Chapter V

CHAPTER V.

DOCTRINE OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST.

§ 1. Principal Heresies in Christology.

Four factors are necessary in order to the complete conception of Christ's Person: 1. True and proper deity; 2. True and proper humanity; 3. The union of deity and humanity in one Person; 4. The distinction of deity from humanity, in the one Person, so that there be no mixture of natures. If either of these is wanting, the dogmatic statement is an erroneous one. The heresies which originated in the Ancient Church took their rise, in the failure to combine all these elements in the doctrinal statement. Some one or more of these integral parts of the subject were adopted, while the others were rejected. The classification of the ancient errors in Christology will, therefore, very naturally follow the above enumeration.1 \

'Compare Guericke: Church Historyi §87-90; Hooxer: Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V. Ch. li-lv. f

I. The Arians would not concede the existence of a truly and properly divine nature in the Person of Je3us Christ. Even the Semi-Arians, who allowed that the Son of God, or the Logos, was of a nature similar to that of God, yet not identical with it, could not attribute absolute divinity to the Redeemer of the world. That exalted and preexistent being who became incarnate in Christ, even upon the Semi-Arian theory could not be called God-man with technical accuracy. But the Arian Christ was confessedly lacking in a divine nature, in every sense of the term. Though the Son of God was united with human nature, in the birth of Jesus, yet that Son of God was a xriafia. He indeed existed long before that birth, but not from eternity. The only element, consequently, in the Arian construction of Christ's Person that was preserved intact and pure was the humanity. Upon this point the Arians were orthodox.

Into the same class with the Arians, fall the earlier Nominal Trinitarians. Inasmuch as, in their construction of the doctrine of the trinity, the Son is not a subsistence (vTioaraaig) in the Essence, "but only an effluence (dvvccfiig) or energy issuing from it, they could not logically assert the union of the divine nature, or the very substance of the Godhead, with the humanity of Jesus. A merely effluent energy proceeding from the deity, and entering the humanity of Christ, would be nothing more than an indwelling inspiration kindred to that of the prophets. The element of true essential deity, in union with true essential humanity, in the Person of Christ, was, consequently, wanting in the Christology of the Nominal Trinitarians.

II. The Monarchians, or Patripa-ssians, went to the opposite extreme of error. They asserted the true and proper deity in Christ's Person, but denied his humanity. According to them, the one single Person of the Godhead, the true and absolute deity, united itself with a human body, but not with a human rational soul. The humanity in Christ's Person was thus incomplete. It lacked the rational part,—the spirit as distinguished from the flesh.

This Patripassian Christology received a slight modification from Apollinaris bishop of Laodicea (f 382), who has given the name of ApoUinarism to the scheme. The threefold division of human nature, into body (ew^a), soul (tfjuxt'i), and spirit (jtvtvfue), had become current, and Apollinaris supposed that it would be easier to conceive of, and explain Christ's Person, if the Logos were regarded as taking the place of the higher rational principle in the ordinary threefold nature of man, and thereby becoming an integral portion of the humanity.1 But upon this scheme, the Divine did not take to itself a complete and entire human nature, any more than in the original Patripassian theory. The material body, with the animal soul, or the vital principle, is by no means the whole of man. The Logos, upon this theory, was united with a fundamentally defective and mutilated humanity. For if the rational part be subtracted from man, he becomes either an idiot or a brute. It is true that Apollinarism supplies the deficiency with the Divine Reason; but it is no less true, that at the instant of the union of the two natures, the human part is merely the body (acjfia), with its vital principle (tfjv^rj). It is irrational, and God assumes into personal union with himself a merely brutal nature. The human factor, consequently, was defective in the Apollinarian Christology.

'AccordingtoSuiDAs(sub voce Reason: Mij8f yap titifSrjvtu <fao\

'AiroXAivdptos), Apollinaris thought Ttjv o-apko tKtivrjv diftpofriVov vois,

the human reason would be a su- ijytpovtvoplvrjv inr6 Too aimj* in&t

porfluity in union with the Divine ivKoros 3f of.

HI. The third general error in Christology, that arose in the Ancient Church, is the Nestorian} By this we mean the theory that was finally eliminated by the controversies between Nestorius and his opponents. Whether it was a theory which Nestorius himself would have accepted in the opening of the controversy, or one that he intended to construct, is certainly open to debate. But Nestorianwm was a definite scheme, when ultimately formed, and is wanting in some essential elements and features.

The defect in the Nestorian Christology relates not to the distinction of the two natures, but to the union of the two in one Person. A true and proper deity and a true and proper humanity are conceded. But they are not united in a single self-conscious personality. The Nestorian Christ is two persons, —one divine, and one human. The important distinction between a "nature" and a "person" is not observed, and the consequence is that there are two separate and diverse selves in Jesus Christ.1 Instead of a blending of the two natures into only one self, the Nestorian scheme places two selves side by side, and allows only a moral and sympathetic union between them. The result is that the acts of each nature derive no character from the qualities of the other. There is no divine humiliation, because the humanity is confessedly the seat of the humiliation, and the humanity is by itself, unblended in the unity of a common self-consciousness. And there is no exaltation of the humanity, because the divinity is confessedly the source of the exaltation, and this also is insulated and isolated for the same reason. There is God, and there is man; hut there is no God-Man.

'Compare Waloh: Ketzcrhistorie; and Dollinqer: Church History, II. 160, 162 sq.

1 "Between Nestorius and the man." Hooeer: Eccles. Polity,

church of God, there was no dif- Book V. Ch. liii. The anath

ference, saving only that Nesto- emas which Nestorius uttered

rius imagined in Christ as well against the doctrine of Cyril

a personal human subsistence, as separate the two natures very

a divine; the church acknowledg- plainly. He appears to regard

ing a substance both divine and the union, or rather, the associa

human, but no other personal sub- tion of deity with humanity as

sistenee [i. e. personal ego] than occurring at birth, and represents

divine, because the Son of God the humanity as laid aside again

took not to himself a man's per- after Christ's death and resurrec

son, but the nature, only, of a tion. Milman: Book II. Ch. iii.

IV. The fourth of the ancient heresies in Christology is the Eutychian or Monophysite. This is the opposite error to Nestorianism. It asserts the. unity of self-consciousness in the Person of Christ, but loses the duality of the natures. Eutyches taught that in the incarnation the human nature was transmuted into the divine; so that the resultant was one person and one nature. For this reason, the Eutychians held that it was accurate and proper to say that "God suffered,"—meaning thereby that He suffered in God's nature. When the Catholics employed this phrase, as they sometimes did, it was with the meaning that God suffered in man's nature. "When the apostle," remarks Hooker, "saith of the Jews that they crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Cor. ii. 8), we must needs understand the whole person of Christ, who, being Lord of Glory, was indeed crucified, but not in that nature for which he is termed the Lord of Glory. In like manner, when the Son of Man, being on earth, affirmeth, that the Son of Man was in heaven at the same instant (John iii. 13), by the Son of Man must necessarily be meant, the whole person of Christ, who being man upon earth, filled heaven with his glorious presence, but not according to that nature for which the title of Man is given him."1

1 Hooker: Eccl PoL Book V. Cb. liv.

The councils of Nice and Constantinople, in determining the true statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, assisted to settle the doctrine of Christ's Person, indirectly. So far as his deity was concerned, the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed furnished material that must necessarily go into a scriptural Christology. But it did not come within the purpose of these councils to make statements respecting Christ's humanity, or to determine the relations of the two natures to each other. It was for this reason, among others, that the subject of Christology was less developed than that of the Trinity; and that men like Apollinaris, who were correct in their Trinitarian views, should embody an error in their Christological theory. These various errors and deficiencies in the statement of the doctrine of Christ's Person were finally corrected and filled out, in the creed drawn up by the Council of Chalcedon, in 451. The Coicncil of Ephesu*, in 431, had made some beginning towards the settlement of the questions involved; but this, though summoned as such, was not strictly an oecumenical council, and was too much under the influence of the then Monophysitizing Cyril1 to yield a comprehensive and impartial result.

1 Cyril's anathematizing posi- incarnation, the distinction be

tions, which he succeeded in tween the two natures no longer

forcing upon the Council of Ephe- existed. This he afterwards tacit

eus, in 431, asserted that after the ly retracted, though not formally.

§ 2. The Cludcedon Christology.

The Chalcedon Symbol' defines the Person of Christ as follows. "We teach that Jesus Christ is perfect as respects godhood, and perfect as respects manhood; that he is truly God, and truly a man consisting of a rational soul and a body; that he is consubstantial (6/j.oovaiov) with the Father as to his divinity, and consubstantial (Sfioovaiov) with us as to his humanity, and like us in all respects sin excepted. He was begotten of the Father, before creation (xqo aicovav), as to his deity; but in these last days he was born of Mary the mother of God (&tot6xog)? as to his humanity. He is one Christ, existing in two natures without mixture {aavy^vrag), without change (arQixrag), without division (adiaiQ&rag), without separation (axagiarag),— the diversity of the two natures not being at all destroyed by their union in the person, but the peculiar properties (idicorrjg) of each nature being preserved, and concurring to one person (jiqoacotiov), and one subsistence (vnoaraaiv)?

'See Mansi, VII. 108; GtrnRicee's Church History, § 89; Gieseler's Church History, I. §89.

'The Catholics were tenacious of this word as applied to the "person" in distinction from the "natures." The mother, they maintained, is the mother of the whole person, although the soul, as the immaterial nature, is not conceived,—the theory of Creationism being adopted. As the human mother gives birth, not merely to the body, but to the whole person, which consists of a real and essential union of body and soul, so the Virgin Mary, although she did not give birth to the divine nature, as such, is nevertheless the mother of the God-Man, who is a Person com

posed of deity and humanity. And as the God-Man may be properly denominated God, Mary was, in this sense, StoroKor. That she was not the "Mother of God," in the sense that the divine nature was conceived and born of her, is proved by the guarding clause in the creed statement,— "he was born of Mary the mother of God, as to his humanity." The object of the Chalcedon divines, in the use of the term 3fordKor, was to teach, that Mary was not the mother of a mere and ordinary man, as the Nestorian doctrine would imply. For, according to Nestorianism, Christ was the second Person in the Trinity associated, by a merely moral anion, with a distinct human person,—of which distinct and separate human person alone, Mary God-Man that was conceived, was the mother. The Chalcedon and not a mere man, hut a Godposition was that the union of the Man that was horn. And in detwo natures was embryonic, in nominating Mary Sfordxor, as the and by the miraculous conception Catholic Church did, they meant in the womh of the Virgin, so that she was the mother of the that "that holy thing horn" of entire Divine-human Person,— her (Luke i. 85) was theanthropio. she was the mother of Jesus It was not a mere man, but a Christ.

This statement not only asserts that there are two natures in Christ's Person, but also adjusts their relation to each other.

1. In the first place, according to the Chalcedon symbol, the uniting of the two natures in one personality does not confuse or mix them, in such a manner as to destroy their distinctive properties. The deity of Christ is just as pure and simple deity, after the incarnation, as before it. And the humanity of Christ is just as pure and simple human nature as that of Mary his mother, or any other human individual, sin being excluded. The unifying act, by which the nature of God, and the nature of man, are blended into one personal subsistence, does not in the least alter their constituent properties. The human nature is not transmuted into the divine; the divine nature is not transmuted into the human; neither is there a tertium quid formed by mixing the two,—o third Divine-human nature that is neither human nor divine.

2. In the second place, the Chalcedon statement prohibits the division of Christ into two selves or persons. The incarnating act, while it makes no changes in the properties of the two united natures, gives as a resultant a Person that is a tertium quid, a resultant that is neither a human person, nor a divine person, but a theanthropic person. For, if we have reference merely to his self-consciousness, or personality, Jesus Christ is neither human, nor divine, but is Divine-human. Contemplating him as the resultant of the union of God and man, he is not to be denominated God, and he is not to be denominated man; but he is to be denominated GodMan. The "person" of Jesus Christ, as distinguished from the "natures" that compose it, is a theanthropic person. Says Leo the Great: "Two natures met together in our Redeemer, and while the properties of each remained, so great a unity was made of either substance, that from the time that the Word was made flesh in the virgin's womb, we may neither think of Him as God without this which is man, nor as man without this which is God. Each nature certifies its own reality under distinct actions, but neither disjoins itself from connexion with the other. Nothing is wanting from either towards the other; there is entire littleness in majesty, entire majesty in littleness; unity does not introduce confusion, nor does propriety divide unity. There is one thing passible, another impassible, yet his is the contumely whose is the glory. He is in infirmity who is in power; the self-same Person is both capable, and conqueror, of death. God did then take on Him whole man, and so knit Himself into him, and him into Himself, in pity and in power, that either nature was in the other, and neither in the other lost its own property."1

This union of two natures in one self-conscious Ego may be illustrated by reference to man's personal constitution. An individual man is one person. But this one person consists of two natures,— a material nature, and a mental nature. The personality, the self-consciousness, is the resultant of the union of the two. Neither one of itself makes the person. Both body and soul are requisite in order to a complete individuality. The two natures do not make two individuals. The material nature, taken by itself, is not the man; and the mental part, taken by itself, is not the man. But only the union of the two is. Yet, in this intimate union of two such diverse substances as matter and mind, body and soul, there is not the slightest alteration of the properties of each substance or nature. The body of a man is as truly and purely material, as a piece of granite; and the immortal mind of a man is as truly and purely spiritual and immaterial, as the Godhead itself. Neither the material part, nor the mental part, taken by itself, and in separation, constitutes the personality; otherwise, every human individual would be two persons in juxtaposition. There is, therefore, a material "nature," but no material "person;" and there is a mental "nature," but no mental "person." The person is the union of these two natures, and is not to be denominated either material or mental, but human. In like manner the Person of Christ takes its denomination of theanthrqpic, or Divine-human, neither from the Divine nature alone, nor the human nature alone, but from the union of both natures.

'leo Magnus: Serrao LII. ii. II. 706 sq.; ,hooeer: Eccl. Pol. Compare Dorner: PersonChristi, Book V. Ch. Ii. sq.

One very important consequence of this statement of the Council of Chalcedon is, that the properties of both natures may be attributed to the one Person. If the Person be called Jesus Christ, then it is proper to say, that Jesus Christ wept, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday to-day and forever. The first statement denotes a characteristic of humanity, which is attributable to the Person; the last statement a characteristic of deity which is attributable to the Person; and both alike are characteristic of one and the same theanthropic Person. If, again, the Person be called the God-Man, then it is accurate to say that the God-Man existed before Abraham and the God-Man was born in the reign of Augustus Caesar; that He was David's son, and David's Lord. The characteristics of the finite nature, and of the infinite nature, belong equally to that Ego, that conscious self, which is constituted of them both.1

Another equally important consequence of this Chalcedon adjustment of the relations of the two natures was, that the suffering of the God-Man was truly and really infinite, while yet the Divine nature is impassible.2 The God-Man suffered in his human nature, and not in his divine. For, although the properties of each nature may be attributed to the one Person, the properties of the one nature cannot be attributed to the other nature. The seat, of the suffering, therefore, must be the humanity, and not the divinity, in the Person. But the Person suffering is the God-Man; and his personality is as truly infinite as it is truly finite. Jesus Christ really suffered; not in his Divine nature, for that cannot be the seat of suffering, but in his human nature, which he had assumed so that he might suffer. The passion, therefore, is infinite because the Person is infinite; although the nature which is the medium through which the Person suffers is finite.

1" By reason not of two per- his mind. So Christ is called sons linked in amity, bnt of two holy, harmless, and undefined; is natures, human and divine, con- said to have died, risen, and asjoined in one and the same per- cended up to heaven, with relason, the God of glory may be said tion to his human nature. He is as well to have suffered death, as also said to be in the form of God, to have raised the dead from their to have created all things, to be graves; the Son of Man as well the brightness of the Father's to have made as redeemed the glory, and the express image of world." Hooeer: Eccl. Pol. Book his person, with relation to his V. Ch. liii. "A man is called tall, Divine nature." Burnet: On the fair, and healthy, from the state Thirty-Nine Articles (Article II). of his body; and learned, wise, * Compare Pearson: On the and good, from the qualities of Creed (Article IV).

Here, again, the analogies of finite existence furnish illustrations. A man suffers the sensation of heat from a coal of fire; and a brute suffers the same sensation from the same coal. The seat of the sensation, the semorium, in each instance is a physical nature. For the mental and immaterial nature of the man is not burned by the fire. The point of contact, and the medium of suffering, in each instance, is a material and fleshly substance. But the character and value of the suffering, in one instance, is vastly higher than in the other, by reason of the difference in the subject, the Ego. The painful sensation, in the case of the man, is the suffering of a rational and immortal person; in that of the brute, it is the suffering of an unreasoning and perishing creature. The former is human agony; the latter is brutish agony. One is high up the scale, and the other low down, not because of the sensorium, or "nature," in which it is seated (for this is the same thing in both), but because of the person or subject to which it runs and refers back.

Now the entire humanity of Christ,—the "true body and reasonable soul,"—sustained the same relation to his Divinity, that the fleshly part of a man does to his rational part. It was the sensorium, the passible medium or " nature," by and through which it was possible for the self-conscious Ego, the theanthropic Person, to suffer.1 And as, in the instance of an ordinary man, the mere fleshly agony is converted into a truly human and rational suffering, by reason of the humanity that is united with the animal soul and body, so, in the instance of Jesus Christ, the mere human agony is converted into a truly divine suffering, by reason of the divinity that is united with the human soul and body, in the unity of one self-consciousness.

Another important implication in the Chalcedon Christology is, that it is the Divinity, and not the humanity, which constitutes the root and basis of Christ's personality. The incarnation is the humanizing of deity, and not the deification of humanity. The second subsistence in the Divine Essence assumes human nature to itself; so that it is the Godhood, and not the manhood, which is prior and determining in the new complex-person that results. The redemption of mankind is accomplished, not by the elevation of the finite to the infinite, but by the humiliation of the infinite to the finite.1

1 Or more strictly, perhaps, to part. In like manner, the deity

be conscious of suffering. In the in Christ's Person does not itself

instance of an ordinary hnman suffer, but is conscious of a suffer

suffering that arises from aphyii- ing that occurs in the humanity.

cal source, the immaterial part The consciousness itself is in the

of man does not, properly speak- divinity, which is the root of the

ing, itself suffer a sensation, but personality of the God-Man; but

is conscious of a painful sensa- the material of the consciousness

tion occurring in the material is in the humanity.

It is further to be noticed, that, according to the Chalcedon doctrine, the Logos did not unite Himself with a distinct individual, but with a human nature. An individual man was not first conceived and born, with whom the second Person in the Godhead then associated himself, but the union was effected with the substance of humanity in the womb of a Virgin: Says Hooker: "' He took not angels, but the seed of Abraham.' If the Son of God had taken to himself a man now made and already perfected, it would of necessity follow, that there are in Christ two persons, the one assuming, and the other assumed; whereas the Son of God did not assume a man's person into his own [person], but a man's nature to his own person; and therefore took semen, the seed of Abraham, the very first original element of our nature, before it was come to have any personal human subsistence. The flesh and the conjunction of the flesh with God, began both at one instant; his making and taking to himself our flesh was but one act, so that in Christ there is no personal subsistence but one, and that from everlasting."3 The distinction between a "nature" and a "person" is of as great consequence in Christology, as in Trinitarianism; and the Chalcedon divines were enabled, by carefully observing it, to combine all the Scripture data relating to the Incarnation, into a form of statement that has been accepted by the church universal ever since, and beyond which it is probable the human mind is unable to go, in the endeavor to unfold the mystery of Christ's complex Person, which in some of its aspects is even more baffling than the mystery of the Trinity.

'" What strikes us first of all, in but His condescending; not rising

comparing the greatness of Jesus above men, but letting Himself

with that of the heroes of an- down to them." Tjllmann: Sin

tiquity, is, that the source of His lessness of Jesus, p. 60. greatness is not His ascending, 'hooeer: Eccl. Pol. B. V. Ch. liii. An American writer seems to have had this statement of Hooker in his eye. "The personality of Jesus Christ," says Hopeins: (Works I. 288), "is in his divine nature, and not in the human. Jesus Christ existed a distinct, divine person from eternity, the second person in the adorable Trinity. The human nature which this divine person, the Word, assumed into a personal union with himself, is not, and never ua$, a distinct person by itself, and personality cannot be ascribed to it, and does not belong to it, any otherwise than as united to the Logos, the Word of Ood. The Word assumed the human nature, not a human person, into a personal nnion with himself, by which the complex person

exists, God-man. Had the second person in the Trinity taken a human person, into union with himself, and were this possible, Jesus Christ, God and man, would be two persons, not one. Hence, when Jesus Christ is spoken of as being a man, 'the Son of Man, the man Christ Jesus,' etc., these terms do not express the personality of the manhood, or of the human, nature of Jesus Christ; but these personal terms are used with respect to the human nature, as united to a divine person, and not as a mere man. For the personal terms, He, I, and Thou, cannot, with propriety or truth, be used by, or of, the human nature, considered as distinct from the divine nature of Jesus Christ."

END OF VOL I.

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