Nestorianism?

Charges of Nestorianism are floating about with rather alarming looseness.

Folks, one isn’t Nestorian unless one believes in Christ having two separate persons. And it isn’t Nestorian to say that something can happen to one nature and not the other, any more than it is Nestorian to say that Jesus sometimes acts according to one nature, and sometimes acts according to the other nature. What is true for the activities of Jesus is also true of the passivities, especially since Jesus actively took upon Himself the suffering.

One must make a distinction, if you will pardon the pun, between the distinction of Christ’s two natures (which is Chalcedonian!), as opposed to the separation of the two natures (which is Nestorian). But again, here we must say that just because something happens to one nature and not the other does not mean that we are separating the two natures. That is a definite confusion I am seeing in some of the comments. Just because one does not scrape one’s violin bow across the tuning pegs of a violin does not mean that one has separated the violin strings from the tuning pegs. Now, every analogy will break down, of course. My only point here is that positing suffering of only the human nature of Christ does not constitute Nestorianism in any way, shape, or form.

About these ads

307 Comments

  1. Bryan Cross said,

    April 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Lane,

    The problem is that human nature does not exist as such, just as the number one does not exist as such. Human nature exists only in the supposit, which in the case of Christ, is the Logos. So, either the Logos died on the cross, or another supposit died on the cross. But if you deny that the Logos died on the cross, then it must be another supposit that died on the cross. And because this other supposit is the supposit of a human nature, this other supposit must be that of a rational nature, for rationality belongs to human nature. Therefore, this other supposit must be a person, for that is just what a person is (i.e. individual subsistence of a rational nature). Hence denying that the Logos died on the cross entails Nestorianism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  2. April 10, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Lane, well then Nestorius was not a nEstorius because Nestorius did not assert two sons. he explicitly asserted one Son to his dying day. What mattered was what he thought constituted the one Son.

    What is at issue is not whether Christ works by each nature according to their respective natural powers, but whether Christ is all and only the one subject of the Eternal Logos or not.

    It is quite true that Jesus takes on suffering and that is just Cyril’s point against the Nestorians. The Logos suffers impassibly, that is, his suffering is unqiue and transorfmative becuse he is the divine Logos.he reaches out and takes hold of suffering and death rather than passively undergoing it. Consequently it is true to say that the divine person of the Logos suffers and dies a human death. His death transforms death or as Chrysostom wrote, by death he has destroyed death.

    Positing suffering of the human nature of Christ and not the suffering of the divine person humanly, is Nestorianism, since it treats the human nature as a distinct subject from the Logos. Natures don’t suffer, persons do.

  3. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Very well said, Bryan.

    Lane: “But again, here we must say that just because something happens to one nature and not the other does not mean that we are separating the two natures. That is a definite confusion I am seeing in some of the comments.”

    I don’t know whose comments you’re reading, but this does not apply to any that I’ve seen on this thread. Your fundamental confusion is that of separating one of the natures (divine) from the person, so that you cannot bring yourself to say that a “divine person” suffered and died on the cross.

    Charles Hodge: “It follows that 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.”

    “Divine person.” Hodge says it. I ask you again, Lane, can you say it?

    If you can, then you must say the obvious: divine person = God. If you cannot say “divine person” on the cross, then, sorry to say, I think Bryan’s critique is directly applicable, as is Nathanael’s:

    “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.”

    As Jonathan put it to you: “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.”

    And with Jonathan, I’m “still puzzled… 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.”

    Lane, 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. “The Logos *became* flesh”

    “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.” –Evangelical Dictionary of Theology

  4. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Lane, if you want to not be a theopaschite, thats fine–you’re free to use words a syou will, and you can use “God” to refer to the Father. What you must be is a Logopaschite. You may use terminology different than is standard, but you may not claim anything less. The Eternal Uncreated Logos died. This is, perhaps, a slightly different term from “God died” depending on the referent of “God”. But it claims nothing less. Do you believe Mary is Mother of God in strict truth, or that the Eternal Logos takes up a distinct subject? On this question turns anathema by an Ecumenical Council. Since there is only one hypostasis–one subject–God the Word, then if you deny the Logos died, you assert no one died on the cross.

  5. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Bryan & Jack,

    What I find somewhat unclear on your comments here and in the prior thread is whether or not you are equating the suffering of Christ in his human nature with his experience of the cross as a divine person. Without assuming your respective answers, can you elaborate?

  6. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Perry,

    As an advocate of Eastern Orthodoxy, how do you see the essence/energies distinction playing out in the current discussion? Have you read Horton on the matter? He is rather favorable to this aspect of EO with respect to this distinction, and for me it seems to bring some clarity into the discussion of Chalcedonian Christology.

  7. April 10, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Jed,

    I’ve read Horton on it. What work specifically do you think you can put the e/e distinction to?

  8. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Matthew,

    This is, perhaps, a slightly different term from “God died” depending on the referent of “God”. But it claims nothing less.

    I think the problem with this terminology is not that it is not qualifiable, or defensible, but that it can also be obscured to mean either more, or the opposite of what you claim. The Logos, in his divinity is also impassible in his essence, strengthening the Logos for what he must endure upon the cross. I see nothing Nestorian in Lane’s claims here, simply the unwillingness to argue prima facie that God suffered.

    The language of Leo’s Tome, which became the basis for Chalcedon in large part asserts that in his divinity, Christ is impassible. While asserting that Mary is the “God-bearer”, it does not go so far to say that God died. It seems that Chalcedon was framed in such a way as to bring Nestorians back into the fold based on certain concessions, which cannot be said of the prior council at Ephesus. I realize that it is somewhat speculative to assert what the reasons were for not asserting that “God died” (or experienced death in some way) was not included in the language of Chalcedon, but I wonder if it wasn’t in part because such an assertion might have created more confusion than clarity, upending the very purpose of a catholic confession. Chalcedon may imply such things in a qualified sense, but it does not positively affirm the suffering of God.

    In a modern context, against the backdrop of theologians such as Moltman, it may be understandable if some do not employ such straightforward language. I think that conceptual misunderstandings of Christology in the contemporary scene, compounded with certain difficulties of laying a common linguistic and conceptual framework for the discussion make it difficult (even among those in the Reformed camp) to attain a common understandint of this immensly difficult concept in Christology. Lane’s posts, and the subsequent discussions back and forth have only underscored this difficulty.

  9. April 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Jed, It wasn’t Leo’s Tome that was the basis for Chalcedon, rather it was Cyril, to which Leo’s Tome was judged by the council to agree, which was the basis for the council’s theology. See Gray, The Defense of Chalcedon in the East.

    There are a few problems to be sorted out here. First, if we treat persons as objects or natures, then immutability and impassability are going to be problems, because persons as natures or “things” have a kind of fixity to them. And that is part of the problem with the Hellenic pre-xian philosophical tradition. It has no concept of person that isn’t pretty much the instantiation of a nature. BUt this notionof nature obviously isn’t compatible with the Christian doctrine of God (the divine persons aren’t three gods.)

    Second, passion means to undergo something, to be affected, moved or changed, to be weaker than the thing bringing about the change. With that Hellenic understanding we are going to have problems. This is why Cyril modifies impassability relative to the Logos. the suffering of the Logos is “impassible” for Cyril. It is unique. To take an everyday example, think of vision. We take a general empiricist notion of vision nowdays, where sensory imput comes into the eye and then is relayed to the brain. In that way it is something to which we are passive, we undergo it. But Cyril doesn’t think of the sufferings of Christ this way, but rather as if the eye reached out with an active power layinghokld of the objects by its power of sight. In this way the Logos suffers impassibly. The problem in large measure is the Hellenic notion of passile/impassibile that is getting in the way. See Gavrilyuk, The Suffering of the Impassible God.

  10. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Perry,

    He relies heavily on it in his most recent work The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way

    His most detailed discussions of the e/e distinction can be found on the following pages:

    52
    129-130
    159
    164
    228
    237
    574
    612-614
    690
    694
    698

    Unfortunately the indices are not as comprehensive as they could be in this work, so some of these reference are not found there. However, this should give a good sense of how he deals with the distinction, and how he sees it as amenable to Reformed orthodoxy. I wish he would have brought the e/e distinction more to the forefront on his discussion on Christology, but this wasn’t the case. By implication however, I am assuming that he would see the distinction at play in some fashion on the cross, as he does discuss it briefly with respect to the temptaion of Christ in the wilderness.

  11. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Yes, Jed. That’s exactly what I’m doing: equating the suffering of Christ in his human NATURE with his experience of the cross as a divine PERSON.

    And the real irony is that Lane himself does exactly the same thing, “on paper”. Lane said something absolutely true, but he cannot see that it undermines his denial of a divine person suffering and dying.

    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?”

    Exactly so! But, Lane cannot see that 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 his humanity, on the cross.

    As Jonathan said 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.”

    Michael Horton: “. . . by virtue of the hypostatic union the attributes of either nature belong to the one person. . .”

    William Cunningham: “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.”

    “God died on the cross” because a divine person died on the cross. He died according to his humanity, which was, as Schaff says, “the organ of suffering” of the divine Person.

    So we can and must say that a divine person suffered on the cross because Christ was God, and suffered according to His human nature.

    As I said before, I agree with the way Lane framed it: “Our entire question is clarified by asking that question: Can God die?”

    All these reformed authorities say, “Yes, God in His human nature, could and did die.”

    Lane says, No. And yet he also says: “I feel quite comfortable in saying Christ died as a person.”

    Again, this only demonstrates that Lane doesn’t truly understand the “person” on the cross. If he did, he could not and would not deny that God suffered and died on the cross.

  12. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Perry,

    Thanks for the response, the reason why I believe that Leo formed the basis for Chalcedon is irrespective of Cyril’s work, not to say he disagreed with it, but rather because Chalcedon seems to source him directly in his Tome. Here’s why:

    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. (From Section 2 – Definition of the Faith)

    and then the language of Chalcedon:

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to 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;
    as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

    This is to take nothing away from the Christological work of Cyril prior to Leo, simply to say that the Tome became the basis for the Chalcedonian Definition. That is all I meant to assert.

  13. April 10, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Jed,

    “If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity: let him be anathema.”

    “If anyone shall say that the wonder-working Word of God is one and the Christ that suffered another; or shall say that God the Word was with the woman-born Christ, or was in him as one person in another, but that he was not one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and made man, and that his miracles and the sufferings which of his own will he endured in the flesh were not of the same: let him be anathema.”

    “If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.”

    Take it up with II Constantinople. You can disagree, but you are the one judged, not the Ecumenical Council.

  14. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Jack,

    Thank you for the response, I think we are moving closer to understanding one another here. Part of the issue in the discussion seems to hinge on the not so clear distinctions of Person/Nature. I am not claiming either you or Lane are making the confusion, but again it seems that you are seating your arguments with respect to one or the other. But this comment does clear up some lingering questions I have had since we have been interacting, so thank you.

  15. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Matthew,

    I am honestly unclear as to what you are asserting here. Please clarify, because providing a quote so far has not – blame it on my own densness.

  16. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Jonathan put it all in this nutshell: “if he TRULY united human nature to himself, he (who in his person is God) died in his flesh.”

  17. April 10, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Jed,

    I don’t think Horton knows what he is talking about with respect to the Energies in large measure. It can’t do the work he wants it to do relative to Searle-ish Speech Act theory for starters because the energies are deity, not nominalistic performances. Secondly, the e/e distinction is incompatible with the Reformed (and Catholic) gloss on divine simplicity. Here I don’t think Horton has read some of the soruces he refers to, Gallwitz’s book for instance which says the exact opposite of what he claims in a footnote. The entire argument of that book is denying that the Augustinian-Thomistic view of simplicity is “the” tradition. Horton tries to cite it as an instance of how to render the Augustinian view coherent relative to certain objections. Uh, no.

    Further the doctrine is incompatible with the Reformed insistence on monergism since there are two energies in Christ such that the human will is not used, determined or predestined by the divine. To have the human will predestined by the divine is just monothelitism and monoenergism by orthodox lights. This is not to mention the Reformed gloss on the Communicatio idiomatum as a transfer of mere names. Energies are not names and so for the Orthodox there is a transfer of energies (not essences) in Christ. This is explicitly denied in Turretin for example. Just so long as Horton adheres to the Reformed gloss on the communicatio, he cannot consistently make use of the doctrine of energies, not to mention an adherence to the Reformed glosses on divine simplicity.

    He seems to want to piggy back Reformed ciriticisms of Rome onto Orthodox criticisms of Rome’s view of created grace. But if anything the Reformed position is just as susceptible to them since the Reformed have asserted the doctrine of created grace in the created graces to the humanity of Christ by the Spirit (a la Berkhof, Owen, et al) and in a created legal relationship in justification as the ground of union between God and man. The difference between Rome and the Reformed by Orthodox lights is a difference in how the metaphysics of created grace as an intermediary between God and the world is cashed out, not in whether one adheres to created grace or not. So I think that part of Horton’s work is entirley misguided. It just looks to me like so much theosis envy that is running through the literature. As one priest I know put it, “Orthodoxy is the new black.” I’ll be glad when its not and people will stop doing stupid things lke writing lame papers trying to find theosis under every rock and tree in ecclesiastical history.

  18. April 10, 2012 at 2:04 am

    The language of Leo’s Tome, which became the basis for Chalcedon in large part asserts that in his divinity, Christ is impassible. While asserting that Mary is the “God-bearer”, it does not go so far to say that God died.

    Actually, it does. It identifies the one person and subsistence as God the Word. And it is a confession of our faith that the Person died on the Cross. Moreover, II Constantinople pronounced anathema anyone who misread Chalcedon in a non-Cyrillian manner.

    “if anyone shall calumniate the holy Council of Chalcedon, pretending that it made use of this expression [one hypostasis] in this impious sense, and if he will not recognize rather that the Word of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one only Person, and that the holy Council of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one Person of our Lord Jesus Christ: let him be anathema. For…one of the Holy Trinity has been made man, viz.: God the Word.”

  19. April 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Jed, I can see why you’d think that, (not trying to be snarky-just saying I rcognize the point your making) but a lot of that langauge is in Cyril before it is in Leo. Some of the key phrases are decidedly Cyrrillian. This is why Leo when pressed said that if there by any doubt in what he had written that in all things he agrees with Cyril.

  20. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

    and Matthew, to my knowledge Reformed theologians typically have not held Constantinople II as binding – if this makes me anathema, then, I am in good company as it is not considered among the Ecumenical Councils. It seems as if Chalcedon did a better job of clarifying Constantinople II, without handing down anathemas. In fact, it does not seem that the travesty of Ephesus would have happened without the anathemas of Constantinople II. I am willing to flex on this, as I am not as strong in early church history as I would like to be, but Chalcedon does not appear to me to stir the pot the same way that Constantinople II did.

  21. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:13 am

    Strike the last comment, my sequences were wrong, but the Reformed Churches typically held to Constantinople III and not II. I need to brush up more on this aspect of church history, some of the councils are blurred to me.

  22. April 10, 2012 at 2:14 am

    jed why think that the Reformed do not claim to adhere to Constantinople II?

  23. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Matthew,

    And it is a confession of our faith that the Person died on the Cross

    If it helps, I have no argument with this – all I am asserting is that the language must also be clarified with respect to divine impassiblility, which Leo makes clear.

  24. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Perry,

    a lot of that langauge is in Cyril before it is in Leo. Some of the key phrases are decidedly Cyrrillian.

    Fair enough, I haven’t read much of Cyril directly so I wouldn’t necessarily pick this up.

    But back to the e/e distinction, I’ll have to pick up on your comment tomorrow. It’s approaching midnight and I need some rest.

  25. April 10, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Well Chalcedon ratified Ephesus.

    And Chalcedon definitely stirred up the pot. Just read Severus of Antioch. II Constantinople was a synod aimed not to be controversial, but to bring reunification. Inasmuch as it stirred the pot, it did so by accepting Chalcedon, and thereby made the split with the Copts more permanent. But historically, Chalcedon was a very controversial council.

    As far as I knew Protestants accepted the first six councils as binding. I have definitely had Protestants tell me the sixth is binding. Protestants consider the monothelite heresy to be a heresy.

  26. April 10, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Yeah, the person is impassible. But as Perry said, and as I said before, if we take “impassible” to mean the Person cannot come into creation, suffer and die, for then he would be bound by an inability to come into creation, and thus would be finite. (Since finite means “having a bound.”) He is impassible in that death did not come upon Him, but that He took it willingly upon Himself. He acted on death by dying, death did not act on Him.

  27. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Perry,

    Last question, then I am headed for the sack.

    the energies are deity, not nominalistic performances

    Horton notes that the energies are not deity, but that God is fully present in them, expereincing and interacting with the world in salvation history via his energies (as opposed to his essence). Does this differ with the Cappidocian Fathers, or does it differ with EO as it develops further? It seems to me that he is claiming that he stands in line with the Cappidocian Fathers in this respect.

    It seems to me from your comment that not only is the divine essence quintesentially diety, but the energies are also diety. Am I misunderstanding you here?

    I doubt that we will actually agree on the substance of the matters being discussed, but I’d at least appreciate understanding where our differences arise. For this, thanks so far for the discussion.

  28. Nathanael said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Um, just so everyone is clear here, the order of councils was

    Nicaea
    Constantinople I
    Ephesus
    Chalcedon
    Constantinople II
    Constantinople III
    Nicaea II

    Protestants tend to affirm at least the first four (while always denying the seventh), Eastern Orthodox all seven, and Roman Catholics tend to affirm the first six but historically had significant reservations about the seventh (they have always felt that it was not truly ecumenical, given the absence of Western delegates, apart from the Pope).

    Virtually all the Reformed before the 18th century affirmed diotheletism (two wills) and the anhypostatia/enhypostatia distinction, both of which were developed after Chalcedon.

    It should also be noted that Cyril, toward the end of his life, affirmed the following statement, called the formula of union:

    “We confess, then, our lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the virgin, according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy virgin to be the mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her. As to the evangelical and apostolic expressions about the Lord, we know that theologians treat some in common as of one person and distinguish others as of two natures, and interpret the god-befitting ones in connexion with the godhead of Christ and the lowly ones with his humanity.”

    Hence, one cannot claim that the doctrine of two natures is out of accord with Cyril since he explicitly affirmed it. This ends the history lesson.

  29. April 10, 2012 at 2:39 am

    This is very out of sequence. My point was that an Ecumenical Council said that the Logos suffered and died. If we want to clarify “God died” so as not to claim that the Father died, or that the Divine Nature died–in itself not something problematic–the proper clarification is to a claim that the Logos became man and died. So I’m sympathetic to Lane’s desire to avoid problematic interpretations of “God died” but I insist that if we do so, what we clarify to is “The Logos became man died, and rose again”. We cannot clarify to a claim that Christ died, but God did not, because at best, that “clarification” is as ambiguous and potentially heretical as “God died”. Thus we gain no clarity at all.

  30. Nathanael said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:42 am

    OK, so there is one further thing. Someone earlier said something about Chalcedon not handing down anathemas. That is untrue. Here is the paragraph of the documents of the council that follows the definition:

    “Since we have formulated these things with all possible accuracy and attention, the sacred and universal synod decreed that no one is permitted to produce, or even to write down or compose, any other creed or to think or teach otherwise. As for those who dare either to compose another creed or even to promulgate or teach or hand down another creed for those who wish to convert to a recognition of the truth from Hellenism or from Judaism, or from any kind of heresy at all: if they be bishops or clerics, the bishops are to be deposed from the episcopacy and the clerics from the clergy; if they be monks or layfolk, they are to be anathematised.”

    In fact, I believe all of the ecumenical councils explicitly anathematize those who would oppose them. Because that’s just the way folks rolled back then.

  31. Bryan Cross said,

    April 10, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Matthew,

    What I am pointing out (in comment #1) is that the notion that “no one died on the cross” is not available. (I’m not implying or suggesting that you disagree.) If what had been crucified on the cross was a dog, or a horse or a pig or some other non-human animal, then “no one died on the cross” would be true. Even in those cases it would not be true that a nature died. Dog nature does not die when a dog dies. Pig nature does not die when a pig dies. Horse nature does not die when a horse dies. Rather, a dog dies, a pig dies, or a horse dies. Natures are not concrete entities, but only abstractions; they do not live or die. They belong to beings that live or die. So if the claim is that only a nature died, this entails not only that no one died, but that nothing died. And in that case, we have Docetism.

    If a dog, or pig, or horse had been crucified, it would be true that something died, but it would not be true that someone died, because in each of those cases, what would die is not a person, because those are not rational organisms. Necessarily, however, when a human organism dies, a person dies, because the human organism has a nature which is rational, making every human organism a person. This was one of the fundamental errors in the Terry Schiavo case, claiming that the ‘person’ was already gone, and that killing her (by starvation) was leading only to the death of a human organism ['vegetable'], not the death of a person. It is the same error underlying the ‘pro-choice’ claim that the human fetus is only a blob of tissue, not a person. And it would be the same error if the claim were that what died on the cross 2000 years ago was only a blob of human tissue, or only an organism of the human species. When a human dies, what dies is not merely a blob of tissue, or an organism, but a person, for the reason I explained in comment #1. And that’s why “no one died on the cross” is not an option. Either a mere human person died, or a divine person died. But either way, a person died. So if we affirm that a human organism died, but deny that a divine Person died, our position entails that a human person died. And that’s Nestorian. Since by an ecumenical council we know there were not two persons; but only the one eternal divine Person, there is only one possible orthodox answer: a divine Person died on the cross.

    Jed, in Christ’s divine nature He knows the cross eternally, timelessly, perfectly and without suffering, as He knows all things in His omniscience. In His human nature, Christ knew the cross through the beatific vision, through His infused knowledge, and through his sensory experience. He suffered only in His human nature, not in His divine nature. But He (i.e. the Logos) suffered, and He (i.e. the Logos) died. I think what sometimes lies behind the reluctance to say that the Logos died is a kind of kenotic theory in which the Logos leaves heaven to be become incarnate, and is voluntarily restricted to the human consciousness of the man Jesus Christ. An understanding of the Logos as the internal Word of the Father, is the antidote to that, as I explained in my reply to Thabiti Anyabwile regarding his claim that on the cross, the ancient and eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son was broken. If during the crucifixion the Logos is merely Christ’s consciousness, then to say that the Logos dies, is virtually equivalent to saying that the Logos temporarily ceases to exist. But with an orthodox understanding of the Logos as the internal Word of the Father, the death of the Logos means only that the Person who endured death in His human nature (while continuing always to know all things and uphold all things by His Power in His divine nature) is the eternal Logos. So an orthodox understanding of the Trinity can help remove this obstacle to affirming Chalcedonian Christology.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  32. April 10, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Bryan (and all),

    “No one died on the Cross” was meant as a ridiculous position, and thus only offered as a reductio. Surely someone died on the Cross. If no one died, no one saves us, and since we cannot be saved by nothing, we are, on that hypothesis, not saved.

  33. April 10, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Yeah, Jed, sorry I didn’t make my reason clear earlier. My point is that the theopaschite position is canonical. We may object to the language, but it is indisputable that the Eternal Logos became man and suffered on the Cross. If we think “God” is, in this context, too vague, fine. But we may not therefore claim that the Logos did not suffer. He most definitely did, and anything less is heresy. Though, I agree, if we claim that the Logos suffered by first ceasing to be God we run into other problems. Which is perhaps why the theopaschite language is best. Or maybe something like “God, the Eternal Logos, suffered on the Cross.” with the appositive to distinguish which Person suffered. That formula avoids the vagueness that Lane seems to be upset about regarding the referent of “God” but also avoids Moltmann’s position (though admittedly I know very little about Moltmann).

  34. rcjr said,

    April 10, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Thank you all for this discussion. As one who has been accused of Nestorianism before I find it particularly helpful. I especially liked Bryan’s wisdom in 31, in part because it raised the same question from the other side, and in a biblical text to boot. If “each nature retaining its attributes” pushes us toward two persons (I feel the push of the abstraction issue quite powerfully, true that natures don’t die) what are we to do with Jesus’ saying “No one knows the day or the hour”? To put it another way, if the deity must suffer to retain the unity of the person, must not the humanity in turn be omniscient to retain the unity of the person? Would love some help here that I could then pass along to my students in both my Person and Work and Theology Proper classes at Reformation Bible College

  35. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 8:17 am

    RC, so far, you are the only person to actually address the arguments I brought up in this post. The others have only brought up rabbit trails and/or repetitions of what they have said before.

  36. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Lane,

    I am glad to see you defending the Scriptural position in a similar way to a way that was popular among the church fathers.

    For example, Theodoret of Cyrus puts it this way:

    Having freed us freed us from the deception of the idols, he is saying, and transferred us to his lordship, he bade us look forward to the second coming of the Only-begotten, who will render us superior to the threatened punishment. We must realize, of course, that it was not the divine nature of the Only-begotten that was raised from the dead, being immune to suffering, nor is Jesus any other son than the only-begotten Son. Instead, it is as a human being that he suffered, and as a human being that he rose.

    - Theodoret of Cyrus (around A.D. 393 to around A.D. 457), Commentary on the First Letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 1, in Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Volume 2, p. 109 (2001), Robert C. Hill translator.

    (More examples here)

    To be more bold, if one objects to the idea that Christ’s conception/birth, suffering, death (and indeed every aspect of his humiliation) extend only to his humanity and not also to his divinity, then one is likely to be guilting of some form of monophysitism – blending the natures rather than maintaining the necessary distinction.

    So, thank you for being bold to defend the truth here.

    -TurretinFan

  37. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    “Jed, It wasn’t Leo’s Tome that was the basis for Chalcedon, rather it was Cyril, to which Leo’s Tome was judged by the council to agree, which was the basis for the council’s theology.”

    Actually, it was Scripture to which Leo’s Tome was judged by the council to agree, which was the basis for the council’s theology.

    Cyril and Leo were given (at best for Leo) equal footing — so Perry’s point is not completely without merit — but the ultimate arbiter was Scripture (see the discussion here).

    But whether Leo’s Tome was the basis or not, the definition of Chalcedon itself recognizes and affirms Lane’s point.

    It states: “begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord,”

    This careful distinction between his human nature (his “manhood”) and his divine nature is essential to Chalcedonian orthodoxy and seems to be lost on those who are objecting to Lane making exactly the distinction that Chalcedon affirmed.

    -TurretinFan

  38. April 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Lane,

    I don’t have the time to go through all the recent comments. But I’m confused, for a few reasons.

    1. I can’t tell whether this post is directed at me and Jack or more recent commenters. I will just say that if it’s directed at me and Jack, you must have not been reading us very carefully, for I (and he) never once insinuated that you or anyone has to, or should ever, attribute suffering to the divine *nature*. I was actually pretty clear that any denial of impassibility is heterodox.

    2. The argument has always been about the *person* of Christ. And the fact that you continue to focus on the natures while neglecting still to address the identity of the person of the incarnate Christ is perplexing.

    3. Your definition of Nestorianism leaves something to be desired. There’s a sense in which Nestorianism posits 2 persons. But the blatant *in your face* 2 persons Christology you seem to think characteristic of Nestorianism actually isn’t and never has been held by very many people. The more popular form is that Christ is one person, but this person is the product of the union of natures and therefore not *identical* to the eternal Son of God. He is the “person of Christ,” and not “the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.” This is why Nestorius loved Christotokos, but abhored Theotokos. For him you can’t say that the person of Christ is Theos, full stop, and so Mary didn’t bear Theos, she bore Christos–for the person of Christos is the product of the union of natures.

    What I and others have been wanting to see, and still haven’t, is a clear and unequivocal affirmation that the person of Christ is none other than the second person of the Holy Trinity, with a human nature. In other words, my concern is nothing more than what is encapsulated in A.A. Hodge’s comments on our church’s confession: “There are, in Christ 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.”

    Persons act. Natures are. And the Person who acted in a human nature in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah was the one and only begotten Son of God, the Word. The divine nature remained impassible. The human nature suffered. The person in whom each nature subsists is the eternal Son of God.

  39. April 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Turretinfan,

    No. The issue isn’t and never has been about the distinction of natures (at least not for me). The issue is the identity of the person.

    “begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord,”

    The question has nothing to do with whether or not the divine *nature* was born of Mary. On that all are agreed in a lud and clear, “Of course not!” The question has to do with whether or not the *person* who was born is a divine person. And Chalcedon unequivocally affirms that it was none other than the divine *person* who was born. Yes, “as regards his manhood begotten…” But who? That is the question. And the answer immediately follows, *one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten.* The *person* of *Christ* is exactly the same–identical with, in the words of Chalcedon “one and the same”–as “Son, Lord, Only-begotten.”

    This is the issue. Until it is dealt with, and you all stop talking about what the divine nature can and can’t do, then you’ll just be talking to yourselves. Because the issue isn’t and never has been about the divine nature. It is about the identity of the *person*. Is the person of Christ the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, with a divine and a human nature? If not, then how is this not Nestorianism? If so, then why all the trouble affirming that everything the Son of God does in his flesh is done by a divine person acting in and through a human nature?

  40. April 10, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Jed,

    Right, for Horton they are not deity, which is why he is wrong and isn’t mapping the concept. If the energies were created effects saying God interacts with the world by them would be to say that he interacts with the world via some parts of the world and that could easily imply that God requires a created intermediary to interact with the world, hence Arianism. So yes, it is exactly this point which Horton would fall in with the Arians like Eunomius and Aetius and why his account is not compatible with the Cappadocians. The energies are not extrinsically related to the divine essence and the persons. See Michel Barnes, The Power of God: Dynamis in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology, for a fuller explication. So when he says that he stands with the Cappadocians he isn’t.

    Yes, you are tracking me. The energies are deity, just as the divine essence is, just as the divine persons are.

  41. Bryan Cross said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

    rcjr, (re: #34)

    In my opinion, it is helpful to recognize that modern philosophy, and now our culture as well, conceives of ‘personhood’ very much in the Lockean sense. Locke’s notion of personhood was novel, and differed substantively from that of the Christian tradition. See, for example, Boethius’s “Treatise Against Eutyches and Nestorius,” wherein he makes very clear the distinction between person and nature, and shows the relation between the Latin and Greek terms. Boethius was born about thirty years after the Council of Chalcedon, and his explanation of the terms shows the influence of the theological work that went into distinguishing the orthodox doctrine from that of Nestorius and Eutyches.

    But almost eleven hundred years later, in 1694, John Locke included a chapter titled “Of Identity and Diversity” in the second edition of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and there he proposed a different conception of personhood, one deeply influenced by a Cartesian conception of the ‘mind-body’ relation. In that chapter Locke distinguished between being the same man, and being the same person. Being the same man, for Locke, is simply being the same human organism, whereas being the same person, for Locke, means being the same center of consciousness. And since we can imagine, claims Locke, the swapping of centers of consciousness between two human organisms, the human person must therefore be something distinct from the human organism, i.e. the man.

    So whereas in the Christian tradition ‘person’ meant an individual substance of a rational, after Locke (for those not guided by the ancient tradition) the term ‘person’ came to be defined in terms of the same consciousness, especially self-consciousness. And this Lockean notion of ‘person’ is what underlies the notion that Terry Schaivo was no longer a ‘person,’ and underlies Peter Singer’s notion that human fetuses and even infants are not yet ‘persons.’ In that traditional understanding of person, by contrast, Terry Schaivo was still a person, because she was still an individual substance of a rational nature, even though she had [mostly] lost her capacity to exercise her rationality. And in the traditional understanding of person, a human fetus or infant is a person, even if he or she has not yet acquired the capacity to exercise his or her rationality.

    Given the traditional definition of personhood, there is no problem with Christ having two intellects (a divine intellect and a human intellect) and two wills (i.e. a divine will, and a human will). Christ knows through both intellects, and wills through both wills. But, given the Lockean notion of personhood, it doesn’t make sense for Christ to have two intellects, because to know, it seems, is to be present to consciousness, and therefore it is impossible for one person to have two intellects and two wills, because by [Lockean] definition it is impossible for one person to have two centers of consciousness. And much modern theology, unwittingly drawing from Locke rather than from the ancient tradition regarding what personhood is, treats the incarnation from a Lockean point of view, that is, as a kind of kenosis, in which the one center of consciousness which is the Second Person of the Trinity, becomes the center of consciousness of the man Christ Jesus. And as you can see, the notion that the humanity of Christ would have to be omniscient to retain the unity of the person presupposes a Lockean notion of personhood, because the definition of ‘personhood’ as one center of consciousness does not allow Christ to know something in one nature, and not know it in another nature. The problem is the Lockean notion of person, which is not only false philosophically, but is contrary to the definition in the theological tradition of the Church.

    In the Catholic tradition, Christ always had the beatific vision in His human nature, even while He grew in wisdom in His human intellect (Luke 2:40, 52). On the cross He is able to die for each person personally (“who loved me and gave Himself up for me” Gal 2:20), even in His human intellect, precisely because through the beatific vision He (in His human intellect) sees all things that pertain to Him. Christ is Wisdom, and yet He grew in wisdom during His earthly life. That’s possible because even in His human intellect there are different modes of knowing, such that He can know something in one mode of knowing, and not yet know it in another mode of knowing. So, in the broadly Catholic tradition, statements implying that Christ does not knowing something (e.g. “who touched Me?”) are, of course, applicable only to His human intellect, not His divine intellect. But that does not divide the Person, because the powers of knowing are powers of the respective natures, not powers directly of the person per se. And so just as the one Person of Christ has two natures, so He has two intellects.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  42. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Jonathan, I don’t recall that you ever accused me of Nestorianism. However, your “popular” definition of Nestorianism doesn’t strike me as the historical one. I don’t agree with the theology expressed by your definition of popular Nestorianism. I readily affirm that the person of the Son (the second person of the Trinity) took on to Himself a human nature. He added the human nature to Himself. And it was not something that had a personal existence before the Incarnation. The human nature only exists in hypostatic union with the divine Person. I agree with all that. However, as far as the question of whether we can say “God died,” this issue is not relevant, unless we are confusing the two natures of Christ. If it is impossible for Jesus to act only on one of the natures, then many passages of the Bible make no sense (and we are also in danger of denying His true humanity). Luke 2:52 is a case in point. Jesus did not grow in His divinity in grace and favor and wisdom. His divine nature did not change one bit. It was His human nature that grew in knowledge, grace and favor. I like Sproul Jr.’s question: if we have to be able to say “God died” in any sense in order to preserve the unity of the Person, then don’t we have to say that His human nature was also omniscient to preserve the unity of the Person? In this case, we are asserting a communication of attributes from one nature to the other, and not just a communication of natures to the Person.

    I am quite willing to say that the Jesus, who died, is God. That is simply not the same thing as saying that God died.

    In turn, I am confused, Jonathan by two strands I see in your assertions. On the one hand, you hasten to affirm that God did not suffer or die. You affirm the impassibility of God. On the other hand, you keep on asserting that we must be able to say “God died in His humanity.” I do not see these two strands as mutually compatible. It is meaningless to say “God died in His humanity.” It’s just as meaningless as saying “God grew in grace and favor and wisdom in His humanity.” To my mind I cannot see how your formulations avoid a confusion of the two natures.

  43. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:32 am

    “I am quite willing to say that the Jesus, who died, is God. That is simply not the same thing as saying that God died. . . It is meaningless to say ‘God died in His humanity.'”

    Lane, I’ve really been trying not to directly accuse you of Nestorianism. But you are making it very, very difficult.

  44. April 10, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Lane,

    Ok, thanks for the clarification. You are right–I haven’t accused you. And it seems, given your most recent comments, that there’d be no reason to. We are essentially agreed, I think.

    But I do think what I’ve given is in fact the historical position of Nestorianism–which is actually more moderate than a stark two persons Christology. And I’ll remain convinced of that until it is demonstrated otherwise than by mere assertion. I’ve divulged my sources already: Davis, Fairbairn, McGuckin, Pelikan, among others (and in addition to much of the relevant primary source material).

    Note, for instance, the description of Nestorius’ views in Davis’ “The First Seven Ecumenical Councils”– it is in fact precisely what I’ve offered and termed the more popular position, and it was condemned at Ephesus and Chalcedon:

    “Since Nestorius shared with all the fathers the conviction that the divine nature is immutable, the Incarnation could not have involved the Word in change or suffering. The Word could be said to suffer only in the sense that a mortal suffers when his statue is dishonored. Rea redemptive life on earth, the suffering, death, and resurrection cannot be predicated of the Word himself but only of Christ, the person resulting from the conjunction of humanity and divinity.

    “Nestoris’ theory is a laubable attempt to preserve intact and complete the two natures, Godhead and manhood, of Christ. To his credit, Christ’s humanity remains complete and objectively real. The problem which defeated Nestorius was how to unite these two natures into a single person, a single metaphysical subject. Nestorius would not recognize the Word as the subject for fear that this would involve the Deity in suffering or imperil the complete reality of the human in Christ. So he had recourse to a third element, the result of the conjunction of natures, the common prosopon, which could not adequately explain to the satisfaction of the church the union of the two complete and objectively real natures which he sought so sincerely.” (p. 147, but the whole discussion of Nestorius from pp. 145-147 is worth a look)

    With reference to your question to me: Once again (I’ve said this numerous times)–the person who suffered and died in a human nature was the second person of the Holy Trinity. The nature is human, the person is divine. I’m having a hard time with having to repeat myself in this regard over and over. It’s all about the distinction between person and nature. Again, Persons act. Natures are. The divine nature *is*, and always must be, impassible. And so, divine persons cannot taste suffering and death–unless they become man, which is precisely what happened in the incarnaiton. The eternal Son of God took upon himself a human nature and worked for our redemption in our nature.

  45. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Interesting. Jonathan and Jack now seem to be disagreeing as to how close my position is to Nestorianism.

  46. April 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

    TF,

    Unfortunately, by “human being” Theodoret means a subject other than the Logos, which is why Theodoret’s position was condemned as heretical at Constantinople II. And this is because Theodoret held a key Arian assumption, namely that what is predicated of the Word is predicated of him qua essence. Since the Word is divine qua essence, it is impossible to attribute suffering to him. Therefore a human being to which the Word was uniquely associated suffered. So the question is not whether Jesus experiences human death, but whether Jesus is all and only the Person or subject of the Logos or if there is some other subject present, namely a human subject?

    So the question to you is, is the subject that experienced human suffering the divine person of the Logos or no?

    I do not mean to get into yet another argument about sola scriptura. The standard at Chalcedon was Cyril’s interpretation of scripture, rather than that of any other figure, especially Theodoret.

    “Much is usually made of the cry which greeted the reading of the Tome: ‘Saint Peter has spoken these things through Leo.’ It is often forgotten that that was not all that they said: they went on to say ‘Cyril so taught. Eternal be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing. This is the true faith…this is the faith of the fathers.’ It was indeed complimentary to suggest that the bishop of Rome was living up to the reputation for orthodoxy of his see’s founder, but it involved something more important than a compliment to compare Leo with Cyril-the obvious meaning of those explanations is that the bishops accepted and praised Leo because he taught the same as Cyril. Cyril was the test for Christological orthodoxy, and Cyril alone.” Gray, The Defense of Chalcedon in the East, p. 9

  47. April 10, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Lane,

    I am not clear why you think Jonathan’s gloss on Nestorianism is “popular” and by that I take you to mean it is inaccurate in some significant way. Can you please explain why you think this?

    Taking Luke 2:52, you write that “It was His human nature that grew in knowledge, grace and favor.”

    Is the question, *what* grew in knowledge grace and favor or, *who* grew in knowledge grace and favor?

    If the former, are natures the suitable objects of this kind of predication or are persons? Wouldn’t the human nature have to be anhypostatic even after the union relative to the Word for it to be true of the human nature, but not the Word? If the human nature is the end point or temrinus for the predication, then who is the subject of the predication if not the Word?

  48. April 10, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Lane,

    I understand what Jack is getting at with his assessment. I just don’t want to run the risk of being a petty picker of theological nits. And so I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt as a brother, and letting the following affirmation rule your other assertions:

    “I readily affirm that the person of the Son (the second person of the Trinity) took on to Himself a human nature. He added the human nature to Himself. And it was not something that had a personal existence before the Incarnation. The human nature only exists in hypostatic union with the divine Person.”

    But, that being said, I do think it’s perplexing that after that affirmation you went on to say that the identity of the person is irrelevant. (Didn’t mention this before because I read your comment too quickly to really notice it.) The fact remains that the identity of the person is in fact supremely relevant–as it’s really the hinge on which the 5th century controversies turned. And it’s also, and more importantly, I believe, what passages like John 1, Col. 1, Phil 2, and Heb. 1 and 2 are concerned to demonstrate.

    I suspect the reason a lot of Reformed folks have trouble with this stuff is that they’ve never really taken the time to study the context of the 5th century controveries, and so just read Chalcedon in abstraction, and speak a different theological language. We like *say* we give primacy to the person in our articulation of the communicatio idiomatum. But then when it comes to talking about bthe precise identity of the person, and what he does in the flesh, we take back with our right hand what we gave with our left. In reality we’re fixated on the natures. This fixation also conditions the recently blogged comments of Dr. Sproul.

  49. April 10, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Lane:

    I readily affirm that the person of the Son (the second person of the Trinity) took on to Himself a human nature. He added the human nature to Himself. And it was not something that had a personal existence before the Incarnation. The human nature only exists in hypostatic union with the divine Person. I agree with all that.

    But the question isn’t whether the human nature has human existence before the Incarnation, and indeed “person” can be a little misleading since the Nestorians believed in two identities (hypostases) in one person (prosopon). The question which you have refused to address is not whether you are a theopaschite, that language may be confusing. The question is, are you a logopaschite? Who suffered on the Cross? Was it the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, or someone else?

    You may be orthodox, but your in your protestations of orthodoxy, you have not affirmed anything Nestorius could not. Was the one who suffered one, and the Word another?

    Again, the question isn’t whether the Divine Nature suffered. No one says the Divine Nature suffered. (Well, maybe some of Severus’ extreme anti-Chalcedonian opponents did. But even Severus condemned them, and everyone alive for the last 1400 years would too.) The question is whether the person who suffered is identically the Eternal Logos of God. Is He? You have not addressed this question.

  50. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Jonathan,

    It doesn’t help that most people who google Chalcedon, and read it off google find a perfidious translation. The one google finds says “coming together to form one person (prosopon) and subsistence (hypostasis)” which indicates that the person and subsistence is posterior to the union. The Greek, and every other English translation I’ve ever found say some variant of “coming together in One Person and Subsistence.” So the faulty translation may at least in part be to blame.

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=definition+of+chalcedon&l=1

  51. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Lane, whatever degree of difference Jonathan and I may have about your proximity to Nestorianism, if you cannot bring yourself to say that the divine person suffered and died on the cross, your proximity to Nestorianism is still manifestly evident.

    Jonathan: “if he TRULY united human nature to himself, he (who in his person is God) died in his flesh.”

  52. April 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I should add that Jack is right: The unwillingness to affirm that the person who suffered for our sins is a divine person is problematic. The reason I’m willing to give Lane the benefit of the doubt, though, is that he has affirmed that the Christ incarnate is a divine person with a divine and human nature. Now, this all may still be confused. But Lane hasn’t made any clear and unequivocal statement to the effect that the person of Christ is the product of the union of natures. In fact, he denied that above. So, for me, as a brother he should still be given the benefit of the doubt.

    But Lane, here’s a question for you. In your earlier post you articulated the Reformed view of the communicatio idiomatum. I agree with what you said there: what is predicated of either nature is to be predicated of the person, but not to the other nature. But in the comments of that post it seemed to me you were coming close to Nestorian-ish sounding formulations because you seemed to be saying the person of Christ is the product of the union of natures rather than identical with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. As I saw it, your concern there was to shy away from admitting that the one who acted in and through the human nature of Christ is a divine person.

    But here you seem to admit that the person of Christ is a divine person with a human nature, and not a perso formed out of the union of natures. Now, bringing that back to the communicatio: How do you reconcile those two things? If what we predicate of either nature is to be predicated of the person (for the person is the acting subject), then how do you get around saying that the person who suffered and died is a divine person–the Son of God, the Word? It seems to me that the logical conclusion of your denial that it was a divine person who suffered for us in the flesh is that we can’t predicate anything done by the humanity of Christ of the person, but only of the nature. But that would destroy the Reformed emphasis on the Person in our articulation of the communicatio idiomatum.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that there are only 3 options from what you’ve said so far: 1. deny that Christ is a divine person with two natures, and posit in place of that a person who is the product of the union of natures. 2. Deny the Reformed view of the communicatio idiomatum, and say that we really can’t predicate what is done in and through the human nature of the divine person. Or 3. Affirm both that Christ is a divine person in two natures, and also the communicatio idiomatum, and therefore in turn affirm that everything the person of the Son of God does in his flesh is done by a divine person in and through a human nature.

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    RCJR (#34):

    The companion to your observation is that Jesus was worshiped by the disciples.

    That is, not only do we need to wrestle with the fact that Jesus in His humanity *was not* omniscient. but also that Jesus in His humanity *was* the proper object of worship. Alone of all visible beings, Jesus could receive worship as God.

    These two facts, taken together, would seem to make it impossible to sort out natures and persons cleanly.

    What Chalcedon does for us is to lay down boundary markers: Outside of this, go no further.

    What it does not do is provide a “Gerety solution” — laying out a clear, logical explanation of persons and natures so that we can divide and distinguish over here, unite over there.

  54. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Perry,

    I won’t have access to Horton for another couple of hours so I can’t supply direct quotes, but I don’t think you are reading him as precisely as you could with respect to the energies. You are correct, he does not divinize the energies as he does the essence, however he does clarify that the energies are not created, rather the manifestation or self-disclosure of God as he acts in history. I believe he draws the parallel to revelation, where God’s self revelation is not equated with God, which is why we do not worship Scripture, but the God revealed therein. So he argues that as in revelation God in his essence is distinct from, though not separate from his energies. So to Horton, the energies are not some sort of created substance, rather the point of contact between God and his creatures, namely when he acts. He seems to use this distinction, whether or not it is an innovation of EO, to uphold the incommunicability of the divine essence.

  55. rcjr said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks Jeff. Yes, that’s essentially what I have told my students.

  56. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Bryan (#34),

    Thanks for the response, it clarifies somewhat, but you seem to be employing terminology that translates easier in a Roman Catholic context than a Reformed one. Can you please explain what you mean by the following:

    1) Christ in his human nature knows the cross through A) the beatific vision, and B) through infused knowledge.

    2) Logos as the internal Word of the Father.

    Your initial statement about the impassibility of the Logos was quite helpful though.

  57. Cris Dickason said,

    April 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    This is from Jack Bradley in #11, again remonstrating with Lane for Lane’s alleged inconsistency.

    But, Lane cannot see that 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 his humanity, on the cross.

    So, here’s the problem with everyone, like Jack, pushing back at Lane’s statement:

    “… God… in his humanity…”

    That is a pretty odd and jarring phrase. Why not try some rephrasing: “the Creator… in his created being…” Or, “The Uncreated… in his createdness…” That’s too much for this simple Van Tillian to ignore.

    With some 9’s and 10’s I can do the mental gymnastics to get at Jack’s concern. But it takes far less gymnastics to read Lane’s original words and see his point.

    -=Cris=-

  58. Cris Dickason said,

    April 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    As usual, Jeff puts the icing on the cake in # 53 . “What it does not do is provide a “Gerety solution” – That’s priceless, brother.

  59. Jack Bradley said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    “… God… in his humanity…”

    That is a pretty odd and jarring phrase.

    Okay, Cris, how about this way of putting it, instead: “The Word became flesh.”

  60. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Chris, yet the orthodox understanding is that the Creator suffered in his created being, and that the Uncreated suffered in his createdness. As far as I can tell, if Van Til can’t make sense of that, so much the worse for Van Til. (Though if it helps, it isn’t we who reach up to the Uncreated, but the Uncreated who reaches down to us.)

    Would this work better: The One Lord, God from God, very God from very God, became man of the Virgin Mary, was crucified died and burred, rose again on the third day, and shall come again to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.”? That’s Nicea. If our doctrines can’t make sense of Nicea, so much the worse for our doctrines.

    And as Jack said, John’s phrase is equally jarring. As is St. Paul’s “who being in the very form of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, and was found in human fashion. And being found in human fashion, submitted Himself to death, even the death of a Cross.” Who is in the very form of God, who was found in human fashion, and submitted Himself to death? The One Who is in the Very Form of God, namely the Eternal Logos, Jesus Christ. The Uncreated Word suffered in His created being. It’s directly out of St. Paul.

  61. Bryan Cross said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Jed, (re: #56)

    Regarding (1), see the Catholic Encyclopedia article titled “Knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

    Regarding (2), see St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica I Q. 27, 28, 33-35.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  62. April 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Cris Dickenson,

    Perhaps being created and uncreated aren’t opposites in the way Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics thought. God has no opposite so why should his creation be thought of in its very being as opposed to Him? This seems to comport well with creation ex nihilo and why God needs no intermediary to access and be present to his creation nor a go between to unite himself to it.. Death is not some kind of contagion from which we must hide God away. God can and does unite himself to us. He doesn’t save us at arms length.

  63. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    A few different comments addressed together:

    “No. The issue isn’t and never has been about the distinction of natures (at least not for me). The issue is the identity of the person. ”

    I’m not sure why that begins with a “No.” I was praising Lane for something good he did, not criticizing you.

    “However, as far as the question of whether we can say “God died,” this issue is not relevant, unless we are confusing the two natures of Christ.”

    The issue here is connected to the use of the term “Mother of God.” That term is accurate, if it is understood as meaning “the Mother of Jesus, who is God” but not if it is understood to mean “the Mother of Jesus, as to his divinity” or “the Mother of the godhead.”

    Even so, “God died” or “the blood of God” are appropriate terms when understood in the former sense, but not the latter sense.

    The problem with those expressions in modern English is that the convey to the hearer an inaccurate notion that the divinity was touched, born, killed, etc., which is not the case. The term “mother of God” has been especially sad, since it has led foolish people to suppose that Mary has some kind of parental authority over Jesus.

    The council of Chalcedon (in full agreement with the portion of Theodoret and Leo already quoted above) likewise affirmed the importance of the qualification “as to his humanity.”

    – TurretinFan

  64. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    The term “Mother of God” means “Mother of One of the Holy Trinity, namely, God the Word.” It is true, in strict truth. She is not His Mother as He is prior to the Incarnation. But she is nevertheless, in strict truth, the mother of the Logos.

    Nestorius and especially could have agreed–and indeed did agree–with mother of God as meaning “Mother of Jesus who is God.” That phrase is, at best, equivocal. Much better is “Mother of the Second Person of the Trinity”. This does not claim she is divine, but, as John of Damascus points out, implies that the Logos while remaining the Logos has become man.

  65. April 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    TF,

    Did Mary bear the Logos? Did the Logos suffer human death?

    Again, the question is not relative to whether the divine nature is passible or not. the question is whether the divine person of the Logos is the subject who experienced human things or not? is the Logos he terminus for such predications or is the human nature the terminus?

  66. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Perry, regarding your comments:

    “So the question is not whether Jesus experiences human death, but whether Jesus is all and only the Person or subject of the Logos or if there is some other subject present, namely a human subject? ”

    The Logos has a name above all names. The name is Jesus Christ. He is now both God and Man in two distinct natures and one person. He is one person – not merely divine, and not merely human.

    Saying that “The Logos did X” is easily misunderstood. But, if you apply the careful caveat of “as to his humanity …” the problem is resolved.

    – TurreitnFan

  67. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Matthew Petersen, much better is what Chalcedon went with, in saying “begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer;”

    I know that annoys the Monophysitically inclined, but it is the orthodox faith.

    -TurretinFan

  68. jedpaschall said,

    April 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Perry,

    To clarify my prior comment, here is Horton, clarifying the extent of the divinity of energies (which I may not have accomplished so well):

    F. ESSENCE AND ENERGIES

    If the reader will permit a tautology, God’s communication – even through creatures – is divine. However, this does not permit us to worship burning bushes, budding rods, angels, prophets or apostles…Although the heavens declare God’s glory, we do not worship the celestial bodies. Nor does it mean we offer worship to the Bible. But does this mean that the bible is merely a human witness to revelation and not itself the medium of direct divine communication?
    Part of the problem in answering this question is that our Western theology is usually restricted to the category of essence: divine or nondivine. Eastern theology, however, introduced another category: God’s energies. The sun’s rays are not the sun itself, but they are also not the ground that is warmed by the sun itself. Rather, they are the shining forth, or effulgence of the sun. Simiarly God’s energies (energia) are neither God’s essence (ousia) nor a created effect but are God’s knowledge, power, and grace directed toward his creatures (V. Lossky The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church pp. 65-89; 220). This view is analoguous to the familiar formula in Protestant orthodoxy already mentioned, namely, that we come to know God in his works rather than in his essence. God’s works are neither his essence, nor are they merely the created effect of his action, but God’s effective agency, which I have elsewhere called God’s workings (M. Horton Covenant Salvation: Union With Christ pp. 211-15; 231; 268-70; 274-75). God’s act of creating the world by his word is neither an emmanation of God’s being nor itself part of creation. Rather it is God’s activity. Presupposing this distinction, Calvin writes: “for the Spirit may be regarded as the essential power of God. whose energy is manifested and exerted in the entire government of the world, as well as in miraculous events” (J. Calvin A Harmony of the Evangelests 1:42 emphasis added by Horton)…
    In this model, there is no revelation of God’s essence, direct, indirect, or otherwise. Nor is the medium of revelation (the Bible) either God’s essence or merely a creaturely witness. Rather, as the canonical record of God’s speech, it communicates to us here and now God’s powerful energies…God reveals his attributes (i.e., characteristics) rather than his hidden essence, what he is like rather than what he is in the hidden depths of his inner magesty

    – From Chapter Tree – The Source of Theology: Revelation pp. 129-31

  69. April 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Turretinfan,

    It begins with a “No” because the reason this discussion is still happening is that some people are still objecting to saying specifically “The Logos did x, *as to his humanity*.” I have never once asked for an affirmation of anything but precisely that. And Lane still hasn’t made that specific affirmation. If you go through the previous threads (not that I expect you to, but if you do…) I think you’ll see that the reason I got involved in this discussion at all in the first place is specifically because Lane denied that it is appropriate to say “The Second Person of the Trinity suffered as to his humanity.”

    Just as it is a danger to confuse the natures (monophysitism), so also it is a danger to separate the humanity from the divine person so that what we predicate of the human nature *is not* predicated of the divine person (Nestorianism). We need to be careful to guard against both confusion and separation.

    Divine persons as such cannot suffer and die, since their nature is divine and divinity is by definition impassible. But a divine person can suffer and die if he takes upon himself a human nature and does so in and through that human nature. This is precisely what the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation affirms. And it is also that of which we still haven’t seen a clear and unequivocal affirmation.

  70. TurretinFan said,

    April 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    “Lane denied that it is appropriate to say ‘The Second Person of the Trinity suffered as to his humanity.'”

    Can you track that down?

    -TurretinFan

  71. April 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I mis-spoke: Should have said, “Lane refused to affirm…” I am not aware of him making a clear denial. Sorry…

  72. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    TF:

    The term theotokos contains in itself “according to his humanity”. The trouble is that “according to his humanity” is vague, and could be taken to mean that she bore the humanity, but the name is communicated to the Second Person of the Trinity. Theodoret, even before the unification was in favor of theotokos, and believed Nestorius was wrong to resist it. However, he refused the union for a long time because he agreed with Nestorius, and believed him to have been falsely accused.

    Here’s John of Damascus on “theotokos”:

    Hence it is with justice and truth that we call the holy Mary the Mother of God. For this name embraces the whole mystery of the dispensation. For if she who bore Him is the Mother of God, assuredly He Who was born of her is God and likewise also man. For how could God, Who was before the ages, have been born of a woman unless He had become man? For the son of man must clearly be man himself. But if He Who was born of a woman is Himself God, manifestly He Who was born of God the Father in accordance with the laws of an essence that is divine and knows no beginning, and He Who was in the last days born of the Virgin in accordance with the laws of an essence that has beginning and is subject to time, that is, an essence which is human, must be one and the same. The name in truth signifies the one subsistence and the two natures and the two generations of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    If we are Nestorian, we refuse theotokos, or refuse to allow that it is strictly true. If we are monophysite, we believe the Word passed through Mary as through a chanel, but that she was not literally His mother. Either error founders on “theotokos”. If the Logos is the Son of Mary, He is, like her, Man. On the other hand, if the Logos is God, the Son of Mary is the Eternal Uncreated One. Theotokos itself contains both.

  73. Sean Gerety said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    What it does not do is provide a “Gerety solution” — laying out a clear, logical explanation of persons and natures so that we can divide and distinguish over here, unite over there.

    Yeah, we wouldn’t want anything that is logical or clear. It’s safe to say from the above ya’ll suceeded and in spades.

  74. greenbaggins said,

    April 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I still don’t understand how one can say “God suffered through His human nature” without claiming that it affected the divine nature. I understand, Jonathan, that you claim that there is a difference between person as acting, and nature as simply existing. But this doesn’t help, in my opinion, with the present issue. If you assert a communication of attributes between the two natures, then you have confused the two natures. That is Lutheran, but that is not Reformed. You claim that the divine nature does not suffer. But saying God suffered through His human nature seems to me to be a sleight of hand. And, I repeat, none of you clambering for my capitulation on this issue have responded to the arguments in the original post.

    Jonathan, here is my question for you. If you say that Jesus’ Person is only and ever divine, then how can there be a communication of attributes between the human nature of Christ and the Person, assuming you do believe that? Wouldn’t you then be asserting that the human nature is not part of the Person at all? We have already agreed, of course, that the human nature only exists hypostatically united to the divine nature, and that Jesus didn’t add a separate human person to His person. But we still have to say that the human nature is part of His person. So, He did add a human nature to His person. Otherwise, there is no communication of attributes at all between the human nature and the Person.

  75. April 11, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Lane: I still don’t see how you can (seem to) deny God suffered in his human nature, and yet maintain there is only One Person. If there is only one Person, who is he? Is He the Second Person of the Trinity, the Eternal Logos, or is he someone else? If he’s the Logos, why won’t you say the Logos is God? But if another person, that just simply is Nestorianism, plain and simple.

    I’ll look at your arguments in the original post and see if I can respond to them.

  76. April 11, 2012 at 1:09 am

    I assume you mean the post on the communion not the post on the Eucharist?

    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.

    I think this is vague. What do you mean by “specifically relate to one of His natures.” Do you mean that in strict truth the human nature died on the Cross, but we can say that the person did, by a figure of speech? Or do you mean that properties, like possibility belong to the human nature, and so the person can be said to be, and indeed, is, passible, but things like crucifixion do not belong to either nature, but to the one Person who acted?

    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.

    This is also vague. For two reasons: first, do you mean “whatever is true about Christ’s human nature is true about the Person…” or do you merely mean that it can be said, perhaps through a figure of speech, or an abstract communion of names.
    Second, you still have not addressed who that person is. Is the Person the Eternal Logos, or is he some other person? Since I assume you believe the Eternal Logos simply is God, your seeming denials that a Divine Person died would indicate the Person is not the Eternal Logos. Which, again, simply is Nestorianism.
    Also, what sort of things do you think we can say about His human and divine natures? Is the Divine Nature begotten of the Father, and is the human nature born of Mary? If so, you are using “nature” to mean what the Greek “hypostasis” means, and perhaps “person” to mean “prosopon”, which again, simply is Nestorianism. I’m not accusing you of that, but your language remains vague.

    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.

    I don’t think this is controversial in the discussion at hand.

    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.

    And so do all the orthodox. But the question is who is the person of Christ? Is He the Eternal Logos? If so, why the protestations against a Divine Person suffering?

    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 thehypostatic 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.

    I don’t think you’re reasoning is “in this diagram I drew, the Reformed arrow points up, and the Lutheran arrows point every which way. So the Reformed way is better.” But I can’t tell what else you could be saying. But you still have not addressed the salient point: Who is the Person? Is He the Eternal Logos, or are you equating the Eternal Logos with the Divine Nature? If so, that simply is Nestorianism.
    In short, the post does not resolve any of the issues, but continues to evade the one central question.

  77. April 11, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Sorry about that, I think I opened a couple of quotes at the beginning and didn’t close them.

  78. April 11, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Well, shoot. I thought I was following this conversation perfectly and then I got thrown for a loop:

    … what sort of things do you think we can say about His human and divine natures? Is the Divine Nature begotten of the Father, and is the human nature born of Mary? If so, you are using “nature” to mean what the Greek “hypostasis” means, and perhaps “person” to mean “prosopon”, which again, simply is Nestorianism.

    Matthew, would you mind unpacking this for me a bit?

  79. April 11, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Ought we to say that since natures are not born but persons are, that the Logos was born of the virgin as to his human nature, and that the Logos is eternally begotten of the Father?

  80. Jack Bradley said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Lane, this is a fair question, and I appreciate its clarity. Just how the divine nature is affected is ultimately a mystery, of course, but I think these selections go far toward answering the question, and toward our understanding the doctrine of impassibility.

    John Frame, The Doctrine of God, 612ff:

    “God experiences grief and other negative emotions, not only in the incarnate Christ, but in his non-incarnate being as well. Isaiah expresses God’s grief in terms of distress or affliction: “In all their distress he too was distressed. . .” God is the compassionate God, who knows the agonies of his people, not only as the transcendent author of history, but as the immanent one who is with them here and now.

    But is there any sense in which God suffers injury or loss? . . . In the Incarnation, the Son suffers injury and loss: physical pain, deprivation, and death. . . the doctrine of impassibility should not be used to deny that God has emotions, or to deny that God the Son suffered real injury and death on the cross. But God in his transcendent nature cannot be harmed in any way, nor can he suffer loss to his being. In his eternal existence, ‘suffering loss’ could only mean losing some attribute, being defeated in his war with Satan, or otherwise failing to accomplish his eternal plan. Scripture assures us that none of these things will happen, and so they cannot happen. In this sense, God is impassible.”

    Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, 247ff:

    “On the one hand, we must avoid the conclusion that God is untouched or unmoved by creaturely suffering. There is indeed a Stoic thread. . . that denies that God experiences joy or sorrow; he neither loves nor hates. In fact, traces of Stoicism are evident among Christian writers in the ancient, medieval, and modern period. However, the indifferent god of Stoicism is radically different from the living God of Scripture.

    . . . On the other hand, God is the transcendent Lord of the covenant who is never a passive victim but is always the active judge and justifier. . . God does feel, but not as one who depends on the world for his joy. God responds to our sorrows with compassion, to our sin with anger, and to our obedience with delight. Yet he does so as a generous rather than as a needy lover. God gives life but does not receive life; the world depends on God, but God does not depend on the world. Similarly, we can say that God is affected by us but is not determined in his being, will, or actions by us. God freely allows us to affect him, although even our affecting action is comprehended in God’s eternal counsel.”

    John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 330ff:

    “But is it legitimate to speak of a suffering God? . . . He is never the unwilling victim either of actions which affect him from without or of emotions which upset him from within. . . It is true that Old Testament language is an accommodation to our human understanding, and that God is represented as experiencing human emotions. Yet, to acknowledge that his feelings are not human is not to deny that they are real. . . Thus, before the flood Yahweh was ‘grieved’ that he had made human beings, ‘and his heart was filled with pain’, and when his people were oppressed by foreigners during the time of the Judges, Yahweh ‘could bear Israel’s misery no longer’ (Gen. 6:6-7; Jdg. 10:16). Most striking of all are the occasions when through the prophets God expresses his ‘yearning’ and ‘compassion’ for his people and addresses Israel directly: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. . . Can a mother forget the baby at her breast. . . ? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! . . . How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? . . . My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.’ (Je. 31:20; 31:3; Is. 49:15; Ho. 11:8). . . Is it not written of God, during the early days of Israel’s bitter bondage in Egypt, not just that he saw their plight and ‘heard their groaning’, but that ‘in all their distress he too was distressed’?

    . . . The best way to confront the traditional view of the impassibility of God, however, is to ask ‘what meaning there can be in a love which is not costly to the lover’?

    Roger Olsen, The Story of Christian Theology:

    “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]?”

    Thomas Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ:

    “But in this act of unspeakable humiliation, God was not simply using the humanity of Christ as his organ or instrument, while he remained transcendent to it all. He himself actually came, the immutable God, humbling himself to become a creature and to suffer as a creature our judgment and initiative, even when he gave himself up to the death of the cross, in an offering as unreserved in his self-giving as it was majestically omnipotent and free in its act of grace.”

    Horton:

    “[I]t is worth concluding our consideration of this attribute [impassibility] 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.’”

  81. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Jason,

    I’m on my nook so this will be brief. II Constantinople says that the Word is twice begotten. He is eternally begotten of the Father before all worlds, but in these latter days He was born of the Virgin Mary who is, as the council says, therefore, in strict truth, theotokos, since she bore one of the Holy Trinity.

    Your question about natures is too long to answer on a mobile device. I am more or less saying what Bryan said at the top of this thread. But if no one has answered by some time tomorrow, I’ll try to get up a longer response.

  82. April 11, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Thanks, Matthew. If I’m reading you rightly, the objectionable part of your quote was that in both cases it was natures being begotten, and not a person.

  83. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:41 am

    It just occured what your confusion might be. The Person is the sole subject, the natures are not. So according to the Divinity, the Person was begotten of the Father before all worlds, but according to His humanity, was begotten of Mary, the virgin, the Mother of God. The Person acts in His natures, but natures do not act, persons do. Manness never died, and never can die. And Godness is not begotten. In His Godness, the Person is begotten of the Father. In his manness he died on the Cross. But the Person is One and the Same, God rhe Word.

  84. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Yes. I was objecting to a possible assumption that natures are begotten. Inorthodox Christology, they are not, hypostases are. So if we claim a nature is begotten we amke “nature” mean what hypostasis meant.

  85. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Matthew Petersen:

    You wrote: “The term theotokos contains in itself “according to his humanity”. The trouble is that “according to his humanity” is vague, and could be taken to mean that she bore the humanity, but the name is communicated to the Second Person of the Trinity.”

    The term theotokos just means “God-bearer.” It means that the person who was in the womb of the virgin was God.

    But it is interesting that you think that the Chalcedonian definition (echoing Leo) itself is vague.

    – TurretinFan

  86. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Lane:

    “I still don’t understand how one can say “God suffered through His human nature” without claiming that it affected the divine nature. ”

    That issue arises because the title “God” seems to have particular reference to the divine nature.

    The suffering of Jesus Christ was the suffering of the second person of the Trinity, but it was something he experienced only in his human nature, since the divine nature is incapable of such experience.

    The Father did not suffer. The Spirit did not suffer. Only the Son suffered, and only as to his humanity.

    This distinction is also important as it relates to things like the aspects of Jesus learning, growing in wisdom, etc., which were things the second person did, but only as to his humanity.

    To say that the Son suffered (or learned, or grew in wisdom) as to his divinity is to confuse the natures.

    – TurretinFan

  87. April 11, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Lane,

    This has been answered multiple times. Jesus Christ is a divine person–the Son of God–with a divine and a human nature. We attribute whatever is done by that person in and through either nature to the person, who is the acting subject. The natures remain distinct, yet inseparable, as each has its subsistence precisely in the one divine person. Once again, the human nature can only be said to be part of the person in the sense that it subsists in the person, but it doesn’t add to the person anything but a nature. It doesn’t make the person a different person, a different individual reality, a different acting subject. It is a true incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity in every way. It is not a morphing, or a coming alongside another. It is an incarnation–his person always remains the same, and he assumes a human nature. He becomes what he once was not, without ever ceasing to be who he always is. And so, what is predicated of the human nature is predicated of the divine person because the divine person has a human nature–he became man in every way. What Jesus Christ does is what the second person of the Holy Trinity does–*for they are the same person*. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. I am at a loss, Lane, as to how you still don’t see this.

    Is the person Jesus Christ is a different person than the Logos? I hope you would say, “No, he is the same person.” But if you say he is the same person, then I don’t understand how you can say that we can predicate what is done in and through the human nature to the person but not to the divine person. What does that mean? What are you saying? It really seems you’re saying he’s the same person and a different person at the same time. Those two things are completely incompatible. If he is the same person, then to attribute anything to his person is to attribue it to a divine person, since his person is divine.

    My concern here, Lane, is that if we’re orthodox, we have to say that he is only and ever one and the same person, with one nature before the incarnation, and two natures after it. For the orthodox, he didn’t become a human *person* in the incarnation (understood in the tradition creedal sense–hypostasis, individual reality, acting subject)–that really is Nestorianism. (And some of the other interlocutors here, like Matthew, will attest to the fact that I’m not normally a big fan of making accusations of Nestorianism. I am usually very slow to make such judgments. But the fact remains that there is such a thing. And we need to understand what it is and guard against it.)

    So, for Chalcedonian Christology, the Son of God remains always a divine person, who assumed a human naure. You seem to have admitted as much in some comments. But in your other comments, you keep taking back with your right hand what you gave with your left. I say that because if you say he’s a divine person, and if you say that we can predicate of the person what is done in and through the human nature, then the only logical consequence is to say that what is predicated of the human nature is predicated of the divine person, *for he didn’t become a different acting subject in the incarnation*. To admit he is a divine person, and admit that we can predicate of that person what is predicated of the human nature, and then to say it can’t be predicated of a divine person, but only of humanity, strikes me as nonsense (am I missing something?), as now you’re turning the communicatio idiomatum into nothing but saying that the nature acts. But then what in the world is the point of the communicatio? You’ve done away with the whole issue with a wave of the hand. The issue is, WHO is it that’s acting in and through that human nature? The orthodox answer is: It is the Son and only begotten God, the Word. That’s *who* Jesus Christ is. That is his identity. And when he does what he does in the flesh, it is that very person who existed from eternity who does it.

    I’m starting to get the feeling that while you speak at times as though you distinguish between person and nature in words, that distinction hasn’t really made its way into your understanding of the incarnation in fact.

  88. April 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Turretinfan,

    “The suffering of Jesus Christ was the suffering of the second person of the Trinity, but it was something he experienced only in his human nature, since the divine nature is incapable of such experience.”

    This is precisely what I’ve been saying over and over again, in a variety of ways, through 4 distinct (but inseparable) threads, over the course of 2 weeks (possibly more?).

  89. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’m glad to find us in agreement, Jonathan.

    I have not read anything from Lane that contradicts what I wrote, so perhaps all three of us are in some kind of violent agreement.

    -TurretinFan

  90. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Sean (#73): It wasn’t a pejorative. I would love, love for there to be a clear and unambiguous way (a ‘Gerety solution’) to explain Christology.

    None has presented so far that does not run afoul of the Scriptural evidence.

  91. April 11, 2012 at 11:59 am

    TF,

    There’s a reason II Constantinople had to condemn some readings of Chalcedon. It is not in itself problematic, but when I say that Mary was Godbearer in strict truth (quoting II Constantinople) and that the Word has two nativities, and respond by telling it would be better to say Mary is the mother of God according to his humanity it makes me wonder what’s up. Some authors have said that “Mother of God according to his humanity” means that the Logos Himself is not born of Mary, but that only his humanity is. Particularly since you quoted Theodoret as a Church father, when in fact, he was a staunch defender of Nestorius, and of questionable orthodoxy (though Chalcedon believed he repented), and tell Lane he’s defending orthodoxy for refusing to say God suffered. What do you mean by “God suffered in his flesh”? Did the Logos actually suffer, and in strict truth, or is “the Second Person of the Trinity suffered in the flesh” a way of saying that the flesh which is closely associated with the Second Person of the Trinity suffered, but the Logos did not?

  92. April 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    TF,

    When you wrote #66,

    “He is one person – not merely divine, and not merely human.”

    Can you clarify? Do you mean to say that both natures are in the one divine person or do you mean to say that the person is a human and divine hypostasis?

  93. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    MNP: Const. II’s characterization of “Therefore there is one Christ, God and man, of the same essence with the Father as touching his Godhead, and of the same essence with us as touching his manhood.” (Anethema VIII)

    What is true of Christ as man therefore is not necessarily true of Christ as God on C2’s own terms. For Christ is not of the same essence with us as touching his Godhead, or of the same essence with the Father as touching his manhood.

    Moreover, Lane is right not to confuse the divine and human natures, which is what I praised him for.

    -TurretinFan

  94. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Perry:

    Please explain the way in which a nature can be “in” a person, so that I can understand what you mean by your question.

    Please also clarify whether you mean something different by hypostasis and person in your question. I usually use them interchangeably.

    -TurretinFan

  95. Sean Gerety said,

    April 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @91 That’s not true Jeff. However, one thing is for certain, since no one will define what they mean by *person* they blather on inanely while fighting over an ancient conception that lacked any clear definitions. The only people who even attempt a definition are Jonathan (see the last thread) and Bryan Cross (see #41). Cross says we should define person as “an individual substance of a rational nature.” However, this only succeeds in moving the problem back to having to define “substance” and “nature” (which everyone just assumes they understand but see Clark’s discussion of “nature” on p 69 in The Incarnation and you’ll see it’s not that simple as it seems and is often used as a synonym for “substance”). But at least Cross agrees that Christ had two centers of consciousness, two intellects, two minds. I think the biblical evidence overwhelmingly supports this conclusion. The problem is, and as James Anderson points out:

    If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features *without* those features being necessarily owned by an particular person. Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out. If experiences are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of *one* person with *two* distinct consciousnesses (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other). (Paradox in Christian Theology: 97,98)

    Seems to me that Cross is a “Nestorian” too, at least according to Anderson. Yet, without a clear and unambiguous definition of *person* all the charges of “Nestorianism” are just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. OTOH, now that I know that even Lane Keister and John Calvin are “Nestorians” it will make defending Clark’s theory that much easier. :)

  96. April 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    TF:

    Yes. And Anathemz VI

    “If anyone shall not…confess that she is exactly and truly the Mother of God, because that God the Word who before all ages was begotten of the Father was in these last days made flesh and born of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this sense the holy Synod of Chalcedon acknowledged her to be the Mother of God: let him be anathema.”

    And Anathema II:

    If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.

    What is true of Christ in his manness is therefore precisely true of God the Word. It is not true of him in his Godness, but it is nevertheless true of Him. And since the Person of the Word, and not merely the nature of the Word, is Divine, we may properly say God died, or Mary is the Mother of God. She is the mother of One of the Holy Trinity, who in these latter days freely willed to be born of her.

  97. April 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Sean,

    Person is the individual particular thing. Jenson translates it “identity”.

    It seems to me that Anderson is asserting the consequent.

    P1: All activities, wills etc. belong to a particular person.

    P2: Christ has two wills etc.

    C: Therefore Christ is two persons.

    That argument is simply affirming the consequent. All the activities of Christ belong only to the One Person, God the Word. There is no conflict there. Both wills etc. are owned by a particular person, and cannot be spoken of aside from that particular person.

    What he needs to get his argument to work is the following premise:

    P1: All persons have only one will consciousness etc.

    or

    P1′: Persons are constituted by their wills, consciousness etc.

    But it is precisely these premises that the Church condemned, and which the Anderson did not argue for.

  98. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Perry (Re: 22),

    jed why think that the Reformed do not claim to adhere to Constantinople II?

    It is my understanding that the Reformed do not hold Constantinople II as binding due to its assertions regarding the perpetual virginity of Mary. While the Reformed camp would substantially affirm Constantinople II, including Mary as the theotokos, none of the Reformed confessions hold to her perpetual virginity. Otherwise, Constantinople II seems to simply be elaborating and enforcing Chalcedon against Nestorianism and other heresies. The value of Conatantinople II is not lost on the Reformed, but it is not viewed as authoratative as the prior four ecumenical councils were.

  99. Bryan Cross said,

    April 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I looked back at the other thread (Communication of Attributes), and it seems to me that one source of the problem is the notion that at the incarnation the human nature became “part” of the Logos. (See, for example, comment #13 in that thread.) And in comment #4 there Lane specifically treats this with part-whole language, writing, “It is a logical fallacy to say that what is true of the whole (hypostatic union) is true of its parts (the two natures).”

    It is not true that the human nature became “part” of the Logos. The hypostatic union is not a part-whole relation; it is a subsistence relation. The Logos having two natures does not mean that the Logos has two parts. The Logos has no parts, except in His human nature (arms, legs, etc.).

    And it seems to me that this mistaken notion that the human nature became “part” of the Second Person has been contributing (in this discussion) to the notion that Christ is something distinct from the Logos, because Christ is being defined as the whole composed of two parts (i.e. the two natures), whereas the Logos is being understood merely as the Second Person. And this is leading to a kind of de facto Nestorianism.

    The Logos per se did not change at the incarnation. He did not acquire a new part. Rather, the human nature taken from the womb of the Virgin Mary was elevated to personal union with the Logos, and even this union was not a change in the Logos (who is uncreated), but is something created. Understanding the union as a subsistence relation, rather than a part-whole relation, can, I think, help avoid the idea that there are two distinct Persons: the pre-incarnate Logos, and the post-incarnate Christ who is composed of two parts.

  100. April 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    TF,

    By being “in” I mean what Chalcedon means, being united by hypostasis as Chalcedon and 2nd Constantinople, as opposed to a prosopic, synapheia or energetical type of union as Nestorius and Theodoret held. That is, I believe in the hypostatic union and not merely one of synapheia.

    I do not mean anything different by hypostasis and person. When I say there are three hypostases in the Trinity, I mean all and only that there are three persons in the Trinity. I use hypostasis and person in the same way with respect to the hypostasis and person of Christ. Christ is all and only the same hypostasis as the 2nd Person of the Trinity prior to the incarnation. Do you mean something different?

    So back to my question.

    When you wrote #66,

    “He is one person – not merely divine, and not merely human.”

    Can you clarify? Do you mean to say that both natures are in the one divine person or do you mean to say that the person is a human and
    divine hypostasis?

  101. April 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Jed,

    I believe statements about saintly invocation, the perpetual virginity of Mary occur in Constantinople III and in Chalcedon and Ephesus, so I can’t see why Protestants would reject those to by that reasoning.

    Do the Reformed confessions deny her perpetual virginity or are they mute on it?

    If memory serves, Hodge and others profess adherence to Constantinople II, but I could be wrong. In any case, if what makes a synod authoritative is its accuracy for Protestants, and you agree that Constantinople qua Christological matters is accurate, why wouldn’t it be authoritative as well? What does it lack that the other four have?

  102. Bryan Cross said,

    April 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Sean (re: #95)

    Regading the quotation from Anderson:

    If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features *without* those features being necessarily owned by an particular person.

    That’s a non sequitur.

    Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out.

    Where ‘our’ here means Lockean — see comment #41 above.

    If experiences are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of *one* person with *two* distinct consciousnesses (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other).

    The conditional is true, but the antecedent of the conditional presupposes a Lockean conception of person. And this Lockean notion of persons is contrary to that of the theological tradition, as I explained in #41, and as can be seen clearly in the sixth council’s condemnation of monothelitism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  103. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    TFan,

    What is true of Christ as man therefore is not necessarily true of Christ as God on C2′s own terms…Moreover, Lane is right not to confuse the divine and human natures, which is what I praised him for.

    This point is worth repeating – on one side of there is the danger of unduly dividing Christ rendering it impossible for him to experience the cross as a single person, and on the other is the danger of equating the dual natures. It is not as if the experience of the cross (or birth, temptation, etc.) is univocal with regards to Christs human and divine natures. Chalcedon seems rather clear on this matter.

  104. April 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Bryan,

    I do agree with you. In my indulgance for the language of “part,” I was allowing for it only if in the sense that the human nature has its subsistence in the divine person. But, you’re right. Properly speaking, it’s inaccurate to say the human nature is “part” of the Logos.

  105. April 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Sean,

    The fundamental problem with Anderson’s thought is that he is conflating issues of enhypostinization of the nature with the powers of the nature being therefore hypostatic rather than natural. Intellect and will are powers of the nature that are made concrete relative to some hypostasis and not apart from it in an abstract form.

    As I showed on the previous thread, Clark’s position is untenable. He takes the soul to be the person. If the soul is the perosn, Jesus either lacks a human soul (Apollinarianism) or Jesus has a human soul and is therefore a human person and a divine person, which Clark seems to direclty endorse and Robbins explicitly does. Why that in’t flat out Nestorianism is something I do not understand. So Clark’s “definition” of person is sub-Christian.

  106. April 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    On on the side point of perpetual virginity: the confessions are for the most part silent on it. The ones that do speak to it actually affirm it, such as the 2nd Helvetic.

    Historically, Protestants have claimed to adhere to the first 6 councils.

  107. April 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The Helvetic Consensus formula and the Defense of the Augsburg Confession also both say Mary is ever-virgin. Not putting that forward as proof, but if a rejection of the perpetual virginity is the reason for a rejection of II Constantinople, did that rejection only come into play in the seventeenth or eighteenth century? That doesn’t seem to make sense.

  108. April 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Bryan, Jonathan, et al,

    “On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 3,4,5), “In the Lord Jesus Christ we acknowledge two natures, but one hypostasis composed from both.”

    I answer that, The Person or hypostasis of Christ may be viewed in two ways. First as it is in itself, and thus it is altogether simple, even as the Nature of the Word. Secondly, in the aspect of person or hypostasis to which it belongs to subsist in a nature; and thus the Person of Christ subsists in two natures. Hence though there is one subsisting being in Him, yet there are different aspects of subsistence, and hence He is said to be a composite person, insomuch as one being subsists in two.”

    And thereby the solution to the first is clear.

    Reply to Objection 2. This composition of a person from natures is not so called on account of parts, but by reason of number, even as that in which two things concur may be said to be composed of them.”

    ST, tertia pars, Q. 2, a. 4, sed contra, resp 1 & 2

  109. Sean Gerety said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Actually, Perry, I didn’t read your posts on the other thread. As soon as Drake jumped in I bailed. Also, the reason why Clark’s view is not “flat out Nestorianism” is because neither Nestorious or his oppenants ever defined what a *person* is. Even James Anderson, who is an even more hostile critic of Clark than even you seem to be, said:

    I concur with Clark that it wouldn’t be fair to charge him with the heresy of Nestorianism, since Nestorius clearly didn’t employ anything like Clark’s definition of ‘person’. (Who does?) (A Response to W. Gary Crampton, 12, 13)

  110. April 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Jed,

    Natures do not experience, persons do. If the the Divine Nature of Christ experiences being begotten, then so do the Father and the Spirit; and on the other hand, if the human nature of Christ is born of Mary, and crucified, than so are you and I. The Logos experiences the Cross, and “experiences” being Begotten of the Father. (Note the scare quotes, I don’t think we can actually use “experience” to refer to God in Himself.) He experiences one in His manness, and the other in His Godness, but it is the Eternal Logos who experiences both.

  111. Sean Gerety said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    @Bryan. I wasn’t advocating a Lockean defintion of person, but neither can I support the defintion of “theological tradition” you defend since it is no definition at all. It consists of nonsensical terms with no meaning attached to them at all as you and others, particularly Jonathan, have demonstrated.

  112. April 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    2 Helvetic, 11.4: “We also believe and teach that the eternal Son of the eternal God was made the Son of man, from the seed of Abraham and David, not from the coitus of a man, as the Ebionites said, but was most chastely conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the ever virgin Mary (“et natum ex Maria semper virgine”).”

  113. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    “Natures do not experience, persons do”

    I’ve seen this objection in a few forms.

    a) What is the proof of it?

    b) What if I said, “‘persons’ don’t experience, senses do”? How does my statement differ from the objection?

    c) Or better yet, what if I said, “Persons apart from their nature(s) don’t experience anything, they only experience things according to their nature(s).” How does that differ from your objection?

    -TurretinFan

  114. April 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    To this point only one person in this discussion has raised the objection that the term “person” is undefined and meaningless. I’m curious to know: Is there anyone else who shares that opinion?

  115. April 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Sean,

    If by definition you man a complete and exhaustive definition, then that is true, but that is true for Clark’s position as well. It isn’t exactly a brute. Secondly, it is historically false. Nestorius and his opponents did have rival definitions of person as Gray, Meyendorff, Price, and McGuckin make clear. Clark’s treatment is superficial.

    Third, it isn’t at all clear that Clark and Nestorius’ notion of person are utterly different. For Nestorius he takes the person of the Logos to be an instantiation of an ousia, namely a hypostasis, a substance in terms of an individual instantiaton of a kind, that produces an image or energia, which is then mixed with the image of the human substance (=hypostasis) to produce a single manifestation or prosopon, whichis the “person” of Jesus. This is why Nestorius (and Theodoret) professed belief in “one Son.” At the point of identifying the person with an instantiation of a nature, Clark and Nestorius are on the same page since Clark identifies the person with the instantiation of a nature. And this is why Clark like Nestorius denies that the Logos suffers human death, since he implicitly confuses person and nature. The problem is the fundamentally Arian premise that what is true of the Logos is true of him qua essence. This is why both Clark and Nestorius (and Theodoret) appeal to impassability as a hedge against statements taht the Logos suffers human death or sucks at the breast of Mary.

    As John of Damascus wrote, the fundamental error of the heretics is that they confuse person and nature. Such is the case with Clark and Nestorius.

    What Anderson writes is of little interest to me, unless of course he has significant proficiency in the metaphysics operating in the patristic and conciliar debates and historical theology, which given the other remarks you pointed out, he doesn’t. His conception of person smells Lockian and entails Monothelitism to boot.

  116. April 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    TF,

    As to b), do you mean to suggest that senses are or can be subjects?

    As to c) that seems entirely acceptable to me and I’d bet Jonathan, Bryan as well.

  117. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Perry,

    Thanks to you I am digging into the councils like never before, and as I ran a search the language the holy and glorious ever-virgin Mary is the mother of God (Constantinople II; Anathema 6) is the first of it’s kind compared to the prior councils, including the lengthy deliberations at Ephesus. To be sure, Ephesus especially is replete with reference to Mary as theotokos, so as to elaborate Christ’s claim to be the Mediator between God and man since he was, in his very person the God-man. But, unless I am missing something, and my boolean search methods were lacking, Constantinople II seems to be the first ecumenical statement demanding (on pain of anathema) that the perpetual virginity of Mary be upheld.

    As to the Reformed confessions, they simply assert the virgin birth, conceptually incorporating the Chalcedonian Definition of theotokos in WCF VIII.2. It is silent on the matter of perpetual virginity.

    Various Reformers have upheld, or rejected the perpetual virginity of Mary, though it seems that the later you get in Reformed history, the less that the view is held. It seemed to be a permitted view, though not demanded. Maybe those better versed in Historical Theology could expand (my main area of study is the OT – so in many respects I am in deeper waters than I am used to in this discussion).

    As to the criteria for whether Reformed hold to or reject, or hold in regard without assigning authority to the councils, it all falls under the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Typically, Reformed theologians have not understood the perpetual virginity to be demanded from Scripture, therefore it cannot be held as authoritative. It does seem that some have, however, allowed the perpetual virginity as a possible reading of the text. I am hard pressed to think of any current, prominent Reformed theologian who holds to the perpetual virginity view on Mary, simply that she was a virgin during Christ’s conception, and may have established a family with Joseph after Jesus’ birth.

  118. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Matthew, (110)

    Point well taken, I was less than careful with my use of nature, and I am inclined to agree with your qualification of “experience”. To clarify, what Christ “experiences” as a human on the cross is not identical to what he “experiences” as God – the two are accomplishing different, but complimentary tasks in the one Person – as a man, suffering on humanity’s behalf, as God forgiving – among other accomplishments – but Christ must be both God and man for the cross to be effecacious. This is where the essence/energy distinction helps, because in his energies Christ (as God) undertakes the ordeal of the cross in, yet in in his essence (or nature) he remains impassible, which is why “experience” may be less than helpful of a term when applied to the Divine essence. Keeping the terminology straight in this discussion is not a simple task.

  119. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Perry:

    I have a strong sense that you and I are using words differently, that said:

    “Christ is all and only the same hypostasis as the 2nd Person of the Trinity prior to the incarnation. Do you mean something different?”

    Probably not.

    Quoting the whole thing for context:

    By being “in” I mean what Chalcedon means, being united by hypostasis as Chalcedon and 2nd Constantinople, as opposed to a prosopic, synapheia or energetical type of union as Nestorius and Theodoret held. That is, I believe in the hypostatic union and not merely one of synapheia.

    I do not mean anything different by hypostasis and person. When I say there are three hypostases in the Trinity, I mean all and only that there are three persons in the Trinity. I use hypostasis and person in the same way with respect to the hypostasis and person of Christ. Christ is all and only the same hypostasis as the 2nd Person of the Trinity prior to the incarnation. Do you mean something different?

    So back to my question.

    When you wrote #66,

    “He is one person – not merely divine, and not merely human.”

    Can you clarify? Do you mean to say that both natures are in the one divine person or do you mean to say that the person is a human and
    divine hypostasis?”

    In order for your question to make sense in light of your clarifications (I don’t adopt your view of Theodoret, but that’s a rabbit trail), it seems that I must understand you to be suggesting that there is a difference between those two options.

    I’m not sure what you see as the difference between the two options, unless you think that a “divine person” is different from “a person having a divine nature.” But can something be a “divine person” except by having a divine nature? or can a person have a divine nature without being, because of that nature, a divine person?

    It’s not clear to me what you see the distinction as being, but it seems that you feel the distinction is important. Would you please explain?

    -TurretinFan

  120. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    TFan,

    “Natures do not experience, persons do”

    I’ve seen this objection in a few forms.

    a) What is the proof of it?

    b) What if I said, “‘persons’ don’t experience, senses do”? How does my statement differ from the objection?

    If we were to use the collary to nature – essence, it might help clear some of this up. Matthew has a point – if we attribute experiences to the nature, or essence, we end up impinging upon the incommunicable attributes such as immutability and impassibility among others.

    With respect to the divine nature or essence, each Individual Person of the Trinity shares the one nature distinctly as individuals in their own Person – so the nature or essence is distinct, but not divisible from the Person. In this respect, or at least as I understand it, Persons experience, and nature’s do not – as they simply are a classification of ontology as opposed to the identity of a Person.

  121. April 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Jed,

    I wouldn’t say that Christ in his energies as deity takes the ordeal of the Cross. Energies are activities, doings, workings and so forth, not persons. Chris in his divine person undertakes the ordeal of the cross. Energies are actions of persons.

  122. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Bryan:

    You criticized: “It is a logical fallacy to say that what is true of the whole (hypostatic union) is true of its parts (the two natures),” on the basis of the usage “parts.” But even if we simply adopt the litholater Damascene’s description in terms of “composition,” the fallacy of decomposition applies.

    Indeed, your own argument requires this. You note that the 2nd person does not have parts, yet according to his human nature he has parts.

    So, what is true of the human nature (it is parts-having) and consequently of the person is not true of the divine nature.

    -TurretinFan

  123. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Perry:

    re: 116, as to (b), that senses can be subjects in some sense of that term seems to be beyond argument. Is there a particular sense of the term you have in mind? But perhaps this is moot in view of your answer about (c).

  124. jedpaschall said,

    April 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Perry,

    Of course Christ is undertaking the cross in his Person, it is not the Divine effulgence bleeding on the cross. The point is, the cross is the work of God par exellence, in this repect I am seeing the energies at work – but certainly through the agency of Christ’s own Person. God isn’t mainfesting his essence, nor undergoing the pain of suffering in his nature at the cross.

  125. April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Jed, # 117,

    As far as canonically teaching it, that is probably true re: Coonstantinople II and the ever virginity of Mary. (Though as was pointed out by Matthew or Jonathan I think, the Helvetic Confession seems to explicitly endorse it as well)

    Of course 3rd Constantinople ratifies 2nd Constantinople. I suppose on protestant principles you can take a piecemeal approach to 3rd Constantinople and reject that ratification.

    Of course the doctrine seems to be in Leo’s Tome when he writes,

    “For he was indeed conceived from the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother, who brought him forth with her virginity preserved, just as she conceived him while preserving her virginity.”

    And it is explicitly or at least seems to be, affirmed at by the Synod in their letter to Emperor Marcian,

    “However, the enemy of our nature did not escape the sleepless eye, but it immediately appointed as luminaries for those in error the fathers, who unfold to all the meaning of the creed and accurately proclaim the beneficence of the incarnation, how the mystery of the dispensation was originally prepared in the womb, how the Virgin was called both Theotokos, on account of the one who bestowed virginity on her even after conception and in a divine manner sealed her womb, and also truly Mother, on account of the flesh of the Master of the universe which she provided out of herself, how the Lord rose from the stem of Jesse, how the Creator took hold of the seed of Abraham,32 how he exhibited the first-fruits of our nature in him, how the Only-begotten was revealed as perfect God and perfect man, how the difference of the natures was witnessed in him, how the oneness of the person was displayed, how ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for the ages’, how both recent and eternal, how both heavenly and earthly, how both visible and invisible, how consubstantial with the Father in respect of the Godhead and the same consubstantial with his mother in respect of the manhood, and how the same was shown to be both impassible as God and passible as man.””

    So while Constantinople II is probably the first synod to formally anathematize anyone for denying it, it seems quite probable that the doctrine was not only held widely, but normatively held at Chalcedon at least.

    I am aware that various Reformed theologians upheld the doctrine, such as Turretin and Kuyper. When I was Reformed it was that fact that rendered it irrelevant as a point of dispute materially speaking between Protestants and non-Protestants.

  126. April 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    TF #119,

    I also suspect we are using terms differently. This is why the views of Theodoret are not a rabbit trail.

    The statement that the person is divine by virtue of having a divine nature seems right. It seems right because Christ is a person without beginning and without end. He is an eternal person. He never so begins to be such. He is eternally begotten. That doesn’t change.

    The statement that Jesus is “a divine and human person” seems wrong. Here is why it seems wrong. Having a kind of nature may be sufficient for a person to be that kind of person, but, the thesis that adding a nature to an existing eternal person transmutes or changes the hypostasis per se into the kind of person or hypostasis of that added nature, or some tertium quid relative to the two natures, is a different thesis. That would seem to entail that the Incarnation changes the hypostasis of the Logos qua hypostasis. That isn’t what Ephesus and Chalcedon have in mind when they speak of the Logos (hypostatically) assuming human nature without a change to his person.

    The hypostasis/supposit/person of the Logos doesn’t become a human person by assuming human nature into himself. It does not alter the hyposasis as such. The Son is therefore not changed into “a human and divine person” by virtue of having two natures in the one person, unless you wish to say that there is more qua person to the person of Christ than the person of the Logos, but that seems to give up the ghost on Chalcedonian Christology since then the person of Christ would be more than the person of the Logos. How that isn’t Nestorianism is impossible for me to figure out.

  127. Bryan Cross said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    TF, (re: #122)

    My point was not about the fallacy of composition, but about conceiving of the hypostatic union as a part-whole relation. The Second Person as He is in Himself (i.e. the internal Word of the Father) is altogether simple. That truth is hidden (if not implicitly denied) by conceiving of the hypostatic union as a part-whole relation, which would entail that after the Annunciation the Second Person is in Himself composite. And that entails two distinct Second Persons: the pre-Annunciation Second Person [the altogether simple one], and the post-Annunciation Second Person [the composite one]. The pre-Annunciation Second Person is called the Logos, and the post-Annunciation Second Person is called Jesus Christ. And then it follows that the Logos didn’t suffer and die, only Jesus Christ suffered and died. It also follows that the Logos as a Person ceased to exist at the moment of the incarnation, and became a part of a different Person, i.e. Jesus Christ.

    This problematic result is avoided by recognizing that the hypostatic union is not a part-whole relation, and therefore that there is always only one and the same Second Person, who was eternally begotten of God the Father before all ages, who was born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, who died, and was buried, who resurrected and ascended, and who will return to judge the living and dead. It is the very same ‘who’ throughout, still altogether simple as He is in Himself, but after the incarnation subsisting also in a human nature (the change being in the assumed human nature, not in the Logos).

    – Bryan

  128. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Jed,

    Real quick: The reason we can’t say natures suffer is as follows:

    Nature expresses the thing individuals have in common. Though you and I are different instances of the same nature, we have exactly the same nature. This import of “nature” is particularly clear in Christology. We confess the Logos has a human nature in order to confess He is just like us. Notice the parallels in Chalcedon: “of one substance with the Father as regards his Godness, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manness; like us in all respects, apart from sin.” Of one substance with us” is paralleled with “like us in all respects.” So if we say the humanity of the Logos suffered, and mean it strictly, we have two options 1) either each individual human suffered on the Cross, or 2) the humanity of God is not identical to ours, apart from sin. The first is nonsense, but the second, though perhaps intelligible, does not assert precisely what it was intended to assert, namely, that the Logos is like us in all respects.

    Similarly in Triadology. If the Godness of the Logos is begotten, then either 1) the Godness of the Father and the Spirit is begotten or 2) the Son is of a different substance from the Father and the Spirit. But neither of those options will do.

    Here’s a couple places to look for discussioin of the terms (I know Leithart is not an authority here, but he’s summarizing a scholarly article. I can’t post the article online. Though to be fair, Yeago isn’t arguing for his distinctions, but assuming them, and acknowledges some may be controversial.)

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2905.htm

    http://www.leithart.com/2012/02/17/neo-chalcedonian/

  129. April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    TF # 123,

    What sense do you have in mind when you say that “senses can be subjects in some sense of that term”?

    Is that the sense you think is true of the humanity of Jesus or no?

    I do not think that the senses can be said to be a subject in the sense that the hypostases of the Trinity can be said to be a subject or you or I can be said to be a subject, so I can’t see how whatever sense you have in mind is relevant. But perhaps you can tease that out.

  130. TurretinFan said,

    April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Perry:

    It may be a rabbit trail for us to debate whether Theodoret held the views you ascribe to him (or even those that the 2nd council of Constaninople seemed to think he held).

    As for your other comments, what is true of Christ in his divine nature (absolute simplicity) is not true of Christ in his human nature (parts and passions). There are a variety of ways that can be handled. One way is the way characterized as “Nestorian” in which two persons are supposed. Another way is by affirming two distinct natures.

    The latter way is the orthodox faith.

    Before I say more, I have a question for you. When you say, “what Ephesus and Chalcedon have in mind when they speak of the Logos (hypostatically) assuming human nature without a change to his person,” what statement do you have in mind? I’m particularly wondering about your expression “without a change to his person.”

    I read Chalcedon as saying “without change” in reference to the nature. Likewise, I read Const. II as saying “neither the nature of the Word has changed into that of the flesh” in reference to the nature.

    But if I have overlooked something, please let me know.

    – TurretinFan

  131. Sean Gerety said,

    April 12, 2012 at 8:33 am

    @Bryan Cross.

    I know Jonathan must be taking great comfort in the fact that definitions don’t seem to matter, so for the sake of argument I’ll pretend you can explain what you mean by nature and substance (even if a number of theologians use these terms interchangeably).

    Since a person is an individual substance of a rational nature, couldn’t we say that a mind too (either human or divine) is an individual substance of a rational nature, and since Jesus Christ has two minds, wouldn’t it follow that Jesus Christ is two-persons?

    Also, can we say God is an individual substance of a rational nature who also consists of three Persons that are similarly individual substances of a rational nature, wouldn’t it also follow that God is both one Person and three Persons? If not, why not?

  132. April 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Sean: Of course, it’s not that definitions don’t matter. It’s that you seem to be the only one who thinks there aren’t any of person and nature. If everyone else is satisfied with the definitions we’re working with and agree upon, then I don’t see why we should have to bow to your ponitifications as to what does and does not constitute a satisfactory definition.

  133. Bryan Cross said,

    April 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Sean, (re: #131)

    In our modern era, we live and breathe terms and concepts as they are used around us. And that is why so many people think of ‘person’ in a Lockean sense as I described in #41. But earlier in the seventeenth century, Descartes introduced a prior conceptual shift, by speaking of mind and body. Descartes’s sixth Meditation (1641) is titled “Concerning the Existence of Material Things, and the Real Distinction between Mind and Body.” And there Descartes treats minds as immaterial substances, and modern philosophy largely followed him, which is why in contemporary philosophy of mind we now have epiphenomenalism, property dualism, and other such ideas. It is all an attempt to put back together what Descartes pulled apart.

    In the scholastic tradition, and going back to Aristotle, the distinction had been between soul and body, not mind and body. The notion of mind as a complete substance has its origins in the Platonic tradition, and didn’t fit with the Christian teaching of the resurrection. (It did fit with gnostic sects, however, for whom matter and the body is something to be escaped.) The notion of *soul* and body allows the living human being to be one substance, whereas the notion of mind and body (where mind is a complete substance), does not. That’s because the soul by definition is not a complete substance, but is the animating principle of the body. According to this tradition (from which Descartes departed), the human intellect is not a substance, but a power of the soul. Likewise, even non-human animals have souls (non-rational souls), and their souls, like human souls, have what is termed a “sensitive power,” that is, the power to sense sensible bodies. So in the Cartesian philosophical tradition mind is a substance. But in the broader (older, more universal) Christian philosophical tradition, our power to sense, our power to combine our sensations into a single experience, and our power to reason, are powers of the soul, not substances, and as powers of the soul, which is a metaphysical principle of the human person, these powers are therefore powers of the human person. And the starting point for reaching this conclusion is our experience of the substantial unity of the human person. Just as Locke departed from the tradition regarding the conception of ‘person,’ Descartes departed from that same philosophical tradition regarding the substantial unity of the human person. In that older tradition, Jesus’ divine intellect is a power He has through His divine nature, and His human intellect is a power He has through His human nature. These two intellects are two powers of one Person, not two persons. Much more could be said there, but I’ll leave it at that.

    So if ‘person’ means an individual substance of a rational nature, then why aren’t the three Persons of the Trinity three individual substances, and we therefore have the problem of tritheism? The meaning of the term ‘substance’ in the definition of ‘person’ is not essence, as though in God there are three essences. That would entail tritheism. The term ‘substance’ in the definition of ‘person’ is from the Latin translation of the Greek ‘hypostases’ (ὑπόστᾰσις), and means the supposit, the individual distinct in that nature. There are billions of human persons, all having the same human nature. We are each persons, though we share the same human nature, because we are distinct individuals of a rational nature. In God there are three distinct individuals of a rational nature, and these three are one essence, and one being. They are distinguished from each other not by differing in essence, and not as distinct beings. That would entail tritheism. They are distinct individuals (supposits, hypostases, persons), one in being, one in essence. What distinguishes them from each other is not a difference in essence, or a difference in being, but only their processional relations, e.g. the Father begets the Son, the Son is begotten of the Father.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  134. April 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Jonathan, Sean’s not the only one, and it’s not his pontifications that make your attempts at definitions unworkable, it’s simply logic.

  135. April 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Sean,

    The word you’re looking for is “subsistence”, not “substance”. A subsistence is an individual thing–Peter, not Paul–that is whole in itself. The second part excludes our hands or our eyes from being subsistences. Peter’s eyes are part of him, they are not an independent subsistence. But St. Paul is an individual, a particular. Subsistences are the answers to “who” questions. If we ask “who saw” we would answer “St. Paul”. If we ask “with what did St. Paul see” we would say “He saw with his eyes.” Similarly regarding mind. If we ask who is conscious, the answer is not “St. Paul’s mind”, but “St. Paul.” On the other hand, if we ask with what is St. Paul conscious, we answer “with his mind”.

    Did you read “On not Three Gods”, which I linked to above, and the Leithart article? It seems to me that Jonathan and Jack repeatedly provided definitions of subsistence and nature a couple of threads ago. I have not provided two more links, and another explanation. If you do not see the definitions, it is your own fault for not looking. You may not be be able to understand, but that is not our fault.

  136. April 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Patrick,

    So the idea of individual realities–particular acting subjects–who share a common nature, is opposed to logic? What is your alternative? How do you account for the fact that you and I are both human beings, and at the same time distinct particular instances of humanity? It is in fact logic which dictates that we distinguish between the general and the particular. And this is precisely what the distinction between nature and person does with respect to God and men. To just shout, “You don’t have definitions!” doesn’t make it so. In fact, these terms are, and have been, defined. I’m sorry, but just because Sean and Patrick aren’t satisfied doesn’t convince me. I am quite comfortable with the definitions. They make perfect sense to me, and to most other people to whom they’ve been explained. In fact, they make perfect sense to everyone I’ve explained them to (even high school sunday school students!), except, now, for two people on a blog thread.

  137. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Jon (#132): I’m actually not satisfied with the terms ‘person’ and ‘nature.’ Would you please define them for me, as you are using them?

    For example, in #136, you seem to imply that the three persons of the Trinity are three instances of divine nature. Is that what you have in mind?

    Thanks,

  138. April 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Jeff,

    They’ve already been defined. I’m not going to keep repeating myself. Matthew linked a couple good resources which provide further elaboration. Gregory of Nyssa deals with your question at length in “On Not Three Gods.” Divinity and humanity are different categories of being. So, divine persons are similar to but different than human persons. The persons of the Trinity are three distinct acting subjects who share one and the same divine nature/essence.

    Here’s why I don’t have much patience for this sort of thing: It takes work to try to understand these terms and concepts and get them into your regular way of thinking. Some of us have done that work (albeit to varying degrees). But now here we have a few people demanding that it’s all nonsense, without, it seems, even a rudimentary understanding of the various controversies which gave rise to the terms and concepts in the first place–just asserting, in effect, “I don’t understand, so it all must be garbage and opposed to logic.”

    But, I ask you, what’s the better route: 1. to assume that Christian theologians have had no clue what they’re talking about and speaking nonsense for more than 1500 years, or 2. to assume that they’re all not really idiots, and try to figure out what exactly they were/are saying?

  139. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Jeff,

    There are reasons we may want to nuance that regarding God, so we don’t accidentally commit to tritheism. But that’s at least a good first approximation.

  140. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Jon, here’s the point of my question. Gregory of Nyssa (whom I read a long while ago and re-read just now) distinguishes between divine persons and human persons in this way:

    But in the case of the Divine nature we do not similarly learn that the Father does anything by Himself in which the Son does not work conjointly, or again that the Son has any special operation apart from the Holy Spirit; but every operation which extends from God to the Creation, and is named according to our variable conceptions of it, has its origin from the Father, and proceeds through the Son, and is perfected in the Holy Spirit. For this reason the name derived from the operation is not divided with regard to the number of those who fulfil it, because the action of each concerning anything is not separate and peculiar, but whatever comes to pass, in reference either to the acts of His providence for us, or to the government and constitution of the universe, comes to pass by the action of the Three, yet what does come to pass is not three things.

    That is: God is one and not three because the actions of God are always jointly the actions of the three persons.

    This however is in direct contradiction to your definition of person as ‘distinct acting subjects.’

    The subjects (Father, Son, Spirit) are not distinct actors; but everywhere that one acts, all three act simultaneously.

    And I’m not saying this to nitpick, but to lay the groundwork for a basic observation which is directly primarily at Sean: The oneness-and-threeness of God is something entirely outside our realm of experience, and likely outside our realm of ability to comprehend.

    We have no experience at all with three persons who always act simultaneously, and who share one being.

    At best, we can put boundaries around our understanding (“This far and no further”). Even our terms ousia and hypostasis denote an analogy, not a precise definition.

    So yes, I do believe that theologians for 1500 years have been speaking of something that they know imperfectly, and that this situation is a part of the human condition. Just because we can all say ‘three persons in one being’ doesn’t mean that we can drill down to the details.

  141. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Jeff:

    I believe your thought that St. Gregory is contradicting the definition as “distinct acting subjects” (which by the way, could have just as easily come from the earlier section of On Not Three Gods) is tempered by how he explains that quote of yours:

    Yet although we set forth Three Persons and three names, we do not consider that we have had bestowed upon us three lives, one from each Person separately; but the same life is wrought in us by the Father, and prepared by the Son, and depends on the will of the Holy Spirit.

    [...]

    And as the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe 1 Timothy 4:10, is spoken of by the Apostle as one, and no one from this phrase argues either that the Son does not save them who believe, or that salvation is given to those who receive it without the intervention of the Spirit; but God who is over all, is the Saviour of all, while the Son works salvation by means of the grace of the Spirit, and yet they are not on this account called in Scripture three Saviours (although salvation is confessed to proceed from the Holy Trinity): so neither are they called three Gods, according to the signification assigned to the term “Godhead,” even though the aforesaid appellation attaches to the Holy Trinity.

    Namely, he is not claiming that each execute the same aspect, as it were, of the same thing, and certainly not, that there is one agent doing the action, but that the action is one. For there to be a contradiction, we would have to have said that there are three different actions, not just three different actors (like those who baptize in the name of the creator the redeemer and the sanctifier do); or else Gregory would have said that there is not merely one action, but three distinct actors.

    Indeed, his very letter is trying to show that there can be one action with three actors, which is precisely Jonathan’s point. Every action is from the Father, in the power of the Spirit, through the Son. But every action of the three actors is one.

  142. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    erratum: in the penultimate paragraph it should say “Gregory would have [had to have] said that there is not merely one action, but also one actor.

  143. Jack Bradley said,

    April 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Jeff,

    I agree. We say it all imperfectly, of course. Jonathan has said it most helpfully (and repeatedly), but, as you say, our definitions are boundaries at best.

    Let’s not get too far removed from the main issue: atonement can only be made by a Person, not a nature. A Divine Person.

    The Works of John Owen, Vol. I, pp. 234-235:

    “Each nature operates in him according unto its essential properties. The divine nature knows all things, upholds all things, rules all things, acts by its presence everywhere; the human nature was born, yielded obedience, died, and rose again. But it is the same person, the same Christ, that acts all these things. . . in all that he did as the King, Priest, and Prophet of the church,–in all that he did and suffered,–in all that he continued to do for us, in or by virtue of whether nature soever it be done or wrought,–is not to be considered as the act of this or that nature in him alone, but it is the act and work of the whole person,–of him that is both God and man in one person.

    . . . Sometimes that is spoken of the person which belongs not distinctly and originally unto either nature, but doth belong unto him on the account of their union in him,–which are the most direct enunciations concerning the person of Christ. So is he said to be the Head, the King, Priest, and Prophet of the church; all which offices he bears, and performs the acts of them, not on the singular account of this or that nature, but of the hypostatical union of them both.

    Sometimes his person being denominated form one nature, the properties and acts of the other are assigned unto it. So they ‘crucified the Lord of glory.’ He is the Lord of glory on account of his divine nature only; thence is his person denominated when he is said to be crucified, which was in the human nature only. So God purchased his church ‘with his own blood,’ Acts xx. 28. The denomination of the person is from the divine nature only—he is God; but the act ascribed unto it, or what he did by his own blood, was of the human nature only. But the purchase that was made thereby was the work of the person as both God and man.”

  144. April 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Jeff,

    Of course it’s all *imperfect*. I actually said that pretty clearly in a previous comment in a previous thread. There’s inherent ambiguity to human language in general, and especially so when we’re trying to explain the ineffible. Gregory of Nyssa himself actually makes just that point in “Against Eunomius.” As Jack said nicely, these definitions are boundaries–not neat, clear cut boxes into which we can place the Divine majesty. Here’s what I said previously in the “Communication of Attributes” post, on April 5:

    “It should be noted 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.”

  145. April 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Jonathan,

    Sean’s already pointed out how such a definition as “individual realities–particular acting subjects–who share a common nature” does nothing to distinguish me from a dog. As I do not wish my critics to take advantage of such a definition in order to demean me, I’d prefer a more precise definition – one that actually defines what a person is. By definition (pun intended), a definition must *define* something, that is, draw a distinction between what its object *is* and *is not*. Is a turnip a person? Is it not an “individual reality”? I suppose a turnip doesn’t act. How about a cat? Cats can run, leap, vocalize… those are acts, right? Seems to me that a herd of cats is a group of individual realities – particular acting subjects – all of which share a common nature.

    Cut the rhetoric. You have no idea what sort of research I’ve done on the subject. No, I’m no expert in historical theology, and I don’t pretend to be. But I’m not an idiot, and logic is staring us both in the face. Sorry about your tradition, but it has failed to produce a strict definition of person. Indeed, it should be quite obvious from this very thread, with all its quotes, that theologians have utilized differing definitions of all the key terms involved. Don’t be so huffy about a couple of little ol’ wackos on a blog thread. I’ll leave you to your *serious* discussion of persons, be they mice or men.

  146. April 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Patrick,

    Talk about rhetoric. Sheesh.

    The objection about distinguishing you from a dog has already been answered. We’re not talking about dogs. We’re talking about God and those made in his image. In other words, rational beings. And the real issue we’re concerned with here isn’t distinguishing you from a dog–as it is evident that you have a different nature from a dog (dog’s don’t post blog comments). The issue we’re concerned with is distinguishing you from me–another individual who shares the same nature as yourself.

    You claim you’re not an idiot. That’s great. I never said you were. But neither were Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus, et al–we could go right down the line: all the theologians in the history of the church, basically. And just saying “Logic,” and claiming everyone else has been talking nonsense for hundreds of years doesn’t make your mental capacities superior to theirs. They knew logic. They weren’t stupid. And neither am I. Again, as I said above, the definitions aren’t air tight boxes into which we may place God, nor were they ever intended as such. They’re only the best we have so that we might speak intelligibly about things which ultiamtely transcend human language…. I’m still waiting for the superior alternatives….

  147. April 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Patrick,

    I believe Bryan uses it differently–though there really isn’t much difference between us as he just restricts the definition slightly-but on my reading, both you and a particular dog are both hypostases. You are a human hypostasis, not a canine hypostasis and you are a particular one, and on neither count are you like a dog. But you are both hypostases. Jenson’s discussion of “hypostasis” in Lutheranism makes this very clear.

    There is, at least on Jenson’s reading more (that I do not quote below) but I don’t think it’s entirely relevant to the discussion at hand.

    Now if you want to talk about “person” in the Lockean sense, sure, a dog isn’t a person. And a dog isn’t a prosopon–that is, does not have a face–which is also often translated “person”, and likely more accurately. But a dog particular is a hypostasis. However, that dog is, contrary to your assertions, a very different thing from you. You do not share a nature with it, nor are you the same individual with it.

    Here’s Jenson:

    A “nature,” in the traditional language, is an “essence” in action. About any real thing an indefinitely long list of true assertions can be made: of the author of this paragraph it can be asserted that “Jenson is brown-haired,” “Jenson is mamalian,” “Jenson is lazy” etc. Of these assertions some are “inessential,” in that they could cease to be true without their subject losing identity: Jenson could cease to be brown-haired without ceasing to be Jenson. Others are “essential”: an other-than-mammalian Jenson would be nothing at all. The “nature” of a thing is the complex of its essential attributes, insofar as this is an actual teleology, the complex of reasons why the thing behaves as it does.
    [...]
    “Hypostasis” became equated with the Latin “persona,” which was later anglicized as “person”; both steps can be misleading. Most of what “person” means in modern usage belongs rather to “nature” in christological language: being “personal,” as contrasted with being a “thing,” belongs to both “human nature” and “divine nature.” We will therefore use the Greek word.

    Ancient Christology’s “hypostasis” may be explicated by our word “identity.” if “hypostasis” is detached from associated explanations of what makes a hypostasis, it covers much the same functions as “identity”; and just this separation is what happened when the ancient church adapted “hypostasis” from its previous philosophical and mythological uses. There are at least three functions common to the old christological “hypostasis” and the modern “identity”; the first two were covered also by prechristological use of “hypostasis” in late-antique philosophy, the thrid emerged only int he history of the christological use itself.

    First, a thing’s identity is its identifiability, the possibility of picking it out from the maelstrom of actuality, so as to be able to make assertions about it…

    Second, to identify something is also to identify it as something otherwise known and identifiable, and necessarily on some other occasion (this is connected to the first; nothing could be identifiable if some things were not reidentifiable).

    etc.

    (p. 91f)

  148. Bryan Cross said,

    April 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Patrick (re: #145)

    Sorry about your tradition, but it has failed to produce a strict definition of person.

    If you are speaking of the Christian tradition, then I beg to differ. I provided a link (in comment #41) to a treatise by Boethius, who was born about thirty years after the Council of Chalcedon, in which he provides a definition of ‘person’, and to the best of my knowledge all the scholastic theologians throughout the middle ages follow the Boethian definition: “an individual substance of a rational nature.” That is the definition of ‘person’ that has been handed down in the Christian tradition since the end of the fifth century.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  149. April 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I should add that the only difference between Bryan’s definition of “person” and mine and Jonathan’s of “hypostasis” is that Bryan’s definition restricts to a certain type of hypostasis. However, in Christology where every nature is a rational nature, there is absolutely no difference. Your statement about the definition of “person”, Patrick, is frankly ridiculous.

  150. Sean Gerety said,

    April 13, 2012 at 5:40 am

    @Bryan. I don’t need a philosophy lesson, but I will say your explanation is about as incoherent as any I could imagine. For example:

    The notion of *soul* and body allows the living human being to be one substance, whereas the notion of mind and body (where mind is a complete substance), does not. That’s because the soul by definition is not a complete substance, but is the animating principle of the body.

    Why isn’t mind an “animating principle” since minds think, feel, and will to do this or that? It seems to me Scripture uses words like heart, soul, and mind interchangeably and synonymously. Further, do persons cease to exist in the intermediate state? And, if *soul* and body are one substance and this one substance (which is itself yet to be defined) is a person, then God cannot consist of three Persons as God is a most pure spirit without a body, parts or passions.

    So if ‘person’ means an individual substance of a rational nature, then why aren’t the three Persons of the Trinity three individual substances, and we therefore have the problem of tritheism? The meaning of the term ‘substance’ in the definition of ‘person’ is not essence, as though in God there are three essences. That would entail tritheism.

    The problem there Bryan is that your definition, if you want call it that, is so ambiguous that it makes no sense at all. First, you define “person” in terms of substance where the “notion of *soul* and body” (not soul and mind) make a complete substance; a person. Now you define the three Persons of the Trinity not in terms of substance (whatever “substance” might mean). Actually, the more this thread progresses the “Lockean” understanding of “person” is sounding more promising all the time (and just because Locke’s philosophy is “false” doesn’t mean his definition of person is “bad” as I think it would individuate one person from another either divine or human quite nicely).

    The term ‘substance’ in the definition of ‘person’ is from the Latin translation of the Greek ‘hypostases’ (ὑπόστᾰσις), and means the supposit, the individual distinct in that nature. There are billions of human persons, all having the same human nature. We are each persons, though we share the same human nature, because we are distinct individuals of a rational nature.

    Yet, in the Incarnation we have two individual distinct natures not one. So it would seem much of the fuss comes down to a mere matter of semantics and a willingness of Protestants (assuming we’re all Protestants and I don’t think that is the case by a long shot) to think and act like papists and accept traditionally meaningless and ambiguous terms simply because they’re traditional as if tradition alone could raise meaningless terms to the level and authority of Scripture (1,500 years of repeating nonsense is still nonsense). The problem with this tradition is that it now seems to require us, on the pain of being labeled a “Nestorian” and a heretic, to confess that God suffered and died in His humanity, which, as Lane points out, is as meaningless as saying “God grew in grace and favor and wisdom in His humanity.'”

    FWIW, I would have thought that Lane’s arguments in these last few related threads were as about as consistent a defense of traditional Chalcedonian orthodoxy as anyone could hope for. Now I learn (specifically from Jonathan, Jack, and Perry) that Lane is a “Nestorian,” whereas, at the same time the traditional definition is so ambiguous and meaningless as to not define “person” at all.

  151. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Couple of points:

    It was mistakenly noted up above that I am a PCA Pastor. I’m very flattered to be thought of that way, but I’m just an interested layman.

    Second, Jonathan Bonomo (#103):

    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).

    The “\council of Ephesus was a complete disaster for the [one true] church in many respects. Yes, Cyril’s letters were part of the discussion, but some of what he wrote, and what the council ratified, had to be “undone” in a back-alley smoke-filled-room which is called the form of the “Symbol of Union”. Cyril’s “one nature” language had to be modified in a Nestorian direction. The story is quite interesting. Moffett notes, the ‘two natures’ language “represented theological surrender for the implacable Cyril and was predictably unacceptable to the Alexandrian right wing”. His followers in Alexandria actually did not go along with this – these are the Coptic/Monophysite church in Egypt, and they have languished ever since. In fact, the schisms of this era were more profound and destructive than the 1054 split ever was.

    Nestorius wrote (in a document that has barely survived) that the “Tome of Leo” was actually a vindication of his position (see Pelikan’s discussion of that).

    Much has been made recently of the fact that Nestorius was not even a Nestorian (see Clip One here. It’s the voice of Kallistos Ware voicing the very words, “Nestorius was not a Nestorian”. He has to say, “The Church of the East has never held to the heresy attributed to Nestorius”. “Indeed, Nestorius himself did not hold the Nestorian heresy”.

    This has to do with the fact that “Saint Cyril” out-and-out misrepresented what Nestorius was actually saying. Cyril invented the heresy and attributed it to Nestorius, even though Cyril, as Moffett says, tagged him with it “with fine disregard for anything Nestorius actually said.”

    He also doesn’t at all account for the inclusion of Theotokos, which is a clear concession in the direction of Cyril.

    Nestorius rejected this language precisely because he saw the church taking the idolatrous turn it took. Try and tell the Presbyterians here that they should now begin to honor the Theotokos.

    Chalcedon … does not allow for the notion that the Son of God became a different person–the person of Christ–after the hypostatic union.

    This is a red herring.

    It is exactly this which the Theotokos rules out. Nestorius adamantly objected to the term, in favor of “Christotokos.”

    And he did so precisely because he saw the church taking the idolatrous turn it took.

    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?

    First, are you aware that Rome in 1994 signed the Common Christological Declaration with the Assyrian churches? It says, “We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety.” Absent from the document is any mention of Nestorius, because his name was enshrined somewhat later (in a bad way – big “oops”, but you can’t undo it now) at the council of Constantinople II (553), which Protestants rightly reject. Why is Christotokos ok today, but it wasn’t ok in the fifth century?

    Second, Antiochene Christology started from Scripture; Theodore was very careful to begin with the Nicene Creed’s “He was incarnate and became a man” – affirming the Word’s pre-existence, and affirming of “the ultimate and the final Subject of the Divine in Christ” with two natures, “one being Son and Lord by nature and the other being neither Son nor Lord by nature” (from his work “On the Creeds”). This is very Chalcedonian. The real issue is just one of language, as has been noted above. As Steven Wedgeworth says that the Orthodox icon John of Damascus “routinely uses the notion of a person ‘consisting of’ two natures.” You need to say how Theodore’s (and Nestorius’s) language is so far removed from this that it merited the awful treatment that those Councils gave to them.

    Theodore and Nestorius had other flaws, which I don’t care to defend, but I stand by everything I have said on this topic in the past.

  152. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Boethius’ philosophical influence on the schoolmen is undeniable, but whether he was a Christian is open to serious question.

  153. April 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

    John,

    You really haven’t done anything to disprove anything I’ve said.

    1. The issue here isn’t with whether or not Ephesus was a disaster. The issue is what Ephesus and Chalcedon actually taught, since the people here claim to agree with their Christology.

    2. The issue here isn’t the actually beliefs of Nestorius. It’s what the Definition of Chalcedon specifically teaches, and rules out.

    3. It is not a red herring to say “Chalcedon … does not allow for the notion that the Son of God became a different person–the person of Christ–after the hypostatic union.” The reason for that statement, if you’ll look at the above discussion, is that this is precisely the question in this discussion–Is the person of Christ divine, or the product of the union of divinity and humanity? How is it a red herring to address the exact question that is at issue?

    4. Yes, idolatry is a problem. BUt there’s also a metaphysical reason Nestorius rejected the term Theotokos: The person of Christ that was born of Mary is the product of the union of natures, not simply the eternal Logos in human flesh.

    5. Christotokos is always OK. It’s the notion that Christotokos is OK, but Theotokos isn’t, that is the problem.

    6. I have no problem with Antiochene Christology. In fact, as Reformed, I’m a bit more over to the Antiochene side in terms of emphasis. And your statement on Antioch strikes me as indicating that you may have jumped in here without reading all the comments. The only issue for me from the beginning up to now has been this and this alone: Is the person of Jesus Christ a divine person–the eternal Son of God–with two natures? Or is his person the product of the union of natures, which is not identical with the second Person of the Holy Trinity?

    7. Just to be clear, in response to Sean’s repeated assertions to the contrary, I still have nowhere accused Lane of Nestorianism. I have been giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    But the fact remains that we still haven’t had any clear and unequivocal affirmation that the person of Christ just is the second person of the Holy Trinity, who took human nature into union with himself, and who (the Logos, that is) was born, lived, suffered, died, and rose from the dead *in his humanity* for us and for our salvation. It remains that Lane has affirmed this in some statements, and denied it in others. Hence the confusion.

  154. Bryan Cross said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Sean, (re: #150)

    Why isn’t mind an “animating principle” since minds think, feel, and will to do this or that?

    Because the term ‘mind’ does not have that meaning. The term ‘mind’ has its origins in the word nous, and nous, as such, is not an animating principle of a body. Otherwise, in the Neo-Platonic tradition, the Nous would have been incomplete without a body.

    It seems to me Scripture uses words like heart, soul, and mind interchangeably and synonymously.

    That’s because their meanings overlap. The heart, in the case of man, includes the whole inner person: intellect (mind), will, and even emotions. The human spirit includes both the intellect and will, because these are immaterial in operation. But they are still powers of the human soul.

    Further, do persons cease to exist in the intermediate state?

    No, because in the disembodied state the human spirit is still an individual substance (in the sense I defined in #133) of a rational nature, even though this person, as disembodied, is incomplete according to his nature, because his nature includes animality, and thus corporality. Hence the resurrection is required, for the human person to be complete according to human nature.

    And, if *soul* and body are one substance and this one substance (which is itself yet to be defined) is a person, then God cannot consist of three Persons as God is a most pure spirit without a body, parts or passions.

    No because what makes a human person to be a person is not merely having a soul and a body. Animals also have souls, because they also have an animating principle. Their souls have the power to sense, which is why they can be conscious and feel pain and pleasure. But their souls like the power of rationality, which is why they are not persons. What makes a human person to be a person is being an individual substance of a rational nature. And angels, which are pure spirits, are also persons, because they too are individual substances of a rational nature, even though they do not have souls or bodies. And God likewise, is three Persons, for the reasons I explained in #133. So, being a person does not require being embodied or having a soul. It requires being an individual substance of a rational nature.

    The problem there Bryan is that your definition, if you want call it that, is so ambiguous that it makes no sense at all. First, you define “person” in terms of substance where the “notion of *soul* and body” (not soul and mind) make a complete substance; a person. Now you define the three Persons of the Trinity not in terms of substance (whatever “substance” might mean).

    The term ‘substance’ has different senses, as I explained in #133. So, when you push for further clarification of the traditional definition of person, it would not be helpful to continue to use the same term (i.e. ‘substance’) in order to explain what sense the term has in this definition of ‘person.’ The human person is a substance in multiple senses of the term ‘substance.’ He is a substance in the sense of being the supposit, the individual distinct in that [rational] human nature. And that is the sense in which he is an individual substance of a rational nature, and thus a person. He is also a substance in the sense of being what is not predicated of anything else or in anything else, as a part or accident is in something else. And that is the sense in which the body and soul together form one substance.

    Yet, in the Incarnation we have two individual distinct natures not one. So it would seem much of the fuss comes down to a mere matter of semantics and a willingness of Protestants (assuming we’re all Protestants and I don’t think that is the case by a long shot) to think and act like papists and accept traditionally meaningless and ambiguous terms simply because they’re traditional as if tradition alone could raise meaningless terms to the level and authority of Scripture (1,500 years of repeating nonsense is still nonsense).

    In my opinion, Christology shouldn’t separate Protestants from Catholics or Orthodox. This should be an area in which we share common ground, because this was worked out when we were still united. This is where I think Keith Mathison’s book (The Shape of Sola Scriptura) is helpful, because he makes a convincing argument, in my opinion, that what he terms ‘solo scriptura’ is wrong. And that requires recognizing at least some sort of subordinate authority in tradition, including not only the Trinitarian theology of the fourth century, but the Christology of the fifth. Our default stance toward our ancestors in the faith, should, in my opinion, be one of humility and receptivity.

    The problem with this tradition is that it now seems to require us, on the pain of being labeled a “Nestorian” and a heretic, to confess that God suffered and died in His humanity, which, as Lane points out, is as meaningless as saying “God grew in grace and favor and wisdom in His humanity.’”

    What you mean by ‘meaningless’ here is ‘contradictory.’ If God is impassible, then God cannot suffer. Hence saying “God suffered” is equivalent to saying “That which cannot suffer, suffers.” And such a statement, I agree, is a contradiction. But, if a divine Person can assume a human nature (including a body and soul), such that He subsists in this nature, and He is thereby truly man, with flesh and bones (and nerves!), then it is not contradictory (or meaningless) to say that this Person suffers in His human nature, but not in His divine nature. Yes, this is a mystery, how God can become man is the greatest mystery of all time. But it is part of the truth of the gospel. And there is no contradiction in the truth.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  155. Bryan Cross said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Correction: “But their souls like the power of rationality,”

    should be: “But their souls lack the power of rationality,”

  156. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

    John’s comment that “Nestorius was not a Nestorian” is a point that has been made elsewhere.

    I recommend to interested parties chapter 14 of Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church. Space does not permit full quotations, but the executive summary would be this:

    * Nestorius was reacting against the heresy of Apollonarius.
    * Cyril, in addition to having theological concerns, had obvious political motives for attacking Nestorius.
    * In the end, though “Nestorianism” was condemned, the Twelve Anathemas of Cyril were rejected, and the Tome of Leo was generally accepted. That tome
    – rejected Eutyches’ formula ‘one nature after the union’, a phrase he acquired from Cyril,
    – “asserted in the strongest language the permanent distinction of the two natures in the incarnate Lord.”

    Chadwick observes that “Nestorius, reading the Tome in his lonely exile, felt that the truth had been vindicated at last, and that he could die in peace.”

    Which is not to say that Nestorius won the day — Cyril’s language of ‘theotokos’ was established by Chalcedon. But the central notion of ‘one nature after the union’ was utterly rejected.

  157. Mike Gantt said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

    When I read the New Testament, I cannot find either the pro or con for Nestorianism.

  158. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Jonathan, I congratulate you on your detective skills, in fact I did not read all of the comments. I don’t have time to read all the comments, and I’m not going to read them. I saw my name mentioned in one of your comments, saying “Bugay said nothing about (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e). My intention was merely to fill in the gaps for you.

    In spite of your protestations, I’m still not aware that anyone ever said “the Son of God became a different person–the person of Christ–after the hypostatic union”. Your language strikes me here as suggesting that the “different person” was a third person altogether, outside of the Logos and the “assumed nature”. You’ll have to quote someone on that.

  159. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Sean, do you affirm that Jesus was fully God and fully man in one person, without co-mingling the divine and human natures into one nature?

    If so, then aren’t you admitting a failure of normal logic? In orthodox Christology, 100% + 100% = 100%.

  160. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Bryan (#153): In my opinion, Christology shouldn’t separate Protestants from Catholics or Orthodox. This should be an area in which we share common ground, because this was worked out when we were still united.

    Nice to have a point of agreement.

  161. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Bugay’s comments are addressed to these comments of yours, Jonathan: “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). ”

    In fact, Bugay does account for them. That seems to disprove something you said.

    -TurretinFan

  162. April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Lastly, John, you remain entirely reliant upon Moffett. But, as I already noted, he isn’t the only relevant account. Davis and McGuckin, at least, paint somewhat different pictures.

    Btw, you are aware, aren’t you, that Cyril embraced the “symbol of union”? (He wrote to John of Antioch after reading it, “Let the heavens rejoice and the eart be glad, for the middle wall of partition is broken down!”) If Cyril embraced it, how can it be said to be his undoing?

    And the symbol of union says nothing substantially different than Chalcedon. It in fact teaches precisely what I’ve been trying to point out as the orthodox doctrine amidst this discussion, “According to this understanding of the unconfused union we confess the holy Virgin to be Theotokos, because God the Word was made flesh and lived as man, and from the very conception united to himself the temple taken from her.” Once again, we see, as we see also in Chalcedon, that the hypostasis of Christ is none other than the hypostasis of God the Word. Jesus Christ is a divine person with a divine and a human nature, and what he does he does as the second person of the Holy Trinity, who worked for our salvation in and through his human nature. And once again, if we can all agree on this, then we can all move on.

  163. April 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

    John,

    If you haven’t read the comments, and you’re taking my comments in abstraction, then you miss the whole point, and I have a hard time seeing how you can presume to come to an informed understanding of my words in the context of this discussion. This discussion has been happening because Lane made certain comments which seemed to indicate that the person of Christ is the product of the union of the divine and human natures. Anyway, as for Nestorius: read Davis’ account of Nestorius, which I cited somewhere during the course of these 3 or 4 threads on Christology. I’m not going to do the work of fishing it back up for you.

  164. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Jonathan, I have to question your reading skills. I am not “entirely reliant” on Moffett. Yes, I use the history as a framework, into which I dropped the un-named “Bazaar of Heraclides” by Nestorius, Pelikan’s discussion of the Tome of Leo, a video of Kallistos Ware, a Vatican document, Steven Wedgeworth citing John of Damascus, and several others.

  165. April 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

    TF,

    When I wrote that, I was referring specifically to John’s words that were quoted by Sean Gerety, which were merely a presentation of Moffett, and actually didn’t show any evidence of accounting for those other sources. I was making no judgment on what John himself actually has read or not read, just the sources in view in the words quoted by Gerety. So, I stand by my original assessment–he didn’t disprove anything I wrote.

  166. April 13, 2012 at 9:46 am

    John,

    By “entirely reliant” I don’t mean, of course, that Moffett is the only thing you’ve read. I mean that in terms of the relevant secondary literature, Moffett seems to be providing your conditioning interpretive framework. And that’s fine as far as it goes. I’m just pointing that out to say that Moffett doesn’t settle things. I can just as easily fight your presentation of Moffett with a presentation of McGuckin. But where will that get us?

  167. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Tuning out of this installment of Jonathan Bonomo making a mountain out of a molehill.

  168. April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Goodness, John, making a mountain out of a molehill? That judgment coming from someone who jumps into a discussion without reading any of the comments that have taken place over the course of 3 weeks and a variety of different threads? Sorry, but yes, I do think it’s important for us to be as clear as possible in what we’re saying about the person of Jesus Christ, and to unhesitatingly and unequivocally affirm the truth of the incarnation of the Son of God. And yes, when I see someone implying that the person of Christ is something other than precisely the second person of the Holy Trinity, I do tend to get a little worried. It does sort of look like a mountain sometimes.

  169. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Jonathan — I’m not saying Christology is not important. It’s the “he said-he said” about everything I’ve said and whom I’ve cited. You’re making far too much out of that.

  170. April 13, 2012 at 10:32 am

    John,

    OK, thanks. But I don’t see how else I was supposed to respond.

  171. April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Johnbugay,

    Do you find the Christology of Bazaar of Heraclides acceptable or no?

    Second, do you affirm that the divine person of the Eternal Logos suffered a human death on the Cross or no?

  172. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Hi Perry, it’s always a pleasure. You’re looking well.

    You know I believe all the right things.

    I was just telling Jonathan, I really don’t have time to get into an in-depth Christological discussion right now. I was just here because I saw my name mentioned and I was filling in some gaps.

    But thank you for asking.

  173. April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Jeff Cagle #156,

    Chadwick’s work is fine, but it is older and a survey work. Try a monograph devoted to the topic, such as McGuckin, Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy. The older model found in Chadwick and Pelikan that saw Chalcedon as a moderating trump for Antiochene Christology has dispatched for a few decades now. The irony in Reformed folks holding water for that model is that it was constructed in order to vindicate papal claims regarding Chalcedon. Peter spoke through Leo,because Leo agreed with Cyril.

    Granted that Nestorius was reacting to Apollinarianism, but nothing follows from that other than that he was reacting to it. Arius was reacting to the heresy of Sabellianism, but that doesn’t make Arianism A-OK, does it?

    Given Alexandria’s significant political and economic position and Cyril’s position as Patriarch, of course he had some political motivations. Of course Nestorius was Patriarch of Constantinople, the capital city of the empire and we are to think he had no political motivations? Uhuh. He didn’t get the name “Torchie” by carrying a candle everywhere he went but because he used strong arm tactics against other groups.

    The Twelve Anthemas weren’t rejected so much as put to the side as unnecessary to condemn Nestorianism. Plenty of other things Cyril wrote were accepted. And the Twelve Anthemas were accepted at 2nd Constantinople in any case.

    Leo’s Tome rejected formula of “one incarnate nature of the Word” in the sense that Eutychese used it, not in the way Cyril used it. Even the Monophysite Severians and Dioscorus himself rejected it in the sense that Eutyches used it. That is not evidence of a moderating position towards vindicating Nestorius. Eutychianism and Monophysitism are distinct concepts.

    I am sure that Nestorius thought the Tome vindicated his position, but of course nothing follows from that other than that he thought it did. Second, Nestorius couldn’t distinguish person from nature in Christology, which is why he thought what was true of the Word was true of him qua essence, so it makes sense that he would read Leo that way. He talks of the divine nature in Christ as the divine person of the Logos, a key Arian mistake. That is why he rejectd the idea that the Word could suffer and experience human death. And of course Chalcedon set up a special commission to examine Leo’s Tome to make sure it agreed with Cyril and not Nestorius and they judged it was consistent with the former and not the latter. Cyril was the standard at Chalcedon, not Leo. To this decision the Reformed have historically agreed, along with the condemnation of Nestorius. From what I gather though you seem to wish to argue and teach contrary to your own confessions. Is that correct?

    As a point of information, Theotokos was confirmed by Ephesus, not Chalcedon.

    Here are some exceprts from McGuckin’s work that I think will clarify the matter.

    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/some-notes-on-the-christology-of-nestorius/

  174. April 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Johnbugay,

    My prayers for your wife.

    Two simple and direct questions aren’t a whole discussion. Besides, you seem to think your views matter in this discussion, so I am taking that assumption.

    Can you answer the two questions directly?

  175. April 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    John and as an asdie, the “Calvinist International” pieces are arguing against Nestorianism and for the thesis that the Logos experienced human death. Do you agree with the latter thesis or no?

  176. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Perry, I’ll be honest with you, I’m glad that Reformed theologians are looking at the history and the theology of all of this. It will certainly take some of the luster off of “the East” for anyone who’s looking that way.

    Cyril’s theology was not so great. He did sell out, in a back-room deal that his folks back home simply did not accept. I said long ago, “Cyril was a rat” — worse than a rat, he was a murderer and a cheat, and oh, yeah, he made some theological points. The specific theological points are [or should be] very much highlighted by the history of it, and “who” was making them.

    In answer to your questions, I’m on record as having said that Nestorius’s Christology was weak, but it didn’t merit the treatment that he got. And whatever the jostling was at Chalcedon, it is the definition that counts, and it was “two natures”, not “one nature” that was affirmed. And while Cyril himself may have meant one thing or another, the whole Egyptian church went bye bye. (As did the “Nestorian” church). The whole spectacle was pitiful.

    And as I noted in my link above, your second question, and others like it, are, to use Cullmann’s words, “misplaced”, and far less important than the Christ that the New Testament portrays.

    Last week, “ecclesiology” was the big topic. As much as anything, I think all of this brings into question the “Cathodox” ecclesiologies and models of authority, and the more Reformed folks know about it, the better.

    I believe you are incorrect — Ephesus used “mater Theou”, and Chalcedon used “Theotokos”. Either way, idolatry ensued.

  177. April 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Johnbugay,

    While I think you are demonstratably wrong in most of what you say, it is irrelevant to the questions I put to you.

    I see and note that you are either unwilling or unable to answer them direclty.

  178. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Perry: From what I gather though you seem to wish to argue and teach contrary to your own confessions.

    Wait, which of the two of us holds to the Westminster Confession?

    Snark aside, I do appreciate the references, and I will follow up as time permits.

    That said, I detect a desire to re-hagiophy Cyril, and that will be a hard sell for me. Chadwick traces the “one nature” to Cyril, and there’s not a lot of context or re-framing that can make “one nature” in any way consistent with Chalcedon.

    But I will indeed try to read up on the matter.

  179. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    John,

    A couple of things –

    Ephesus used “mater Theou”, and Chalcedon used “Theotokos”. Either way, idolatry ensued.

    You are going to have to account for the fact that Reformed theologians have also upheld the notion of Theotokos, even if they do not emphasize it. It seems like you are arguing for a slippery slope from Theotokos to the veneration of Mary, however one can hold to one and not commit to the other. Christokos seems like acceptable language, but the emphasis picked up in Theotokos was the two natures united in Christ.

    Second, with regard to Cullman:

    The New Testament hardly ever speaks of the person of Christ without
    at the same time speaking of his work … When it is asked in the New Testament ‘Who is Christ?’, the question never means exclusively, or even primarily, ‘What is his nature?’, but first of all, ‘What is his function?’ Therefore, the various answers given to the question in the New Testament (answers which are expressed in the various titles we shall investigate one after the other) visualize both Christ’s person and his
    work. This applies even to the titles of honour referring to the pre-existent Christ ….As a result of the necessity of combating the heretics, then, the Church fathers subordinated the interpretation of the person and work of Christ to the question of the ‘natures’. In any case, their emphases, compared with those of the New Testament, were misplaced. Even when they did speak of the work of Christ, they did so only in connection with discussion about his nature. Even if this shifting of emphasis was necessary against certain heretical views, the discussion of ‘natures’ is none the less ultimately a Greek, not a Jewish or biblical problem (pgs 2-4)

    I think he is spot on with respect to the NT Christological emphasis being functional. However, questions of nature, or identity are not exactly missing either in the NT narratives (such as the calming of the storm), or in the Pauline texts, like Phil 2 or Col 1 where function and nature both feature prominently. James Barr has gone a long way to debunk the pitting of “Jewish/Hebrew vs. Greek thought” because with respect to the Hebrew or Greek elements in Scripture there is remarkable conceptual cohesion. And while the church fathers were dealing with questions of nature against the backdrop of various heresies, they were doing so under the rubric of a broader functional Christological category – namely how and why Christ can be said to be the mediator between God and man. So I think he overstating the conflict between the biblical Christology and Chalcedonian Christology, when it appears that they are both firmly biblical.

  180. johnbugay said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Perry, yes, yes, you should take some notes. You do need to study.

  181. Sean Gerety said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    In my opinion, Christology shouldn’t separate Protestants from Catholics or Orthodox. This should be an area in which we share common ground, because this was worked out when we were still united. This is where I think Keith Mathison’s book (The Shape of Sola Scriptura) is helpful, because he makes a convincing argument, in my opinion, that what he terms ‘solo scriptura’ is wrong. And that requires recognizing at least some sort of subordinate authority in tradition, including not only the Trinitarian theology of the fourth century, but the Christology of the fifth. Our default stance toward our ancestors in the faith, should, in my opinion, be one of humility and receptivity.

    I haven’t read Mathison’s book, but I can understand from your remarks why some have said it is a direct attack on the doctrine of sola Scrptura. I don’t think anyone, much less someone calling themselves Reformed, should have such a vaulted view of tradition as you and Mathison have. Besides, I’m hardly the first person to notice the inherent deficiencies in Chalcedonian Christology. Some people are just more willing than others to accept contradictions and equivocations in their theology. So, I’ll leave it to others to consider your explaination above and the multiple “senses” of the word “substance” (still undefined) you assert and let them decide for themselves whether your defintiion of person rests on the fallacy of equivocation that I say it does.

  182. April 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    I didn’t mean to be snarky. I meant to point out a possible inconsistency in the hopes that you’d be consistent and maintain that Nestorius’ teaching is not a viable option for Reformed folk. As far as principle goes, I don’t need to adhere to the WCF or any other Reformed to do that.

    If the evidence supports the thesis that Cyril’s expression was intended by him in the sense that was compatible with Chalcedon and at Chalcedon this was what was intended to be picked out, that wouldn’t amount to an attempt to re-hagriogriphy Cyril. I’d recommend Gray’s The Defense of Chalcedon in the East, to take a look at the evidence.

  183. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Perry, understood. I agree with you: ‘Nestorianism’ (two persons, or leaving the door open to two persons) is not a viable orthodox option.

    I feel the injustice of having Nestorius himself tagged with ‘Nestorianism’ when he fairly clearly did not believe what Cyril said he did. But he’s dead and doesn’t care any more about that, so perhaps I shouldn’t either.

    I would point out that both you and McGuckin (in the quotes you linked to) are reading Cyril in a charitable light, according to what he meant; while Nestorius is condemned because of what his words left the door open for (and not according to what he meant). I think the double standard of reading, charity on the one hand and strict scrutiny on the other, is unjust. But again, Nestorius is either with the Lord and does not care, or else not with the Lord and has bigger problems, so I’ll drop it.

    In the context of the current controversy, I think Lane has clarified his meaning sufficiently that no-one can reasonably say that he leaves the door open for two persons. His articulated principle is that what happens to the person does not necessarily happen to both natures. I think we would all agree that a good example of this principle is the fact that Jesus, the divine man, died for our sins; yet the 2nd person of the Trinity did not die. Or that Jesus did not know the day nor hour of his return; yet the 2nd person of the Trinity is fully God and therefore omniscient.

    Jonathan B. adds useful correctives to the discussion — the Jesus who suffered on the cross was a divine person and not merely the human nature.

    But all in all, this is taking place well within the boundaries of Chalcedon. Everyone here is well aware of Nestorianism and monophysitism, and no-one is anywhere close to that.

  184. Jack Bradley said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I appreciate (mostly) the back story stuff regarding Chalcedon. But what really matters, and what we must not lose sight of in this discussion, is that the outcome of Chalcedon was clarification of the hypostatic union: two natures, one divine Person.

    R. L. Dabney, Systematic Theology:

    “This Hypostatic union is the cornerstone of our redemption. The whole adaptation of the Mediatorial person to its work depends on it. . . Hence, it is, that Mediatorial acts performed in virtue of either nature, have all the dignity or worth belonging to the Mediatorial person as made up of both
    natures.

    . . . Why then is it incredible, that the divine substance in the Medatorial person should be the ground of a peculiar value in the human sufferings of that person; though in strictness of speech, the divine could not be the seat of the suffering? . . . Why should it be thought a thing incredible, that the human sufferings of Christ should have a divine character, when prompted by the volition of the divine nature in His person? . . . It is enough, however, to show that the infinite dignity of Christ’s divine nature is, in Scripture, given as ground of the infinite value of that work. See Heb ix : 13, 14, vii : 16, 24; John iii : 16; 1 Pet. i: 18, 19; Ps. xl : 6; Heb. x : 5—14.

    . . . The question, whether Christ performs the functions of Mediator in both natures is fundamental. . .”

    “None but a properly divine being could undertake Christ’s priestly work. Had he been the noblest creature in heaven, his life and powers would have been the property of God, our offended Judge; and our Advocate could not have claimed, as He does, John x: 18, that He had Exsouaian to lay down His life and to take it again. . . unless sustained by omnipotence, unless sustained by inward omnipotence, He could never have endured the wrath of the Almighty for the sins of the world; it would have sunk Him into perdition. Had there not been a divine nature to reflect an infinite dignity upon His person, His suffering the curse of sin for a few years, would not have been a satisfaction sufficient to propitiate God for the sins of a world.”

    This is Dabney’s question for those who resist affirming that a divine Person suffered and died on the cross: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible, that the human sufferings of Christ should have a divine character. . . ?”

    Dabney makes it clear that the stakes could not be higher: “This Hypostatic union is the cornerstone of our redemption. . . None but a properly divine being could undertake Christ’s priestly work.”

    WLC 40:

    Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?

    It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole person.

  185. Bryan Cross said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Sean, (re: #181)

    Besides, I’m hardly the first person to notice the inherent deficiencies in Chalcedonian Christology.

    That there is such a deficiency, in relation to a superior alternative, has yet to be established.

    Some people are just more willing than others to accept contradictions and equivocations in their theology.

    This personal criticism doesn’t refute anything I’ve said. And in no place have I, or do I, accept a “contradiction.” Nor have you shown that I embrace a contradiction. In addition, recognizing that terms can have more than one sense is not accepting “equivocations.”

    So, I’ll leave it to others to consider your explaination above and the multiple “senses” of the word “substance” (still undefined) you assert and let them decide for themselves whether your defintiion of person rests on the fallacy of equivocation that I say it does.

    Definitions can be true or false, but they cannot be fallacies. Fallacies apply only to arguments. And the Boethian definition of person is not an argument, and does not rest on an argument that commits the fallacy of equivocation. Nor does any argument I have provided commit the fallacy of equivocation. If you think an argument I have provided commits the fallacy of equivocation, please show which argument that is, and how it commits the fallacy of equivocation.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  186. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Nevertheless, definitions can equivocate.

  187. Sean Gerety said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    @186 which was exactly my point….

  188. Bryan Cross said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Jeff and Sean,

    Definitions equivocate only when within the definition the same term is used in different senses. But “individual substance of a rational substance” does not use the same term in different senses within the definition. And therefore the Boethian definition does not equivocate.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  189. Bryan Cross said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    correction: “individual substance of a rational nature”

  190. April 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Jeff,

    I’m perplexed (as I’ve been often amidst this discussion). You say,

    “I think we would all agree that a good example of this principle is the fact that Jesus, the divine man, died for our sins; yet the 2nd person of the Trinity did not die. Or that Jesus did not know the day nor hour of his return; yet the 2nd person of the Trinity is fully God and therefore omniscient.

    Jonathan B. adds useful correctives to the discussion — the Jesus who suffered on the cross was a divine person and not merely the human nature.”

    No. We would not all agree. And the reason we would not is the “useful corrective” you noted, that is, “the Jesus who suffered on the cross was a divine person and not merely the human nature.” The person of Jesus Christ just is in fact the 2nd person of the Trinity. *He*, who in his person is God, suffered and died *in his humanity*. To say, “Jesus did… yet the 2nd person of the Trinity did not…” is either equivocation or heterodoxy. The person of Jesus *is* the 2nd person of the Trinity acting in and through his human nature. The second person of the Trinity as to his Godhead is fully God and therefore impassible, omniscient, etc. But the 2nd person of the Trinity as to his manhood has a body (which body died and is risen!), a human will, mind, etc. The divine nature emphatically did not suffer and die, but a divine person most emphatically did, *not* in his divine nature, but in his human nature.

  191. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Sean:

    Don’t be too quick to judge. Mathison wrote a response to Bryan’s misuse of his book.

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2011/02/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and.html

    -TurretinFan

  192. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    “McGuckin, Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.” << Hehe, McGuckin practically thinks Cyril walked on water. You won't find a bigger advocate for Cyril than McGuckin.

  193. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Well, see, there’s the trickiness of terms again. I was attempting to use “2nd person of the trinity” to refer to the “the 2nd person of the trinity according to his divine nature”, but failed to be sufficiently clear.

    How about this: “We would all agree that Jesus the divine man suffered and died for our sins, yet the 2nd person of the trinity in his divine nature did not die.”

  194. April 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    “We would all agree that Jesus the divine man suffered and died for our sins, yet the 2nd person of the trinity in his divine nature did not die.”

    Yes! Thanks, brother.

  195. jedpaschall said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Jeff,

    In Jonathan’s defense, over the last couple of weeks that these discussions, I haven’t seen him argue anything to indicate that the 2nd Person of the Trinity died with respect to his divine nature. He has been rather clear on this.

  196. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    “Do you find the Christology of Bazaar of Heraclides acceptable or no? Second, do you affirm that the divine person of the Eternal Logos suffered a human death on the Cross or no?”

    “Two simple and direct questions aren’t a whole discussion. ”

    LOL

    If you really think that those are simple and direct questions …

  197. Jack Bradley said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “We would all agree that Jesus the divine man suffered and died for our sins, yet the 2nd person of the trinity in his divine nature did not die.”

    Lane, would you agree, understanding “divine man” here (I think we would all agree) as the equivalent of “divine person”??

  198. April 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    And, just to be clear: Yes, Lane has shut the door on a *stark* two persons Christology–i.e. two persons simultaneous and side by side.

    However, that isn’t and hasn’t been the issue. The issue has been the *identity* of Jesus Christ. Who is the person of Jesus? Is he precisely the second person of the Holy Trinity, with a human nature? Or is his person the product of the union of natures? This is the issue. And we’ve still never gotten a clear cut answer on it. Hence my continued engagement in this discussion.

    Guys, I’ve said this a number of times to this point, and I’ll say it again for good measure: If there were a clear, unequivocal agreement on the fact that the person of Jesus Christ *is* the Second person of the Trinity, and that everything Jesus does is what the second person of the Trinity does in his human nature–as they are the same person–then I would have dropped out of this discussion long ago. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. That, my friends, once again, is the issue.

    I am concerned, brothers, to see so much wavering and waffling on this. We must affirm it–clearly, unequivocally. The eternal Logos for us and for our salvation became man, was conceived, born, lived, suffered, died, and rose from the dead as a man. That is the incarnation of our Lord. It is glorious! Don’t lose it!

  199. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    “Or is his person the product of the union of natures?”

    This could be taken two ways:

    1) The person who is the union of two natures is not the same person who formerly only had one nature.

    2) The person who has the union of natures is characterized by having two natures, which differs from how he was previously characterized.

    The former way is ontological, the latter is logical.

    Who here would would hold to the first postion or not hold to the second position, though? And if I’m right, than how can that possibly be “the question”?

  200. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I think an obstacle to agreement is the idea, “everything Jesus does is what the second person of the Trinity does in his human nature.”

    Let’s consider a couple of things Jesus did and does.

    (1) Saw Nathan under the fig tree.

    Did Jesus do this in His human nature?

    (2) Was with the thief in paradise on the day of his crucifixion.

    Did Jesus do this in His human nature?

    (3) Is with the disciples always, even unto the end of the age.

    Is Jesus present to his disciples in His human nature?

  201. April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Jeff,

    Some things he does according to both natures. Other things he does only according to the divine nature. Other things he does only according to the human nature.

    (1) Divine nature,

    (2) Both natures

    (3) Both natures in a sense. But the specific reference there, I believe, is of his presence as the resurrected King with his people by his Word and Spirit.

  202. April 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    TF,

    Those are in fact the questions I’ve been trying to ask. Once again, Lane never gave a clear affirmation that Christ is one divine person with two natures, and that what the Son of God does as to his humanity is done by a divine person in and through a human nature. I’ve been making the charitable assumption that Lane would affirm this, if afforded the opportunity. But he never did. In fact, he said such a statement is “meaningless” if the divine nature is impassible. It really is the question — has been for around 3 weeks now.

  203. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    OK, I think I would agree with your specific answers in #201.

    But then (1) and (3) run counter to “everything Jesus does is what the 2nd person of the trinity does in his human nature.”

    Seeing Nathan under the tree is an example of something that Jesus did, not in his human nature.

    Again, not trying to be nitpicky but just to point out that one may have legitimate reticence about affirming your sine-qua-non.

  204. greenbaggins said,

    April 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Jack and Jonathan, see my latest post. You should be able to see from it what I would affirm.

  205. April 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Ok, Jeff. I see what you’re getting at. Since Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, he can say “I” and not be speaking with reference to his humanity. For instance, “Before Abraham was, I am.” That’s the Logos speaking in and through his human voice. But he’s talking about a time before he had vocal cords.

    Pehaps better would be, “There is nothing that Jesus does that is not what the Second person of the Trinity does in his human nature, since they are one and the same person.” Would that be sufficient?

  206. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Yes, the “before Abraham was, I am” was definitely in mind also.

    Thanks for working with me on this. I would say that

    “There is nothing that Jesus does that is not what the Second person of the Trinity does in his human nature”

    is the same as

    “Everything that Jesus does…”

    and runs into the same “Nathan under the fig tree” problem.

    What I think you’re trying to safeguard is the unity of the person. So what about,

    “The actions of Jesus are the actions of the 2nd person of the Trinity, whether according to human nature, divine nature, or both.”

    Does that satisfy?

  207. April 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Yeah, Jeff. That’s good. Thanks.

  208. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Hurrah!

  209. April 14, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Johnbugay,

    I have no idea what you mean when you say that you are glad that Reformed theologians are looking at the history and theology of all this. Wedgeworth and Escalante aren’t academic theologians to my knowledge. But perhaps you mean Bruce McCormack, but I don’t think he’s really going to help your case.

    Your expression that Cyril’s theology was not so great, gives us biographical information about you, but not much else.

    As far as Cyril’s “back room deals” I suspect you mean the formula of union. That wasn’t exactly a backroom deal and I think it testifies to the fact that Cyril was willing to take into consideration the unity of the Church as something significant while maintaining biblical teaching relative to a divine person suffering for our salvation (as opposed to becoming man worshipers)

    In any case, it is not as if Cromwell’s achievement of a “Rump Synod” (where “rump” means “ass”) is all that different than the real politik that went on at ecumenical councils. I don’t put it past God to work through such means, but perhaps you do.

    Saints are not designated as such by the Church because they embody all the virtues, which is why Constantine is taken as a saint as well and he did things a lot worse than Cyril. Of course, so did David, Solomon, et al. Whether Cyril was directly responsible for the death of Hypatia or not, or other figures makes him no worse than Nestorius or “Torchie” as his non-Cyrilline opponents affectionately named him, for burning Arian and other sectarian churches down (sometimes with people still in them). Such was the way the world was. And we can always talk about the wonderful Reformed treatment of Irish Catholics in Ireland.

    Saying Nestorius’ theology was “weak” isn’t answering the question of whether you find it acceptable or not. Some position or formulation can be weak and still acceptable. Such was the case with Leo’s Tome.

    Your assertion that Nestorius’ position didn’t merit the treatment he got depends on a demonstration that his theology was not heretical and Christ denying, so it is question begging at best. I simply note your apparent sympathy with Christ deniers.

    The Definition of Chalcedon does count, and of course such a definition is to be understood in terms of the authorial intent of those who formed it and upheld it, not those who were condemned by it or by positions that were condemned by it.

    I agree that a dyophysite formula was confirmed, but again, reading what the council fathers meant, they didn’t mean what Nestorius meant. They took themselves to be expressing what Cyril taught. Again, Peter spoke through Leo because Leo was found to agree with Cyril. But if you wish to favor the papalist interpretation, be my guest.

    Cullman is writing at a time when remnants of a strong Hellenization thesis along with a sharp division in biblical studies between supposed Hellenized and Hebrew mindsets existed. These two things structure and frame Cullman’s claim and of course we know now that they were mistaken. You can find the same kind of nonsense in Harnack and Edwin Hatch, which is why JW’s and others love to quote them. Further, one doesn’t have to use metaphysical terms to teach and express metaphysical truths. The NT seems to do that all the time in making statements about there being one God, God acts and does such and so, manifests his glory to the visible eye and so forth.

    The question I put to you can be put squarely in NT terms, did the Word suffer and die the death of a man?

    Consequently since the entire doctrine of salvation in the NT depends on that question, it isn’t less important than what the NT portrays. It is all and only what the NT portrays, which is why Jews and Muslims reject it. How can God suffer? How can God become a man? How can God be a baby? It is foolishness to Greeks just for that reason.

    What say you? Did the Logos suffer the death of a man or no?

    The fact that you seem to evade answering this question directly effectively puts you in the same camp as Jehovah’s Witnesses who will not affirm homoousion with respect to Father and the Son.

    Given that Theotokos and Mater Theu are used semantically as interchangeable in the previous patristic sources going back to the time of Ireneaus, it wouldn’t matter if they used the term or not. First it wouldn’t matter for Confessionally Reformed folk since they profess adherence to Chalcedon and Ephesus. Secondly, the term is used at Ephesus in the Twelve Anathemas.

    As for your snarky and ad hominem remarks that I need to study, I simply place them to the side.

    As to your remarks in #151. Your judgment that the synod of Ephesus was a disaster is not relevant. First, because it achieved its end, the condemnation of Nestorius’ teaching. That is upheld by Rome, the Orthodox, the Lutherans and the Reformed. If you reject that, you reject the judgment of all those bodies. Second, the Reformed profess adherence to it on that score. You are of course free to dissent from the Reformed Confessions and standards, but the question is, do you?

    The Formula of Union is not an undoing of what was accomplished. If it were, Nestorius would not still have been condemned along with his teaching and he would have signed on to it. Furthermore, if the Formula of Union was a backing away from Cyril’s teaching then it seems strange that Theodoret had to edit it to take out what he could not accept and then try to pass off the edited version as a victory for him. Note the Formula,

    “Therefore, we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body begotten before the ages of the Father according to his deity, the same one in these last days for our sakes and the sake of our salvation of Mary the virgin according to his humanity; consubstantial with the Father according to his deity and consubstantial with us according to his humanity.”

    Now note Theodoret’s alterations

    “And we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before the ages of the Father according to his deity, in these last days for our sakes and the sake of our salvation of Mary the virgin; the same one consubstantial with the Father according to his deity and consubstantial with us according to his humanity.”

    Notice that Theodoret removes the phrase “the only begotten Son of God” and “the same one” which are clearly Cyrillian expressions and meant to pick out exactly what was at issue, namely that the Logos was the only subject in Christ. The Formula of union then is a retreat for Theodoret, not Cyril.

    Since as was noted in comments prior to yours, which you apparently did not read, and the secondary sources they are noted in haven’t been read by you either it seems, Cyril could speak in terms of two natures as acceptable, your claim that that the Formula of Union amounted to a “Nestorian” correction of us mia physis language is clearly not supported and in fact contradicted by the evidence.

    Part of the problem is that your position entails that a dyophysite formula entails a Nestorian Christology. But that is false even on grounds the Reformed claim, let alone any others. Nestorianism was far more than a thesis that there were two natures in Christ. So Cyril admitting a dyophysite formulation in one hypostasis isn’t evidence of modifying in a Nestorian direction. This is one of many reasons why Moffat is wrong and why scholars for the last few decades have by and large dropped that historical model, since it ignores large amounts of evidence. Of course when you read survey works from the 1870’s and ignore works of specialists from the last half century, I can see why you think as you do.

    As for the Tome of Leo being acceptable to Nestorius, this again amounts to nothing more than a reporting of Nestorius’ thought. The bishops at Chalcedon judged otherwise. And Leo’s Tome contains the theopaschite language that Nestorius so strenuously objected to.

    “…the impassible God did not to disdain to be passible Man and the immortal One to be subjected to the laws of death.”

    That is a thesis that Nestorius and not even Theodoret could accept.

    The fact that Bp. Ware makes such comments depends on whether they are supported by the evidence or not, in terms of what is establishable from the facts. As far as ecclesiastical matters, Bp. Ware doesn’t speak for the whole church either. Furthermore, Bp. Ware says plenty of other things that are historically and theologically in error. Big deal.

    Nestorius rejected the language of Theotokos because he thought saying that there was a union by hypostasis would amount to a conflation of natures which would then entail idolatry, not because there was supposedly no veneration of Mary at Constantinople prior to the dispute. So here you are mishandling the evidence. The actual argument he gives is base don his concern over impassability. This is clearly seen in Theodoret’s remarks on Hebrews 5,

    “Who is this who is perfected by the works of virtue and is not perfect by nature who learns obedience through experience, which implies previous ignorance, who lives with pious fear and offers supplications with loud cries and tears, who cannot save himself but entreats the one w ho can save him and begs for release from death? It is not God the Word, immortal, impassible, and bodiless…, but what he took from the seed of David, mortal, passible, and fearing death, even if after this the same dissolved the power of death through union with the God who assumed him.” ACO, 2.1.16

    Impassibility therefore forms a wall precluding a hypostatic union because Nestorius and Theodoret exclusively identify the Word with the divine nature. Since the divine nature is impassible, the Word cannot be the subject who suffers.

    The concern over whether the Son became a different prosopon after the union than before is not a red herring, since that is exactly what was at issue. Is Jesus Christ a produced outer manifestation of two hypostases or is he all and only the subject that is the Logos?

    What Rome signed in 1994 is of no concern to me. If Rome made a mistake then too bad for Rome. The issue doesn’t turn on a commitment to Catholicism. First, because the Orthodox hold the same position pace Nestorius and Theodoret. Second, the Confessional tradition of Protestantism, both Lutheranism and Reformed also lay claim here.

    To say that Antiochene Christology started from scripture betrays a gross ignorance of the history and theology from Theodore of Mopsuestia down to Theodoret since these men structured their exegesis of Scripture by philosophical commitments to Stoic theories of mixtures and Platonic theories of impassibility. Claryton, Behr, Gavrilyuk and others in various monographs and articles that litter the academic landscape for the last two decades or more demonstrate as much. Note McGuckin’s cashing out of the philosophical and semantic issues at work.

    “He [Nestorius] found it made much more sense to apply a different word altogether to signify the distinct individualness of a thing, and this was to be prospon. For Nestorius the meaning of hypostasis should be restricted to connoting the concretization of a thing, and physis to signify the stuff of which it was made.”
    McGuckin, 143.
    13. “The prospon is the external aspect or form of a physis as it can be manifested to external observation and scrutiny. It is a very concrete, empirical word, connoting what appears to outside observation. Each essence (ousia) is characterized by its proper nature (physis), everything that is, which makes it up, and in turn every nature that is hypostatically real presents itself to the scrutiny of the senses in its own prosopon-that list of detailed characteristics or ‘propria’ that constitute this thing individually and signal to the observer what nature (physis) it has and thus to what genus (ousia) it belongs. In the system Nestorius is following, every nature has its own prosopon, that such of proper characteristics (idiomata) by which it is characterized in its unique individuality and made known to others as such. The word carried with it an intrinsic sense of ‘making known’ and appeared to Nestorius particularly apt in the revelatory context of discussing the incarnation.”
    McGuckin, 144.
    “For Nestorius, there are two distinct genuses in Christ, the two ousiai of divinity and humanity. It follows from this, on his terms, that there must be two natures (physeis) corresponding to the distinct genuses. Accordingly, these two physeis will be apparent to the external observer in their respective prosopa. One can look at the historical figure of Christ in the Gospels and see the clear signs of the two prosopa, divine and human.”
    McGuckin. 151.
    “These are all things beyond the range of a human prosopon [raising the dead and such] and they signal to the observer the existence of another kind of prosopon, one that manifests a divine physis behind it. This holy and powerful prosopon is recognized by faith as the divine Logos. An accurate scrutiny of the external visible signs and evidence concerning Christ, therefore, clearly tells the observer that there are two separate levels of reality in this figure; two prosopa (or prosopic sets of evidence) signaling to the intelligent exegete the fact that two different natures co-exist in this being. Yet it is equally true to say that one encounters unity as well as diversity in the single concrete figure of ‘the Christ’, only one figure who stands before our scrutiny and somehow combines these two different sets of evidences. This experience our exegetical senses have of the one Christ must signify that Christ himself (that is ‘he-who-combines-two-prosopic-realities’) is in some sense a single prosopic reality, and this is the prosopon which is known to experience as, and commonly designated, ‘Christ.’”
    McGuckin, 152.
    As for what Wedgeworth says about hypostatic composition, that is no help to you since Wedgeworth claims to uphold the position that Nestorius was wrong and the Logos is the subject who suffered. Second, the issue of hypostatic composition is not the issue. The question is what understanding of hypostatic composition after the union is Chalcedonian?

  210. April 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    TF # 192,

    You wrote,

    “Hehe, McGuckin practically thinks Cyril walked on water. You won’t find a bigger advocate for Cyril than McGuckin.”

    Since one good ad hominem deserves another, here goes

    So said the devotee of Theodoret.

    Second, reading McGuckin’s work will not support such a contention since he is critical of Cyril at various points. Second, Daley, McKinnon, van Loon and plenty of others uphold fundamentally the same reading as McGuckin. Added to this is fact that for about the last twenty years McGuckin’s work has form the locus classicus of the contemporary discussion. You can find the same view upheld by say Donald Fairbairn in his, Grace and Christology in the Early Church.

    Oh yeah, last I checked Fairbairn is Reformed and a specialist in the field..

  211. TurretinFan said,

    April 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Perry:

    I notice you have the good sense not to deny my point about McGuckin. McGuckin may be important (no, he certainly is important) in Cyril studies, but one does need to be aware of the fact that McGuckin seems intent on continually playing up Cyril’s importance and downplaying Cyril’s critics.

    -TurretinFan

  212. April 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    TF,

    Let me be clear, I deny your claim about McGuckin, both materially and formally. If he is a lover of Cyril then so are Reformed specialists like Fairbairn.

  213. TurretinFan said,

    April 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I retract my comment suggesting you have good sense.

  214. April 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    TF #213,

    Said the devotee of Theodoret.

  215. TurretinFan said,

    April 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    :) Perry. I’m delighted to be associated with the great Theodoret. After all his Formula of Union was agreed to by the very Cyril about whom we have been talking.

  216. April 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    TF,

    Perhaps you missed this in the comments to Johnbugay above.

    “Furthermore, if the Formula of Union was a backing away from Cyril’s teaching then it seems strange that Theodoret had to edit it to take out what he could not accept and then try to pass off the edited version as a victory for him. Note the Formula,

    “Therefore, we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body begotten before the ages of the Father according to his deity, the same one in these last days for our sakes and the sake of our salvation of Mary the virgin according to his humanity; consubstantial with the Father according to his deity and consubstantial with us according to his humanity.”

    Now note Theodoret’s alterations

    “And we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before the ages of the Father according to his deity, in these last days for our sakes and the sake of our salvation of Mary the virgin; the same one consubstantial with the Father according to his deity and consubstantial with us according to his humanity.”

    Notice that Theodoret removes the phrase “the only begotten Son of God” and “the same one” which are clearly Cyrillian expressions and meant to pick out exactly what was at issue, namely that the Logos was the only subject in Christ. The Formula of union then is a retreat for Theodoret, not Cyril.”

    The text that was agreed to is found in the letters of John of Antioch and multiple other sources, tot the text supplied by Theodoret which he altered to make it seem that the Formula was a victory for his position, which it clearly wasn’t. this is why Theodoret came within a hairs breath of being excommunicated at Chalcedon.

  217. April 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    “Just as the sun shines equally on all but is not received equally by all, so the Word, though in all by nature, is not equally in others and his own temple.”

    –Theodoret of Antioch.

    It’s hard to find a clearer statement that the difference between Christ and us is one of degree.

  218. April 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Theodoret of Antioch? What’s wrong with me. I meant Theodoret of Cyrrhus. I must have had an entirely different Antiochian, Severus of Antioch on my mind.

  219. April 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    [...] Nestorianism? (Lane Keister) [...]

  220. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Jedpaschall #179:

    You are going to have to account for the fact that Reformed theologians have also upheld the notion of Theotokos, even if they do not emphasize it.

    I do not recall seeing either the word (either Theotokos or “God-Bearer” in any Reformed confessions, though the confessions do recount some of the Scriptures about Mary and Jesus’s birth. Reformed theologians do seem to mention it, but not only do they not emphasize it, but I don’t see anything like the requirement for accepting either the word or the concept as anything approaching a doctrine of the faith. If you are aware of some Reformed theologians who make acceptance of this term some kind of requirement, I’d appreciate it if you could point it out to me.

    It seems like you are arguing for a slippery slope from Theotokos to the veneration of Mary, however one can hold to one and not commit to the other.

    It is not an argument but a fact of history. Once the word “Theotokos” was in play, and perhaps, only in its barest usage acceptable, the theologians of the time nevertheless used it to import all kinds of other non-Scriptural baggage that ought not to have been brought in.

    Second, with regard to Cullman … I think he overstating the conflict between the biblical Christology and Chalcedonian Christology, when it appears that they are both firmly biblical.

    He is speaking of those emphases in Chalcedon which were not Biblical: “it was necessary for the [later] Church to deal with the question of the natures and attempt to answer it. We may say, however, that although the Church attempted a solution to the problem by reference to the New Testament, its statement of the problem was nevertheless oriented all too exclusively in a direction which no longer corresponds to the manner in which the New Testament itself states it.”

  221. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Perry Robinson #209

    Johnbugay, I have no idea what you mean when you say that you are glad that Reformed theologians are looking at the history and theology of all this. Wedgeworth and Escalante aren’t academic theologians to my knowledge. But perhaps you mean Bruce McCormack, but I don’t think he’s really going to help your case.

    I didn’t say “academic theologians” – I consider the individuals here (as well as Wedgeworth and Escalante), to be among the best theologically trained and most concerned and interested that you will find. That they are pastors and not in academia does not render them any less “theologians”. So given that you have “no idea”, then you are either a prig or an idiot.

  222. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Perry Robinson #209

    As far as Cyril’s “back room deals” I suspect you mean the formula of union. That wasn’t exactly a backroom deal and I think it testifies to the fact that Cyril was willing to take into consideration the unity of the Church as something significant while maintaining biblical teaching relative to a divine person suffering for our salvation (as opposed to becoming man worshipers)

    If it wasn’t “exactly” a back room deal, it certainly was close. Cyril was all about Cyril’s own “rump”, as you say. He obviously didn’t take the time to clear this “deal” with his folks back home. This in itself makes a lie of your comment about “the unity of the church”. He thus denied very important things he had been teaching up to that point. (Either that or the folks back home were misunderstanding what he had been saying all along).

  223. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Perry Robinson #209

    Just generally, the whole question of who espoused what at that point has little practical application at this point, and is worthwhile only as a historical study. There is no way I can see myself saying, “Cyril said that so I’d better say that” or “Nestorius said that, so I’d better not be saying that”.

    I’ll remind you that even devils can articulate sound doctrine. The fact that “the church” named Cyril as a saint and even a doctor speaks volumes about the weakness of their particular “ecclesiology”. Why not, in that case, canonize Satan? He certainly believes correct things about the two natures of Christ. Would any of the Reformed folks here affirm Cyril as a “saint”? I don’t know. But there certainly haven’t been any movements in the Reformed world to canonize Cromwell.

  224. April 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Though the term Theotokos isn’t specifically there, the following ought to provide a clue as to how Bullinger and the Helvetic churches, at least, esteemed the first four councils (which would include confession of Mary as Theotokos): “And, to say many things with a few words, with a sincere heart we believe, and freely confess with open mouth, whatever things are defined from the Holy Scriptures concerning the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are summed up in the Creeds and decrees of the first four most excellent synods convened at Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon — together with the Creed of blessed Athanasius [The so-called Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius but dates from the ninth century. It is also called the "Quicunque" from the opening word of the Latin text.], and all similar symbols; and we condemn everything contrary to these.”

  225. April 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Sorry — that’s from 2 Helvetic, ch. 11.

  226. April 15, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Sorry again. For some reason the final bit didn’t make its way into the pasted portion: “And in this way we retain the Christian, orthodox and catholic faith whole and unimpaired; knowing that nothing is contained in the aforesaid symbols which is not agreeable to the Word of God, and does not altogether make for a sincere exposition of the faith.”

  227. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Jonathan, don’t forget that the Reformation era was an era of increasing understanding and consolidation; nailing down its theology is like chasing a moving target. Luther had some positive things to say about Mary and even about the pope, for example, and I know that Calvin had some positive things to say, too, about the first four councils, but “after further review”, the later Protestants and confessions marginalized that sort of thing.

    The Council of Ephesus, especially, had to be amended later (substituting the term “theotokos” for Ephesus’s “mater theou”, for example). Bullinger himself avoids the term “theotokos” , praising not the councils themselves, but “whatever things are defined from the Holy Scriptures concerning the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ” in those councils.

    That hardly sounds like a full-throated endorsement to me.

  228. johnbugay said,

    April 15, 2012 at 9:03 am

    * The Council of Ephesus, especially, had to be amended later (with Chalcedon substituting the term “theotokos” for Ephesus’s “mater theou”, for example).

  229. April 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Johnbugay,

    #221

    As for Wedgeworth and Escalante’s piece, think whatever you like about their reasoning ability and such. They now argue in the “Calvinist International” pieces that a denial that the Logos suffered is wrong and Nestorian. That is pretty much what I, Matthew Peterson, Bryan Cross and Jonathan have been consistently arguing. And in any case, as far as I know they have an MA. Good, so do I and lots of other people.

    Second, there is no need to use morally preparative terms, especially since there is a third option. I took “theologian” in a fairly usual way of using it, in terms of a professional academic. Since you take them to fit a wider definition than the usual use of that term, and how I was using it specifically, there is another option between being “a prig” and “an idiot” namely I was using a term in a different way than you were. Relax.

    #222

    First it was a back room deal, then it wasn’t “exactly” a back room deal. Pick a position please. You then make assertions about Cyril’s own “rump” synod, but there is no supporting argument or evidence. Since these amount to assertions I can simply dismiss them out of hand. Unless you can bring forth some evidence or refer to some piece of secondary literature that offers some support I see no reason to believe it.

    I simply do not know what you are referring to when you claim that he denied very important things that he had been teaching up to that point. Such as what exactly? Where is this documented? I suspect rather you’ve been reading older secondary sources that relied on accounts by Theodoret who in fact doctored the evidence to make it seem as if the Formula of Union favored his position and that Cyril had changed his views.

    In any case, backroom deal or not, the Reformed and the Lutherans profess adherence to Cyril’s position over Nestorius, so you are arguing in effect that the entire Reformation tradition is wrong on this score along with Rome and the Orthodox. Good luck with that.

    #223

    Who espoused what does have a good deal of practical value, particularly heuristically since it can help us get clear on exactly what the positions were, what was and what was not condemned. For the Confessionally Reformed that is important. As the Reformed are fond of saying, Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean doing away with all secondary authorities. If you wish argue against the Reformed confessional standards, have at it.

    For those who subscribe to the Confessions, if the Confessions approve of certain expressions and condemn others, then yes it is important. If you can’t see yourself saying so, then that means you appear to have a problem with Sola Scirptura and secondary authorities. Perhaps you believe in SolO scriptura after all?

    I am quite aware that demons can speak the truth at times, but of course I am not sure how that helps you r position. As far as your assertion about the supposed weakness of my ecclesiology, I just dismiss such assertions. Of course, even if true, the same goes for Protestant “worthys”.

    As far as your question goes, why not canonize Satan, well that is not a little absurd John isn’t it? I mean take Calvin who argued strenuously that heretics should not be executed and then went and changed the law so that he could off Servetus. That’s pretty low, even as heterodox as Servetus was. That doesn’t stop Protestants from thinking highly of the man. He had some virtues and some vices. Certainly Calvin, let alone Cyril aren’t anywhere near Satan and bereft of all virtue. Your question makes it seem as if you’ve established that it is completely unprincipled, and that is hardly a mark of being fair minded.

  230. April 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Jonathan,

    “The issue we’re concerned with is distinguishing you from me–another individual who shares the same nature as yourself.”

    That’s not what I’ve been asking for. I’m not trying to find a definition for a particular person. I mean what is the definition of a generic person. You’re getting closer when you restrict the definition of person to “rational beings.” Obviously dogs would not fall into this category. Sorry for the confusion about what I’m asking for.

    Did Athanasius, Augustine, the Gregories, Cyril, and John of Damascus all use their terms in precisely the same way? No, and it has contributed to the confusion that is obviously still presenting a problem in “speaking intelligibly.” If all this ultimately transcends human language, then there’s little point in bickering over persons and natures at all, really.

    Matthew,

    “However, that dog is, contrary to your assertions, a very different thing from you. You do not share a nature with it, nor are you the same individual with it.”

    Again, sorry for the confusion about the type of definition I was looking for. I understand that I am separate from a dog. My point is actually the same as your own: Jonathan’s definition (until he started talking about “rational beings”… which I may have missed earlier) of person is simply hypostasis, which, as you point out, could be speaking about a dog. But a dog isn’t a person without straining English, and it’s an English definition of Person I was looking for, one that disqualifies canines. Hopefully I do not sound quite as frankly ridiculous now. :)

    It’s interesting that Jenson says,

    “Most of what ‘person’ means in modern usage belongs rather to ‘nature’ in christological language: being ‘personal,’ as contrasted with being a thing,’ belongs to both ‘human nature’ and ‘divine nature.’ We will therefore use the Greek word.”

    If that’s so, I’m not really sure what the big deal is if a modern English speaker attempts to explain the Incarnation in terms of two persons, because apparently they’re just using a different word for nature, and the two are synonymous.

    Bryan,

    Forgive my ignorance & persistence, but how do you (or Boethius) define “substance” and “nature”? If you’ve provided definitions for these in other comments, forgive me further if I’ve overlooked them.

    I won’t begrudge anyone for not responding further to this comment. My busy schedule has resumed and unfortunately I don’t have the time to follow all the comments on the mutiple threads. Either way, thanks gents.

  231. April 16, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Patrick:

    Jenson actually can talk about the created person of Jesus. But that’s because he’s self-consciously talking about the Lockean definition of person, and not intending it as a translation of “hypostasis”. The trouble arises when try to push the modern meaning of person together with the ancient formula. Either of these two options is very bad:

    1. Accepting the formula “one person in two natures” but changing the definition of “person” from hypostasis to “Lockean Person”. That results in some sort of Apolinarianism or Monothelitism. The ancient formula definitely did not mean that there is one mind in Christ, or one consciousness in Christ. The Logos has a fully human consciousness, just as you and I have.

    2. Accepting the modern definition of person, but realizing that witht he modern definition of person “One Person in two natures” is either nonsense or heretical; and therefore pushing back against the traditional formula. When this happens there is no ability to say that Christ is one, or that the Logos has a human consciousness or was born of Mary or suffered on the Cross. In short, it creates Nestorianism.

    (Although I don’t I think you have misread Jenson–he does not mean that person is synonomous with nature, but that it is an aspect of nature. Having hands and having a mouth both belong to human nature as well.)

    In short, I believe we need to stick to the traditional formulation “one hypostasis in two physes” but we need to mean what the Greek means by those terms, not what the English seems to mean. If English speakers want to try to figure out how to make sense of where “person” fits into this it’s fine and good. The problem comes when they try to combine the modern definition with the ancient formula. Doing that ends up compromising the ancient formula, and results in heresy.

  232. johnbugay said,

    April 16, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Perry, I have already spoken with Steven Wedgeworth; he is merely reporting the position of Reformed theologians in their historical positions. I’m also confident that they will do a fair job of reporting more contemporary discussions.

    As for the list of names who “have been consistently arguing”, again, I am not beholden to you guys, nor to “whom said what”. I am beholden to Scripture.

    As for whether it was “a back room deal” or “not exactly one”, I’m not going to quibble with you over words. It wasn’t “the council”, it was an after-the-fact agreement, the mere presence of which shows the weakness and shortcomings of “the council”. Dismiss what you will. If anybody here really cares about how this all went down, the historical facts are becoming more readily available.

    You still don’t get it: I’m not affirming whether the doctrine that Cyril espoused was right or wrong. I am affirming that even devils espouse correct doctrine, and in any case, thinking highly of Cyril for doing so is where the devotion to demons comes in.

    And as for your coming to a Reformed blog and unloading on Calvin re. Servetus here, where everyone pretty much knows that what you’re saying is BS, that’s just a brilliant move on your part.

  233. April 16, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Matthew, thanks.

  234. David Reece said,

    April 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Matthew N. Petersen @ 231,

    You said, “In short, I believe we need to stick to the traditional formulation “one hypostasis in two physes” but we need to mean what the Greek means by those terms, not what the English seems to mean. If English speakers want to try to figure out how to make sense of where “person” fits into this it’s fine and good. The problem comes when they try to combine the modern definition with the ancient formula. Doing that ends up compromising the ancient formula, and results in heresy.”

    Let us assume you are correct for a moment. If this is so, then we must understand the old formula in order to believe it.

    So, what does it mean? If “one hypostasis in two physes” does not mean “one person in two natures,” then what does it mean?

  235. Matthew N. Petersen said,

    April 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I think: One “individual” in (and from) two “what’s”.

    The analogy of soul and body in one person can be helpful. There is one me, but I exist in two “what’s”, soul and body. When my wife hugs me, she does not touch my immaterial soul. But she does touch me. If we say (and only some anthropoligies say this) that the Holy Spirit dwells in my soul, He does not, in that respect, touch my body, but He nevertheless touches the one me.

  236. David Reece said,

    April 17, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Matthew,

    Thank you for answering.

    I disagree with your formulation. I think your answer avoids the real issues and either becomes more vague or offers synonyms for person and nature depending on what you mean by “individual” and “what”.

  237. johnbugay said,

    April 17, 2012 at 4:04 am

    “The language of Chalcedon is not sacrosanct and is open to reformulation …” From Bavinck’s “Reformed Dogmatics, chapter summary (supplied by the editors), Vol 3, pg 237.

    Just a friendly reminder.

  238. April 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Patrick,

    Saying that God and the incarnation transcend human language is different than saying language is meaningless. If you reject the categories of person and nature, I’d like to know what you mean when you say, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That statement seems to me to say that the individual reality of the Word took on a nature/substance/essence, humanity, other than his own proper nature/substance/essence, divinity, without ever ceasing to be what he always was as an individual reality/acting subject. What is your alternative? We’re still waiting to hear it. It’s easy to object and tell everyone they’re talking nonsense when you don’t have anything meaningful to say yourself. We continue to be told, “that’s not good enough.” Well then, what is good enough? What terms do you use to distinguish the general and the particular with reference to divinity and humanity? What is their meaning? How is it superior to person and nature?

    john,

    Thanks for the Bavinck quote. Yes, the language is certainly not sacrosanct. I said as much myself earlier in this discussion. But the problem is that it doesn’t seem that language has been imporved upon to this point. And as much as people like Sean and Patrick tell us it needs to be, they still have nothing to put in its place.

  239. Sean Gerety said,

    April 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Actually John I do and I have. I see nothing particularly “wrong” with the “Lockean” or modern definition of person as a center of consciousness or in terms of their mind. More precisely, a person is a composite of propositions. As Gordon Clark argued; “As a man thinketh in his (figurative) heart, so is he. A man is what he thinks.” This definition successfully individuates one Person from another in the Godhead and me from you. Also, it’s not tied to a body as some here have defined person, therefore it accounts for the intermediate state as well. After all, a person is still a person even when they shed this mortal coil; this earthly tent.

    Not only that, but Clark’s theory successfully overcomes Cross’ objections to the Reformed and biblical doctrine of propitiation as punishment for sin (and not discipline) and the resulting doctrine of imputation, something Cross also rejects and prefers the assisting merits of a non-existent false “Mary” of the Roman religion along with all the other non-meritorious “merits” of their phony “saints.” Clark again:

    Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this view: “My God, my God, why hast 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 70-71

    Now, you may not like Clark’s definition, fine and good, and perhaps you can even improve upon it, but at the very least it’s intelligible (which is more than I can say for the 1500 year old definition of church tradition you’ve offered here).

  240. Sean Gerety said,

    April 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Sorry, I meant Jon not John (I’m writing as I’m about to run out the door).

  241. April 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Jonathan, I don’t think I have the answers at the moment. However, that doesn’t stop me from pointing out where your own formulation needs shaping up. Aren’t we really on the same side, here? Two brothers among more brothers who are trying to hammer out exactly what we mean by the doctrines we both confess? If you agree that your terminology isn’t perfect (and remember, I’ve already admitted to perhaps being a bit unclear in exactly what kind of definition I was looking for), then shouldn’t you simply be nodding your head and continuing to look for ways to improve instead of getting all defensive over imprecise church tradition? I’m not the one lobbing the word “Nestorian” around, after all.

  242. April 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Jonathan, I realize that last sentence of my last post seems like I was accusing you of such. I didn’t mean to imply that *you* specifically were calling others Nestorian.

  243. April 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Sean,

    I suppose the question should be “How can your doctrine make sense of the Incarnation without embracing Apollinarianism, namely the doctrine that the Logos is not really man, or Nestorianism, the doctrine that the Logos is not really man.” Which frankly, I cannot see.

    It also seems to make God finite. Are there propositions (plural!) in God? Is each proposition then an uncreated Energy? Or is God dependent on creatures (propositions) for His being? Or are the persons the first creature, and dependent on the second, the propositions, whereas the first principle, God, is a completely simple essence?

  244. Bryan Cross said,

    April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Sean (re: #239)

    More precisely, a person is a composite of propositions.

    From that definition of person, it would follow that babies are not persons, since they do not yet possess any propositions.

    Moreover, persons would be differentiated from each other only by not having the same set of propositions, because otherwise, according to this definition, they would be the very same person. So, that entails that the Father cannot have the same set of propositions as the Son, and that the Spirit cannot have the same propositions as either the Father or the Son. So at least two members of the Trinity do not know one of the propositions known by the other two Persons, because if all three Persons knew all and only the same propositions, there would be only one divine Person, and that would be a denial of the Trinity. But if the Son and Spirit do not know at least one of the propositions known by the Father, then the Son and Spirit are not omniscient, in which case they are not divine. So, either way, this position entails a denial of the Trinity.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  245. April 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Patrick,

    I understand. And as I’ve already said, I’m certainly not opposed to making advancements in the clarity of terms and concepts. Of course, I quite welcome that. But as a pastor, I operate in the church with a received set of terms and concepts, which have been accepted for quite some time. I find those terms and concepts to be quite simple and intelligible. There have been no objections raised here which have changed that opinion at all.

    And to me, as a pastor, theology isn’t an individual discipline to be hashed out on blogs between faceless names on a screen. Theology is primarily a discipline of the church. That’s not to say media such as blogs serve no purpose (else I’d not be commenting here). They can help in certain ways. But my purpose commenting here isn’t to figure out innovative new ways to correct the church’s teaching. My purpose commenting here has been to defend and clarify the teachings of the church. That’s because as a pastor, I took ordination vows to defend the doctrines of the church. And so, if the received terms and concepts are to be altered, they need to be altered by the church acting through her representative ministers in assembly. Until that happens, I will defend the orthodox doctrines of my church, which my forefathers have handed down and my brothers consider still acceptable, unless or until superior terms and concepts which better account for the biblical presentation are officially proposed and accepted.

  246. April 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Bryan,

    “From that definition of person, it would follow that babies are not persons, since they do not yet possess any propositions.”

    Now there’s a Lockean concept (tabula rasa) instead of a Scriptural one which teaches (John 1) that the Logos lights the mind of every man coming into the world, and (Romans 1) man innately knows & suppresses the law of God.

    Also, the Father knows the Son is begotten (omniscience), but he does not think “I am begotten” (this is only thought by the Son).

  247. April 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Jonathan,

    “But my purpose commenting here isn’t to figure out innovative new ways to correct the church’s teaching. My purpose commenting here has been to defend and clarify the teachings of the church.”

    Same here bro.

  248. Sean Gerety said,

    April 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    @Bryan

    From that definition of person, it would follow that babies are not persons, since they do not yet possess any propositions.

    That’s just silly Bryan. Perhaps it’s your Romanism getting the better of you (wait, it already has). For one, your argument, if you want to call it that, is an argument from silence as we have no idea what propositions infants even in the womb know. After all John leapt in his mother womb at the very sound of Mary’s greeting. Further, man is not a tabula rasa (is your empiricism showing?) but all men by virtue of being made in God’s image possess a mind whose architecture is logic that, among other thins, “have the law written on their hearts.” Consequently the apriori in man overthrows your objections.

    Moreover, persons would be differentiated from each other only by not having the same set of propositions, because otherwise, according to this definition, they would be the very same person. So, that entails that the Father cannot have the same set of propositions as the Son, and that the Spirit cannot have the same propositions as either the Father or the Son.

    Of course the Second Person doesn’t think the same thoughts as the other two Persons and visa versa. The Father doesn’t think “I will become incarnate and take on flesh,” neither does the Second Person think the Father will proceed from me.

    So at least two members of the Trinity do not know one of the propositions known by the other two Persons, because if all three Persons knew all and only the same propositions, there would be only one divine Person, and that would be a denial of the Trinity.

    Not only do you fail to take into account that propositions all Three know objectively from those they know individually and subjectively (see Joel Parkinson’s “The Intellectual Triunity of God,” but a denial of the individuation of persons is a denial of the Trinity. Sounds to me like you’re a Romanist and a Saballian.

  249. Sean Gerety said,

    April 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Are there propositions (plural!) in God? Is each proposition then an uncreated Energy? Or is God dependent on creatures (propositions) for His being? Or are the persons the first creature, and dependent on the second, the propositions, whereas the first principle, God, is a completely simple essence?

    Matthew, your objections are sillier than Bryan’s (and I didn’t think that was possible). Of course there are propositions in God! What do you think the Scriptures consist of? Paul said in the Scriptures we have the “mind of Christ” (or more preciesly, part of the mind of Christ). The rest of your questions are about as nonsensical as debating over whether Christ is one person, two persons, or twenty-two persons without ever defining what the word “person” means.

  250. Reed Here said,

    April 17, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Sean: nope. Two of your comments just got caught up in the spam filter. That has nothing to do with the moderators. Something in what you’re writing is setting WordPress’s software off ;-)

  251. April 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    But the propositions in God are dependent on creation? So prior to creation God was not a person? Or conversely, there are a multitude of Eternal Propositions which are not God, yet which are not created?

  252. David Reece said,

    April 18, 2012 at 7:15 am

    @ 251

    Matthew N. Petersen,

    Propositions are not created. God is a Spirit. A spirit is a mind. A Minds is a group of thoughts. Thoughts are propositional.

    A proof of this from Scripture would be that the Bible teaches that God is truth. Truth is propositional.

    God, by his very nature, is propositional. Everything is ultimately propositional.

  253. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 8:02 am

    @Matthew. As David said the God of Scripture is the Lord God of Truth. Only propositions can be either true or false.

    @Reed. Had me worried there. Glad to know I’m just spam. :)

    @Jon I am curious why you think a “modern” definition of Person is out of bounds when the traditional one seems to me deficient and doesn’t really define “person” at all and resorts to even more meaningless words like Bryan’s “substance.” It seems to me it is just a matter of tradition. Frankly, you’ve said as much. We really are latent papists aren’t we when it comes to the “ecumenical” creeds. This is the definition we’ve “received” and while it can’t explain what we find in Scripture concerning the truth of Jesus Christ who is omniscient/ignorant, impassible/passable, unable to die/dying, etc., we’re are just to accept it aping Bryan’s sycophantic devotion to the assumed infallibly of “tradition.”

    The utter incoherence and uselessness of the received tradition is crystal clear in these various threads as Lane and other Reformed men who struggle to consistently articulate Chalcedonian orthodoxy are deemed “Nestorian” when neither Nestorius nor any of his opponents had any idea what a “person” is. They used the word and others but attached no meaning to them. Further, i think it is foolishness to deny that Jesus had two minds, two centers of consciousnesses. So, unless I’m missing something (and I’ve been following all this very closely) the objections to both a clear division of “natures” or even defining person in terms of mind or consciousness or the propositions a mind thinks is really just a matter of semantics and a misplaced and even unhealthy devotion to tradition.

  254. April 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    A couple questions for Sean and David:

    1. Since you’ve insisted on a precise definition of everything, what is your definition of a proposition?

    2. How do you reconcile the idea that there are “propositions in God” with the doctrine of simplicity? I thought that simplicity demanded that God knows himself and all created things and ideas intuitively by one simple, eternal act. Or do you deny simplicity?

  255. April 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Asserting “crystal clear” incoherence is something different than actually demonstrating it. For me and I think most others in this discussion, you simply have not done that. You can boast loudly and confidently that you have. But that doesn’t make it so. The only ones unsatisified are the Clarkians. Go figure. I wouldn’t have thought that someone who thinks God is fully comprehensible would ever be satisifed by the traditional definitions anyway.

    And your accusations about Romanism notwithstanding, I’m nothing but a conciliarist Protestant. Protestants have historically retained these definitions in our confessions. And we also retain the right to officially reform and alter those confessions in light of Scripture via ecclesiastical process. And I’ve upheld both of those things throughout the course of this discussion. The Reformers and those who follow them neither deisred nor claimed to break from the broader catholic tradition in terms of the ecumenical creeds, and my earlier citation of 2 Helvetic demonstrates that quite well (others could be multiplied). No, my friend, it really does seem that it is you who are not speaking as a Protestant, but as an individual on his own crusade for his own propositions.

  256. April 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Sean G,

    If a person is a composite of propositions, what did the compositing?

    If the Person is a mind and Jesus has two minds, is Jesus two persons? If not, why not?

    When Jesus is on the Cross, does the Logos think the propositional content of “I am suffering on the Cross” or does someone else think that?

    It may be true that we don’t know what infants think, but isn’t the more relevant question, do they think? And do they think the proposition “I am a person?”

    As for John the Baptist, it seems all we have is that he responds to stimuli, not that he has a certain propositional content. Do you know that he had a certain proposition content when he leaped in his mothers womb?

    In the Trinity, if the different thoughts is the sufficient condition for hypostatic individuation, in what consists their same essence?

    Also, what is matter?

    If there are propositions in a mind, what is a mind? If a mind is “a group of thoughts” what did the grouping if the only things that exist are mnds and thoughts?

    Is there only one intellect or three intellects in God? If three, why aren’t there three Gods?

    If “every thing is ultimately propositional” what is the fundamental difference between your position and Berkelian Idealism?

    And is there a proposition about all propositions or no?

  257. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Why is the body excluded in the definition of ‘person’? I understand that some persons (the Father!) have no body. But human persons do, and their bodies are sufficiently intrinsic to their personhood to warrant resurrecting at the last day.

    Further, our physiology directly affects the propositions we believe. For example, certain painkillers induce paranoia.

    For this reason, I am unhappy with a definition of person that focuses on mental state without reference to our bodies.

  258. Bryan Cross said,

    April 18, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Jeff, (#257)

    Why is the body excluded in the definition of ‘person’?

    Because then it would follow that the Father and Spirit are not Persons, and that the Son was not a person until the incarnation, and thus that an impersonal being created the world. It would also entail that angels are not persons.

    Being embodied belongs to human persons not because we are persons, but because we are animals — mammals by our nature as human. But that does not mean that embodiedness is intrinsic or essential to personhood per se. Embodiedness is intrinsic to being human. But being human and being a person are not the same thing in essence (and thus in definition), even though all humans are persons. There are persons who by their very nature are immaterial, e.g. angels, and members of the Trinity. To deny that would be to follow Dawkins et al.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  259. April 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Jeff,

    You have a good point. Naturally, a human person includes body and soul. Death is the separation of those two, and thus an unnatural estate for a human person.

  260. April 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Bryan,

    I think Jeff’s concerns has to do with human persons, not divine persons. He said that the Father, for instance, is a person without a body.

  261. April 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

    JB, or angelic persons, which are neither human nor divine.

  262. April 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sean,

    No, it is not true that only propositions are only true or false. And propositions are true by reference to the external thing they refer to. So if God is a person because he has propositions, then God is dependent on creation for his being, and is judged by creation. That’s just process theology.

  263. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Matthew, heads up: Propositions are often restricted to statements that are either true or false. (here. Sean is very particular about this!

    Sean, what I wonder is, Do you believe that persons can be ‘true’ or ‘false’?!

  264. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    No, it is not true that only propositions are only true or false. And propositions are true by reference to the external thing they refer to. So if God is a person because he has propositions, then God is dependent on creation for his being, and is judged by creation. That’s just process

    Are you some sort of Positivist Matthew? How about the proposition that a man is justified by belief alone apart from works of the Law or the proposition that God is the same today, yesterday and forever. Or, how about I am the Alpha and Omega? What external objects or things do these propositions refer to?

  265. April 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Sean,

    Does creation have a begining? If so, what is the truth maker for those propositions that are about creation having a begining?

  266. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    1. Since you’ve insisted on a precise definition of everything, what is your definition of a proposition?

    A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence.

    2. How do you reconcile the idea that there are “propositions in God” with the doctrine of simplicity? I thought that simplicity demanded that God knows himself and all created things and ideas intuitively by one simple, eternal act. Or do you deny simplicity?

    I’m not following how defining a person as a congeries of propositions is in anyway a denial of divine simplicity? Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

  267. April 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    So, persons are collections of meanings of declarative sentences?

  268. April 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Sorry… “composites of meanings of declarative sentences.”

  269. April 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Jeff: Sure propositions are only true or false. That does not imply that the only true things are propositions.

  270. April 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Sorry about two comments…replying to two: I’m quoting Aquinas, not positivism. A conception is true when it accurately reflects how things are. Things are true when they are what God believes they are. (Everything is true in this sense.) They are true by partaking in the Truth, which is God. I actually have a copy of Disputed Questions on Truth so maybe later I’ll post some of Aquinas’ actual quotes.

    The proposition that man is justified by the law apart from works is true because it accurately reflects how man is justified. The thing sentence is adequated to the real thing, justification.

  271. April 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Jonathan: Of course. We believe the Word is a composite person. What the earlier fathers did not realize is that the Father and the Spirit are too. /end sarcasm.

  272. April 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Sheesh, just followed that link Jeff. I’m working on my Ph. D. in mathematics. I of all people do not need to learn undergraduate mathematics.

  273. April 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    And, yes, “known to God from the beginning….” But, how does God know? Does God know discursively and analytically (proposition upon proposition) as a man knows? Or does God know all things intuitively by one simple act? If the former, then we’ve denied simplicity, as God’s knowledge is now composed of parts. If the latter, then how can we rightly say that there are “propositions” in God?

  274. jedpaschall said,

    April 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Sean,

    Are you arguing that true propositions need not comport with external reality?

  275. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    If the Person is a mind and Jesus has two minds, is Jesus two persons? If not, why not?

    Of course if person is defined in terms of mind and Jesus has two then Jesus is two persons. The point is Perry you have no definition of person and neither did Nestorius or your beloved Cyril. We’re told by Romanists and Reformed who act like papists that we must accept the traditional understanding of person, but when I’ve asked repeatedly for men here to define their terms, specifically what they mean by “person,” it became painfully clear that they have no understanding of what a “person” is at all. They only talk in vagaries riddled with religious sounding words that they attach no meaning to like “substance.” Only that the “Lockean” or the biblical definition offered by Clark is for some reason off limits simply because it’s not traditional. A good example of this is Clark’s remarks re A.A. Hodge:

    A. A. Hodge (Outlines of Theology, p. 380,”#7) first says “He [Christ] is also true man” and few lines below makes this impossible by adding, “Christ possesses at once in the unity of his Person two spirits, with all their essential attributes, a human consciousness, mind, heart, and will.” 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.

    I think what Clark writes about Hodge above can be said in spades of the major players here. It’s pitiful really.

    When Jesus is on the Cross, does the Logos think the propositional content of “I am suffering on the Cross” or does someone else think that?

    The divine Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity is impassible. The Logos cannot suffer and die so unlike you I don’t say He does and like Lane “I can’t go there.” However, I have to think your Chalecdonian extremism where even Lane Keister and John Calvin are both “Nestorian” in your mind, has something to do with the EO belief in the deification of man. Just a hunch.

    It may be true that we don’t know what infants think, but isn’t the more relevant question, do they think? And do they think the proposition “I am a person?”

    As for John the Baptist, it seems all we have is that he responds to stimuli, not that he has a certain propositional content. Do you know that he had a certain proposition content when he leaped in his mothers womb?

    I don’t know whether an infant in the womb thinks “I am a person,” but I do know from Scripture that their minds are not blank slates and that they possess some divine propositions as part of their apriori endowment by virtue of being created in God’s image. Further we do know that John responded to certain propositional content for the Bible says that Elizabeth, who being filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed; “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” I don’t think identifying a greeting and leaping for joy qualifies as just an unthinking and random reaction to stimuli.

    I’ll skip the rest of your rabbit trails since they don’t appear to be relevant to the question of how a person should be defined, not that they may not be interesting to discuss at some point, but others have asked more relevant questions and I’ll use my time answering those. However, the Scriptures say: “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” You may not like that definition or one inferred from it, but it’s a major improvement over saying a person is an “individual reality/subsistence,” or a person is “an individual reality, or particularity, as it subsists in God and those made in his image,” or Bryan’s definition of person as “an individual substance of a rational nature.” Actually, given some of the meaningless verbiage offered in place of a definition I think anything is an improvement which is why I can’t see the relevance of rejecting a definition simply because some think it “Lockean.” IMO that’s a red herring. Frankly, so is the charge “Nestorian” that you throw around with seeming abandon.

  276. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Are you arguing that true propositions need not comport with external reality?

    Yes.

  277. April 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    You’re right Sean. “Composite of meanings of declarative sentences” is such a superior definition than anything offered previously that I can barely contain my excitement.

    How about we just spend the rest of the week fighting assertion with assertion. “It’s pitiful really.”

  278. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    No, my friend, it really does seem that it is you who are not speaking as a Protestant, but as an individual on his own crusade for his own propositions.

    Well, if speaking as a Protestant means speaking nonsense just to show unity with papists and Eastern Orthodox than we have a different meaning of Protestant. Look, I’m hardly the first person to see some deficiencies with the traditional formulation and definitions. For example, in a footnote to Gary Crampton’s booklet, “Christ the Mediator” in Blue Banner, the publisher (Richard Bacon?) notes:

    Undoubtedly this is one of the most difficult, yet most sublime, of all the doctrines of the Christian religion. While the Blue Banner specifically denies a Nestorian explanation of the Personhood of Christ, it must also be admitted that much modern explanation of the Chalcedonian Creed is also deficient. We find much of the modern explanation of the term “human nature” to be ambiguous at best. [ya think - SG] As the Shorter Catechism (Q 22) clearly teaches, Christ had a true body and a reasonable soul. Another way of saying this is that Christ had everything that is involved in being human.

    So, if you’re the Protestant you claim to be and if the Chalcedonian formula is “deficient” as the publisher of Blue Banner and others have said, then I don’t see why it can’t be improved and I would think one place for improvement is in the definition of “person.” Frankly, I think this is the first place to look as without an unambiguous definition here it seems both Lane Keister and John Calvin can both be called “Nestorian” with impunity, which makes sense, as no one on either side knows what it is they’re talking about. Finally, I’m not looking to “exhaust” the Incarnation or the Trinity, that is a red herring, just that those who are claiming this view or that is “Nestorian” need to define their terms and so far they (and you) have failed.

  279. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Sean, what I wonder is, Do you believe that persons can be ‘true’ or ‘false’?!

    I haven’t defined person as a proposition, but rather as a composite of propositions per Clark. So, no, I don’t believe that persons can be true or false as they are an amalgam of some true propositions and probably many more false ones, some more so than others.

  280. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    You’re right Sean. “Composite of meanings of declarative sentences” is such a superior definition than anything offered previously that I can barely contain my excitement.

    You should be excited Jon as at least the terms involved in the definition can also be clearly defined and are intelligible … even if your substance or subsistence remain undefined and are ambiguous at best. So, to rectify this pitiful situation, please define “substance” for me and perhaps I can get excited with you.

  281. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Ah, but if a person is a composite of only True propositions, then he is a True person. :)

    Why do I suddenly feel all Platonic?

    And if Joe is a composite of more propositions than Bob, then is Joe more of a person than Bob? Dare I say even that Joe is more of a man than Bob?

    Man up, Bob! Do some math!

    All in good fun, Sir Sean.

  282. April 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Sean, But that’s just the point. I don’t think it’s deficient and I don’t think you’ve really done anything to demonstrate its deficiency than merely assert its deficiency. The term “person” and its definition is certainly reformable if something better comes along. But nothing has. And however much you say it has, I simply disagree. Frankly, your proposed definition of “a compsite of meanings of declarative sentences” is to me utterly ridiculous. So, I suppose we’re at an impasse.

    True, the traditional definitions don’t pull God down from his heavenly majesty and make everything fully comprehensible such as you seem to want. But that doesn’t mean it makes no sense at all of the incarnation. In fact it does, and has, for multitudes upon multitudes of God’s people–Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant alike.

    Listen, this is all getting far afield of the point. What are we seeking to know here? We’re seeking to know something of what it means that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” What is a superior explanation of that biblical sentence and its meaning? Does that really mean that “the composite of declarative sentences that is the divine Word became another composite of declarative sentences that is a human being and dwelt among us?” Or is it better to simply say that “the individual reality of the divine Word became man without ceasing to be the Word?” This is something readers can decide. The latter may be simpler than the former, but it’s also less convoluted (and in turn less ridiculous).

    By the way, you keep saying this, but I never accused Lane of Nestorianism. And I certainly never accused Calvin of such. Perry and I have been down that road with each other before, actually. I think he’ll attest (as will Bryan and Matthew) to the fact that I’m not interested in uniting with Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox just for unity’s sake. But the fact remains that the Protestant view of these things has in fact historically been that we hold to nothing different than the ecumenical creeds. And we don’t believe they’re nonsense, however loudly you want to keep yelling that they are.

  283. matthew n. petersen said,

    April 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Sean,

    Blue Banner did not say Chalcedon is deficient, but that modern commentaries are. It said Chalcedon was one of the most subline expressions of faith.

    Meanwhile, you are arguing for a polytheist Nestorianism which is not even Christian in the vafuest sense. You are, because you are better than your knowledge, but what you have been saying not only is not Protestant, it is not Christian.

  284. April 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Sean,

    Regardless of whether I have a coherent definition of person or not, it is now the case that your definition runs afoul of your own doctrinal confessions as well as the biblical record, for the latter presents us with one subject, not two, as Jesus. Your position of a two-person Jesus is a non-starter on Reformed and biblical grounds.

    Secondly, your definition is not biblical but is a Platonic view read into biblical sources. It is highly tendentious to argue that when scripture (Proverbs 23:7) speaks of as a man thinks so he is, that that is giving definition of person or that it is functioning to pick out the conditions for what constitutes personhood. This should be plain from reading it in another translation such as the ESV, “for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.* “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” Or the NASB “For as he *thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.” The sense of the passage is different than the sense you are putting on it.

    As far as your fist pounding about asking repeatedly for the definition of a person, this is nothing more than mouthing Clark. Not to mention the fact that whatever deficiencies the other candidates have, they do not end up denying that the Logos became incarnate and suffered for our sins, which yours does. Arius’ theology is superior to yours on that score.

    The quote from Clark doesn’t constitute an argument for thinking Hodge is wrong. It doesn’t because it is just a series of questions. Asking how Hodge can say such and so or what can he offer in reply is not an argument. As Clark was fond of writing, questions aren’t arguments.

    Secondly, Clark’s last comment “The creeds and the theologians assert ‘a true man’ and their explanations deny it.” Well right there Clark’s *assertion* depends on thinking of a man as a mere instantiation of a kind, which is not only Hellenistic, but shows that Clark’s view trades on the inability to distinguish between person and nature. He is thinking of the instance of a nature just as the person which is why Jesus must be a human person if he is human at all. On such a view why then aren’t the three persons of God three gods on that score? Scripture doesn’t speak of a human person that is Jesus and another divine person that is Jesus and so Clark’s Platonism leaves him with an unbiblical Jesus.

    When you say that the Second Person of the Trinity is impassible, how are you defining impassability? Simply saying “cannot suffer” is hardly an adequate definition. Rocks “cannot suffer” either. Are rocks impassible too?

    Secondly, this is a major weakness of Clark’s view and your presentation, namely that you ignore the variety of philosophical notions of impassability not only available to us now but at play in the historical debates. There isn’t simply one definition of impassibility to be had. Why do you think you get to assume some course grained notion of impassibility without argument? And until you provide us with a specific definition of impassibility your counter argument is idle. It goes nowhere. It could be the case that the Logos can suffer on some definitions of pathos, but not on others.

    My Chalcedonian position is not extremism but all and only what Chalcedon and 2nd Constantinople taught and further what the Reformed at least with respect to the former profess adherence to. We can have an argument about what Chalcedon taught if you like but simply asserting that my position is extremism is not a proof that it is so. Further, even if it were extremism that doesn’t imply that it is false. But that is what you need to show, that it is false, not that it is “extreme.” And “extreme” relative to what exactly? Not Scripture. I appreciate the rhetorical flare, but it isn’t a substitute for logic.

    Whether my view is held in order to further advance an Orthodox view of theosis doesn’t imply that my view is false. Secondly such an argument would be an ad hominem anyhow. And further, if Chalcedonianism is true and it does imply an Orthodox view of theosis, then that will be a problem for the Reformed and yourself, not me. So the question then is, is Chalcedonianism true, not, whether it is defended out of a wish to further the doctrine of theosis. My desires or wishes are irrelevant to the truth of a given doctrine. So your comments at best seem to amount to nothing more than a genetic fallacy.

    Even if infants are not blank slates as you assert, and John the Baptist leaps as a consequence of the sound of the greeting, that doesn’t imply that John leapt because of the propositions expressed in the greeting, just that he leapt at the sound of it.

    The rest of my questions aren’t irrelevant to the definition of a person. Here is why. In the question about the Trinity and the divine essence isn’t a rabbit trail, if your definition cannot distinguish between the essence and the persons, then obviously your definition of person will be inadequate, at least for Trinitarians. The same goes for the question about whether there is one mind or three minds in God. If there are thee minds, why aren’t there three gods? If your definition is inconsistent with Trinitarianism, then it is again, a non-starter for Christians.

    The same goes for the questions about what constitutes a mind. If a mind is a “group of thoughts” in what does their unity consist? ISTM that a mind is more than a group of thoughts but that there is something else other than a thought that is doing the thinking, that is, in which the thoughts occur. What is that on your account?

    So they aren’t rabbit trails, just questions that your view can’t address in a consistently Christian way. As far as I can tell there is no fundamental difference between your view and that of George Berkeley.

  285. April 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    On theosis — Calvin and other Reformed have been willing to speak of a kind of theosis. Of course, it may not be quite the EO conception. But it is there. Billings is worth reading on this. http://www.jtoddbillings.com/Billings-HTR.pdf

  286. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    The term “person” and its definition is certainly reformable if something better comes along. But nothing has. And however much you say it has, I simply disagree. Frankly, your proposed definition of “a compsite of meanings of declarative sentences” is to me utterly ridiculous. So, I suppose we’re at an impasse.

    There is nothing ridiculous about defining a person as a composite of propositions; i.e., a person is what he thinks per the Scriptures. There is also nothing ridiculous in defining a person in “Lockean” terms. What is ridiculous is merely asserting that one person is both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing, passable and impassible, etc., and then being unable to define what you mean by “person.” Now, perhaps there is a definition of “person” that accounts for one person having mutually exclusive and contradictory attributes or “natures” (apart from schizophrenia), but no one here has provided one. Instead, defining “person” in terms of mind/center of consciousness, or as a composite of propositions are all ruled out of bounds because they’re “Lockean” and “Nestorian” even though no one here even knows what a person is! The absurdity is palpable.

    True, the traditional definitions don’t pull God down from his heavenly majesty and make everything fully comprehensible such as you seem to want. But that doesn’t mean it makes no sense at all of the incarnation. In fact it does, and has, for multitudes upon multitudes of God’s people–Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant alike.

    Well, if it makes sense you’d think one person from even one of the above mentioned non-Christian faiths that have no real Christ or true Gospel would be able to, at the very least, define what it is they mean by “person” without adding other meaningless and obfuscating words like “substance” or “subsistence” that similarly defy definition. So far no one has. Frankly, I think anything would be an improvement. Also, the “fully comprehensible” canard is a red herring. I’m just looking for something that is non-contradictory and understandable. Too much to ask evidently. The problem is what you all are fighting over is a construction that asserts as a matter of orthodoxy that “Christ did not know every fact (by virtue of his humanity) and Christ did know every fact (by virtue of his divinity)” and the absurdities hardly end there. The doctrine is hopelessly contradictory and that is something that should be apparent to everyone. Frankly, you should read Anderson’s book on biblical paradox as his arguments center precisely on the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation as both being hopelessly and apparently contradictory. Admittedly, he thinks paradox and logical incoherence are essential elements to the Christian faith. No doubt he is in the majority. But his arguments demonstrating the contradictory nature entailed in the historic understanding of the Incarnation are undeniable. I just that I think we can and should do better.

    Listen, this is all getting far afield of the point. What are we seeking to know here? We’re seeking to know something of what it means that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” What is a superior explanation of that biblical sentence and its meaning? Does that really mean that “the composite of declarative sentences that is the divine Word became another composite of declarative sentences that is a human being and dwelt among us?” Or is it better to simply say that “the individual reality of the divine Word became man without ceasing to be the Word?” This is something readers can decide. The latter may be simpler than the former, but it’s also less convoluted (and in turn less ridiculous).

    The reader can decide whatever he wants, but IMO Clark’s arguments in The Incarnation should be seriously studied and considered by anyone interested in Christology. I also suggest Thomas Morris’ The Logic of God Incarnate. As a matter of exegesis IMO it is merely assumed that the traditional understanding is inviolable and is being read back into the Scriptures. When I look up the word sarx I find it can also refer to a human being with “physical origin, generation or relationship born of natural generation.” It seems to me the phrase “became flesh” could just as easily be that the divine Second Person assumed not just an impersonal human nature (whatever that might be) but a human person, a real human being, and dwelt among us. Now you might say no, that is impossible, but seeing you haven’t provided even a comprehendible definition of what you mean by person I hardly see any hope of making any progress. I’m quite convinced that Clark is right and that most people would be happier repeating nonsense for another few thousand years.

    By the way, you keep saying this, but I never accused Lane of Nestorianism. And I certainly never accused Calvin of such. Perry and I have been down that road with each other before, actually. I think he’ll attest (as will Bryan and Matthew) to the fact that I’m not interested in uniting with Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox just for unity’s sake. But the fact remains that the Protestant view of these things has in fact historically been that we hold to nothing different than the ecumenical creeds. And we don’t believe they’re nonsense, however loudly you want to keep yelling that they are.

    You may not believe your definitions are nonsense, but after all this time you haven’t demonstrated that they’re not. After all, I just asked for people to define the word “person” and no one could. Also, while you haven’t gone as far as some of the others here in labeling Lane a Nestorian, you did insinuate as much at times. More importantly, I think Christology has suffered historically simply because in the battle against the damnable lies and distortions of Rome and those in the East, the Reformed had bigger fish to fry. Besides, there is nothing explicitly contradictory about the traditional formulation. Jesus is both one and two in seemingly two different senses, i.e. one person/two natures. It only becomes patently contradictory when you begin to draw out the implications that you get into trouble. Which is why Lane “couldn’t go there” when it came to saying God suffered and died. I think advances in Christology provide reason to recheck some of our premises. And, if it ends up destroying the deceptive veneer of ecumenism between Geneva and Rome that is just icing on the cake. :)

  287. Sean Gerety said,

    April 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Whether my view is held in order to further advance an Orthodox view of theosis doesn’t imply that my view is false.

    No, but it certainly goes a long way in explaining your extremist calumny against Lane, Calvin and others.

  288. April 18, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Advances, sure. But if the “advances” mean that it was not the Logos on the Cross, but something or someone else, it is no advance, but heresy, for it asserts we are saved by a creature. I believe we are saved by God Himself, you, evidently, that we are saved by a mere creature. The second is helenistic, the first is not.

  289. David Reece said,

    April 19, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Let me be clear. A person is a mind. A body is a tool of a mind. The body is not essential to personhood.

    Chalcedon and Nicea jointly teach the following formulation:

    The Trinity is one Ousia/Essence/Substance (definition 1)/Nature and three Hypostases/Substances (definition 2)/Subsistences/Persons.

    The Second Hypostasis/Substance (definition 2)/Subsistence/Person not only shares the Ousia/Essence/Substance (definition 1)/Nature of the other two Hypostases/Substances (definition 2)/Subsistences/Persons of the Trinity, but the Second Hypostasis/Substance (definition 2)/Subsistence/Person of the Trinity also possesses a different Ousia/Essence/Substance (definition 1)/Nature than the other two Hypostases/Substances (definition 2)/Subsistences/Persons of the Trinity.

    This is silly. Obviously, the point of an Ousia, an Essence, a Substance (definition 1), and a Nature is to indicate a category. This is how the three Hypostases/Substances (definition 2)/Subsistences/Persons being talked about are unified. They are unified in the category of divinity. So, first, can we please all just use Nature for the remainder of this conversation to refer to a category that individual Hypostases/Substances (definition 2)/Subsistences/Persons can be a part of.

    Secondly, the point of Hypostasis/Substance (definition 2)/Subsistence is that the members of the Trinity are all individual subjects that can be predicated about even though they share one category. The term person simply clarifies what kind of subject is being talked about. A subject can be as broad as a chair, a cat, a man, or a Deity, but the term person excludes some subjects to limits the field to humans, angels, and God.

    Subsistence/Substance (Def. 2)/Hypostasis are all interchangeable with subject. They are individual things about which predication may be made. A person is a type of subject. As was stated above, a person is the type of subject that thinks. A person is a mind.

    I am going to use the terms nature and person for the rest of this conversation.

    Since a nature is a category (definition is really clearer, for a category is simply a set of attributes that distinguish some subjects from other subjects) it is possible for a sing subject, like a person, to fit into two or more natures. An example of this would be that a dog is both an animal and a mammal. This is only possible, however, when the two categories do not contradict. For example, no mammal is a reptile because to be a mammal is to be warm blooded, but to be reptilian is to be cold blooded.

    Similarly, any one subject, be that subject a person or otherwise, cannot be both omnipresent and not omnipresent. Attributing two natures with contradictory attributes to one subject is non-sense. If these definitions of nature and person hold, then the theory of the incarnation presented in Chalcedon fails. I think none of any of your explanations avoid this problem.

    For the glory of Christ and the Kingdom of God we must do better. Clark has forced the issue through demanding definitions. Sean is doing the same thing. We must be clear or else we will get nowhere.

  290. Sean Gerety said,

    April 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Advances, sure. But if the “advances” mean that it was not the Logos on the Cross, but something or someone else, it is no advance, but heresy

    Hogwash Matthew. Heresy according to whom? The pope in Rome or the one in Idaho?

    If the Logos, the Second Person died, was there a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity? Did God exist as a biunity for three days?

  291. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    David (#289): Let me be clear. A person is a mind. A body is a tool of a mind. The body is not essential to personhood.

    I can appreciate where you’re coming from, but I respectfully dissent. While not all persons have bodies, human persons do have bodies, and the bodies are essential enough to human personhood that Christ unites himself to them.

    WLC 86: Question 86: What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death ?

    Answer: The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death, is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls….

    This is not to say that this atom or that atom is an essential part of one’s person; but in some sense our bodies are a part of who we are. That sense is clearly mysterious, since our bodies decay and yet also continue united to Christ.

    My concerns about making “mind” == “person” are several:

    (1) It is a philosophical definition not found in Scripture. As such, it must past the ‘strict scrutiny’ test of good-and-necessary inference in order to be admitted as a valid theological concept.

    (2) It seems to deny or create tension with the doctrine of WLC 86 as above.

    (3) It overlooks the fact that our minds are profoundly influenced by our bodies — the sensory organs, biochemistry, brain function. You say, “the body is the tool of the mind”, but it is equally true that the mind is the slave of the body. Ask any Alzheimer’s victim. Then ask them again and see whether they remember the first time.

    (4) It flies in the face of common usage (e.g.: “He laid hands on my person”)

    (5) It seems to move in the direction of Gnosticism.

    (6) It would require the persons of the Trinity to be minds.

    (7) Scripture’s anthropology presents human persons as body + spirit, and not ‘mind’ alone.

    (8) It implies that persons who cannot demonstrate mind function cannot therefore demonstrate their personhood and therefore might not be persons after all.

  292. TurretinFan said,

    April 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    “A Mind is a group of thoughts.”

    More usually, people speak of a mind as being something that thinks – or at least is able to think – thoughts. Thus, thoughts seem to be the product of the mind, not the being of the mind.

    Have I overlooked something?

    – TurretinFan

  293. David Reece said,

    April 20, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Jeff Cagel,

    Yes, Human persons do have bodies. However, their status as persons does not depend upon having a body. I have already proven this point, and you admit that some persons do not have bodies, so I do not understand your objection to a person being a mind. God is three persons, and angels are persons. God is without body, parts, or passions, and angels are at least without body. A person is not a body. A subject does not require a body to be a person. Men are still persons while they are separated from their bodies.

    What distinguishes a human person from an angelic or Divine person is partly the possession of a body, but other things distinguish human persons from other types of persons.

    The category “person” must be a definition that includes men, angels, and the three persons of the Trinity. If a person is a mind, then there is no problem with that person possessing a body.

    You said, “My concerns about making “mind” == “person” are several: (1) It is a philosophical definition not found in Scripture. As such, it must past the ‘strict scrutiny’ test of good-and-necessary inference in order to be admitted as a valid theological concept.”

    Are you really suggesting that the Bible does not teach that persons and ONLY persons think? What is an example or implication of a nonperson thinking in the Bible?

    Even if you think that there is more to a person than a mind, then I do not believe you can demonstrate that anything other than persons think.

    You said, “(2) It seems to deny or create tension with the doctrine of WLC 86 as above.”

    I disagree.

    You said, “(3) It overlooks the fact that our minds are profoundly influenced by our bodies — the sensory organs, biochemistry, brain function. You say, ‘the body is the tool of the mind’, but it is equally true that the mind is the slave of the body. Ask any Alzheimer’s victim. Then ask them again and see whether they remember the first time.”

    If the mind is the salve of the body, then you must believe in soul sleep because the body is not being used by the mind in the intermediate state.

    If the mind is the slave of the body and soul sleep is true, then Christ lied to the man on the cross next to him who was told that Chrsit weould be with him in paradise that day.

    If Chrsit lied to the man next to him on the cross, then Christ was not a perfect sacrifice for sins since he lied according to your theory that the mind is the slave of the body.

    You said, “(4) It flies in the face of common usage (e.g.: “He laid hands on my person”)”

    Terms are often ambiguous in common usage.

    You said, “(5) It seems to move in the direction of Gnosticism.”

    Really? Do you know what Gnosticism is? I am having a hard time believing that you are suggesting that this position is Gnostic.

    Gnosticism is a mystic religion about secret knowledge above human understanding. My point is precisely that truth is intelligable to man because man is the image of God and God has revealed His truth in words that accurately convey truth.

    You said, “(6) It would require the persons of the Trinity to be minds.”

    Yes. The persons of the Trinity are minds. There are three minds in the Trinity. God is three persons in one nature. God is three minds in one nature.

    you said, “(7) Scripture’s anthropology presents human persons as body + spirit, and not ‘mind’ alone.”

    A man is his mind. To be a man he must also have a body. Your personhood does not depend on your body.

    You sould really read Clarks “Faith and Saving Faith.”

    you said, “(8) It implies that persons who cannot demonstrate mind function cannot therefore demonstrate their personhood and therefore might not be persons after all.”

    This is absurd. Your status as a person does not depend upon another man realizing that you are a person. Just because you canot show that you think to another perons does not mean that you are not a person.

  294. David Reece said,

    April 20, 2012 at 3:09 am

    TurretinFan,

    You said, “‘A Mind is a group of thoughts.’ More usually, people speak of a mind as being something that thinks – or at least is able to think – thoughts. Thus, thoughts seem to be the product of the mind, not the being of the mind. Have I overlooked something?”

    The mind does think. the mind is also thoughts. The mind is thoughts thinking thoughts.

    What is the mind if the mind can exist without thoughts? Is there a thoughtless mind?

    Your suggestion that a mind is something other than thoughts would lead to the logical possibility of a thoughtless mind.

  295. TurretinFan said,

    April 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I don’t have any problem with the logical possibility of a thoughtless mind, just as I don’t have any problem with the logical possibility of any other organ existing without performing its intended function. A bloodless heart, for example, is a logical possibility. So is a fleshless skeleton, an eye in a dark room, an ear in silence, and so forth. Just as an axe is still an axe when it is at rest, a mind is a mind when it is at rest.

    -TurretinFan

    P.S. I was sorely tempted to suggest that I’ve seen abundant evidence of thoughtless minds in the “Occupy” movement and in Youtube comments, but I resisted the temptation.

  296. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

    David: Are you really suggesting that the Bible does not teach that persons and ONLY persons think? What is an example or implication of a nonperson thinking in the Bible?

    Yes, precisely: as far as I know, the Bible does not teach one way or the other that ‘persons and ONLY persons think.’

    I may be wrong, and I would be happy to hear any evidence to the contrary.

    But in the absence of that evidence, I would note that many animals show evidence of something resembling thought.

    That suggests to me that ‘thought’ is not the characteristic that makes us uniquely imago dei.

    But importantly — and if you are as committed to logic as I hope you are — you must also admit that even if the Bible does teach that ‘persons and ONLY persons think’, that still would not define personhood, but merely give a property of persons.

    You sould really read Clarks “Faith and Saving Faith.”

    Indulge me in a bit of controversialism. I won’t beat the horse to death, but I want to get this off my chest here.

    I have indeed read some Clark, including Religion, Reason, and Revelation, in which Clark argues that God Himself is a collection of propositions, if I’m remembering correctly.

    I don’t accept that argument.

    Further, I am quite concerned about where your bus makes its stops. I note that Sean G has been arguing vociferously, using the “person == mind” concept, that Chalcedon is incoherent and in need of replacing with … the theology of Gordon Clark.

    This is concerning in part because Chalcedon is universally accepted as an orthodox doctrinal standard (WCoF 8.2, e.g.).

    And it is concerning in part because I observe a tendency amongst committed Clarkians to refer doctrinal questions to Clark and/or logic rather than to Scripture.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what I’m observing. After all, I admit to quoting Calvin rather frequently, perhaps too frequently.

    Nevertheless, I am concerned that Clarkians might believe that the entire church got it wrong until Clark came and brought the pure light of reason to bear on the question. Maybe that’s so — but if so, then the entire Church needs to declare it so.

  297. April 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    TF,

    “I was sorely tempted to suggest that I’ve seen abundant evidence of thoughtless minds in the ‘Occupy’ movement and in Youtube comments, but I resisted the temptation.”

    This made me laugh out loud. :D

  298. TurretinFan said,

    April 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Genesis 1:26-28

    And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

    In that context, the image seems to be dominion, not thought.

    -TurretinFan

  299. Sean Gerety said,

    April 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    That suggests to me that ‘thought’ is not the characteristic that makes us uniquely imago dei.

    No, but rational though certainly is.

  300. Sean Gerety said,

    April 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Nevertheless, I am concerned that Clarkians might believe that the entire church got it wrong until Clark came and brought the pure light of reason to bear on the question. Maybe that’s so — but if so, then the entire Church .

    Well, the entire church did get it wrong. First, it never provided any intelligible definition of “person.” Second, what do you mean by the “entire Church needs to declare it so” (capitalization included)? Does the “entire Church” include Rome and the Eastern Orthodoxy as representatives from both these “churches” have drawn out what I think are valid conclusions from Chalcedonian orthodoxy that completely undermine, even destroy, the biblical doctrines of atonement, propitiation and imputation. If that’s what you mean by the “entire Church” then I say who cares what the “entire Church” decide?. Should we now hold all of our doctrines in subjection to the “entire Church”? Why not cut to the chase and have all our doctrines blessed by the pope in Rome along with the frauds that make up their so-called “magisterium.”?

    But, maybe that’s not what you meant by “entire Church.” I can only hope. :)

  301. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

    In my context, the PCA’s adoption of Clark’s theology as a standard of orthodoxy would be sufficient for me to consider it as a standard of orthodoxy, assuming that Clark’s theology were to be consonant with Scripture.

  302. April 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Federal Vision certainly wouldn’t be a problem; that’s for sure…

  303. Sean Gerety said,

    April 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Fair enough, not that I think that will ever happen given the animus and outright hatred directed against Clark by Van Tillians currently in positions of power and influence within the PCA and elsewhere (see Alan Strange’s recent remarks that exemplify Lane’s above concern that “Charges of Nestorianism are floating about with rather alarming looseness”).

    However, any changes or advancements in Christology will never occur, assuming they need to occur (and I think these various threads provide sufficient evidence that they do), if no one can freely discuss and debate these issues, so for that I’m grateful for Lane’s indulgence . . . and yours. :)

  304. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 20, 2012 at 11:45 am

    No problem. And despite my strong words in #296, I want to emphasize that my *concerns* are not the same as a declaration. I’m concerned about these matters for you and David Reece, and I would hope that you consider them.

    But I am not trying to act in the role of church court and declare you out of bounds wrt WCoF 8. That’s up to your own Presbytery and conscience to determine.

  305. Ansgar Olav said,

    April 22, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I know I am late in commenting on this, but I fail to see why this is so complicated an issue. The fathers at Chalcedon said that Cyril was the cipher for interpreting Leo (yes, I know, they appealed to the “bible” but since everyone does that, and everyone thinks he is biblical, we kind of need something else to explicate our decision).

    St Cyril said that two acting subjects was, for lack of a better word, “Nestorian.” Note, he did not say, nor did Nestorius, that “two persons” is nEstorian, but two acting subjects. I think that reduces to Nestorianism, but simply saying, “Well, I dont’ believe in two persons of Christ” tells one nothing on whether a position is Nestorian or not.

    Now, the Clarkians can then ask what is the precise definition of an “acting subject.” That’s another story.

  306. Andrew Buckingham said,

    June 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Lane, Reed, Moderators, here’s the thing:

    I kind of want the creation talk on the other string to slow down. Come to a nice conclusion. I thought maybe golf would do it. So I went pretty loosey goosey. I’m putting my reputation on the line to try to bring closure. The other way, I think, is to change the subject.

    I hereby give the authority to the moderators to delete any of my comments. I mean, if commenting on a blog that is 2 months stale isn’t nettiquette fail, then being one who is still newb, but has some sense of “common sense,” I hope, then I don’t know what nettiquete fail is.

    Ok, so this post about Nestorius rocks my world. I totally get that calling someone Nestorian is pretty much a very harsh thing, and it gets dropped a lot.

    But are there books to help understand the Chalcedonian council, whereby the comment in the other thread mentions that Nestorian thought was held as something pretty good.

    The whole thing about Nestorius for me was I was reading the modern theologians, and what’s clear is that I see a very prevalent bifurcation between Christ’s human and divine “nature” or something. Basically, Hypostatic Union, I think, was brilliant. And that’s why McGuckin was awesome. He explains it simply, so someone like me can understand.

    The question is, help a guy out, who was wrestling with the Nestorian beast, and found McGuckin, and then read about how Nestorius doctrine received some friendly treatment in 451.

    Or don’t help a guy out and just leave this comment as is.

    Or delete this comment.

    But do you see – I want to change the subject.

    but of course, if there are questions my way, I don’t mind putting my mind out there to pick, with all it’s idiosyncracies, etc…

    peace brothers.

  307. July 20, 2014 at 9:52 am

    […] da natureza humana”, o que foi condenado como heresia. Ademais, Perry Robinson observou que isso também é Nestorianismo, visto que trata a natureza humana como um objeto distinto do […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 326 other followers

%d bloggers like this: