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God the Son didn't have a human nature.—RC Sproul

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Calminian, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    Very true...
     
  2. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Perhaps. But this orientation is too consistent to be the result of careless language in the middle of an argument.

    Let’s start with Athanasius. When reading the Incarnation, he speaks of Christ as a single actor, using the body pretty much as an instrument. People who know him better than I say there are some places where he’s more careful, but mostly it looks like Christ is a theophany: God himself using a body to appear to us visibly. That’s not incarnation.

    As Norris (the editor of “The Christological Controversy,” which is a collection of extracts from major documents on this object) comments, Athanasius doesn’t explicitly deny the existence of a human soul, but a reader certain gets that impression.

    Of course when it was explicitly claimed, the Church rejected it, so now we’ve got Christ with both a human body and a human soul.

    But still, is this actually a human being, or is the Logos just manipulating an additional part of a human? My impression is the latter. And I think the rejection of Theodore makes that clear. Of course Church politics had a lot of impact on that, not to mention Mariological hysteria. But still, the Church branded as heretical a position that is basically identical to Aquinas, and seems pretty clearly have been intended to be orthodox, because it was considered heresy to give any metaphysical reality to the human being. Sorry, but that’s overtly docetic.

    The next question was, of course, that of the human will. Again, once it’s explicitly brought up the Church accepted that there has to be a human will. But the will is a kind of interesting thing. It’s not an actual part, like the liver or spleen. The will is a function of a person, that of deciding and taking action. So in saying that there are two wills and two natural operations, the Church is basically saying that there’s a real human being there. As someone from a scientific background, I basically don’t believe that a hypostasis has any existence in the real world. The best attempt to define it precisely that I’ve seen is in the Summa. And I’ll buy Aquinas’ argument that there’s only one in Christ. But still, from my non-metaphysical perspective, once you’ve got a stream of human decisions and actions, you’ve got a human person, even if we choose not to speak of it as a hypostasis.

    In the end, the Logos is still the active agent. But instead of manipulating a set of parts of a human, after Constantinople, one would think he’s working through an actual human being.

    But in the very statement defining all this, the writer was still unable to speak of it straightforwardly.

    “For it was right that the flesh should be moved but subject to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For as his flesh is called and is the flesh of God the Word, so also the natural will of his flesh is called and is the proper will of God the Word, as he himself says: “I came down from heaven, not that I might do mine own will but the will of the Father which sent me!” where he calls his own will the will of his flesh, inasmuch as his flesh was also his own. For as his most holy and immaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in its own state and nature (ὄρῳ τε καὶ λόγῳ), so also his human will, although deified, was not suppressed, but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory Theologus: “His will [i.e., the Saviour’s] is not contrary to God but altogether deified.””

    Animated flesh??? Is Jesus a zombie? The problem with this is that it’s describing the flesh and the will as being possessions of the Logos but not connected to each other in any normal way. The only relationship between the human will and the human flesh is that they are both the Logos’. But that’s nonsense. It’s meaningless to speak of a human will if the human will doesn’t control the actions of a human being. The Logos isn’t controlling a bunch of parts but is incarnate in a whole human being. A person, in any definition I would recognize, although not a Person as used in traditional theology.

    ----------

    Just to be clear: I am just as convinced as Athanasius that God is the ultimate subject of all of Christ's actions. I just think he's incarnate in an actual human being and not a bunch of human parts.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  3. Cappadocious

    Cappadocious Well-Known Member

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    That's an "excess" common to the Alexandrian school, which is why it was counterbalanced in the condemnations of Apollinarus, Eutyches, the Monothelites, etc. But the Alexandrian school was not the only word at the time, nor before.

    If you've read Aquinas, then you know that the will is not the faculty of deciding or taking action. Will is volition, i.e. drives(s) which is/are parsed by the intellect.

    Yeah, God's the real human being there.

    As someone with something approaching grammatical competency, I don't think you can communicate without resorting to the real existence of hypostaseis.

    When we say "divine hypostasis", we are emphasizing the continuity between the pre-incarnate and the incarnate Christ. Christ is a person who is human, and he's the same person who was pre-incarnate. That's what we're communicating.

    He is an actual human being. God has worked through actual human beings since the beginning of humanity; he became a human being in the fullness of time. If your metaphysical system cannot handle "God became a real man" then your metaphysical system is deficient, not the Gospel.

    Only if John the Evangelist was talking about a zombie when he said "the Word became flesh," and "the Christ has come in the flesh." "The flesh" refers to being human here. Animated flesh = human body animated by a human soul. I.E. being a real human being.

    My flesh and will are my possessions, too. I am a real human being.

    Once again, I don't think you understand what is meant by "will". It's our volition, not our decision-making process as such. If you want to understand Aquinas's rather fascinating treatment of the decision-making and action process vis-a-vis the will, I recommend Dr. Eleonore Stump's Aquinas, which provides a detailed and comprehensible analysis.

    The ancients are describing the parts in order to affirm the whole (i.e. the whole was being denied by denying proper parts.) That said, you keep saying "in" an actual human being, and not as an actual human being. There is no reward to be gained by dodging the Gospel.
     
  4. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    There seems to be some uncertainty exactly what the monothelites meant by “will.” However by speaking of a human will and natural operation, it would seem that the council is including will, choice and action, so the exact part of it represented by will is not critical. By connecting will to operation they are doing what I said, which is saying that the will is not just an isolated thing, but that it is connected with a human life. I’m just not so sure that the exposition reflects that understanding.

    Scripture speaks of the incarnation in various ways: as God’s word becoming flesh, as God speaking by a Son, as God’s fulness being present in Christ. By speaking of God being present in Christ I am using one of those, without denying the others.
     
  5. Cappadocious

    Cappadocious Well-Known Member

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    Well, we were speaking about will a second ago. But if you want to expand our discussion to the powers and operations as well, sure.

    "Cappadocious makes choices qua his human nature" or "Cappadocious swats the fly via his reflex operation" does not imply "Cappadocious is some docetic entity walking around in a human suit". Nor is it the case for the Christ.

    Well, of course.

    Yet you weren't comfortable with "flesh" a minute ago, calling animated flesh a zombie (which makes you and I zombies, evidently).
     
  6. Cappadocious

    Cappadocious Well-Known Member

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    Well, we were speaking about will a second ago. But if you want to expand our discussion to the powers and operations as well, sure. We have volition, which is parsed and channeled by intellect, etc. And Christ has a human intellect. So to defend free choice, you can do human will+human mind.

    "Cappadocious makes choices qua his human nature" or "Cappadocious swats the fly via his reflex operation" does not imply "Cappadocious is some docetic entity walking around in a human suit". Nor is it the case for the Christ.

    Well, of course.

    Yet you weren't comfortable with "flesh" a minute ago, calling animated flesh a zombie (which makes you and I zombies, evidently).
     
  7. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    That's one sentence from a whole Gospel. The Gospel as a whole doesn't lead me to suspect that John felt Jesus was other than a human being. Not so with a lot of early Christian writing.
     
  8. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) Supporter CF Ambassadors

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  9. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    This rather reminds me of the question "what did God do before he created the universe".
     
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