathers -- the Greek/Latin split definitely caused a LOT of person/nature confusion.)

Divine persons have no beginning in time, while human persons do.

Again, if this is the definition... Doesn't it force us to confuse the person with the being? I see that if you accept this you MUST say that Jesus was not a human person; but deny that and you have to admit that Jesus did not personally suffer as a human does, because His suffering was impersonal.

(cont'd)

wtanksley said...

(from above:)

Couple that with this verse from Matthew 2:11 where the Magi worship the "paidion." Thus, the child is worshiped, something which if the person were not divine would be idolatry.

This is sheer eisegesis; the text you're citing says nothing of the sort. Furthermore, that is NOT a reason given in ANY of the many passages that deal with idolatry.

So I don't think my quoting the verses about idolatry were out of order in this discussion.

The problem is that the only thing you've got to support them is some really spread-thin philosophy and some eisegesis that assumes (in a counterfactual -- the wise men 'would have been sinning') what you seek to prove.

Paul himself calls the idols which the Corinthians worshiped in 1 Corinthians 10 "demons."

Doesn't this interpretation force a contradiction between chapters 8 and 10? It seems to me that the point isn't that the idols are demons, but that the worship dedicates the worshipers to demons. The meat isn't changed because the idols are nothing and cannot change anything; but the worshipers are dedicating themselves, so the fact that the idols are nothing doesn't mean the worshipers aren't able to dedicate to demons. This means that it's the acts of worship that are harmful (or good, according to the object of worship), not the substances being used, neither as the focus of the ceremony nor as the offering.

Your point of Romans 1 would include non-human or non-angelic/demonic objects, and so "creation" in the term "creation-worship" can be mocked as stupid.

I don't understand. I don't think you're the sort who would "mock [an argument] as stupid" without explaining why, so you're mocking something else. Paul's the one who used the word "creation" (in the form "worshiped the creature rather than the Creator"), so you don't mean that the word itself is unapt. So what do you mean?

The fact remains that divine persons are worshiped because they are all in perfect communion with one another.

I'm confused. Where is that ever taught? When Christ speaks of His perfect unity with the Father, He had a clear opportunity to preach this doctrine, but He doesn't. Furthermore, it would seem that this doctrine would imply that Christ's goal is to build us up as a church that we can worship, since He wants us to be one with the Father and Himself as He is one with the Father. That's a rather odd twist, and seems to contradict both of our explanations of why God alone is to be worshiped.

(cont'd)

wtanksley said...

(from above:)

Your statement regarding persons is also fairly blatant Nestorianism. Christ's personhood is divine and eternal. He didn't become a separate human person at His conception...that would be to ultimately say a different person was present.

Affirmation: There was never a time when [Christ's person] was not.

But when He became incarnate, that Person which had always existed took on humanity completely and perfectly. There is nothing about Christ that we can point at and say, "Because of this, He does not experience humanity as we do."

That doesn't mean that a "separate" human person came into existence. I never, never said anything approaching that.

Furthermore, there's nothing ASIDE from the Son's person that took on humanity. God's essence, His being didn't take on humanity; nor did His nature take on humanity. It was the Son's person that took it on, leading to the necessity of confessing that Christ is fully human just as He is fully God.

In other words: the councils (Constantinople III to be specific) decreed Christ's two NATURAL wills...one human and one divine, with each doing "what is proper to it" in accordance with the Council of Chalcedon. HOWEVER: The ACTOR is the one theanthropic person. If Christ is a human person from "one perspective," he is a divine person from another...you have TWO ACTORS, not one.

I hope you can explain this... I see that it's very important to the original question I asked. I don't see how two perspectives imply two realities; that's not how the word "perspective" is usually used.

Will and action are not the same thing: The Trinity (divine substance) willed to create, yet the action of the Son and the Spirit were different from each other and that of the Father, leading to all three having an external (nonsubstantial) relationship to creation, and yet preserving the unity of purpose yet diversity of action among the three.

This is an excellently clear statement. Why, then, do the apostles and Christ speak of things like "the will of the Father"? Such statements imply a will specific to those persons, not one simply shared in the essence of God.

Is this as clear as mud? If I made any sense in what I typed, I think it would be a miracle...I need sleep!

I hope you're well rested; you've been immensely helpful. I'm sorry I haven't come to agreement yet; especially not in the most crucial point, in agreement on the declaration of the Council that Christ has two wills. It's not my intent to rebel; it's my intent to submit with my whole mind.

-Wm

wtanksley said...

Argh! While splitting my comment to make it fit, I chopped off the first third or so. How extremely annoying.

wtanksley said...

Reconstructing the first part of my post:

The verses cited to deal with idolatry have everything to do with this.

I agree, because it's the only evidence you adduce in your support. If it fails, and I believe I've shown it has, you have nothing more than philosophical musings, which are by nature not to be given the authority of scripture.

A human person is that which arises from human intercourse, and is thus the work of the parents

I will address below (well, above) that this confuses origin, which is an attribute of a being, with personhood. It also confuses a human's body with the human's person, since a human's body also arises from conception.

(yes, I am aware of the various passages in the Psalms describing God "knitting together" infants),

I completely agree with you here: the fact that God knitted each of us, does not give us license to worship the works of God's hands; if it did, Paul would not condemn man who "worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator" (because "the creation" is the creation of God).

I just noticed, by the way, that when Romans 1 also explains exactly why God is to be worshiped, rather than saying that God is a divine Person he says that "since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen". The claim is NOT made that God is divine-personal; rather, the claim is made that God is clearly by _nature_ divine. And this is the essential basis of man's condemnation!

thus the importance of Daniel 2 and Genesis 3:15 as messianic passages.

I appreciate your citing of these passages, but it seems to me that we can both agree exactly that they say what you claim they do, without requiring me to agree that Christ isn't a human person. They simply require nothing about whether Christ is a human person.