FROM THE YEAR 381 UNTIL 1800.
|jjHE Church had now to undertake the task of grasping and comprehending in living unity the two aspects of the personality of Christ, each of which separately had been as fully as possible brought to view and established during the course of the previous development of the doctrine:—and it set vigorously to work. Evidently, however, its success could not but be incomplete so long as its conception of the nature of God and man, in their relation to each other, continued to lack definiteness or even accuracy. Relatively to the advancement of Christology, therefore, the first business of the Church was to ascertain the extent of its knowledge of the nature of God, and of the nature of man. During the period on which we are now entering, the Church was actually impelled to endeavour to accomplish this object.
Contemplated in the light of the ultimate goal, the dogma concerning the Person of Christ occupied, for a considerable period, a position rather of secondary than of primary importance. Its further progress depended, in fact, on other dogmas. These other dogmas continued, it is true, to experience the fructifying influence of the ascertained results at which Christology had already arrived, but must themselves needs gain a more fixed form ere they could be capable of reciprocating the benefit and furthering the progress of Christology. The statement just made involves, of course, that the definitions agreed upon by the Church in respect of the nature of Christ, and which also became every day more and more numerous, were and could only be provisional and temporary. The issue of
P. 2.—VOL. I. A
the efforts for the formation of dogmas which the Church now prepared to put forth, must necessarily be to determine how far the definitions fixed upon at the commencement of the process through which Christian thought had to pass, were not of mere negative importance, as eliminating what was untrue, hut of positive also, as faithful and satisfactory expressions of the truth which lay like a kernel within the faith in the Godman.
With this, as it were, expectant attitude, which our dogma was driven to take for a considerable period, it would seem to be inconsistent that unwearied efforts should have been ever afresh devoted to it—that, down to the seventh century, the greatest schismatic and political movements should have been connected with it—and that on it were centred the struggles and discussions of the councils,—its history constituting, in point of fact, their history. But even if the process through which dogmas were passing in these centuries had run a more satisfactory course than it did, we must not forget that, during this period, it was the Greek Church which still took the initiative, even though its decision might not prevail, in connection with dogmas; whereas, in the West, signs of a different order of things were early discernible. The Greek Church, also, was especially subjected to severe convulsions and conflicts, owing to the circumstance of its Christology constituting, as it were, its entire dogmatical theology, and the other dogmas, relating to man, God, and redemption, not being permitted to have anything like an independent development From these, on the contrary, the West escaped almost entirely free. The only independent movement in the East, parallel to that going on in the West, was one which took the shape of Christological investigations into the nature of God and man. These investigations, however, were prosecuted with all possible vigour.
Assuming it, then, as a settled point, that every step of real advance in the matter of Christology, made by the Church, must be preceded by a deeper knowledge of the nature of God and man, the question arises, Which of these two subjects was first brought under consideration? For a time it appeared as though the impulse towards the formation of dogmas would leave the Person of Christ and the Trinity, and be directed first to anthropology—and that both in the East and West contem
CHRISTOLOGY DEPENDENT ON OTHER DOCTRINES. 3
poraneously;—iu the former, in the school of Antioch; in the latter, in Augustine and Pelagius. But the Eastern Church, which, so long as it retained any life, preferred speculations on the Trinity and on the Person of Christ, was unwilling to join in that opposition to the anthropology of the school of Antioch, which, notwithstanding the many excellent thoughts it embodied, was quite necessary ere a real dogmatical process could be initiated. The Western Church did indeed start an opposition; but both the forms which it took, even that of Augustine, bore a one-sided character, and the resulting discussions consequently failed to combine in living unity the elements of truth of which each side was the representative. Pelagius, laying stress on moral freedom, could see in the doctrine of grace little else than something inimical to freedom: to him, therefore, God was merely the Creator, the Lawgiver, and the Judge, of freedom. Augustine, on the other hand, allowed to man no principle of self-determination, no volitional centre of his own, but considered him, in respect of evil, merely as an accident of the race, and, in respect of the redemptive process, merely as an object of the omnipotent elective grace of God. Owing to this its character, the controversy neither settled the anthropology of Christianity, except on the one point of the general need and capability of salvation, nor determined the inner idea and essential nature of redemptive grace; but merely decided that it was necessary, in general, and that it had found realization in Christianity. The existence of such grace was confessed; its rationale remained unsettled. The magical character given by the current representations to the redemptive process in the souls of men, afforded full opportunity for the introduction of a doctrine of freedom which tended to Pelagianism; and we find, as a matter of fact, that the practice and teachings of the Church down to the Reformation show traces of the separate and antagonistic existence of Pelagian and magical elements.
The anthropological discussions of the fifth century could scarcely, therefore, further, even to a moderate extent, the progress of the doctrine concerning the Person of Christ. The character of those disputes was still quite elementary; and their utmost effect was, by the rejection of Manicha^an and Pelagian elements, to recover lost ground, and to gain an anthropological victory parallel to that which had been won over the Ebionitic and Docetic errors.
It became, rather, every day more decidedly the normal course of the impulse towards the formation of dogmas, to occupy itself with the plan of redemption (Soteriology),—that is, with the questions, Wherein consists the salvation bestowed in Christ? and, How was this work accomplished by Him?
But the mode of conceiving the work of redemption is in reality a mode of conceiving how God is in relation to men —how He communicates Himself to them: in other words, it involves the formation of a conception of God in the light of the work of redemption. The work of the Church to the time of the Reformation, may therefore be regarded as concentrated on the development of the knowledge of God, as manifested in the work wrought by Him through Christ for the deliverance and perfection of humanity. Progress in this department was naturally followed by efforts to settle Christian anthropology; —which efforts mainly effected their purpose during the latter part of the period now under consideration,—that is, since the Reformation.
Nor can it be denied that, during the long Second Period, sure progress was, in all essential respects, made towards the realization of that which was absolutely necessary to the further development and revival of the dogma concerning the Person of Christ. Elements of a Pelagian and magical character may be considered as having been once for all condemned before the forum of science, which has in it the seeds and capacity of life. Thus, too, were condemned, both that unethical conception of God and His grace which excludes the freedom of man, and that irreligious conception of man's ability and action, which excludes the necessity for God's assistance. The combination in one dogma of the parts taken respectively by God and man in the work of redemption, in such a manner that they might appear rather as uniting with, than excluding each other, could never be satisfactorily accomplished, until further advances had been made in the knowledge of the nature of God and man. Consequently, all that was necessary to the making a new and decisive step in advance, was to apply to the purposes of Christology the anthropological results arrived at during the second period.
Independently of the circumstauce, that on the comprehension of the redemptive work of God, for and in humanity, hoth in its objective and subjective aspect, were mainly concentrated the entire dogmatical efforts of this period, so far as they took a normal course, that work is intimately connected with the doctrine whose history we are writing. The redemptive work of God, objectively considered, is essentially nothing else than the work or the office of Christ; and, as it became more and more fully understood, so did the knowledge of man's need and capability of redemption and perfection become more complete and thorough.
The Christian mind advanced along three great lines towards a fuller understanding of the work or office of Christ; and to these three great lines correspond the three great Churches— the Greek, the Romish, and the Protestant.
The Greek Church, "seeking after wisdom," regarded Christ as the manifestation of the truth: in its eyes, He was the personal embodiment of wisdom, which, being free from falsity and error, is also free from sin. It regarded Christ predominantly from the point of view of His prophetical office, though not without cherishing the hope that, at the end of the days, He would prove His might as a King in that conflict with evil and death, to which the victory gained over Satan by Christ in a supra-historical struggle, which took place outside of the sphere within which humanity moves, formed the prelude. The "orthodox" Church did, it is true, cling zealously and faithfully to the divinity and humanity of Christ; for, indeed, the doctrine that the Son, the eternal Wisdom, became man, forms a part of the true doctrine of the Person of Christ. Subsequently to the fifth century, however, few of the Greek Fathers were able to give a deeper reason for the incarnation, than that the best means of exhibiting and teaching the truth —that is, God—was that the invisible Wisdom should become visible. Redemption (in its subjective aspect), and faith, are therefore treated almost solely from the theoretical point of view, as consisting in such an acquaintance with, or recognition of, the dogma, as implies it to be true. Placing the chief good in knowledge, the Greek Church directed its main efforts, as a Church, during the period when it still displayed mental activity, to giving its dogmas greater precision of form. The Episcopate was the means employed to this end.
The Romish Church, which, from of old, in accordance with Western tendencies, -vras more absorbed in the contemplation of self and of the world, and was the inheritress of the practical spirit of the ancient Romans, sought not only to teach, but also to administrate and rule the affairs of men, in agreement with Christian principles. The Episcopate here is not subservient to dogmas; but dogmas are made a means of increasing the power of the Episcopate, of carrying out a spiritual rule, and of instituting a new order of life: the prophetic office is subordinated to, and employed by, the kingly. Christ is represented from the point of view of His kingly authority. The Teacher becomes the Lawgiver; the Gospel, the nova lex. And inasmuch as the Church participates in Christ, who came to found a visible kingdom, with fixed regulations of its own, it has a share, also, of His authority and dominion. Being the image and representative, and, as it were, the continuation of Christ, it arranges its organization with a view to this dominion; in carrying on which, it conceived itself to be acting in the name, and as the vicegerent, of Christ the King. In conformity with this general view of Christ, shepherds became rulers, priests became judges and lawgivers, entrusted with a power of disposal over even the blessings of salvation, and the future and the nether worlds; and, finally, from the midst of the bishops rose the Pope, who was regarded as the king of kings, because, as the servus servorum, he stood in the closest relation to Christ the King. Dogmas here are considered to form part of the law; and as law requires assent or obedience (assensus, obedientia), so did they consider, not error, or even evil only, but disobedience and the debitum which disobedience involved, to be that from which a deliverance was necessary: obedience to Christ's government, His laws, and His propitiation, on the contrary, they regarded as the condition of salvation. The doctrine of the second coming of Christ receded, for evident reasons, to the background: the highest glory of Christ is to have been the Founder of this spiritual state, and the plenipotent Bestower on the Church of all that which it needs, of authority and laws, of sacramental grace and rules of life.
As the Episcopate, the Councils, and the quietly growing power of the Bishop of Rome, constituted during the Greek period the prelude to the form which the Romish Church assumed in the Middle Ages, so, in the palmy days of the Popedom, Anselm the German became, by means of his work, "Cur Deus homo?" a kind of herald of the Reformation. At the close of that immortal work, however, he sinks back into the general tendency of his time, and applies his theory to the support of an ecclesiastical royalty. The reward which Christ earned by His innocent sufferings, and which He did not need for His own benefit, he represents as having been conferred on the Church,—a treasure which is the basis, and which it administers for the purposes, of its authority.
The central point of the Church of the Reformation, considered subjectively, was the personal need of salvation, and especially of the expiation of guilt (culpa, reatus); its objective centre was the Sacred Passion. Christ is predominantly represented by it, under the form of a servant, as the atoning Mediator and High-priest. Just as in the Old Testament the prophets occupied themselves at first with the Davidic kingdom and with Davidic hopes, afterwards returning to that which was inward and spiritual, so has it been in the history of the inward image formed of the manifested Redeemer in His entirety. The commencement of the Evangelical Church was marked by a similar return from the outward to the inward— from the sphere of mere knowledge and works, to that of the feelings and of the immediate self-consciousness, whose reconciliation was held to be the thing of first importance. It felt and confessed that there is a reconciliation of the individual person; that there is a work of Christ which is more than a mere institution, which respects the individual man; and that we become participators in it,—nay, more, that we become children of God and brothers of the First-born,—if we hold to Him the relation not merely of belief in His truth, and of obedience to His will, but of personal confidence in His mighty, divine, and atoning love: in one word, if our Christianity consist not merely in knowledge, or in works of the will, but in the utter and confident self-surrender of a soul which trusts, and can entrust itself to, Christ.
Such are the general outlines of the advance made towards the understanding of the Divine redemption wrought through Christ, by Christendom, in the three great ecclesiastical forms under which it has hitherto existed. As a knowledge of the God who revealed Himself in Christ, it involves the knowledge, first, of the wisdom of God; secondly, of God as the righteous Lord, mighty to save; and, finally, of the love of God. At no period was any one of these points left entirely out of view; but what we are now concerned to know is, on which of them, during any particular period, the attention of the Christian mind was chiefly concentrated.
Now, although the form in which the three Churches clothed their conception of God was in all cases determined by the nature of His manifestation of Himself—of His presence, and of His activity—in the God-man, Christ; still, these definitions of the conception of God, according to their nature, were very differently related to the doctrine of the Person of Christ, and especially to the human aspect thereof.
Merely with a view to the communication of the truth, the incarnation was, in fact, scarcely requisite. Inspiration, sacred books, were also fitted for this purpose. The humanity of the Son occupied in the Greek Church, consequently, but a precarious, accidental position—the position, namely, of a mere means to another end. Nor could the humanity of Christ be raised to a firmer and more independent position, unless shown to form an integral portion of the very substance of Christianity, and not destined merely to be the medium for manifesting the invisible Divine Truth, or God.
The case is precisely the same with the category of power and righteousness. If Christ be considered too exclusively under the aspect of a King and eternal Judge, we withdraw Him from humanity,—we allow His humanity to fade away before the majesty of His divinity,—and His incarnation is then, as it were, abrogated by His exaltation. He then becomes merely the Logos. His mission was fulfilled when He had founded the Church, had given it plenary power, and had won for it the saving virtues which it dispenses. But how nori-essentially, how accidentally, is His humanity related to this purpose! We are, besides, on all hands assured, and especially by the followers of Anselm, that God could have freely forgiven sin and communicated grace even without Christ. That a theocracy could be established independently of an incarnation, is evident from the Old Testament: why, then, might not also a new Levitical priesthood have been founded, bearing rather a royal than a priestly character?
We cannot, therefore, be surprised—nay more, we should look as a matter of course—to find that, so long as the Greek and Roman Churches took the lead, too great prominence was, on the whole, given to the divine over the human aspect of Christ's Person; and that the former stood related to the latter as something either inwardly alien, or even exclusive. The reason thereof is, that those Churches assigned to the humanity of Christ a significance of a merely temporary, accidental character. Only when the Church became more distinctly conscious of that holy love of God which effected the atonement of humanity, did it see that the incarnation was a necessity, and consequently assign to the humanity of Christ a position of essential importance. By the incarnation, and not by grace, which is independent of historical events and facts (which would have been an arbitrary and unethical thing), was the reconciliation of the world actually accomplished: the man Christ Jesus reconciled the world with God. This was possible, because in Him God became man. Insight into the possibility of this incarnation depended, as respects the part taken by God, (1) on His being predominantly conceived, not merely as Wisdom, or as Might and Justice, but as self-communicating Love, to which the very highest conceivable form of fellowship must be congruous. It was on the Lutheran Church, after the way had been prepared during the Middle Ages, that this insight into the fact that the essential nature of God is holy love, and not an infinitude (whether of being, or of wisdom, or of power and righteousness) essentially opposed to the finite, dawned most clearly. (2) Further, inasmuch as with this deeper insight into the moral nature of God, and especially into the essentially moral character of the atonement, there was connected a deeper, even a moral and religious, conception of the nature and destiny of man, in opposition both to a Pelagian and a magical view of the method of redemption; and, inasmuch as one of the fundamental postulates of the Evangelical Church was the marriage of man, by faith, in the depths of the soul, with God, man was henceforth viewed, not merely as a finite being, but as infinity in the form of susceptibility. So that, even though it might at first be only in a general form, a perception must have been gained of the possibility of the union of God and man in Christ, even relatively to the capacity of human nature. For this reason, the Reformation was a turning-point, both in respect to the divine and the human aspects; and, whilst the First Epoch of the Period now under consideration might be described as one in which too great prominence was given to the divine nature of Christ, the Period of the Reformation, on the other hand, in point of principle, as also partially in point of actual teaching, may be designated the new Second Epoch—the epoch in which the divine and human aspects attained to a principial, if not to a complete and permanent, equilibrium.
After the Reformation, the leadership in the development of Christian doctrine was transferred from the Romanic to the Germanic peoples; and the Romish Church took up, in relation to the Evangelical, a position similar to that which the Greek Church had previously held towards itself. It fell into a conservatism, which showed scarcely any traces of the continuance of that process of development on which the dogmas of the Church had been launched. This is specially observable in connection with Christology. The Evangelical Germanic peoples, on the contrary, desired neither that absorption in the knowledge and vision of God, which was the chief aim of Greek piety even in its noblest forms, nor to alternate between a passive, willess surrender to grace, whose action bore a magical character, on the one hand, and a Pelagian, arbitrary, and godless subjectivity, on the other. On them devolved the task of asserting, and working out, the true conception of human personality, on the basis of a fuller knowledge of the redemption which had been manifested. The mind of Christendom now, strictly speaking, for the first time concentrated its attention on the development of a Christian anthropology. As we have already remarked, Augustine was in this matter but a forerunner. His system by no means possessed the power of impressing its character either on the period during which he flourished, or on the after-world. On the contrary, at many points it afforded support to views which afterwards became the type and standard of the Romanic peoples. The continuous opposition of the Romish Church undoubtedly helped to keep the science of the Evangelical Church, and soon also its philosophy, to this its task, and impelled it to devote thereto its entire energies. And when the theology which succeeded the Reformation, instead of tending the new Christological germs which had been planted by the Reformers, began almost immediately to do homage to a traditionalism which buried its talent in the ground, and apparently made it its highest aim to restore the doctrine of the Evangelical Church to identity with that of the time previous to the Reformation,—that is, to render the preponderance of the divine over the human aspect, if possible, greater than ever,—it became doubly necessary, necessary even for Christology, that the right of anthropology to a place amongst Christian dogmas should now, after so long neglect, be thoroughly and scientifically established. During the eighteenth century, however, the efforts put forth for the solution of the anthropological problem bore, at first, traces of a spirit hostile to Christianity and Christology. But the greater the freedom, and the fewer the trammels, with which the Evangelical Church pursued the course of its development on this point, the more valuable has proved the result which was gained, notwithstanding transient confusions and degeneracies. That result was a scientific conviction, that the relation between the nature of man and the idea of God is by no means one of exclusion; but that, on the contrary, man first truly becomes man when he is united with God, without losing his own individuality. How the knowledge of this truth grew and ripened, it will be our task to narrate when we come to the Third Epoch of the Period under consideration. At that epoch, the human aspect of the Person of Christ predominated over the divine. It formed, consequently, the direct counterpart or antithesis to the First Epoch of the same Period (from the year 381 to the year 1517). That such was the case, can be pointed out, even to the very details,—plainly showing the orderly character of the course taken by the development of our doctrine, notwithstanding the arbitrariness and confusion which apparently prevailed.
If, then, the collective result of the Second Period was the full concrete knowledge of that which, as to principle, was expressed in the time of the Reformation (that time, of the transition of the divine from its preponderance over the human, and also, in another respect, of the temporary equilibrium of the two aspects of the Person of Christ),—to wit, firstly, that the only true conception of God is one which, so far from being incompatible with, involves His being determined to an incarnation, by His own eternal moral nature; and, secondly, that any conception of humanity is false, which, either in a spirit of defiance or a spirit of pusillanimity, would regard the tabernacling of God in man as a thing either unnecessary or too lofty: we may consider, that with the Third Period the time had arrived, when the conditions might be deemed to have been fulfilled, on which, as we have previously shown, the further progress of this dogma primarily depended, and without the fulfilment of which, all attempts to recognise in the duality of the aspects an unity of the Person of Christ, could only be of a temporary and provisional character. The Christological germs planted in the time of the Reformation were full of promise for the future, and escaped that character of onesidedness which the attempts put forth, independently of the conditions just referred to, had borne; hence, also, did they give rise to the fruitful labours of the Third Period, then just commencing.
Turning our attention now especially to the First Epoch of the Second Period, whose principal feature, taken as a whole, was the predominance given to the divine aspect over the human, the time from the year 381 to the Reformation naturally falls into three sections.
During the first section of this Epoch, closing with the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451, efforts were made, in opposition alike to the school of Antioch and that of Alexandria, to Nestorianism and Eutychianism, to define more precisely the nature of the problem. Nestorianism, it was affirmed, evades the problem of the union of the two aspects of the Person of Christ, in that it sets up a dead dualism in the place of union; Eutychianism also evades it, in that its union is but a re-absorption of the human by the divine. The Fathers assembled at this Synod viewed the problem positively, as follows: —In Christ is to be recognised a duality of the divine and human; the two infinitely and essentially different natures, which constitute this duality, are notwithstanding united into, and in one Person. In order to secure for this putting of the problem an ecclesiastical sanction, the Church was compelled to renounce connection with such parties as were unable to recognise in it the expression of their own Christian consciousness. On the one hand, the Nestorians felt that Christ's human nature was not secured against the onesided predominance of the divine by the formulas approved at the Council of Chalcedon; and, on the other hand, the Monophysites complained, that in opposition to the spirit indicated in the ancient expression fiia <f>vai<;, the doctrine of two such natures in Christ makes a mockery of every attempt at their union.
But the antagonistic principles of Nestorianism and Monophysitism made their appearance afresh, and gained advocates even within the fold of the Mother Church, from whose limit i they had been excluded. It was thus continually reminded of the debt which the Council of Chalcedon had failed to discharge. This forms the principal subject of the other two sections.
The second section, from the year 451 to 793, will narrate how the too powerful inclination to Monophysitism which prevailed in the Greek Church, and which constantly manifested itself in fresh forms, was victoriously combated by the tendency to unity, mainly in the Western Church; and how the duality affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon, was not only maintained, but reasserted with increased distinctness, in that, not only the existence of two essentially different natures, but also the existence of a duality of capacities of volition and knowledge,—nay more, of a duality of the entire functions of the soul,—was recognised. From the year 451 down to the eighth century was, therefore, as far as the decisions of its Synods are concerned, the period of the more distinct and clear definition of the antithesis of two natures affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon. Nothing worthy of mention was done towards showing how the two natures could be united in one person. But when this tendency to contrast and oppose the two natures had culminated in Adoptianism, whose mission it seemed to be, as it were, to set forth and embody the total result of the previous process and movement, the Western Church shrank back from the consequences logically drawn by the school of Antioch, and a turning-point arrived with the Council of Frankfort, in 793.
The third section of this Epoch, from the Council of Frankfort to the Reformation, to describe its character in general terms, was the time of the qualification of the antithesis approved by the Council of Chalcedon. During this period the tendency was predominant to uphold the unity of the Person of Christ. But even during the period comprised in the second section, the antithesis of the two natures had been partially qualified, in that the Logos alone was conceived to constitute the Personality of Christ. As all-powerful, He was considered capable of combining and retaining in unity the two natures, however widely they might be separated. This one point was, of course, in itself sufficient to preserve to the divine nature its undue predominance. Against this remainder of Monophysitism or Docetism, which neither had received, nor ever did receive, the sanction of the Church, Adoptianism especially raised its voice, with the hope of being able to preserve the unity of the Person of Christ, even when the human as well as the divine aspect was conceived as personal. But after the turn taken by the science of the Church towards the maintenance of the unity of the Person of Christ—a turn dating from the overthrow of Adoptianism,— the explanation resorted to most eagerly, and most completely carried out, was that of the impersonality of Christ's human nature. This position was very closely connected with the magical character which attached to the doctrines of grace as taught during the Middle Ages, and concealed within itself, as it were, the type of that ecstasy of man in God, subsequently aimed at by the Mystics. Soon enough, however, were the consequences discernible. If the humanity of Christ is selfless, impersonal, the incarnation is not real, true. In such case, Christ's humanity is merely the garment of the Deity; incarnation is a mere theophany; and the strict and proper idea of a God-manhood is renounced for Nihilianism. Christ was thus, as it were, reconverted into the Logos, with a human garment. The scholastic divines, moreover, sought to show that it was unnecessary for God to become man, although they recognised both that such an event was possible, and even that it had actually taken place, in a figurative sense. Thus, under the pretence of a solution, the problem was really cast aside; and substitutes for Christology began now, en masse, to be introduced into the Church.
The words in which Peter Lombard gave honest and open expression to the secret of this Christology of the Church, were, it is true, officially disavowed; but the thing itself could not be altered, as long as the human nature of Christ was treated as impersonal, and as possessed of no independent significance. And as the conception of the personality of man began, under other, and those chiefly Pelagian influences, to assume a more definite shape, and to take up a position either alongside of, or even opposed to, the magical cast of doctrine above alluded to, the knot was drawn ever tighter. Some of the scholastic theologians remained true to tradition; but their unproductiveness, and their return to simpler mystical views of the Person of Christ, show that the interest hitherto taken in the rational development of Christology was already beginning to die out. So with Thomas Aquinas. Others began again to take up the position of Adoptianism, which was now no longer condemned; but, shut up within the formulas of the Church, and feeling the difficulty of uniting the two, they strove in vain to find a solution. So Duns Scotus. On the whole, vacillation and uncertainty prevailed; and the end thereof was a bewildered scepticism, conjoined with blind subjection to the authority of the Church, to which was committed the responsibility of reconciling the apparent or real discordances in its teachings. In one line, however,—in that of the Mystics,—enough life remained to preserve the continuity of the process of development on which Christology had entered. This mystical tendency attained its climax, and thus also its normal and ecclesiastical consummation, in the Reformation. Even Mysticism, however, failed to advance beyond the idea of the impersonality of the humanity of Christ; though it did regard the humanity of Christ, in a general way, as the perfection of human nature. It taught, therefore, at all events by implication, that it is not contradictory of, but solely accordant with, the natures of God and man, that they should enter into the most intimate fellowship with each other, nay more, it is congruous to the nature of both, and not a curtailment of the human, that God alone should be the true personality in man. How fair had it thus departed from the spirit and the principles of the Council of Chalcedon! The Lutheran Church, in its doctrine of the " Communicatio Idiomatum" (to its praise be it said), did not, like Mysticism, rest satisfied with the mere unity of the Ego, and allow the human aspect to be absorbed in the Divine hypostasis, but declared the main problem to be, the union of the two natures themselves with each other, and put forth efforts to effect a solution. Inasmuch, however, as at this point a stop began to be put to the building of the edifice, at which the Church had laboured from the year 451 to 793, notwithstanding that the principles which had formerly been presupposed still combined to exert an influence, the proper place for discussing the Lutheran Christology will be the Second Epoch of this Period. We shall be able to show, on the one hand, that it formed the conclusion of the old era; and, on the other hand, that it formed the conclusion of the old, in virtue of a principle which fitted it to inaugurate a new, era.
We have thus tried to present a cursory view of that which constituted the life and soul of the Christological process in the different sections of the First Epoch (from 381 to 1517). Our task is now to take a survey of the various modes of conceiving and explaining the union of the two aspects of the Person of Christ, which resulted from the manifold points of view from which Christology was regarded during this epoch.
At no time in its history was the Christian Church disposed to dispense with a doctrine concerning the Person of Christ. It constantly applied the knowledge it possessed of God and man, whatever might be its measure, to this dogma. So far, therefore, the history of Christology is one of the chief sources of our knowledge of the modes in which different periods conceived of God and man. But, as a Christology could not fairly be considered to have been formed, until Christ was conceived as the unity of the divine and the human, each period, whatever might be its views in other respects, and whatever might be the nature of its main Christological efforts, was called upon to say, what, with the premises which it acknowledged, was its conception of the Unto.
The different modes of conceiving of this Unio, which came one after another into vogue, may be classified under three heads. In these, notwithstanding that the first and second were directly opposed the one to the other, a regular progress is discernible.
I. Under the first head belong those views of the Unio which, in that they detracted from, or altogether denied, the individuality and reality of the one or the other nature, had most affinity with Docetism or Ebionitism. They fell into Ebionitism when they represented the divine nature as transformed into the human, and into Docetism, when they represented the human nature as transformed into the divine; and they bore a certain resemblance to both, when they represented the one as tempered and modified by the other, so that, as in chemistry, the result was a compound product, a mixture of both factors. The first form was brought repeatedly under consideration in the first volume: of the second form was Eutychianism: of the third, was Theopassianism. They all belong to the Monophysitic family, which, as well as the school of Antioch, conceived of the divine and human as antagonistic to, and exclusive of, each other. Hence, the only union possible, was one which involved either the entire or the partial absorption of one of the factors; and usually, the divine factor, which was chiefly described and defined by physical categories, absorbed the human. The chief representatives of this class of views flourished, in part, during the First Period.
H. Under the second head must be classed those views which followed on, and were connected with, the condemnatory judgment pronounced by the Church on Apollinarism. The two natures were in this case also regarded as mutually exclusive contrarieties; but at the same time efforts were made to preserve completely to both their distinctive characters,—chiefly in the interest of the humanity of Christ, and of a positive conception of God. Still it was deemed possible to maintain a unity of the entire Person; though, naturally, only by means of a third principle, external to both natures.
That view is scarcely worthy of mention which, without inquiring further into the connecting principle, simply represents the Person of Christ as the sum and result of the two concurrent natures; and which therefore takes no trouble to consider whether the two natures can be thus combined— whether they are so homogeneous as to be capable of addition to one sum (= Person), or whether each is not rather an independent person in itself. It is clear that in this case the two natures are only, as it were, arithmetically added together— T. 2.—VOi. I. B
pronounced one; and that they are posited as one merely in thought, so that the Unio is purely nominal—an unio verbalis. All that was done was to postulate that the two natures be thought at one and the same time: the problem was not more precisely defined, much less was any progress made towards a solution.
The efforts after a unio realis took three forms :—
(1.) The idea which first suggested itself was, that the divine and human natures are one, inasmuch as the latter is the temple or garment of the former. But to term a mere juxtaposition unity, and to represent the natures as one merely on the ground of their presence in one and the same place (unio localis), is to reduce the incarnation to a theophany, and, examined more carefully, is illusory; inasmuch as the divine nature (of which, by the way, no other aspects than those which may be termed physical are brought into view) would appear, in virtue of its omnipresence, to dwell in all things quite as truly as in the humanity of Christ.
It leads to a view of essentially the same character, to appeal to the mere power of God, and to judge that by His mere will He could conjoin and form into one whole, two natures which are not only different in essence, and have no sort of internal connection with each other, but are even mutually opposed. This we may designate the Mechanical Unio.
(2.) Inasmuch, however, as neither of the two natures is a mere lifeless substance, a form of union so dead must inevitably inflict injury on both. Hence Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius, whose avvafyeia, in other respects, bore the closest resemblance to the view just now described, combined therewith, the rudiments of a representation which, though occupying the same platform, was of a higher character. They supposed, namely, that the Logos, who is present in all things, stood in a peculiar relation—a relation as it were of elective affinity—to the man Jesus; the reason thereof being, that the man Jesus, because of His spirit and disposition, was honoured by God with the dignity of Sonship—a title and rank which belonged to the Logos by nature. Whether this excellence of the man Jesus was regarded as innate or as acquired, does not clearly appear. This view, which represents the relation of the Logos to the man Christ as taking a special form, on the ground of the preeminent worth recognised, in the judgment of God, as attaching to Christ's human nature, may be described, when considered from the point of view of its objective basis, as an unio in conformity to the idea of justice, or as the unio forensis; when considered in its actual character, as the relative union—unio relativa, Iwmcti? ayeTiKrj.
(3.) The peculiar excellence attaching to the human nature of Christ, and which attracted to itself the special sympathy of the omnipresent divine nature, must on earth, have been rather moral than physical (relating to the <f>vais),—that it must mainly have consisted in the sympathy for the divine, felt by this man. Still, the foundation in which this moral excellence inhered, was constituted by two opposed substances,—substances, that is, which were not of a nature to seek an union with, when turned towards, each other; but such, that whilst remaining internally independent, each had the same end in view as the other. Keeping these two points in view, we arrive at a subjective moral unio,—an union consisting in the harmony of two otherwise distinct and separate wills, which manifest the same tendency in similar forms or modes (a). This was unquestionably a more spiritual conception of the Unio; but still it was unsatisfactory, so far as it represented the acts of volition, on which the main stress was laid, as proceeding, in analogy with the point of view of law or justice, from two separate and opposed centres of life. The natures were no longer supposed to be merely passively combined; but were conceived as active, as effecting their own union. This union, however, was, after all, external to themselves, consisting in the mere similarity of their activity, and in their having a common aim. The assumption of two such centres of life, necessarily led to the assumption of the existence of two eternally co-ordinate personalities. That such must be the result of the attempt at a subjective moral unio, could not long remain unperceived. On the ground that this form of Christology involved a dualism, the culminating points of which (the Egos) were only held together by an ideal unity outside of and above them, it was justly condemned by the Church, no less than the theories classed under the first head,—both at the Council of Chalcedon. The
(a) See Note A, Appendix II., for the German of this passage. Tr.
problem of Christology was then laid down in the manner described above, and declared in that form to be an article of faith.
III. The theories of the second class, just noticed, were logically driven on, by the progress they made towards a higher form of themselves, from the assumption of a duality of natures, to that of a duality of persons; but, as the only unity at which they arrived, was one external both to the natures and the persons, the Council of Chalcedon assumed the duality of the natures, denied the duality of the Egos, in the totality of the Person of Christ, and sought rather to effect a unio by means of some inner principle. The way was thus prepared for the introduction of the third class of the modes of union resorted to during the present epoch. It must not be forgotten, however, that even the efforts relating to this last class started with the Antiochean assumption, that the two natures were essentially different from, and opposed to, each other.
In the first place, Monotheletism (which related not merely to volition, but also to knowledge) endeavoured to secure the unity of the two natures by representing their several capacities and their collective functions, or, in other words, the actual activities of their life, as an unity. It taught the unity of the two natures in Christ; not, indeed, a unity of substance, nor a unity consisting merely in a community of the objects of volition, but an unity of actual concrete character,—that is, it was conceived to be a unity of the faculty of will, of the actual volitions and deeds. Here, however, may be discerned a remnant of the doctrine of transformation; for, notwithstanding their abiding inner diversity, the substances, in their actual concrete existence, were supposed to be partially or entirely absorbed by, or transformed into, each other, in order that a living unity of the person might be brought to pass. We may understand, therefore, how the first fruit of the influence of Monotheletism was, that courage was taken to give utterance to Dyotheletism as a Christological truth.
Now, however, the unity was banished not only from the sphere of the natures, but also from that of the capacities and living activities. Christ was represented as a duality of substances,—which duality it was supposed necessary to conceive as a twofold system of faculties and living activities. Whence, then, could arise an inner unity of the Person of Christ?
In general, the reply was necessarily as follows : The Person, as a whole, notwithstanding the distinct aspects or parts of which it is composed, is one, in virtue of the unity of its centre, or Ego. This is the unio hypostatica (the unity which consists in the unity of the Ego\ which now hegins to run its historical course as a phase of the dogma concerning the Person of Christ. The one personality no longer appears as the result of the combination of the two natures; but, vice versa, the Person of the Son is the principle which unites, and keeps united in one personal whole, the two natures. The hypostasis of the Son is both a part of the compound person, and its centre of unity: He is the personal centre of this compound personality. The last teachers of the Greek Church of any note advocated, but in a manner still very indefinite, this sense of the unio hypostatica. Then in the West there arose the two opposed theories of Adoptianism and Nihilianism. And lastly, at the Reformation, the elements of truth which lay in both began to be combined, at the cost, of course, of a reform of the entire basis anciently recognised, and sanctioned especially by the Council of Chalcedon.
(1.) The teachers of the Church, especially j^Iaximus and \l «£ohn Damascenus, considered the principle of unity to lie within | the compass of the personality itself, viewed in its entirety, j One constituent thereof, namely, the hypostasis of the Son of God, became the principle of unity of the whole: the Person of the God-man was constituted solely by the act of the hypostasis of the Son of God, which assumed human nature. This hypostasis was, at the same time, the personal centre, the Ego, by which the two opposed natures and systems were kept together. Through this personal unity and identity, into which the human nature was implanted, not only did a nominal interchange (air&oat?) of the predicates of the two natures become possible, but a motion within each other of the two mutually permeating natures was actually brought to pass, and the human powers and excellences underwent an aggrandizement, which may be termed deification (flewafj). But, inasmuch as all Divine attributes and powers belong to the Ego of the Son of God, in virtue of His divine nature, the human nature was subjected to its decisions, both in the matter of knowledge and volition.
(2.) Our notice is next drawn to the antagonistic theories which arose out of this still indefinite doctrine. The •n-ep*XdoprjaK, just referred to, had unquestionably, as a form of the unio localis, greater life and reality, but still it remained essentially the same. This mutual approximation and interpenetration of the two natures, was the first step in, but not a completion of, the process of union. For the natures were still supposed to remain, in form and substance, exactly what they were, unaltered; nay more, the unity is represented as always and at once complete. But nothing was done to show how the independence asserted for the human nature, and the freedom of will attributed to it, could be anything more than a mere illusion; and how, on the supposition that the Logos and His omnipotent nature, constituted its inmost and all-dominant centre, the humanity of Christ was not reduced to the rank of a mere impersonal organ.
(a.) Adoptianism might therefore well regard it as a more logical carrying out of the doctrine of the duality of natures and functions of life, sanctioned by the Church, when, instead of attributing such a preponderance to the omnipotent Divine hypostasis, it assumed that each of the two systems in Christ had its own personal centre, and that this personal centre was at the same time also the point in which the two systems, like two converging lines, met and were combined. The actual centre of unity of each of these systems—that is, the Ego—is also the element common to both: the centre of unity is in both cases identically one and the same. Hence, however diverse the natures may be, the Ego, in distinction from the nature, may he common to both, and the actual centre of unity. Both parties designated this Ego Son, and supposed that in this mezzo termine they had found that which might belong equally to both natures, and prove a bond of real connection between them.
That the Ego of the Divine hypostasis should also be regarded as the Ego of the human nature, had not up to this time been denied; and this is the ultimate reason why it was ! possible for the systems of Maximus and John Damascenus to I appear to concede to the human nature of Christ a measure of real independence. Adoptianism, however, forced on a consideration of, and a decision regarding, the obscurity which these two teachers had left hanging over this point; and when it was rejected, the teachers of the Church gave in their decided adhesion to the view that personality was not predicable of the humanity of Christ.
(&.) But the consequence thereof was Nihilianism. Christ was reduced to a mere theophany. He was no longer a real man, but the Son of God, employing the human form assumed by Him, as the symbol of His revelation. And this was a return to the elementary representations of the school of Antioch [see H. (1)], only that stress was now laid on the divine aspect of the Person of Christ in a manner resembling that of Monophysitism.
(c.) Adoptianism and Nihilianism were next rejected; but within the limits of the Middle Ages no trace is discoverable of such an union of the elements of truth, conjoined with the rejection of the false, contained in both, as we find attending other decisions. The Tridentine Council effected nothing whatever in this direction. A theology, however, which treated the two natures dualistically, and, banishing unity both from the sphere of the natures and from that of their capacities and functions, assigned it solely to the Ego, was no longer capable of rendering further service. And yet the entire difficulty—How can the divine and human natures unite if they are infinitely diverse one from another?—presented itself again. Nor did it help the matter to put the question thus: "How is it possible for the Divine hypostasis to unite with human nature, on the supposition of their infinite diversity V TJiomas Aquinas held that the! Divine hypostasis, without the Divine nature—that is, the Divine personal centre, or Ego, without the Divine attributes— appropriated or incorporated human nature with itself; but still it is not clear how such an Ego could unite itself with human nature, if the latter is absolutely diverse in kind from the former. But whatever attempts at explanation may have been made by the scholastic theologians, it is unquestionable (and this is the main point) that almost all of them grant that the incarnation declares, strictly speaking, nothing new or special regarding God, but only the existence of a peculiar relation of the human nature in Christ to the omnipresent, eternally unchangeable Logos, who is at once outside of and in it. This peculiar relation of the humanity of Christ to the Logos might either be regarded as consisting in the fact that the Logos constituted the only personality with which the human nature was endowed,—and then Nihilianism would follow; or it might be regarded as arising from the circumstance, that in Christ human nature stood in a unique relation of activity to the Logos,—the relation, namely, of perfect obedience,—and was thus capable of perfectly receiving Him: which view leads back to Adoptianism.
(2.) Out of this state of vacillation between Adoptianism and Nihilianism, the upholders of the old form of the unio hypostatics could find no exit. A precursory indication of progress may be found in the doctrine held by some of the scholastics, and especially by the Mystics, that the hypostasis of the Son not only did Ikiot rob humanity, was not merely an honour to humanity, but that the longing of human nature for personality had been completely met and satisfied in the Person of the Son. As we have remarked, however, this doctrine still to a certain degree savours of the notion, that man is to attain perfection by denying and transcending the very idea of man,—by extasis, and so forth: a notion which Nicolas of Cusa endeavoured to define and systematize.
It was reserved for the Reformation to bring the unio hypostatica to a crisis,—the effect of which was the more decided appropriation of the Divine Person to the human nature, and the revendication to the unity, of the sphere of the natures, their powers and their attributes (idiomata).