The Communication of Attributes

The issues in Christology post has raised a very important point regarding the natures of Christ in relation to His person.

The phrase “communication of attributes” (in Latin, communicatio idiomatum) refers to the way in which we can say things about Christ’s person that more specifically relate to one of His natures. In other words, whatever we can say about Christ’s human nature, we can also say about His person. Whatever we can say about His divine nature, we can also say about His person.

However, here is where a difference occurs between the Reformed and the Lutheran. The Lutherans believed in a different communication than the Reformed do. The Lutherans believed that what can be said about Jesus’ divine nature can also be said about His human nature. This is how they undergird their doctrine of consubstantiation. If the attributes of God can be communicated to Christ’s human nature, then there is no obstacle to saying that Christ is physically present here on earth in, around, through, and under the elements of bread and wine.

The Reformed did not believe in this form of the communication of attributes. Instead, they believed that Christ’s human nature stayed human, and Christ’s divine nature stayed divine, and that those two natures did not communicate attributes to each other, but rather to the person of Christ. I have tried to draw a little graphic design that will help illustrate the point. The lines represent the natures of Christ, and the arrows represent the communication of attributes. Now, some who are calling themselves Reformed on this blog have been arguing for a Lutheran version of Christology. And these people have suggested that I have been undervaluing the hypostatic union of the divine and the human. As one can see from this diagram, however, the Reformed view of the communication of attributes draws one’s eye to the apex, which can be said to be the hypostatic union. So, on the contrary, the hypostatic union is what prevents us from attributing human characteristics (or suffering!) to the divine nature. The hypostatic union is precisely the point at which the inseparability and distinction of the two natures meets.

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270 Comments

  1. richbarcellos said,

    March 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    agreed. WCF VIII:7. Now, if you could only explain to me how our human nature (soul) is able to be present at the right hand of the Father prior to the intermediate state during the Supper I would be mightly obliged. :-)

  2. David J Houston said,

    March 30, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Oliver Crisp does a fantastic job of arguing for the Reformed view on this subject over and against the Lutheran view.

    Here’s a few of the arguments I remember him making:

    (1) If all of the properties of each nature are communicated to the other then both natures have identical properties and they become fused into a third nature. That is, if both natures consist of the all only the same properties then they are identical and that leaves us with one nature rather than two which goes against Chalcedonian Christology.

    (2) If Christ’s divine and human natures communicated their attributes such that they shared their properties it would require us to affirm that both natures (if we can still refer to ‘both natures’!) possess contradictory properties such as:

    Being essentially omnipotent and being essentially not omnipotent

    Being essentially self-existent and being essentially dependent.

    Being essentially omnipresent and being essentially not omnipresent.

    Being essentially simple and being essentially complex.

    Even if you want to remove the ‘essential’ bit so that the human nature is only contingently, say, omnipresent then you still wind up with contradictions.

    (3) Piggybacking off of (2), it would also require us to hold to some strange conclusions like the position that we are currently living, moving, and having our being in a man. Christ’s foot is present throughout your entire body… and that’s just weird. Or, another example, we would be forced to believe that the self-existent, simple, and omnipotent God dies. What could that even mean?

    I suppose many will appeal to paradox at this point but even if this is a legitimate move (which is certainly controversial) I hope we can all agree that strategies that explain more of the data of Scripture in non-apparently-contradictory fashion should be preferred. Which brings me to a point that was brought up in the last thread on this topic: How to interpret Acts 20:28 where Paul says ‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.’

    Why not interpret this as a synecdoche? This strategy does justice to the language Paul employs and has the added benefit of removing all real or apparent contradiction.

  3. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 4:52 am

    Lane,

    I appreciate your continued attention to this important, challenging subject, which we’re all attempting to navigate. However, I must say that I did not appreciate your “Lutheran” labeling :-) That’s your perspective, but I think that anyone who takes the time to look over the comments will see that it is hardly an accurate description of those who differ with you.

    You wrote something that continues to trouble me, not as a Lutheran, but as a Reformed Teaching Elder: “If God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross. I, for one, cannot go there.”

    I continue to maintain that there are real problems with this, Christologically. Again I ask, through Olsen: “Is that, then, really an incarnation? Was not the victory of the doctrine of the hypostatic union a hollow one if it is [so] interpreted? . . . Did the Logos actually experience birth, suffering and death?”

    It all comes back to those seminal words: “The Logos became flesh”: Hypostatic Union. I want to remind you of some of the relevant words I and others contributed to the previous thread:

    Roger Olsen: “In both adoptionism and Nestorianism the Son of God never actually enters into human existence.”

    Nathanael: “To say that Christ suffered on the cross but God did not suffer on the cross or Christ bled on the cross but God did not bleed on the cross is Nestorianism, pure and simple. It is Nestorianism because it makes two Christs; a human Christ who bleeds and a divine Christ who does not.”

    Again, Lane, I am not accusing you of Nestorianism, but I do think you are not making enough of the hypostatic union in your Christology when you say that God could not and did not suffer on the cross.

    I agree with Jonathan Bonomo:

    “You can and must still say, in some sense, that “God suffered.” For the person who suffered was the Logos, full stop. . . The divine nature cannot and did not suffer. . . But, remember, the *person* of Jesus of Nazareth is none other than the Son of God–the second person of the Trinity. There is not a second human *person* to suffer, and he didn’t become something other than a divine person after the hypostatic union. So, the person who suffered was a divine person. But he suffered precisely in his human nature. This is the Chalcedonian doctrine.”

    Cyril of Alexandria: “. . . the Word of God suffered in the flesh, that he was crucified in the flesh, and that likewise in that same flesh he tasted death and that he is become the first-begotten of the dead, for, as he is God, he is the life and it is he that giveth life.”

    Bavinck: “In the incarnation the two natures along with all their attributes were communicated to the one person and the one subject who can therefore be described with divine and human natures. Accordingly, one can say that the Son of God was born, suffered, and died.”

    Shedd: “It would be improper to say, ‘God’s nature died’ because this can have but one meaning. But it is proper to say ‘God died’. . . the humanity assumed by the Logos is the Logos’s or God’s humanity. . . Scripture speaks of ‘the blood of God’ because God is united with a humanity that has blood.”

    Horton:

    “It is on this principle [communicatio idiomatum], that what is true of either nature is true of the person, that a multitude of passages of Scripture are to be explained. . . . The forms of expression, therefore, long prevalent in the Church, “the blood of God,” “God the mighty maker died,” etc., are in accordance with Scriptural usage.’”
    “The blood that he brings into the heavenly sanctuary to atone for his brothers and sisters is human (Heb 9:11-10:18), yet because of the unity of his person it can be called the blood of God (Ac 20:28).”

    Hodge: “Although the divine nature is immutable and impassible, and therefore neither the obedience nor the suffering of Christ was the obedience or suffering of the divine nature, yet they were none the less the obedience and suffering of a divine person. The soul of man cannot be wounded or burnt, but when the body is injured it is the man who suffers. In like manner the obedience of Christ was the righteousness of God, and the blood of Christ was the blood of God.”

    Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity:

    pp. 303-304: “It would be of no help to us if God suffered divinely as God. On the one hand, he would be unable to help us, for he would be at the mercy of hostile forces in his creation. On the other hand, he would have no capacity to understand or deal with human suffering. Precisely because he does not and cannot suffer [divinely] as God, he is able (through the Incarnation) to suffer in a human way and, having made atonement for sin (the cause of human suffering), to bring its ultimate removal.”

    pp. 404-406: “In particular, let us consider the work of Christ the Son. All he did ‘for us and our salvation’ he did according to both natures. As God, he had the strength to suffer and to make atonement for us. As man, he lived an obedient and sinless life and in our human nature offered himself up to the Father as a pure and sufficient offering for us. . . His whole, undivided person brought about our salvation, both as man and as God. . . for it is only through God living as man that this could be achieved.”

    “only through God living as man”: the Word became flesh.
    That is why Leithart is fully orthodox when he writes, “Bowing to Scripture, the Church said: God the Son, wholly eternally equal to the Father, took on flesh, God was born, God suffered human hunger and thirst, God took the lash and the spitting on His own flesh, and God died in that flesh on the cross.”

    Walvoord: “The act of redemption in which Christ offered Himself a sacrifice for sin was an act of His whole person. It was traceable to both natures, not to the human nature alone, nor to the divine. As man Christ could die, but only as God could His death have infinite value to provide redemption for the sins of the whole world.”

    Walvoord really sums it all up, because he understands the saving significance of the hypostatic union: “As man Christ could die, but only as God could His death have infinite value to provide redemption…”

    Lane, I appreciate your graphic, but I still don’t think that you actually have the hypostatic union as the apex in your own view of the atonement.

    It seems that you have a nature dying, but not a person—a divine person. Even the death of a perfect human nature would not “have infinite value to provide redemption.”

    Frame: “We may say that Jesus suffered and died on the cross ‘according to his human nature,’ but what suffered was not a ‘nature,’ but the person of Jesus. And the person of Jesus is nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, who has taken to himself a human nature. His experiences as a man are truly his experiences, the experiences of God.”

    I look forward to more iron-sharpening exchanges. Thank you, brother, for providing this forum.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Jack, you seem deliberately to be ignoring my repeated statements that what is true of one nature is true of the person. So, I feel quite comfortable in saying Christ died as a person. I am not comfortable saying that God died. What is true of the hypostatic union is not necessarily true of one of the natures.

    Is the Incarnation a hollow victory, as a result? No. For Christ could not possibly have lived a perfect life, born the sins of the elect, or been raised from the dead without the hypostatic union. So, I reject utterly your charge that I am devaluing or de-emphasizing the hypostatic union. On the contrary, I am calling attention to it. I really see no basis for your critique whatsoever in my words, and I am still mightily puzzled that you bring it up. If you are offended by the “Lutheran” comment, then I am offended by your critique about the hypostatic union. It is a logical fallacy to say that what is true of the whole (hypostatic union) is true of its parts (the two natures). You are saying that God died. As I have said, I cannot go there. I am surprised that you quote Walvoord and Olson. These are not Reformed writers. Why are you quoting them? Furthermore, the Hodge quote is saying EXACTLY what I am saying. He is saying that it is NOT true of the divine nature what is true of the divine (read hypostatically united) person. The Bavinck quote is also saying precisely what I’m saying: what is true of the two natures can be said of the person as a whole. You are going beyond this, and saying that what is said of one nature can be said of the other nature. This is wrong. And until you back off from that way of speaking, you will still be guilty of being a Lutheran on this issue.

  5. jedpaschall said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Jack,

    I have seen nothing in what Lane has said here or on the prior thread that lines up with what you attribute to him here:

    It seems that you have a nature dying, but not a person—a divine person. Even the death of a perfect human nature would not “have infinite value to provide redemption.”

    This looks like the logical implication of your statement is that the Divine nature in Christ died, which is far different than saying the Divine Person died. If you are affirming that the Divine nature/essence died, then you are, along with the Lutherans rejecting impassibility if God in his nature can experience death. If this isn’t what you hold please clarify, I really don’t mean to misunderstand you.

    It seems to me that you are cherry picking Horton to force him into your position, but his position seems a l more developed than these quotes indicate here, and ironically it is closer to the Frame quote you provide here. All Frame is asserting is that whatever Christ was experiencing as a man, he was also experiencing as God. This is essentially a similar way of describing the hypostatic union in therms of essences and energies, as the Divine energies in Christ’s Person experience the death of Christ on the cross along with his human nature which is passable. However, the divine and impassible essence/nature did not experience death, as natures cannot experience, but persons can.

    The problem with your view, and why I understand the Lutheran charge is your arguments are somewhat confusing on this matter of whether or not the divine and human natures in Christ are experiencing the cross and the death of Christ’s Person in the same way. Part of this may be attributable to the fact that your citations are not completely in agreement on the matter. It seems to me that there is no way that we cannot affirm that God was in Christ experiencing death, but this is different than affirming that God died. Without language to clarify this can be awfully confusing. Did (or did not) God die in his nature, or in a Person? Without the distinctions and qualifications, it seems exceedingly easy to end up denying impassibility (or appearing to). Even Horton could have done well to deal more with impassibility and the hypostatic union, and framed his discussion of Christology more light in the essence/energies distinction he uses in other areas throughout the book.

    But, instead of taking issue with the Lutheran label, look at as more descriptive than pejorative. If you don’t think it’s fitting, just explain why, as I don’t think it was malicious, simply a description of where at least some of the points you raise seem to imply.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Rich, I would put it the way Paul does in Colossians 3: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

    This is by faith, in other words. It is not as if our actual souls go up to heaven in the sacrament. But, by faith, we behold Christ seated at the wedding table of the Lamb. It is somewhat parallel to the pictures that John paints in Revelation: we don’t see with our physical eyes the church descending from heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, but we can “see” with the eyes of faith that this will happen.

  7. March 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Lane,

    Nice post. I agree that Hodge and Bavinck are saying exactly what you said, which agrees with WCF 8.7 as Rich pointed out. This is what the Council of Chalcedon meant in their declaration that Jesus is truly human and truly God, the two natures united in his personal being without mixture, confusion, separation or division, each nature retaining its own attributes. That’s exactly the drawing that you made. We wander from or chip at the Chalcedonian formula at our peril.

  8. March 30, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Lane,

    Since you admit that what can be predicated of either nature is predicated of the person, I’m having trouble seeing why you object to saying “God died” in the qualified sense of “the person of the Son of God in his human nature.” The person you’re talking about, whose human nature died, is none other than the second person of the Trinity. The *person* is divine. He didn’t become a different person in the union, but simply took a human *nature* to himself–that’s the Chalcedonian doctrine. And if he truly united human nature to himself, he (who in his person is God) died in his flesh.

    So, the *person* who died was divine, he died in his human nature, and the divine nature remained all the while impassible. This is the same reason we confess Mary to be Theotokos in the definition of Chalcedon–God was born of her. That didn’t in the fifth century mean, and it never has meant, that Mary is somehow the origin of the divine nature in Christ. It means she bore a divine person who united human nature to his divine nature. It’s the same with Jesus eating, drinking, learning, suffering, dying. The person who did all those things was the eternal Son of God, who did them precisely in his humanity.

  9. March 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

    The other thing to remember here is that both the Reformed and Lutheran views are Chalcedonian. And the Lutheran emphasis is of the divine being communicated to the human, not the human to the divine. They’d also confess that the divine *nature* is impassible.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Jonathan, I would not have any trouble saying that the God-man died, if by that we mean the person of Jesus. But God is not the same as the God-man. I can say “the person of the Son of God in His human nature” died. But by “the person of the Son of God” I am referring to the person of Jesus in His hypostatic union. The phrase “God died” does not inherently refer to the hypostatic union, which is why I won’t say it. If it does refer to the hypostatic union, then we run the risk of limiting God to the hypostatic union. So, the phrase “God died” is just WAY too loose and unqualified. It is far more confusing than saying simply “Christ died.”

  11. March 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Lane,

    I understand your concerns. And I also wouldn’t say that without also adding the proper qualifications. But we do confess that Mary is the God-bearer, and it means basically the same thing. The person Mary bore was God.

    But I do think this is getting to the crux of the matter. The point is that the person of Jesus, the God-man, is divine. The person of Christ is not a divine-human *person* in any other sense that he’s a *divine* person who took an impersonal human nature into union with his divine nature. The person of the Son of God was, is, and remains always divine, and only divine. After the hyostatic union, he’s a divine person with a human nature. So, I actually think saying “the God-man” died might cloud over the unmixed divinity of the *person*. If you’re talking about the nature that died, you’re talking about a human nature. If you’re talking about the person who died, you’re talking about a divine person who died in his human nature.

  12. March 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

    The above is why the Reformed have generally agreed with the 5th century Chalcedonian fathers that the human nature of Christ is anhypostatic (impersonal), and only has its subsistance in the divine person.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Jonathan, I cannot agree with your formulations here. You seem to be implying that the human nature is NOT part of His person! Yes, the human nature only exists in hypostatic union with the divine, and is not a separate person, but it’s still part of the person of Christ. Otherwise, how could we attribute something that happened in His human nature to the person as a whole? If the human nature is not part of the person, then there is no communication of attributes from the human nature to the person. So, your sentence “The person of the Son of God was, is, and remains always divine, and only divine” is at best overstated, at worst, wrong.

  14. March 30, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Lane,

    The human nature is only part of the person in the sense that it has its subsistence in the divine person. The human nature as such is impersonal. The point isn’t overstated if properly understood. The person is only divine, and he has a human nature which subsists in his divine person.

    This is the Chalcedonian doctrine, and it’s also been accepted by the Reformed, as it’s taught by the best of our dogmaticians. I’ll just cite the Hodges:

    Charles: “It was a divine person, not merely a divine nature, that assumed humanity… hence it follows that the human nature of Christ, separately considered, is impersonal.” (ST, 2.391)

    A.A.: “There are, in Christ, therefore, two natures, but one person; a human as well as a divine nature, but only a divine person. His humanity began to exist in the womb of the virgin, but his person existed from eternity.” (Commentary on the confession, banner of truth, 141

    But see also Bavinck, 3.305, Turretin, 3.311-13.

    There’s a sense in which we can say that the human nature was part of the divine person. It’s that the human nature subsists in the divine person. But the person remains divine, and he has a human nature. This is, in fact, how the natures are understood to be both united and distinct.

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Is it possible that we are pushing the microscope past its power of resolution?

    I for one do not really, really understand the term “hypostatic union.” I can define it, speak of it, put boundaries around it.

    But if I try to wrap my mind around what it would be like to have two natures in one person, one infinite omniscient omnipotent and impassible and the other not, I realize that I cannot actually grasp this concept.

    I cannot say more than this:

    * Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross. It was necessary for him to be human, for God cannot die; it was necessary for him to be God, for finite man cannot take on the sins of the world.
    * Jesus the Son of God rose from the dead, yet retains a human body.
    * Jesus consists fully of two natures in one person, without commingling the natures.

    I can’t say much more than this, because my microscope lacks sufficient resolution.

    Jack, I think you’re over-reading Lane. He’s making a point about commingling of the natures, not a point about dividing the one person.

  16. March 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Just to be clear: The human nature is part of his person after the hypostatic union. But the person of Christ doesn’t thereby derive his *person* from the human nature–the human nature as such adds nothing to the *person* other than a nature. It does add a nature, but not more than a nature. Christ is not a divine-human person. He is a divine person with a divine and a human nature. Anything other than this either winds up locating personality in his humanity qua humanity, which is Nestorianism (as you then have two persons), or mixing together the natures so as to form a new, divine-human person, which is Eutychianism.

  17. richbarcellos said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Lane, thanks for the clarification on the Lord’s Supper issue I brought up.

    On the subject at hand, I have several problems with asserting that the divine died as claimed per above. God, by definition according to His perfections revealed to us in the written Word of God is eternal, immutable, and immortal. Predicating the death of the divine as per above seems to deny eternality, immutability, and immortality (and other divine perfections). For example, if we say the divine died per above, then at a point in time one of the persons of the triune God ceased being immortal. But God is not subject to dissolution (termination, death, non-existence). God is absolutely immortal. His life, by nature, is indissoluble. Muller says, “God as spirit is not subject to dissolution, and as absolute, infinite spirit does not belong, as finite spirits do, to the con-tingent order.” God is not contingent upon outside causes. Since God is eternal, God is immortal. Predicating the death of God per above also denies impassibility, simplicity,… I think it is a turn in a very bad direction.

  18. richbarcellos said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

    concerning what Jonathan is saying, WCF VIII:2-3 seem to deal with this.

  19. March 30, 2012 at 11:04 am

    rich,

    You confuse the matter by simply saying “the divine.” We need to be clear here whether we’re talking about the *person* or the *nature*. There seems to be confusion here on what is meant by person and what is meant by nature in the traditional theology of Chalcedon. No one who’s orthodox says that the divine nature suffered, died, was born, etc. All of those are true only of the human nature. But the human nature is united to a divine person, and has its subsistance only in that union.

    This really shouldn’t be controversial. To deny that the person who was born was a divine person is to deny Chalcedon (that’s what Chalcedon means when it confesses Mary as Theotokos), which none of the Reformed have ever denied. And this applies equally to everything the person of the Logos did and does in his human nature. Jesus Christ is one divine person in whom subsist both a divine and a human nature. We need to be clear about all this. It’s hard, and mysterious stuff, for sure. But it was for the most part settled over 1500 years ago.

  20. March 30, 2012 at 11:08 am

    re. wcf 8: yes it does deal with it. And I believe it confirms precisely what I’m saying. My interpretation of the confession on these points is no different than that of the Hodges.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Jonathan, I can agree a lot more with your last two posts, but there are still things that make me uncomfortable. For instance, there is a difference between saying that the human nature of Christ does not have a personal existence of its own (with which I agree), versus saying that it is impersonal even in hypostatic union. Now, it looks like you’re saying the latter, just without as much clarity as I could wish. I agree that Christ’s personality does not derive from His human nature. But when He took upon Himself a human nature, that became part of His person. It looks like you would agree with that, in which case we are done. I still think, however, that saying that the person of Christ always was, is, and will be only divine is not accurate, even with your qualifications.

  22. richbarcellos said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Jonathan, I added “per above” above. :-) Obviously, I am referring to the divine nature. God, in se, is.

  23. March 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Lane,

    Perhaps I was unclear. For that I apologize. I’m not saying that the human nature is impersonal after the union. I’m saying that the subsistence of the human nature is precisely in its union with the divine person. A nature is not a person. A person/hypostasis is an individual reality. Persons/hypostases have natures, but are not themselves natures. A nature, on the other hand, is that which subsists. Natures have no individual existence save for their subsistence in persons/hypostases. In other words, natures have their subsistence in persons. And given the fact that Christ’s humanity qua humanity is anhypostatic, and given the fact that it has its subsistence in the person of the Logos, it is then in that sense a part of the Logos. This is why we say that the personality of Christ’s humanity is precisely enhypostatic–that is, *in* the divine person, which person always existed, and in which the divine *nature* of the Logos always susbsited. But the hypostatic union does not add to the person of the Logos something more than a nature–that which subsists. He became what he once was not without ever ceasing to be what he always was.

    Not that any of that makes it much clearer. But this is, I believe, what the fathers of the 5th century handed down to us in terms of the theological vocabulary. And it’s what the Reformed have generally retained. It’s no mistake that most of the 16th century Reformed pretty faithfully followed John of Damascus in their formulations of the hypostatic union. You can find all this in him, too–book 3 of “On the Orthodox Faith.”

  24. March 30, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Lane,

    By the way: However much important all this stuff is–and I think it’s important–much of it is second order in terms of the biblical presentation. I think we’re pretty much on the same page in substance, and so I’m fine to move on.

    Let us in the power of the Spirit preach Christ crucified and raised, to the glory of God the Father! As one of my friends always likes to say, “Jesus didn’t go around telling folks how to energize their hypostases.”

    Thanks for the discussion. And the Lord’s blessings on your ministry.

  25. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

    On the contrary, Jonathan, that is the clarity I was looking for.

  26. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Just to clarify a smaller matter. Jonathan, and perhaps others, mentioned Chalcedon (451) as affirming Mary as Theotokos. Actually, it was a re-affirmation–Jonathan may also have noted this as I have seen yril of Alexandria quoted a few times–of Ephesus (431) at which Nestorius was condemned.

    Nestorius was reported to have thought himself vindicated upon reading Leo’s Tome (449). Thus though Nestorius himself may ultimately not have been a Nestorian, certainly others were (and are), and we must remain vigilant against it as against all such errors.

    Perhaps it’s helpful to remember that second person of the Blessed, Holy, Undivided Trinity added humanity to his deity and became the person Jesus Christ. He was not denominated as the person Jesus Christ before the Incarnation. It was at the Incarnation that He was revealed as such. Jonathan is quite right to say that a divine person took humanity to himself, humanity that was personless and found its personhood in that of the Second Person of the Godhead.

    Even then, we say Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever: obviously there are ways in which He was and He wasn’t the same, because in one sense He was not named Jesus until the Incarnation, until that adding of humanity. He is revealed as Jesus Christ in the hypostatic union, in the integrity of His theanthropic person.

    Having said that, in substance I have found nothing objectionable in what Jonathan has said. He has, from what I’ve read, faithfully represented Ephesus and Chalcedon. I also very much agree with Jeff Cagle that this pushes all that we have to its limit, that it transcends our poor powers of reasoning and that it presents us with something at which we can ultimately only wonder. Thanks be to God!

  27. richbarcellos said,

    March 30, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Jonathan said:

    As one of my friends always likes to say, “Jesus didn’t go around telling folks how to energize their hypostases.”

    There is no way for certain to know this. :-)

    Thanks for the discussion. This has been helpful.

  28. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I agree, Rich, a helpful discussion,

    For some reason the capital “C” is missing in my #26 (above) in “Cyril of Alexandria.” Sorry for any confusion.

  29. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Sorry for the delay, I stayed up late with my last post :-) Lane, let me review and summarize this morning’s posts, for the purpose of further clarification:

    Lane: “Jack, you seem deliberately to be ignoring my repeated statements that what is true of one nature is true of the person. So, I feel quite comfortable in saying Christ died as a person. I am not comfortable saying that God died.”

    Jonathan: “Since you admit that what can be predicated of either nature is predicated of the person, I’m having trouble seeing why you object to saying “God died” in the qualified sense of “the person of the Son of God in his human nature.”

    Lane: “Jonathan, I would not have any trouble saying that the God-man died, if by that we mean the person of Jesus. . . The phrase “God died” does not inherently refer to the hypostatic union, which is why I won’t say it.”

    Jonathan: “The point is that the person of Jesus, the God-man, is divine. . . If you’re talking about the person who died, you’re talking about a divine person who died in his human nature.”

    Lane: “Yes, the human nature only exists in hypostatic union with the divine, and is not a separate person, but it’s still part of the person of Christ. Otherwise, how could we attribute something that happened in His human nature to the person as a whole?”

    Lane, from my perspective, here is really the nub: you cannot truly “attribute something that happened in His human nature to the person as a whole” if you continue to maintain that God did not suffer and die, in some sense, on the cross.

    Again, this is not attributing to the divine nature something that happened in Christ’s human nature, as I previously pointed out you mistakenly understood Frame—and myself. And as Jonathan said, “No one who’s orthodox says that the divine nature suffered, died, was born, etc. All of those are true only of the human nature.”

    I keep coming back to something else Jonathan said: “You can and must still say, in some sense, that ‘God suffered.’ For the person who suffered was the Logos. . . the person who suffered was a divine person. But he suffered precisely in his human nature. This is the Chalcedonian doctrine.”

    “‘God suffered.’ For the person who suffered was the Logos. . . a divine person.” I think Jonathan is right: someone who says that they subscribe to Chalcedon must say this. This is what I’m still waiting to hear you say, before I can believe that you truly have the hypostatic union as the apex in your own view of the atonement.

    Remember, you did affirm, above: “I feel quite comfortable in saying Christ died as a person.” If you truly understand “person” here, how can you avoid saying, in some sense, God suffered, God died on the cross?

    All of the Reformed sources I quoted are consistent in saying this; as Hodge put it, “the blood of Christ was the blood of God.”

    And I intentionally quoted the non-reformed sources to show that even they understand this is the Chalcedonian doctrine. Walvoord understands the saving significance of this hypostatic union: “As man Christ could die, but only as God could His death have infinite value to provide redemption…”

    Letham: “Precisely because he does not and cannot suffer [divinely] as God, he is able (through the Incarnation) to suffer in a human way… His whole, undivided person brought about our salvation, both as man and as God.”

    Frame: “[T]he person of Jesus is nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, who has taken to himself a human nature. His experiences as a man are truly his experiences, the experiences of God.”

  30. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I should have included the Chalcedonian reference in Frame’s quote:

    “Christ’s sufferings are the sufferings of God. The Council of Chalcedon (451), which defined orthodox Christology, said that Jesus has two complete natures, divine and human, united in one person. We may say that Jesus suffered and died on the cross ‘according to his human nature,’ but what suffered was not a ‘nature,’ but the person of Jesus. And the person of Jesus is nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, who has taken to himself a human nature. His experiences as a man are truly his experiences, the experiences of God.”

    Frame, The Doctrine of God, p. 613f.

  31. March 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Jack,

    I don’t know that it’s really necessary for someone to have to say “God suffered.” There’s ambiguity in that statement with which I quite understand people being uncomfortable–and it’s not of itself ratified in our confessional documents. So, I don’t think Lane should have to say that. The more precise way of saying what I think you want to hear him say is, “The person who suffered was divine.” We need to be clear in these formulations whether we’re talking about person or nature. The nature that suffered is only the human. But that human nature subsists in its union with a divine person. The Chalcedonian “Theotokos” is really just another way of saying all that.

  32. Sean Gerety said,

    March 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Why is it that those who repeatedly use the phrase “in some sense” (and I’m sure Lane is well aware of other debates where his opponents routinely used this phrase) continually fail define preciesly what that “sense” is?

    Also, I came across something interesting Calvin wrote in one of his letters in response to the question, Is it lawful to call Mary the Mother of God:

    However, to deal with you with brotherly frankness, I cannot conceal that that title being commonly attributed to the Virgin in sermons is disapproved, and, for my own part I cannot think such language either right, or becoming, or suitable. Neither will any sober-minded people do so, for which reason I cannot persuade myself that there is any such usage in your church, for it is just as if you were to speak of the blood, of the head, and of the death of God. You know that the Scriptures accustom us to a different style; but there is something still worse about this particular instance, for to call the Virgin Mary the mother of God, can only serve to confirm the ignorant in their superstitions. And he that would take a pleasure in that, shews clearly that he knows not what it is to edify the Church.

  33. jedpaschall said,

    March 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Jonathan,

    I know on the other Christology thread you responded to me that you found the essence/energies distinction helpful, but not necessary. I think we agree on this.

    You say, “We need to be clear in these formulations whether we’re talking about person or nature.”

    Regardless of necessity, do you find the essence/energy distinction helpful in clarifying the Christological question(s) we are dealing with here? It seems to strike a balance between those who want to uphold that God suffers in the Person of Christ on the cross, as he does so in his energies, while maintaining that in his essence/nature Christ as God remains impassible, even at the cross.

    Like I had asserted earlier, this distinction, however it is upheld and articulated is important, because divine impassibility is crucial to God’s power to carry out whatsoever he wills, even those aspects of his will that come at great cost. For example impassibility is critical as God carries out his will in electing who will be saved, and how he will accomplish salvation for the elect, because in his impassibility he cannot be dissuaded from carrying out these purposes, even at the cost of the Son.

  34. rfwhite said,

    March 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    31 JB/JB — As an observor here, I think it is helpful to concede that there is ambuity in the statement “God suffered.” The ambiguity remains when we affirm that this statement is true “in some sense.” That qualifying phrase is an admission of the need for a context, and at that not just any context but a specific one. As has been said, that context is the hypostatic union.

  35. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Jonathan,

    I agree with you, in the sense that I don’t want the words “God suffered” to be raised to a sort confessional status requiring allegiance to this phrase in itself. In the context of our broader discussion, which rfwhite alludes to, I’m just asking Lane to be consistent.

    Your previous words may not still represent your present appraisal, but they still do speak for mine: “Since you admit that what can be predicated of either nature is predicated of the person, I’m having trouble seeing why you object to saying ‘God died’ in the qualified sense of ‘the person of the Son of God in his human nature.’

    Another reformed authority I find helpful is William Cunningham, Historical Theology. Vol. I, pp. 317f:

    http://tinyurl.com/catrgwc

    “There is one other position concerning this matter laid down in the Confession as taught in Scripture, to which, before finally quitting this subject, I may briefly advert (Chap, viii. sec. 7). It is this: ‘Christ, in the work of mediation, acteth according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is some times in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.’ The union of the divine and human natures in the one person of Christ, with a view to the salvation of sinners, was effected just because there were some things necessary for the salvation of men which could be accomplished only by God, and others which could be done or endured only by man. Man alone could suffer and die, and God alone could satisfy the divine justice and magnify the divine law. Christ, accordingly, being God and man in one person, did by each nature that which was proper to itself.

    The second part of the statement just quoted from the Confession is a mere assertion of a fact in regard to a certain scriptural usage of language, and its accuracy is proved by such texts as this: ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us.’ Dying is of course proper to the human nature; yet it is here attributed to God—the person denominated by the divine nature; and the ground or reason of the attribution is, that that person who laid down His life, and did so as man, was also God.

    . . . The position in the Confession—a mere statement of a fact in regard to an occasional scriptural usage of language—must be carefully distinguished from a doctrine which sounds very like it, and which has been strenuously maintained by Lutheran divines, as the ground of their tenet concerning the ubiquity or omnipresence of Christ’s body, as it is called, which they are accustomed to adduce in defence of their view of the real presence of Christ’s body in the Eucharist. The Lutheran doctrine is, that what is proper to one nature may be attributed, not, as our Confession says, to the person denominated by the other nature, or described by a name taken from the other nature, but to the other nature itself; and more particularly, that the ubiquity or omnipresence of Christ’s divine nature may be attributed, because it really belongs, or has been communicated, to His human nature; nay, to His body or flesh. It is quite unnecessary to expose this absurd and monstrous doctrine; it is enough to point out that, though resembling in sound the statement contained in the Confession, it is essentially different in its nature and import, and in the authority on which it rests.”

  36. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    > “in some sense.” That qualifying phrase is an admission of the need for a context, and at that not just any context but a specific one. As has been said, that context is the hypostatic union.

    rfwhite, I agree with you. There is a need for context and the context I had hoped was understood (glad it was by you) is the hypostatic union.

    In retrospect, instead of “in some sense” it may have been more accurate for me to ask Lane if there is *any* sense in which he can say “God suffered and died” on the cross. I think to be consistent with his other statements, and with the hypostatic union, he must be able to say that.

  37. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Another who is able to talk about the suffering and death of the incarnate God was the reformed scholar Marcus Dods, On the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. pp. 133ff:

    http://tinyurl.com/7lccw9d

    “. . . the atonement was to be made by suffering. But the Divinity cannot suffer. It was necessary therefore, that the Son should assume, and assume into such union with himself, a nature capable of suffering, as would render his sufferings in that nature his own sufferings, just as certainly as his Divine personality is his own; so that the Scriptures speak of God purchasing the Church with his own blood, and of the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory.

    . . . In this respect also the divinity was essentially necessary to our Lord, in order to give that dignity to his person, and that value to his sufferings, which they could not otherwise have possessed. His sufferings are available for our salvation, not simply as they are sufferings, but as they are the sufferings of the ‘Lord of glory'; his blood cleanseth us from all sins, not simply as it is pure, and innocent, and holy blood, but as it is the blood of him who is ‘God over all, blessed for ever, Amen.’

    He was not divested of the divinity on the cross, for he could not be divested of himself; and his divinity was himself, as much as the humanity which suffered was himself. The Godhead in him was not separated from his Godhead properties, but, inseparably united to his own humanity, sustained it to endure what would have overwhelmed any other, until he could say, ‘It is finished.’ And this was what rendered his death an exhibition of the divine perfection, from which angels learn wisdom, that he who was ‘bruised for our iniquities,’ was not a man emptied of the divinity, and dying in consequence of the sinfulness of his flesh; but was God purchasing his Church with ‘his own blood.'”

  38. Wyatt said,

    March 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    This ‘Reformed’ Christology appears to be identical to Nestorianism. Christ’s Person P is the sum of his Divine attributes D and human attributes H. Where no attribute d in D is also an h in H. So there can be no real spiritual presence d that is also h. This is not Reformed

  39. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Wyatt,

    Have you been following this thread up till now?

  40. March 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Jack,

    I haven’t changed my appraisal. Just saying we should allow people freedom to speak the words with which they’re comfortable, as long as the meaning behind them, given their explanations, is orthodox. If someone has a problem with “God suffered,” I’d be fine to settle for “the person who suffered is divine” or better yet, “God suffered in his human nature.” Actually, those are more precise statements, anyway.

  41. March 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Jed,

    I think I can see how essence/energies might be helpful here. But I’d have to think about it more.

  42. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    “God suffered in his human nature.”

    Can you bring yourself to say that, Lane?

  43. David J Houston said,

    March 30, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Wyatt said: ‘This ‘Reformed’ Christology appears to be identical to Nestorianism. Christ’s Person P is the sum of his Divine attributes D and human attributes H. Where no attribute d in D is also an h in H. So there can be no real spiritual presence d that is also h. This is not Reformed’

    Whose ‘Reformed’ Christology did you have in mind? Which commenter’s? As you’ve presented it, the Christology in question doesn’t appear to be guilty of Nestorianism at all. In order for it to be Nestorian it would have to present Christ as consisting of two persons – a human and a divine – but it appears that your description involves only one divine purpose which is, of course, the orthodox position.

  44. Jack Bradley said,

    March 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    “God suffered in his human nature.”

    This definitely echoes Cyril’s 12th Anathema:

    “If anyone does not acknowledge that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, and was crucified in the flesh, and experienced death in the flesh, and became the first-born from the dead, seeing that as God He is both life and life-giving, let him be anathema.”

    For Cyril, Christ as God definitely experiences suffering. The Pre-eternal Word, although impassible God, suffered in the flesh, He was crucified in the flesh and experienced death in the flesh.

  45. David J Houston said,

    March 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    EDIT: The last line of my pose should have said ‘involves only one divine person’.

  46. Wyatt said,

    March 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    (#43) There was not a unified use of personae or hypostatis at the time of Nestorius. According to Peter Liethart’s biography on Constantine, neither Alexanderian or Antiochene conformed to the Chalcedonian & Nicene later use of the words. So its an anachronism to say that Nestorian said two persons according to Herman Bavinck (RD III).

    If the two natures are divided complete, its also identical to say that there are two natures. If you define Nestorianism as two persons, then this post is not technically Nestorian, but its certainly not Reformed.

    If the two natures are completely separate, then we’re forced to view Christ’s nature in the same way that Schleiermacher wrote about him in the doctrine of faith. And its a slippery slope to Feuerbach from there.

  47. Wyatt said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    (#39) Jack, no to be honest. I didn’t see any comments via my mobile device when I first post. Hard to keep up with everyone here. Seems like a quality group of men though.

  48. Wyatt said,

    March 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    (#3) Jack, you said everything that I wanted to say but in a much more eloquent word. I think you would enjoy reading Jurgen Moltmann’s Crucified God. It was so helpful to me, but not nearly as much as Oliver Crisp’s books. I’ve had some personal correspondence with him about Barth, Edwards and Christology, and he’s a brilliant man as well. I’m glad I was on the right path, because it does reek of Nestorianism.

  49. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Jack, saying “God suffered in His human nature” is like saying “God died in His human nature.” Even if one puts an orthodox spin on this, one has to spin rather a lot to get it to make sense. God the Father did not die, for instance. Also, God the Father does not have a human nature. Only God the Son became incarnate. The statement is simply too vague and unhelpful. I am content to say that Jesus suffered and died, and that Jesus was both God and man. There is NO confessional priority whatsoever to saying or implying that God suffered or died. Hmm, must not be central. You seem to think that the hypostatic union implies more than it does. You seem to be saying that, by virtue of the hypostatic union, what is said about suffering and dying applies equally to the human and the divine nature. I would say it doesn’t apply at all to the divine nature, except insofar as the divine nature sustained the human nature. Anything less than Moltmann’s position seems to you to imply either a denial, a contradiction, or an inconsistency in one’s view of the hypostatic union. At this point, I will bow out and simply say no, it does not, and you haven’t even remotely proved that it does.

  50. Jack Bradley said,

    March 31, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Lane,

    Since I supposedly share it, I guess I should read Moltmann, to find out what his position is. I suppose the reformed authorities I’ve contributed must also share it, by your criteria.

    I’ll just leave you with Frame’s Chalcedonian position, which I wholeheartedly share:

    “We may say that Jesus suffered and died on the cross ‘according to his human nature,’ but what suffered was not a ‘nature,’ but the person of Jesus. And the person of Jesus is nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, who has taken to himself a human nature. His experiences as a man are truly his experiences, the experiences of God.”

  51. March 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    But Lane, it’s precisely orthodoxy that’s the question. You have to equally put an “orthodox spin” on your *denial* that God suffered in his human nature. The idea that God suffered in his human nature (universally understood that we’re talking here about the Son and not the Father–I mean, no one at Chalcedon was a Sabellian!) is Chalcedonian. It’s taught by both Leo and Cyril, and it is ratified in Chalcedon, which the Reformed embrace, and always have, as orthodox.

    Do you confess Mary to be God-bearer? I assume you do, since you embrace Chalcedon. But once you do that, you confess that God was born–understood, of course, in the orthodox sense of the divine person *of the Son* in his human nature. And when you confess that God the Son was conceived and born in his human nature, you confess that *everything* the Son of God does in his human nature–including suffering and dying–is done by a *divine person* in his human nature. This is what Chalcedon sought to accomplish with the inclusion of the Theotokos.

    And when Chalcedon goes on to say about the two natures, “coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ,” it is apprent that the “one person and subsistence” of the two natures is none other than “the Son and only begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ.” The *person* of the Lord Jesus Christ is the same in identity as “the Son and only begotten God the Word,” according to Chalcedon. To try get around the import of this understanding of the incarnation by saying something like–“it was the person of Jesus who suffered but not the person of God the Word” really is not in line with Chalcedonian Christology. And that’s because such a statement implies either, 1. that there were originally two persons who came together by a moral union, or 2. that the Son of God became a different *person* (however closely related to his prior subsistence) by virtue of the union. Either of those options are Nestorian (not accusing you here–just trying to point out the implications of what you seem to be saying). By contrast, the Chalcedonian position is that the one divine person took a human nature into union with his divine nature and remained always identical in person/subsistence with who he is from eternity.

    Again, the person is the individual reality or subsistence, and the nature is that which subsists. In the incarnation, the individual reality of the Son of God became what he once was not (a human nature) without ever ceasing to be what he always was in terms of his individual reality (a divine person). And so, as A.A. Hodge rightly says in his commentary on our church’s confession, and as the best of our dogmaticians also say when the touch on this specific issue, there is in the Lord Jesus one person and two natures–a human and a divine nature, but only a divine person (which person, of course, consists after the union in two distinct natures). This is precisely why, when we’re talking about the *person* who did all the things our Lord Jesus did in his human nature, we’re talking about none other than “the Son and only begotted God the Word.”

    Again, none of this should be controversial. It really is what is meant by Chalcedon. The standard treatments of the 5th century Christological controversies will confirm it. Leo Donald Davis, John McGuckin, and Donald Fairbairn are particularly helpful, as is the 1st volume of Pelikan’s History of the Christian Tradition. And a reading of the standard early texts–from the Cappadocians to Leo and Cyril–will also bear it out.

  52. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Spot on, Jonathan. In addition to the helpful bibliography that you have at the end, permit me, if I may, to add the incomparable treatment of the person of Christ found in Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, v. 1: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon.

    Grillmeier is not for the novitiate. Basic familiarity with Christology should be gained elsewhere. But for those who want to get into the details of this discussion that has been going on here, I know of nothing better than this work. It and its following volumes give a detailed treatment of this important and often now-neglected subject. Theology and Christology (primarily the person of Christ) were the glories of the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries.

    His several subsequent volumes go beyond Chalcedon and treat the fifth and sixth Councils dealing further with monophysitism and then with monothelitism, rounding out Christology in the seventh century.

  53. March 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Alan,

    Thanks for the Grillmeier recommendation. I haven’t read his work, so I’ll have to get my hands on a copy!

    Blessings,

    Jon

  54. March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I remember Perry Robinson (who’s EO, I think) making a claim that Calvin was decidedly un-Chalcedonian. Anyone remember what he was talking about?

  55. March 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Jason,

    Yes. That’s a frequent objection. P.R. has recently done the same with Vermigli and Ursinus in other forums. When he makes that charge, he’s talking about the very same thing that’s been at issue here: Was the person who suffered for our sins a divine person, who suffered in his human nature? If we say “no,” then we really are open to the charge of Nestorianism.

    Calvin, and other 16th c. Reformed, affirmed that the person of Christ was none other than the eternal Son of God–the Word. But because they at times also spoke of the human nature as composing “part” of the Person after the hypostatic union, they’re said by Reformed antagonists to be open to the charge of Nestorianism. But this is only the case if the analysis of the sources stops at isolated statements. Calvin et al needn’t be read to mean anything by such statements other than the meaning provided amidst these discussions–the human nature subsists in the person, and so after the union can be said in that sense to be “part” of the person. They were Chalcedonian, and their Christology followed the Exposition of John of Damascus fairly closely.

    Bruce McCormack wrote an essay a few years back that provided much ammunition to this charge. However, regarding all this I would highly recommend the following two articles by Steven Wedgeworth:

    http://calvinistinternational.com/2012/03/18/a-compound-person-part-1/

    http://calvinistinternational.com/2012/03/18/a-compound-person-part-2/

  56. March 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Correction: “Reformed antagonists” should rather read: “antagonists of the Reformed.”

  57. Thomas Twitchell said,

    March 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Reblogged this on A Rose by Any Other Name.

  58. Sean Gerety said,

    April 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I just curious those who insist God suffered and died “in some sense” but are not happy with Lane’s response, how do you define “person” so that the same person can and cannot suffer and die, be ignorant of some things yet be omniscient, etc.?

  59. Sean Gerety said,

    April 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    should have bee “I’m just curious” but that’s what I get for typing on the way out the door 8-0

  60. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Lane, allow me to ask you if this is a fair overview:

    Lane: “What is true of the hypostatic union is not necessarily true of one of the natures. . . It is a logical fallacy to say that what is true of the whole (hypostatic union) is true of its parts (the two natures).”

    Total agreement. That is the Lutheran logical fallacy. But here is your logical fallacy: What is true of one of natures (human) of the hypostatic union is NOT true of the person.

    Lane: “Did God suffer on the cross? I believe that the answer is that His divine nature sustained His human nature, but did not itself suffer.”

    Total agreement. Well said. His divine nature did not and cannot suffer.

    But you went on to say: “I actually believe that our entire question can be much clarified by asking the question this way: can God die? To ask the question is really to answer it. But we cannot separate part of the suffering of Christ from any other part: it is a seamless whole. If God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross. I, for one, cannot go there.”

    Yes, it is a seamless whole. That’s just the point of the hypostatic union: two natures, one person = seamless whole. So that what happens to one of the natures (suffering, death) can and must be said of the person. Instead, you say that while the human nature certainly suffered, we cannot say that God suffered.

    This is why I continue to insist that you seem to minimize the atoning truth of the hypostatic union.

    I hear Jonathan saying the same: “when you confess that God the Son was conceived and born in his human nature, you confess that *everything* the Son of God does in his human nature–including suffering and dying–is done by a *divine person* in his human nature. . . To try get around the import of this understanding of the incarnation by saying something like–‘it was the person of Jesus who suffered but not the person of God the Word’ really is not in line with Chalcedonian Christology.”

    Olsen: “The key similarity lay in the fact that in both adoptionism and Nestorianism the Son of God never actually enters into human existence.”

    Again, I am not accusing you of Nestorianism, but I continue to think you are not making enough of the hypostatic union in your Christology when you say, “God cannot suffer.”

  61. rfwhite said,

    April 2, 2012 at 11:24 am

    60 JackB: I have a couple of questions for clarification of your contentions. First, do you affirm or deny that the Son of God knew no suffering prior to the incarnation? Second, do you agree with the following statement from DeYoung’s summary of Cyril: “According to the communication of idioms (properties) what is predicated to the divine nature or to the human nature can be predicated to the Son of God, but what is predicated to the Son cannot be automatically predicated to the human or divine nature, and what is predicated to one nature cannot be predicated to the other”?

  62. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    rf, thanks for your good questions. Let me get back to you a bit later today when I have a more time.

  63. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    1. Complete affirmation–no suffering prior to incarnation.

    2. I understand the first and third predicates, each of which I fully affirm.
    But I’m not quite tracking with the second one: “what is predicated to the Son cannot be automatically predicated to the human or divine nature.”

    Could you, or Jonathan or whoever else would like to, help me understand exactly what this is getting at? I’m sure its obvious to someone and brain freeze on my part :)

  64. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Oh, is this it: “Christ suffered, died” cannot be attributed to His divine nature?

  65. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Should have added: If so, I of course completely affirm the second predicate as well. But since the third predicate would cover the same ground, I may still not be tracking with the second.

  66. jedpaschall said,

    April 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Jack,

    The Nestorian warning is noted, and we would all do well to avoid it, but the peril that you are leaving yourself open to is blurring the distinction between the divine and human natures in the hypostatic union here. Just as I appreciate that you are not accusing Lane of Nestorianism, understand I am not accusing you of Eutychianism. But, without careful distinctions it is as easy for you to arrive at the error on the flip-side which is confusing or blurring the two natures of Christ when you claim that *God suffered, died, bled, etc.*

    In Christ, the divine and human natures (hypostasis) are united, and neither are sequestered when Christ experiences anything in his Person, he experiences both as human and divine. However, when Christ is tempted, God is not, because God is impassible. When Christ Dies, God does not because he is impassible in his nature, or in his essence. So, while the divine experiences the death of Christ, it is not equivocal with the human nature which is susceptible to death. This is precisely why the Eastern church has upheld the essence/energies distinction with respect to Christology – because the divine essence, even in Christ is unsullied by death or temptation, even though the divine energies, or God revealed and active in history is experiencing these things in the Person of Christ. Horton revives this emphasis in his systematics because it has been such a difficulty, especially in the West, do draw proper distinctions. It may be new to us, but the essence/energies distinctions have been utilized to uphold and defend Chalcedonian doctrine, especially by Cappidocian fathers such as Basil, which is why I think this distinction deserves some attention in our discussions on Christology.

    I can sympathize with Lane’s unwillingness to “go there” with respect to the suffering and death of the Divine nature. But where I think he is emphasizing the Divine nature, I see you and Jonathan emphasizing the Person of Christ, which is to say you all are speaking of different realities here. Lane is right, God cannot in his nature suffer or die, as these would constitute a violation of his incommunicable attributes, however the divine Persons of the Trinity can experience these, especially Christ without the divine nature or essence suffering at all. So, even when we articulate orthodox doctrines in Christology or Theology Proper, we end up still having to clarify and distinguish what we are speaking to. In the end certain heretical teachings basically seem to hinge on drawing incorrect conclusions based on over or under emphasizing what Scripture affirms.

  67. April 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Sean,

    To reply to you question would be to repeat many things I’ve already said. If you find the definition of terms and concepts provided amidst this discussion unsatisfactory, then I’d refer you to the works touching on the fifth century controversies mentioned above.

    Jack,

    Yes, I believe you’re correct about what is meant by the second predication. What’s predicated of the person is not necessarily predicated of either nature. Hence, the Person of the Son of God suffered and died according to the human nature but *not* according to the divine nature. It’s not ideally stated in the quote provided, but I have to think that’s what it’s getting at. It’s not necessarily redundant with the third predication, as the second has to do with the relation between the person and the natures, and third with the relationship between the two natures–though the point is similar.

  68. April 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Jed,

    If you’ll look through the comments again, I think you’ll see that Jack and I have both been rather abundantly clear that we wholeheartedly and emphatically reject the notion that the divine *nature* suffered or died. I haven’t seen Jack anywhere assert amidst this discussion that what’s predicated of the human nature can be predicated of the divine *nature*. The point about the God being born, suffering, etc., has specifically to do with the *person* who does those things in his *human nature*. As I already said, it is a matter of creedal orthodoxy (Chalcedon) to confess that Mary *bore God*, and what Chalcedon sought to acheive the inclusion of Theotokos was the propriety of saying things like “God was born.” “God suffered” is merely an extension of this. Nobody whose orthodox and says that means by in anything other than that the Son of God suffered in the flesh. Just as nobody who calls Mary “Theotokos” (which I hope you do!) means by that term that Mary’s somehow the origin of the divine nature.

    Listen, I fully understand the concern to guard against the divine nature suffering. That’s a good and proper concern and we should all share it. To deny the impassibility of the divine nature is to stray into heterodoxy. But the point of Chalcedon was balance, and proper distinction. And both of those *begins* with the proper definition and distinction between person and nature. Christ is one divine person–the eternal Son of God–with a divine and a human nature. And this is the very point of the incarnation for the traditional Christology–the eternal Son of God as he is in himself (his proper nature–the divine) *cannot* suffer. So, in order that he might suffer and die it was necessary for him to take a human nature into union with himself, and suffer as man in our place. In other words, who is the “he” of the incarnation? “He” is the eternal Son of God. The Lord Jesus Christ precisely *is* the person of the eternal Logos in the flesh. And so, what is predicated of the human nature is therefore predicated of the divine *person*, though not the divine nature. And that’s the case because the person, the *subject*, of the incarnation, is none other than the Logos.

    Again, I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: this is simply bare bones orthodox Chalcedonian Christology. There should not be anything controversial about it.

  69. Sean Gerety said,

    April 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Jonathan, I simply asked you to define what you mean by “person.”

    It is not so much that your terms and concepts are unsatisfactory, just that a definition of “person” is non-existent. I want to know how you define “person” that includes mutually exclusive and contradictory attributes. Maybe I missed it, but I’ve been following this thread and the last one pretty closely and I don’t think I have.

  70. jedpaschall said,

    April 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Jonathan,

    I haven’t accused you or Jack of attributing suffering, death, et. al. in divine nature here, which is why I tried to clarify that in my statement to Jack. But when we say, with respect to Christology that God suffers, bleeds, etc. we have to draw certain distinctions. I think that you have drawn those quite well. Jack has utilized some quotations that have undermined his assertions to uphold the incommunicable divine attributes such as impassibility. He clarified with regards to his use of Frame, but with respect to Leithart, and Olson on this thread and the prior one – his citations have raised some question as to what he is seeking to emphasize here.

    I also see differing emphases between Lane, who seems to be dealing in questions surrounding the divine essence, and you (especially) who are focusing on Christological questions with respect to Christ’s Person which encompasses more than simply essence. In this respect, at least from my observation there seems to be an unintentional tendency to talk past each other.

  71. jedpaschall said,

    April 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    For reference, these are the quotes that I think have served to obscure exactly what Jack is affirming and denying:

    Comment # 7 3/23/12: An Issue in Christology

    Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology:

    “During the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, Martin Luther embraced both Nicaea and Chalcedon as respected landmarks of Christian doctrine and at the same time rejected belief in divine impassibility and attributed creaturely experiences to the Son of God in his incarnate state. For Luther it is no scandal to say ‘God was born’ and ‘God suffered and died’ and ‘God was crucified’ and really mean it as more than mere figures of speech. Luther carried the communication idiomatum to its logical conclusion.”

    Leithart, The Four [Gospels]:

    “Does Jesus suffer on the cross as a shell of a man abandoned by His better, divine half, or is God dying? And, if the latter, whatever could that mean?

    And classical Christology provides the right coordinates. Orthodox Christology insists that the hero of the gospel story is the Son of God who has assumed human flesh. Everything Jesus does and says and suffers is what the Son of God does and says and suffers. Jesus is never a human shell, emptied of the divine presence.

    . . . How can God enter a womb and be born? On the face of it, isn’t that just absurd? How can God sweat blood and die in anguish? Arians said, God can’t; so Jesus must be a secondary, not-quite-God. God can’t do those things, so He sends an exalted creature to do His dirty work. Nestorians also said, God can’t; so some happenings in the life of Jesus—birth and death especially—are happenings to the human, not the divine, nature, while other happenings happen to the divine nature. Docetists said, God can’t; so it all appearance; the Son has no real human flesh. These denials are only common sense, common Greek sense especially.

    The Church, against all sense and through protracted struggle, consistently rejected those hedges and safe havens. Orthodoxy has always been a risk-taking enterprise, but it is nowhere so adventurous as in Christology. Bowing to Scripture, the Church said: God the Son, wholly eternally equal to the Father, took on flesh, God was born, God suffered human hunger and thirst, God took the lash and the spitting on His own flesh, and God died in that flesh on the cross.”

    And Question # 59 3/24 (same thread), he expands the Leithart quote:

    If atonement is to be real, it must be the work of the God-man, God and man in hypostatic union, not merely God “in” man but God “as” man. As Leithart asks:

    “Does Jesus suffer on the cross as a shell of a man abandoned by His better, divine half, or is God dying? And, if the latter, whatever could that mean? . . . Bowing to Scripture, the Church said: God the Son, wholly eternally equal to the Father, took on flesh, God was born, God suffered human hunger and thirst, God took the lash and the spitting on His own flesh, and God died in that flesh on the cross.

    Without imputing guilt to either of these theologians, I see both Leithart and Olsen making the experiences of Christ as both Divine, and human equivocal, or at least not clarifying otherwise. Christ is God, experiences death on the cross, but the divine nature does not die – yet we also affirm that Christ, as the Divine Son is experiencing the fullness of the cross. Yet, in the quotes provided, we do not see the necessary distinctions being drawn – merely assertions to the effect that God bled, suffered, and died on the cross.

    When we simply constrict the discussion to divine/human nature, and do not place this in the older context of essence/energies, we end up with a lack of clarity one way or the other on questions of orthodoxy. This is why Horton picks back up on these categories expanding beyond the constraints of debates over nature, and argues that they are wholly compatible with Reformed orthodoxy. We can affirm that in his energies God experiences the fullness of the cross, including the death of Christ – so we can refer to the death, suffering, and blood of the Divine person, yet uphold the immutability and impassiblity of the Divine essence in an orthodox manner. With this distinction orthodox Christology is upheld without perpetuating confusion by saying that God, by his nature and incommunicable attributes cannot die, but Christ as God died. Neither Leithart or Olsen clarify this here – which cast some amount of confusion as to what Jack is actually trying to argue, at least to me.

  72. greenbaggins said,

    April 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Jack, here are a smattering of quotes from my last posts.

    “In other words, whatever we can say about Christ’s human nature, we can also say about His person.”

    “those two natures did not communicate attributes to each other, but rather to the person of Christ.”

    “the properties of the human nature may be ascribed to the whole person.”

    Here is what you said about my statements: “But here is your logical fallacy: What is true of one of natures (human) of the hypostatic union is NOT true of the person.”

    Your claims about what I am saying and my claims about what I am saying are in direct opposition to each other. One of us is misreading me, and I’m fairly certain it isn’t me. You go on to say: “Yes, it is a seamless whole. That’s just the point of the hypostatic union: two natures, one person = seamless whole. So that what happens to one of the natures (suffering, death) can and must be said of the person. Instead, you say that while the human nature certainly suffered, we cannot say that God suffered.”

    Here is the problem as I see it. You seem to agree that God did not suffer. But when I say that God did not suffer, you accuse me of either denying or undermining or not being consistent in my propounding of the hypostatic union. But saying “God did not suffer” (which I’m unwilling to say) is not the same thing as saying that the person of Christ suffered (which I’m perfectly willing to say). In fact, to say that the divine nature in Christ suffered is actually to isolate the divine nature from the human nature. What can be said about either nature can be said about the person. But what is true about the person is not necessarily true of both natures. For instance, when Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man, we understand that to be true about His human nature, and therefore also of His person. But to say that it is true of His person, and then say that therefore it must be true of the divine nature considered distinctly is patently false. It is even false to say that because the person of Christ grew in wisdom and stature, therefore the divine nature considered as part of the person grew. The divine nature of Christ is unchangeable. It certainly did not grow in wisdom and knowledge, having the fullness of wisdom from all eternity.

    To say, in the other issue, for instance, that Mary is the mother of God has to be very carefully qualified. Some, like Calvin, didn’t like the expression at all, because it so often led (through misunderstanding and lack of qualification) to superstition. If one understands the word “God” in that sentence to be the God-man, then the sentence is perfectly orthodox. But the statement can obviously be taken in a much different direction: that of Mary being practically a fourth member of the Trinity, as indeed the Romanists tend to do.

    To sum up here, I keep getting the feeling that unless I say “God suffered,” I am denying the hypostatic union, or undermining it, or however you want to put it. My point is simple: what is true of either nature is true of the person. But what is true of the person is not necessarily true of both natures considered distinctly. And I must also add here that “seamless whole” does not mean “no distinctions.” There is a distinction (however much there is no separation) between the human and the divine nature. I can say that something is true of the whole person WITHOUT saying that it is true of the divine nature considered abstractly, or even not abstractly. The person is not equal to the sum of the parts. That would be the fallacy of composition.

  73. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Jed,

    I don’t see the legitimacy of your critique of Leithart. As I’ve said before, he’s perfectly orthodox in everything I’ve quoted. But I can see how the Luther reference had potential for misunderstanding: “[Luther] rejected belief in divine impassibility and attributed creaturely experiences to the Son of God in his incarnate state.”

    I am focused on the last four words, taking “in his incarnate state” to qualify “rejected belief in divine impassibility.” In other words, Luther did not apply divine impassibility to Christ in his INCARNATE state, because it would negate His “creaturely experiences.”
    (sorry for the caps, but italics aren’t operative here)

    But I can see that it could be perceived as though Luther were outright rejecting the doctrine of impassibility–which would of course diminish him as an authority in this discussion. But I don’t think that’s what he was doing.

    As far as your other concerns, Jonathan speaks well for my perspective.

    And I do wish, as you put it, that our differences with Lane were just a matter of focus, but I think it is more substantive than that.

  74. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Lane,

    I just had time to see your name on a new post. Sorry, but I have to be away from the laptop until early evening. I’ll will reply in a few hours. Thanks for the continued interaction.

  75. jedpaschall said,

    April 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Jack,

    You have quoted from Olsen (Arminian) to Leithart (Reformed/FV), to Hodge (Classic-Reformed Orthodox), to Horton (Modern Reformed Orthodox), and several others, all of whom you are asserting are in agreement with respect to this issue in Christology. I simply disagree, while there may be elements of similarity, what I am reading with respect to Hodge or Horton and Leithart and Olsen are quite different on the issue of impassibility. I have read Hodge and Horton, but not Olsen or Leithart, so again what I have to go by is what you quote, which I assume is a fair representation of where they stand on the issue. The problem, especially with Leithart in the quote is that he simply states that he affirms something along the lines of Chalcedon, but goes on to say God suffered in the flesh, without much qualification. Without qualification, I am left unclear on how he fits this into a Chalcedonian framework. I am not saying he does not, but how or where, I can’t access from what you are providing.

  76. rfwhite said,

    April 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    63-65 Jack B: Here is a bit more of the context for DeYoung’s reference to Cyril:

    “According to the communication of idioms (properties) what is predicated to the divine nature or to the human nature can be predicated to the Son of God, but what is predicated to the Son cannot be automatically predicated to the human or divine nature, and what is predicated to one nature cannot be predicated to the other. [DeYoung cites Calvin, Institutes, 2.14.1] This means that if Jesus’ human nature took a nap, we cannot say the divine nature took a nap, but we can say the Person of the Son took a nap. When Jesus wept, Jesus truly wept, but this weeping cannot be predicated of the divine nature as a matter of course. [DeYoung here cites Calvin, Institutes, 2.14.2] Otherwise, you have nonsensical statements about God as God dying … (which even Moltmann wants to avoid [here DeYoung, citing Crucified God, pp. 207, 243, notes that Moltmann avoids theopaschitism and rejects patripassianism])… and man as a man creating the cosmos before he was born.”

  77. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Lane,

    You said, “You seem to agree that God did not suffer.”
    I’ve been very clear (in spite of your repeated assertions to the contrary) that I am speaking of Christ in His divine nature, when I say that God did not suffer. But the burden of my entire interaction is that the person of Christ did indeed suffer, in His human nature.

    You said:

    “In other words, whatever we can say about Christ’s human nature, we can also say about His person.”

    “those two natures did not communicate attributes to each other, but rather to the person of Christ.”

    “the properties of the human nature may be ascribed to the whole person.”

    Yes, this is just what I have been saying. But it is obvious that we mean different things, when you also say:

    “I actually believe that our entire question can be much clarified by asking the question this way: can God die? . . . we cannot separate part of the suffering of Christ from any other part: it is a seamless whole. If God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross. I, for one, cannot go there.”

    Agreed: Our entire question is clarified by asking that question: Can God die? I say, with Cyril, Hodge, Shedd, Frame, Stott, Leithart, Dods, Cunningham, et al: yes, God in His human nature, could and did die.

    You say He could not and did not. And by so saying, I submit that your doctrine of the atonement is eviscerated—because your doctrine of hypostatic union is hollow. As I said previously:

    “Yes, it is a seamless whole. That’s just the point of the hypostatic union: two natures, one person = seamless whole. So that what happens to one of the natures (suffering, death) can and must be said of the person.”

    Lane, you’re willing say “person”, but you don’t really see who the person of Christ on the cross is. The Person on the cross was a divine person. As Jonathan B. put it:

    “When you confess that God the Son was conceived and born in his human nature, you confess that *everything* the Son of God does in his human nature–including suffering and dying–is done by a *divine person* in his human nature. . . when we’re talking about the *person* who did all the things our Lord Jesus did in his human nature, we’re talking about none other than ‘the Son and only begotten God the Word.’” (Chalcedon)

    I note that in your three quotes above you do not use that terminology: divine person. Are you able to say this much about Christ on the cross? If you are, then you must say the obvious: divine person = God.

    If you are not able to say “divine person” on the cross, then I can only remind you of what Cyril said:

    “If anyone does not acknowledge that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, and was crucified in the flesh, and experienced death in the flesh, and became the first-born from the dead, seeing that AS GOD he is both life and life-giving, let him be anathema.”

    Lane: “To sum up here, I keep getting the feeling that unless I say “God suffered,” I am denying the hypostatic union, or undermining it, or however you want to put it.”

    Yes. That is how I would put it: undermining it, at best; denying it, at worst.

    Nathanael said this earlier in the discussion, and I think it really is relevant:

    “To say that Christ suffered on the cross but God did not suffer on the cross or Christ bled on the cross but God did not bleed on the cross is Nestorianism, pure and simple. It is Nestorianism because it makes two Christs; a human Christ who bleeds and a divine Christ who does not.”

  78. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Jed: “I simply disagree.”

    You are free to do so.

  79. Jack Bradley said,

    April 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    rf, thank you for the further context.

  80. greenbaggins said,

    April 3, 2012 at 8:01 am

    This conversation is going nowhere, since you are repeatedly extending my arguments way past where I go with them. I deny the implications you fling my way, and I utterly deny that I am eviscerating the atonement. That is , quite frankly, a ridiculous charge, even ludicrous. I am not saying one single thing different from what Dr. White just quoted.

  81. April 3, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Sean,

    I have defined both person and nature (actually, a couple times, I think) either here, or in the thread of the previous post on this topic (don’t have time to go through them all again). Person = individual reality/subsistence. Nature = that which subsists. Persons have natures, but are not themselves natures. Natures subsist in persons. In the Son of God, after the hypostatic union, there is one person/subsistence (the Word), and two natures which subsist in the one person/subsistence.

  82. April 3, 2012 at 8:51 am

    All,

    Jed is right. This really does, and has from the beginning, come down to whether we’re talking about person or nature (Jack and I emphasizing the former, Lane emphasizing the latter). This has in fact been the point of everything I’ve been saying from my initial entry into this discussion on the previous thread. Jack (at least from what I’ve been able to gather) and I have been arguing for the primacy of the divine person (as the Reformed traditionally have), and the fact that the person remains precisely the same after the hypostatic union (the eternal Son of God) as before it, though in the incarnation now with with a human nature.

    The point of everything Jack and I have been saying is this, once again: when you’re talking about the *person* of Christ, you’re talking about the second person of the Holy Trinity, which person has taken an impersonal/anhypostatic human nature into hypostatic union with his divine nature–the “hypostasis” of the “hypostatic” union being none other than the Son of God, the Word, as Chalcedon has handed down to us. Hence, the human nature subsists in the divine person. This is why the 5th century debates centered so much on whether or not one was willing to say, “God was born,” “God suffered” (these understood, once again, in the orthodox sense of *in his flesh*). Nestorius denied the popriety of these ways of speaking, while Cyril, Leo, and those within the parameters drawn by Ephesus and Chalcedon affirmed them.

    Yes, Calvin may have preferred not to speak in such ways, because of possible abuse. And abuse has occured. So, I understand the hesitation here. But it needs to be pointed out that abuse occurs on the opposite end of the spectrum as well–denial of the union of natures, division of the person of Christ, etc. Nevertheless, if one chooses to follow Calvin in that regard, I perfectly understand. But even with that, it must be understood further that Calvin (and the other Reformed) did not deny the propriety of such statements *provided that* terms and concepts were properly defined and distinctions properly drawn. Now, I certainly don’t think that Lane or anyone else should feel forced to have to incorporate phrases such as “God suffered” into their regular theological vocabulary. Yet, the continued unwillingess to affirm the propriety of such statements even when terms and concepts are defined and proper distinctions drawn–leads me to think that Jack isn’t necessarily out of line to suspect that something is amiss about all this.

    Brothers, here’s what I’m getting at. If you say you confess Chalcedon, you have to understand what it teaches in the context of the fifth century debates–what’s meant by person and nature, and why the Theotokos is there. You don’t have to be a patristics scholar, but you should at least have a basic understanding of the terms and concepts in the context of the Definition’s composition, and the debates which led up to it, and followed it. This is asking no more than what you’d expect of a ministerial candidate with respect to their understanding of the Westminster Standards. If you do that and reject Chalcedon in this area because of your conviction of what the Scriptures teach, then fine. Say so. But you have to understand that if you say that the person of Christ is anything but the the person of the eternal Son of God, with a human nature, is to have a different understanding of the incarnation than Chalcedon. In other words, to claim that the Son of God is somehow a different *person* after the hypostatic union–such as is implied when you say, “the person of Christ suffered, but the Son of God did not suffer”–is non-Chalcedonian. This is precisely what Ephesus and Chalcedon condemned as Nestorian–a division of the person of the Son of God.

    I don’t mean any of this to be accusatory. These are difficult matters and, as with anything else, we all need to have patience in dealing with one another.

  83. Jack Bradley said,

    April 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Well said, Jonathan.

    “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19)

    How?

    “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. 2:14)

    “The Word became flesh”

  84. Ron said,

    April 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

    “If God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross. I, for one, cannot go there.”

    Hi Guys,

    If we were annihilationists I could see a problem but we’re not. When bodies die they remain in the grave until resurrection but the soul will remain conscious in the intermediate state doing what souls can do without a body. With that premise in view, how does the death of the Second Person impinge upon his divinity, authority, abilities or whatever? Was the death of the body sufficient to do away with Jesus’ sovereign rule over the universe? Was death even sufficient to stop the Rich Man (from Luke 16) from trying to correct God? NOTE: One would have to ask how the Lord managed prior to the incarnation (when without a body) if we may not say that the Second Person of the Trinity died upon the cross. In death Jesus was separated from his body but he was still conscious and active according to what he could do without a body. What am I missing?

  85. Jack Bradley said,

    April 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Ron,

    We need to be careful in our terminology. We indeed may not say that the Second Person of the Trinity died–because such a construction does not specifically refer to the Second Person in His incarnate state.

  86. April 3, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Ron,

    All those things have been answered throughout this discussion. In the incarnation, the Son of God took on human flesh. And by virtue of that incarnation, the Son of God tasted death for us *in his humanity”. That is the exact point of the incarnation for orthodox Christology. The divine nature continued impassible. The human nature suffered and died. The person in which each nature subsists is the one and only begotten Son of God, the Word. The one person of the Son at the same time died and remained alive, sovereign, all powerful, impassible, immutable, etc., for he is a divine person with both a human and a divine nature.

  87. April 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Ron,

    Upon reading your comment again, it seems I misunderstood your point. I apologize. Anyway, I think you make a good point. However, it should also be noted that *even if* we were annihilationists (which you rightly note that we’re not) given the distinction between person and nature there still shouldn’t be a problem, because after the incarnation two distinct natures subsist in the Son–the divine and the human. Even if the human nature were to be completely annihilated, the divine *nature* would remain unaffected.

  88. Sean Gerety said,

    April 3, 2012 at 10:57 am

    @81

    “I have defined both person and nature (actually, a couple times, I think) either here, or in the thread of the previous post on this topic (don’t have time to go through them all again). Person = individual reality/subsistence.”

    No wonder I missed it. It’s not really a definition is it? Dog = individual reality/subsistence. Admittedly, not a very good definition for a dog either. Clark was right and I completely understand why when it comes to Christology we’ve all been trapped talking nonsense for hundreds of years if that is the best you can do when it comes to defining your key terms even “person.” Sad really.

  89. Ron said,

    April 3, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Ron,

    We need to be careful in our terminology. We indeed may not say that the Second Person of the Trinity died–because such a construction does not specifically refer to the Second Person in His incarnate state.

    Hi Jack,

    I feel somewhat safe thinking that people will assume I meant died “on the cross” which of course presupposes the incarnate state. :)

  90. Ron said,

    April 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Hi Jonathan,

    I saw your follow-up post before seeing your first response. Thanks for the clarification. As you might suspect from my post, the only dog I wish to run in this race has to do with the adverse reaction some people have to God the Son dying (on the cross). Namely, that if He died, then He couldn’t function as God, which is why I try to tease out that we believe in a conscious death, and one that permits the person to operate on some level with no body. In the case of the Son of God, He operated most of His divine life without a body yet while ruling the universe. Accordingly, why not say he died and in that sense, operated as before? Regarding my annihilation remark, my only point was that if we believe by definition that people fail to exist upon death, then of course there would be a problem with Jesus having died as a person. But we don’t believe that people fail to exist upon death. Therefore, my point was that I think that sometimes, without realizing it even, some might impose an annihilation understanding of death onto their own thinking, thereby not allowing the Savior to have truly died.

  91. April 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Sean,

    Sorry I’m not as smart as you. I’m just trying to be faithful to the terminology that’s been passed down since the fifth century. It’s not that hard to grasp. A person is an individual reality, a nature is that which subsists in the individual reality. Nature is the general category, person is the particular. The the divine nature subsists in three persons in the Trinity. The divine and human natures subsist in one person in the hypostatic union. If you’re not satisfied with this, then you’re free to reject Nicea and Chalcedon.

  92. April 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

    By the way: if we were to transfer the terms to “dog”–actually, “dog” would be nature. “Person” would be a particular dog, like Spot. But all that’s silly anyway, as we’re really talking here about God and those made in his image.

    All human beings share the same nature. But all human beings are distinct, individual persons. That is, human nature subsists, and in reality only exists, as it is in particular human persons. It is the same with respect to God. The three persons share the same divine essence. But that divine essence/nature subsists only in the three persons. There’s no divine nature that’s abstracted from the three persons. Thus, God *is* three persons. And each of the persons are individual realities with distinct qualities. Specifically, the Father begets, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds. These three nevertheless share one and the same essence/nature.

  93. Sean Gerety said,

    April 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Sorry I’m not as smart as you. I’m just trying to be faithful to the terminology that’s been passed down since the fifth century. It’s not that hard to grasp. A person is an individual reality, a nature is that which subsists in the individual reality.

    It has nothing to do with being “smart” as it was simply a request that you define your terms since so much hangs in the balance. Essentially, it seems to me that for you and Jack the only logically consistent conclusion of Chalcedonian orthodoxy is to say God suffered and God died, quite apart from the carefully qualified statements made by Lane (don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely satisfied with Lane’s Christology but at least it doesn’t imply a denial of God’s impassibility or immutability). I am more than willing to concede that you and Jack may be right.

    Consequently, there are many things that are not “persons” that have individual reality and “a nature that which subsists in the individual reality.” Your definition doesn’t really tell us what a person is so it would seem to me to be useless, despite it being repeated since the fifth century. That only proves that repeating nonsense for hundreds of years doesn’t make something any less nonsensical.

    Nature is the general category, person is the particular. The the divine nature subsists in three persons in the Trinity. The divine and human natures subsist in one person in the hypostatic union. If you’re not satisfied with this, then you’re free to reject Nicea and Chalcedon.

    Why isn’t person a general category? You and me are persons, but so are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That seems pretty general to me. Also, why is asking you to define what a person is ipso facto a rejection of Nicea and Chaledon? Is this similar to someone who doesn’t want to say God suffers or God dies is therefore a Nestorian?

    All human beings share the same nature. But all human beings are distinct, individual persons. That is, human nature subsists, and in reality only exists, as it is in particular human persons. It is the same with respect to God. The three persons share the same divine essence. But that divine essence/nature subsists only in the three persons. There’s no divine nature that’s abstracted from the three persons. Thus, God *is* three persons. And each of the persons are individual realities with distinct qualities. Specifically, the Father begets, the Son is begotten, and the Spirit proceeds. These three nevertheless share one and the same essence/nature.

    OK, no problem here, but what is a person so that it might be differentiated from other individual realities/subsistences that are clearly not persons and may also be dogs or canines? FWIW I didn’t think I was asking too much. I apologize if I was.

  94. Jack Bradley said,

    April 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Ron,

    I understood your context, but I’m still concerned that we are careful in our constructions. I really would never want to say ‘the second Person of the Trinity died” because that impinges upon the divine nature, no matter what the context is.

  95. April 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Sean,

    I’d refer you to Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, or John of Damascus. I’m using these terms in no unique sense. You and I are two distinct individual realities (persons) who share the same nature. We both have a human nature–for we are both human beings–but we are different persons, distinct individuals. I am Jonathan Bonomo. You are Sean Gerety. Going on the traditional understanding of the terms, our natures are the same. Our Persons are distinct. As to the obvious question that then arises: Then why, since we are “two people” should we not then say that God is “three Gods? —” I’d refer you to Gregory of Nyssa, who deals with that precise question in his “Answer to Ablabius,” aka, “On Not Three Gods.”

    Person/hypostasis is not a general category precisely because the whole purpose of its introduction into our theological vocabulary in the first place was to distinguish it from the general category of nature/essence/ousia. To posit that it can also be a general category is to simply redefine the term. It is by definition the particular category when used in the context of this discussion. You may not like the definitions. But that is what the terms mean, and it is why we speak the way we do about God and Christ. It is the church’s language.

    As to whether or not denying that it was a divine person who suffered and died on the cross is Nestorian: That’s simply an historical judgment, so I don’t see why anyone should take offense at it. It was such a denial that was precisely why Nestorius was condemned at Ephesus and Chalcedon. The position of Nestorius was specifically that Christ is one person who was formed out of the union of the two natures–the person of the God-man who is a distinct person after the union from the second person of the Holy Trinity. Again, for all this I’d refer you to the works mentioned above.

  96. Sean Gerety said,

    April 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’d refer you to Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, or John of Damascus. I’m using these terms in no unique sense. You and I are two distinct individual realities (persons) who share the same nature. We both have a human nature–for we are both human beings–but we are different persons, distinct individuals. I am Jonathan Bonomo. You are Sean Gerety. Going on the traditional understanding of the terms, our natures are the same. Our Persons are distinct. As to the obvious question that then arises: Then why, since we are “two people” should we not then say that God is “three Gods? —” I’d refer you to Gregory of Nyssa, who deals with that precise question in his “Answer to Ablabius,” aka, “On Not Three Gods.”

    You can refer me to anyone you want, but you still haven’t defined the word “person.”

    As to whether or not denying that it was a divine person who suffered and died on the cross is Nestorian: That’s simply an historical judgment, so I don’t see why anyone should take offense at it.

    You don’t think insinuating someone is a heretic is not offensive?

    It was such a denial that was precisely why Nestorius was condemned at Ephesus and Chalcedon. The position of Nestorius was specifically that Christ is one person who was formed out of the union of the two natures–the person of the God-man who is a distinct person after the union from the second person of the Holy Trinity. Again, for all this I’d refer you to the works mentioned above.

    I don’t need a history lesson, what I asked for was a definition of a pivotal and key term. What you provided, I think you must admit, hardly functions as a working definition of “person.”

    Further, I suspect you might be mistaken as to what was and what was not affirmed at Chalcedon. For example, PCA Pastor, John Bugay quoting Samuel Moffet notes that the “Third Ecumenical Council was summoned to meet in Ephesus in 431 … [it was] the most violent and least equitable of all the great councils. It is an embarassment and blot on the history of the church.”

    Bugay goes on to say: “The anathemas of this council were directed at Nestorius; they ratified 12 “anathemas” that, as Moffett relates, had nothing to do with Nestorius’s actual teachings.”

    See for example: http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/an-examination-of-roman-catholicism/

    Bugay also debated this topic on the Puritan boards some time ago and provides some interesting historical insights. See

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/nestorius-council-ephesus-53817/

    And:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f18/nestorius-council-ephesus-53817/index2.html

    In one of those exchanges Bugay observes:

    I don’t see how you can say “we accept Cyril’s treatment because he defended a major truth of the gospel.” And again, it turned out to be a mixed bag in the end. Cyril’s Christology at Epheusus was overturned to some degree at Chalcedon and Nestorius’s “one person, two natures” formulation did make it into the final definition at Chalcedon. It took “the sword” of an emperor to make all parties sit down and make nice. That, I think, is one good explanation for all the inconsistencies that came out of that council. (For example, Cyril is lauded, but his theology gets whacked; Nestorius is still condemned, but his theology makes it into the definition, etc.)

  97. Ron said,

    April 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    “I understood your context, but I’m still concerned that we are careful in our constructions. I really would never want to say ‘the second Person of the Trinity died” because that impinges upon the divine nature, no matter what the context is.”

    Jack,

    I know you have concerns. I’m just trying to figure out the specifics of those concerns.You agree that we must allow Scripture to inform us of what is possible. You should also agree that if a divine person died on the cross, then death must be compatible with that divine person. So, why is the possession of the divine nature incompatible with the death of a person who possesses that nature? In other words, what would death of a divine person, who had assumed a human body and reasonable soul, prevent Him from doing or being? We agree that it would prevent him from doing physical things like walking, but what else with respect to divine ability or ontology?

    We also agree that death of a human person does not eliminate the human will and other things human, though it eliminates some things. Given that God does not require a physical body to function as God, why can’t the death of a divine person impinge upon the assumed physical properties of the person and not spiritual ones?

    Bottom line is, I’m willing to define death of a divine person as compatible with the divine nature, just like I’m willing to define death of a human person in such a way as to be compatible with human consciousness and thought. What I “gain” from all this is that a person died in our stead. I want to know what is lost. What couldn’t Jesus do or be if he died as a person?

    In the like manner, I’m willing to define birth in such a way as to be compatible with a divine person coming out of the womb. Did Mary give birth to a divine person, or just a human nature? If birth implies the origin of someone new, then only humanity came forth in the virgin birth since the person born of the virgin always existed. However, Mary carried a person (and not just an embodied nature) in her womb, and after her water broke, she then labored to bring forth the person she had carried. In common parlance we call that giving birth. Since a divine person came forth, we must let that reality inform our understanding / definition of birth (rather then let our understanding of birth redefine what occurred in that manger in Bethlehem). Birth need not precede the origin of a new person, precisely because the eternal Son of God, a person, was born of a virgin. It’s really quite easy when we start with Scripture. Question 37 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way, or rather it simply assumes the point when making another:

    “How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man? Answer: Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her, yet without sin.” (emphasis mine)

  98. jedpaschall said,

    April 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Sean,

    Do you happen to know the specific Moffet source that Bugay was citing?

  99. Sean Gerety said,

    April 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Jed,

    A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginning to 1500.

    http://tinyurl.com/72z3le9

  100. jedpaschall said,

    April 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Jonathan,

    It’s been no small task to go back and read, or re-read some of these sources on Christology. I appreciate your reference to the Tome of Leo, as it does basically lay out what later became the Chalcedonian Confession. For the reference of the other participants on this thread, I’ll post what seems to be the most pertinent portion of the Tome with regard to Christology which can be found under the subheading “Definition of the faith”:

    It is opposed to those who attempt to tear apart the mystery of the economy into a duality of sons; and

    —it expels from the assembly of the priests those who dare to say that the divinity of the Only-begotten is passible, and

    —it stands opposed to those who imagine a mixture or confusion between the two natures of Christ; and

    —it expels those who have the mad idea that the servant-form he took from us is of a heavenly or some other kind of being; and

    —it anathematises those who concoct two natures of the Lord before the union but imagine a single one after the union.

    So, following the saintly fathers, we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us.

    In order to avoid an overly long comment, I’ll separate my questions and comments into another one below (forthcoming).

  101. Jack Bradley said,

    April 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Ron,

    I honestly can’t follow your train of thought. Perhaps someone else can and will interact with your post.

  102. jedpaschall said,

    April 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Where I see, and frankly understand Lane’s pushback is with regards to the question of whether or not *God suffered*. If we look at Leo here, as well as in Chalcedon, we see nothing that infers that *God suffers*, rather we see Leo (and presumably the Chalcedonian fathers) rejecting anyone who would assert that Christ was in any way passable as to his divinity. The only issue that both you and Jack affirm that is clearly affirmed in the Tome is that Mary was the God-bearer with reference to Christ’s humanity.

    I’ll preface my question by clarifying that I do think you (and Jack) have defended impassibility regarding Christ’s divine nature. But, do we see anything in Chalcedon, or in the Tome of Leo that necessitates the concession that God suffered?

    I think one of the areas we have run into some difficulty in this discussion, alluded to earlier, is that we are running into some serious misunderstandings when we are drawing distinctions between the Person of Christ, and the Divine/Human nature’s of Christ. Part of the issue we run into is that we certainly, as Scripture is overtly clear on, affirm that Christ suffered, because we are referring to an individual, a real person. However, when we say “God suffered”, we are entering into a concept that can only be maintained with serious qualification, because the orthodox position has been clarified as affirming that the divinity of the only-Begotten is impassible (c.f. Leo’s Tome). In the West pre-and post Reformation we have consistently struggled with clearly maintaining what has come to us from Chalcedon – even to the point that Luther denies that Christ is impassible after the incarnation.

    The East, however, because they have not only drawn distinctions between the Persons of the Trinity and the Divine Nature, but also distinguished between the essence and the energies, has struggled less with upholding orthodox Christology in this respect. I think we all affirm that the divine nature is distinct, yet inseparable from the divine Persons of the Trinity. So also are the divine energies from the divine essence. Whereas God is not distinct, but constrained to and inseparable from his essence or nature, he is distinct from his energies while being active and fully present in them. Even Luther picks up on this concept, while oddly struggling with impassibility, in his distinction between God hidden and God revealed. We don’t, and can’t know God in his essence, but we know him as he is revealed in his acts, his work, or energies. In his energies, God experiences the fullness of suffering on the cross, as he is fully present in this and all of his works, yet he is still impassible in his essence, incapable of suffering. Without this, or a similar semantic distinction, it is easy to see how distortions such as those of Moltman’s come about, where God is seen as by his very nature and eternal plan a suffering God.

  103. April 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Sean,

    1. You assert that I haven’t provided a working definition of person, and that I “must” admit it. In fact, I admit nothing of the kind. I suppose we’ll have to leave it to readers to decide whether the received definition of terms that undergirds the creedal orthodox formulations of the Trinity and the person of Christ is satisfactory or not.

    2. You assert that I’ve insinuated Lane is a heretic. In fact, I’ve done nothing of the kind. I’ve simply made statements about *positions* which are ruled out as heterodox by the received definition of Chalcedon. And actually, my purpose here has been quite the opposite of accuser. I’ve been trying to provide clarity with regard to what exactly is being affirmed and what exactly is being denied by the interlocutors in this discussion, and holding those affirmations and denials up against the 5th century controveries which engendered the definition of these terms and concepts. For however I’ve failed in that regard, I apologize. I’ve actually been trying to give Lane the benefit of the doubt. Declarations of heresy are for the church to make, not me.

    3. With reference to the stuff you’ve quoted “PCA pastor” John Bugay. Well, “PCA pastor” Jon Bonomo has seen those arguments before. And PCA pastor Jon Bonomo thinks such statements are not a little uncareful. Moffett certainly isn’t the only relevant account, as I’d hope even John would admit (though it’s though only source to which I’ve seen him refer). Again, we’ll have to let the readers look at the sources themselves to decide what the truth of the matter is. Yes, Chalcedon was a compromise. But it was a compromise between the orthodox of Antioch and Alexandria. It in fact condemned Nestorius (as well as Eutyches) and ratified Ephesus. Further, Bugay doesn’t account for sources like the Antiochene “Symbol of Union,” or Leo’s Tome, or Cyril’s letters, all of which are in fact the background of the Definition (see Davis, McGuckin, Fairbairn). He also doesn’t at all account for the inclusion of Theotokos, which is a clear concession in the direction of Cyril. Chalcedon does allow for different emphases, accents, and positions on certain matters–such as the definition of the communicatio idiomatum. But it does not allow for the notion that the Son of God became a different person–the person of Christ–after the hypostatic union. It is exactly this which the Theotokos rules out. Nestorius adamantly objected to the term, in favor of “Christotokos.” Mary could not be Theotokos for Nestorius, because the person of Christ was the product of the union of natures. Yet, Theotokos is what was included in the definition. Now, why do you think that might be?

  104. April 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    Jed,

    I’m going to have to be done after this, because repeating myself is becoming tiresome. My comments above have made it clear, I think, that the understanding of the incarnation laid out in Cyril, Leo (et al), and Chalcedon, and affirmed by the Reformed, is that the person of Jesus Christ is one divine person who exists in two distinct natures. They all very clearly and emphatically deny that the divine nature did or can ever suffer. But this is not, nor has it ever been, the issue. The issue is, and has always been, What is the identity of the *person* who underwent suffering in his human nature?

    When we’re talking about the person of Christ, we’re talking about the Son of God. We’re not talking simply about natures that can somehow be abstracted from a person. Again, natures only have existence insofar as they subsist in particular persons. And in response to the question: *Who* is the *person* Jesus Christ–the individual reality in which the natures subsist, and are hypostatically united?–We must affirm with Chalcedon that he is none other than the Son of God, the Word. In other words, he hypostasis of the Word simply *is* the hypostasis of Christ. The Word is the person in which the divine and human natures subsist. This is in fact precisely what it means that Mary is the God bearer–that God was born in the flesh. To say that “Theotokos” simply means that Mary bore humanity in her womb empties the term of all its intended significance and import. Yes, she bore humanity in her womb. But, Whose humanity? The only begotten Son, the Word’s humanity, that’s whose! And this is why, in the definition of Chalcedon, the Nestorian term “Christotokos” was decisively excluded, and the Cyrillian term “Theotokos” was decisively included. This was precisely because the Definition intended to indicate that the person born of Mary was none other than the “Son and Only-begotten God, the Word.” And so, when we’re talking about what was done by Christ in the flesh, we’re talking about what was done by the person of the Son of God in the flesh, *for they are the one and the same person*. This is the issue. No one is or has ever maintained that the divine *nature* did or can ever suffer. What we’re affirming, and wanting to see others affirm, for it is orthodox, is that the *person* who suffered in his flesh is the only begotten Son of God.

    For the rest of what I’d want to say about Chalcedon, I’ll just quote myself (from comment 51):

    “And when Chalcedon goes on to say about the two natures, “coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ,” it is apprent that the “one person and subsistence” of the two natures is none other than “the Son and only begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ.” The *person* of the Lord Jesus Christ is the same in identity as “the Son and only begotten God the Word,” according to Chalcedon. To try get around the import of this understanding of the incarnation by saying something like–”it was the person of Jesus who suffered but not the person of God the Word” really is not in line with Chalcedonian Christology. And that’s because such a statement implies either, 1. that there were originally two persons who came together by a moral union, or 2. that the Son of God became a different *person* (however closely related to his prior subsistence) by virtue of the union. Either of those options are Nestorian (not accusing you here–just trying to point out the implications of what you seem to be saying). By contrast, the Chalcedonian position is that the one divine person took a human nature into union with his divine nature and remained always identical in person/subsistence with who he is from eternity.”

    And from comment 69:

    “Listen, I fully understand the concern to guard against the divine nature suffering. That’s a good and proper concern and we should all share it. To deny the impassibility of the divine nature is to stray into heterodoxy. But the point of Chalcedon was balance, and proper distinction. And both of those *begins* with the proper definition and distinction between person and nature. Christ is one divine person–the eternal Son of God–with a divine and a human nature. And this is the very point of the incarnation for the traditional Christology–the eternal Son of God as he is in himself (his proper nature–the divine) *cannot* suffer. So, in order that he might suffer and die it was necessary for him to take a human nature into union with himself, and suffer as man in our place. In other words, who is the “he” of the incarnation? “He” is the eternal Son of God. The Lord Jesus Christ precisely *is* the person of the eternal Logos in the flesh. And so, what is predicated of the human nature is therefore predicated of the divine *person*, though not the divine nature. And that’s the case because the person, the *subject*, of the incarnation, is none other than the Logos.”

    ONCE AGAIN, for good measure: I will not object to anyone being unwilling to make phrases like “God was born” or “God suffered” part of their regular theological vocabulary. I understand the hang ups about such phraseology, because when people hear “God” they tend to automatically think of the divine essense. However, this way of speaking is in Chalcedon (again, “Theotokos” means “God Bearer,” and it’s the equivalent of saying “God was born”). And it has been historically affirmed by the Reformed, so long as the proper (orthodox) distinctions are drawn. And once those distinctions are drawn, and it’s clear that we’re using terms in the sense affirmed by the received definitions of the 5th century fathers and yes, even our 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th c. Reformed doctors (down to A.A. Hodge), I have a really hard time understanding why there’s still all the fuss.

    Was the person who suffered for our sins a divine person? If not, then what person was he? Was he a human person? A person who was not a person before the union and became a person because of the coming together of divinity and humanity? You have to understand, Jed, that either of the two latter options just are Nestorian explanations of the incarnation. For they *both* posit that the person of Christ is something other than the person of the Son of God. You therefore have two persons either way. It’s either two persons existing side by side *in* the union, or it’s two persons *before and after the union*. But it’s two person either way you cut it. This is what has been rejected by the traditional Christology (along with the mixture or confusion of the natures). In contrast, the tradition Christology affirms that the person of Jesus Christ is none other than the secon person of the Holy Trinity, with a human as well as a divine nature.

    My final word. The Lord’s blessings to you all.

    Pax Christi,

    Jon

  105. jedpaschall said,

    April 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Jonathan,

    You mean we can’t headlock you to keep you in the discussion? Have a good one, and thanks for the thought provoking conversation – I’ll probably respond to what you have stated above, but no offense if you do not do likewise.

  106. jedpaschall said,

    April 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Jonathan,

    I think you were answering questions, or issues I wasn’t actually asking, so I’ll try to clarify. Sometimes I ramble around the point too much, so the fact that you didn’t address my main question may be due to how I framed it. I may take a different approach than you have above (obviously favoring the essence energy distinction Horton proposes), but I don’t have any substantial issue with what you are saying here, it seems to be reasonable inferences from Chalcedonian Christology. All I am saying is that the language of “God Suffered”, or some sort of conceptual equivalent is not part of the Christology laid out in the actual language of Chalcedon – this was the only issue I was seeking a reaction on. Everything else was commentary, an effort to pick up on some of the implications of Leo, Chalcedon, and other sources. Anyhow the problem of asserting that “God Suffered” is two-fold as I see it:

    1) Like you allude to, the bare assertion “God Suffered” can be either heretical or orthodox, and this is solely on how it is qualified. Therefore the assertion is, at best ambiguous, and isn’t something I would opt for using except in the most technical Christological discussions. I think that it is interesting that even Chalcedon doesn’t go so far as to say “God Suffered”. This is purely speculative, but it may be confusing in a creed, which is meant to clarify as oppose to obscure important doctrines – and asserting that God suffers while also asserting the impassibility of Christ’s own divine nature may have been source for ongoing and future confusion. Maybe this is why the language is lacking, and if Chalcedon isn’t using this language, I can’t see how it should be required it except in the most intricate discussions.

    2) Since the language of Christ’s suffering is replete throughout Scripture, when dealing with what is happening on the Cross, it would be advisable, at least to me, more often than not to defer to more biblical terms. When heresy or orthodoxy hang upon how one understands the distinction between persons and nature, and we are truly pushing the envelope of how far our reason (and language) can take us in sorting these sorts of issues out – the clarity of biblical language can be a safeguard against ambiguity and error. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a time for precision or probing the complexities of theology, but in a church context I’d place this in a theology class for Sunday School, not from the pulpit, as the stakes are so high if these difficult concepts are incorrectly understood.

  107. Jack Bradley said,

    April 3, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Jed wrote: . . . the language of “God Suffered”, or some sort of conceptual equivalent is not part of the Christology laid out in the actual language of Chalcedon. . .

    True, it is not part of the actual language of Chalcedon, but as Jonathan has amply demonstrated, it is a direct implication of Chalcedon.

    Schaff, in his Creeds of Christendom, Vol II, sees this implication:

    “The predicate theotokos, the Bringer-forth of God, is directed against Nestorius, and was meant originally not so much to exalt the Virgin Mary, as to assert the true divinity of Christ and the realness of the Incarnation. . . Mary was the mother not merely of the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth, but of the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ; yet not of his eternal Godhead (the logos asarkos), but of his incarnate person, or the Logos united to humanity (the logos ensarkos). In like manner, the subject of the Passion was the theanthropic person; yet not according to his divine nature, which in itself is incapable of suffering, but according to his human nature, which was the organ of suffering.”

    I also find this helpful: Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (this article, Christology, was written by R. S. Wallace and G. L. Green), 242, 244:

    “How, then, can God and man be united in one person? The controversy became focused on Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, who refused to approve the use of the phrase ‘mother of God’ (Theotokos) as applied to Mary. . . In spite of the fact that Nestorius clearly asserted that the God-man was one person, he seemed to think of the two natures as existing side by side and so sharply distinguished them that the suffering of the humanity could not be attributed to the Godhead. This separation was condemned, and Nestorius’s deposition at the Council of Ephesus (431) was brought about largely by the influence of Cyril in reasserting a unity of the two natures in Christ’s person so complete that the impassible Word can be said to have suffered death.
    . . . That the ‘Word became flesh’ seems to imply that we cannot have the flesh apart from the Word nor the Word apart from the flesh.”

  108. Jack Bradley said,

    April 4, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology, p. 604:

    “’The real point of the [Nestorian] controversy,’ writes Seeberg, ‘is, whether it was the man Jesus controlled by the Logos, or whether it was God himself, who was born, lived, taught, labored, and died among us.’”

    John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 77:

    “We are spectators of a wonder the praise and glory of which eternity will not exhaust. It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God.”

  109. Alan D. Strange said,

    April 4, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I realize, and this discussion makes it patently clear, that precision of language, with respect to this issue particularly, is vital. We rightly place a premium on the words chosen.

    WIth that in view, who among us would not fully agree with the words of Schaff and Murray used to describe this Incarnational reality, quoted in Jack’s last two comments (numbers 107 and 108)? The language is carefully chosen and properly nuanced. Can anyone disagree with what Schaff and Murray say? Perhaps we can go forward in agreement on that.

  110. April 4, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Jed,

    Given your most recent clarifications, I don’t think there’s any substantial disagreement between us. I agree that saying “God suffered,” full stop, shouldn’t ever be “reguired” of anyone. I admit the ambiguity in that phrase stated so bluntly, as I already have a number of times. And it’s not *specifically* stated in our confessional documents.

    Nevertheless, I do think that when asked the very clear question, “Was the person who suffered in the flesh–Jesus Christ–the Son and only begotten God, the Word?”, we must answer Yes. Or, what *is* in our received creedal statements, “Did Mary bear God?”, we also must answer Yes, at least if we’re going to remain Chalcedonian, because that specific statement is in Chalcedon. (And the thing I’m still puzzled about is why someone would be willing to confess that Mary bore God, but unwilling to say that the person who suffered in the flesh was the eternal Son of God.) Yet again, the orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ is not that Christ is a divine-human person who’s the by-product of the union of natures. The orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ is that he’s one divine person with a divine and a human nature. When Jesus Christ does what he does in the flesh, he is none other than the Logos doing those things in and through his human nature. If we can agree there, we can move on.

    And here’s at least one reason this issue is important, and should be important to us. We have many intelligent young people in Reformed churches who’ve developed a passion for studying patristic theology. This is a great thing and it should be encouraged. However, often when they get to the ecumenical councils, and the fifth century Christological controversies, and the centuries following, they come to the conclusion that the Reformed really are Nestorians and so convert to a different tradition–usually Eastern Orthodoxy, but also RC, Lutheran, or traditional Anglican. I know this because many of them are my friends. But cases are well documented. And this phenomenon is happening in large part (though not solely) because a lot of modern day Reformed people do in fact talk exactly as Nestorius talked–“Christ was born, but God wasn’t.” “Christ suffered, but God didn’t,” etc. It’s, of course, not the affirmation, but the denial, that’s the problem. We have to be clear that there’s both an impoper and a proper sense to say that “God was born,” and “God suffered.” There’s both an orthodox and a heterodox understanding of such statements. But the orthodox, who follow Chalcedon, mean it (go figure!) in the orthodox sense. And the reason these Nestorian-sounding (note: “Nestorian sounding”: I’m not accusing anyone personally) statements are made is more often than not because of real underlying problems in Christology–generally stemming from seeing the person of Christ as a by-product of the union of natures, so that he’s a “divine-human” person with two natures, rather than one divine person with two natures, who (the Word, that is) for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, became man, and worked out our salvation in the flesh.

    Brothers, all my concern can be boiled down to one simple sentence: Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.

  111. April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Alan,

    I agree. Schaff and Murray say precisely what I’ve been wanting and trying to say throughout this discussion.

  112. Sean Gerety said,

    April 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

    You assert that I haven’t provided a working definition of person, and that I “must” admit it. In fact, I admit nothing of the kind. I suppose we’ll have to leave it to readers to decide whether the received definition of terms that undergirds the creedal orthodox formulations of the Trinity and the person of Christ is satisfactory or not.

    I certainly hope they will as any definition of “person” that can just as easily apply to plants, polar bears, koalas, and Christ is about as useless and as meaningless as they come.

    I also think it curious when Protestants act like papists when it comes to “the creedal orthodox formulations.” Synods and councils may err, and many have erred. I hardly think compromise, which everyone admits Chalcedon was, is the best way to formulate biblical doctrines.

  113. April 4, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Jed,

    I do have to take some issue with your final paragraph. You said, “the clarity of biblical language can be a safeguard against ambiguity and error.” In a certain sense that can be correct. In the context of church fellowship, we ought to be seaking the words of Scripture to each other. But it’s different when it comes to theological controversy, because in theological controversy it’s precisely the meaning of the biblical words and phrases that’s the question. Why do you think the homousois made its way into the Nicene Creed? We use extrabiblical words to clarify the sense of Scripture, and to rule out heterodox positions.

    Sure, in a happy, peaceful world devoid of heresy, we’d all just be blissfully quoting biblical passages to each other for mutual edification. But, sadly, that’s not the world in which we live. The world in which we live requires formulations that rule out heresy. Now, no one thinks these formulations are 100% rationally satisfactory. As Bavinck put it, “mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But the creedal definitions are the best we’ve been able to come up with as approximations of the import of what the Scriptures teach us in the face of heterodox opinions. If it weren’t for the homousios, the church would have nothing to say against the Arians. And Robert Letham recounts for us, through Athanasius, how that term got included in the Creed:

    “The reference [in the Nicene Creed] to the Son being ‘of the substance (ousia) of the Father’ was an innovation. Athanasius tells us how it got included. When it was proposed that the Son was ‘from God,’ the Arians agreed, since they accepted that all creatures come from God. Therefore, in order to say that the Son is indivisible from the substance of the Father, always in the Father… the bishops were forced to use extrabiblical terms to convey ‘the sense of Scripture,’ realizing that biblical alone could not distinguish it from the false teaching they were combating.” (Letham, The Holy Trinity, 116.)

    But, you’re right, the proper place for these distinctions is a catechesis class (or ministerial examinations), not from the pulpit. I’ve never preached technical theological definitions from the pulpit, though they do lie in the background of my prayers and preaching.

  114. April 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Ok, Sean, What if we were to say that “Person” is individual reality, or “particularity,” as it subsists in God and those made in his image? This rules out all other creatures besides God and human beings. Would that then be satisfactory?

    Further, no one here is acting like a papist. I certainly admit that councils can and have erred, and I don’t rule out a discussion as to whether or not we could or ought to abandon the definition of Chalcedon. The function of creeds is ministerial, not magisterial. But the point is that Chalcedon has been accepted by the Reformed as a proper Christological statement. And so, before we talk about whether or not it should be abandoned, we need to know what exactly it is affirming and denying. The reason I’ve been bringing up Chalcedon and its formulations here is because the interlocutors in this discussion claim to accept it, and Lane’s posts on this subject have been attempts to approximate it.

  115. rfwhite said,

    April 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    As the discussion here seems to be winding down, a few things stand out to me as an observer (aka lurker).

    “When Jesus Christ does what he does in the flesh, he is none other than the Logos doing those things in and through his human nature.” — I can’t find where Lane ever claim otherwise.

    “We have to be clear that there’s both an impoper [sic] and a proper sense to say that “God was born,” and “God suffered.” There’s both an orthodox and a heterodox understanding of such statements.” – Granted the accuracy of and agreement on this statement, it’s not clear to me why objection was lodged against Lane’s “can’t go there” to the unqualified words “God suffered.”

    “ . . . the language of “God Suffered”, or some sort of conceptual equivalent is not part of the Christology laid out in the actual language of Chalcedon. . . True, it is not part of the actual language of Chalcedon, but as Jonathan has amply demonstrated, it is a direct implication of Chalcedon.” – The point Lane was arguing, as I’ve understood it at least, was that, absent a qualification provided by a context, the words “God suffered” may imply a denial of impassibility. The Impassible suffers only as man.

  116. Alan D. Strange said,

    April 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I think that there is a misunderstanding of the work and place of the first four ecumenical councils of the church if the seminal work done at Chalcedon is dismissed as mere “compromise” that is unfitting and unbecoming to the proper formulation of biblical doctrines. Sean, I agree that councils and synods can err. This means Dort and Westminster as well as Chalcedon. In the Christological formularly, I do not believe that Chalcedon did err. To assert that a council can err is not to prove that it did and the Reformed have historically not differed with the major doctrinal findings of the first four councils (the canons, e.g., are another matter).

    I do not think that your observation with respect to “compromise” properly reflects all that led up to Chalcedon (particularly the Council of Ephesus, 431). Leo’s Tome is the primary foundation for Chalcedon’s doctrinal formulation and it is not a compromise at all but rather a deft and skillful comprising of all the relevant Scriptural data in answer to Eutyches, who had taken the doctrine of the hypostatic union wrongly, believing that Ephesus taught that after the Incarnation, Jesus was one person with one nature (a divine one). Leo clarified this and said that He was one Person in two distinct natures, not confused or changed [over against Eutyches] and not divided or separated [over against Nestorius].

    There was, it is true, considerable confusion at the time as to sources. Some thought that Chalcedon was a repudiation of Cyril of Alexandria. Not so, however, because he had used the two natures formulation. It is the case that Cyril himself added to the ambiguity by mistakenly quoting Apollinaris when he thought he was quoting Athanasius. This added to the confusion on the Alexandrian side.

    Nonetheless, when Leo wrote his letter against Eutyches in 449, he did so wanting fully to preserve the hypostatic union while giving proper and perhaps clearer expression to the two natures in that union. If anything, you should rejoice that Chalcedon made it quite clear that two natures remain in the one divine person who is our Savior. I think that if someone wishes to take issue with Chalcedon they should do so not on the basis that it could have erred but on the basis that it did, showing us where such error lies.

  117. April 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Perhaps I’m just a “Christological curmudgeon”? If that’s how I’ve come across here, I apologize. That wasn’t my intention.

    The reason for my initial engagement in all this was that I thought Jack was raising some valid questions and concerns which deserved to be heard, and that he was being accused himself of holding certain positions it was clear to me that he wasn’t.

  118. Sean Gerety said,

    April 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Ok, Sean, What if we were to say that “Person” is individual reality, or “particularity,” as it subsists in God and those made in his image? This rules out all other creatures besides God and human beings. Would that then be satisfactory?

    Not really. God consists in three Persons, but I don’t think it would be accurate to say those three Persons subsist in God since all three are God. Further, the three Persons of the Godhead are not made in God’s image. So, while your revised definition does rule out other creatures, it seems to rule out the Persons of the Godhead as well.

    Further, no one here is acting like a papist. I certainly admit that councils can and have erred, and I don’t rule out a discussion as to whether or not we could or ought to abandon the definition of Chalcedon. The function of creeds is ministerial, not magisterial. But the point is that Chalcedon has been accepted by the Reformed as a proper Christological statement.

    That’s good to know, because many statements made in this tread and the last, not made just by you BTW, seemed considerably more magisterial than ministerial.

    And so, before we talk about whether or not it should be abandoned, we need to know what exactly it is affirming and denying.

    That’s why I thought perhaps defining our terms might be a good place to start. I wasn’t deliberately trying to be a jackass.

    The reason I’ve been bringing up Chalcedon and its formulations here is because the interlocutors in this discussion claim to accept it, and Lane’s posts on this subject have been attempts to approximate it.

    FWIW I think Chalcedon orthodoxy does imply any number of apparent contradictions not least is God the Second Person suffering and dying “in some sense.” In fact, James Anderson in Paradox in Christian Theology contends that Chalcedon is hopelessly paradoxical but this is something we must embrace in order to remain orthodox. For example, Anderson argues:

    If the doctrine of the Trinity is inherently paradoxical . . . then the doctrine of the Incarnation necessarily inherits that paradoxicality. Here is the argument: if the Son assumed a human nature, and the Son is God, then God assumed a human nature; but if the Father did not assume a human nature, and the Father is God, then God did *not* assume a human nature; therefore, God both did and did not assume a human nature. (79,80)

    Not resolving these and many other apparent contradictions Anderson instead appeals to “mystery” resulting in the following tradeoff:

    If it turns out that adherents of the latter two religions [Judaism and Islam] can mirror the Christian’s appeal to mystery in defense of their own paradoxical teachings, then this is the price to be exacted for reconciling orthodox Christian doctrines with the rationality of Christian faith. In my estimation, it is a price worth paying. (285)

    I don’t know, I’d like to think we can do better and I think some may have done better, but, per Anderson, they either implicitly or explicitly go afoul of Chalcedon at one point or another and for similar reasons you give re the “modern day Reformed” above. For me, I think it would just helpful to demystify Chalcedon a little so people can talk about its advantages or weaknesses (one is the lack of clearly defining what a person is) without pyres being lit.

    But then I think any improvements or modifications are impossible simply because we’re talking about possibly altering centuries of received church wisdom and admitting that perhaps it needs some tweaking. And this isn’t just concerning questions of Christ’s two natures. FWIW, and ministerially speaking, I can even see why Calvin and others had problems with Mother of God language that is not carefully limited and restricted as it has lead to all sorts of soul damning practices and beliefs, not least of which having vast multitudes praying to Mary for comfort and salvation instead of to our one Lord Jesus Christ. Anyway, thank you for your patience.

  119. Sean Gerety said,

    April 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I screwed up the blockquotes again. Sorry.

  120. jedpaschall said,

    April 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Jack,

    True, it is not part of the actual language of Chalcedon, but as Jonathan has amply demonstrated, it is a direct implication of Chalcedon.

    Of course it is an implication, but confessional language is supposed to promote clarity, agreement, and catholicity. During the time of Chalcedon the church was still in a concerted effort to see the Nestorian faction restored, I am not sure that asserting “God suffered” would have helped on this account even if it is in some sense true. There are implications, including necessary, probable, and possible ones of so many of the statements of our confessional witness, however the role of the confessions isn’t to speak to all implications but to establish a baseline for orthodoxy.

    So, in saying that “God Suffered” was absent from the verbiage of Chalcedon (and any of the other ecumenical or Reformed confessions), I am not trying to remove the possibility that a robustly orthodox Christology wouldn’t have a qualified position that affirms this. All I am saying is, that at a confessional level, the phrase is not asserted, and as such it shouldn’t be a requirement to articulate an orthodox position at a basic level. Hopefully more detailed discussions, frankly like this one can tease this out in a way that promotes further understanding, rather than misunderstanding.

  121. jedpaschall said,

    April 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Alan, (Re. 109)

    I couldn’t agree more, so much of this discussion has been an exercise in defining terms and establishing a common language to difficult concepts. As for the quotes Jack provided, I certainly could endorse these, as they are some of the clearer ones he has provided (Thanks for those Jack).

  122. jedpaschall said,

    April 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Jonathan,

    Re. # 113 – I think you present a fair flipside to my point – I wouldn’t want it taken to an absurd conclusion – which would ultimately be biblicism. All I am saying is that Scripture is abundantly clear on the sufferings of Christ, whereas what that means with respect to his divinity isn’t exactly immediately apparent. All I am saying is that our common parlance should probably key in on the suffering of Christ (full stop), as it seems you affirm in your work from the pulpit. In a setting where more time can be spent working through details, I think the question of God’s suffering is fair game.

    Re. #110

    We have many intelligent young people in Reformed churches who’ve developed a passion for studying patristic theology. This is a great thing and it should be encouraged. However, often when they get to the ecumenical councils, and the fifth century Christological controversies, and the centuries following, they come to the conclusion that the Reformed really are Nestorians and so convert to a different tradition–usually Eastern Orthodoxy, but also RC, Lutheran, or traditional Anglican. I know this because many of them are my friends. But cases are well documented. And this phenomenon is happening in large part (though not solely) because a lot of modern day Reformed people do in fact talk exactly as Nestorius talked–”Christ was born, but God wasn’t.” “Christ suffered, but God didn’t,” etc. It’s, of course, not the affirmation, but the denial, that’s the problem. We have to be clear that there’s both an impoper and a proper sense to say that “God was born,” and “God suffered.” There’s both an orthodox and a heterodox understanding of such statements.

    This gives me much more insights into your statements. When I was at Moody, it seemed quite fashionable for some of my friends to convert to some form or another of Eastern Orthodoxy, so at an experiential level I can understand the concern. I am not so sure that some of the initial reasons why some converted is EO church leadership tolerated smoking and drinking, and Moody did not – I was more willing to exist at odds with MBI on this issue than deny the gospel, but I ultimately left over a combination of my own sinful excesses and Moody’s inherent legalism. Only by the grace of God am I still a Christian as I look back on those tumultuous years (only about 1/2 of my friends from MBI still are), and one of those things that stuck was being convinced of the gospel when we had to read Calvin’s Institutes in one of my Church history classes.

    Though I am less inclined to think that converting from Evangelicalism and it’s latent vagueries to EO is much of a step down (at least in some respects), it is rather another issue when those in the Reformed make the move. What are they giving up? Basically a faulty articulation of some in the Reformed camp about a very difficult question in Christology for the gospel. I am less inclined to say that this is because of some inherent defect in Reformed Orthodoxy, as it is to a weak understanding and convictions on the part of some of the material principles of the Reformation (as contained in the solas), to which EO has no meaningful answer – they never grappled with Roman excesses and heterodoxy as the Reformers did, not did they land on the right side of the gospel when exposed to the teachings of the Reformation. Even though Calvin was held in some regard for a time in EO traditions, it seems they could not maintain his teachings on the gospel. So for your friends and mine, I would say that there had to be other issues at play than Christological issues, which it seems to me EO and Reformed are not that far apart on to begin with (at least those who hold to Chalcedon).

    Re. #117

    Perhaps I’m just a “Christological curmudgeon”? If that’s how I’ve come across here, I apologize. That wasn’t my intention.

    No need to apologize here, as I am convinced that some of the greatest saints in the history of the church were at least a little (if not a lot) curmudgeonly. At least you (and Jack, and others like Sean) have convictions on the matter – honest and spirited disagreement is far better than acquiescence on these matters

  123. jedpaschall said,

    April 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Sean,

    An honest question here: I sense you are uneasy with Chalcedon, could you give maybe some concrete examples of why?

    I am not sure I can agree with your assessments here, as I would be more critical of the 2nd Council of Ephesus. But I’d like to hear a little more so that I understand what your contentions are before I comment.

  124. Jack Bradley said,

    April 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    “the role of the confessions isn’t to speak to all implications but to establish a baseline for orthodoxy.”

    I couldn’t agree more, Jed. That’s why I qualified that I wouldn’t want to elevate “God suffered on the cross” (even with the necessary qualifications. i. e., in His human nature) to a confessional requirement.

    Except for Lane :)

  125. Bryan Cross said,

    April 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I’ve followed this discussion, and read all the comments. I largely agree with Jonathan and Jack, but I wonder whether the Christological problem isn’t intrinsic to the Reformed conception of the atonement. See, for example, this comment, in response to Thabiti Anyabwile’s recent Gospel Coalition post in which Thabiti claims that on Good Friday, “the Father turned His face away and the ancient, eternal fellowship between Father and Son was broken ….” Jonathan or Jack, any thoughts on that?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  126. Sean Gerety said,

    April 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    An honest question here: I sense you are uneasy with Chalcedon, could you give maybe some concrete examples of why?

    Well, and no disrespect to Pastor Bonomo, the failure to define the word “person” is problematic. Seeing that so much hangs on this one definition, regardless of which graphic you use above to illustrate your preferred view, I would think that is huge. You’ll notice the word “person” is at the apex of both illustrations.

    I’m also uneasy with the implications drawn by Jack and Jonathan. It’s not that I don’t think they are wrong or are are failing to draw the proper conclusions from the given premises. Quite the reverse. My problem is that the implications they have drawn appear to contradict what we already know about God’s impassibility and immutability. Perhaps a clear definition of “person” that accounts for two mutually exclusive natures existing in one person might resolve the problem. But, I don’t know since no definition has been provided, although a couple have been attempted. And if these learned teachers( and I don’t mean that in any way factious) can’t provide a simple definition to eliminate the difficulty, who can?

    Actually, I agree with RTS prof James Anderson and that if one remains absolutely faithful to Chalcedonian orthodoxy one must accept any number of contradictions that are forever beyond the scope of either reason or revelation to resolve. Now, per Anderson, if we had additional revelation to clear up some of the ambiguity inherent in the traditional formulation, which we don’t, then perhaps some of these apparent contradictions may (or may not) be resolved. He, like all well trained Vantillians and as previously mentioned, don’t think paradoxes are problems to be solved, rather they function as religious fetishes to bow one’s mind to (and that is not being factious).

    My view is that theological confessions, formula, definitions, etc., should, as accurately as possible, explain and illuminate the doctrines of Scripture. And, when they don’t, or when they end in insoluble paradoxes, that a sign, at least to me, that perhaps more work needs to be done. I mean, the WCF in American has been refined and altered. I don’t know too many people who get too frothy over that (not that those people aren’t out there ;)

  127. April 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Interestingly, I just happened across these couple posts on Richard Hooker’s Christology by Brad Littlejohn. They’re worth reading (Brad is doing his PhD work on Hooker at Edinburgh), and they touch on most of the matters that have been brought up amidst this discussion.

    On the hypostatic union: http://www.swordandploughshare.com/main-blog/2011/2/11/no-person-but-the-sonne-of-god-richard-hookers-christology-p.html

    On the communicatio idiomatum: http://www.swordandploughshare.com/main-blog/2011/2/24/the-communicatio-idiomatum-hookers-christology-pt-2.html

  128. Jack Bradley said,

    April 5, 2012 at 12:07 am

    “Here we can see, as starkly and clearly as possible, how forcefully the orthodox tradition asserted that God really did suffer and die.”

    Thanks for posting these, Jonathan. I know Brad, but hadn’t seen these.

    “. . . we have a doctrine that is robustly Alexandrian, willing to affirm much more than most modern Reformed are regarding the fullness of the union.”

    Sad, but I fear all too true. Your personal knowledge of classmates falling away from the reformed church as a result of this is very sobering.

  129. April 5, 2012 at 8:44 am

    The only caveat I’d have concerning Brad’s treatment of Hooker is that he seems to be somewhat reliant on Bruce McCormack on Reformed Christology. This leads the way for Brad to present Hooker as having a stronger view of the hypostatic union than the Reformed generally have, as McCormack argues that the Reformed are in fact Nestorian. Needless to say, I think McCormack is mistaken. And the two articles linked up above in comment 55 by Steve Wedgeworth ably demonstrate that. .

  130. Jack Bradley said,

    April 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Good to hear, Jonathan.

  131. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Sean (#126): My view is that theological confessions, formula, definitions, etc., should, as accurately as possible, explain and illuminate the doctrines of Scripture.

    I’m glad to say that this is a point of agreement.

    SG: And, when they don’t, or when they end in insoluble paradoxes, that a sign, at least to me, that perhaps more work needs to be done.

    I would almost agree here also, saying rather that “more work is welcome.”

    But it is possible, isn’t it, that no amount of work in the world can bring ultimate clarity.

    That was my point above in #15. Yes, it is certainly helpful to distinguish between ‘essence’ and ‘energy.’ But the terms ‘essence’ and ‘energy’ are not transparently clear to me.

    In these Christological matters, we seem to end up chasing our tails by replacing one set of incompletely defined terms (e.g., ‘person’ v. ‘substance’) with another (e.g., ‘essence’ v ‘energy’).

    What if that’s simply the human condition, that some theological questions (not necessary for salvation) cannot be answered? I know that suggestion upsets you, but the alternate proposition, ‘All theological questions can be answered from the Bible’, has never been proven — only asserted.

    SG: I mean, the WCF in American has been refined and altered. I don’t know too many people who get too frothy over that (not that those people aren’t out there ;)

    Surely you wouldn’t place the American revisions on church-state relations on the same plane of importance as Christology? I would think that it should take an earth-shaking need to revise Chalcedon.

  132. April 5, 2012 at 10:59 am

    It should be noted also that almost all the great teachers of the church have admitted the inherent ambiguity in human language, and that however specifically defined, the technical terms we use to describe concepts divine will always leave something to be desired. That’s why Augustine said that our creedal definitions are more a way of not speaking than they are a way of speaking. They’re a way to help us to cease speculation because they provide certain parameters for us which say–“this far and no farther.”

    Given that, however ambiguous they may remain, and Sean’s objections notwithstanding, I remain quite satisfied with the traditional definitions of person and nature. They convey something I can at least sort of wrap my mind around in thinking and speaking about the ineffable. I understand that they don’t satisfy Sean, because he’s worried about mixing God and humans with birds and koalas and all that. I do think that objection is way overstated, but be that as it may… Even with all that, the traditional definitions are the best we’ve been able to come up with these many many years, and they’re part of the received, accepted vocabulary. If superior terms and definition can be provided, we ought to strive for them. And if they actually are provided, then I’m not opposded to changing the vocabulary. But no one has been able to come up with anything better yet. So here we are.

  133. Sean Gerety said,

    April 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Surely you wouldn’t place the American revisions on church-state relations on the same plane of importance as Christology? I would think that it should take an earth-shaking need to revise Chalcedon. )

    It depends on what you consider earth-shaking. My point is that whether it is the role of the magistrate or whether we should or should not confess the pope as antichrist, confessions are sometimes amended and I don’t see any underlying biblical principle that makes Chalcedon exempt from any revisions or refinements. It seems to me that in the minds of many it’s as if the Holy Spirit spoke at Chalcedon in the same way He speaks in Scripture. IMO many self-professing Protestants are downright superstitious at times and act as if the ecumenical creeds are somehow inviolable. I do think we have a tendency to act sometimes more like papists than Protestants.

    Further, I think some of the contradictory implications of Chalcedonian orthodoxy are fairly earth shaking given that to be consistently orthodox we now must confess that God suffered and died “in some sense.” Besides the sticky problem James Anderson provides above, he provides a more basic one:

    (K1) Christ did not know 1 every fact (by virtue of his humanity).

    (K2) Christ did know 2 every fact (by virtue of his divinity). (297)

    To say that Christ both knows and does not know every fact entails a contradiction and we know from Scripture that Jesus was ignorant of some things otherwise he could not grow in wisdom (Luke 2:40), neither did he know the time and day of his return (Matthew 24:36). Whereas, the omniscient Second Person of the Trinity cannot grow in wisdom nor can He be ignorant of anything without ceasing to be God. Consequently, how can one person be ignorant of some things yet be ignorant of nothing? Are we now to confess that the Second Person grew in wisdom and was ignorant of some facts “in some sense”? That seems to be the upshot.

    So if our doctrinal formulas cannot resolve these and other important questions then it would suggest, to me anyway, that more work needs to be done, even if very few are willing to do it.. And, while I tend to agree with Jonathan that “the traditional definitions are the best we’ve been able to come up with these many many years, and they’re part of the received, accepted vocabulary,” I don’t agree that this is the best we’ve ever been able to come up with as I think both Thomas Morris and Gordon Clark, to name just two, have made some significant contributions and without resorting to some kenotic theory. Whereas men like Anderson represent a huge step backwards.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the failure to define “person,” especially when the Reformed view that attempts (and I think rightly) to make careful distinctions between Christ’s human and divine natures in order to explain things like Christ’s suffering, dying, but also His ignorance of some things, growing in wisdom, or even getting tired and thirsting are considered “Nestorian” and dismissed as heretical if only by implication, is a major deficiency. I think all these things are substantial concerns.

    Since it seems John Murray is the last word for many on this blog, Murray argued (and I’m sure he’ll be called a “Nestorian” for doing so):

    It may be that the term “Person” can be given a connotation in our modern context, and applied to Christ’s human nature, without thereby impinging upon the oneness of His divine-human Person. In other words, the term “nature” may be too abstract to express all that belongs to His humanness and the term “Person” is necessary to express the manhood that is truly and properly His. — Collected Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), II:138.

    Finally, and with this I’m out of this thread, per my previous post while I know I can sometimes be factious, the word I intended to use was facetious.

  134. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Sean, thanks for the interaction.

  135. April 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Regarding the Murray quote–he’s attempting to bridge the gap between the technical theological definition of “person” with the more modern understanding of person in common English, which is just something like “human being.” Since modern usage of the term “person” doesn’t have in view the background/meaning of the Greek term “hypostasis” as it was developed in the theological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries, it is open to a lot of misunderstanding to modern ears if you say, “Christ’s human nature is impersonal” or “Christ wasn’t a human person.” I don’t think anyone would deny that. And the fact that Christ was a true human being in every respect, with a body and a reasonable soul, a human will, etc., is something everyone would also agree about.

    So, yes, “person” can be problematic if we say that it just means “human being.” Because Jesus Christ is undoubbtedly a human being in every way as we are, sin excepted. The point of saying his person is divine for the orthodox Christology isn’t to deny that at all. It is simply to say that the human nature susbsists in the divine person–so that Christ doesn’t have existence as a human being apart from the hypostatic union. So I really don’t see anything wrong with what Murray says there, so long as we’re clear what we’re talking about. And I think Murray was.

  136. April 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “The only caveat I’d have concerning Brad’s treatment of Hooker is that he seems to be somewhat reliant on Bruce McCormack on Reformed Christology.”
    Absolutely, Jonathan. McCormack had just finished giving his series of Croall Lectures in Edinburgh when I wrote that stuff up, and that was the backdrop I was writing against—although I was certainly critical of some of it (as you can see in my posts on the lectures), I was definitely influenced by his portrayal somewhat. I have subsequently been persuaded that, as you say, Hooker is doing little more than restating a Reformed consensus.
    Thanks for the link and the very sensible qualification.

  137. Jack Bradley said,

    April 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Bryan, #125

    I appreciate the question, but that’s an area of such unfathomable mystery that I wouldn’t want to say any more (or less) than Murray did:

    “It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God.”

  138. April 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    [...] Baggins blog recently.   You can read Lane’s posts and the subsequent discussions here and here.  One of the central questions in that entire discussion was whether or not we can or should say [...]

  139. April 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Lane:

    (At the risk that this discussion is stale)

    Leaving aside question of whether we should say “God suffered” since the Father did not suffer: would you say that the Logos suffered? Forget questions about being theopaschite; are you a logopaschite? Or on the other hand, would you say (as you seem to be, but I may be misreading you) that God the Word is one, and Christ another (with God the Word as a part), and that the Word is in Christ, supporting the humanity?

    Anyway, I for one, have appreciated Jonathan’s comments.

  140. Jack Bradley said,

    April 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Matthew,

    I know you’ve directed this question to Lane, but I thought this excerpt from Horton might be helpful:

    Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, pp. 477f:

    “First, the Lutheran-Reformed debate turns on the question of the communication of attributes (communicatio idiomatum). From the Reformed perspective, this refers to the fact that by virtue of the hypostatic union the attributes of either nature belong to the one person.

    . . . Since Reformed theology clearly affirms the unity of Christ’s person, along with Mary’s title as the ‘Theotokos’ (God-bearer), it cannot be identified as Nestorian.

    Second, differences between these traditions can be discerned on the question of whether the deity of Christ can be contained (i.e., circumscribed) by his humanity. Reformed Christology strongly affirms the strictest identification between Jesus and God in the incarnation. There is not a nonincarnate Logos floating above Jesus of Nazareth. On the contrary, the Logos assumed our flesh. Nevertheless, as God he remains transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal, while as human he remains finite, limited in soul and body, and spatio-temporally circumscribed.

    . . . In other words, the person who is divine can become finite, but the divine nature of Jesus Christ cannot become finite, but the divine nature of Jesus Christ cannot become finite, nor can the human nature become infinite.

    . . . This does not entail a division between the natures, much less two persons, since we predicate the attributes of humanity and deity in the one person, Jesus Christ. After all, it is Chalcedon that uses the language of ‘according to the Godhead’ and ‘according to the Manhood,’ denying the confusion of the natures and affirming their distinction without division.

    In short, the Reformed acknowledge a communication of attributes (both divine and human) to the person, while Lutherans teach a communication of attributes of one nature to the other.”

  141. April 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    So if someone said the Word did not suffer and die, but only the nature which it made its own did, or that the Word is not the person of the mediator but only a part of the person, they would be in error? Natures do not die, persons do, and the person who died was identically the Eternal Logos?

  142. Jack Bradley said,

    April 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Matthew,

    Yes, they would definitely be in error in either clause of your question: in separating one nature (human) from the Word or in separating the Word from the person.

    As the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology puts it: “That the ‘Word became flesh’ seems to imply that we cannot have the flesh apart from the Word nor the Word apart from the flesh.”

    And Frame: “We may say that Jesus suffered and died on the cross ‘according to his human nature,’ but what suffered was not a ‘nature,’ but the person of Jesus. And the person of Jesus is nothing less than the second person of the Trinity, who has taken to himself a human nature. His experiences as a man are truly his experiences, the experiences of God.”

    This is what makes cogent Jonathan’s comments to Lane:

    “I’m having trouble seeing why you object to saying ‘God died’ in the qualified sense of ‘the person of the Son of God in his human nature.’ . . . if he truly united human nature to himself, he (who in his person is God) died in his flesh.”

    “The Lord Jesus Christ precisely *is* the person of the eternal Logos in the flesh.”

  143. April 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Ron, regarding comments #84, #90, and #97, I wholeheartedly agree. We must let Scripture define our terms and harmonize what it teaches about God, man, and the God-Man, instead of making the former two somehow override the third.

  144. April 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    R.C. Sproul recently asserted:

    1. The second Person of the Trinity did not die.

    2. It was a nature (the human nature of Christ; note: not the Person) that made atonement.

    As much as I respect Sproul, when I read that I just thought, “This completely violates any plain reading of Scripture.”

  145. April 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Sorry, forgot to cite my source:

    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/

  146. April 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Ack! Sorry for the spam. That was actually material from five years ago, republished in blog form.

  147. Jack Bradley said,

    April 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Patrick,

    I saw Dr. Sproul’s column recently as well. I’m not quite sure what to think. Sproul writes:

    “We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. We also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross. If we say that God died on the cross, and if by that we mean that the divine nature perished, we have stepped over the edge into serious heresy.”

    Yes, of course if we mean that the divine nature perished, we’re into serious heresy. But Sproul doesn’t seem to have any other category for God dying on the cross:

    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. . . It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature.”

    I’m trying my best to give the benefit of the doubt here, but I cannot help but be a bit disturbed by this terminology: “The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. . . death is something that is experienced only by the human nature.”

    I’d rather he’d said, “Death is something experienced by God (or the divine Person) THROUGH his human nature”, and maybe that’s what he meant, but in light of our discussions here, especially regarding “natures” and “person”, it seems rather deficient to say “death is something that is experienced ONLY by the human nature.”

    I’m trying to put that in the best light possible, but what concerns me is that what brought this to mind for Sproul was a question sent in about the hymn “And Can it Be?”, specifically, the line: “How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” Sproul: “I have this scruple about the hymn and it bothers me that the expression is there. . .”

    So, the larger context of the article is not encouraging to me. I know it is a short treatment of the subject, but I don’t think it is up to Sproul’s usually impeccable standards.

    BTW, I sang that hymn last night at our church’s Good Friday service and it bothered me that this expression WASN’T there. Instead, “Lord” was substituted for “God.”

  148. April 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Agreed, Mr. Bradley (#147). Now that you mention it, I have heard ‘Lord’ substituted for ‘God’ in that hymn before, and thought it odd then, but never considered the reason for it. How sad.

    “How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst take unto thyself a human nature via a hypostatic union in order that that nature shouldst perish, making atonement for me?”

    :/

  149. Sean Gerety said,

    April 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    “That the ‘Word became flesh ”

    Let’s not forget “The man Jesus Christ.”

  150. April 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Of course not, Sean. But ought we to posit that “The man Jesus Christ” was not God?

  151. Jack Bradley said,

    April 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Exactly the question, Patrick. Either the man Jesus Christ was God INCARNATE, by virtue of the hypostatic union, or we do not.

    Horton: “. . . by virtue of the hypostatic union the attributes of either nature belong to the one person. . . Reformed Christology strongly affirms the strictest identification between Jesus and God in the incarnation. . . the Logos assumed our flesh.”

    Horton is simply reiterating the Chalcedonian formula (as Jonathan has been): the human nature of Christ was not an independent hypostasis (anhypostatic), but it was enhypostatic, i.e., it had its subsistence in and through the Logos: the human nature was assumed into the divine person.

    So, Lane is right: Our entire question is clarified by asking that question: Can God die? If one says that He could not and did not, I continue to say that their doctrine of the atonement is eviscerated—because their doctrine of the hypostatic union is hollow.

    Olsen nailed it: “What is the point of an incarnation if the Son of God. . . takes to himself a full and complete human nature but remains entirely and completely untouched and unaffected by the humanness? Is that, then, really an incarnation? Was not the victory of the doctrine of the hypostatic union a hollow one if it is [so interpreted]?”

  152. Jack Bradley said,

    April 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I didn’t quite finish the second sentence: “or we do not have a true atonement.”

  153. April 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Patrick,

    Thanks for putting your finger on the exact issue in one simple qustion. The identity of the man Jesus Christ is that of the second person of the Holy Trinity. This is why, whatever shortcomings it may have, the distinction between person and nature remains vitally important. If the man Jesus Christ is a different individual reality than the individual reality of the eternal Son of God, then we’ve veered into an unbiblical understanding of the incarnation. If you follow the logic of, say, John 1, or Phil. 2, or Col. 1, or Hebrews 1-2, then the man Jesus Christ is one and the same person with the Son of God who existed from eternity in glory with his Father. And it was that person who “tasted death for everyone” (Heb. 2.9). To make sense of all this you simply must have a category other than “nature.” The person who died was the Son of God. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.

  154. April 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Also, a claim that the Logos cannot die limits the Logos, and makes him a creature. Had He been subject to death, his death would imply his smallness. But he was not subject to death, but took it up upon Himself, and so His death proclaims His infinitude, able even to take up death.

  155. Brad B said,

    April 8, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I’ve been trying to catch up on this thread for a few weeks, and thought if he’s still interested:

    Jason Stellman, from post 54 asked,

    “I remember Perry Robinson (who’s EO, I think) making a claim that Calvin was decidedly un-Chalcedonian. Anyone remember what he was talking about?

    Perry on post 392 of Who’s Lens Are You Using said this:

    “As for the ChalcedonianChristology, I’d suggest that this isn’t the case with the Reformed. Just pick up Muller’s Christ and the Decree, which is sufficiently clear that the Reformed (happily I might ad) dissent from Chalcedon. And Muller is no Orthodox toady. Just notice Calvin’s remarks in the Inst, bk 2, chap 14, sec 5,”

  156. Brad B said,

    April 8, 2012 at 12:29 am

    And there is this from Perry at post 592 of the same Whose Lens:

    “As for Chalcedon, that’s nice, but Calvin isn’t Chalcedonian, as I pointed out previously.”

    btw, I see that the next post by Jonathan at #55 answered similarly from a different source. Now, back to a hundred or so posts to catch up….carry on please.

  157. Jack Bradley said,

    April 8, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Matthew #154,

    I think I know what you’re trying to get at, but again, we need to be careful in our terminology. To say “the Logos cannot die” is, in fact, an utterly true statement taken by itself. It surely does not, in and of itself, limit the Logos or make him a creature.

    Remember what Horton said: “. . the Logos assumed our flesh. Nevertheless, as God he remains transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal. . .”

    So, in our concern to emphasize the true/full humanity of the Logos, let’s be careful also to emphasize the continuing full divinity of the Logos after “the Logos became flesh.”

    As Jonathan B. put it: “the person who suffered was the Logos, full stop. . . The divine nature cannot and did not suffer. . . the person who suffered was a divine person. But he suffered precisely in his human nature.”

    Phillip Schaff also emphasized that his human nature was ”the organ of suffering.”

    I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree with this—just want to make sure we express these things as accurately as possible.

    That’s my wish also for Dr. Sproul, who is simply not careful in his terminology: “The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. . . It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature.”

    No. The atonement was made by the person of Christ. To say that Christ’s death is only experienced by his human nature is not the same as saying that his human nature was the organ of the suffering of the person of Christ.

    Dr. Sproul is of course fully Chalcedonian when he says: “We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate.” And that terminology is all that should be required, confessionally. But I do wish he was clearer and more careful in his brief paper.

    I keep coming back to Jonathan B’s crystal clear confession: “The Lord Jesus Christ precisely *is* the person of the eternal Logos in the flesh. And so, what is predicated of the human nature is therefore predicated of the divine *person*, though not the divine nature.”

  158. Sean Gerety said,

    April 8, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Of course not, Sean. But ought we to posit that “The man Jesus Christ” was not God?

    Of course he is Patrick. But per Jack and Jon he was a man at all, but rather was an impersonal human nature. Again, until Jack and Jon define what it is they mean by person they will continue to talk nonsense.

    Happy Easter.

  159. Brad B said,

    April 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Does the doctrine of imputation have anything to add to this? In other words did the sins of the saints affect the perfection of the divine nature, or was the human nature the recipient since the atonement for sin was mankind’s burden, not the divine burden? Did the divine nature even have to, or even could it experience death?

    I think that the human nature couldn’t have endured the penalty without the sustaining of the divine nature, and the divine nature cannot be less than perfect, but….I dont know enough to really answer this through.

    Happy Easter, He is risen!

  160. April 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Sean, it seems to me there are at least two errors present. The first is that Jesus Christ was a Divine (not human) Person who took on a human nature in addition to the divine nature he already possessed. The answer to this is, as you said, Scripture saying, “The Man Jesus Christ.” The second is positing that the Man Jesus and the Divine Logos are two Persons.

  161. April 8, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Let me clarify the “first” error. The error is that Jesus Christ was/is not a human Person.

  162. April 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Jack,

    That makes sense. I should probably say if the Logos was incapable of coming into creation and dying, bound not to, He would be incapable and finite. But precisely in that He has come into time, laying hold even of death, He has shown He is infinite, and omnipotent; entirely unbounded and able to do whatever He wills.

    But yes, it doesn’t make any sense to say He dies without saying He has come into creation. Death is in creation, and so to die, He must come into creation. It makes no more sense for Him to die without coming into creation than for Him to come into creation without coming into creation.

  163. David J Houston said,

    April 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Patrick, in saying that ‘Jesus Christ was a Divine (not human) Person who took on a human nature in addition to the divine nature he already possessed’ is an error you have – not to be too harsh! – left Reformed theology and reason itself in the dust. Let me explain.

    It is necessary, if we wish to remain orthodox and I assume we do, to believe that in the incarnation the Second Person of the Trinity (2PT) took to himself a human nature and so became a man. However, the debate we’ve been having is over what must be the case if (2PT) is to qualify as a man. You seem to be saying that in order for (2PT) to become a man he must have a human nature AND be a human person. Both are necessary and jointly sufficient for humanity. You presented two options for us that would meet this requirement. Firstly, we could say that Christ was two people. But this (so I say) is the very definition of Nestorianism so it’s out of bounds. The second option that you seem to be suggesting is that (2PT) could become both a divine and human person. A hybrid of sorts. But I don’t see how that could work while maintaining anything like a traditional doctrine of God. Here are a few problems that would arise:

    God is immutable but he would have to be mutable to undergo a change from divine person to divine/human person.

    God is infinite but human persons are essentially finite so he would have to be both infinite and finite.

    God is timeless but human persons are essentially bound by time so he would have to be both timeless and time-bound.

    The third option is to accept some kind of kenotic Christology but this would be subject to all of the same criticisms I listed above with the additional problem of having to deny that the (2PT) is essentially divine. These are just a few of the problems that follow from your doctrine of man but there are more.

    I think a more promising route would be to take a closer look at the understanding of ‘man’ that you’ve been working with. The text you cite simply says that Christ is a man but does not elaborate on what is essential to being a ‘man’. It does not provide the kind of philosophical precision you require for it be an effective proof text. It seems that you’ve read your understanding of what a man is into the text. Why couldn’t it be the case that in order to qualify as a man one must simply possess a human nature? Why must there be both a human nature and a human person present to qualify as a man? You haven’t provided any reason for this assumption. It makes far more sense to say that all that is required for (2PT) to become a man is to acquire a human nature.

    Of course, you could disagree and, as I see it, abandon the traditional and Reformed view of God. I just want you to realize that in order to say what you want to say about Christ it comes at the cost of altering other confessional doctrines. The choice is yours.

  164. Jack Bradley said,

    April 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Brad #159,

    If I understand your questions, you are wrestling, along with the rest of us, with the mystery of the hypostatic union. Ultimately, we must leave it at that: a mystery. Proper creedal boundaries in place for sure, but mystery nonetheless. I find refuge in Jonathan’s quote of Bavinck: “Mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics.”

    As I’ve previously posted, I also find refuge in the words of time-tested authorities:

    William Cunningham: “Man alone could suffer and die, and God alone could satisfy the divine justice and magnify the divine law. . . Dying is of course proper to the human nature; yet it is here attributed to God—the person denominated by the divine nature; and the ground or reason of the attribution is, that that person who laid down His life, and did so as man, was also God.”

    Michael Horton: “. . . by virtue of the hypostatic union the attributes of either nature belong to the one person. . . Reformed Christology strongly affirms the strictest identification between Jesus and God in the incarnation. . . the Logos assumed our flesh.”

    Horton: “The blood that he brings into the heavenly sanctuary to atone for his brothers and sisters is human (Heb 9:11-10:18), yet because of the unity of his person it can be called the blood of God (Ac 20:28).”

    B. B. Warfield (quoted by Horton):

    “. . . it is worth concluding our consideration of this attribute with a lengthy quote from the ‘lion of Princeton,’ B. B. Warfield. Philosophers of the Absolute tell us, Warfield says, ‘that God is, by the very necessity of his nature, incapable of passion, incapable of being moved by inducements from without; that he dwells in holy calm and unchangeable blessedness, untouched by human sufferings or human sorrows for ever.’

    Warfield replies to this contention: ‘Let us bless God that it is not true. God can feel; God does love. We have scriptural warrant for believing that. . . God has reached out loving arms and gathered into his own bosom that forest of spears which otherwise had pierced ours. But is not this gross anthropomorphism? We are careless of names: it is the truth of God. And we decline to yield up the God of the Bible and the God of our hearts to any philosophical abstraction. . . let us rejoice that our God has not left us by searching to find him out. Let us rejoice that he has plainly revealed himself to us in his Word as a God who loves us, and who, because he loves us, has sacrificed himself for us.’” (Warfield, The Person and Work of Christ, pp. 570-571)

  165. Brad B said,

    April 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Jack, thanks. ,Yeah, wrestling that is what is going on. I’m actually still trying to work through the progression of the posts, so the match continues.

  166. April 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Brad and Jason,

    Yes, those remarks are written by me. I still maintain that position. I do not think that the material from the Wedgeworth/Escalante pieces change anything, as I think will be made clear in my eventual reply.

    That said, Jonathan here seems to accurately represent the Chalcedonian position over against that of a Nestorian reading. Where we now disagree is whether such a position is that of the Reformed and whether it is consistent with Reformed distinctives in sacramental theology, ecclesiology and other areas. I’d bet, but do not know, that he would say it is consistent and I would argue it is not. To see why will have to wait for my own reply.

    That said, Sproul’s position is what I take to be the fairly standard Reformed position from Calvin, Musculus, Vermigli on down. There are one or two exceptions for specific reasons, but in the main, it is as Sproul says. Unfortunately for Sproul that is not Chalcedon, but Nestorianism plain and simple.

  167. April 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Sean,

    I am curious, is it your position with Clark (and Robbins who completed Clark’s book on the incarnation in the last two pages or so) that the person is the soul or mind?

  168. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 3:38 am

    As a firm supporter of Clark I’d be careful not to confuse the faculty with the thinking/mode/hypostasis of the faculty. IMO that was Clark’s mistake, though I agree that personhood is cognition.

    Perry,

    In one of our private email exchanges you were clear to deny three minds to the Godhead. I have had conversations with eastern folks about this and if you would give me a public admission to this I would be most delighted. If that’s the case and I remember it being so, personhood would not be something cognitive. Cognition would be at the level of nature not person, but then essence is outside of being for you and ideas cannot be nature because that would preach too much deterministic deliberation [John S. Romanides in his Notes on the Palamite Controversy pt. 1says, “In the common refusal of Occam and Palamas to identify any universal ideas with the essence of God, the intent is partly the same – to protect the divine nature from all forms of determinism.” , so its anyone’s best guess how you are going to define personhood. Even if you say that ideas cannot be essence but they can be nature, I don’t see how you escape Plotinus’s Monad. That is exactly what he said. The monad was ADS and therefore it could not be a mind but the divine mind came out of the Monad as its first production. I saw too much of the same Neoplatonism in Eastern Theology, that Eastern Theology accuses Western Theology of to be either Palamite or Thomist. Thus Drake’s crazy Clarkian leanings.
    Your assumed admission of one mind, would still be an admission of numeric unity not generic unity among the divine persons. If that’s true I don’t see how you escape Western/Augustinian/Van Tillian Modalistic Triadology. And if it is the case that the hypostases of the divine persons are in the realm of being while the essence remains outside of being (an implied ontological distinction-thus E and E distinction), how is this not the heresy of Gilbert de la Porree at the Synod of Rheims (1148)? Thus Muller,

    “Gilbert was accused of being a tritheist and, alternatively, for positing a divine quaternity…On one side, his adversaries believed that he had so separated the ultimate essence or subsistentia of the Godhead, the id quo est, from the persons that he had posited a quaternity , three persons, and behind them, an ultimate essence; on the other side”. (Muller Vol 4, Pg. 32)

  169. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Brad b and Stellman,

    [quote]“As for the ChalcedonianChristology, I’d suggest that this isn’t the case with the Reformed. Just pick up Muller’s Christ and the Decree, which is sufficiently clear that the Reformed (happily I might ad) dissent from Chalcedon. And Muller is no Orthodox toady. Just notice Calvin’s remarks in the Inst, bk 2, chap 14, sec 5,” [/quote]

    I spent many weks on this and read through that book that Perry erroneously charges teaches Adoptionism or Nestorianism.
    Perry Robinson has correctly complained of the Adoptionist Tendencies of Bostonian Reformed Theology. Robinson complains,

    “His [Calvin’s] Christology precludes such a view since “Christ” is the person of the mediator, which is more for Calvin and the Reformed tradition than the person of the Eternal Logos… Given that the Sonship of Christ per the person of the mediator comes into existence at the incarnation for the Reformed… Buchanan’s work (which I’ve read) is predicated upon the same faulty Reformed Christology where the person of the mediator is a product of the union, tying two things together under a single name.”

    Now, I must admit that this complaint does strike the target when discussing Bostonian views of the Covenants, which in itself is in essence no different than the Reformed Baptist view.

    First, to be fair to Calvin, though Calvin did emphasize seeking “the person of Christ not in the eternal person of the Son but in the incarnate mediator.” This statement in itself does not require an Adoptionist or Nestorian view. He is not saying that the mediator begins with the human nature. He says that the Mediator is RECOGNIZED in a human nature. However, Calvin did teach “it is nevertheless only in union with human nature that we recognize the person of the mediator.” (Christ and the Decree, by Richard Muller [The Labyrinth Press: Durham, North Carolina, 1986] pg. 29)

    So is Calvin here saying that the mediator was not until he took flesh? No. Muller makes very clear, “Calvin does, in fact, speak of the ‘person of the mediator’ prior to the incarnation, in reference to the Old testament witness…The eternal Son is designated as mediator prior to the incarnation and performs his office in the communication of God’s Word to man.”(pg. 29)

    Muller affirms that it was the medieval scholastics who…affirmed Christ as mediator according to his humanity in order to state that the eternal divine person, apart from the hypostatic union, does not mediate”. (pg. 33) On page 36 Muller discusses the place of Christ in the ordo salutis. The question is, how does he appear in the history of redemption? A question that Muller brings up regards the Predestination of Christ. Muller refers to the Augustinian view through Toledo 675 A.D. and Thomas Aquinas as, “The man Jesus or, more precisely, his human nature was predestined to be the Son of God in incarnation…The predestination of Christ according to his human nature establishes the form of man’s redemption.” (Christ and the Decree, pg. 36-27)

    The place of Christ in the History of Redemption as it relates to man’s salvation was also a debate in Scotland in the 17th century. Thomas Boston (1676-1732) proposed a view of the Covenant of Grace that “the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace, are not two distinct covenants, but one and the same covenant.” (The Complete Works of Thomas Boston, by Thomas Boston, ed. Samuel M’Millan (reprint, Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1980), 8:396).

    Boston’s followers included the Secession Church that broke off from the Church of Scotland and most American Reformed that I know of. The Presbyterian Seminary that I attended in South Carolina taught this view and it is virtually indistinguishable from the Reformed Baptist view.

    Those who hold to Boston’s view speak of the one Covenant of Grace made between God and Christ, with the elect in Him; ergo, only believers in the COG. This Bostonian COG has two aspects: an eternal and a temporal aspect.

    Samuel Rutherford, the premier theologian of the COS in the 17th Century, had earlier proposed a more traditional view that the eternal Covenant is called the Covenant of Redemption as is made between the Father and the Son. This is distinct from the Covenant of Grace which is made between God and all those who profess faith. The promises of the covenants are different. To Christ it was promised, upon supplying the condition of the terms of the Covenant of Redemption, to be rewarded by being seated at God’s right hand, to rule over the whole world, to have a an elect seed and be the mediator of his people. These rewards are not promised to those in the Covenant of Grace. The promises to those in the Covenant of Grace include the remission of sins, being accounted righteous in Christ, the adoption as sons, a new nature, and holiness among others. These are not promises that Christ received. It was because Christ’s humanity was NOT “the form of man’s redemption” that the COR was distinct from the COG. Samuel Rutherford says,

    “Whosoever receives in his body the Seals of the Covenant of Grace, Circumcision, and Baptism, and yet needs no putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by Circumcision, and needs no forgiveness of sin, no regeneration, no burying with Christ in Baptism, as Colossians 2:11 , 12; Romans 6:3-5, and eats the Passover, and needs not that the Lamb of God take away his sins, as John 1:29 since he is holy, and without sin, he must be under the Covenant, and God must be his God, in some other Covenant than sinners are…Christ must have received Seals for other uses and ends, then sinners received them” (Covenant of Life Opened, pg. 418)

    If one affirms that Christ is in the same COG as sinners, he cannot escape from Robinson’s argument that this is an ipso facto admission that Christ is a Son of God by adoption as believers are, and not by nature.

    I agree with Charles Hodge who says on Romans 1:4,

    “Verse 4. Declared to be the Son of God. The word [horizein] means, 1. To limit, or bound, and, in reference to ideas, to define. 2. To determine. Luke xxii. 22, Acts ii. 23, Heb. iv. 7. 3. To appoint, or constitute. Acts x. 42… Acts xvii. 31. This last sense is given by some few commentators to [horisdenvtos] in this passage. The apostle would then say that Christ was appointed, or constituted the Son of God, by or after his resurrection. But this is inconsistent with what he elsewhere teaches, viz. that Christ was the Son of God before the foundation of the world, Col. i. 15. As shown above, Son of God is not a title of office, but of nature, and therefore Christ cannot be said to have been constituted the Son of God. This interpretation also would involve the latter part of the verse in great difficulties. Hence even those commentators who most strenuously insist on adhering to the signification of words, are constrained, ex necessitate loci, to understand [horisdentos] here declaratively, or in reference to the knowledge of men. That is, when Christ is said to be constituted the Son of God, we are not to understand that he became or was made Son, but was, in the view of men, thus determined.
    The Vulgate reads, qui praedestinatus est, which version is followed by most of the Roman Catholic interpreters, and by Grotius. This rendering is probably founded on the reading, [proorisdentos] which, although old, has little evidence in its favour. Neither is the sense thus expressed suited to the context. Christ was not predestinated to be the Son of God. He was such from eternity“.
    Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, pg 26-27

    So, did the Sonship of Christ come into existence at his incarnation? No. John L. Girardeau says in Discussions of Theological Questions The Doctrine of Adoption II.,

    “It is not intended to intimate that Christ was possessed of a two-fold sonship, as he was divine and as he was human. Upon this point I must confer with Dr. Candlish in opposition to Dr. Crawford. His sonship is eternally one. Had he become the Son of God as human, and thus in addition to his divine sonship, assumed human sonship, the consequence would be involved that he became a human person, since sonship supposes personality. That doctrine the church has always rejected, The last attempt made to support it, by the school of the “Adoptionists” failed to receive the suffrages of the Roman Catholic Church, and has not been approved by the Protestant. …We are thus, if believers, first, made one with God’s Son by community of nature-we become his brethren and therefore sons of God with him. Secondly, we are partakers of his life, because partakers of his Spirit and are as he is in God the Father’s regard. Thirdly, we are possessed by imputation of filial obedience, which performed the condition upon which we are indefectibly instated as sons in the fatherly favor of God.”

    John L. Girardeau, ed., George Blackburn, Discussions of Theological Questions (reprint,Harrisonburg, Va: Sprinkle Publications, 1886; Richmond: The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1905), 487-488. Footnote

    Girardeau says the same of believers that we can as sons obey as a servant. He says on page 482,

    “I am constrained to believe that while the two relations co-existed in Christ, and co-exist in the believer, they are not identical. The one is not sunk in the other. The two sorts of obedience springing from them possess in themselves considered, distinctive specific characteristics. They are, however, brought into consistency of one generic obedience upon the one person who obeys. Somewhat like the two natures in Christ, the two relations are brought into union with each other upon one and the same person, but are not interfused or blended so as to lose their peculiar properties. And as in the latter case the personal obedience was undivided, so in the former…I can see no reason, therefore, for receding from the position, that the obedience of Christ as the mediatorial servant of the Father, a subject under moral law, grounded the Justification of his people as subjects of law, and that his obedience as a [eternal] Son grounded their Adoption as children in God’s house. The one entitles them to bow before God’s throne, the other to sit at God’s table.”

    Perry says,

    “If the righteousness is an earned righteousness then that which is declared is created. If it is earned by Christ’s humanity, then it isn’t eternal. Or do you propose some other righteousness than that merited by Christ?”

    This is Equivocation. The idea in Reformed is that the essential and uncreated righteousness of God is declared in punishing the sin of the elect and having mercy on the elect through imputing the created surety righteousness of Christ to them. Buchanan says,

    “secondly, a work of righteousness by God the Son,[CREATED]—His vicarious righteousness as the Redeemer of His people, when He ‘became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross,’ and thus became ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ But these two-God’s righteousness which was declared,[UNCREATED] and Christ’s righteousness which was wrought out, on the Cross[CREATED]—********although they may be distinguished, cannot be separated, from one another; for they were indissolubly united in one and the same propitiation;********* and while the righteousness which is revealed for our Justification may be called ‘the righteousness of God’ ********with some reference to both, it properly consists in the merit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and perfect obedience,******** for these were offered by Him as our substitute and representative”

    (James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, Part 2 LECT. VIII. Justification; The Scriptural Meaning of the Term, Proposition 3)

    So what is uncreated on the Reformed Theory of redemption? Girardeau says, our Sonship in Adoption (Discussions, pg. 488) and I would add as a Scripturalist the objects of Logos’ mind that the believer participates in univocally creating an ontological union between Christ and the Elect (Johannine Logos by Gordon Clark).

    The eternal Sonship is not earned by Christ’s humanity. Christ’s humanity is the Eternal Son by Hypostatic Union.

    Perry Robinson also complains,

    “As to the conceptual matters, the Nestorians admitted one “person” of Jesus Christ. They also admitted that things true of his humanity could be spoken of this one “person” with no communication of energies. What they would not admit was that this one “person” was the eternal Son, the divine Logos and so it was impossible for them to admit that God suffered, died or was born. Hence their aversion to the term Theotokos. In their view, the “person” Jesus Christ was the product or result of the union of the two natures. This is why it is possible to give an unorthodox reading to the statement that after the Incarnation Jesus is a composite hypostasis. That could mean that the person is the product of the two natures coming into union or it could mean that the one divine person takes human nature into his divine person. The latter is orthodox while the former is heterodox. Consequently, there is no divine-human person of Christ, as the Westminster Confession apparently and erroneously teaches, when it states,

    “So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. (WCF 8.2)”

    Rutherford, who had the most influence on the Westminster Assembly and the Confession, says of the Covenant of Redemption,

    “it is an eternal transaction and compact between Jehovah and the second Person the Son of God, who gave personal consent that he should be the Undertaker, and no other…Christ is predestinate the head, the firstborn of the house, and of the many brethren, and say Amen to the choice, and we are chosen in him, as our head, and he was foreordained the Mediator, and the Lamb before the foundation of the world was laid, to be slain for our sin.” (pg. 429-430)

    The Sum of Saving Knowledge states,

    “2b The sum of the Covenant of Redemption is this: God having freely chosen to life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, *****to God the Son******, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as ******to assume the human nature******, of a soul and a body, to personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, ******even to the suffering of the cursed death of the cross********, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase to them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading there to, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits of the elect; and that he does by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings”

    Here Rutherford and the Sum of Saving Knowledge affirm clearly that the same Eternal Person who authored the COR is the same Person who suffered on the cross. This person was not a product of the union between human and divine but was an Eternal Person who assumed a human nature.

  170. April 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

    David, thanks for your reply.

    “You seem to be saying that in order for (2PT) to become a man he must have a human nature AND be a human person. Both are necessary and jointly sufficient for humanity.”

    You have read me correctly. I think it’s a violation of reason and the English language to say that Jesus was a man yet not a human person.

    “The second option that you seem to be suggesting is that (2PT) could become both a divine and human person. A hybrid of sorts.”

    I wouldn’t use the word hybrid, but rather that Christ was the only Person (which I’m defining as a mind, a collection of propositions) who fell into both categories of divine (he is omniscient) and human (he is associated with a body of flesh).

    “God is immutable but he would have to be mutable to undergo a change from divine person to divine/human person.”

    If we’re thinking in terms of some sort of hybrid (I’m picturing the last scene of Star Trek: The Motion Picture here), then you’re right. But in my theory, the omniscient mind of the Logos was not altered when he became associated with a fleshly tent, thereby also falling into the category of “human person.”

    “God is infinite but human persons are essentially finite so he would have to be both infinite and finite.”

    Any divine Person is omniscient and omnipotent, agreed. Christ was the unique instance of divine Person who chose to funnel (for lack of a better word) those attributes through the limitations of a human body. Some have pointed out that this sounds kenotic, but (unless I have misunderstood kenosis theory) that would mean he stopped being omniscient/omnipotent. The temporary erasure of propositions from the mind of the Logos and/or a divesture of omnipotence from the 2nd Person would indeed be impossible.

    As for the passages which imply Jesus did not know certain things (e.g. he grew in wisdom and didn’t know the time of his return), I have (elsewhere) likened this to how, in our limited human bodies, we are at time unable to recall propositions that we know. Now, I don’t mean to say Jesus forgot, but rather that according to the plan of God, his mind/body relationship grew so as he could access more and more of his omniscience. It was not necessary for him to access the time of his return during his time on earth.

    “God is timeless but human persons are essentially bound by time so he would have to be both timeless and time-bound.”

    I’m not 100% sure how you’re defining “bound by time,” (for that matter, I don’t know how you define time), but I see no difficulty. Eternal God performed many temporal actions pre-Incarnation. I must be misunderstanding your point, because your statement (to me) seems more an argument against the possibility of an Incarnation.

    “Why couldn’t it be the case that in order to qualify as a man one must simply possess a human nature? Why must there be both a human nature and a human person present to qualify as a man?”

    I actually sympathize with these questions, because they are the same type I ask my opponents. It seems that others begin with certain assumptions about divine and human persons *without looking at Christ,* then attempt to explain the Incarnation based on these assumptions (e.g. God cannot die). What I’m saying is we should let what Scripture plainly says about Christ inform our assumptions about God. (E.g. I believe a plain reading of Scripture reveals, in child-like simplicity, the Word = Jesus = The Man who died on the cross. I take from that the notion that, while Incarnate, a Divine person can indeed die! That is, the mind can be separated from the body.)

    I’m more concerned with remaining faithful to Scripture than I am to any theological tradition. I do not mean this to sound pious. I simply mean that I do not consider myself obligated to follow a particular stream of orthodoxy if I believe Scripture to say otherwise. Please, please, please do not misunderstand me. I do not wish to anathematize any who disagree with me, or even demand that they agree with my formulation. This is a difficult subject, about which greater minds than I have disagreed for centuries.

    Grace & Peace.

  171. April 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Drake,

    I have said before that I refuse to interact with you, on my blog or anywhere else. That the owners of this blog permit you to do so is up to them, but my interacton with you or lack thereof is up to me.

    I am quite content to allow people to read Muller’s book for themselves without the benefit of your elipses and come to their own judgment, which is why I have recommended it for years.

    As for my statements which you have copied and pasted from elsewhere you still have failed to map on to my position particularly with respect to hypostases and huperousia. I am content to allow you to figure out where and why your supposed objection turns on a straw man.

    As for the rest even if wha tyou said abotu Calvin adn Co. wer eall true and uncontoversial, it wouldn’t matter. Clark and Robbins are clearly either Nestorian or Apollinarian-take your pick-and that is because they are platonists rather than Christians.

    In short there is nothing to be gained from interacting with you.

    Good day sir.

  172. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Since Perry will not converse with me directly due to his devout piety and godliness (But he is all the more willing to send me private emails with some of the most disgusting depraved language imaginable) I will speak in the third person. Perry does not understand Clark. Clark and Robbins were not Platonists in the sense that Perry is using. The ultimate principle on their metaphysic is not a monad. It is intellect. That is why union with God is something intellectual. It is not a union of ignorance like in Neoplatonism and guess what, just like in Eastern Orthodoxy. Perry’s refuge is going to be The Vision of God by Vladimir Lossky. I read and wrote a summary of this book here:

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/the-vision-of-god-by-vladimir-lossky-reviewed-by-drake-shelton

    The mistake of just about every anti-clarkian writer I have come across is to assume that gnosticism and neoplatonism were about intellectual union with the ultimate principle. That is not the case. Perry’s straw man is exposed. Plotinus was very clear to DENY intellect to his Monad precisely because it was Simple. ***********Union with the Monad was something ecstatic not intellectual.********* A union of ignorance. That is the same with Eastern Orthodoxy. EO is pagan Platonist. And for a follower of Pseudo Dionysius (Which is exactly what Presbyterianism and the Reg. Principle rejects) to accuse someone else of Platonism is laughable. Perry’s entire Ecclesiology is based on the Platonic Hierarchy of Being as is his view of sin and redemption.

    As I have shown above, Perry’s accusation of Nestorianism and Adoptionism in Calvin was a lie, as is his accusation of Clark being a Platonist. Just read Clark’s section on Neoplatonism in Thales to Dewey and you see the radical difference. Perry wasn’t able to answer the quagmire of problems I put in front of him, and I will never in my life admit that he is a Christian. I know people in the Eastern Orthodox Church that I am comfortable calling Christian brothers, but this guy Perry Robinson: no way. Even the guy who teaches the theology classes at an EO church here in Louisville thinks he is an extreme radical.

    “Clark and Robbins are clearly either Nestorian or Apollinarian.”

    I recently had a long conversation about this with Dr. Talbot from Whitfield seminary. Talbot was a student of Clark’s for many years and knew him most of his life. When Robbins published that book, Talbot and other protested it because it was not the position that Clark had taught them. In his commentary on the confession Clark very clearly denies that Christ was two persons and asserted that he was one person two natures. Second, even if you take Robbins position, his account of the union between divine and human is neither Nestorian nor Adoptionist. They both affirmed that Divinity and Humanity were completely metaphysically incompatible, thus the hypostatic union was impossible. They operated strictly off of the Thomist principle (Though not called Thomist at the time) of analogy of proportionality. This principle is what Clark and Robbins spent their lives rejecting. They posited a real and univocal connection between divine and human. So keep the lies coming Perry, its only getting worse for you.

  173. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    BTW, I am very familiar with huperousia, that is exactly what Plotinus believed about his Monad which dwelt in the Divine Darkness just like Lossky said of the Divine essence. It is the same system between Plotinus and the east from beginning to end. You are falling right in line with Plotinus’ construction as your father Dionysius taught you.

  174. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I’ll give an example from Perry’s own writings that his view is platonic while the Calrkian view which denies huperousia is radically different from Pagan Platonism. From Perry’s, Could a Maverick Go East?,

    “Given divine perfection, this isn’t possible and not welcome either. But what if the kind of ”change” that entails substantial alteration via motion/activity is limited to things that “be?” If God is huperousia, or as Plato remarked concerning the Good, “on the other side of being” then the kind of problematic change envisioned is in principle precluded and cannot be attributed to God.” http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/could-a-maverick-go-east/

    He is even admitting that his view is the same as Plato’s.

  175. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    And even worse, he agrees with Plato about how to double the square. . Rather than believing that you just double each of the dimensions–Perry believes this will quadruple the cube–Perry believes you should connect the midpoints of the diagonals. He’s just following Meno!!!!

    And that Lewis, he admits he agrees with Plato too “what do they teach them in the schools these days, it’s all in Plato.” Clearly, he’s just a Platonist, as his own words confess. Fortunately he’s dead, and can’t publish his insidious anti-Christian tracts. He says himself he agrees with Plato!!!!!!!

    /end sacrasm.

    Perry didn’t derail the conversation, but was respectful. Stop ranting, it’s unbecoming.

  176. jnorm888 said,

    April 9, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I read all the comments and it would seem as if the Reformed tradition (generically speaking) might be split on this issue. You have some on here like Jonathan who is clearly advocating Chalcedonian Christology. And you have others on here who are not.

    Yes it is true that it is implied at Chalcedon, but the 5th council makes it very explicit and so any other reading of Chalcedon is going to be seen as being defective.

    But the non-Anglican Reformed don’t normally accept the Ecumenical councils beyond the 4th and so it would be hard to bring this into the mdiscussion if they never saw such councils as being authoritative anyway.

    But even if a non-Anglican Reformed christian was to hold to Chalcedonian Christology (Cyrillian Chalcedonianism) the next question I would have is:

    How consistent could it be with Reformed distinctives in sacramental theology, ecclesiology ………..etc?

  177. April 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Drake,

    Against my better judgment, here goes. I do not refrain from interacting with you out of piety and such, though I wish that it were so. I do so because you constantly and consistently berate people and insult them, jump to conclusions and make assaults on people’s character simply because they disagree with your position. You make assertions as if you have given an argument. Call me an apostate and other insults enough times rather than stick to the argument, yeah, I am going to drop an F bomb or so your way. That should be a sign that you’re being some lower body part not limited to males. And it is not as if our private email exchanges are a daily occurrence. Last I checked we went at it in May of 2011.

    Clark and Robbins are Platonic in that they take the soul to be the person. The Incarnation, p. 55) If that is not strictly platonic, it is at least Hellenistic. Christ has a human soul, but Christ is not a human person. Ergo, the soul is not the person. Consequently Clark and Robbins view is sub Christian.

    Asserting that I do not understand Clark or Robbins is a poor substitute for a demonstration that I do not. When Clark in his own writings describes his view as a form of Christian Platonism, well, he may not believe everything Plato taught, but enough to self ascribe the term.

    If the ultimate principle of Clark’s metaphysic is mind, I am sure Plato would be just fine with that, specifically since he has Socrates say that Mind via some of the pre-Socratics is the best explanation of all things. Some Middle Platonists didn’t take Nous to be the highest principle for no reason.

    It is true that in late Platonism union with the One or rather the Return to the One for Plotinus entails a kind of ignorance in that all capacity for knowledge is precluded rather than having a capcity and not possessing the object that can be known. It is also true that this kind of language is found in a number of Church fathers, taken over to some extant or another from various Platonists. It doesn’t follow that they meant all and only what Plotinus meant. Christians had a habit of altering the meaning of terms, much to the chagrin of the philosophically inclined pagans. The kind of ignorance say Maximus or Palamas has in mind is not an absolute ignorance of the Platonists but more like a denial that conceptual knowledge is adequate and transcended to something more like tacit knowledge or what folks in Philosophy of Mind would now days call qualia or that is something like knowledge by acquaintance. Knowledge of persons is what is in mind here, knowledge that isn’t reducible to ideas, forms and such. This is not what Plotinus has in mind. For him it is ecstatic and non-personal, rather Buddhistic you might say in so far as it entails the annihilation of the person, if Plotinus had such a concept. The goal for the Orthodox in large measure is to know God personally in His love, not to have the right ideas per se, but rather to be God’s friend. So no, we do not adhere to the same conception as Plotinus even if time Platonic terms are used and re-shaped. If you’d read Lossky, he says this explicitly about Orthodox use of Hellenistic terms, especially in Dionysius. So goodie that you’ve read Lossky, reading and understanding are not co-extensive.

    I do not assume that Gnosticism and Platonism took union to be always and only intellectual. But of course those movements had a wide variety of positions, so much so that modern specialists are beginning to abandon the idea of a single term to cover the instances. In any case, I made no straw man.

    It is true that Plontinus excludes Mind and intellectual activity from the One on the grounds of simplicity. Both the West and Eastern traditions rejected that move. Augustine collapsed the One and Nous retaining the strict simplicity which is why he had to generate the persons out of the Aristotelian category of relation with the the Monad’s relation to itself constituting the three persons of the Trinity. This is the well from which Reformed and Lutheran’s drank along with Rome, which is why they speak of attributes, things that get said about an absolutely simple object. The differences are in our language, not in God. That is what an attribute is, not a property, at least not an inherent or intrinsic quality.

    If Reformed thought rejects Dionysius’ view then it is odd that they accept it in its Albertian/Thomistic or Scotistic form relative to theological language. One has only to read Muller’s Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics volume on the Divine essence to see the massive influence of Platonism, including Dionysius (who was probably Damascius, a Platonists convert to Christianity from the Proclean school). It simply isn’t possible to make sense out of Reformed talk of anthropomorphic language and analogical predication, divine impassibility, or their doctrine of simplicity apart from late Platonism. Everyone is influenced by it to some degree or another. That is just the way history went.

    Asserting that my entire view is based on a Platonic hierarchy of being is not a demonstration. Rather my view at critical points is anti-Platonic, particularly since I reject the idea that the Good has an opposite. You don’t get more anti-Platonic than that.

    Your claims from Muller turn on misunderstanding what you are reading. It was never my claim that Muller on Calvin held the idea that there was no person of the mediator prior to the incarnation. I’ve corrected you on this before in other venues. That the person of the mediator pre-exists the incarnation is not the salient point in Muller. The salient point is that the person of the mediator after the incarnation per Muller a la Calvin is not limited to the Logos. So your supposed claim that you’ve refuted me depend son you not understanding what I was pointing out in Muller. (Besides, the constant talk by Muller of Christ as a ‘divine-human” person is hardly Chalcedonian. Rather that is the language of Eutychians, Monophysites and Nestorians.)

    I also simply note again that you leave out Muller’s important statement that Calvin’s take here is not Chalcedonian. This is now the second time you’ve left out that information to try and tar me with misrepresentation and rather “lies.” The last time was over at Orthodox-Reformed Bridge. Here is what Muller says,

    “His statements have, however, a different purpose and systematic implication than the Chalceodnian emphasis on the eternal person of the Son. Calvin’s interest is still in the work of mediation between God and man and on the identification of Christ as mediator. The eternal Son is designated as mediator prior to the incarnation and performs his office in the communication of God’s Word to man. Furthermore, Calvin’s doctrinal determination of the Son as God emphasis the full Godhead of the son rather than the eternal generation of his person as stressed by Chalcedon and by the later Greek theology.” , 1988, P. 29

    Designation as mediator and being mediator aren’t necessarily the same things, are they? Terms and being can be quite different depending on the view of taxonomy one is working with.

  178. April 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Drake,

    I grant that Calvin follows Augustine on the predestination of the human nature of Christ. That was never in dispute. Nor is it problematic for me to toss Augustine under the Chalcedonian buss, especially since it is such a view that puts Augustine at odds with Chalcedon. Like that is a hard choice for me. But given your predestinarian affinities with Augustine, it is a hard choice for you and everyone else who affirms such a view.
    “For the rest, Augustine’s conception of the oneness of Christ is shown, although with more or less clarity, in the various, likewise traditional ways of describing the incarnation: as an event (fieri), a taking on (susceptio) or assumption (assumptio), a drawing close (accedere), or even a mingling without confusion (mixtio sine confusione). Although in using those terms Augustine is clearly starting from the teaching of the faith according to which only the Son became a human being, he does not yet arrive at the technical formulation of the dogma. That is, he does not use the expression ‘the one person of Christ’ in order to describe the starting point of the incarnation. In his thinking, ‘the one person of Christ’ is rather the result of the ineffable union between the godhead and the humanity in Jesus Christ.”
    Basil Studer, The Grace of Christ and the Grace of God in Augustine of Hippo: Christocentrism or Theocentrism?, trans. Matthew J.O. Connell, Liturgical Press, 1997, p. 34.
    At least Augustine had the excuse that he died before he could have gone to the council of Ephesus and before Chalcedon was held. Calvin has no such excuse. Hiding behind Augustine and Aquinas is no help especially since Aquinas, like most scholastics had a poor grasp of Greek and lacked full or any texts of major councils where Christological decisions were made or if he had them it wasn’t till much later and he had to try and shoe horn in their doctrinal decisions. Running home to Rome here is no help since Rome isn’t the standard here.

    Whether you are comfortable calling me a Christian or not is irrelevant. Your personal thoughts about me are irrelevant. As for the person you reference in Louisville he has never met me and has had no serious conversations with me. Nor has he ever said I am a “radical” to me in our exchanges to which you were not privy. What would be germane would be if I am not in good standing at my parish, if my priest and other parish leaders think such things of me, not someone who has never met me and is being fed information from a hostile source. But again, you make this personal and make personal assaults rather than sticking to the arguments, which is why you get routinely banned from various venues.

    As far as Clark and Robbin’s Nestorianism. This is not that hard to establish. As for Talbot, what he says would be germane if he has arguments to demonstrate it. That he was a student of Clark’s doesn’t of itself prove anything. At most it puts him in a position to know. Being in a position to know and knowing are two different things. Of course, Robbins and lots of other Clarkians I’ve known when I was one and even after are also in a position to know given Clark’s books. Simply saying that Talbot denies it is Clark’s position is not proof that it isn’t, unless Talbot is infallible.

    Congratulations that Clark denied in his commentary on the Confession that Christ is two persons. Nestorius denied as much as well till his dying day. From a denial of a dual subject Christology it does not follow that the denier isn’t an adherent of a dual subject Christology. All that follows is that they don’t think they are. But Rome doesn’t think of itself as semi-Pelagian. Do you wish to imply by the very same reasoning that Rome is not therefore semi-Pelagian simply because Rome says it is not?

    If you presented some actual evidence from Talbot for thinking that Clark’s position isn’t Nestorian, that would actually get us somewhere, but all you present is his say so.

  179. April 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Drake,

    As for what Clark says himself, here are some gems.

    “Now, it should, in my opinion, be more greatly emphasized than theologians are wont to do, that Jesus had a rational soul. How he astounded the learned teachers when was only twelve years old! But does this prove, as Hodge says, that the complete human nature of Jesus ‘entered into the composition of Christ’s person?’ Decidedly not. The Creed of Chalcedon says, ‘unconfusedly, unchangeably…the property of each nature being preserved.’ Christ’s person was deity, and the limitations of a twelve year old boy cannot possibly be elements that compose the Second person of the Trinity.” The Incarnation, p. 42-43.

    “if Jesus was not a human person, who or what suffered on the cross? The Second Person could not have suffered for Deity is impassible. One of the heresies of the of the early ages, as mentioned before, was Patripassianism. Substituting a modal trinity for three distinct persons, the theory requires the Father to have been crucified. But to require the Second person, as such, to suffer is equally impossible. The Westminster Confession describes him as ‘a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts or passions’ (II, 1). If then the Second Person could not suffer, could a ‘nature’ suffer?…If, then, theologically undefined nature is certain qualities or characteristics, such as susceptibility to fatigue, aptitude for learning, joy, sorry, or, to extend the list beyond the life of Christ, jealousy, irascibility, sullenness-if nature is such qualities can any one of them suffer pain? Can even a human, physical body suffer? If that were the case a corpse could suffer. On the contrary, only a spirit, a soul (including the souls of animals), or a person can suffer. Apparently demons can suffer (Luke 8:31; Matthew 8:29, in which one should note the word torment), yet they have no bodies. To repeat the question then: If the mere qualities cannot suffer and die, and I the logos is eternally immutable, whose death was it that propitiated the Father by suffering the penalty we deserved to suffer? The Scriptures say the man Christ Jesus.” The Incarnation, pp. 67-68

    “We ask, How can a human consciousness, mind, heart and will not be a human person? All Hodge can reply is “It does not become us to attempt to explain” all this. In other words, the doctrine is based on ignorance. The creeds and the theologians assert ‘a true man’ and their explanations deny it. This becomes still more evidence because orthodox theologians generally call Christ’s human nature ‘impersonal.” How an X with a human will and a human intellect, who or with increases in wisdom, can be devoid of personality requires some non-existent explanation. Stung by such an absurdity one of the most orthodox theologians, a veritable stickler for every detail, insists that Christ’s human nature is not impersonal because it is attached to his divine person. In other words the Second Person of the Trinity is ignorant or something, the Person gets tired, and the person died on the cross! In contrast with these impossibilities the Scripture, as before noted, speaks of ‘the man Christ Jesus’ (1 tim 2:5). How can a man be a man without being a human person? Since the difficulties are enormous, one must view the problem from different angles, even at the risk of some repetition. Let us then take it for granted that God cannot die. Now, if Christ be one divine person, no person was crucified and died. What then died on the cross? A ‘nature?’ To this point the author has found it convenient to use the term nature in a loose and popular way. However, if we wish to explain the Incarnation, technical terms must be used, i.e. terms carefully defined. But o creed, nor any great theologian so far as I know, has ever defined it. Admittedly Hodge tried to do so, but it is not sufficient to say merely that the nature and substance are synonyms. If the person, being the Logos could not be crucified, was our salvation accomplished by the alleged death of an impersonal nature? For we have seen, only a few paragraphs ago, that human qualities cannot be attributes of God.” The Incarnation, pp. 68-69

    “Acts 2:27, quoting Psalm 16:8-11, declares that God would ‘not leave my soul in hell.’ The word is not Gehenna, however, but Hades. This should bring to mind Christ’s promise to the thief on the cross: “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.’ But the word to which attention is now directed is soul. It seems absurd that the Second Person of the Trinity would have gone to Gehenna, and certainly peculiar if he had gone to Hades, this last because the Second person could not die. He was the eternal,. Immutable Son of God. Hence since ‘the man Christ Jesus’ is the only other possibility, the one who died on the cross was a man, he had or was a soul, he was a human being, a person.” The Incarnation, p. 70

    “Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this view: ‘My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?’ Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human ‘nature’ cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in supposing that the Father could forsake a ‘nature.’ Those words from Psalm 22:1 were the words of a true man, a real human being, whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed.” The Incarnation, p. 71

    “That Jesus had or was a soul, previously mentioned, is supported also by Matthew 26:38, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful.’ Not ‘my nature’ is exceeding sorrowful. Not also, ‘Now is my soul troubled’ (John 12:27) This had to be a human soul, since nothing troubles the immutable God.” The Incarnation, p. 72

    “On statement is very clearly not a statement by the Logos. On the Cross Jesus said, “I thirst.’ No trinitarian Person could have said this because the Three Persons are pure incorporeal spirits and thirst if a phenomenon of a body. There is another reason why the Logos could not have thirsted, a reason the standard theologians keep forgetting. Experiencing thirst is, among other things, a change from the condition of not thirsting. But the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, is as unchangeable as the Father” The Incarnation, p. 73

  180. April 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Drake,

    So much for Clark, now for Robbins

    “If, as seems to be the case, we now have a solution to the puzzles of the Incarnation, a solution that avoids contradictions and meaningless words of the traditional formulations, a solution that is supported by Scripture itself, we are obliged to accept it. Jesus Christ was and is both God and man, a divine person and a human person. To deny either is to fall into error. Once the key terms are defined and clearly understood, the Incarnation is an even more stupendous and awe-inspiring miracle than the Church has hitherto surmised.” The Incarnation, p.78

    It should be pretty clear that both these men are Nestorians. If the divine person of the Son cannot suffer, die, get hungry and so forth, and an anhypostatic human nature can’t, and only a person can, then there must be some other person, who did or underwent all of those things. That means the there is in Christ the divine person of the eternal Logos and the person of the man Jesus. One is left wondering what are we to do with scriptures like the following.

    “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev 1:18

    “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” Rev 2:8

    Is that the man speaking or the person of the Logos? To have to ask such a question betrays nothing less than Nestorianism and this is exactly what Clark’s position entails. This is why he writes about which statements can be said by the man and which by the Logos, exactly as did Nestorius. In fact, that was the entire point of Nestorius’ system so that attributions could be made without falling into absurdity.

    To say that Robbins position can’t be Apollinarian or Nestorian because those two positions preclude a hypostatic union is a mistake. What Robbins and Clark proffer is not a hypostatic union so the fact that Nestorianism precludes a hypostatic union is no proof that they weren’t Nestorian.. Nestorius used the doctrine of divine impassibility in fundamentally the same way as Clark and Robbins to deny that the Logos was the subject who dies, among other things. Clark explicitly denies the hypostatic union since he says that the human nature is not brought into the divine hypostasis of the Son since the Son’s person cannot be composite. Well, the idea of a composite person after the union in terms of it including human nature (not being a human person) just is Chalcedonianism.

    As for the Thomistic idea of proportionality which you seem to be glossing as the Scotistic notion of the univocity of being, as grounding Apollinarian and Nestorian structures, this is absurd. For Nestorius it was primarily because God was unchangeable and impassible in just the same way Clark speaks that motivated his thinking. This is exactly why he said that the Logos went through Mary like “water through a pipe.”

    As for supposedly admitting that my view is Platonic that is hogwash. Here is why it is so. Plato’s notion of being is primarily dyadic and dialectical or rather oppositional. For Plato, the Good is beyond being because matter is in and of itself beyond being as well. Matter has no form of its own, which is why material bodies do not ultimately persist, they are opposed to form and their form eventually retreats or rather is insufficient to inform matter since its causal power is “spread out” and diminished. On the Orthodox take, God has no opposite precisely because God creates ex nihilo and this is why he is beyond being. This is something not only untenable for Plato, but unimaginable.

    Furthermore, the Reformed tradition is just as indebted to the use of Republic 509b as I am. The difference is that I am not indebted to Albertus Magnus’ reading of Dionysius as they are. On Albert’s translation, he took huper ousia to mean superessential being, that is self subsisting being or in Anselmian terms, the greatest possible being. God is then “beyond” being in the sense of being beyond created being, he is unlimited being, specifically unlimited act or actuality. And it is here that you routinely fail to understand my position. If you had, trying to tar me with Gilbert’s position would be obviously absurd. I don’t separate the persons from the huperousia essence because I take the persons to be huper ousia also. How could I not? By being I mean act, working, activity, energia. Be-ing is a verb, not a noun or not so much. And so when I said God is beyond being qua essence I mean God is more than his acts, more than actuality, more than his mighty acts/revelation. But the Reformed following Albert via Rome by and large take the same position as Rome, which is why their doctrines of divine simplicity an such are for the most part identical with the scholastics. This is why they draw on Aquinas and Scotus to this day over against the Open Theists. They are the same arguments. For both, God is pure actuality and this is the doctrine of actus purus. Can you say Aristotle?

    For my part, I affirm rather that God is more than his revelation to put it in biblical terms. Contrary to the Reformed (and the Lutherans) and Rome, metaphysics applies to everything except God ad intra, which is why for them theology is a science and for us it is about the spiritual life in Christ.

    In sum, I think I have demonstrated that what you say about me and what I have written are not true and that any reader can guess that any further comments by you here or elsewhere can be addressed by me, even if I choose not to engage them and you in the future, which God willing, I won’t.

  181. jnorm888 said,

    April 9, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I read all the comments and it would seem as if the Reformed tradition (generically speaking) is split on the issue. For you have Jonathon here advocating Chalcedonian Christology while some others here are not. The 5th council makes this explicit, but the non-Anglican Reformed tradition normally doesn’t embrace Ecumenical councils beyond the 4th.

    And so it’s hard to talk about something they don’t embrace, but even if a non-Anglican Reformed christian was to embrace a Cyrillian Chalcedonian Christology. The next question I would have for such a person is:

    How consistent would this be with other Reformed distinctives that Perry mentioned?

  182. olivianus said,

    April 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Perry,

    “When Clark in his own writings describes his view as a form of Christian Platonism, well, he may not believe everything Plato taught, but enough to self ascribe the term.”

    Yawn.

    “It is true that in late Platonism union with the One or rather the Return to the One for Plotinus entails a kind of ignorance in that all capacity for knowledge is precluded rather than having a capacity and not possessing the object that can be known.”

    >>>>This is a direct contradiction to Lossky. He said in Vision of God, “Attempts have been made to connect this union with God through ignorance to the ecstasy of Plotinus….[Individuating His view from Plotinus’ Lossky says] Human beings united to God are not simply identified with Him, they are ‘entirely in God’…In the state of union we know God at *********a higher level than intelligence-nous********** for the simple reason that we do not know Him at all.” (pg 122-123)

    Lossky is here saying that Plotinus’ union was exactly what you just denied. You didn’t read Lossky Perry. Then you say, “I do not assume that Gnosticism and Platonism took union to be always and only intellectual.” But that is exactly what Lossky just said. Sounds like some serious private judgment you’re exercising here Perry.

    “The kind of ignorance say Maximus or Palamas has in mind is not an absolute ignorance of the Platonists but more like a denial that conceptual knowledge is adequate and transcended to something more like tacit knowledge or what folks in Philosophy of Mind would now days call qualia or that is something like knowledge by acquaintance.”

    >>>If its not propositional, it’s the same thing. Plotinus was very clear to tolerate no distinction between subject and predicate in the Monad.

    “Knowledge of persons is what is in mind here, knowledge that isn’t reducible to ideas, forms and such.”

    >>>>That’s nonsense. Then it isn’t knowledge. This is the exact issue that Clark deals with in What is Saving Faith?. What you are saying is that the salvation is not in the truth. It is in the psychological state that the propositions are merely the means or channel to get to. A psychological state is not an object of knowledge Perry. Psychological states are neither true nor false.

    “If Reformed thought rejects Dionysius’ view then it is odd that they accept it in its Albertian/Thomistic or Scotistic form relative to theological language. One has only to read Muller’s Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics volume on the Divine essence to see the massive influence of Platonism, including Dionysius (who was probably Damascius, a Platonists convert to Christianity from the Proclean school). ”

    I can’t even believe I have to say this to you, and it is indicative of how ignorant you are of Gordon Clark Perry: THAT’S THE WHOLE REASON WHY CLARK WAS JETTISONED AS A DISTICNT REFORMED PHILOPSHER. He pointed these exact issues out as I have catalogued in detail.

    “Asserting that my entire view is based on a Platonic hierarchy of being is not a demonstration.”

    >>>Pseudo Dionysius’ Ecclesiology which the East follows strictly, thus Lossky’s Divine Darkness, is taken strictly from the Neoplatonic hierarchy:

    Your view of sin is taken right from Platonic Anchorism which seeks one-ness divine simplicity-

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/against-ancient-christianity

    “Rather my view at critical points is anti-Platonic, particularly since I reject the idea that the Good has an opposite. You don’t get more anti-Platonic than that.”

    >>>You do by implication. You assert no real distinction in God ad intra. All your distinctions are ad extra and have reference to the econmia (Thus Bradshaw). The energies are “around” God not in God ad intra, thus Farrell and Maximus the Confessor:

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/-free-choice-in-maximus-the-confessor-by-joseph-p-farrell-reviewed-by-drake-shelton

    You have no basis for an ad intra distinction between nature and will because the wills are the energies (Farrell says of the energies, “They are divine ‘predeterminations’ and indeed, ‘wills’ of God). No ad intra distinction between nature and will is a direct admission to emanationism, thus evil emanates from the Monad and the hierarchy of being extends infinitely. Its the same system.

    ” It was never my claim that Muller on Calvin held the idea that there was no person of the mediator prior to the incarnation.”

    >>>You have worded this ambiguously. Are you saying that you have never accused Calvin of positing the mediator post incarnation or are you saying that you never claimed that Muller admitted it? You said very clearly, “Buchanan’s work (which I’ve read) is predicated upon the same faulty Reformed Christology where the person of the mediator is a product of the union”.

    “The salient point is that the person of the mediator after the incarnation per Muller a la Calvin is not limited to the Logos.”

    >>>You still have not shown the misunderstanding.

    “I also simply note again that you leave out Muller’s important statement that Calvin’s take here is not Chalcedonian. This is now the second time you’ve left out that information to try and tar me with misrepresentation and rather “lies.”

    >>>My purpose was in defending the premise that Reformed theology established at Westminster teaches an eternal mediator and an eternal sonship of Christ. How would that statement be relevant?

  183. April 10, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Drake, lots of assertions and more insults. You’ve consistently misread what I’ve said. Just for example about Plotinus and Lossky. I affirm a continuing human existence and reason in the union with God, Plotinus doesn’t. You can’t seem to see that for some reason.This is why I choose not to waste time with you any longer. I’d advise the blog owners to keep any further derailing from the post from seeing the light of day.

  184. Hugh McCann said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Sproul seems right on:

    There is no change in the substantive nature or character of God at any time.

    God not only created the universe, He sustains it by the very power of His being. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If the being of God ceased for one second, the universe would disappear. It would pass out of existence, because nothing can exist apart from the sustaining power of God. If God dies, everything dies with Him. Obviously, then, God could not have perished on the cross.

    Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.

  185. Hugh McCann said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:49 am

    From Athanasian Creed:

    30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

    31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

    32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

    33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

    34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

    35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

    36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

    37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ…

  186. April 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hugh, as Ron and I have already pointed out, here’s where R.C. goes wrong: He treats death as if it is a ceasing to exist. Now if that is what death is, then he’d be right. But it’s not. Does he think when he dies he will cease to exist? Of course not. His mind will be separated from his body – just like Christ.

  187. hughmc5 said,

    April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    R.C. Sproul audio on God dying:

    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/one_holy_passion/can-god-die/

  188. Hugh McCann said,

    April 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Patrick @ 187 ~ Right. We differ on incarnation (I confess ignorance compared to you) and maybe on death. Given your definition here, then of course, the 2nd person died in that the Spirit was severed from Christ’s corpse.

    Thinking about the Holy Spirit of Christ leaving Jesus upon the man’s death, we perhaps need a word other than “death.”

    On the other hand, God [the Father, presumably] purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28), so by rightly-understood synecdoche we COULD sing, “That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.”

    If God’s 2nd-Person Spirit leaving Christ is all we mean by death, OK.

    But saying God dies is problematic because so many differences exist between our dying and the separation of the Spirit From Christ.

    Problems likewise exist when men say that God suffers, God weeps, or changes in any way. To say God dies is to say (or imply) that he changes (though I know you’re not saying that).

  189. April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Right. Mystly I’m advocating a reexamination and actual definition of terms. (Person, Substance, Nature, Death… these are dogmatically thrown around by many who can’t even offer a definition.)

  190. April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    *Mostly I’m advocating…

  191. hughmc5 said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Doesn’t Drake ‘Olivianus’ Shelton have it all dialed in? ;)

  192. Hugh McCann said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    From Chalcedonian formula: We….. confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood;
    truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body;
    consubstantial
    [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood;
    in all things like unto us, without sin;
    begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood;
    one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably;
    the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ…

  193. rcjr said,

    April 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I think the esteemed Dr. Sproul would suggest that sometimes we talk about death as the separating of the body and the spirit, sometimes we talk about it in terms of ceasing to exist. While it is certainly true that no one on either side of the debate is suggesting the second person of the trinity ceased to exist, it is also true that the second person of the Trinity cannot be separated from His body because He has no body. Embodiedness is a quality of man, not deity. And, given that the second person of the Trinity is omnipresent, it is rather difficult to imagine it being at some distance from the body of Jesus. But I am hesitant to speak for him.

  194. olivianus said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Perry,
    “But again, you make this personal and make personal assaults rather than sticking to the arguments, which is why you get routinely banned from various venues.”

    I presented to you a quagmire of problems with your doctrine of God in post 168 which you have touched fractionally.

    Jnorm,

    “How consistent could it be with Reformed distinctives in sacramental theology, ecclesiology ………..etc?”

    >>>I’m working on that exact issue right now. I just got this doctoral dissertation through inter library loan: Michaelson, David A., La Perpétuité de la Foi – the appeal to Eastern Christianity of Jean Claude’s eucharistic polemics, viewed in its French Reformation and Counter Reformation contexts. Deerfield, IL: Trinity International University, 2001; MA thesis; xi, 224 leaves; 28 cm.

    Give me a couple months okay?

    Perry,

    “As far as Clark and Robbin’s Nestorianism. This is not that hard to establish. As for Talbot, what he says would be germane if he has arguments to demonstrate it. That he was a student of Clark’s doesn’t of itself prove anything. At most it puts him in a position to know. Being in a position to know and knowing are two different things. Of course, Robbins and lots of other Clarkians I’ve known when I was one and even after are also in a position to know given Clark’s books. Simply saying that Talbot denies it is Clark’s position is not proof that it isn’t, unless Talbot is infallible.”

    >>>As usual you completely ignored what I just put before you in post 172 I said, “In his commentary on the confession Clark very clearly denies that Christ was two persons and asserted that he was one person two natures.”

    “Nestorius denied as much as well till his dying day. From a denial of a dual subject Christology it does not follow that the denier isn’t an adherent of a dual subject Christology.”

    >>>Seeing that Clark and Nestorius’ views of God and Man are in different universes completely I’ll just add that to my pile of your lies and misrepresentations.

    “Do you wish to imply by the very same reasoning that Rome is not therefore semi-Pelagian simply because Rome says it is not?”

    In order for you to make this parallel you need to show from Clark’s writings where he says that the person of Christ is a third thing, a prosopon in the union, a mask that kind of sticks together the divine and human subjects for the sole reason that God and man are in incompatible ontological categories. I don’t think you are going to do it. Clark advocated the most extreme form of ontological compatibility between man and God that I have read in any Christian writer.
    Your quotations from Clark are nothing I haven’t dealt with and rejected in detail. The questions is, was that what he taught in his professional career or was that what he taught as a very old man on his death bed? I made very clear in post 168,

    “As a firm supporter of Clark I’d be careful not to confuse the faculty with the thinking/mode/hypostasis of the faculty. IMO that was Clark’s mistake, though I agree that personhood is cognition.”

    “Is that the man speaking or the person of the Logos? To have to ask such a question betrays nothing less than Nestorianism and this is exactly what Clark’s position entails.”

    >>>Sure as an old man on his death bed speaking through the pen of an economist posing as a theologian. I have made my qualms with John Robbins public on many occasions. The man was a great learned economist because that was his professional career. Clark’s epistemology was way to clear to fudge up so he got most of that stuff completely right. As a systematic theologian I have never advocated anything distinctly theological that Robbins has ever wrote.

    “Nestorius used the doctrine of divine impassibility in fundamentally the same way as Clark and Robbins to deny that the Logos was the subject who dies”

    >>Because they did not understand the difference between union at nature and union at hypostasis. The same ignorance that I ran into with the teachers at the Eastern orthodox Church here in Louisville and pretty much every person I spoke to on the issues of the hypostatic union including yourself. You never distinguished between ontological union at the level of hypostasis as opposed to ontological union at the level of nature.

    “For Nestorius it was primarily because God was unchangeable and impassible in just the same way Clark speaks that motivated his thinking”

    >>>Are you saying that Divine Simplicity played no part in the theology of Nestorius and Theodore? Because that is what proportionality is seated on.

    “On the Orthodox take, God has no opposite precisely because God creates ex nihilo and this is why he is beyond being.”

    >>>You can say that after you have defended the idea of ontological distinction ad intra (which later you completely deny).You have not done it and I have shown why. The wills are around God, they are not in God on your view. I’m curious as to what gymnastic feat you are going to pull off next to make this work.

    “I don’t separate the persons from the huperousia essence because I take the persons to be huper ousia also. How could I not? By being I mean act, working, activity, energia. Be-ing is a verb, not a noun or not so much.”

    >>I completely understand that (I’ve been foaming at the mouth for you to openly admit it and I’m overjoyed that you just did), which is why you essentially have the same problem as everyone else with respect to knowledge of God and hypostatic union. If both essence and hypostasis are outside of being, and as you say, “God is then “beyond” being in the sense of being beyond created being” then creation has nothing uncreated in its logos to provide an ontological framework for knowledge of God and the hypostatic union.

    “By being I mean act, working, activity, energia.”

    >>>This is such nonsense, the essence and the hypostasis are outside of being, but the nature, the energia are in being. The gymnastics begin.

    “Be-ing is a verb, not a noun or not so much”

    Perry begins with a front handspring 100 feet onto the bars to finish with a pirouette.

    “And so when I said God is beyond being qua essence I mean God is more than his acts, more than actuality”

    >>>Well I agree that there are as Florovsky says, two kinds of eternity in God: One with reference to nature and one with reference to will. Yet I make it clear that this is an ontological distinction ad intra between nature and will. So there is more to God than his will and economical activity, sure. I don’t believe in the scholastic doctrine of divine simplicity.

    “metaphysics applies to everything except God ad intra”

    >>>Oh you have just made my day. This is the exact admission I have been trying to get out of Eastern people for years now. IF THAT IS THE CASE THEN YOU CANNOT DISTINGUISH NATURE FROM WILL AD INTRA. Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you thank you very much!

    “I affirm a continuing human existence and reason in the union with God, Plotinus doesn’t.”

    >>>And Lossky doesn’t, so you do so on the pain of private judgment.

  195. April 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    RCJr.,

    “…it is also true that the second person of the Trinity cannot be separated from His body because He has no body.”

    I’m sure I’ve misunderstood, but how is that not docetism?

  196. olivianus said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    To conclude I would to do, what Eastern Theologians will never do, I am going to tell you exactly what I mean by God and the Holy Trinity.

    I believe that there are three eternal minds and wills (A generic unity not a numeric unity) that comprise the Christian Godhead. Speaking in the concrete the Father is the One God. Speaking in the abstract, the other two persons are God in the sense that all three persons have the same generic TYPE of nature. The essence of the divine persons is their propositional ideas (And notice how Perry never told us how a psychological state could be an object of knowledge). These distinct ideas, ad intra, are the foundation for ontological distinctions within God, ad intra. http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/theology-proper/divine-simplicity-and-scripturalism-part-2-by-drake. Not a thinking temporal and by temporal sequence as men do but eternally with only logical sequence. Within this knowledge is a distinction between the manner of God’s knowledge and object of God’s knowledge (Not essence and energy). Thus men participate in the object of God’s knowledge not the manner as to become God in essence (The Answer, pg. 20). This provides an uncreated logos within the created order for there to be univocal knowledge of God and an ontological connection between divine and human in Christ. Having said that nature directs will and action through rational deliberation. Thus Calvinism. Having said that, I affirm that within each divine person is an ad intra ontological distinction between nature and will (Which is exactly what Perry just admitted he cannot do; The creation springs directly from divine will not nature; the eternal generation springs directly from divine nature; thus Christ is a divine person). The personal property of the Father is causality. The Son is eternally generated ontologically from the Father alone. This is a singular generation not an infinite emanation (Thus there is no hierarchy of being to base Pseudo Dionysian principles of ecclesiology or pagan views of Anchorism in ethics and redemption). The Spirit proceeds ontologically from the Father alone (Precisely because causality is a property of the Father alone not a divine attribute).

    It’s over, these debates are over. Scripturalism is the only Christian philosophy that can explain the Bible. Period.

    Now to the soul thing. With respect to Clark saying that the person is the soul, do these quotes have a context where Clark is saying that soul respects hypostasis not nature? I don’t think so. We speak often of a person as an entire ontological package without making these precise distinctions. That’s all I mean. I take soul to be synonymous with mind. Mind/soul is a faculty (at the level of nature) of a human person. But there is no scandal in saying that a person is a mind/soul. Nature is exactly WHAT a person is. Hypostasis refers to WHO a person is.

  197. rcjr said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Patrick, the body is decidedly real. Docetists argued that Jesus only seemed to have a body, that is, that the body was an illusion. I believe Dr. Sproul would suggest that, as I said, embodiment is an attribute of humanity, not deity. The body is real. The one person is real. The two natures are real. The each nature retaining its own attributes (filling space) is real. Not sure where the charge of docetism comes from. The charge of Nestorianism I understand. I deny it, but I understand it.

  198. April 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    RCJr.,

    I thought the traditional orthodox formulation involved one divine Person with two natures, and that the human nature includes a body. Yet you said that the 2nd Person does not have a body? Who, that is, what person, does the body belong to, if not the 2nd Person? I did not intend a “charge” of docetism. It just sounded like that to me so I needed clarification.

  199. rcjr said,

    April 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Yes, the human nature does include a body. The divine nature, however, does not. When I say “The second person does not have a body” I am (in a way that strikes some as Nestorian) distinguishing between Jesus touching His humanity and Jesus touching His deity (“the second person” suggesting touching His Deity). On the other hand, not actually being Nestorian, there is a way in which we can speak of God having a body. That is, just as we can say Mary is Theotokos, that is, the baby she gave birth to was God incarnate, we can say God has a body, even that God died. But in the same way we would insist that Mary did not create the immutable eternal deity, so I would say that properly speaking, touching His divine nature, God has no body and God cannot die.

  200. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Pr. Sproul,

    But the Second Person is decidedly NOT the deity of Jesus, as that position precisely is Nestorianism.(I’m not accusing you of Nestorianism, but your language is Nestorian)–that position is to Nestorianism as a claim that there was a time when the Son was not is to Arianism. As Chalcedon says, there is One Person and Subsistence, God the Logos. As II Constantinople, and John of Damascus say, Mary is in strict truth the Mother of God, because she is the Mother of One of the Holy Trinity, the Logos.

    You are right that we need to distinguish the natures, and that it is heretical not to. Even the Miaphysites distinguish them, at least in abstract contemplation. However, where you seem unclear is what is distinguished when we distinguish the natures. We do not distinguish between the Logos and the human nature, we distinguish between the two natures in and from which the Eternal Logos exists. Properly speaking, God has a body. In strict truth, the Logos died on the Cross. I man not say “thou my God has died to me” to the Father, or the Spirit, or the Divine Nature, but I may–and indeed must–say it to the Eternal Logos. He did die for me, and He has risen for me.

    In your second paragraph you say: “Properly speaking, touching His divine nature, God has no body and God cannot die.” This quote is actually vague, and can very easily be taken to imply Nestorianism, and with some squinting can be taken as orthodox. Do you mean “properly speaking” to be in apposition to “touching His divine nature”, so that they claim the same thing, “Properly speaking God has no body”; or does “properly speaking” modify “touching His Divine Nature” so you mean “When we speak properly about the Logos as He exists prior the Incarnation, He has no body”? The first is Nestorian, the Second is not. But the first is, by far, the more natural reading.

    Some of the Nestorians had no problem with theotokos so long as we also followed it with anthropotokos. So being willing to say theotokos is not sufficient. Mary is not only called the Mother of God, she is, in strict truth, the Mother of God. If “Mother of God” is vague because it may refer to the Father or the Divine Nature (or the Spirit!), you are free to say she is the Mother of the Logos. But if you deny that she is literally logotokos, you either insist nonsensically that she has no son, or else, distinguish a second hypostasis within the one person, or prosopon, as Theorodet did in his condemned writings.

    I understand the concern about making the Theotokos eternal–though that precisely was Nestorius’ concern–but she is not eternal because the Logos freely willed to be begotten from her. Though He had no need to, and was complete in Himself, yet for us men and for our salvation, the Eternal Logos freely chose to become man, and be born of the Theotokos.

  201. olivianus said,

    April 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Protestant Scholar Philip Schaff, Admits that the Calvinist View of Christ’s Presence in the Sacraments, Not the Lutheran View (And the Eastern View) Sustains Chalcedon While the Latter Attacks It

    Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1, Chapter 6. The Creeds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 46. The Form of Concord, Concluded. Analysis and Criticism.,

    “We add some general remarks on the Christology of the Formula, as far as it differs from the Reformed Christology. After renewed investigation of this difficult problem, I have been confirmed in the conviction that the exegetical argument, which must ultimately decide the case, is in favor of the Reformed and against the Lutheran theory; but I cheerfully admit that the latter represents a certain mystical and speculative element, which is not properly appreciated in the Calvinistic theology, and may act as a check upon Nestorian tendencies.

    1. The scholastic refinements of the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, and especially the ubiquity of the body, have no intrinsic religious importance, and owe their origin to the Lutheran hypothesis of the corporeal presence. They should, therefore, never have been made an article of faith. A surplus of orthodoxy provokes skepticism.

    2. The great and central mystery of the union of the divine and human in Christ, which the Formula desires to uphold, is overstated and endangered by its doctrine of the genus majestaticum, or the communication of the divine attributes to the human nature of Christ. This doctrine runs contrary to the ἀσυγχύτως and ἀτρέπτως of the Chalcedonian Creed. It leads necessarily—notwithstanding the solemn protest of the Formula—to a Eutychian confusion and æquation of natures; for, according to all sound philosophy, the attributes are not an outside appendix to the nature and independent of it, but inherent qualities, and together constitute the nature itself. Or else it involves the impossible conception of a double set of divine attributes—one that is original, and one that is derived or transferred.”

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds1.viii.vii.html

  202. David J Houston said,

    April 12, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Patrick, thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m sorry for having taken so long. My wife and I became first time parents about six weeks ago and we’re still trying to figure out how to live with this little person that God has entrusted to us! :P

    Patrick said: ‘I wouldn’t use the word hybrid, but rather that Christ was the only Person (which I’m defining as a mind, a collection of propositions) who fell into both categories of divine (he is omniscient) and human (he is associated with a body of flesh).’

    That’s what I thought. The (2PT) is pulling double duty functioning both as a divine person and a human person. However, I see a problem with this account. Does Christ have a human soul? Or does the (2PT) function in the place of a human soul so that (2PT) + human body = Christ? If so, this is straightforwardly Apollinarian.

    Patrick said ‘Any divine Person is omniscient and omnipotent, agreed. Christ was the unique instance of divine Person who chose to funnel (for lack of a better word) those attributes through the limitations of a human body. Some have pointed out that this sounds kenotic, but (unless I have misunderstood kenosis theory) that would mean he stopped being omniscient/omnipotent. The temporary erasure of propositions from the mind of the Logos and/or a divesture of omnipotence from the 2nd Person would indeed be impossible.

    As for the passages which imply Jesus did not know certain things (e.g. he grew in wisdom and didn’t know the time of his return), I have (elsewhere) likened this to how, in our limited human bodies, we are at time unable to recall propositions that we know. Now, I don’t mean to say Jesus forgot, but rather that according to the plan of God, his mind/body relationship grew so as he could access more and more of his omniscience. It was not necessary for him to access the time of his return during his time on earth.’

    What we’re seeing here is your attempt to work within an essentially Apollinarian framework to explain how Christ can ‘grow in wisdom’ and similar statements that speak to his human nature without resorting to a kind of kenotic Christology. But rather than saying that the (2PT) actually became ignorant by ‘temporary erasure of propositions’ you say that he was simply unable to access some of his knowledge. Kinda like how we might know the name of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins but we just can’t remember that little punk whats-his-face’s name! But this leads to several problems.

    First of all, despite your best efforts to avoid it, you are attributing a change in the being of the immutable God since at one time the (2PT) had occurrent knowledge of all propositions but then he undergoes a change whereby this knowledge becomes merely dispositional. This change also affects his omnipotence since he has lost the power to recall any and all propositions to his mind and to have all of his knowledge present simultaneously. It affects his eternity because substantial change entails time. Not to mention the fact that this is a highly questionable view of omniscience which appears entirely ad hoc. I could go on but you’ve begun to see the difficulties, I’m sure.

    Secondly, it wouldn’t be a merely temporary inability to recall all that he knows since the (2PT) is now permanently incarnated which means that he will permanently remain ignorant of at least some propositions even if he recovers this knowledge at an alarming rate upon receiving his glorified body. You can’t reach infinity in increments!

    Thirdly, even if it didn’t involve any essential change in the being of God or entail a kenotic Christology it simply doesn’t seem very God-like to not be able to recall what you know. It would be an imperfection in the perfect being of God. Kind of like the worst case of Alzheimer’s ever!

    And remember, because your view is Apollinarian it has other problems such as making it impossible to hold that Christ had two wills, a divine and a human, as the Scriptures affirm. (Mt 26:39; Lk 22:42)

    I made the argument earlier that God is timeless but human persons are essentially bound by time so Christ would have to be both timeless and time-bound if he were to function as both a human and a divine person to which you responded:

    ‘I’m not 100% sure how you’re defining “bound by time,” (for that matter, I don’t know how you define time), but I see no difficulty. Eternal God performed many temporal actions pre-Incarnation. I must be misunderstanding your point, because your statement (to me) seems more an argument against the possibility of an Incarnation.’

    It’s a complicated issue that I didn’t go into much detail in so don’t worry about the misunderstanding. :) God can timelessly perform many actions whose effects take place in time. (I would recommend Paul Helm’s Eternal God for a helpful treatment of this frequently misunderstood attribute) However, in order to be human one must (so I say) be within the course of time or change. This would only function as an argument against the incarnation if it entailed that the (2PT) must enter into the flow of time in his divine nature rather than merely in the human nature that he assumes.

    Patrick said: ‘I actually sympathize with these questions, because they are the same type I ask my opponents. It seems that others begin with certain assumptions about divine and human persons *without looking at Christ,* then attempt to explain the Incarnation based on these assumptions (e.g. God cannot die). What I’m saying is we should let what Scripture plainly says about Christ inform our assumptions about God. (E.g. I believe a plain reading of Scripture reveals, in child-like simplicity, the Word = Jesus = The Man who died on the cross. I take from that the notion that, while Incarnate, a Divine person can indeed die! That is, the mind can be separated from the body.)’

    I agree that we shouldn’t rule out a Scriptural teaching a priori because it doesn’t fit with our assumptions but, sadly, I believe that you’re doing the very thing that you’re accusing your opponents of doing. You came in with an assumption that in order for Christ to be a man he must be a human person rather than simply possessing a human nature but, as I said, the text does not say that Christ was a human person. It says that he was a man. It simply does not speak to the distinction between having a human nature alone or having a human nature + being a human person in Christology. Therefore, you can’t use this as a proof text for your position since the ‘plain’ reading has nothing to do with these distinctions.

    As for the whole concept of God dying I think we need to be very careful here. Sproul is correct about his analysis regarding whether or not God can die. He’s a Thomist so he sees being or existence as something that is combined with an essence to become actual. However, God is pure being or existence and is his essence so he cannot die unlike creatures who could have their act of existence taken away from them if God chose to stop sustaining them in existence. God alone is completely a se. But you have a more Scriptural understanding (which is not to say better) of death in mind when you speak of the soul being disconnected from the body. As an Apollinarian it would make sense for you to say that God can die since the (2PT) could simply put away the human body that he took to himself. However, if you are not an Apollinarian and hold that Christ is (2PT) + human soul + human body then God cannot die since the death is happening at the human level where his human soul is separated from his human body. His human nature can and did die. That much is true. So in that highly qualified sense God did die. However, if applied the divine nature it becomes nonsensical.

    Patrick said: ‘I’m more concerned with remaining faithful to Scripture than I am to any theological tradition. I do not mean this to sound pious. I simply mean that I do not consider myself obligated to follow a particular stream of orthodoxy if I believe Scripture to say otherwise. Please, please, please do not misunderstand me. I do not wish to anathematize any who disagree with me, or even demand that they agree with my formulation. This is a difficult subject, about which greater minds than I have disagreed for centuries.’

    Amen. Sola Scriptura for the win! ;)

    God bless.

  203. Hugh McCann said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Wow, David, great post.
    Thanks for food for thought.
    And congrats to you and Sarah!

  204. April 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

    David, no problem. My wife and I became first time parents about 8 weeks ago!

    While I’m still pondering my view, I’ll answer your questions on what I was talking about.

    “Does Christ have a human soul? Or does the (2PT) function in the place of a human soul so that (2PT) + human body = Christ? If so, this is straightforwardly Apollinarian.”

    I am identifying “soul” with “mind” with “person,” so just as there would be one Person which fell into the categories of both divine and human, there is one soul/mind that does so. In fact, they are the same thing. This avoids what I believe to be the real error of Apollinarianism: the denial that Christ possessed a human mind or soul.

    “…you are attributing a change in the being of the immutable God since at one time the (2PT) had occurrent knowledge of all propositions but then he undergoes a change whereby this knowledge becomes merely dispositional.”

    This is a difficulty I’m starting to see, and I’m thinking about how to best explain it.

    “This change also affects his omnipotence since he has lost the power to recall any and all propositions to his mind and to have all of his knowledge present simultaneously.”

    I don’t want to say that he was powerless, but that his own expanding group of propositions was directed and controlled by the eternal Logos. Some have pointed out that this cannot avoid the existence of two minds (one eternal and one temporal), even if they retain the same (personal?) identity. I’m thinking I may need to adjust my terminology here.

    “And remember, because your view is Apollinarian it has other problems such as making it impossible to hold that Christ had two wills, a divine and a human, as the Scriptures affirm. (Mt 26:39; Lk 22:42).”

    I see a couple of things going on in those passages. I cannot see how each Person of the Trinity does not have his own will (faculty of volition), while sharing the same will (ultimate desire or goal). If this distinction is made, then Christ (the 2nd Person) is demonstrating that he is submitting his will (faculty of volition) to the will (ultimate desire/goal) of the Father, showing that Christ’s own will (desire) is the same as that of the Father. The application, then, is that while we possess our own personal faculties of volition, we are to direct those to be in line with the revealed commands of God. I’m not confused on traditional language at this point; I just think it makes more sense to distinguish between different meanings of the word ‘will’ (this hasn’t even entered into decretive/prescriptive stuff!)

    “However, in order to be human one must (so I say) be within the course of time or change. This would only function as an argument against the incarnation if it entailed that the (2PT) must enter into the flow of time in his divine nature rather than merely in the human nature that he assumes.”

    I think the differences between us here are primarily semantic, which is one reason why I’m rethinking my terminology.

    “…the text does not say that Christ was a human person. It says that he was a man.”

    I understand what my opponents are saying here, but I cannot see how one can be a true man, yet not a human person. I mean, I understand it as the terms are being used (vaguely), but if that’s so, then I think the terminology simply needs drastic improvement. How are you defining person? Furthermore, if we say Christ was a Divine Person who possessed both a divine and human nature, yet the divine Person did not die on the cross, then we are left saying a mere nature died. Can an impersonal nature make atonement? Can an impersonal nature be a party in the Covenant of redemption? Can an impersonal nature grow in wisdom?

    On the whole, I’m beginning to suspect that what I’m actually thinking is not all that different from what you and others are saying. Despite Jonathan’s contentedness with imprecise definitions, I am striving toward a terminology (person, nature, substance, essence, soul, mind, will, etc.) which is (a.) precisely defined and (b.) does not violate plain English. If the Incarnation is such an essential piece of the Christian faith (and it is), I think it proper that any layman be able to understand and articulate it. The reality is that I believe the vast majority of Christian end up capitulating to the point of view of, “Well, it’s an unexplainable paradox that we just have to accept, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense.” There must be a simpler way to explain the Incarnation to the child (or adult) in the pew other than having to explain some distinction between a true human man and a true human Person, and it begins with more precise definitions. Thanks for the discussion! I’ll keep thinking about this.

  205. hughmc5 said,

    April 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Patrick,
    Touché.
    A hit, a very palpable hit!
    Congrats to you & Mackenzee, too!

  206. Hugh McCann said,

    April 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

    …striving toward a terminology (person, nature, substance, essence, soul, mind, will, etc.) which is (a.) precisely defined and (b.) does not violate plain English. If the Incarnation is such an essential piece of the Christian faith (and it is), I think it proper that any layman be able to understand and articulate it. The reality is that I believe the vast majority of Christian end up capitulating to the point of view of, “Well, it’s an unexplainable paradox that we just have to accept, no matter how much it doesn’t make sense.” There must be a simpler way to explain the Incarnation to the child (or adult) in the pew other than having to explain some distinction between a true human man and a true human Person, and it begins with more precise definitions….

    OTOH, does the Scripture sufficiently self-define its terms and doctrines?

    The interminable & ageless arguments over even basic definitions and then loftier debates on hypostases and such, coupled with quick-draw denuciations & knee-jerk anathemas make the minefield of theological disputes (esp. Christology) a tricky place to keep one’s Christlikeness intact! Much less, to find answers. :(

    David and Patrick -apparently suffering little from the fear of man- are able to winsomely & edifyingly argue their points over this most important topic. They keep well the tenor of the blog owner!

  207. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Patrick:

    Perhaps you should not use “person” to translate “hypostasis” but follow Jenson and use “identity”. Then you could us ecoherent English, but not leave the traditional doctrines. Indeed, I believe part of the trouble is tnat “person” is English, but is being used as a stend-in for the Greek.

  208. David Reece said,

    April 14, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Patrick T. McWilliams,
    Matthew N. Petersen,

    I think the point of the terms “Identity” or “hypostasis” is that it is an individual object inside of a categorical definition (essence/nature). A person would be a type of hypostasis. A plant or a car or a dog can be a hypostasis just as easily as a person, but the word person is used as a replacement for hypostasis because it is supposed to show what type of hypostasis is being talked about, namely, a person.

    We could replace the terms identity or hypostasis with the term subject. By subject I mean a logical subject as in the parts of a proposition known as a subject, copula, and predicate.

    The problem with defining a person really does become important when talking about the incarnation since it is the question that is central to the “one person two natures” position. A person cannot simply be defined as a hypostasis since a hypostasis is any individual object/subject that is under a categorical definition.

  209. April 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    But the doctrine isn’t one Person in two natures, but Mono/Mia Hypostasis en dyo ousias/phousia. The English is very definitely subject to the Greek, and much of the difficulty is that the English has its own independent meanings. I suppose anthropological question of “what am I” is also important, but we should allow our Christology to answer that question, not a modern cultural answer to change our christology.

  210. David Reece said,

    April 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Matthew N. Petersen,

    Stop making the language issues more comlicated than they really are.

    My point is not based on the modern culture or poor english transaltions. This isn’t a problem created by enlightenment definitions of person or postmodern navel gazing. The key to this entire discussion is that no subject can have contradictory predicates attributred to it. I am not adding anything, but the digression away from how to solve this problem with the hypostatic union is frustrating. How can one hypostasis (subject) have two sets of attributes where set one has attribute A and set two has attribute Non-A.

    “Hypostasis” is not identical with “person,” but person is a type of hypostasis. “Hypostasis” is a set including all subjects and person is a subset of hypostasis that have the definition of person. No confussion is created by pointing out what type of hypostasis the Logos is.

    Saying “one person with two natures” is not the the doctrine of the hypostatic union is just nonsense. “Mono/Mia Hypostasis en dyo ousias/phousia” means one subject with two sets of predicates.

    A hypostasis may sound more profound, but it simply means subject.

    It is the subject being affected by predicates. A nature is a set of predicates that are attributed to a set of subjects.

  211. April 15, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I must have misunderstood your above comment. I definitely was not trying to be obscure, but instead to combat what seemed to be a preference for “person” over against “hypostasis”/subject.

  212. April 15, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Now, regarding your key: Why not? Says who? Particularly if they belong to different natures, and thus to different ways of being; for then they are not actually contradictory. The contradiction of “Knows according to His Divine Nature” is not “Does not know according to His human nature” but “does not know according to His Divine Nature.” Likewise the contradiction of “does not know according to His humanity” is not “knows according to His Divine nature” but “knows according to his humanity.” But no one claims that Christ knows and does not know according to his humanity or according to his deity, and indeed, there would be no reason to claim that.

  213. David Reece said,

    April 15, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Matthew N. Petersen,

    Do you agree that a nature is a set of attributes?

  214. April 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I think “set of attributes” is more difficult to understand than “nature”. Nature is what we give in answer to “what” questions. “What” is Fido? A dog. What am I? A man. What is Jesus Christ? God and Man.

    This is opposed to “person”, which is what we give in answer to “who” or “which” questions. Which dog is yours? Fido. Which man is writing this? I am. Who was begotten of the Father before all ages? Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary.

    But these concepts seem primitive to me.we define things in terms of them, but they cannot be defined in terms of other things. That nature and person are different and actual are the postulates of Christian Theology (and indeed of human existence).

    I don’t understand what you can mean by “set of attributes”. Surely you don’t mean anything about set theory. Second, I’m not sure what you can possibly mean by “divine attributes”. Do you mean “Divine Energies”? Third, attributes are accidents, like being 5’10”, whereas nature is not an accident. (Using “accident” in the technical sense.)

  215. David Reece said,

    April 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Matthew N. Petersen,

    Attributes are not limited to “accients” Omniscience is an attribute of the Father, but it also a part of His essence or nature.

    So you reject the idea that a nature is a group of attributes that are possessed by all of the subjects that share a nature?

  216. David Reece said,

    April 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I meant “accidents”

  217. April 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    That’s why I objected to using attributes of God. Particularly in the plural. The only way I know of to make sense of that is to appeal to the Uncreated Energies. But I would bet money you’re not a Palamite.

    But yes, I don’t think nature is reducible to a group of attributes possessed by all the subjects that share a nature.

  218. April 15, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    David Reece,

    I agree with your point about the meaning of hypostasis and nature.

  219. David Reece said,

    April 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Mattew N. Petersen,

    I am not a Palamite. I have not read him. You are correct. I have heard the “energies” term thrown around some, and I intend to look into it more. Feel free to suggest a good place to start.

    Patrick T. McWilliams,

    Thanks.

  220. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I’m not sure. I’ve tried myself to find much. There is a volume of Palamas available from Classics of Western Philosophy. And I just learned about these essays today: http://www.uky.edu/~dbradsh/

    There’s also this book: http://books.google.com/books/about/Basil_of_Caesarea_Gregory_of_Nyssa_and_t.html?id=QoSgimQ5kksC

  221. olivianus said,

    April 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    David,

    Pretty much what you need to know is here:

    The Essence and Energies Distinction in David Bradshaw Refuted

    http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/the-essence-and-energies-distinction-in-david-bradshaw-refuted/

    I have Bradshaw’s summary of the doctrine linked on that blog.

    Then there is Free Choice in Maximus the Confessor’ by Joseph P Farrell of whom I dealt with in detail here:

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/-free-choice-in-maximus-the-confessor-by-joseph-p-farrell-reviewed-by-drake-shelton

    In essence. their view is Plotinian to the core. They must admit that there view terminates with an absolute monad, outside of being/ predication. Just like in Plotinus, something rational is not the ultimate principle. Rational principles (energies) comes out of the monad as its first production (eternally just like the uncreated energies of the East). Clark goes through all this in his Selections From Hellenistic Philosophy in his section on Neoplatonism and Plotinus. Also read through Thales To Dewey on Neoplatonism, in the section titled: “THE ONE”.

    Thomists and Van Tillians won’t touch this stuff (Essence and Energies) with a ten foot poll or they will simply tap out like Michael Horton.

    The fact is their construction terminates with the Monad which can tolerate no ad intra distinction between nature and will as Perry admitted to us, “metaphysics applies to everything except God ad intra”. The energies are wills and attributes “around God” on the Eastern system. The energies also pertain to the economia and so as Bradshaw admits they could be something else than they are. So get this, the attributes of God are arbitrary economical actions of the Monad. A sharp Luther insult fits here:

    “In our country, fruit grows on trees and from trees, and meditation upon sin grows from contrition. But in your land, trees may grow on fruits, contrition from sins, people walk on their ears, and everything is upside down.”

  222. April 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Trees do grow from fruit.

  223. olivianus said,

    April 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Matthew, he didn’t say they didn’t did he? He said “trees may grow ON fruits” as if the fruit was the foundation and the tree that which is plucked, but you don’t care do you? All eastern orthodox people are brainwashed or deliberate liars.

  224. David Reece said,

    April 17, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Mathew and Drake,

    Thanks to both of you for the links.

  225. Eric Castleman said,

    April 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Drake, your only consistency is that your are inconsistent. Wasn’t it last year, that you denied the Filioque, trying to argue that “reformed theology” (covenanter) is compatible with such a rejection, only to have you turn around and now endorse it? I can’t wait to read your 700pg systematic theology book you wrote, and see how you call everybody idiots, who thinks contrary to your selected flavor of the month.

    Secondly, I think you win the award for being the most blocked person on the internet. Called to Communion, Energetic Procession, and if I remember correctly, Turretinfan also blocked you, when you went after him about not dealing with Jay Dyer well enough. I think that that is the filioque of rejection. Rejected by the Catholics, rejected by the Orthodox, and sent to the reformed, in which you now became your own pope. You are the filioque. I think that is what I will call you from this point forward.

    Your claims are all over the place. You state that Dionysius is the cause of all of the ills in Christianity, which is so far out into space. So, you feel that Michael Horton, and even Van til are products of such thought? That is ridiculous! On top of this, you go on to state, that the Orthodox reject intellectualism, and say that we are some form of Gnosticism in doing so, yet, Gnosticism literally defined means “Salvation by knowledge”, and they even had the same type of debates as the reformed, in that they could not decide if evil acts were proof of salvation, or proof that one doesn’t have salvation (Horton vs Frame) On top of this, you then go on to say that Aquinas was influenced by the same thing, but honestly, do you want to write a paper arguing that Aquinas was against intellectualism? In fact, I would say that he would charge you, just as Roman Catholicism rightly does, of professing a faith that is spiritualized, or, speaks to your heart, that separated from reason and knowledge. How do you know what books belong in the cannon? You don’t, and your foundation is a lesser form of intellectual dependency than even Aquinas, so please, spare us on your high standard of knowledge, Joseph Smith.

    Thirdly, you state that somehow we Orthodox and Roman Catholics find our church body in Dionysius. So, in your 700pg systematic theology, will you add that Ignatius of Antioch figured out time travel, since he talks about the same form of authority? He clearly states that the priest is like Christ, the Bishop is like the Father, and the elders and deacons are like the Holy Spirit. He goes even further in saying, that we are to even think of them as much.

    You flaunt your arguments about Diondysius, as if you found some secret truth, yet, it is Lossky who runs down all of those points in his mystical theology book, and where you got the idea to try to argue such a thing. It isn’t as if Lossky isn’t straight forward about the historical place of the writings, and the doubts, and rejections. So please, spare me in trying to convince me that the Orthodox are liars, if anything, your presentation of those facts apart from citing Lossky is a lie.

    We have your hero Clark, defending Nestorius in his own writings, and we have him saying that Jesus was two persons. Yet, that isn’t Nestorianism in your eyes? Why, because somewhere else he says otherwise? Well, it must be sad to know, that he died when he wrote the words, not being able to finish the book, and knowing that his final thoughts were Nestorian. I really do not care about what he said some other time. He put it in print, and clearly denies Christ. He should have just become a Jew, and spit on Christians who professed that God could suffer on the cross, and as St Cyril of Alexandria so clearly points out to Nestorius. This goes the same for R.C Sproul. Once my hero, has sadly misled so many people into a philisophical system, rather than into Christ. He will deny that Christ is God on the cross, as long as his philosophical system remains in tact.

  226. olivianus said,

    April 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Eric, I replied to you but the moderator deleted it for what reason i don’t know. So I’m done here.

  227. April 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Eric, some significant corrections:

    “We have your hero Clark, defending Nestorius in his own writings, and we have him saying that Jesus was two persons. Yet, that isn’t Nestorianism in your eyes? Why, because somewhere else he says otherwise? Well, it must be sad to know, that he died when he wrote the words, not being able to finish the book, and knowing that his final thoughts were Nestorian. I really do not care about what he said some other time. He put it in print, and clearly denies Christ.”

    In “defending Nestorius,” Clark merely restated what many church historians say – that “Nestorianism” is a heresy best attributed to some of Nestorius’ followers, and that in fact it is likely that Nestorius himself was a defender of the faith. Despite his exile, he ended up satisfied with the accepted formulation once certain clarifications were made. (I won’t argue this point; the information is out there.)

    Clark did affirm a two-person explanation of the Incarnation, yes. Yet he anticipated that “unfriendly critics” would brand his explanation as “the heresy of Nestorianism.” He clearly did not consider his explanation as a restatement of any heretical doctrine. Of course, that itself does not prove it wasn’t heresy, but you make it sound as if Clark was a full-blown Nestorian heretic who flaunted his unorthodoxy.

    Rather than “clearly den[ying] Christ,” he rather fully affirmed the Incarnation of Christ and sought to arrive at a logically coherent formulation based on Scripture and which improved on the somewhat confusing and imprecise language of Chalcedon. Being a Protestant, his view of ecumenical councils was of course different from that of EO & RC tradition.

    In short, one may disagree with his view of councils, and one may disagree with his formulation of the Incarnation, but I fear that in your heated reply to Drake, you have uncharitably mis-characterized Clark’s position and attitude.

    Respectfully, Patrick

  228. hughmc5 said,

    April 21, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Eric: Goodness! You know Drake too well. Why read him so much?

    Drake: Sometimes Paige is not at fault; things fall through the cracks. Then again, as many have found, your papal bull isn’t always worth posting, contrary to your opinion.

    Patrick: Athanasius too was exiled and trashed, and yet is a hero. Nesty, however, is a baddie. Of course, who’s in the chair (or who’s the majority/ascendency) makes the difference.

    We also note that too many labled “Heretic!” may have been libeled thus, but since the majority often ruled to have their questionable material destroyed, we are left with dubious 2nd-or 3rd- hand denunciations. Yawn.

    Sadly, many Reformed folk (w/ all Ortho’x & Papists) swallow whole the ancient church party line on who’s a hero & who’s a goat. No Scriptural Berean-like intellectual rigor necessary! Just believe what you’re told to believe!

    THIS is really good: Being a Protestant, his view of ecumenical councils was of course different from that of EO & RC tradition.

  229. Hugh McCann said,

    April 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Eric C. ~ Feeling your love toward all the saints with comments about Sproul Sr & Clark. Goodness! GHC spitting on Christians? Yeouch! Give us a break.

    R.C. denying God on the cross? No, no more than he’d deny Acts 20:28 ~ “to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

    God’s nature died on the cross to same extent that he bled, or that his body died.

    Dr Sproul would affirm that the God-man had/ has 2 (divine & human) natures organically united; yet Christ’s natures are not confounded.

    Sorry to read that you could not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears, have accumulated for yourself teachers (however ancient) to suit your own passions, and have turned away from listening to the truth, and have wandered off into myths.

    The Reformed (generally) have it right, and the Ortho’x generally do not.

  230. Hugh McCann said,

    April 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Jesus said in John 6:38, I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

    How could the the divine 2nd Person of the Godhead come down to earth not to do His own will, but the will of the divine 1st Person of the Godhead?

  231. April 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Because He took up a human will. We’re not monothelites.

  232. Hugh McCann said,

    April 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Thanks, Matthew. I get that Christ had both a divine and a human will.

    But I am asking whether the eternal divine Son and eternal divine Father who share one nature, do not share one will. That’s hard to get, 1 nature w/ 2 wills.

    So, in the Godhead: 3 persons & 3 wills with 1 nature?

    And in the incarnate Christ: 2 natures in 1 person with 1 will?

  233. April 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    The Father and the Son and the Spirit share a will. The Son has two wills, a human and a Divine will. He submits his human will to the Father. One Nature with one will, and one Person with two natures, and hence two wills.

  234. Hugh McCann said,

    April 21, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Jesus said, I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. This indicates a contrast, no? Christ appears to say that he and his Father had differing wills.

    [As in John 3:13, where he says he descended from heaven, Jesus is not talking from his human nature/ will, he is apparently speaking from the "divine side."]

    I get that Jesus had a divine and a human will. Thank you!
    So, in the incarnate Christ: 2 natures in 1 person with 2 wills?

  235. April 22, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Well it’s one Divine Person. It was God the Word who came down. God the Word came down from heaven, and took human nature. That includes a human will. And He submits His human will to the Father.

  236. Ansgar Olav said,

    April 22, 2012 at 8:08 am

    (I’ve been following these discussion; now commenting)

    Matthew is correct. Will is a faculty of nature, not of hypostasis. If it weren’t, we would have three wills in the trinity. Christ has two natures; ergo, two wills. The wills are not in dialectical opposition to one another, either. This is where St Maximos the Confessor finished off Hellenism once and for all: he was able to posit two entities (wills) that weren’t dialectical opposites.

    At the end of the day, though, when Christ wills it is “one act of willing.”

    St maximos the confessor can heal multitudes of bad theology:

    Maximos the Confessor, The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ.
    Von Balthasar, Hans Urs. *The Cosmic Liturgy.*
    Loudonikos, Nikolaus. *A Eucharistic Ontology.*
    Farrell, Joseph. *Free Choice in St Maximos the Confessor.*
    Bathrellos, Demetrios. *The Byzantine Christ: Person and Nature in St Maximus the Confessor* (you can find this for free on scribd.com)
    Thunberg, Lars. *Microcosm and Mediator.* (Thunberg is Lutheran, I believe, so this list isn’t some Orthodox Shock Army)

  237. hughmc5 said,

    April 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Thanks, Matt 236 & Ansgar 237.

    I note that the Farrell work is $75 @ Amazon!

    Loved the OSA* allusion!

    * Orthodox Shock Army, indeed! :)

  238. theogothic said,

    April 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    The publishers and sellers at amazon should be horrifically ashamed of themselves for that. I’ve contacted the publishers and they said there just isn’t a demand for it, which is false because Maximus studies are making a comeback.

  239. olivianus said,

    April 23, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Eric,

    At the behest of some friends of mine I’m going to try and re-reply with the hope that the moderator has mercy.

    “Drake, your only consistency is that your are inconsistent. Wasn’t it last year, that you denied the Filioque, trying to argue that “reformed theology” (covenanter) is compatible with such a rejection, only to have you turn around and now endorse it?”

    >>No. I rejected than and I still reject it. The only possible confusion you could be having is that I recently wrote a blog where I stated that the wording of the issue is ambiguous enough in the WCF for me to re-attend a reformed church. Turretin even admitted in his Institutes that the Greek view is not heresy and so why you think it is
    incompatible with Reformed theology is your own problem. Perry had told me a few years ago that the Covenant of Redemption would be impossible with this rejection. This itself is the confusion of filioque. The COR pertains to the economical trinity not the ontological and so the COR would not demand a second ontological procession.

    “I can’t wait to read your 700pg systematic theology book you wrote, and see how you call everybody idiots, who thinks contrary to your selected flavor of the month.”

    >>>I have edited it up to page 357 now so if you want a copy I’ll email it to you.

    “Secondly, I think you win the award for being the most blocked person on the internet. Called to Communion, Energetic Procession, and if I remember correctly, Turretinfan also blocked you, when you went after him about not dealing with Jay Dyer well enough.”

    >>>You forgot Sean Gerety’s God’s Hammer. I’m blocked there too. Not sure about C2C though. I have not been blocked the last time I checked.

    “I think that that is the filioque of rejection. Rejected by the Catholics, rejected by the Orthodox, and sent to the reformed, in which you now became your own pope. You are the filioque. I think that is what I will call you from this point forward.”

    >>>Seeing I don’t believe the filioque that would be bit strange wouldn’t you think?

    “Your claims are all over the place. You state that Dionysius is the cause of all of the ills in Christianity, which is so far out into space.”

    >>> Not all but it is a root error. Basically Pseudo Dionysius is the face I put on my accusations of the Neoplatonic Patristic period.

    “So, you feel that Michael Horton, and even Van til are products of such thought?”

    >>>Yep

    “On top of this, you go on to state, that the Orthodox reject intellectualism, and say that we are some form of Gnosticism in doing so, yet, Gnosticism literally defined means “Salvation by knowledge””

    >>>I would not even say Plotinus and Neoplatonism rejects intellectualism. I am saying that union with the ultimate principle on your view is a rejection of intellectualism. Just like in Plotinus, you believe that intellectual disciplines are required until its time to be dissolved into the monad and then comes the suspension of the cognitive faculty. Second, Gnosticism teaches that salvation comes by certain objects of knowledge not knowledge in general. The knowledge that saved on their view was the knowledge that man’s physical reality is alien to his true constitution. It was not the knowledge that Christ died and was resurrected on the third day for the sins of his people.

    “How do you know what books belong in the cannon? You don’t”

    >>That’s right. That is my first presupposition. That is my postulate from which everything else flows by deduction.

    “Thirdly, you state that somehow we Orthodox and Roman Catholics find our church body in Dionysius.”

    >>Church body? What are you talking about?

    “So, in your 700pg systematic theology, will you add that Ignatius of Antioch figured out time travel, since he talks about the same form of authority?”

    >>What?

    “You flaunt your arguments about Dionysius, as if you found some secret truth, yet, it is Lossky who runs down all of those points in his mystical theology book, and where you got the idea to try to argue such a thing.”

    >>No it was from Paul Rorem’s book on Pseudo Dionysius.

    “ It isn’t as if Lossky isn’t straight forward about the historical place of the writings, and the doubts, and rejections. So please, spare me in trying to convince me that the Orthodox are liars, if anything, your presentation of those facts apart from citing Lossky is a lie.”

    >>>Well he says the exact opposite thing that Photius said of Pseudo Dionysius so its anyone’s best guess what the Orthodox position on PD is. I have debated Orthodox people for years now and I have found few honest critiques of the Reformed faith from the East. The Trinity doctrine is about the only realm Orthodox Apologists have to fight against the Reformed and though I think they have a point, your E and E distinction sits you right among the Neoplatonic company of the Western Scholastics. That is exactly why Horton has recently come out supporting the E and E distinction. You guys don’t even connect these dots and as a Scripturalist I am still waiting for your admission that Dr. Clark pointed all this out decades ago and I am waiting for the rest of you people to catch up.

  240. olivianus said,

    April 23, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Eric, #2

    “We have your hero Clark, defending Nestorius”

    >>Well he doesn’t quote from the Bazaar a single time so its loose at best.

    “in his own writings, and we have him saying that Jesus was two persons.”

    >>>What he means by that is two minds though. Do you reject that Christ has two minds? I have yet to find someone who denies it. Clark does confuse mind with respect to nature/faculty as opposed to the hypostatic thinking of a mind but the statement itself is not Nestorian. I admit Clark erred, as I did, in this book denying that the eternal Logos suffered in a human nature. And I have done so for some time now. However, this is no admission to your Church because you hold to a Eutychian view of the union between divine and human as all anchoretic churches do who teach the physical presence of Christ’s human nature in the sacrament. That is a union at the level of nature not hypostasis which confused me for some time; so my mis-understanding was not without reason.

    “Well, it must be sad to know, that he died when he wrote the words, not being able to finish the book, and knowing that his final thoughts were Nestorian. I really do not care about what he said some other time.”

    >>>That is your problem not mine.

    “He put it in print”

    >>>No he didn’t and the fact that you just admitted that he died before he finished the book should make you blush enough for me to even stress that blatant deliberate lie. John Robbins published that book before the Protest of all the rest of his Scripturalist peers.

    “This goes the same for R.C Sproul. Once my hero, has sadly misled so many people into a philisophical system, rather than into Christ.”

    >>>If you think for one second that you are in a pure revealed system with no human philosophy you better read Lossky’s Mystical Theology and Isaac Taylor’s Ancient Christianity. At Lossky’s admission you are entrenched in a Neoplatonic system of metaphysics and ethics handed down to you by a man whom Photius admitted was a Neoplatonic fraudulent writer, writing as if he was a Christian.

    “He will deny that Christ is God on the cross, as long as his philosophical system remains in tact.”

    >>What has that to do with me? I have had a webpage up on my Kings Parlor website for years now which states at the very top of it “
    The ‘Theopaschite’ Formula: “One of the Trinity Has Suffered” ”

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/christology/my-resolution-concerning-the-hypostatic-union-by-drake-shelton

    Eric, I think I know your brother Bryan Castleman. It threw me when I saw your last name with all that anti-protestant rhetoric. I hope you return to the Reformed Faith. As a convert to the anchoretic movement, did you consider all that this entails before you left? Did you consider that your churches were already given centuries of playtime and they left their countries in a master-serf state of economic and politic scandal that gave rise to the Russian communist rejection of Christianity in the 20 th century? Did you consider that God destroyed your great cities with Muslim invasions due to your idolatry? Have you traced the influence of the welfare state known as monasticism through the centuries of Christianity? The best that can be said of the monastic system, which is at the heart of your religion, is that after its Church failed to reform Rome and establish a Christian Civilization, God judged it for its decadence and the monasteries housed the little literature that would later be used to keep the master class literate enough to keep some semblance of civilization afloat through the dark ages (Rome was still connected to you at this point). That’s not too great of a resume man. The Protestant Reformation is the golden age of human history. I have yet to find a convert to the Anchoretic Churches who understands this. You need to come to grips with something. You are going to have to go back to some kind of master-serf- divine right of kings system of civilization, which was popular in Orthodox Christian Russia, and completely deny the human rights that came out of the Protestant Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Your monasticism is going to commit you to a hard core socialist view of economics- you may even start to dabble in Sir Thomas Moore’s (Later Jesuit system) Communist trash but either way its bleak man. Are you seriously prepared to do this?

  241. Eric Castleman said,

    April 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Patrick T. McWilliams: Though, Clark says he professes the incarnation, one cannot conclude that he does, if he professes a two person Christology. The Incarnation is only significant if Christ is a Divine person, that tabernacled amongst us. The person who came out of the grave, is the same person whom came into this world. We do not worship a creature, but the creator, and it is not by a created person that our salvation is made real, but by the power of God.

    hughmc5: You wrote: ” Goodness! You know Drake too well. Why read him so much?” I have read some of his writings that pertain to my views, and anything else that crosses my path. I have watched some of his youtube videos, and his attempt to answer some of the Orthodox claims, and have not beem moved. Not to say that Drake Shelton is dumb, I just think some of his tactics are a little bit over the top. Most of his debates he has had are now missing (e.g David Withun, Perry Robinson).

    Hugh McCann: You wrote: “R.C. denying God on the cross? No, no more than he’d deny Acts 20:28 ~ “to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” R.C Sproul wrote, and posted recently: “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross” to which St Cryil of Alexandria so brilliantly points out, that if God didn’t die on the cross, then the Jews were correct, and Jesus was not God-hence- the whole reason, from the Pharisees position for killing Jesus (and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6)

    You continue: “Sorry to read that you could not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears, have accumulated for yourself teachers (however ancient) to suit your own passions, and have turned away from listening to the truth, and have wandered off into myths.”…….. I always wonder as to why the reformed community interpret 2 Timothy 4:3 (Itching ear) as to mean, that the reformed have the correct information being poured into your heads. How about this: What if Christianity is not something you listen to on Sundays? What if, it is fortelling of the reformation, and teaching becoming worship, rather than to “bow down”. What if that verse is saying that people will leave the truth, just to be told things to their ears? I think the reformed assume that the verse is saying that there is one correct verbal faith, and others will leave for another verbal confession, that tickles their ears. Finally, I didn’t want to leave the reformed faith, but I was forced.I heard good arguments, went to my pastors, and they cried like babbies, and told me to shut up. I am still waiting for them to tell me how it is possible to be reformed, and hold to the ecumenical councils. But, why would I want to leave a faith that has such little obligation? I do not have to fast, go to church as often, have to obstain from certain things that make my life more of a challenge now than they did before, and have to confess to a priest, against sitting in a reformed church once a week, and a bible study once every couple of months? I just have to listen in the reformed church. Believe me, I was not the type of person that was ready to admit that reformed theology was wrong, it just is. If I went back to the reformed, it would be reminiscent of Cypher in the Matrix, going back and eating a steak, knowing that it is fake. If I could find a reason to believe that the reformed church was correct, I would return, believe me.

    “The Reformed (generally) have it right, and the Ortho’x generally do not.” I can do that too: No, we are right, neener neener!

    and now, Drake Shelton,

    you wrote: “Seeing I don’t believe the filioque that would be bit strange wouldn’t you think?” (shakes head). I wrote: “So, you feel that Michael Horton, and even Van til are products of such thought?” to which you replied: “Yep”…………..I am glad you admit as much. While you note below, that you know my brother, and at the same time, plead with me to return to the reformed church, I wonder as to what is so different in my brothers eyes between me and you? He sits in a church that not only endorses Horton and Van Til, but is affilated with both. You reject the Filioque? Funny, my brother stands against you, if that is so. Let me ask, do you think if I continue to attend the Orthodox church, but called it “reformed”, that he will accept me as well? You reformed and your hybrid Christians are too much. So much for the uniting power of your confessions, eh?

    But, honestly. I have known this about you, and just have not said as much to my brother. He sees you as having some answers that he can use against me, not knowing that I know of you, and have followed your development of thought the past two years, and ultimately, finding it funny that you find the church he sits in, to be just as wrong as mine.

    You are confused by my time Ignatius Time traveler comment, let me explain. You state that Dionysius is where the Orthodox get the idea that we have to confess to priest for the remission of sins, and that the idea of Bishop, preist and deacon come from the same source, yet, I wonder as to how Ignatius of Antioch says the same thing in the 2nd century? Maybe time traveler?

    You then make a big mistep: “What he (Clark) means by that is two minds though. Do you reject that Christ has two minds? I have yet to find someone who denies it. Clark does confuse mind with respect to nature/faculty as opposed to the hypostatic thinking of a mind but the statement itself is not Nestorian.”

    Well, Drake Shelton, Drake Shelton would disagree with you. Drake Shelton writes: “The first year of my studies in Christology left me concretely convinced of Clark’s two person theory.” http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/christology/my-resolution-concerning-the-hypostatic-union-by-drake-shelton

    So, I don’t know if I even need to say anymore. Really, that is pretty much as clear as day. You even admit that Clark professes a two person model, which you entertained, yet, I am the dummy who doesn’t understand Clark? You are just “Lying or Brainwashed”

    “No he didn’t and the fact that you just admitted that he died before he finished the book should make you blush enough for me to even stress that blatant deliberate lie.”

    I don’t see the problem. I understand that he died in the middle of writing it, but, the second half is just as Nestorian, if not even more. So, how does this change the claim against Clark?

    “If you think for one second that you are in a pure revealed system with no human philosophy you better read Lossky’s Mystical Theology and Isaac Taylor’s Ancient Christianity. At Lossky’s admission you are entrenched in a Neoplatonic system of metaphysics and ethics handed down to you by a man whom Photius admitted was a Neoplatonic fraudulent writer, writing as if he was a Christian.”

    I have read it, my wife has read it. It isn’t that advanced of a book. Please, show me where Lossky says that Orthodoxy is a Neoplatonic system. Though I do not see Lossky as being dead on in everything he says, I wonder as to how you can say that Lossky writes as much, but if you read Lossky like you read Clark, then I can understand.

    “Eric, I think I know your brother Bryan Castleman. It threw me when I saw your last name with all that anti-protestant rhetoric. I hope you return to the Reformed Faith. As a convert to the anchoretic movement, did you consider all that this entails before you left?”……(won’t quote the whole thing, for the sake of space)

    Yes, Drake, my brother is Bryan. He is a cool dude, and you would be lucky to have a friend like him. Though we both disagree at the moment on theology, we are still very close. As I said above, I would love to return to the reformed church, but I cannot. I know it is hard to believe that I am not convinced by the reformed faith’s position, but it is true. I wouldn’t be able to sit in a reformed church, knowing about Divine Simplicity, Maximus the Confessors views of free choice, and the person and nature distiction, without seeing through it. Most reformed people do not read outside of their tradition, and when they do, they become hybrids, like you Drake. You have read some of the work within my tradition, and you deny the Filioque, and most of the reformed tradition. You are in no-man-land. I have done the same, but do not agree with your attempts to poison the well. I feel that they are very far out into space, and I am thankful I have friends that have helped me figure out these things, that are studied philsophers, so that the road is not as bumpy as it has been for you, Drake.

    “Did you consider that God destroyed your great cities with Muslim invasions due to your idolatry”

    I am sorry, I do not subscribe to providence tv. I missed the episode, where God explained this. The reformed tradition speaks plainly, that such things as wars, and natural disasters are not able to be understood from God’s perspective in a given moment. Is Drake Shelton really Pat Robertson?

    “Have you traced the influence of the welfare state known as monasticism through the centuries of Christianity?”

    What did the reformation replace it with? Oh yea, slavery! You know, those debtors prisons. Black people become second class citizens, and even early in American history, it was the Calvinists who argued divine election against the blacks, and sola scriptura’d their enslavement. You make it sound as if the monastic community, that takes care of the poor, was evil, yet, here in America, the poor are living off the state. I am against that, and was when I was reformed. I think that the church should care for the poor, like the Orthodox church does, and has.

    “You need to come to grips with something. You are going to have to go back to some kind of master-serf- divine right of kings system of civilization, which was popular in Orthodox Christian Russia, and completely deny the human rights that came out of the Protestant Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Your monasticism is going to commit you to a hard core socialist view of economics- you may even start to dabble in Sir Thomas Moore’s (Later Jesuit system) Communist trash but either way its bleak man. Are you seriously prepared to do this?”

    Yea, I can see how you are trying to persuade me here, and if I hadn’t spent a great amount of my time studying the common law when I was reformed, and the roots of the English law, you might just have made me ponder this, however, I did read those things. The crazy thing about all that you said about, is that it was the reformation that discovered the common law, but Rome. Every Lawyer knows this, and is why our law is so tied to the Latin law found in the medevil period. Read “The Common Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was no slouch in knowing these things. He is probably the person who set our system on the course it is today from the time of Lincoln. Finally, the most interesting thing about what you just said, is that it was my study of law that got me to see the connection between reformed theology, and Roman Catholicism. Calvin makes Christianity into a legal system, which he borrowed from the Roman tradition. The crazy part, is that Christology was never considered in law, because a person with two natures would serve no purpose in civil trials, because it isn’t applicable in any form of human rights, under Latin law. So, when you use a Latin legal theory for salvation, Christology really doesn’t work.

  242. April 24, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Eric,

    “Though, Clark says he professes the incarnation, one cannot conclude that he does, if he professes a two person Christology. The Incarnation is only significant if Christ is a Divine person, that tabernacled amongst us.”

    It has been made abundantly clear that Clark was not defining person in the same way. For Clark, person was synonymous with mind. Look, I’m not even saying I hold to Clark’s view. I just think honesty is needed if we are to understand historical theology up to and including Clark. It is amazing how many are willing to judge him guilty of a damnable heresy when they haven’t even read his book, and when the book itself was not even finished! Indeed, Clark refers to the “following defense…” which wasn’t in the book. The material he had written thus far was merely introductory stuff, yet there are those who think they have him nailed down.

  243. Eric Castleman said,

    April 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Patrick, I think you are missing the point. Nestorius, Pelagius, Arius all failed to profess true historic biblical christology because of philosophies just like Clark and his view of person/soul. I know that he thought the person was the soul, and is why his Christology was wrong. Nestorius was influenced by Platonic view of mixtures. Though we know this, it doesn’t know free Nestorius from heresy. We know what influenced all of the heretics, and it usually was an outside philosophy, that ended up denying Christ. That is exactly what Clark did as well.

  244. April 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Eric, this will be my last reply, because I’m only repeating myself at this point. Neither Nestorius nor Cyril provided a precise definition of key terms, particularly ‘person.’ Therefore to judge Clark as Nestorian simply because there is overlapping terminology is illogical. Clark anticipated accusations of Nestorianism and dismissed them right before he was able to enter a defense of his view. If you wish to posthumously excommunicate him that is your own personal opinion and affair.

    I will remind you again that Clark was a protestant and not beholden to ecumenical church councils. Even if his view was clearly outside the “bounds” of Chalcedon (difficult to say, as the definition of terms is key), it would remain to be seen that his explanation was outside the bounds of Scripture.

    In making such broad accusations against Clark (e.g. that he clearly denied Christ and fully endorsed Nestorianism) you are guilty of breaking the 9th commandment and are in need of repentance. Even if you reject Clark’s formulation (which I don’t believe you actually grasp), I urge you to retract these libelous assertions.

  245. Eric Castleman said,

    April 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Patrick, I am sorry you have not read the early church fathers. Attempting to poison the well, and claim that the early church was not clear in their terminology is bearing false witness. You are not the judge, and my accusation against Clark being Nestorian is my point of view, in regards to what the church fathers have stated, and, how Christology is only able to be understood. Who are you to tell me that what I am saying is bearing false witness, when we disagree? Clark was only being consistent with the reformed Christology. God cannot die in such a view. He just found that out through the back door. I have yet to see any reformed writer give a good explanation as to how it is possible to profess that Jesus is a divine person, while walking us through the events of the Incarnation, ending with the resurrection.

    You can read St Cyril’s letters to Nestorius, which were accepted in Ephesus and Chalcedon. Also, Cyril’s twelve anethemas were upheld against Nestorius, which are very clearly written.

    Cyril was asked to explain the 12 chapters against Nestorius, this is what he said in the introduction of his explanation:

    “Many different people have been the inventors of this kind of wickedness in previous ages, but in this present time Nestorius and those with him in no way lag behind their profanity. They have risen up against Christ like those ancient Pharisees and are ceaselessly crying out: ‘Why do you who are a man make yourself God’ (Jn.10.21)? ”

    his anathemas is as clear as day:

    3: If anyone shall after the [hypostatic] union divide the hypostases in the one Christ, joining them by that connexion alone, which happens according to worthiness, or even authority and power, and not rather by a coming together, which is made by natural union: let him be anathema.

    Please read on Cyril’s explanation of the 3rd anathema. He even makes known, that the person is not the soul. He says that the divine person took on a human body with a human soul, and is how we profess that Jesus is the Holy Son. He clearly denies that the soul is the person.

    12: Whosoever shall not recognize that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, that he was crucified in the flesh, and that likewise in that same flesh he tasted death and that he is become the first-begotten of the dead, for, as he is God, he is the life and it is he that giveth life: let him be anathema.

  246. April 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Eric, I hear you, but I stand by what I said, and it’s clearer than ever that you have not grasped Clark’s point at all. You tell me that Cyril used different definitions than Clark as if that is supposed to be news. On the contrary, it is the entire point. Clark’s definitions are different than the ones Cyril used in his anathemas. This should be simple.

  247. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I want to apologize for the formatting off the get go. I’m at a library typing this and the operating system must have some weird setting or something because this website is not letting me format my comments. Its not even giving me a cursor so forgive the formatting here.:

    “You reformed and your hybrid Christians are too much. So much for the uniting power of your confessions, eh?”

    >>>Seeing that your church has recently acknowledged the primacy of the Roman Papacy and has joined hands with the anti-christ, I would be more than willing to attend a protestant scholastic church over the Eastern any day. http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/06/kallistos-ware-orthodox-catholic-union/

    “But, honestly. I have known this about you, and just have not said as much to my brother. He sees you as having some answers that he can use against me, not knowing that I know of you, and have followed your development of thought the past two years, and ultimately, finding it funny that you find the church he sits in, to be just as wrong as mine.”

    >>>No. Your church joins hands with the papacy. Your church is far more corrupt than his.

    “You are confused by my time Ignatius Time traveler comment, let me explain. You state that Dionysius is where the Orthodox get the idea that we have to confess to priest for the remission of sins”

    >>>I don’t remember saying that.

    “and that the idea of Bishop, preist and deacon come from the same source”

    >>>I don’t remember saying that either. As a matter of fact I remember in my Pseudo Dionysius videos pointing out that Neoplatonism came into the Church very early with Clement and Origen.

    “yet, I wonder as to how Ignatius of Antioch says the same thing in the 2nd century? Maybe time traveler?”

    >>>You are the third Anchoretic Christian to make that mistake with those videos. Watch the videos again and at the beginning I make this very clear that Neoplatonism came into the Church very early with Clement and Origen. Secondly, the Ignatius letters have traditionally been contested as being authentic by protestant Scholars.

    “Well, Drake Shelton, Drake Shelton would disagree with you. Drake Shelton writes: “The first year of my studies in Christology left me concretely convinced of Clark’s two person theory.” http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/christology/my-resolution-concerning-the-hypostatic-union-by-drake-shelton”

    >>>Are you completely devoted to lies that you are going to blatantly put forward another right after typing out the error that I pointed out in Clark? I’ll ask you again, do you believe that Christ has two minds? I understand that Clark was mistaken to label this two persons, and he was mistaken to make other extensions from that mistake. But that is irrelevant to the question isn’t it?

    “So, I don’t know if I even need to say anymore. Really, that is pretty much as clear as day. You even admit that Clark professes a two person model, which you entertained, yet, I am the dummy who doesn’t understand Clark? You are just “Lying or Brainwashed” ”

    >>>When did I deny that Clark taught two persons?

    “I don’t see the problem. I understand that he died in the middle of writing it, but, the second half is just as Nestorian, if not even more. So, how does this change the claim against Clark?”

    >>>Your accusation was that he had the book put into print. Writing a manuscript is not the same thing as putting a book into print. Robbins put the book into print.

    “Please, show me where Lossky says that Orthodoxy is a Neoplatonic system.”

    >>>Every time he bases his points off Dionysius the Areopagite’s hierarchies. His book is flooded with it.

    “ Though I do not see Lossky as being dead on in everything he says, I wonder as to how you can say that Lossky writes as much, but if you read Lossky like you read Clark, then I can understand.”

    >>>You just completely avoided the pint. You re a chip right of the Perry Robinson block. Was Dionysius the Areopagite a Neoplatonic writer deliberately writing to deceive people into believing he was writing as a Christian Theologian? Yes or no?

    “I know it is hard to believe that I am not convinced by the reformed faith’s position”

    >>>What is the fundamental premise that makes Reformed Churches Reformed?

    “but it is true. I wouldn’t be able to sit in a reformed church, knowing about Divine Simplicity, Maximus the Confessors views of free choice, and the person and nature distinction, without seeing through it.”

    >>>This shows me exactly why people are leaving so called Reformed Churches. The Calvinist Reformation was not primarily about Justification by faith alone. It was not about Theology proper. It was not about Christology. It was about one key issue-WORSHIP which all comes back to authority, i.e. the rejection f the authority of the Roman Papacy. Notice Calvin’s statement in the key book written to defend the Reformation:

    “If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence among us and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz. a knowledge, first, of the mode in which God is duly worshipped; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained.” John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church. pg. 13 (ed. H. Beveridge [Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1844])…

  248. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Eric, #2,

    …The Horton-Van Til tradition is not Reformed. They may say that they are Evangelical or maybe loosely Calvinistic but they are not Reformed. Reformed means Puritan Worship summed up in the Genevan Book of Church Order and its successor the Westminster Directory for Worship. There are many Churches that hold to these things and those are the Reformed Churches I am suggesting you turn to.

    Second, the Maximus the Confessor issue is a misunderstanding. The Monophysite heresy is a problem for hyper Calvinism and antinomianism which was dealt with in detail by Rutherford and later by the Marrowmen in Scotland. Reference the issues concerning the conditionality of the Covenant of Grace. It is true that HC and antinomianism teaches a complete passivity in the COG. That is exactly what the Westminster tradition has rejected for centuries.

    Third, the Westminster Confession does not teach divine simplicity in the sense you are rejecting it. Take for instance Robert Shaw’s commentary on the confession. His commentary is the most widely used commentary on the confession in Puritan Churches. All he says that the confession means by God not having parts is “It is asserted that this God is a most pure Spirit,–that is, he is an incorporeal, immaterial, invisible, and immortal Being, **********without bodily parts*******”. http://www.reformed.org/documents/shaw/

    You read his section, he says nothing about there being no ontological distinctions in God. He says this is talking about the anthropomorphite heresy of God having corporeal arms and legs.

    However, how do you not hold to Divine Simplicity? I just showed you from the pen of your own master (PR) that the ultimate principle of your construction is an absolute monad huperousia which can tolerate no metaphysical distinctions. Perry said, “metaphysics applies to everything except God ad intra”. If that is true then by definition there could then be no ONTOLOGICAL DISTCNTON ad intra in God. That is ADS.
    “Most reformed people do not read outside of their tradition, and when they do, they become hybrids, like you Drake.”

    >>How am I am hybrid? My philosophy comes from a Presbyterian named Gordon Clark and Saint Augustine’s DE Magistro. Augustine did not believe in ads THE WAY THAT THE Scholastics did. Augustine believed that Divine Intellect was the highest principle on his ontological construction. The divine nous was not a production of a monad. And the rest of what I believe comes from Rutherford, Turretin and Owen. How is that Hybrid? It is all in the Augustinian tradition. Its pretty much the same philosophy as Nicholas Malenbranche.

    “You have read some of the work within my tradition, and you deny the Filioque, and most of the reformed tradition.”

    >>>First of all Turretin admitted that the Greek view of the Trinity was not heresy and so did Dabney.

    “I am sorry, I do not subscribe to providence tv. I missed the episode, where God explained this. The reformed tradition speaks plainly, that such things as wars, and natural disasters are not able to be understood from God’s perspective in a given moment. Is Drake Shelton really Pat Robertson?”

    >>>You can read just about every Puritan Commentary on the Book of Revelation and they all see the Muslim invasions coming right after the iconodule victory (some coincidence) as God’s judgment on idolatry. Amos 3:6 shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

    “Have you traced the influence of the welfare state known as monasticism through the centuries of Christianity?”

    “What did the reformation replace it with? Oh yea, slavery!”

    >>Wow! Just wow. The African slave trade was started by the Roman Catholic Church with Pope Nicholas V’s papal bull Dum Diversas in 1452. This Bull granted Afonso V of Portugal the right to enslave “Saracens, pagans and any other unbelievers” to hereditary slavery. The Roman Church’s approval of slavery was reaffirmed and supplemented by Nicholas V’s Bull, Romanus Pontifex of 1455. These bulls served the justification for the subsequent centuries of slave trade and colonialism. (The Puritan Colonies were an exception as they were escaping persecution) The two countries who first had their hands into the African slave trade were the Roman Catholic Portugese and Spain. After Columbus’ arrival in America in 1492 the Spanish were basically alone here. In 1562 England under Queen Elizabeth legalized the purchase of Negro slaves but there was not much demand for them at the time due to unsuccessful English Colonialization (It would not be until the 17th century that the Puritan English Colonies would succeed). Even the Dutch slave ship that landed between 1619-1620 in Virginia was on behalf of Spanish Colonies. (The History of Slavery and the Slave Trade by William O. Blake, pg. 98). Immediately after this, all the major commercialized countries of the world, and sadly Protestant Countries participated in the criminal and unbiblical sin of the Negro slave trade. However, let it be remembered that it was the Roman Church that wet the appetites of all the other countries who participated in it. In 1772, American colonies beseech King George to let them outlaw African Slavery. He refuses and in so doing shows that he is plotting a race war against the Protestant Colonies to stall any attempt of a Protestant Nation (Just like what happened in Haiti). The Presbyterian Covenanters here in America strongly opposed the African slave trade: See Alexander M’leod’s , Negro Slavery Unjustifiable. True, Dabney and many Presbyterians in the South took the slavery allowances that are in the bible to justify the specific cruel African slavery but again, it was not as though they mistreated these people. The reason why the slaves in the south did not rebel as they did in Haiti was because they took very good care of these people. So it is very clear the Protestants did not replace anything with slavery. Slavery was pushed upon the economies of Protestant nations and they sinfully fell to temptation. Secondly, that does not justify your welfare state of Monasticism does it Eric?

  249. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Eric, #3

    “You know, those debtors prisons. Black people become second class citizens, and even early in American history, it was the Calvinists who argued divine election against the blacks, and sola scriptura’d their enslavement. You make it sound as if the monastic community, that takes care of the poor”

    >>>>The monastic communities do not take care of the poor. The people that live in the real world work and pay for the monasteries and their gifts to the poor pay for these things. The monks are free loading Parasites. Luther wrote much about this hypocrisy. Secondly, it is the anchoretic life that was behind much of Mother Theresa’s nonsense in telling third world countries to remain impoverished because wealth was something to avoid and a life of poverty, a classic monkish vow, is the ideal life.

    “was evil, yet, here in America, the poor are living off the state”

    >>And why is that wrong for you Eric? Monks live off other people.

    “I am against that”

    >>>Then you need to leave Anchorism.

    “You need to come to grips with something. You are going to have to go back to some kind of master-serf- divine right of kings system of civilization, which was popular in Orthodox Christian Russia, and completely deny the human rights that came out of the Protestant Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Your monasticism is going to commit you to a hard core socialist view of economics- you may even start to dabble in Sir Thomas Moore’s (Later Jesuit system) Communist trash but either way its bleak man. Are you seriously prepared to do this?”

    “Yea, I can see how you are trying to persuade me here, and if I hadn’t spent a great amount of my time studying the common law when I was reformed, and the roots of the English law, you might just have made me ponder this, however, I did read those things. The crazy thing about all that you said about, is that it was the reformation that discovered the common law, but Rome.”

    >>I’m guessing what you meant here is “that it was *****NOT ****** the reformation that discovered the common law, but Rome” Secondly, you just avoided everything I said. The Rights of trial by jury of peers and the rights of man to have a government with his consent and the right to bear arms comes right out of the protestant period where Rome had been trying torturing and killing protestants in secret dungeons with secret ecclesiastical councils, King Henry viii (That crypto Catholic) had been doing the same thing, as well as flaunting his Divine Right of Kings Doctrine.

    “Every Lawyer knows this, and is why our law is so tied to the Latin law found in the medevil period. Read “The Common Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was no slouch in knowing these things. He is probably the person who set our system on the course it is today from the time of Lincoln. “

    >>>What does the post Lincoln period have to do with this? The English Bill of Rights and its Scottish Counterpart The Claim of Right Act was passé din the 17th century. The post Lincoln period is completely bass ackward from the previous centuries in this country.

    “Finally, the most interesting thing about what you just said, is that it was my study of law that got me to see the connection between reformed theology, and Roman Catholicism. Calvin makes Christianity into a legal system, which he borrowed from the Roman tradition.”

    >>>That is totally backwards. He got it from his view of the Law. Calvin was affirming a view of the continuity between the Old and New testaments that had not been held since the time of the New Testament. He got it from Moses.

    “The crazy part, is that Christology was never considered in law, because a person with two natures would serve no purpose in civil trials, because it isn’t applicable in any form of human rights, under Latin law.”

    >>> Was that an argument? What are you saying? Are you saying that Calvin did not consider Christology? Have you ever read the Institutes? What are you talking about?

    “ So, when you use a Latin legal theory for salvation, Christology really doesn’t work.”

    >>>That is for you to prove. You were unable to provide historical precedent for Capitalism, Right to Bear Arms, Constitutional Government with consent of the people, right to fair trial, or unreasonable search and seizure in the Anchoretic tradition. There is a reason for this Eric. The Hierarchical government that you are now under denied these rights to men for centuries. It is part and parcel of the Neoplatonism undergirding those religions.

  250. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Eric,

    “Patrick, I am sorry you have not read the early church fathers. Attempting to poison the well, and claim that the early church was not clear in their terminology is bearing false witness.”

    >>>This is hilarious. So many Protestants books have been written about this its rediculous. To take things to your home court I want to focus your attention on one major inconsistency in the ecumenical councils themselves. A friend of mine, David Waltz who used to be an Anchoretic Christian got fed up with all the inconsistencies in the Ecumenical councils and left Rome. He pointed out to me that regarding the unity of the divine persons, Constantinople 381 says “of one substance” while Nicea 325 says “of the essence”. The former emphasizes a numeric unity the latter generic. There could not be a more ocntraidictory teaching regarding the trinity than this. He wrote three article son this stuff here:

    http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/02/original-nicene-creed-and-semantic.html

    http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/02/when-and-which-are-councils-and-creeds.html

    http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/02/nicene-creed-vs-niceno.html

  251. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Eric,

    “I know that he thought the person was the soul, and is why his Christology was wrong.”

    I already answered this in post 197 at the bottom.

  252. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    “Finally, I didn’t want to leave the reformed faith, but I was forced. I heard good arguments, went to my pastors, and they cried like babbies, and told me to shut up.”

    >>>What goo arguments did you hear? Did you read Turretin’s Institutes? That was the primary theological manual in Reformed Seminaries for a couple centuries after it was written. It was only after the neo-orthodox liberal irrationalism of the early 20th century that that book fell out of popularity. I am not saying that Turretin is right on everything but he deals with pretty much every subject that PR has brought up. And BTW Eric, you mentioned that my debates with Perry were missing. I have everything up in summary form right here:

    http://olivianus.thekingsparlor.com/concerning-orthodoxy/41-reasons-why-i-am-not-eastern-orthodox-by-drake

    “I am still waiting for them to tell me how it is possible to be reformed, and hold to the ecumenical councils.”

    >>>Are you asking how they can believe in sola scriptura and the infallibility of a council? If so I will quote the almost 400 year old answer to that question:

    Samuel Rutherford in Free Disputation Chapter 2 says,

    “Answ. They require that before we come to a Synod where fundamental truths are Synodically determined, we be as a razed table and as clean paper in which no thing is written, and so must we be after a Synod hath determined according to the word of God, that is be still Skeptics and believe nothing fixedly, and be rooted in no faith; nay not in the faith of the fundamentals that are most clear in the word of God; for it is impossible that we can believe the clearest fundamentals, as that God created the world, and Christ God-Man redeemed it, but we must believe them by the intervening and intermediation of our own sense or the Church’s sense, or the sense of some Godly Doctor; now because all these senses are fallible, and we see Familists put one sense on fundamentals, Papists another sense, and all private men may do the like, it is not possible that any man can be rooted in any faith at all by this way, for all senses are fallible; and though the scripture giveth clear and evident senses yet such is the heretical dullness of men, that reject these infallible senses as false; and those others that by their own confession are fallible and so can neither be established by the word, nor by the interpretations of men, though senses of Scripture rendered by Synods be fallible in the way they come to us, because men delivering them may err, yet being agreeable to the word, they are in themselves infallible. And so the old and new Testament in the way they come to us may be fallible, because printers are not prophets but may miscarry and dream; but it followeth not they are not the infallible word of life in themselves, when the Spirit witnesseth to us that God, divinitie, transforming glory are in these books: as a spouse knoweth the hand-writ style, loveliness of a letter from her husband to be certainly no counterfeit but true, though the bearer be a rogue and can deceive.”

    “But, why would I want to leave a faith that has such little obligation? I do not have to fast”

    >>>That is a lie. The reformed churches simply do not command extra-scriptural holy days that bind your conscience to fast a certain day.

    “go to church as often”

    >>>Calvin’s Geneva had Church almost every day of the week. It was commanded by law. The issue is you live in a pluralistic society that followed Thomas Jefferson instead of the Presbyterians who wrote the original declaration of independence (Alexander Craighead). But either way, the fourth command only obligates one day in seven for worship.

    “have to obstain from certain things that make my life more of a challenge now than they did before”

    >>>So just like a good socialist you have to have a beuracracy provide discipline for you. Let the nanny state do its work Eric.

    “and have to confess to a priest, against sitting in a reformed church once a week, and a bible study once every couple of months?”

    >>>Not sure what church you are going to. The Scottish Churches that I was a member of had two services on Sunday, a catechism class, a mid week service and a communions service on Saturdays before communion.

    “I just have to listen in the reformed church.”

    >>>So they didn’t offer the Lord’s Supper huh? They didn’t have singing? They didn’t have prayer? They didn’t have a collection box for offerings and alms for the poor? Every Reformed church I have attended has all these. But you don’t care do you Eric, just like your master you have to lie? You are compelled to. You have no other choice.

    “Believe me, I was not the type of person that was ready to admit that reformed theology was wrong, it just is.”

    >>Sure you are. You have already demonstrated that you didn’t put any effort at all into understanding the History of Reformed Theology. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for you to reconcile Nicea with Constantinople.

    “If I went back to the reformed, it would be reminiscent of Cypher in the Matrix, going back and eating a steak, knowing that it is fake.”

    >>>You don’t have a piece of steak Eric. You have a piece of tuna and you think its steak.

    “If I could find a reason to believe that the reformed church was correct, I would return, believe me.”

    1.The ethical continuity of the moral essence of the Mosaic Law (Regulative principle implied). Your present church could never, ever, ever be the fulfillment of the Old Testament. That is exactly why the Jews as a people have not converted to Christ. Can you show me a larger conversion to Christ among the Jews in your tradition than in the ministry of the Scottish Presbyterian Rabbi Duncan?

    2. A bible in your own language.

    3. Capitalism

    4. Constitutional Government with the Consent of the people.

    5. Literacy

  253. Hugh McCann said,

    April 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    To Castleman @ 242 ~
    hughmc5: You wrote: ” Goodness! You know Drake too well. Why read him so much?”
    I have read some of his writings that pertain to my views, and anything else that crosses my path. I have watched some of his youtube videos, and his attempt to answer some of the Orthodox claims, and have not been moved. Not to say that Drake Shelton is dumb, I just think some of his tactics are a little bit over the top. Most of his debates he has had are now missing (e.g David Withun, Perry Robinson).
    > Your time is not your own; redeem it as you see fit…

    Hugh McCann: You wrote: “R.C. denying God on the cross? No, no more than he’d deny Acts 20:28 ~ “to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
    R.C. Sproul wrote, and posted recently: “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross” to which St Cyril of Alexandria so brilliantly points out, that if God didn’t die on the cross, then the Jews were correct, and Jesus was not God-hence- the whole reason, from the Pharisees position for killing Jesus (and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6)
    > Touché. Point, Castleman. I would hope & expect that Sproul would define death differently than dost thou. Or as does McWilliams. If death is cessation of being, then none of us would say God died on the cross. I think that is from which Sproul Sr “shrinks in horror.” So would many of us. To define death as separation of soul & body, as does Patrick, should not entail a problem for any us, either. But I am probably wrong, trying to argue that Orthos & Reformed can agree on something!

    You continue: “Sorry to read that you could not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears, have accumulated for yourself teachers (however ancient) to suit your own passions, and have turned away from listening to the truth, and have wandered off into myths.”
    …….. I always wonder as to why the reformed community interpret 2 Timothy 4:3 (Itching ear) as to mean, that the reformed have the correct information being poured into your heads.
    > False teaching damns, no?

    How about this: What if Christianity is not something you listen to on Sundays?
    > Of course, the faith is to be lived out. But apart from orthodoxy, there’s no honest orthopraxy.

    What if, it is foretelling of the reformation, and teaching becoming worship, rather than to “bow down”.,/i>
    > What if, indeed…

    What if that verse is saying that people will leave the truth, just to be told things to their ears? I think the reformed assume that the verse is saying that there is one correct verbal faith, and others will leave for another verbal confession, that tickles their ears.
    > These two aren’t contradictory.

    Finally, I didn’t want to leave the reformed faith, but I was forced. I heard good arguments, went to my pastors, and they cried like babies, and told me to shut up.
    > OK, now yer lying twice over: 1st, You left of your own free will (Orthos assert such a thing). No priest or bishop constrained you to go Ortho, did he? You mean you felt compelled to jettison the truth for the mystical East. Sorry you had pathetic, infantile “shepherds.” But I AM glad they told you to shut up.

    I am still waiting for them to tell me how it is possible to be reformed, and hold to the ecumenical councils.
    > News flash: Ye needn’t! Hang the councils where they vary from Writ!

    “All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.” ~ WCF 31.3

    “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture…. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. …our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.” ~ 1.10, 4, 5

    But, why would I want to leave a faith that has such little obligation?
    > You’ve fallen for the trap St Paul warns us of in Col. 2:17ff ~ …the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    > But I will not spend much time denigrating your false church. Repent and recognize the absolute sovereign predestination of God in Christ, or else you will forever halt between the two opinions of feeling self-righteous or too wicked to be saved by God — both focusing (as the Eastern churches necessarily do) on SELF. The glory of Reformed theology is God’s glory. You’ve traded it for the glitz of gilded iconostases & vestments, the glory of man.

    I do not have to fast, go to church as often, have to abstain from certain things that make my life more of a challenge now than they did before, and have to confess to a priest,
    > No, nor were you prohibited from doing so, were you? You pile up your works, hoping God will be pleased? But you’ve traded Christ’s righteousness for your own.

    against sitting in a reformed church once a week, and a bible study once every couple of months? I just have to listen in the reformed church.
    > We can be pew-lukewarmers, there is no doubt. But that is OUR fault, OUR sin, not the failing of the truth. If grace doesn’t change & move us, then we’re not paying attention.

    Believe me, I was not the type of person that was ready to admit that reformed theology was wrong, it just is.
    > Neener? :)

    If I went back to the reformed, it would be reminiscent of Cypher in the Matrix, going back and eating a steak, knowing that it is fake. If I could find a reason to believe that the reformed church was correct, I would return, believe me.
    > May God be pleased to give you true repentance and faith in the Scriptures alone. Until then, you are hearing another voice, but not that of the Holy Spirit. You are listening to the enemy of your soul as he whispers “Works!” in your itching ears.

    “The Reformed (generally) have it right, and the Ortho’x generally do not.”
    I can do that too: No, we are right, neener neener!
    > Funny, but tragically, the Orthodox are not.

  254. Hugh McCann said,

    April 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Addendum to 242 reply:

    Finally, I didn’t want to leave the reformed faith, but I was forced. I heard good arguments, went to my pastors, and they cried like babies, and told me to shut up.
    > OK, now yer lying: You left of your own free will (Orthos assert such a thing). No priest or bishop constrained you to go Ortho, did he? You mean you felt compelled to jettison the truth for the mystical East. Sorry you had pathetic, infantile “shepherds.” But I AM glad they told you to shut up.<

    I was going to say that you did not hear "good arguments," but perhaps you did. What you lacked the Spirit in any event, but may have "heard good arguments."

    If by "forced" you mean you were so convinced of the truth of the Orthodox religion, that you had to leave your Reformed conclave, then I will withdraw my charge of lying. But no one forced you out & into the East.

  255. olivianus said,

    April 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Eric,

    Earlier Perry admitted, ” If you had, trying to tar me with Gilbert’s position would be obviously absurd. I don’t separate the persons from the huperousia essence because I take the persons to be huper ousia also.” If both essence and hypostasis are huperousia, then there is no hypostatic union. You would then be left with an energetic union. I am grateful to aquinas for showing me that the union between divine and human in christ is not at the level of nature but hypostasis. But if hypostasis is huperousia, energy is the only divine thing left for humanity to unite with in Christ.

  256. olivianus said,

    April 27, 2012 at 4:16 am

    For anyone interested, Francis Nigel Lee wrote a huge book on the issues of Common law and roman law in the development of the reformation that can be found here:

    http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs/cl/index.html

    Common Law: Roots and Fruits by Nigel Lee

  257. olivianus said,

    April 27, 2012 at 4:17 am

    sorry common law and pre-christian english law.

  258. Hugh McCann said,

    April 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    @ 237 Ansgar, I yesterday received my copy of St Max’s The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Looks good, but like all Orthos, in need of habitual scriptural review.

  259. April 29, 2012 at 1:20 am

    [...] 56. Perry Robinson said, ““metaphysics applies to everything except God ad intra”” (Post 181: http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-communication-of-attributes/#comments). [...]

  260. theogothic said,

    April 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

    @259. It’s actually the church’s teaching on the two wills of Christ (are Calvinists required to believe that?). To reject that is a terrible heresy. His Ambigua 7 is probably the greatest thing ever written by a non-Scripturally inspired human.

    “Looks good, but like all Orthos, in need of habitual scriptural review.”

    I’m glad that you admit Maximus is Orthodox. Most Calvinists I know would scream in horror at your admission that Maximus was not a Calvinist (contrary to a recent Westminster Theological Journal article)! Anyway, I can take your same statement and substitute “Calvinist” for “orthos” and have an equally (un)convincing argument.

  261. Ansgar Olav said,

    April 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I wrote comment #260. I don’t know why WordPress logged me in under a different account. One more thought, when you say Maximus has to be judged by Scripture–for one, who wouldn’t affirm that–a problem arises: whose judgment of Scripture? Me and my bible?

  262. Eric Castleman said,

    May 1, 2012 at 3:45 am

    I would respond, but the amount of comments is too much. I do not like shotgun apologetics. Drake, is there a specific argument you want me to comment on, or do you delight in knowing that I have to spend an hour with you on my mind?

  263. olivianus said,

    May 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Eric,

    Since i have spent years with your church’s theologians on my mind, it would be no favor.

  264. hughmc5 said,

    May 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Hey, Ans. I know; I can’t figure out what name it’ll post for me!

    On

    …when you say Maximus has to be judged by Scripture–for one, who wouldn’t affirm that–a problem arises: whose judgment of Scripture? Me and my bible?

    Indeed. Since St John (in an undisputed canonical text) says that we have the Spirit and have no need that a man teach us, then yes, if one has the Holy Ghost and Scripture ALONE (sans your vaunted Tradition, Philokalia, et. al.), he can discern whether the teaching is true or false.

    Also recall our Lord’s words in John 10, where He tells us that his sheep hear his voice and not those of false shepherds.

  265. hughmc5 said,

    May 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Dear Ansgar & Theogoth (& any other Ortho’x),

    Given that our authoritative canons differ so, we will never be able to well argue against one another. Hence, our necessarily “(un)convincing arguments.”

  266. May 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    [...] that is a part of this subject and I believe, including my correspondence with Perry Robinson [http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-communication-of-attributes/],  I have touched upon [...]

  267. Nick Batzig said,

    June 10, 2013 at 8:28 am

    The communicatio idiomatum establishes that what Jesus did in His human nature received it’s value by virtue of His Divine nature–and what happened to Him in his human nature is attributed to His Divine nature as if it happened to the Divine. This means that while God cannot–and did not die–(that’s an ontological impossibility), yet, the human nature of Jesus being inseparably united to the Divine in One person–it can be said that “God purchased the church with His own blood.” In the same way, the sin-atoning and wrath-propitiating blood of Jesus (being the blood of a finite man) finds it’s infinite and eternal value in the infinite and eternal nature of the Son of God which was inseparably united to the human nature in one Person. In this way, I can sing, “And can it be that Thou my God should die for me,” and “My God why would you shed Your blood so pure and undefiled?”

  268. June 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    […] I'm curious as to the hearsay. Which prominent Clarkians so begged Robbins? I took it from this thread. Jacob ARP, Louisiana "Is it impossible to harmonize the theonomic vision of a biblical […]

  269. March 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    […] in the comments on this blog mentions "Oliver Crisp" The Communication of Attributes | Green Baggins "Greenbaggins", Rev. Lane Keister, is sometimes on the PB, not often now. Maybe he can […]


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