Monday, December 03, 2007

More on Christ as a Human-Divine Person

The discussion was getting bogged down on the post below, and Andrew pointed me to Gerald O'Collins "Christology", which I have just retrieved from the library.

By the way, that link that I have just given is to a review of O'Collin's book by a chap from St Olaf's in Minnesota whom I assume is a Lutheran. His comment is:
The chief difficulty with O'Collins's position is its uneven relationship to modernity. O'Collins opens faith to historical confirmation but finds only good news there; he embraces modern autonomy but saves his program with an ancient notion of freedom; he claims the benefits of historical consciousness but retreats into an eternalizing, static doctrine of "person" and a Christ without a "human" personhood; he affirms many modern moral complaints but ignores the context of theology; he wants to avoid supernaturalism, yet persuade us of the traditional doctrine of sinlessness and virgin conception. This is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too Christology.
Interesting in the light of the current discussion.

Here is some of the relevant section from O'Collins' book (page 244 ff) and my comments:
It is one thing, to expound a contemporary version of the Chalcedonian doctrine about Jesus Christ as one (eternally pre-existent, divine) person in two natures. It is another thing, however, to deal with spin-off questions which inevitably arise here. Christ was/is not a human person. [A bold statement] What kind of a human nature is his if it lacks human personhood? [But this is the wrong question: the right question is "How can you say that Christ's person has a human nature if Christ's person is not also human?"] It would seem to be an essentially deficient humanity [or rather no humanity at all--since it makes humanity a thing or a substance rather than something that cannot exist apart from a human person--in fact that raises dangerous precedents: something or someone being truly human without being a human person...eek!]...

First, a reluctance to ascribe to Christ a humanity without human personhood, because it would seem radically deficient, leads some to speak of him as a divine-human person [This is what I am saying] or even to state that he was simply a human person [This is something completely different--it would make him deficient in his divine nature]....

The former view could, in principle, be understood as shorthand for ‘one person with divine and human natures’, just as the traditional phrase about Jesus as ‘God-man’ pointed to one subject (Jesus) who was/is both divine and human by nature [Yes, that is how I mean it]. However, those who champion a ‘divine-human personhood’ probably intend by this a double personhood through which Christ ‘has’ both human and divine personhood [Well, maybe, but that is not the argument of this little black duck.]. This position, so far from advancing the discussion, rests on a confusion between nature (which one ‘has’) and person (which one does not ‘have’ but ‘is’) [Yes, I agree. It is wrong to say Christ "has" a human person or that he "has" a divine person. I am saying that he IS a person, and that by nature his person is simultaneously both divine and human.].

No one has laid his finger better on the confusion than Daniel Helminiak:
"Current insistence that Christ was a human person generally does not appreciate the classical meaning of the term, person, and as a result does not really appreciate the change in that term’s meaning. To suggest that without being a human person Christ would not be fully human is to misunderstand the distinction between nature and person. Nature is what makes one human or not. Christ has a completely human nature. Therefore, Christ is completely human. [Okay. But if we follow Helminiak's thinking to its conclusion we get: Christ is completely human. Christ is a Person. Thus the Person who is Christ is completely human.] One indication of the misunderstanding is reference to person, hypostasis, as something we have: ‘Did Christ have a human hypostasis? We do. [No. I do not "have" a human person any more than Christ "has" a divine person. I AM a human person. Christ IS a divine Person. AND a human person.] Then, if he did not, how can we ‘claim he is fully human?’ But hypostasis is not something someone has. The hypostasis is the someone who has whatever is had [Thought game: Imagine Jesus saying to himself: "I HAVE a human nature therefore I am human." Would not the "I" who makes this statement be Jesus' "person", and therefore would not his "person" be human?] . If the divine hypostasis, the Word, has all the qualities that constitute someone as human—a human nature—then the Word, a divine hypostasis, is ‘a human being, and fully so, period." [But if you say this divine hypostasis is "fully" human then are you not agreeing that the hypostasis of the Word is "human"?.].

Perhaps some of the trouble in accepting Christ as only divine person stems from the unarticulated sense that this would be to deny him a genuine human personality, if we agree to distinguish personality from personhood and person...
Well, we will leave him there, because that isn't my problem. I know the difference between person and personality. But does everyone now see what I am getting at, and why to boldly state that the hypostasis of the Incarnate Logos was Divine and not human does not make sense of the claim that in Christ there was One Person with two natures?


At Monday, December 03, 2007 6:52:00 pm , Anonymous nobilis said...

Hi David,

Your comments on Christ's natures and Person have a particular interest for me at the moment having recently studied Pope Benedict's (pre-papal) article on the notion of "person" in thelogy. It's worth a look not least because its discussion nature and person will shake your thinking a little !

At Monday, December 03, 2007 10:16:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Can you help me with a web address or a full title, Nobilis? I am very interested. This thing has got me pondering.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 12:45:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

It seems the old Orthodox charge against Catholicism as being crypto-nestorian and crypto-sabellian isn't so far-fetched after-all... >:)

How can one have a human nature without being a human person?

Gee, ... I wonder! -- How can the human race even exist then, since each and every one of its individuals possess an angelic nature as regards their souls, and an animalic nature as regards their bodies? (If I am either two persons, or no true person at all, then I've somehow managed to miss that ... and so did everybody else born to Adam to this day, BTW...)

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:29:00 am , Blogger nobilis said...

I havent' been able to locate the article on the net, but its title is "Concerning the notion of person in theology" Communio, 17, Fall, 1990, 439-454.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 9:15:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks, Nobilis, I'm getting a copy sent to me right now.

Lucian, I did not pose the question in the way you put it, ie. "How can one have a human nature without being a human person?".

Nor have I ever heard the assertion that human beings "possess an angelic nature as regards their souls, and an animalic nature as regards their bodies". That's a new one on me.

My point, which no body seems to be understanding, is very, very simple. It is this:

If we assert that the One Person of the Logos had a human nature, then even by linguistic logic (let alone theological necessity) that One Person must by nature be human, that is, be a human person.

I am not asserting that Christ had two persons, one human and one divine.

I am simply asserting that it is false to say that the Person of the Incarnate Logos had only the nature of divinity and not also the nature of humanity.

Gees. How many times do I have to say this before someone gets what I am trying to say?

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 2:48:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

St Olaf's is a small liberal arts college in Minnesota with an outstanding reputation academically.

The college's music department, in particular its choir, is among the many areas of long standing excellence -- which I say as a music BA from a competitor, St John's University, and a former accompanist to St John's Men's Chorus.

As to being Lutheran, they are affiliated with the ELCA. Enough said, let the reader understand.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 4:09:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


Having turned to the Net after a pleasant journey in real space, I find you still going on about all this!

I think I get you better now: you say that since Christ, as an incarnate Divine Person, has now and henceforth a human nature, then His Person can be described as human, for short, without denying His Divine impassibility or implying that there is more than one person in Christ.

Alas, I feel that this terminology should be avoided as it quite misleading - see my previous comments as to how perplexing it is to one who knows a little classical Christology.

It is correct to say that Christ is a man (the PC way to put this would be "Jesus was a human"), and even to say, as you do, that "the Person who is Christ is completely human" - but one cannot say that the Person of Christ IS human - that is to equate person with nature.

You still haven't proved your case.

The hypostatic union of the Incarnate Word is that wonderful assumption of a human body and soul into union with God the Son, such that the One Person, Who is Divine, now has a human nature, and so is at once true God and true Man. A human hypostasis is not capable of uniting itself to a Divine nature - we are not speaking here of divinization by grace, as we would of the saints - but a Divine hypostasis, being almighty, is capable of uniting a human nature to itself.

So it would be quite wrong to call the hypostasis of the Word "human".

I note from above comments that these curious ways of describing Christ are not very ecumenical, seeing as they have offended Catholics, Lutherans, and Orthodox!

As they say nowadays, "He means well". ;-)

BTW, I don't think much of O'Collins - he has such silly ideas as that the reality of Christ's Temptations is best explained by the fact that as God he could not sin, but as man he didn't realize this, because of his acceptance of the modern idea that one cannot experience a real temptation without the possibility of falling into it.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 4:16:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...

It should go without saying that by using the old Latin language of "assumption" I do not intend an adoptionist stance; nor, by saying that a Divine hypostasis, being almighty, can unite a human nature to itself, that I deny that all operations ad extra of the Holy Trinity are wrought by all Three Persons in common - since the Incarnation was a wonder worked by the Three, though it only happened to the Second of Them.

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:07:00 pm , Blogger Peter said...

Taking a step back I ask, why are we discussing this? What is at stake? What will it mean if Jesus is or is not a human 'person'?

Try as I may, I cannot think of anything to be gained or anything protected by asserting that Christ was not a human person.

In any case, it seems hard to argue with the Chalcedonian definition,

Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 10:41:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


I think at best all this boils down to rather overdaring use of the communication of idioms, that is, the notion that "Christ's Divine and Human characteristics and activities are to be predicated of the one Word Incarnate." (Ott. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.)

Having had a chance to consult Ott, now I've my library at hand, I find this apposite passage:

"Rules Concerning the Predication of Idioms

"The nature of the Hypostatic Union is such that while on the one hand things pertaining to both the Divine and the human nature can be attributed to the person of Christ, on the other hand things specifically belonging to one nature cannot be predicated of the other nature. Since concrete terms (God, Son of God, Man, Son of Man, Christ the Almighty) designate the Hypostasis and abstract terms (Godhead, humanity, omnipotence) the nature, the following rule may be laid down: communicatio idiomatum fit in concreto, non in abstracto. The communication of idioms is valid for concrete terms not for abstract ones. So, for example: The Son of Man died on the Cross; Jesus created the world. The rule is not valid if there be reduplication, by reduplication the concrete term is limited to one nature. Thus it is false to say 'Christ has suffered as God.' 'Christ created the world as a human being.' It must also be observed that the essential parts of the human nature, body and soul are referred to the nature, whose parts they are. Thus it is false to say: 'Christ's soul is omniscient,' 'Christ's body is ubiquitous.'

"Further, predication of idioms is valid in positive statements not in negative ones, as nothing may be denied to Christ which belongs to Him according to either nature. One therefore may not say: 'The Son of God has not suffered,' 'Jesus is not almighty.' Assertions liable to be misunderstood should be protected by clarifying additions like 'as God,' 'as man' for example 'Christ, as man, is a creature.'"

At Tuesday, December 04, 2007 10:54:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


It should be more than obvious why God the Word ever was, is and shall be a Divine Person, and why therefore, when He took on human nature, a body and soul, He became true man without ceasing to be True God, thus is consubstantial with the Father and consubstantial with us, able to be the unique God-pleasing Victim and Mediator of our salvation; but He must remain One Person, One Hypostasis, with two natures - and as to his Person, It can only ever be Divine. To say that His Person could somehow become what it was not is to impugn the immutability of God.

To speak so loosely as to thoroughly muddle up person and nature and to defy the careful distinctions made by Fathers, Doctors and Councils is rash and offensive to pious ears. It is to share in the indifferent spirit of our dark age to claim that "all this doesn't really matter anyway", rather than zealously and joyously to guard and delight in the subtle nuances of traditional theological considerations regarding Our Lord.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:14:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Joshua, I find your quotations from Ott very useful. I was not aware of this work previously. However, having cited him, you seem to draw back from his rules in your reply to Peter.

It is curious that Luther defended the Real Presence against Zwingli precisely on the basis that because of the communication of idioms, Christ's body was "ubiquitous"...

It is further curious that Pope Benedict in his new Encyclical quoted St Bernard of Clairvaux (who was much admired by Luther) who precisely referred to the impassibility of God to the effect that "Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis".

Now I remember once having this conversation with you (I think), where it was my conviction that God did suffer upon the Cross in the humanity of Christ, but that you asserted the impassibility of God even in Christ. I realise now that Bernard (and Papa Benny) hold out the real solution to this conundrum.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 7:33:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...


Yes, Ott did mention the "Old Lutheran Doctrinal Theology" to the effect that it inclined towards Monophysitism in the matter of Christ as ubiquitous (since this appears to treat Christ as having only one nature, positing a real transference of Divine attributes to His human nature).

I was unsure later if I'd been a bit harsh in my above comments... :-(

Of course God is impassible, being pure Act; but, as the Incarnation has proven - beyond what philosophy could reason out - God is full of compassion: "for the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind / And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind" (Faber).

Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret : ut omnis qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam. (Jo. iii, 16.)

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 8:38:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Recognize, though, that Lutheranism does not teach ubiquity as an essential characteristic of the human nature and never has. It teaches that in the unity of His person, Christ, who from the moment of His conception in the womb of the Most Holy Virgin is both divine and human to all eternity, "fills all in all." Said most simply: He who makes the promise keeps the promise. "Lo, I am with you always." He keeps it not with some piece of Himself, but with the whole Person, who now is never other than the Eternal Logos ensarkos.

I've never understood, myself, how anyone reading Chemnitz' *Two Natures in Christ* could ever come up with Lutherans tending toward monophysitism.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 9:44:00 am , Blogger Peter said...

Joshua wrote:
He must remain One Person, One Hypostasis, with two natures - and as to his Person, It can only ever be Divine.

I am obviously missing your point here. How can you possibly marry your insistance that Jesus' person is solely divine with the Chalcedonian definition?

each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 9:49:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

From what I have read, I thought Luther, in his defence of the real presence against Zwingli, being unwilling to make reference to transsubstantiation, instead at one point argued that Christ could be both present in heaven and on the altar (which Zwingli et al. denied, since it is clearly impossible for anything to be in two places at once) by reason of his Divine nature being everywhere, and then arguing via the communication of idioms that therefore Christ is everywhere; unfortunately, this either proves too much - that everything in the universe contains Christ "in, with and under" it - or is in fact an invalid use of the predication of idioms, since "Christ is everywhere" is true (since God is everywhere, above all things, outside all things, within all things, underpinning the existence of all things), but "Christ is everywhere in his human nature" is not. Of course, the way to square the circle is to say in truth that Christ is naturally present in heaven (since his ascension) and sacramentally present in the consecrated species; this avoids having to try and argue from ubiquity.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 9:57:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...


You argue as if a human nature and a divine nature, each not yet a person, were united, and that hypostatic union constituted a new person. But it did not happen that way. Instead, God the Word, a Divine Person sharing the Divine Nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit, assumed unto Himself a human nature - body and soul and all that in man is. The Incarnate Word's "I" is the Person Who has ever been: Divine.

A Divine Person coming to possess a new nature - a human one - does not become a human person, unless we accept David's daring shorthand that Christ is a "human person" in the sense that He is One Person, not two, and that Person, without ceasing to be Divine, has taken on humanity, and can be described as a human Person (note the significance of the capital letter) - in Berulle's sense of "humanized Divinity".

I really hope I've done justice to David here, and to what little I know of Christology: I'd hate to fall under the Chalcedonian anathema!

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 10:01:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

When the Lutheran Symbols cite Luther on this question, they also note his words that he was only seeking to show possibilities and that God may very well know more ways than that for the body of Christ to be present.

More to the heart of the matter: how can the Person be present in only one nature anywhere after the incarnation? Is not THAT a violation of the "without separation" of Chalcedon? That Person who is truly both God and Man is present in all places - according to the essential property of the divine nature which is communicated to the human nature via the personal union without ever becoming essentially a property of it.

But the Lutheran teaching of the Eucharist does not rest on this - as the Formula of Concord makes clear - but simply upon the words of our Lord's Testament. We leave to Him the manner - we obviously don't need to know it or He would have told us - but we joyfully affirm that His body and blood are truly and substantially present in the Eucharist as He Himself has promised and as His holy Church has ever taught. FWIW.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 10:04:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


About your last comment to Peter, another "Amen." The words of our Lord's prayer in John 17 come ringing in.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:21:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...

William (do you prefer Pastor? - unfamiliar with proper term of address!),

I think it would be a worry to claim that Christ's Person is present in both natures everywhere. Chalcedon's "without separation" does not imply that, but rather concerns Emmanuel's two natures always being united in One Person.

Consider Christ between His saving death and glorious resurrection: His dead body (still hypostatically unity to His Divinity) was in the tomb; His soul (likewise united to His Divinity) was in Hades, preaching salvation to the spirits in prison, that is, to the souls of the righteous who had died in faith but had perforce to wait until Christ opened the gates of heaven, barred since the Fall (but now at once the Limbus Patrum became heaven, since these blessed souls saw Christ face to face); and Christ in His Divinity (not in his human body or soul) was where He ever is, on the throne of God with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ruling over all things and filling all things with his presence.

Something similar applies in the case of the Christian consuming the Eucharist: until the Sacrament's outward appearances are 'corrupted' by digestion, Our Lord is present in his Body (in the host) and in his Blood (in the contents of the chalice, if it had been received), and, by concomitance, since his Body is now alive evermore, and thus not separate from his Blood, nor from his soul and Divinity, in the host are present also his Blood, soul and Divinity, in the spiritual draught also his Body, soul and Divinity.

But as the expression is, once the appearances of bread and wine cease owing to the natural processes of digestion, Christ's sacramental presence in his Body and Blood cease, since the consecrated elements no longer appear as bread and wine, and so no longer signify what they had become.

However, having become, as Chrysostom says, concorporeal and consanguineous with the Lord by eating and drinking Him, our bodies and souls are spiritually fed, and are infused with grace - which created grace is the supernatural elevation of our souls caused by the Uncreated Grace that is God active in us (appropriated to the Holy Spirit).

Thus, though after a time the Communion we have received has been digested, and so the real presence has ceased (else there would be... unpleasant consequences), by grace God, and so the Divine presence of Christ, and His Father and Their Spirit, remain present within us, and indeed are "more" present in the sense that, by the physical application of the saving power of the Cross, mediated to us by the Body of Christ in the sacrament as instrument of the Divinity, we have been raised up by grace to a higher supernatural level, and, being made more Godlike, are "closer" to God, and, please God, made fitter for heaven and distanced ever more from sin, Satan, death and Hell.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:46:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

William is fine.

The difficulty you face, then, is that the Fathers were unanimous (I believe) in asserting that whatever is ascribed as "given to" Christ in time is in fact given to the humanity, since the divinity from eternity possesses all things. Thus "all power in heaven and earth is given to me" speaks directly to the exaltation of the human nature. It seems a stretch then to lose the reference to the human nature in "lo, I am with you always." Again, we simply rest content that the One who made that promise - God and Man - keeps that promise - as God and Man. We don't need to know how, and certainly we reject any notion of "local extension" for that does not even apply to the omnipresence of the divine nature. "God is so big that no nothing is bigger and so small that nothing is smaller." Luther.

The "after effects" of communicating the sacred species, Dr. Luther described like this:

"And that is what this spiritual food does: when the body eats it physically, this food digests the body's flesh and transforms it so that it too becomes spiritual, i.e., alive and blessed forever as Paul says in 1 Cor. 15. To give a simple illustration of what takes place in this eating, it is as if a wolf devoured a sheep and the sheep were so powerful a food that it transformed the wolf and turned him into a sheep. So when we eat Christ's flesh physically and spiritually, this food is so powerful that it transforms us into itself and out of fleshly, sinful, mortal men makes spiritual, holy, living men." AE 37:100,101

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:53:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


I've just started perusing Pohle-Preuss, "Christology", which states "the Divine Person of the Logos... unites itself with His human nature alone... the human nature of Christ... receives its personation from the Logos" and "In becoming the property and possession of the Person of the Logos, the manhood of Jesus Christ, by virtue of the Hypostatic Union, loses its 'perseitas', i.e., its independent existence. Though remaining a 'substantia prima et integra' (i.e., a nature), it is no longer a 'substantia tota in se' (i.e., an hypostasis), for the reason that it has become a quasi-constitutive element of a higher hypostasis." Also, "Christ's human nature is a person through the divine personality of the Logos, and it is a far higher prerogative for a created nature to subsist in a Divine Person than in its own personality." There follows a citation of St Bonaventure to this effect. Throughout the volume Christ's Divine Person is referred to, without using your terminology.

Hope this is relevant and helpful! At least it has motivated me to think and read about such wonderful mysteries of our Faith.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 1:07:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


I like that rather meaty quotation (pun intended). I had myself piously held that Christ's promise to be with us always refers to His presence in the Adorable and Comfortable [i.e. strengthening] Sacrament of the Altar.

Pohle-Preuss speak of Ubiquitarianism as a wrong application of the 'communicatio idiomatum'. They cite St Fulgentius: "Unus idemque homo localis ex homine, qui est Deus immensus ex Patre" (my translation: One and the same is a localised man [on account of being] from man, who is God boundless [without localization] on account of being from the Father) and the Second Council of Nicaea: "Si quis Christum Deum nostrum circumscriptum [perigrapton] non confitetur secundum humanitatem [kata to anthropinon], anathema sit" (my trans.: Whoso doth confess Christ our God to be bounded - not according to his humanity - be he anathema), which implies that the Council Fathers DID hold Christ to be bounded, localized, according to his humanity.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 1:32:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Don't like Pohle-Preuss. Don't like this at all. It will not do to say that the humanity of Christ "has become a quasi-constitutive element of a higher hypostasis".

I know that being God is a far better and higher thing than being man, nevertheless, being man is what God created me to be and I rather value it.

It seems to be something more akin to Buddhism than Christianity to say that humanity is fittingly subsumed into the divinity in a way that humanity no longer remains.

You finally understood me right when you described my teaching as a "daring shorthand that Christ is a 'human person' in the sense that He is One Person, not two, and that Person, without ceasing to be Divine, has taken on humanity, and can be described as a human Person (note the significance of the capital letter [yes, it is significant])" -- although I know nothing of Berulle or his "sense of humanized Divinity".

For me, this also solves the ubiquity problem. Since the Divine Person of Christ is also truly human, then he is present (even apart from the Eucharist) in both his humanity and divinity even if his human body, soul etc. is not present, because his Person (both divine and human) is present.

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 2:57:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


Pierre Cardinal de Bérulle (1575-1629) was one of the founders of the French School of spirituality, and was instrumental in introducing the Teresian reform of Carmel into France. I suspect you would like what he and the other famous writers (e.g. Ven. Jean-Jacques Olier, Charles de Condren, even down to St Louis de Montfort) of that school taught.

Certainly Christ's Person is everywhere, and that Person is in hypostatic union with His flesh and blood, glorified and risen; so even if that flesh, that blood be not here at my computer, yet his blessed Person is here (to be ever worshipped!) as He is everywhere, and that Person is true God and true man. Still, mark the valid and invalid communication of idioms: "Christ is everywhere" (true), "Christ as man is everywhere" (false).

Now I nor Pohle-Preuss never would say that humanity is subsumed into divinity in a way that humanity no longer remains: that would be monophysitism (the idea of there being only one nature after the Union). There could be no saving oblation of Christ for us if he was not truly man as well as God.

But to say that the Divine Person of Christ has become a human Person, by taking on human nature, without ceasing to be God and remaining One Person, is precisely to say, in rather mechanical language it is true, 'that the humanity of Christ "has become a quasi-constitutive element of a higher hypostasis"' - which is simply that, as Christ's humanity never existed apart from His Divinity, the hypostasis of his humanity is that of the God-Logos, not (as it otherwise would have been) a separate, totally and solely human person. It is just what I asserted some posts back: the place of what would have been a human person has been filled by the Second Person of the Trinity, in a supereminent manner above the person possible to any created nature.

I will give you what St Bonaventure says (quoting from P-P): "Natura assumpta in Christo eo ipso est nobilior quod in nobiliori persona stabilitur; unde ordinatio ad dignius, quamvis auferat rationem suppositionis [i.e., hypostaseos propriae], non tamen aufert dignitatis proprietatem". As best I can render this, the Seraphic Doctor thus says "The nature assumed into Christ by He Himself is more noble since established in a nobler person: therefore it is an ordering to the worthier, though leaving aside a rational supposit [that is, its proper (human) hypostasis], not however taking away the distinction of dignity".

Note well that this is not to fall into the detestable error of Appolinaris of Laodicea: he thought that the Word took the place of Christ's soul - no, the Person of Christ is not His soul, for as Aquinas famously put it, "My soul is not I". Rather, Christ's human nature is comprised of a rational soul animating a human body, and - but for having been conceived united to the Eternal Word - would have been a human person, an "I", too. Being, however, ever united to God the Son, that sacred humanity of Christ finds its "I" to be the Eternal Son of God.

Nor is this to fall into monothelitism: Christ has two wills, indeed must, since as God He, with the Father and the Spirit, shares in the One Divine Will, identical with God's Essence (since God is absolutely simple, i.e. without composition or parts; the Three Persons are not parts), while, as man, having a soul, He therefore has all faculties of that soul, including a will. The Eternal Word made flesh both wills with the Divine Will, and wills with His human will, and the two never disagree (due to the hypostatic union - the One Person exercising His volition through two wills), though for his human will that meant suffering great pain when awaiting in His agony the Passion.

Likewise one must avoid monenergism: God-made-man has two energies or activities: one when working according to his Divine Nature, as when upholding all things in existence (cf. Heb 1); the other when working according to his nature as man, as when breathing, walking, etc. His so-called theandric acts are actions of both natures in concert or synergy, as when working miracles by using his hands to apply His spittle to the blind man that his eyes might see.

I hope I've expressed things correctly here... I have the sudden feeling of not treating these mysteries of Our Saviour with sufficient awe and reverence. Kyrie, eleison!

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 3:01:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...

BTW, please excuse my inconsistent capitalization and use of subjunctive,plus misspelling of the name of at least one arch-heretic! :-)

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 3:56:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...


I thought I had better betake myself to the Catechism, rather than rely on older author(itie)s only; I find only reference to Christ as a divine person, probably to avoid some of the endless arguments you've stirred up in me!


n.466 "... Christ's humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception. ..."

n.468 "After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ's human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople in 553 confessed that 'there is but one hypostasis [person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity.' Thus everything in Christ's human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject..."

n.470 "... Christ's human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from 'one of the Trinity.' The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. ..."

n.476 "Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ's body was finite. [Cf. Council of the Lateran (649)] ..."

n.477 "... in the body of Jesus "we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.' [Roman Missal, Preface of Christmas I] The individual characteristics of Christ's body express the divine person of God's Son. He has made the features of his human body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy image, for the believer 'who venerates the icon is venerating in it the person of the one depicted.' [Council of Nicaea II]"

(Note therefore that the non-ubiquity of Christ's body is the condition for its depiction, and of the licitness of veneration of such images.)

n.616 "... The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all."

At Wednesday, December 05, 2007 4:51:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yep, thanks for all that Josh. I think I am finally getting it. Thanks for the info on Bruelle--I'll look him up. Also thanks for the catechism references--I should have thought to look there straight away!

I believe it is right to say that the Person of the divine Logos is fully human and fully divine, or as you put it simply, "that Person is true God and true man", or just as simply and more accurately "that the Divine Person of Christ has become a human Person, by taking on human nature, without ceasing to be God and remaining One Person".

And of course, I repudiate any interpretation of that statement that might imply that I am positing that Christ's humanity "existed apart from His Divinity, the hypostasis of his humanity is that of the God-Logos" OR that the Divine person "attached" himself to "a separate, totally and solely human person."

I think I am happy with that and will finally let the matter rest at that point.

Thanks to you, Joshua, Peter, Nobilis and Weedon, for playing along!


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