Christological Confusion

There have been a couple of very interesting Christiological discussions over at Lane Keister’s Green Baggins blog recently.   You can read Lane’s posts and the subsequent discussions here and here.  One of the central questions in that entire discussion was whether or not we can or should say that God suffered and died “in some sense.”  And, if we can say these things in “some sense,” what is the sense that we can say them, or are we just saying nonsense.  Concerning the question of God suffering Lane writes:

I believe that the answer is that His divine nature sustained His human nature, but did not itself suffer. This sustaining would not be limited to the physical suffering, but would also include the spiritual suffering, as well as the sin-bearing. This is not a communication of properties of the divine to the human, since God also sustains us without communicating Godness to us. The divine nature was therefore active in the suffering, but not as the direct recipient of the suffering.

I would have thought that this was a perfectly acceptable non-controversial answer since God cannot suffer for the same reason He cannot tire or thirst (Isaiah 40:28).  Among other things, the Westminster Confession of Faith states that God is immutable and the Incarnation, which includes suffering and dying, implies change.  However, according to others commenting on his blog drawing such clear distinctions between the two natures of Christ is “Nestorian.”  Further, and this is something I didn’t realize, the historic Reformed position concerning the Incarnation is routinely attacked as Nestorian by its critics and a more decidedly Lutheran understanding of the Incarnation appears to be the only consistent understanding of Chalcedonian orthodoxy.   Lane provided a helpful illustration to help contrast both views below:

Lane writes:

I actually believe that our entire question can be much clarified by asking the question this way: can God die? To ask the question is really to answer it. But we cannot separate part of the suffering of Christ from any other part: it is a seamless whole. If God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross. I, for one, cannot go there.

Well, evidently not “going there” is not going far enough as Jonathan Bonomo of the Evangelical Catholicity blog, a blog dedicated to an “ecumenical discussion founded upon historic Christian orthodoxy,” explains:

When [Perry Robinson] makes that charge [that Calvin was decidedly un-Chalcedonian], he’s talking about the very same thing that’s been at issue here: Was the person who suffered for our sins a divine person, who suffered in his human nature? If we say “no,” then we really are open to the charge of Nestorianism.

Calvin, and other 16th c. Reformed, affirmed that the person of Christ was none other than the eternal Son of God–the Word. But because they at times also spoke of the human nature as composing “part” of the Person after the hypostatic union, they’re said by Reformed antagonists to be open to the charge of Nestorianism. But this is only the case if the analysis of the sources stops at isolated statements. Calvin et al needn’t be read to mean anything by such statements other than the meaning provided amidst these discussions–the human nature subsists in the person, and so after the union can be said in that sense to be “part” of the person. They were Chalcedonian, and their Christology followed the Exposition of John of Damascus fairly closely.

Bruce McCormack wrote an essay a few years back that provided much ammunition to this charge. However, regarding all this I would highly recommend the following two articles by Steven Wedgeworth:

http://calvinistinternational.com/2012/03/18/a-compound-person-part-1/

http://calvinistinternational.com/2012/03/18/a-compound-person-part-2/

All of this is very interesting and I would recommend taking the time to read Wedgeworth’s discussion of Jesus Christ as a “compound person” along with the debate as it unfolded on Lane’s blog. But, what struck me in the many pages of discussion on the Reformers and in defense of their fidelity to Chalcedonian orthodoxy, is that nowhere is the word “person” clearly defined, or, in the case of Wedgeworth, even defined at all.  So if one were to say that Jesus Christ is one person or two or twenty-two it makes no difference unless one first defines what a person is.

Gordon Clark, who has also been accused of being  “Nestorian” (so it would seem that he’s in good company), explained the problem this way in his earth-shattering monograph on the Incarnation:

A. A. Hodge (Outlines of Theology, p. 380,”#7) first says “He [Christ] is also true man” and few lines below makes this impossible by adding, “Christ possesses at once in the unity of his Person two spirits, with all their essential attributes, a human consciousness, mind, heart, and will.” We ask, How can a human consciousness, mind, heart and will not be a human person?  All Hodge can reply is “It does not become us to attempt to explain” all this.  In other words, the doctrine is based on ignorance. The creeds and the theologians assert “a true man” and their explanations deny it.

Clark argues, “But a doctrine insisting that Jesus Christ was a divine person and in no way a human person fails without such a definition.” One would think, if only to better understand Lane’s illustrations above, that defining what we mean by “person” would be the first order of business seeing that so much rests on that question.  But that’s not the case. In fact, and as we shall see, it has never been the case. Instead the protectors of orthodoxy are extremely quick to slap the label of “Nestorian” on any deviation first and ask questions later.  And, a deviation could be as simple as failing to draw out an implication of the historic Chalcedonian formulation far enough.  That’s why even Lane, who said he “cannot go there” when it comes saying “God suffered on the cross, then God died on the cross,” was slapped with the label: “Nestorian.”

Obviously any understanding of the issues surround Christology cannot progress in such an environment.  So I asked how do any of these self-appointed protectors of all things Chalcedonian define the word “person”?  Thankfully, Jonathan Bonomo mentioned above, and who was one of Lane’s two primary interlocutors (although prosecutors might be a better description),  took up the challenge.  Actually, he said he had defined the word “person” many times throughout the debate and I just missed it.  No wonder, because according to Bonomo a person is an “individual reality/subsistence.”  Now an “individual reality” is pretty self-explanatory.  Rocks, trees, roof shingles, men, mice, and various other rodents all have  “individual reality.”  Subsistence (or hypostais or substance) “denotes an actual, concrete existence, in contrast with abstract categories such as Platonic Ideals.”  So, a person is an individual reality that has an actual concrete existence.  Colloquially, subsistence can also mean that which supports life, which would at least exclude rocks, trees and roof shingles.  According to Bonomo “the traditional definitions are the best we’ve been able to come up with these many many years, and they’re part of the received, accepted vocabulary.”  Bonomo explains:

I’m just trying to be faithful to the terminology that’s been passed down since the fifth century. It’s not that hard to grasp. A person is an individual reality, a nature is that which subsists in the individual reality. Nature is the general category, person is the particular. The divine nature subsists in three persons in the Trinity. The divine and human natures subsist in one person in the hypostatic union. If you’re not satisfied with this, then you’re free to reject Nicea and Chalcedon.

See the dilemma.  Either accept this definition of person which has been handed down since the fifth century or reject Nicea and Chalcedon.  Actually, accepting the traditional and historic definition is easy and Bonomo is right that it’s not hard to grasp at all.  The problem is that any definition of “person” that can just as easily apply to plants, polar bears, koalas, and Christ is about as useless and as meaningless as they come. It’s not really a definition at all.

Now, and to his credit, Bonomo offered a slightly refined definition:

Ok, Sean, What if we were to say that “Person” is individual reality, or “particularity,” as it subsists in God and those made in his image? This rules out all other creatures besides God and human beings. Would that then be satisfactory?

While arguably an improvement it hardly satisfies.  For one thing God consists of three Persons, but I don’t think it would be accurate to say those three Persons subsist in God since all three are God. Further, the three Persons of the Godhead are not made in God’s image. So, while this revised definition rules out plants, polar bears, and koalas, it rules out the Persons of the Holy Trinity as well.

Here’s the rub: for nearly two millennium the dividing line between heterodoxy and orthodoxy in Christology has rested on an idea of person without anyone really knowing what they’re talking about.  As Clark observed:

But when a council, or a pope, or a theologian uses the terms nature, person, substance, and sits back with a dogmatic sense of satisfaction, it reminds me of a football team that claims a touchdown while the football is still on the thirteenth or thirtieth yard line.  But football teams are usually not that blind.

. . . Neither Nestorius nor his opponents had any clear idea of what a person is. They used the word but attached no meaning to it.  In their discussion and writings the term was as much nonsense syllables as substance and nature. However distasteful it may be to those students whose knowledge is confined to fifteen minutes of a broader lecture in the Systematic Theology class, and all the more distasteful to the professor who knows little more than those fifteen minutes, they must be forced to acknowledge that the Chalcedonian bishops and the later theologians were talking non-sense, because their terms had no sense at all.

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215 Comments on “Christological Confusion”

  1. dewisant1 Says:

    I consider Clark’s Incarnation to be his most courageous work – not that he feared to tackle any other topic, but that this work was, as you say, so Earth-shattering. It leaves everyone tearing their cloaks and gnashing their teeth and yet he sets out his arguments & explanations against the storm. I suspect that all the teeth-gnashing is grounded in the knowledge that a match has been met and no counter will avail.


  2. Hi Sean,

    I don’t want to comment on the substance of your post. Just wanted to point out the the evangelical catholicity blog hasn’t been active for well over 3 years (you’ll note that my last substantial post there was Jan. 2009, and it was a “farewell” post). I don’t post there anymore, nor does anyone else. I just chose to never delete the blog because it had multiple authors and I didn’t want to delete their stuff. Much of my posting there was done at a time when my theological views were still in process (not that the process has ended, just that I’m more firm in a lot of areas now than I was then).


  3. If the question is, “Can God die?” perhaps we ought to define “death.” I’m not sure why so many people think of death differently when it comes to Christ than they do of all men. When men die, they do not cease to exist; the immaterial mind/soul is separated from the material/flesh.

    So when the second Person of the Godhead died on the cross, he was able to do so because the second Person had a body to be separated from (which is what made him human and therefore able to die).

    Am I missing what’s so difficult about this?

    Anytime I’ve asserted that yes, indeed, God (that is, the 2nd Person) did die on the cross, I’ve been hit with questions like, “What happened? Did the Trinity become a Bi-unity for three days?” The answer is obviously no. What man ceases to exist when he dies? Why should it be different when Jesus died?

    How could God (the 2nd Person) suffer? Because the Logos had become a man. He was an omniscient mind (therefore a divine Person) associated with a body of flesh (therefore a human Person).

    Clark’s problem in ‘The Incarnation’ was that he began with the assumption that what is divine cannot be human, and vice versa. The two are mutually incompatible categories, and thus we must posit a divine Person and a human Person somehow very closely, uniquely united.

    IMHO this is a backward way to approach the Incarnation. I think what’s needed is a Christocentric approach. Instead of trying to figure out Christ’s makeup by letting our knowledge of man-apart-from-God and God-apart-from-man force us into boxes of confusion, we ought to let what the Scripture plainly says about Christ inform us about what it truly means to be “God” and/or “man.”

    The Logos *became* flesh. God became man. What was God is now man, without ceasing to be God. Clark’s formula simply doesn’t allow that. I think Clark asked all the right questions in his book; I just think he went in the wrong direction in answering them. We need to be willing to let Scripture define our terms.

    Assuming Clark’s definition of person, I see 3 categories of p(P)ersons:

    1. Omniscient mind? Divine Person.
    2. Finite mind without a fleshly tent? Angelic person.
    3. Mind associated with a body of flesh? (Note: even dead people are still associated with their bodies, just not in the same way) Human person.

    Christ was/is the unique instance of a Person who fit into two categories (1 & 3). He was/is an omniscient mind associated with a body of flesh. How could he suffer? The same way we do. How could he grow in wisdom? That’s the tricky question.

    As temporal minds, we are collections of propositions, but even we don’t think all those propositions at the same time. Our minds and bodies are mysteriously associated in such a harmony that a blow to our head can seriously affect the operation of our immaterial minds. (I can’t explain it, but I’ve not heard anyone else who can, either, so it doesn’t hurt me.) If we believe something, it’s because the Holy Spirit revealed it to us.

    Ever had trouble remembering something? Ever relearned something? As our bodies grow, we are able to retain/recall much more propositional information. But when we get old, a lot of us aren’t able to use our minds quite as well. Such is the limitation of flesh in this world.

    Now imagine the unique situation of an omniscient Mind being funneled through the limitations of a human body/brain. The Logos knew all things, but he didn’t think them all at once, and as he grew in stature, he grew in wisdom – that is, he gained access to recall more and more of those propositions contained in his mind from all eternity.

    Since I’ve never heard anyone describe the Incarnation this way, I’m sure I’m wrong and deserving of the stake, but I’d like to see where it logically contradicts itself or Scripture.

  4. hughmc5 Says:

    PM- If the question is, “Can God die?” perhaps we ought to define “death.” I’m not sure why so many people think of death differently when it comes to Christ than they do of all men. When men die, they do not cease to exist; the immaterial mind/soul is separated from the material/flesh.
    HM~ Right, but isn’t there more? There’s the stopping breathing & heartbeat and all that.

    PM- So when the second Person of the Godhead died on the cross, he was able to do so because the second Person had a body to be separated from (which is what made him human and therefore able to die).
    Am I missing what’s so difficult about this?
    HM~ Nuttin. If you’re defintion suffices.

    PM- Anytime I’ve asserted that yes, indeed, God (that is, the 2nd Person) did die on the cross, I’ve been hit with questions like, “What happened? Did the Trinity become a Bi-unity for three days?” The answer is obviously no. What man ceases to exist when he dies? Why should it be different when Jesus died?
    HM~ If you’re defintion suffices, then there’s an end to it. Christ died in his deity. Hmm, doesn’t sound quite right.

    PM- How could God (the 2nd Person) suffer? Because the Logos had become a man. He was an omniscient mind (therefore a divine Person) associated with a body of flesh (therefore a human Person).
    HM~ But whither his immutability?

  5. hughmc5 Says:

    Uno mas:

    I recall that human Jesus didn’t know his return’s timing, but Dad did. I assume the 2nd person did, too, & so limited his humanity’s knowledge.

    1st person committed all judgment to the Son. He didn’t have it inherently? As you remind us, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” That’s just straight up humanity.

    So humanity is thought to have done all the suffering & the dying. That’s how I’ve tried to make sense.

    I’ve just been arguing with a friend over his call that we are to empathize with God’s & Christ’s suffering. God did not suffer or die @ Calvary; a perfect man did.

    I cannot assess points about Clark’s route as I haven’t yet read his treatment of the Incarnation (or Trinity for that matter!).
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  6. Hugh, “There’s the stopping breathing & heartbeat and all that.”

    Sure!

    “‘Christ died in his deity.’ Hmm, doesn’t sound quite right.”

    I wouldn’t say that either, because deity divorced from humanity cannot die. But Christ (who, while Man, was also fully God) died. The Word (a Person) became flesh, and it was that same Person who died…unless you take Clark’s view that “became flesh” really means “became united to a distinct fleshly person.” Personally, I’d rather take the plain reading, that Christ, the 2nd Person, died, and let it inform my understanding of death, deity, and humanity.

    “But whither his immutability?”

    When we speak of God being immutable, it is in the context of being not-human. Yet was Christ non-human? No. Therefore Christ, the Incarnate Word, was mutable *insofar as his distinctly human attributes are concerned. The 2nd Person bled – because he had a body. The 2nd Person died – because he had a body. His distinctly divine attributes were immutable in that obviously his propositions did not diminish or alter themselves in any way, and his omnipotence was never threatened. In Christ, these attributes were funneled (for lack of a better word) through the body which the Logos was/is associated with.

    The problem is we’re making our categories of “divine” and “human” *before* we even look at Christ, and attempting to explain the Incarnation thus. I propose we include Christ and allow him to inform our understanding of both deity and humanity. Thus my calling it a “Christocentric Christology.”


  7. Hugh, “I recall that human Jesus didn’t know his return’s timing, but Dad did. I assume the 2nd person did, too, & so limited his humanity’s knowledge.”

    I’d agree with that. It served the divine purpose for Christ to be unable to access that knowledge at that point. I feel much more comfortable saying that then explaining it by positing a second person in Christ.

    “1st person committed all judgment to the Son. He didn’t have it inherently?”

    His Person is derived from the Father (eternally begotten). In the same way, his judgment is committed to him from the Father. The execution of judgment in time gets tricky because (I am assuming Clark & Augustine’s view) eternity is not “forever past”.

    “That’s just straight up humanity.”

    Certainly no denying Christ was a Man!

    “So humanity is thought to have done all the suffering & the dying.”

    The use of the word ‘all’ seems to imply that divinity did not suffer. Again, I think a child can grasp Scripture’s plain reading that the Word = Jesus = the One who died. Clark’s question was right: “How can a bare nature suffer?*” IMHO, Clark should have let Scripture inform his thought on whether or not the 2nd Person could have suffered, instead of sticking with the presupposition that it is impossible. One gets the impression, reading ‘The Incarnation,’ that God can’t really become man after all, as they are mutually exclusive categories.

    “God’s AND Christ’s suffering”? That sounds weird. I wouldn’t say the Father or Spirit suffered. They couldn’t; they weren’t human.


  8. Also, I prefer NKJV over ESV 😉

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Logos knew all things, but he didn’t think them all at once, and as he grew in stature, he grew in wisdom – that is, he gained access to recall more and more of those propositions contained in his mind from all eternity.

    Obviously this can’t be right as the Logos became flesh, that doesn’t mean He ceased being the Second Person. Sounds to me like you’re advocating for a kenotic theory of some sort.

    Further, if “Christ was/is the unique instance of a Person who fit into two categories (1 & 3) and 1. is Omniscient mind? Divine Person, and 3 a finite mind, a human person are we talking two persons?

    Now imagine the unique situation of an omniscient Mind being funneled through the limitations of a human body/brain. The Logos knew all things, but he didn’t think them all at once,

    Again, that’s impossible unless you want to say that by “funneling” the Logos ceased to be the Second Person at least to some degree. But Christ was ignorant of some things. How can the Second Person be ignorant of anything? How did this “funneling” cause the Second Person to become ignorant of some things? Kenosis seems to be your solution..


  10. Sean,

    “Obviously this can’t be right as the Logos became flesh, that doesn’t mean He ceased being the Second Person.”

    I’m not following your argument. Of course he did not cease to be the Second Person. We know many things but due to the limitations of our bodies we are often unable to recall them at will. We also can only focus on perhaps a few things at once. The Logos knew all things, but due to that omniscience having to be “funneled” through the limits of a human body, he gained greater and greater access to the knowledge he inherently had. I think for us to assume this is impossible is simply to beg the question, not defeat the proposal.

    “Further, if ‘Christ was/is the unique instance of a Person who fit into two categories (1 & 3) and 1. is Omniscient mind? Divine Person, and 3 a finite mind, a human person are we talking two persons?”

    That would be a contradiction, so it’s a good thing it’s not what I actually said. You began quoting me, but at some point branched into your own words, because I did not define class #3 as being “a finite mind,” but rather a mind associated with a fleshly body.

    “But Christ was ignorant of some things. How can the Second Person be ignorant of anything? How did this funneling cause the Second Person to become ignorant of some things?”

    I already addressed this. Haven’t you ever tried to remember an actor’s name, but couldn’t quite get it, even though it was “on the tip of your tongue”? Then somebody supplied the name and you think, “Of course! Now I remember.” Would you say you ceased to know that? Or merely that the limitations of your human body temporarily prevented you from recalling that proposition which your mind possessed? It’s not a 1:1 comparison, exactly, but hopefully it shows that someone can know something yet not be able to access that information, due to the limits of the human body.

    In the same way Christ was omniscient from eternity. This did not temporarily cease at his birth (which I believe would be a requirement of any kenosis theory; correct me if I’m wrong). It is simply that when the Word became flesh, all that knowledge and power was funneled through the limits of that flesh. Christ knew who he was and what he was here to do, but, in accordance with the plan of the ages, it was not part of the plan for him to have access to the knowledge of the timing of his second coming.

    Again, this is the unique instance of an eternal (non-linear) mind truly becoming man (who by definition thinks linearly, therefore experiencing time). It’s mysterious, yes, but it’s not paradoxical, and it doesn’t violate the simplicity of Scripture’s identification of the Logos with Jesus, the Man who died on the cross.


  11. I don’t want to get into this debate again so I’ll just make one observation that Clark never fully dealt with in The Incarnation. If we accept the view that there are not two natures united but rather two Persons united–that is the divine Logos is a divine Person and Jesus Christ is a human person–then how can we truly worship Jesus Christ as God? He would then be only loosely “divine” in any sense of the word. It would be idolatry to worship Jesus or pray to Him because he is in fact merely a human person. How is the Logos united to Christ and how are two one? I don’t have my copy of The Incarnation handy since I’m on the road at the moment. I don’t have a problem with Clark’s definition of “person” as the propositions he thinks. But I do have a problem with the fact that Clark never defines for us how those two persons are united in Christ. I would have liked to see something better than John Robbins’ assertion that the prophets have some of the divine propositions while Christ has them all. That sounds as if we are all divine or something.

    Anyway, peace….

    Charlie


  12. Patripassionism or any idea of God suffering is a heresy as defined by the early church. Jesus suffered as a human person. Ok, you got me. I agree with Clark on those issues.

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not following your argument. Of course he did not cease to be the Second Person. We know many things but due to the limitations of our bodies we are often unable to recall them at will.

    Are you saying Jesus was God in a body and the body restricted His omnipotence along His omniscience? Seems to me that Jesus had no bodily limitations when he was walking on water, what is it about His body that restricted His knowledge so that He was ignorant of some things? At least the kenotic theories posit the idea of God the Second Person willingly laid aside some of His divine attributes, at least temporarily, to take on flesh and become a man. Your argument appears to be that taking on flesh was so restrictive that it resulted in the Second Person’s (temporary) ignorance. It’s a novel theory theory at least.

    “Further, if ‘Christ was/is the unique instance of a Person who fit into two categories (1 & 3) and 1. is Omniscient mind? Divine Person, and 3 a finite mind, a human person are we talking two persons?”

    That would be a contradiction, so it’s a good thing it’s not what I actually said. You began quoting me, but at some point branched into your own words, because I did not define class #3 as being “a finite mind,” but rather a mind associated with a fleshly body.

    I don’t see where the contradiction lies, but I do see that unless you first define what you mean by person you’re not really saying anything. Probably explains why you’re getting on so well over at the Greenbaggins blog. 😉

    “But Christ was ignorant of some things. How can the Second Person be ignorant of anything? How did this funneling cause the Second Person to become ignorant of some things?”

    I already addressed this. Haven’t you ever tried to remember an actor’s name, but couldn’t quite get it, even though it was “on the tip of your tongue”? Then somebody supplied the name and you think, “Of course! Now I remember.” Would you say you ceased to know that? Or merely that the limitations of your human body temporarily prevented you from recalling that proposition which your mind possessed? It’s not a 1:1 comparison, exactly, but hopefully it shows that someone can know something yet not be able to access that information, due to the limits of the human body.

    I forget a lot of things and there are many things I can’t recall, however I don’t know that this is due to a limitation of my body. Maybe I should workout more? Again, I don’t see how taking on flesh would cause the omniscient God of the universe to be ignorant of some things like the time and date of His return? So while I agree it’s not a 1:1 comparison I’m not convinced that it’s a comparison at all.

    Again, this is the unique instance of an eternal (non-linear) mind truly becoming man (who by definition thinks linearly, therefore experiencing time). It’s mysterious, yes, but it’s not paradoxical, and it doesn’t violate the simplicity of Scripture’s identification of the Logos with Jesus, the Man who died on the cross.

    The problem is according to Jack over at Greenbaggins who thinks I’m obtuse and Jon who is at least faithful to the nonsensical nonexistent definitions handed down for hundreds of years, the Man who died on the cross wasn’t a real man at all. How can Jesus be a man yet not be a human person? The best I can figure he was a divine Person who animated an impersonal human nature and while He had a human consciousness, mind, heart and will he was not really a human person at all. And to think I’m the one being obtuse. =8-)

  14. hughmc5 Says:

    To repeat: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” That’s just straight up humanity. Not deity.

    Deity (Father, Ghost & Son) is immutable and immortal. Can’t bleed, suffer, die, or be resurrected. Christ’s humanity was resurrected.

    Clark should have let Scripture inform his thought on whether or not the 2nd Person could have suffered, instead of sticking with the presupposition that it is impossible.
    Guess _I’m_ stuck, too! 😉
    And @ this juncture, sticking with Clark.

    One gets the impression, reading ‘The Incarnation,’ that God can’t really become man after all, as they are mutually exclusive categories.
    God doesn’t ‘become man,’ no. ‘The Word was made flesh’ (John 1:14),
    ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ (1 Tim. 3:16*),
    ‘but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man,’ (Phil. 2).

    FORM (Matt. 20:28),
    LIKENESS (Heb. 2:14),
    FASHION (1 John 2:16).

    * AV/ NKJV. Yep, they’re better. 🙂

  15. Hugh Says:

    Looks like these were posted by R. Fowler White #s 90 & 94 on G-bags’ “An Issue in Christology” ~

    Kevin DeYoung has written a helpful essay on this topic. See his article, “Divine Impassibility and the Passion of Christ in the Book of Hebrews,” WTJ 68 (2006) 1:40-50. He concludes:

    “Those who argue that God suffers make many strong points in their favor. On the face of it, one of the most persuasive arguments is the one based on the sufferings of Christ. If Jesus Christ, very God of very God, suffered, how can we avoid the conclusion that God suffers? I have argued that in light of Hebrews, especially Heb 2:5–18, this argument does not hold.

    The passibility of God cannot be assumed from the passibility of Christ, first of all, because the nature of the incarnation implied some sort of “change”—in this case a temporary change of status (being made for a little while lower than the angels)—what we see in Jesus will not equal to what we see in God. The Son of God took on human flesh and blood to do that which he could not do as God, namely, suffer.

    Second, according to Cyril’s communication of idioms, the suffering that Jesus experienced cannot be predicated to his divine nature. Instead, we must understand that the Son of God in the incarnation was born, lived, and died as a man.

    Third, Christ’s sufferings were not revelational but eschatalogical. His sufferings tell us nothing about the eternal suffering heart of God and everything about the completion of the plan of salvation. The Son of God needed to be perfected through sufferings so that he might be qualified as our brother to be our faithful high priest. In this role, his conquering love destroys the devil, sets the captives free, and makes atonement for sin.

    Fourth, as one acquainted with human suffering, Jesus Christ can sympathize with us in our own suffering. As Christians we look not in the sky to a passible God for comfort, but in history to the suffering servant. God is not distant, aloof, or insensitive to our suffering. He loved us enough to send his Son to be like one of us, and he loves us enough to come near to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

    And, In context (which is admittedly lacking from the citation above) DeYoung’s 4th point was not about a contrast (in Hebrews) between pre-Christ saints and post-Christ saints in regard to the former lacking comfort.

  16. Hugh McCann Says:

    We heard in church today [from Acts] of Christ’s being killed by God’s plan, exalted, anointed, given the Spirit, raised, appointed, given all judgment, & of course resurrected.

    Did any of this happen to 2nd-person deity? I trow not!


  17. Sean,

    “Are you saying Jesus was God in a body and the body restricted His omnipotence along His omniscience? Seems to me that Jesus had no bodily limitations when he was walking on water, what is it about His body that restricted His knowledge so that He was ignorant of some things?”

    It wasn’t about what Jesus could or could not do, but about what he sovereignly chose to do. He *could* have brought down a legion of angels to save himself from the cross (using could in the sense of ability, not possibility). It was God’s purpose that Jesus perform miracles to demonstrate his divine power in ways that would not detract from his experience of humanity. Other men walked on water and healed the dead by the power of God, but they were still men. What makes my theory different from the kenotic theories (as far as my knowledge of them goes) is that I don’t say Jesus stopped being omniscient. The propositions were there; he just stopped accessing them.

    “It’s a novel theory theory at least.”

    And Clark’s isn’t?

    “…unless you first define what you mean by person you’re not really saying anything.”

    I won’t call you obtuse, but sometimes you seem so eager to trap or disagree with me that you don’t actually read what I wrote.

    I can’t get much clearer than this passage, which you incorrectly quoted before, and don’t remember now.

    “Assuming Clark’s definition of person, I see 3 categories of p(P)ersons:

    1. Omniscient mind? Divine Person.
    2. Finite mind without a fleshly tent? Angelic person.
    3. Mind associated with a body of flesh? (Note: even dead people are still associated with their bodies, just not in the same way) Human person.”

    As you can see, I am “assuming Clark’s definition of person,” i.e. mind, mind, mind.

    “I forget a lot of things and there are many things I can’t recall, however I don’t know that this is due to a limitation of my body.”

    Are you saying that a blow to one’s head doesn’t affect the individual’s ability to think (that is, the operation of their mind) while in this fleshly tent?

    “Again, I don’t see how taking on flesh would cause the omniscient God of the universe to be ignorant of some things like the time and date of His return?”

    You don’t have to agree, but I’ve explained it a couple of times now. The proposition was there in the mind of the Logos, but as far as his time on earth was concerned, it wasn’t a need-to-know bit of information, thus according to God’s plan, Christ did not access that proposition. Again, it’s not about what he couldn’t do, but about what he chose not to do.

    “The problem is according to Jack over at Greenbaggins who thinks I’m obtuse and Jon who is at least faithful to the nonsensical nonexistent definitions handed down for hundreds of years, the Man who died on the cross wasn’t a real man at all. How can Jesus be a man yet not be a human person?”

    I agree 100%. Jesus Christ had to be both a divine Person and a human person. I just think our definition of *human person* has been so restrictive that it precludes the possibility of falling into the category of divine Persons at the same time, and vice versa. Christ is the only instance of an omniscient (and therefore divine) mind associated with a body of flesh (therefore human).

  18. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, it will be a few days before I can reply. However, I noticed Drake Shelton has jumped in over at Green Baggins. There goes the neighborhood.


  19. Hugh,

    “To repeat: ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.’ That’s just straight up humanity. Not deity.”

    I just get the heebie-jeebies about saying that the person being spoken of in that passage wasn’t God. If you want to say that, okay; I’m just trying to put forth an explanation of how such a statement could be made of an omniscient mind, and I think the answer lies in his experiencing the limits of a human body, according to the purposes and reasons of God.

    “Deity (Father, Ghost & Son) is immutable and immortal. Can’t bleed, suffer, die, or be resurrected. Christ’s humanity was resurrected.”

    Father & Ghost can’t bleed, suffer, die, or be resurrected, because they’ve never been incarnate. To me, it seems that Scripture, with no apology, says that the Son did bleed, suffer, die, and be resurrected. He could do this because he was human, whereas the Father and Ghost are not.

    “Guess _I’m_ stuck, too! 😉
    And @ this juncture, sticking with Clark.”

    If you insist, brother! 🙂

    As for the form, likeness, and fashion verses, they certainly don’t prove that a divine Person somehow united himself with a distinct human person. In fact, if you’re trying to use those verses to disprove that the Logos actually became a man, it seems you must overshoot and end up in some form of docetism, since the passages say nothing of two persons.

  20. hughmc5 Says:

    SG: I noticed Drake Shelton has jumped in over at Green Baggins. There goes the neighborhood.

    It’s only a matter of time before the shark smells blood here @ the Hammer…

  21. hughmc5 Says:

    I don’t say Jesus stopped being omniscient. The propositions were there; he just stopped accessing them.
    …it’s not about what he couldn’t do, but about what he chose not to do.

    Hmm…

  22. hughmc5 Says:

    “To repeat: ‘Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.’ That’s just straight up humanity. Not deity.”
    I just get the heebie-jeebies about saying that the person being spoken of in that passage wasn’t God. If you want to say that, okay;
    >Reviewing the biblical data, I am struck at the number that do not say he was God, but rather, emphasize his humanity (David’s son and all that.). This from Luke says Christ grew mentally/ spiritually, physically, and ‘reputationally’ with God and man. Growth indicates change, something deity doesn’t do, yes?

    I’m just trying to put forth an explanation of how such a statement could be made of an omniscient mind, and I think the answer lies in his experiencing the limits of a human body, according to the purposes and reasons of God.
    >Me too.

    “Deity (Father, Ghost & Son) is immutable and immortal. Can’t bleed, suffer, die, or be resurrected. Christ’s humanity was resurrected.”
    Father & Ghost can’t bleed, suffer, die, or be resurrected, because they’ve never been incarnate. To me, it seems that Scripture, with no apology, says that the Son did bleed, suffer, die, and be resurrected. He could do this because he was human, whereas the Father and Ghost are not.
    >It’s about our definition of ‘incarnate,’ then, as we saw above. The Son has a human nature, & he has a divine nature. The human bled, suffered, died, and was resurrected. The divine did not; could not.

    As for the form, likeness, and fashion verses, they certainly don’t prove that a divine Person somehow united himself with a distinct human person.
    >Aye, but they certainly don’t give the impression that the divine Person suffered & died in human form.

    In fact, if you’re trying to use those verses to disprove that the Logos actually became a man, it seems you must overshoot and end up in some form of docetism, since the passages say nothing of two persons.
    >I contend that the Logos ~God~ did not become a man; he did not become flesh. He took on flesh. See my post of April 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm. Like you, I am trying to restrict myself to the biblical language, and not overshoot anything.


  23. Hugh,

    “Reviewing the biblical data, I am struck at the number that do not say he was God, but rather, emphasize his humanity (David’s son and all that.).”

    But we’re not Arians, are we? Jesus was Man. He was also God.

    “Growth indicates change, something deity doesn’t do, yes?”

    Deity doesn’t change, but divine Persons can and do when they are incarnate. Again, as I see it, you’re interpreting the incarnation based on an understanding of deity which excludes Christ.

    “It’s about our definition of ‘incarnate,’ then, as we saw above. The Son has a human nature, & he has a divine nature. The human bled, suffered, died, and was resurrected. The divine did not; could not.”

    My discussion has been about Persons, not natures. Deity can’t bleed because deity, by itself, has no blood. But then there was that one time that a divine Person took a body, which made him a human Person too, who could bleed.

    “Aye, but [the form, likeness, and fashion verses] certainly don’t give the impression that the divine Person suffered & died in human form.”

    On the contrary, that is overwhelmingly the exact impression I get, when coupled with the events of Jesus’ life.

    “I contend that the Logos ~God~ did not become a man; he did not become flesh. He took on flesh. See my post of April 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm. Like you, I am trying to restrict myself to the biblical language, and not overshoot anything.”

    You just said that the Logos *did not become flesh.* I’m going to assume that was a typo, because John 1: 14 says, “And the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us.”

    ???


  24. Patrick,

    >Jesus was Man. He was also God.<
    AMEN.

    Paul fleshes out (pun intended) John's testimony. Hence my referencing & quoting Paul above to help explain John.

    We differ on how the Deity incarnated himself.


  25. From Calvin:

    And the Speech was made flesh. The Evangelist shows what was that coming of Christ which he had mentioned; namely, that having been clothed with our flesh, he showed himself openly to the world. Although the Evangelist touches briefly the unutterable mystery, that the Son of God was clothed with human nature, yet this brevity is wonderfully perspicuous. Here some madmen amuse themselves with foolish and trivial subtleties of this sort: that the Speech is said to have been made flesh, because God sent his Son into the world, according to the conception which he had formed in his mind; as if the Speech were I know not what shadowy image. But we have demonstrated that that word denotes a real hypostasis, or subsistence, in the essence of God.

    The word Flesh expresses the meaning of the Evangelist more forcibly than if he had said that he was made man. He intended to show to what a mean and despicable condition the Son of God, on our account, descended from the height of his heavenly glory. When Scripture speaks of man contemptuously, it calls him flesh. Now, though there be so wide a distance between the spiritual glory of the Speech of God and the abominable filth of our flesh, yet the Son of God stooped so low as to take upon himself that flesh, subject to so many miseries. The word flesh is not taken here for corrupt nature, (as it is often used by Paul,) but for mortal man; though it marks disdainfully his frail and perishing nature, as in these and similar passages, for he remembered that they were flesh, (Psalm 78:39;) all flesh is grass, (Isaiah 40:6.) We must at the same time observe, however, that this is a figure of speech in which a part is taken for the whole; for the lower part includes the whole man. It was therefore highly foolish in Apollinaris to imagine that Christ was merely clothed with a human body without a soul; for it may easily be proved from innumerable passages, that he had a soul as well as a body; and when Scripture calls men flesh, it does not therefore deprive them of a soul.

    The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the Father, was made man. On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has always brought forward one or another of these two errors; either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, nor did he wear the true nature of man; or that he was clothed with flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have two separate persons. Thus Nestorius expressly acknowledged both natures, but imagined two Christs, one who was God, and another who was man. Eutyches, on the other hand, while he acknowledged that the one Christ is the Son of God and the Son of man, left him neither of the two natures, but imagined that they were mingled together. And in the present day, Servetus and the Anabaptists invent a Christ who is confusedly compounded of two natures, as if he were a Divine man. In words, indeed, he acknowledges that Christ is God; but if you admit his raving imaginations, the Divinity is at one time changed into human nature, and at another time, the nature of man is swallowed up by the Divinity.

    The Evangelist says what is well adapted to refute both of these blasphemies. When he tells us that the Speech was made flesh, we clearly infer from this the unity of his Person; for it is impossible that he who is now a man could be any other than he who was always the true God, since it is said that God was made man. On the other hand, since he distinctly gives to the man Christ the name of the Speech, it follows that Christ, when he became man, did not cease to be what he formerly was, and that no change took place in that eternal essence of God which was clothed with flesh. In short, the Son of God began to be man in such a manner that he still continues to be that eternal Speech who had no beginning of time.

    And dwelt. Those who explain that the flesh served, as it were, for an abode to Christ, do not perceive the meaning of the Evangelist; for he does not ascribe to Christ a permanent residence amongst us, but says that he remained in it as a guest, for a short time. For the word which he employs (ἐσκήνωσεν) is taken from tabernacles He means nothing else than that Christ discharged on the earth the office which had been appointed to him; or, that he did not merely appear for a single moment, but that he conversed among men until he completed the course of his office.

  26. Hugh McCann Says:

    ἐγένετο in John 1 & elsewhere is variously translated in the AV:

    v.3 All things were made by him;
    v.3 not any thing made that was made.
    v.6 There was a man sent
    v.10 and the world was made by him,
    v.14 And the Word was made flesh, and
    v.17 and truth came by Jesus
    v.28 These things were done in Bethabara

    My point is that “became,” while valid, is problematic. It CAN indicate change in being or coming into being (“world” in v.10), which we all agree did not happen to the 2nd Person/ Logos.

    “Was made” is problematic, too. Any translation could be if taken to an extreme, as the Arians prove by their silliness.

    I am just wanting to preserve the immutability of the Logos. But if I am wrong, Patrick, I want to know and try to understand how deity could suffer and die and be raised.


  27. Okay, but can it be translated as merely “attached itself to”? I’m not sure what the danger in my theory is. The Logos, a divine Person, became flesh, that is, he became a human Person. He did not cease to be a divine Person. He took on qualities which allowed him to fall into the category of Man. I really don’t see how this damages the immutability of God at all.

  28. hughmc5 Says:

    Okay, but can it be translated as merely “attached itself to”?
    > I don’t know, but the two natures did not merge.

    I’m not sure what the danger in my theory is.
    > How does your theory help? I want to preserve the scriptural notion of the deity’s immutability.

    The Logos, a divine Person, became flesh, that is, he became a human Person.
    > I’m just preferring “took on” to “became.” A joining of deity with humanity, but not a merging. Hypostasis has connection, but not confusion. No change in deity in incarnation, right?

    He did not cease to be a divine Person.
    > Yes!

    He took on qualities which allowed him to fall into the category of Man.
    > Not liking “allowed” or “fall into.” But maybe.

    I really don’t see how this damages the immutability of God at all.
    > & I’m trying to understand how your dying God theory promotes, protects, or preserves it…


  29. Hugh,

    “How does your theory help?”

    I agree with Clark on the weaknesses of Chalcedon, but I find his solution unacceptable. If the Son of God, one of the parties of the Covenant of Redemption, did not suffer and die, but only a human person who was somehow united to the divine 2nd Person, what was the Son’s role? Why was it even necessary for him to be sent? The Logos did not experience humanity; he was never human, only united to a human person. My theory allows Christ to be a divine Person whose divine attributes remain intact, while actually becoming a human Person in order to make atonement.

    “Hypostasis has connection, but not confusion.”

    Is confusion the same as overlap? I’ve never understood it that way. Terms like merging, hybrid, confusion, etc. bring to mind a half-and-half sort of construction, or like dissolving sugar in water. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m saying that by attaching himself to a fleshly tent, the Logos meets the qualifications as a human Person.

    “I’m trying to understand how your dying God theory promotes, protects, or preserves [the immutability of God]…”

    Kenotic theories violate immutability. Nowhere am I claiming that any of the Logos’ essential attributes are removed or cease. His existence continues; his death merely separates mind from body (just as any other human death). His omniscience continues, but is experienced temporally. It was unprecedented and is thus difficult to compare to the experience of any other person, but I hope I’ve shown that we can possess propositions (thus they are part of our mind) yet at times be unable to access them. That doesn’t mean those pieces of knowledge actually cease to be a part of our mind.

  30. hughmc5 Says:

    From the Athanasian Creed:

    30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

    31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

    32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

    33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

    34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

    35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

    36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

    37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ…

  31. Hugh McCann Says:

    R.C. Sproul seems right on:

    There is no change in the substantive nature or character of God at any time.

    God not only created the universe, He sustains it by the very power of His being. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If the being of God ceased for one second, the universe would disappear. It would pass out of existence, because nothing can exist apart from the sustaining power of God. If God dies, everything dies with Him. Obviously, then, God could not have perished on the cross.

    Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.

    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/

  32. Denson Dube Says:

    PM,
    Are you saying the body is what “limited” the Son from enjoying his eternal attributes, such as omniscience and immutability?
    Would I be understanding you correctly if I said your theory of the incarnation is “God in a body”?
    According to your exposition, we could all be Gods afterall, just these wretched bodies getting on our way?


  33. Hugh, I like the Athanasian creed, apart from its failing to define ‘substance.’

    Here’s where R.C. goes wrong: He treats death as if it is a ceasing to exist. Now if that is what death is, then he’d be right. But it’s not. Does he think when he dies he will cease to exist? Of course not. His mind will be separated from his body – just like Christ.

    Denson, I wonder if you’ve read all the comments.

    “Are you saying the body is what ‘limited’ the Son from enjoying his eternal attributes, such as omniscience and immutability?”

    Those attributes of Christ which are essential to divine persons (omniscience, immutability) did not end. I do not paint a picture of a helpless, absent-minded Christ, either. He had full knowledge of the humiliation he would experience. According to plan, for reasons unknown to me, his divine knowledge and power were demonstrated in certain ways, but not in others.

    “Would I be understanding you correctly if I said your theory of the incarnation is ‘God in a body’?”

    Two problems with that description. First, ‘God’ is not specific enough. I’m only talking about the 2nd Person, not the Father, Spirit, or the entire Trinity. Secondly, that phrase is associated with Apollinarianism. While my theory overlaps a great deal with Apollinarius, his error was that he denied that Christ had a human mind. I insist that he *must* have a human mind, and that the Logos, by becoming associated with a body, became a human mind, while suffering no deletion of propositions, etc., thus remaining divine.

    “According to your exposition, we could all be Gods afterall, just these wretched bodies getting on our way?”

    I can’t decide if this is a serious question or not. No, we’re not gods. We’re not omniscient, we’re not eternal, we’re not omnipotent, there is only one God, eternally existing in three Persons… Come on now.

  34. hughmc5 Says:

    Hugh, I like the Athanasian creed, apart from its failing to define ‘substance.’
    > & such failures are rampant, as we bandy about “person,” and others w/o definition, yet cry out for agreement & submission.

    Here’s where R.C. goes wrong: He treats death as if it is a ceasing to exist. Now if that is what death is, then he’d be right. But it’s not. Does he think when he dies he will cease to exist? Of course not. His mind will be separated from his body – just like Christ.*
    > Right. We differ on incarnation (I confess ignorance compared to you) and maybe on death. Given your definition here, then of course, the 2nd person died in that the Spirit was severed from Christ’s corpse.

    * …when the second Person of the Godhead died on the cross, he was able to do so because the second Person had a body to be separated from (which is what made him human and therefore able to die).

  35. hughmc5 Says:

    Another text from Acts 10:38ff ~ God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

    And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

    And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

    To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

    The emphasis in Acts is on the humanity of Christ. He died as a man. The human soul separated from the body was his death.

    I thnink in

  36. hughmc5 Says:

    {Word Press is a mess. At least, on my monitor.}

    To continue: Thinking about the Holy Spirit of Christ leaving Jesus upon the man’s death, we perhaps need a word other than “death.”

    On the other hand, God [the Father, presumably]

    purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28), so by rightly-understood synecdoche* we COULD sing, “That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me.”

    * Not Schenectady. 😉


  37. “The emphasis in Acts is on the humanity of Christ. He died as a man. The human soul separated from the body was his death.”

    Agreed.

    How else might we define death? That is, death of a person?

  38. hughmc5 Says:

    Right, & if God’s 2nd-Person Spirit leaving Christ is all we mean by death, OK.

    But saying God dies is problematic because so many differences exist between our dying and the separation of the Spirit From Christ.

    Problems likewise exist when men say that God suffers, God weeps, or changes in any way. To say God dies is to say (or imply) that he changes (though I know you’re not saying that).


  39. But if we deny that a divine Person died, we are left with the same problems Clark identified. Some may be comfortable saying that Christ did not need to be a human person to be a man, but I say that’s just nonsense. It had to be a person, that is, a mind, who died on the cross. As I said on Green Baggins, that leaves two options: Either two persons, one God and one man, or one Person who met the requirements of the categories of both divine and human whose body was separated from his mind (death).

  40. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sorry it took me a few days, but I was out in the Outer Banks. I’m guessing some of my confusion with your theory is cleared up above, but since I haven’t read any of the subsequent posts I’ll just pick up where we left off.

    What makes my theory different from the kenotic theories (as far as my knowledge of them goes) is that I don’t say Jesus stopped being omniscient. The propositions were there; he just stopped accessing them.

    You said he couldn’t access them due to fleshy restrictions. Now you seem to be saying that he chose not to access certain propositions.

    “It’s a novel theory theory at least.”
    And Clark’s isn’t?

    Clark’s theory is novel only in the sense that he defined what he meant by “person” in a way that applies to God and man. Actually, I see a lot of similarities between Clark and Morris and the fact that these men came to their views independently says a lot.

    “…unless you first define what you mean by person you’re not really saying anything.”

    I won’t call you obtuse, but sometimes you seem so eager to trap or disagree with me that you don’t actually read what I wrote.

    I’m not the only one who thought you were advocating some sort of kenotic theory. I’m still not sure you’re not.

    I can’t get much clearer than this passage, which you incorrectly quoted before, and don’t remember now.
    “Assuming Clark’s definition of person, I see 3 categories of p(P)ersons:
    1. Omniscient mind? Divine Person.
    2. Finite mind without a fleshly tent? Angelic person.
    3. Mind associated with a body of flesh? (Note: even dead people are still associated with their bodies, just not in the same way) Human person.”

    As you can see, I am “assuming Clark’s definition of person,” i.e. mind, mind, mind.

    I get that. What I have trouble with is the idea that by taking on flesh the omniscient mind of God was somehow restricted. That doesn’t seem to follow.

    “I forget a lot of things and there are many things I can’t recall, however I don’t know that this is due to a limitation of my body.”

    Are you saying that a blow to one’s head doesn’t affect the individual’s ability to think (that is, the operation of their mind) while in this fleshly tent?

    I’m sure sin effects my ability to think, but I don’t think the mind or soul is the synonymous with a body. The mind isn’t the brain after all.

    You don’t have to agree, but I’ve explained it a couple of times now. The proposition was there in the mind of the Logos, but as far as his time on earth was concerned, it wasn’t a need-to-know bit of information, thus according to God’s plan, Christ did not access that proposition. Again, it’s not about what he couldn’t do, but about what he chose not to do.

    I believe there was an asymmetrical accessing relationship between the *human* mind of Christ and the divine mind of the Logos, the Second Person. You are saying something different and that the Second Person was on a “need to know” basis with His own plan. That doesn’t make sense.

    I agree 100%. Jesus Christ had to be both a divine Person and a human person. I just think our definition of *human person* has been so restrictive that it precludes the possibility of falling into the category of divine Persons at the same time, and vice versa. Christ is the only instance of an omniscient (and therefore divine) mind associated with a body of flesh (therefore human).

    IMO Clark’s definition applies just as easily to human or divine persons. It’s also biblically warranted. I’m not really seeing what it is that you think is so restrictive? OTOH, what I do find restrictive are those who say a two person theory is out of bounds whereas a one person theory isn’t when they can’t even define what it is they mean by the word “person.” One could be out of bound and the other might not be, but unless these people define their terms they’re defending precisely nothing and this, or so they imagine, is the height of Christological orthodoxy. I’m sure you know the story of a prince who ran around with no clothes. The debate over at Green Baggins reminds me of that.


  41. Sean,

    “You said he couldn’t access them due to fleshy restrictions. Now you seem to be saying that he chose not to access certain propositions.”

    I didn’t mean those as incompatible, but I can see how they might be taken that way. I meant that it was God’s plan all along that the Incarnate Christ temporarily not access certain propositions. The Son entered this situation knowingly and willingly. One thing that would be interesting to ponder, assuming my theory is correct, is how the Incarnate Christ came to know those propositions only God could know. Perhaps the omniscient, eternal (extra-temporal) Logos was knowingly in control of which propositions were accessed/expressed by Christ’s (temporal) brain. An interesting concept, to say the least. I’ll have to think more on that.

    “Clark’s theory is novel only in the sense that he defined what he meant by ‘person’ in a way that applies to God and man. Actually, I see a lot of similarities between Clark and Morris and the fact that these men came to their views independently says a lot.”

    I still need to read Morris. :/

    “I’m not the only one who thought you were advocating some sort of kenotic theory. I’m still not sure you’re not.”

    Haha, well hopefully I can convince you of that. Wouldn’t a kenotic theory involve the Logos actually losing propositions & omnipotence?

    “What I have trouble with is the idea that by taking on flesh the omniscient mind of God was somehow restricted.”

    This may be cleared up if I can think more on how the Logos may have controlled the accessing of propositions. Don’t I remember from past discussions some talk of two “centers of consciousness,” with “assymetrical accessing,” or some such? Who was using that language?

    “I’m sure sin effects my ability to think, but I don’t think the mind or soul is the synonymous with a body. The mind isn’t the brain after all.”

    Agreed! Yet when the mind and body are united, we cannot deny that the body does have an effect on how one’s mind works. Take a chunk out of someone’s brain and see how difficult it is for their mind to exert control over the body. Give someone copious amounts of alcohol and ask them to say the alphabet backwards – something they know perfectly well when sober. I’m not saying the brain *is* the mind, but in our current state, the two are mysteriously working together in ways that each affects the other in certain ways. I do not mean to say that Christ’s body harmed or lessened the Logos, but rather its expression was purposefully limited by the constraints of the body. Imagine streaming a high quality video over the internet to a slow computer. All the original info remains perfectly intact, but the output looks significantly different because of the limitations of the hardware on that end. (Only an analogy to illustrate; please don’t push it too far.)

    “I believe there was an asymmetrical accessing relationship between the *human* mind of Christ and the divine mind of the Logos, the Second Person. You are saying something different and that the Second Person was on a ‘need to know’ basis with His own plan. That doesn’t make sense.”

    I spoke too soon! Where did you get that language from? I have to consider this more.

    “IMO Clark’s definition applies just as easily to human or divine persons. It’s also biblically warranted. I’m not really seeing what it is that you think is so restrictive?”

    Clark’s definition of *person* is great. It includes divine, angelic, and human persons. Yet Clark’s (unspoken) definition of *human person* is restrictive in that it is impossible for a single Person to fall into both the category of divine and that of

    “OTOH, what I do find restrictive are those who say a two person theory is out of bounds whereas a one person theory isn’t when they can’t even define what it is they mean by the word “person.” One could be out of bound and the other might not be, but unless these people define their terms they’re defending precisely nothing and this, or so they imagine, is the height of Christological orthodoxy. I’m sure you know the story of a prince who ran around with no clothes. The debate over at Green Baggins reminds me of that.”

    Amen and amen. For the record, by proposing my theory I’m not meaning to imply anyone’s unorthodoxy, even those who advocate a Clarkian or Clark-like two-person theory. I think it’s a difficult subject about which greater minds than mine have disagreed.

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Your post ended up in the spam filter. Sorry.

    I don’t want to get into this debate again so I’ll just make one observation that Clark never fully dealt with in The Incarnation. If we accept the view that there are not two natures united but rather two Persons united–that is the divine Logos is a divine Person and Jesus Christ is a human person–then how can we truly worship Jesus Christ as God?

    Jesus is fully God and fully man. To see Jesus is to see the Father (John 14:7-10). I don’t see how Clark’s theory diminishes or undermines this truth in the slightest

    He would then be only loosely “divine” in any sense of the word. It would be idolatry to worship Jesus or pray to Him because he is in fact merely a human person. How is the Logos united to Christ and how are two one?

    The two are one in the same sense that the three Persons are one God and not three gods. There is an intellectual triunity of persons in the Godhead and I would think Clark would advocate an intellectual biunity of persons in the God/man Jesus Christ. That seems to be the thrust of Robbins’ closing paragraphs. Also, wouldn’t it be idolatrous if one were to worship Christ according to his “human nature”? If, yes, how is this different?

    I don’t have a problem with Clark’s definition of “person” as the propositions he thinks. But I do have a problem with the fact that Clark never defines for us how those two persons are united in Christ. I would have liked to see something better than John Robbins’ assertion that the prophets have some of the divine propositions while Christ has them all. That sounds as if we are all divine or something.

    The prophets did think some define thoughts, whereas Jesus only thought the thoughts of the Second Person from the moment of his miraculous conception. Again, I think Clark’s theory is in many ways identical to Morris’ two-mind theory only that Clark defines a person in terms of their minds or as an aggregate of propositions whereas Morris defines person in more traditional terms (which isn’t really a working definition at all). Also, one of the major criticisms against Morris is that positing two minds or centers of consciousness necessarily implies two persons anyway even while technically remaining within the bounds of the one person Chalcedonian orthodoxy where “person” remains completely undefined.

    Patripassionism or any idea of God suffering is a heresy as defined by the early church. Jesus suffered as a human person. Ok, you got me. I agree with Clark on those issues.

    Of course, you could disagree and, as I see it, abandon the traditional and Reformed view of God. I just want you to realize that in order to say what you want to say about Christ it comes at the cost of altering other confessional doctrines. The choice is yours.

    I don’t understand why altering these confessional doctrines is such a big deal? So a bunch of papists will get unglued along with Protestants who act like papists when it comes to the “ecumenical creeds.” OK, so one of those creeds would be less ecumenical, but we don’t have any real fraternity with Rome anyway so why should the doctrine of the Incarnation be any exception? The don’t believe in the same Christ so I hardly see the big deal. Besides, and as I just learned over at Lane’s blog, Reformed folks are already viewed as “Nestorian” by critics, even Calvin.

    Further, Chalcedon states: “our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a rational soul ….” But what is a rational soul except a human mind? And, what is a human mind except that which defines a human person? If Jesus as a man possessed a human mind wouldn’t that also make him a human person? And if he also possessed a divine mind wouldn’t that make him a divine person as well? The traditional formulation doesn’t define key terms like person or substance. It uses these words but attaches no meaning to them, or, at least any meaning that would differentiate a person from a rhubarb, a cactus, or a cat.

    But just you saying Jesus suffered as a human person is huge.

    Peace to you too.

  43. hughmc5 Says:

    Sean said it:

    The traditional formulation doesn’t define key terms like person or substance. It uses these words but attaches no meaning to them, or, at least any meaning that would differentiate a person from a rhubarb, a cactus, or a cat.

    Amen.


  44. Okay, I’ve been doing some serious pondering. Since Gordon Clark is the single most logical mind I’ve encountered, I’m trying to work my way through his theory again. Perhaps Sean can shed some light on these questions:

    If Christ is two persons, in what way is Christ one? If there are two Persons, does that mean there are two Sons? How can the Son be our redeemer according to the Covenant of Redemption if he is not the one who died on the cross? And, if he cannot be said to have suffered and died, can he really be said to have lived a righteous life on earth? What I’m saying is, if it was the human Person who lived and died on our behalf, how can we say that the Logos agreed to anything in the CoR? Indeed, how can we say that the Logos “dwelt among us”?

    Just some questions that flooded my mind during a trip to Walmart.


  45. Another one: Since Scripture never refers to Christ using the plural personal pronoun “they,” but only the singular personal pronoun “he,” which Person is being spoken of? Is it always one or the other? Can the singular “he” ever refer to both persons at the same time, in your view?

  46. truthitself Says:

    Patrick

    When Christ speaks about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which person is he speaking of?

    Steve M

  47. Sean Gerety Says:

    Good questions Patrick. Besides being an argument from silence, I would think that the persons would be one in a similar manner as the three Persons of the Trinity are one God not three gods. Still, whether you say Jesus consisted of two natures, a divine nature and an impersonal (or personal per Crampton) human one you’re still making distinctions between which “nature” said what in Scripture. But do natures speak or do persons speak? There seems to me that there are things only Jesus as a human person can say and other things that only Jesus as the divine Second Person of the Trinity can say. Now, if the word “person” could be defined in such a way to account for two centers of consciousness or two minds, I would be happy to learn what it is? As it stands, it seems to me that the traditional definition that a person is an individual substance of a rational nature could apply to individual minds just as easily.

  48. truthitself Says:

    “The Father?”

    The Watchtower Society would say, “Yes”.


  49. The Covenant of Redemption is at the root of what’s preventing me from accepting Clark’s view, although I suppose if Robbins’ statement below could be explained, then maybe I could accept it:

    “The relationship that obtains between the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, and Jesus is unique, unlike that between the Logos and every other man who comes into the world (see John 1:9). The Logos did not merely light the mind of Christ; the Logos Himself is fully in Christ. Christ could therefore say, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’ No mere prophet could make such an astounding claim. Prophets, inspired by God, possess some of the divine propositions. Christ, however, possesses them all, as the author of Hebrews argues in his first chapter. *All* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily… Jesus Christ was and is both God and man, a divine person and a human person.”

    The only way I can see of explaining these statements is that Robbins is using “Christ” in a distinct way which differs from how he is using “Jesus.” Do you think perhaps Robbins was using a “Two Persons, One Christ” sort of formula? If so, does that entail one Son as well? Because I don’t understand how that’s possible, and I think it needs to be to answer the question of the CoR.


  50. It can’t be one Son, because it is precisely the Son that is said to be ignorant of the time of Christ’s return. Therefore in Clark’s view there must be two Sons: a Son of God and a Son of Man. How can that be reconciled with the Covenant of Redemption? The Son who was involved in that eternal covenant could not have been the same Son who lived a righteous life on earth, suffered, and died, and was resurrected for his people.


  51. truthitself,

    So would the Nicene Creed, so I’m not worried.

  52. truthitself Says:

    You are saying that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not triune and that is supported by the Nicene Creed?


  53. truthitself, no. One God, three Persons. All three Persons are God, but the Father is the source, whereas the Son is begotton and the Spirit proceeds. There are many examples in Scripture where the Father is referred to especially as “God.” This is Nicean.

  54. hughmc5 Says:

    SM ~ When Christ speaks about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which person is he speaking of?

    HM > Must Jesus be speaking of only one Person?

    PM ~ One God, three Persons. All three Persons are God, but the Father is the source, whereas the Son is begotton and the Spirit proceeds. There are many examples in Scripture where the Father is referred to especially as “God.”

    HM > “Elohim” is of course a plural form that can be & is @ times translated as ‘gods.’ Are not the three divine Persons at least implied in this plural form? Is God essentially/ substantially El, and personally Elohim?


  55. Hugh, I think I understand what you’re saying, but I wouldn’t want to say that the Trinity is essentially/substantially God, and personally Gods, which is what that would amount to in English.

    The plurality of the Godhead might be hinted at in Elohim, but I don’t think an argument for it can be based on it (not that it needs to be). Besides, that’s not exactly what Steve asked.

  56. truthitself Says:

    PM~”Since Scripture never refers to Christ using the plural personal pronoun “they,” but only the singular personal pronoun “he,” which Person is being spoken of? Is it always one or the other? Can the singular “he” ever refer to both persons at the same time, in your view?”

    Hugh
    I was attempting to illustrate that the singular term God (while not a pronoun) can be (and, I think is) applied to more than one person.

  57. Hughuenot Says:

    Of course; just wanting to deal with another possibility with the plural Elohim and the plurals of personhood which we Trinitarians also affirm.


  58. Well, the word “he”‘s specific purpose is to denote the number of persons, as it is a personal pronoun. For “he” to refer to more than one person is redefining English usage. Can you demonstrate where that is ever definitely the case with regard to the Trinity?

    To speak of the Trinty like, “He is three Persons” seems to give one no right to criticize Van Til’s “one person/three persons” formulation, because contained in the meaning of the word “he” is the fact that a single person is being spoken of. Thus why it is called a singular personal pronoun.

    True, there is no English grammarian who has defined “person” (to my knowledge), but to redefine person in such a way that “he” can refer to more than one person is simply to defy any common use of the word so that it becomes extremely difficult to communicate to others. To speak of God as three Persons and then use “he” to refer to all three rejects the very purpose of the word “he” and creates confusion.

    I was just having this conversation with some men at my church recently, and I noted that this very inconsistency is what kept me from a proper, non-paradoxical understanding of the Trinity for a long time.


  59. Sure, “God” can refer to all three Persons, but you asked about when Christ referred to “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Perhaps you were thinking of another passage, but Acts 3:13 differentiates “God” from “Jesus.” I suppose if you were positing that Jesus is a distinct, non-divine person, that could work, but you couldn’t prove it without assuming the consequent.

    In Matthew 22:32, the singular personal pronoun “I” is used.


  60. C’mon guys. Somebody has to have some thoughts about what it means that the Logos “dwelt among us” (localization?), and what the Covenant of Redemption would look like, seeing as the eternal Son (in Clark’s view at least) did not suffer and die! I’ve been thinking about this for days. Don’t let me down!

  61. Hugh McCann Says:

    I’m thinkin’, I’m THINKIN’!

  62. truthitself Says:

    “In Matthew 22:32, the singular personal pronoun “I” is used.”

    Patrick
    There you have it. A Scripture where a singular pronoun is used of more than one person.

  63. Denson Dube Says:

    PM,
    Refering to God as a “he” has more to do with the English Language than necessarily the nature of God. In French, a car is a “she”(feminine). Can one draw any conclusions about the nature of a car from this isolated pronoun? In some languages(e.g. some African dialects) plurality is sometimes used to convey dignity rather than numeracy.
    The nature of God should be ascertained from more comprehensive scriptural material rather than from isolated pronouns if confusion is to be avoided.
    A knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, would come handy too.

    The New Testament though written in Greek does not stray far from the Hebrew idiom of the Old testament. The Logos “dwelt amongst us” would have the OT Tabernacle/Temple as the backround motif.
    Jesus Christ is the temple of YAHWEH, dwelling amongst his people.`

  64. Denson Dube Says:

    oops ..
    Jesus was a man:
    (1) I Tim. 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
    Romans 1:3, “… regarding his Son who according to his human nature was a descendant of David.”
    et etc
    Jesus was God:
    (2)John 1:1-3. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

    Phil. 2:6 “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

    These are only a few. There is Isaiah’s prophesies. etc etc

    Scripture presents Christ as both God and man.

    Two persons, one Christ is hardly a problem since God is three persons but one God. There are many Americans but one America.

    Of course we puzzle over the sense in which God is three and yet one. Likewise we may be puzzled as to how Christ may be two persons but one. As Clark argued, its difficulty is no reason to abandon logic and embrace loonacy.


  65. truthitself,

    “There you have it. A Scripture where a singular pronoun is used of more than one person.”

    You’re assuming the consequent, as I pointed out. Why can’t that verse be speaking of the Father? That would be completely in line with Nicea which states, “There is one God, the Father.” Of course, Nicea (and myself) also affirms that the Son & Spirit are both God as well, but *The* God is the Father. Check out the Greek of John 1. The Logos is theos, but not ho theos.

    Denson,

    My primary difficulty is one of terminology, I think. Traditional (not even theological) use of the word ‘person’, however imprecisely defined, carries a sense of individual identity. I certainly agree that Scripture presents Christ as both God and Man, and I’m even willing to consider a divine mind and a human mind, but, assuming that is the case, let us not forget the unity of Christ presented by Scripture. Pronouns are used, descriptions are given, all presenting the Logos as sharing identity with the man Jesus. It would seem, in Clark’s view, that it would be possible for Jesus, on earth, to say the words, “I am not God,” since it would have to be a human mind and mouth uttering the sentence.

    I agree that we must define Person in a way that has not been done historically, but I think we must also do it in a way that doesn’t rob it of its common usage. After all, we’re not Federal Visionists trying to sneak in bad doctrine through the back door. 😛

    Denson, any thoughts on the Covenant of Redemption piece? Another question I’ve been thinking about is the sinlessness of Jesus. Would you guys argue that the lack of a human father has something to do with why Jesus did not inherit the guilt and depravity of original sin?

  66. Louis Breytenbach Says:

    Patrick,
    If *The* God is the Father, was Thomas wrong to call Jesus “ho theos” in John 20.28? Thanks.

  67. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, I’m not seeing where the CoR is giving you problems? But, yes, I think JR was arguing for two persons one Christ where person is defined as a collection of thoughts or simply minds. From the moment of his conception, Jesus’ human mind existed and grew in His divine mind in a relationship that obtained in no other human person that ever existed or ever will exist. Per Morris in Jesus there was an “asymmetrical accessing relationship” between the human and divine mind.

    Lane Keister said: “God cannot suffer” and “His divine nature sustained His human nature, but did not itself suffer.” This is what caused literally hundreds of comments over three separate threads and raised the scepter of “Nestorianism” which hasn’t died even now, only that the combatants now seem to be giving up due to exhaustion.

    Yet, no one, and I mean no one offered a non-ambiguous definition of person that could be applied equally to human persons and the Three divine persons of the Trinity. The idea that person is defined in terms of centers of consciousness was derided and dismissed as “Lockean,” but the traditional definition turned out to be no definition at all. It was amazing to me to read so much religious nonsensical blather and witness so much self-righteous posturing when not one single person could define what they mean by “person.” Frankly, one of the most consistent defender of the tradition formulations had to resort to using “substance” which, as it turned out, is a word that can be applied to everything and any word that can be applied to everything logically means nothing. Of course, the word “substance” could be used in reference to a human person just not a divine one even if “substance” itself could not be explained or defined. It was all smoke and mirrors.

    However, when pressed this champion of orthodoxy’s reply was that there needs to be “at least some sort of subordinate authority in tradition, including not only the Trinitarian theology of the fourth century, but the Christology of the fifth. Our default stance toward our ancestors in the faith, should, in my opinion, be one of humility and receptivity.” So the solution to the problem of the Incarnation turns out to be ignorance and blind submission to tradition as a “subordinate authority.” However, and as mentioned, given the amazing display of incoherent religious babbling it seems to me that the authority of tradition is not subordinate at all in the minds of some ersatz-Protestants. Frankly, it reins supreme.

    So taking Lane’s statement above, and using a “Lockean” or better “Clarkian” definition of person, which is not at all ambiguous, why couldn’t we just replace “nature” with “person”? Sure, the Clarkian view will be and is attacked as “Nestorian” but so is Lane’s (not to mention Calvin’s) Chalcedonianism. Looks to me to be a win/win.

  68. Sean Gerety Says:

    Here’s a great example of the type of logical conundrums you get into when you don’t define your terms. BTW, Cross is is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary who converted to Romanism.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/schaff-hodge-and-murray-on-jesus-natures/#comment-96597

  69. David Reece Says:

    Sean @ 04/14/2012 11:04am,

    I think I agree. This whole mess has been amazing.

    I would ask you to continue to press over there. I think Lane’s most recent post where he quotes Hodge saying a person is a “rational subsistence” is good fodder.

    Patrick,

    I think your attempt to make Christ one person who is both a divine person and a human person rather than the Chalcedonian divine person with a human nature fails to deal with the fact that there are two minds in Christ.

    It makes 1) the divine mind immediately connected to the human body and causes the human body to alter the abilities of the divine mind. This either results in A) a loss of omniscince in the divine mind as Sean has mentioned, or it results in B) the creation of a new mind in addition to the divine mind and causes either I) two minds (one human, one divine) in the divine person or II) a new mind to be made that is a human mind.

    With your definition of the Logos as immutable “A” is not possible.

    “B” “I” would make the Logos into a mind with an attached second mind, and with your definition of person the Logos would be a person with a second person

    “B” “II” would result in The Divine mind and a human mind, thus Sean’s position of two persons.


  70. Louis, I didn’t mean to imply Jesus is never referred to as ‘ho theos’. I was only talking about John 1 which distinguishes between the Word and the Father by using ‘ho theos’ as a name for the Father, while dropping the article when describing the Word, thus using the word ‘theos’ as a descriptor instead of as a name. That doesn’t mean the Word can never be called ‘ho theos’.

    Sean,

    “I’m not seeing where the CoR is giving you problems?”

    The Logos is the Person involved in the CoR. The Logos agrees to make atonement for his people (correct?). Yet then the Logos does not live a righteous temporal life, suffer, or die for his people. Those acts were all those of the man Jesus, who did not exist prior to the virgin birth, let alone being involved in the CoR. Would that be accurate and satisfactory to you, or am I missing something?

    Can you explain what you mean that “Jesus’ human mind existed and grew in His divine mind? There were some propositions the human mind must have thought that could not have been thought by the divine mind (e.g. “I thirst.”). It was the Person who thirsted who made atonement by living and dying, yet that Person was not involved in the CoR? Is this an accurate summary? I just want to make sure I understand the implications.

    I don’t have a problem with two minds (or persons), one divine and eternal and one human and temporal, except when it gets into things like the man Jesus thinking “I am not the Word. I was not present for the CoR. I am not divine,” as if Christ had multiple identities. I think when we do that we’ve gone beyond the Scriptural presentation of Christ’s single identity.

    Cross presents some good points. Problem is, he goes the wrong direction and tries to disprove Reformed imputation instead of questioning the soundness of Chalcedonian definitions.

    David, I certainly don’t intend “A.” At this point I’ll just say I’m still thinking about it and seeing if I can adjust my terminology to better communicate.

    Thanks to all of you guys for being the iron to my iron.

  71. rgmann Says:

    Sean: “The two [‘persons’ in Christ] are one in the same sense that the three Persons are one God and not three gods. There is an intellectual triunity of persons in the Godhead and I would think Clark would advocate an intellectual biunity of persons in the God/man Jesus Christ.”

    The “three Persons” of the Trinity are “one God” because all three equally subsist in the one divine nature. In other words, the “intellectual triunity of persons in the Godhead” is predicated upon the unity of the one divine nature (which is why all three persons are omniscient).

    However, in your “two person” view of the incarnation there is no unifying one nature, but rather a distinct divine nature and a distinct human nature. Thus there is no real “incarnation” at all. You simply have a distinct divine person/nature and a distinct human person/nature, but not one Christ who is both God and Man. It’s Nestorian through and through…


  72. Since when does Christ have only one nature? Isn’t that Eutychianism?

  73. Sean Gerety Says:

    However, in your “two person” view of the incarnation there is no unifying one nature, but rather a distinct divine nature and a distinct human nature. Thus there is no real “incarnation” at all. You simply have a distinct divine person/nature and a distinct human person/nature,

    You’re exactly right Patrick. Roger is a Euthychian. Now it makes sense why he went so bonkers in the past whenever a discussion of the Incarnation came up to the point where I had to start moderating his posts.

    Chaledonian orthodoxy, as reiterated and restated in the WCF, asserts that Jesus “being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.”

    Good catch Patrick. 🙂


  74. Here’s another approach to the CoR problem I just thought of.

    Revelation 13:8 refers to the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” ‘Lamb’, of course, refers to Christ. However, in a Clarkian view (assuming that we have interpreted Clark’s unfinished work correctly), it is not the eternal Person who is slain (for that is impossible), but only the temporal man Jesus. Yet the human person’s being slain from the foundation of the earth is impossible because he simply did not exist prior to the virgin birth.

    Are we to interpret the pictoral language of Revelation 13:8 to really be speaking of the “divine Person who from eternity purposed to be united to the human person would be slain in time”?

  75. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Logos is the Person involved in the CoR. The Logos agrees to make atonement for his people (correct?). Yet then the Logos does not live a righteous temporal life, suffer, or die for his people. Those acts were all those of the man Jesus, who did not exist prior to the virgin birth, let alone being involved in the CoR. Would that be accurate and satisfactory to you, or am I missing something?

    Was there ever any possibility that the Logos could ever be anything *but* righteous? God cannot sin and this is as true for the Logos as it is for the other two Persons of the Holy Trinity. I’m not sure who’s missing what, but even if you take the 1 person/2 distinct natures position you still have the same problem only you don’t have a definition of “person” that is in anyway coherent.

    Can you explain what you mean that “Jesus’ human mind existed and grew in His divine mind? There were some propositions the human mind must have thought that could not have been thought by the divine mind (e.g. “I thirst.”). It was the Person who thirsted who made atonement by living and dying, yet that Person was not involved in the CoR? Is this an accurate summary? I just want to make sure I understand the implications.

    The CoR was made in eternity and was an intra-Trinitarian covenant. So, if your question is was the CoR made with the pre-Incarnate Second Person then I would think it was and Clark’s theory has no impact on the CoR at all.

    I don’t have a problem with two minds (or persons), one divine and eternal and one human and temporal, except when it gets into things like the man Jesus thinking “I am not the Word. I was not present for the CoR. I am not divine,” as if Christ had multiple identities. I think when we do that we’ve gone beyond the Scriptural presentation of Christ’s single identity.

    Certainly Jesus saying things like “Before Abraham was I am” are things Jesus couldn’t say “according to his human nature.”

    Cross presents some good points. Problem is, he goes the wrong direction and tries to disprove Reformed imputation instead of questioning the soundness of Chalcedonian definitions.

    What do you expect, he’s a Romanist. But, Clark’s two-person theory answers his objection and response to Alan Strange here without positing a rift in the ontological Trinity which would be impossible, yet allowing for Jesus to be actually punished for the sins of His people. Per Clark’s theory Jesus could say “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” not to mention earlier when he said; “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'”

  76. Sean Gerety Says:

    Here’s another approach to the CoR problem I just thought of.

    Revelation 13:8 refers to the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” ‘Lamb’, of course, refers to Christ. However, in a Clarkian view (assuming that we have interpreted Clark’s unfinished work correctly), it is not the eternal Person who is slain (for that is impossible), but only the temporal man Jesus. Yet the human person’s being slain from the foundation of the earth is impossible because he simply did not exist prior to the virgin birth.

    Are we to interpret the pictoral language of Revelation 13:8 to really be speaking of the “divine Person who from eternity purposed to be united to the human person would be slain in time”?

    How is this any different than say Paul referring to the elect as being chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) and even before either of us were born?


  77. “Was there ever any possibility that the Logos could ever be anything *but* righteous?”

    My point was that the Logos did not live a temporal life at all.

    “So, if your question is was the CoR made with the pre-Incarnate Second Person then I would think it was and Clark’s theory has no impact on the CoR at all.”

    I know the CoR was made with the 2nd Person. I’m saying that in Clark’s theory, the 2nd Person did not make atonement, which would significantly alter our understanding of the CoR, because the 2nd Person did not agree to make atonement for his people – it was the work of a different person altogether, who did not even exist yet.

    “Certainly Jesus saying things like ‘Before Abraham was I am’ are things Jesus couldn’t say ‘according to his human nature.'”

    Agreed, but this doesn’t pose a problem for a view (such as the one I’ve been trying to articulate) which says that the incarnate Jesus was the temporal, fleshly actualization of the 2nd Person, whose identity is eternally begotten of the Father. Are you prepared to say that Jesus thought, “I am not divine?”

    If it’s okay to say that “Christ (in Clark/Robbins’ 2 persons, 1 Christ view) was slain according to his human Person,” is that really saying anything substantially different from Chalcedon which would say that the 2nd Person was slain according to his human nature? Is this all a game of semantics?


  78. For those who believe a temporal, linear actualization of the divine mind of the Logos would entail a change in his eternal being, wouldn’t Genesis 3:8-9 present the same problem? Indeed, any time God spoke audibly or acted directly in time?

  79. Sean Gerety Says:

    We can go round and round but I think it’s best to cut to the chase. You wrote:

    If it’s okay to say that “Christ (in Clark/Robbins’ 2 persons, 1 Christ view) was slain according to his human Person,” is that really saying anything substantially different from Chalcedon which would say that the 2nd Person was slain according to his human nature? Is this all a game of semantics?

    Yes, it is all a game of semantics, that’s the point, except no one with the exception of Clark (and evidently to a lesser degree Locke) has clearly defined what it is they mean by “person.” Clark’s theory is superior only because it is intelligible, something that evidently is an affront to the theologically trained religious types. If someone can come up with a better definition of “person” than the kind of meaningless gymnastics going on over at Green Baggins, and that has been going on unabated for 1500 years, I’m all ears. Instead, these experts act as if definitions hardly matter, if they even matter at all, and proceed in talking nonsense evidently impressing each other with how many fifth century quotes they can cite in their favor.

  80. rgmann Says:

    Patrick: “Since when does Christ have only one nature? Isn’t that Eutychianism?”

    I never claimed that Christ has only one nature. I stated that in Sean’s “two person” view of the incarnation there is no unifying one nature as in the Trinity, but rather a distinct divine nature and a distinct human nature. Therefore Sean’s argument that the two persons in Christ “are one in the same sense that the three Persons are one God and not three gods” doesn’t hold. Sean’s view is both unbiblical and illogical.

    The orthodox position is both biblical and logical. There is only one Logos or Person who “was God” and who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14). Thus the one Logos or Person has both a divine nature and a human nature. It was the Logos Himself who became a man. And it was the Logos Himself who died for our sins in His human nature — not a separate human person who wasn’t God in any legitimate sense at all…

  81. rgmann Says:

    You’re exactly right Patrick. Roger is a Euthychian. Now it makes sense why he went so bonkers in the past whenever a discussion of the Incarnation came up to the point where I had to start moderating his posts.

    No, Sean, I’m not a Euthychian. Do you have poor reading comprehension? I’ve made it quite clear throughout my posts that I believe the biblical/orthodox position. Christ is one Person with two distinct natures — a divine nature and a human nature. But I think you already knew that. So are you simply trying to slander me or what?

  82. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, you really are a tiresome blowhard. Don’t blame me for your inability to accurately express yourself. No wonder I have to moderate your posts. But let me ask you how do you define “person”? Red herrings and evasions will not be allowed.

  83. Sean Gerety Says:

    Therefore Sean’s argument that the two persons in Christ “are one in the same sense that the three Persons are one God and not three gods” doesn’t hold. Sean’s view is both unbiblical and illogical.

    You are either intentionally misreading what I wrote or you are intentionally trying to slander me? I never said anything about “natures” as I’m not even sure what a “nature” is and I suspect neither do you. The definition I offered of “person” applies equally and unequivocally to human and divine persons. Since the human thoughts of Jesus are encapsulated if you will (and I don’t rightly care if you don’t) within the divine thoughts of the Logos, the God/man is a unique (compound) being. If you prefer the word “person” to “being” that’s fine, but per my previous reply you must first define “person” or don’t continue to try and post here. I was arguing in favor of an INTELLECTUAL biunity obtaining in Jesus Christ, just as I would argue for an INTELLECTUAL triunity of persons in the Godhead. As far as “natures” or attributes go the traditional formulation doesn’t explain how the incarnate Logos can be both omniscient and ignorant, etc., but then as I recall you’re not really interested in trying to answer question just posturing. As Lane Keister rightly said:

    “It is meaningless to say “God died in His humanity.” It’s just as meaningless as saying “God grew in grace and favor and wisdom in His humanity.”

  84. rgmann Says:

    Since the human thoughts of Jesus are encapsulated if you will (and I don’t rightly care if you don’t) within the divine thoughts of the Logos, the God/man is a unique (compound) being.

    Every human person’s thoughts “are encapsulated…within the divine thoughts of the Logos.” For “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). All three Persons of the Godhead are omniscient. Therefore there is no thought by any individual that is not “encapsulated” within the divine mind. There’s nothing “unique” or “compound” about that. If that’s the “union” you have in mind for the incarnation, it utterly fails.

    I was arguing in favor of an INTELLECTUAL biunity obtaining in Jesus Christ, just as I would argue for an INTELLECTUAL triunity of persons in the Godhead.

    I understood that. Yet, like I said before, the “INTELLECTUAL” triunity of persons in the Godhead is predicated upon the unity of the one divine nature (which is why all three persons are omniscient). But that relationship doesn’t hold in the incarnation, since Jesus has two natures — a distinct divine omniscient nature and a distinct human finite or limited nature. So you will need to try again.

    The correct view is that the “union” of the two natures is in the one divine Person of the Logos. Which is why it’s called the “hypostatic union.”


  85. Sean, I’m still trying to understand what you mean by “the human thoughts of Jesus are encapsulated…within the divine thoughts of the Logos…”

    Does this mean that the thoughts of Jesus are a smaller subset of the complete set of propositions thought by the Logos? If so, what about thoughts like “I thirst”?

    Perhaps we might say that the unique relationship between the human person and the divine person in Christ is that Jesus was the only human person to never once believe a falsehood – all of his knowledge, all of his thoughts were truth. Is that what you’re getting at when you’re talking about “encapsulation”?

  86. Sean Gerety Says:

    Every human person’s thoughts “are encapsulated…within the divine thoughts of the Logos.” For “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). All three Persons of the Godhead are omniscient. Therefore there is no thought by any individual that is not “encapsulated” within the divine mind. There’s nothing “unique” or “compound” about that. If that’s the “union” you have in mind for the incarnation, it utterly fails.

    I haven’t decided whether or not to allow your other posts as you still have failed to define the word “person.” I decided to make an exception here because Patrick also asked basically the same question. Yes, it’s true that the thoughts of every man are known to God, but not every man thinks all of God’s thoughts exclusively, even the prophets. In Jesus Christ are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He doesn’t possess just some of the divine propositions, but rather all of them.

    I was arguing in favor of an INTELLECTUAL biunity obtaining in Jesus Christ, just as I would argue for an INTELLECTUAL triunity of persons in the Godhead.

    I understood that. Yet, like I said before, the “INTELLECTUAL” triunity of persons in the Godhead is predicated upon the unity of the one divine nature (which is why all three persons are omniscient).

    So is omniscience the same thing as nature in your mind as I really don’t know what a nature is in any strict or technical sense? You throw the word around as if you know what it means, but I’m not sure you do. However, I was thinking more in terms of Joel Parkinson’s argument in his piece The Intellectual Triunity of God. It’s been some time since I’ve read it, but as I recall his argument from omniscience didn’t depend on “nature,” whatever that might be.

    The correct view is that the “union” of the two natures is in the one divine Person of the Logos. Which is why it’s called the “hypostatic union.”

    And “person” is defined how?


  87. Thanks Sean. That clears up Robbins’ conclusion paragraphs for me. I’m still thinking about all this. I’m extremely curious to read Morris now, but it’s hard to justify reading it when I really have to read Bahnsen for class. *sigh*


  88. Here’s a question. If I were to divide up the propositions I think into two or more categories, wouldn’t those subsets be “complexes of propositions” (therefore minds, therefore persons)? Why or why not?

  89. rgmann Says:

    Yes, it’s true that the thoughts of every man are known to God, but not every man thinks all of God’s thoughts exclusively, even the prophets. In Jesus Christ are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He doesn’t possess just some of the divine propositions, but rather all of them.

    If there’s a “human person” in the Incarnation that’s distinct from the “divine person,” as you have been arguing, then how can the “human person” possess all of the divine propositions? That would make the “human person” divine and not human at all. You aren’t making any sense.

    So is omniscience the same thing as nature in your mind as I really don’t know what a nature is in any strict or technical sense?

    Omniscience is a quality or attribute of the divine nature alone. I thought that was a pretty rudimentary and uncontroversial position.

    By the way, the term “nature” is defined quite clearly in most good theological works, just as the term “person” is. We really shouldn’t have to repeatedly “define” what should be well known theological terms…

    “By the term nature I refer to the complex of attributes or characteristics that belongs to or inheres in any given entity and makes it to be what it is in distinction from everything else.” (Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p. 161)

    I was thinking more in terms of Joel Parkinson’s argument in his piece The Intellectual Triunity of God. It’s been some time since I’ve read it, but as I recall his argument from omniscience didn’t depend on “nature,” whatever that might be.

    Of course his argument from omniscience depends upon the one divine “nature” or “essence,” just as Clark’s did:

    “Now, when we face the subject of the Trinity — the common unity in the three Persons — may we not say that the three Persons share or communicate the common characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, and so forth, and so constitute one essence. The [Realist] point of view makes this essence a reality, as truly as Man and Beauty are real. Were the essence not a reality, and the Persons therefore the only realities, we should have tritheism instead of monotheism.” (Gordon H. Clark, “The Trinity,” The Trinity Review 9, p.2)

    The correct view is that the “union” of the two natures in the incarnation is in the one divine Person of the Logos. Which is why it’s called the “hypostatic union.”

    And “person” is defined how?

    A “person” is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.” Since the Logos “was God” (John 1:1), He is a divine person in relation to His divine nature. And since the Logos “became flesh” (John 1:14) in the Incarnation, He is a human person in relation to His human nature. There’s only one Logos or Person, but He interacts differently in relation to the two distinct natures. He’s omniscient in relation to His divine nature and limited in knowledge in relation to His human nature. He’s impassible in relation to His divine nature and suffers in relation to His human nature.

    While all of this may be difficult for our minds to fully grasp, it is hardly incoherent or illogical. And inventing a second “person” within the Incarnation doesn’t solve the difficulty, but only devolves into heresy…

  90. Sean Gerety Says:

    We really shouldn’t have to repeatedly “define” what should be well known theological terms…

    That’s just the point Roger. Not one of the experts or defenders of Chalcedonian orthodoxy at Green Baggins could define what a person is except in the most ambiguous terms. Did you not read the post above which you are commenting on? Did you not spend any time reading through the discussion over at Green Baggins where everyone from PCA pastors to an RCC convert were attacking Lane, whose defense of Chalcedonian orthodoxy was about as good as any I’ve ever heard, as a “Nestorian”? Guess not.

    A “person” is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.”

    That’s good, however according to the defenders of Chalcedonian orthodoxy that definition, which I think is quite good, is out-of-bounds because it is “Lockean” and is “contrary to the definition in the theological tradition of the Church.” However, since Jesus has two particular natures would that necessitate two real and distinct self-conscious egos? I think it would as you define a real and distinct self-conscious ego on the basis of a particular “nature” and Jesus had two “natures.”

    Since the Logos “was God” (John 1:1), He is a divine person in relation to His divine nature. And since the Logos “became flesh” (John 1:14) in the Incarnation, He is a human person in relation to His human nature. There’s only oneLogos or Person, but He interacts differently in relation to the two distinct natures. He’s omniscient in relation to His divine nature and limited in knowledge in relation to His human nature. He’s impassible in relation to His divine nature and suffers in relation to His human nature.

    This would seem to imply that rather than one center of consciousness, one ego, Jesus had two.

    While all of this may be difficult for our minds to fully grasp, it is hardly incoherentor illogical. And inventing a second “person” within the Incarnation doesn’t solve the difficulty, but only devolves into heresy…

    It seems to me according to your definition, which, again, I admit is quite good, you have two persons so you must have devolved into heresy yourself. Don’t feel bad, it seems all Reformed men who draw clear distinctions between Christ per his human and divine natures as you have are “Nestorian.” It appears unless you can say God suffered and died you too are a Nestorian.


  91. Roger said,

    “Since the Logos ‘was God’ (John 1:1), He is a divine person in relation to His divine nature. And since the Logos ‘became flesh’ (John 1:14) in the Incarnation, He is a human person in relation to His human nature.”

    I’m fairly certain that is not the actual orthodox position. I’m pretty sure it’s one divine person who took on a human nature. Although Christ was a “true man,” he was not a human person. In fact, that was Clark’s biggest problem with the traditional formulation – it posited that it was merely a human nature that perished on the cross. R.C. Sproul explicitly says the 2nd Person of the Trinity did not die on the cross, and that it was the human nature that made atonement.

  92. Sean Gerety Says:

    R.C. Sproul explicitly says the 2nd Person of the Trinity did not die on the cross, and that it was the human nature that made atonement.

    It’s funny you say that because I was just reading Clark to the same effect:

    Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this view: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human “nature” cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in supposing that the Father could forsake a “nature.” Those words from Psalm 22:1 were the words of a true man, a real human being, whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed. The Incarnation 70-71


  93. Sean, exactly. Clark’s problem with Sproul’s formulation is not that the 2nd Person did not die, but rather it was an impersonal nature which made atonement.

  94. rgmann Says:

    Sean: “It seems to me according to your definition, which, again, I admit is quite good, you have two persons so you must have devolved into heresy yourself.”

    I don’t have the time to answer you in full tonight (I’m working a 16 hour shift in the morning), but I wanted to quickly reply that my position hardly posits “two persons” in the Incarnation. I clearly explained that…

    “There’s only one Logos or Person, but He interacts differently in relation to the two distinct natures.”

    The Logos (or Person) can only be said to be “divine” in relation to His divine nature, and can only be said to be “human” in relation to His human nature. But there is still only one Logos (or Person) in the Incarnation. In other words, the Logos is the unique personality for both the divine and human natures.

  95. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t have the time to answer you in full tonight (I’m working a 16 hour shift in the morning), but I wanted to quickly reply that my position hardly posits “two persons” in the Incarnation. I clearly explained that…

    No, you merely asserted it even while your definition of person is “a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature.'” So now a person is not “a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” as Jesus had two particular natures.

    “There’s only one Logos or Person, but He interacts differently in relation to the two distinct natures.”

    The Logos (or Person) can only be said to be “divine” in relation to His divine nature, and can only be said to be “human” in relation to His human nature. But there is still only one Logos (or Person) in the Incarnation. In other words, the Logos is the unique personality for both the divine and human natures.

    This is making less and less sense as you go on (must be those long shifts). So the omniscient Lord God of the universe is both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing. Sounds schizophrenic. So now are you saying a person is a real and distinct self-conscious ego with many natures (why stop at two)? But if according to one nature he is ignorant of some things how does that qualify as a distinct self-consciousness? Seems to me like a blatant contradiction. Anyway, take your time answering as I probably won’t be near a PC until tonight.


  96. From John Bugay over at Green Baggins…

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

    How embarrassing for some…

  97. rgmann Says:

    Sean — So now a person is not “a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” as Jesus had two particular natures.

    The Logos’ divine nature is a “particular nature,” and His human nature is a “particular nature.” Therefore, since the incarnate Logos possesses two natures, He is “a real and distinct self-conscious ego” within those two “particular” natures. There’s nothing contradictory about that. Nor does it damage my definition of “person” in any way.

    So now are you saying a person is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a many natures (why stop at two)?

    In the unique case of the Incarnation, the Logos is “a real and distinct self-conscious ego” within two “particular” natures — His divine and human natures. Of course, every other person only has one nature. But so what? Who’s arguing that the Incarnation isn’t a unique and unsurpassed miracle in the history of mankind?

    “Why stop at two?” Because Scripture reveals that the Logos, who was in full possession of the divine nature from all eternity, “became flesh” (John 1:14) and assumed a human nature. That’s only two natures not “many.” And Scripture is my sole authority.

    So the omniscient Lord God of the universe is both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing. Sounds schizophrenic.

    It would only be “schizophrenic” (and contradictory) if the Logos is both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing in relation to His divine nature. But that’s not the orthodox position, and that’s not what I’m arguing.

    As I mentioned before, omniscience is a quality of the divine nature alone, while limited knowledge is a quality of human nature. But since the Logos is the unique personality for both the divine and human natures in the Incarnation, this makes Him omniscient in relation to His divine nature and ignorant of some things in relation to His human nature. While that may be difficult to imagine or grasp, it is without a doubt the orthodox and biblical position.

    The Logos Himself “became flesh” (John 1:14). He didn’t merely “unite” Himself in some inexplicable manner with a separate human person. That would not be a genuine incarnation, and would destroy the entire Christian faith! According to the clear testimony of Scripture, the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God Himself became a man, lived a completely righteous life, and suffered and died for our sins on the cross.

    “…the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

    “…for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8)

    “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh…” (1 Timothy 3:16)

    “…who, being in the form of God [i.e., possessing the divine nature], did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant [i.e., assuming human nature], and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

    All of those italicized personal pronouns refer to the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God Himself, not to a separate human person who is merely a man and nothing more. God Himself assumed a human nature and redeemed us from the curse of the law. Without that, we have no Christianity and no Savior!

  98. rgmann Says:

    Roger: Since the Logos ‘was God’ (John 1:1), He is a divine person in relation to His divine nature. And since the Logos ‘became flesh’ (John 1:14) in the Incarnation, He is a human person in relation to His human nature.”
    Patrick: I’m fairly certain that is not the actual orthodox position. I’m pretty sure it’s one divine person who took on a human nature. Although Christ was a “true man,” he was not a human person.

    Why is the Logos referred to as a “divine person”? Is it not because He possesses the divine nature? Of course. But the Logos also assumed a human nature in the Incarnation. So why can’t the Logos be referred to as a human person if He now possesses a human nature? I can’t see any reason why not. He is a divine person in relation to His divine nature, and a human person in relation to His human nature, as I said above. There’s nothing biblically or theologically incorrect about that. In fact, to say otherwise would be absurd. The Logos Himself “became flesh” (John 1:14). Therefore He is both a divine and human person due to His two natures.

  99. louis Says:

    Roger,
    Did the Logos give up his life on the cross according to his human nature, his devine nature, or both? Thanks.


  100. Roger,
    “But the Logos also assumed a human nature in the Incarnation. So why can’t the Logos be referred to as a human person if He now possesses a human nature? I can’t see any reason why not.”

    I’m not necessarily arguing that point. I’m just saying that’s not traditional language, and that that was Clark’s major problem with the traditional formulas. Are you saying that Sproul is unorthodox?

  101. rgmann Says:

    Roger, Did the Logos give up his life on the cross according to his human nature, his devine nature, or both? Thanks.

    The Logos Himself experienced suffering and death for our sins in relation to His human nature, since it was the Logos Himself who “became flesh” (John 1:14) in the Incarnation. But He did not experience suffering and death in relation to His divine nature, since the divine nature is impassible and cannot suffer or die.

    As I mentioned before, anything less than that and we have no Christianity and no Savior! It was the second person of the Trinity Himself who assumed human nature and redeemed us from the curse of the law.

  102. rgmann Says:

    I’m not necessarily arguing that point. I’m just saying that’s not traditional language, and that that was Clark’s major problem with the traditional formulas. Are you saying that Sproul is unorthodox?

    I’m not familiar with everything that R.C. Sproul has written, but if He denies that the second Person of the Trinity experienced suffering and death for our sins in relation to His human nature, then he’s unorthodox on that point for sure. But I suspect that Sproul would agree with my statement as qualified. He probably only meant say that the Logos did not suffer or die on the cross in relation to His divine nature, which is perfectly orthodox and biblical.


  103. Roger, Sproul says,

    “Some say, ‘It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.’ That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.

    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.”

    First, Sproul asserts that the 2nd Person did not die. Then, in line with this, he says “the atonement was made by the human *nature* of Christ.

    Then a contradiction: “It’s the God-man Who dies.” What is the God-man but the *Person*? Yet Sproul explicitly said that the 2nd Person did not die.

    The person didn’t die; the nature died, the person died… Sounds like we need a new ecumenical council to get to the bottom of all this nonsense.

  104. Sean Gerety Says:

    The Logos’ divine nature is a “particular nature,” and His human nature is a “particular nature.” Therefore, since the incarnate Logos possesses two natures, He is “a real and distinct self-conscious ego” within those two “particular” natures. There’s nothing contradictory about that. Nor does it damage my definition of “person” in any way.

    That’s because you’re not paying attention even to your own definition. You said a “person” is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.” You haven’t explained how a person is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within multiple “natures” or “essences.” The plural aspects that you’ve added are something you surreptitiously assert in contradistinction to your original definition.

    In the unique case of the Incarnation, the Logos is “a real and distinct self-conscious ego” within two “particular” natures — his divine and human natures.

    Yes, but we’re talking about two mutually exclusive “natures” or “essences”; one that is passable, the other impassible; one that is ignorant of some things. the other ignorant of nothing, etc. But if the Second Person is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence” that includes immutability, impassibility, omnipotence, omniscience, and all the other divine attributes, how can He also be a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence” that is none of these things?

    If you can’t see the contradiction in this you’re a blind man.

    Of course, every other person only has one nature. But so what?

    Your definition requires a distinct self-consciousness or ego WITHIN a particular nature, that’s what. To put it another way, you’re equivocating. You define person one way when it suits you and another way when it doesn’t.

    Who’s arguing that the Incarnation isn’t a unique and unsurpassed miracle in the history of mankind?

    No one argued that the Incarnation isn’t unique. The only thing I’ve argued is that Clark’s definition combined with Morris’ construction avoids the blatant contradiction entailed in your construction and amorphous definition of “person.” Again, I don’t dislike your definition of person (even if it’s heterodox), only that you change it when it comes to applying it to the person of Christ. Then when the definition changes we now have one self-consciousness who now possesses two conflicting and contradictory “natures” or attributes.

    “Why stop at two?” Because Scripture reveals that the Logos, who was in full possession of the divine nature from all eternity, “became flesh” (John 1:14) and assumed a human nature. That’s only two natures not “many.” And Scripture is mysole authority.

    I don’t know how you infer human nature from the phrase “became flesh” as word for flesh is sarx and can also refer to a human being with “physical origin, generation or relationship born of natural generation.” It seems to me the phrase “became flesh” could just as easily be that the divine Second Person assumed a human person, a real human being, and dwelt among us.

    It would only be “schizophrenic” (and contradictory) if the Logos is both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing in relation to His divine nature.

    No, it’s still blatantly contradictory because you have one divine person who is both ignorant of nothing and ignorant of some things. James Anderson who loves apparent contradictions and can at least recognize them even if you can’t, put the situation we find in the Incarnation this way:

    (K1) Christ did not know1 every fact (by virtue of his humanity).

    (K2) Christ did know2 every fact (by virtue of his divinity). (Paradox in Christian Theology, 297)

    Saying that the Logos was ignorant of some things “according to His human nature” makes no sense at all. It’s nonsense.

    But since the Logos is the uniquepersonality for both the divine and human natures in the Incarnation, this makes Him omniscient in relation to His divine nature and ignorant of some things in relation to His human nature. While that may be difficult to imagine or grasp, it is without a doubt the orthodox and biblical position.

    I agree it’s the orthodox position, I just question whether it’s the biblical one because it is hopelessly contradictory. That is generally a warning sign that a particular doctrinal position (like the WMO) is not biblical at all, or, at the very least more work needs to be done. So, I would say the contradiction entailed in your construction is not difficult to grasp at all. What’s difficult to imagine is why you can’t grasp it.

    The Logos Himself experienced suffering and death for our sins in relation to His human nature, since it was the Logos Himself who “became flesh” (John 1:14) in the Incarnation. But He did not experience suffering and death in relation to His divine nature, since the divine nature is impassible and cannot suffer or die.

    So in your opinion, the Father poured out His wrath against sin not on a person, a perfect and unblemished substitute, but on a nature? Also, what does it mean for the Second Person who cannot suffer and die to suffer and die according to his “human nature.” And, while you’re at it, what does it mean for the Second Person to be ignorant of some things according to his “human nature”? Since there is no human person involved in the Incarnation, was the omniscient Second Person, the divine Logos, just pretending to be ignorant of some things?

    As I mentioned before, anything less than that and we have no Christianity and no Savior!

    I know you’ve asserted this many times, but you act as if anyone is denying the Incarnation. What I have been denying, and what Clark has denied, is your construction of it. The historic and so-called “ecumenical” construction is flawed. Further, your definition of person is “Lockean” and has been dismissed repeatedly as “Nestorian” by defenders of Chalcedonian orthodoxy on Lane’s blog and by those of multiple faiths (not necessarily all Christian either). Clark attempted to fix this flaw by simply defining “person” according to Proverbs 23:7and I believe he succeeded.

  105. rgmann Says:

    Patrick, while Sproul is not as clear as he should be (since he wasn’t in the middle of a debate that would have forced him to qualify everything he said in minute detail), I believe he’s only referring to the second person of the Trinity as not being able to die in relation to His divine “essence” or “being,” as I’ve been saying all along. He’s absolutely correct in saying,

    “We should shrink in horror from the idea that God [i.e., the divine nature itself] actually died on the cross.”

    However, when he says that “death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death,” I would add one qualification — the second “person” of the Trinity Himself experienced death on the cross in relation to His human nature, due to the nature of the hypostatic union. It wasn’t merely an abstract “human nature” that experienced death on the cross, but rather the “Logos” Himself that experienced death in relation with His human nature.

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    FWIW this post is from a former ersatz-Protestant who received his M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary only to convert to Romanism, but he raises interesting question concerning the incompatibility of Chalcedon with the Reformed doctrine of propitiation. Of course, Clark’s construction easily overcomes his objections, but I thought some of his objections were quite good and just more reason to question the “ecumenicism” of the so-called “ecumenical” creeds.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/schaff-hodge-and-murray-on-jesus-natures/#comment-96597

  107. hughmc5 Says:

    A via negativa? Do Papists, Ortho’x, et. al. help us learn how not to think & how to answer fools acc. to their respective follies?

  108. Hugh McCann Says:

    question the “ecumenicism” of the so-called “ecumenical” creeds

    Isn’t every extra-biblical statement (creed, confession, or catechism) open to spiritual examination by the saints? The notion that the “laity,” the benighted masses, et. al., are to simply bow down before ecclesiastical juntas with IMPLICIT FAITH is an evil notion. The colossal theological screw-ups since the close of the canon are evidence that no man is to be trusted.

    Via Luke, the Holy Ghost commends the investigatory work of the evangelized Bereans: Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

    Even God’s apostle was scrutinized by the saints!

    St John had the audacity to endanger the clergy’s monopoly (writing to all the church!): But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie – just as it has taught you, abide in him.

    Jesus himself ruined many a prelate’s dream: When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

    Refs: Acts 17:11, 1 John 2:27, John 16:13.
    Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  109. Hugh McCann Says:

    We are reminded of an episode nearly 20 years ago of sadly hearing a Muscovite [Idaho] commend implicit faith in one’s elders.

    This was at a symposium on witnessing to Catholic & Orthodox folk.

    Upon being asked why one should give unthinking assent in implicit faith to one’s elders who subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith over purveyors of the dogmatic canons and decrees of Rome, he chillingly replied, “Because they are your elders.”

    I somehow doubt the Westminster authors even in their most zealous moments of strict subscription would so counsel.

  110. Hugh McCann Says:

    Christological query: Jesus said in John 6:38, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

    The One Who came down from heaven (the divine 2nd Person of the Godhead?) came to earth not to do His own will, but the Father’s. Huh?!

    Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  111. Cam Porter Says:

    Sean & Hugh,

    I definitely agree regarding the questioning and examination of extra-biblical, creedal formulations. The genuflection to the ecumenical creeds that many protestants display in these discussions of Christology reeks of romanist affirmation of the infallibility of conciliar declarations. An abiding appreciation for the actual/historical reality of Matthew 16:18 (Christ’s sovereign building of His church) should not manifest itself in such a way that we, as protestants, abandon Bereanism for what amounts to a “protestantized” adoption of ex cathedra religion. A humble questioning of the scriptural integrity of creedal formations is certainly less dangerous than “thus saith Chalcedon”, to put it lightly.

    Cam

  112. David Reece Says:

    Well said Cam.

  113. rgmann Says:

    Sean: You said a “person” is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.” You haven’t explained how a person is a real and distinct self-conscious ego within multiple “natures” or “essences.” The plural aspects that you’ve added are something you surreptitiously assert in contradistinction to your original definition.

    I didn’t “surreptitiously” assert anything in contrast or opposition to my original definition. The second person of the Trinity is a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” within the divine nature. That is “a particular nature.” The second person of the Trinity is also a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” within a human nature due to the unique circumstances of the Incarnation. That is “a particular nature” too. So my original definition still stands, no matter how vigorously you try to assert otherwise.

    Yes, but we’re talking about two mutually exclusive “natures” or “essences”; one that is passable, the other impassible; one that is ignorant of some things, the other ignorant of nothing, etc… If you can’t see the contradiction in this you’re a blind man.

    That would only be a contradiction if the two “mutually exclusive” natures were co-mingled or confused in some way. But that’s not the orthodox position. The divine and human natures remain distinct and unconfused at all times in the hypostatic union — “the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The two natures are only united in the person of the Logos, who is independent of the qualities of the two natures considered in themselves. If you can’t see that that is not contradictory, then perhaps being blind isn’t your only problem.

    I don’t know how you infer human nature from the phrase “became flesh” as word for flesh is sarx and can also refer to a human being with “physical origin, generation or relationship born of natural generation.”

    The incarnate Logos is a real human being with “physical origin” and “generation” — “[God’s] Son…who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). Notice that it was God’s “Son” or the Logos Himself who was born according to the flesh, not a separate human person who was merely a man. Moreover, many other verses of Scripture prove that it was the Logos Himself, the second “Person” of the Trinity, who “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant,” and who “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). You’re problem, Sean, is that you blatantly reject the clear testimony of Scripture.

    It seems to me the phrase “became flesh” could just as easily be that the divine Second Person assumed a human person…

    Talk about incoherent nonsense! Do you care to explain what one person “assuming” another separate person entails? Did the Logos somehow “absorb” this so-called human person into His own personhood, making one new hybrid “person?” Or does this so-called human person always remain a distinct person from the Logos? It can only be one or the other, Sean. So which heresy are you promoting?

    From what I’ve read so far, you seem to be promoting the second heresy. But if this so-called human person always remains a distinct person from the Logos, then the Logos, the Son of God, never became a man and died for our sins, but rather another person altogether, who was merely a man, died on the cross. I can’t think of a more blasphemous assertion! And you expect to be considered a Christian?

    Saying that the Logos was ignorant of some things “according to His human nature” makes no sense at all. It’s nonsense.

    No, it would only be nonsense if I was saying that the Logos was ignorant of some things according to His omniscient divine nature. Ignorance is a quality of human nature. Therefore it makes complete sense to say that the Logos is ignorant of some things according to His limited human nature. You don’t understand logic very well.

    So in your opinion, the Father poured out His wrath against sin not on a person, a perfect and unblemished substitute, but on a nature?

    If the Logos, the second Person of the Trinity, truly assumed human nature, as Scripture plainly teaches, then it follows that the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son of God Himself, not merely an impersonal human nature. Did you forget that the Incarnation is a “hypostatic” union? Or that I have repeatedly stated that the Logos Himself suffered and died for our sins in relation to his human nature?

    I know you’ve asserted this many times, but you act as if anyone is denying the Incarnation.

    I’m not “acting as if” anything. Your position in fact blatantly denies a genuine Incarnation of any kind. According to you, there’s no sense in which “God” purchased the church “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Rather, it was with the blood of a mere human person — who always remains a distinct person from the Logos — and who couldn’t actually atone for the sins of anyone!

  114. Sean Gerety Says:

    I didn’t “surreptitiously” assert anything in contrast or opposition to my original definition. The second person of the Trinity is a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” within the divine nature. That is “a particular nature.” The second person of the Trinity is also a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” within a human nature due to the unique circumstances of the Incarnation.

    Of course, that’s impossible. If you have one “real and distinct self-conscious ego” attached to two distinct and mutually exclusive “natures,” then it follows you have two persons not one. Does one ““real and distinct self-conscious ego” think I’m mutable and immutable? Passable and impassible? Ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing?

    That is “a particular nature” too. So my original definition still stands, no matter how vigorously you try to assert otherwise.

    No, it doesn’t stand because it makes no sense. Your original definition was much better, but by altering it to a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” being contained WITHIN two mutually exclusive natures it now makes no sense at all.

    Yes, but we’re talking about two mutually exclusive “natures” or “essences”; one that is passable, the other impassible; one that is ignorant of some things, the other ignorant of nothing, etc… If you can’t see the contradiction in this you’re a blind man.

    That would only be a contradiction if the two “mutually exclusive” natures were co-mingled or confused in some way. But that’s not the orthodox position.

    Wrong again Roger. It is contradictory precisely because you maintain one person has two mutually exclusive and contradictory natures. Remember we’re talking about one distinct self-conscious ego, one mind, that alone exhibits contradictory attributes. A two person or even a two mind theory avoids the contradictions inherent in your construction (which, BTW, your construction is not orthodox in the slightest despite your self-righteousness because your definition of “person” is not in accordance with church tradition. You heretic).

    The divine and human natures remain distinct and unconfused at all times in the hypostatic union — “the distinction of natures being by no means taken awayby the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The two natures are only united in the person of the Logos, who is independent of the qualities of the two natures considered in themselves. If you can’t see that that is not contradictory, then perhaps being blind isn’t your only problem.

    Of course, without a clear and unambiguous definition of “person,” a definition that applies to you, me, Jesus Christ, and all three Persons of the Godhead equally then just regurgitating the traditional historic formulation is not going to get us anywhere. But, I’m convinced you don’t want to get anywhere. You want to define person when it applies to you, me and the persons of the Trinity as “a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.” But then you want to define Jesus Christ as “a real and distinct self-conscious ego within two particular “natures” or “essences” that happen to also entail a contradiction. That won’t do at all.

    I don’t know how you infer human nature from the phrase “became flesh” as word for flesh is sarx and can also refer to a human being with “physical origin, generation or relationship born of natural generation.”

    The incarnate Logos is a real human being with “physical origin” and “generation” — “[God’s] Son…who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). Notice that it was God’s “Son” or the Logos Himselfwho was born according to the flesh, not a separate human person who was merely a man.

    But Jesus was also a man, a real man. Adding “merely” is just a weasel word. Have you forgotten 1 Timothy 2:5?

    Moreover, many other verses of Scripture prove that it was the Logos Himself, the second “Person” of the Trinity, who “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant,” and who “humbled Himselfand became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). You’re problem, Sean, is that you blatantly reject the clear testimony of Scripture.

    That’s not true at all, I have nowhere denied once that Jesus wasn’t in any sense both fully God and fully man. But you have certainly denied that Jesus was a real man. The divine Second Person joined himself to a real human person, a real man. Further, when Jesus was forsaken at the cross by the Father there was forsaking a real person, not a nature.

    It seems to me the phrase “became flesh” could just as easily be that the divine Second Person assumed a human person…

    Talk about incoherent nonsense! Do you care to explain what one person “assuming” another separate person entails?

    I have explained this many times already and at this point I think Clark’s theory comports precisely with Morris’ who said:

    We can view the two ranges of consciousness (and, analogously, the two noetic structures encompassing them) as follows: The divine mind of God the Son contained, but was not contained by, his earthly mind, or range of consciousness. That is to say, there was what can be called an asymmetric accessing relation between the two minds. Think, for example, of two computer programs or informational systems, one containing the but contained by the other. The divine mind had full and direct access to the earthly, human experience resulting from the Incarnation, but the earthly consciousness did not have such full and direct access to the content of the overarching omniscience proper to the Logos, but only such access, on occasion, as the divine mind allowed it to have. There thus was a metaphysical and personal depth to the man Jesus lacking in the case of every individual who is merely human. The Logic of God Incarnate, 102, 103

    But if this so-called human person always remains a distinct person from the Logos, then the Logos, the Son of God, never became a man and died for our sins, but rather another person altogether, who was merely a man, died on the cross. I can’t think of a more blasphemous assertion! And you expect to be considered a Christian?

    I don’t care what you consider me at all and if you don’t think I’m a Christian why don’t you stop trying to post here and just go away. However, repeating Clark:

    Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human “nature” cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in supposing that the Father could forsake a “nature.” Those words from Psalm 22:1 were the words of a true man, a real human being, whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed. The Incarnation 70-71

    Saying that the Logos was ignorant of some things “according to His human nature” makes no sense at all. It’s nonsense.

    No, it would only be nonsense if I was saying that the Logos was ignorant of some things according to His omniscient divine nature.

    It’s still utter nonsense Roger because per your definition there is only one “real and distinct self-conscious ego” that is both ignorant of some things and not ignorant of anything.

    Ignorance is a quality ofhuman nature.

    Wrong again Roger. Ignorance is a quality of human persons not natures. Natures don’t think so natures cannot be ignorant.

    Therefore it makes complete sense to say that the Logos is ignorant of some things according to His limited human nature. You don’t understand logic very well.

    Well, you don’t understand English very well, but if you want to call what you’ve been using “logic” perhaps you should go back and study Clark’s monograph on that subject too.

    So in your opinion, the Father poured out His wrath against sin not on a person, a perfect and unblemished substitute, but on a nature?

    If the Logos, the second Person of the Trinity, truly assumed human nature, as Scripture plainly teaches, then it follows that the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son of God Himself, not merely an impersonal human nature. Did you forget that the Incarnation is a “hypostatic” union? Or that I have repeatedly stated that the Logos Himself suffered and died for our sins in relation to his human nature?

    So, if the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity died, then you’re saying there was a rift, a cosmic break, in the ontological Trinity. Did the Godhead exist as a biunity for three days while the Logos was in the tomb? I just wanted to be certain I understand you correctly.

  115. Sean Gerety Says:

    Roger, I give up. Even Charlie Ray has come around and now admits “Jesus suffered as a human person.”

    It is as incoherent as it is contradictory to say that one self-consciousness is both conscious and unconscious of everything; ignorant of nothing and ignorant of some things. Again, and apart from some kenotic theory, only a two person or two mind or two centers of consciousness position can resolve the contradictions entailed in your doctrine. As far as I can tell there really aren’t any other alternatives.

    You may have the last word.

  116. truthitself Says:

    Sean
    This subject is near and dear to my heart. If I could think of anything you’ve missed or anything of importance that I might add, I would not hesitate. I think you have stated your case quite eloquently.

  117. rgmann Says:

    Sean: You may have the last word.

    Ok, I’ll take the last word then, and only comment on the few points that I feel need to be readdressed…

    BTW, your construction is not orthodox in the slightest despite your self-righteousness because your definition of “person” is not in accordance with church tradition. You heretic.

    Well, unless the author of one of the best Reformed Theology textbooks available doesn’t know what he’s talking about, my construction is orthodox:

    “Finally, as a clarifying statement, [Chalcedon] drew a line of demarcation between a ‘person’ as a self-conscious substantive entity and a ‘nature’ as a complex of attributes…” (Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p. 609)

    Now, you may think that there’s some sort of meaningful difference between a “real and distinct self-conscious ego” and ” a self-conscious substantive entity,” but there’s not. They’re essentially the same definition. And Reymond says that this is the primary meaning of the Definition of Chalcedon. Moreover, when he was defining the term “person” in relation to the Trinity, he wrote that we ought to “distinguish between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as real and distinct self-conscious Egos within the Godhead” (Reymond, p. 320). That’s the exact same language that I used. So is Robert Reymond a “heretic” too? Perhaps every respected Reformed theologian in the history of the church is a “heretic,” and only Gerety, Robbins, and Clark are orthodox. Who knows?

    I have nowhere denied once that Jesus wasn’t in any sense both fully God and fully man. But you have certainly denied that Jesus was a real man. The divine Second Person joined himself to a real human person, a real man.

    There’s a big difference between what you affirm — that Jesus is both God and a man, who are two separate persons — and what the orthodox position affirms — that Jesus is the God-man, one Person who is both God and man. What you are affirming is not the Incarnation and is not Biblical in the slightest.

    I have explained this many times already and at this point I think Clark’s theory comports precisely with Morris’ who said…

    To the best of my recollection, Morris doesn’t define a “person” as a “mind” or “consciousness.” And I doubt that Morris would agree that his view comports with Clark’s theory of two “persons” in the Incarnation (he would likely be shocked that such an implication was being drawn). In fact, I don’t recall that Morris ever defined “person” or “personhood” in his book, which was one of its major flaws.

    Nevertheless, your answer confirmed what I suspected about your view — that the so-called human person always remains distinct from the person of the Logos in the Incarnation. Therefore, the Logos, the Son of God, never truly became a man and died for our sins, but rather another person altogether, who was merely a man, died on the cross. You have no Incarnation whatsoever.

    By the way, earlier in this discussion you said that the so-called “human person” in the Incarnation “doesn’t possess just some of the divine propositions, but rather all of them.” In response I wrote:

    If there’s a “human person” in the Incarnation that’s distinct from the “divine person,” as you have been arguing, then how can the “human person” possess all of the divine propositions? That would make the “human person” omnisciently divine and not human at all.

    Of course, you never commented on that, because there’s no good answer to it. Only the Logos Himself could “possess all of the divine propositions.” A so-called “human person” could only possess limited propositions, because he would be a mere man who remains forever distinct from the Logos.

    Notwithstanding, I believe that Reymond provides some useful insight on how we might understand the seeming paradox of the Incarnation, while still remaining orthodox and true to biblical revelation:

    “One further implication must be drawn from the ‘one person’ teaching of the Definition. It means that there were not two ‘self-consciousnesses’ within Jesus. Prior to the Incarnation the Son was self-consciously divine, but after and by virtue of the Incarnation, the one Son was still self-consciously divine and now consciously human as well.” (Reymond, p. 611)

    “This, of course, means that Christ is as God self-consciously infinite in wisdom and knowledge and as a man consciously finite in wisdom and knowledge, and both at the same time. Here, of course, is an element of that altogether transcendent mystery of the Incarnation and an example of the kind of difficulty that has caused some men to stumble at the portrait which the Gospels draw of him. How can one person be both omniscient and yet finite in knowledge at the same time? Some theologians, for example, J. Oliver Buswell Jr., have suggested that the answer lies in the postulation of two ‘levels’ of consciousness in Jesus — a level of active consciousness at which level Jesus as a man developed in wisdom and knowledge as do all other men and at which level he acknowledged ignorance of some things and another (subconscious?) level of awareness at which level as the Son of God he knew all things at the same time. At any moment of his life, theoretically, he could have called up to his active level of consciousness any knowledge of datum he desired from the infinite pool of divine knowledge which was his possession. But prior to the Incarnation, in the eternal decree respecting his ministry on earth, it had been determined that he would hold in his active consciousness only such information as is available to other Spirit-guided men.” (Reymond, p. 619).

    That’s about the best explanation I’ve come across yet, and it remains fully within the orthodox position. I see no reason why one person cannot have two “levels” of consciousness as described above. My only qualification would be to the last line. It was determined in the eternal decree that Jesus would “hold in his active consciousness only such information as is appropriate to his ministry as the God-man.” I believe that better fits the biblical evidence, since Jesus held many thoughts in his active consciousness that no other “Spirit-guided” man could hold, such as “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), and he continues to do so for all eternity.

  118. truthitself Says:

    Defining a person as a ” self-conscience substantive entity” does not really differentiate it from a ” complex of attributes” (nature), if one of those attributes is thought. I don’t think (and thinking is part of my human nature even though my thoughts are often false and none of Christ’s are) that Reymond’s definition, if that is what he meant it to be advances this discussion. First,conscientiousness implies knowledge which requires truth as its object, So to define a person as a “self-conscience substantive (whatever that means) entity, would preclude me from the definition because most, if not all I know (or am conscience of) about myself is false.

    On the other hand, thoughts may be either true of false making a “complex of thoughts” a superior definition if meant to apply to both divine and human persons.


  119. I’ve been thinking about the identity of self. I like Clark’s definition of ‘person’ but I’m not sure it does justice to the idea of ongoing self-identification that seems to be carried by everyday use of the word. I’ll try to explain what I mean. I don’t see how Scripture presents a Christ with two selves/identities. When Jesus says, “I thirst,” and when he says, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” do we want to say that there were two distinct personalities using the same mouth? Words like ‘person,’ may not be precisely defined, but as we’re looking to improve the definition, we can’t define them in such a way as to exclude their normal use.

    I used to think Clark’s view entailed two sets of propositions which might be diagrammed as two circles sitting next to each other, one representing the Logos, and the other, the man Jesus. Once I came to understand Morris’ explanation, the diagram shifted to a circle within a circle, with the larger circle representing the Logos and the smaller circle representing the man Jesus.

    If this is the case, then Jesus’ mind is a specifically defined set of propositions which exists within the truths possessed by the Logos. Apart from the Logos, Jesus has no identity, no mind, etc. His thoughts overlap with the thoughts of the Logos 100%.

    Now, if what distinguishes one person from another is the propositions they think, then it is easy to see how I, Patrick, can be distinguished from my three sisters – we disagree all the time. But with Jesus, *all* of his propositions are the same truths known by the Logos. Thus it seems to me that we cannot differentiate Jesus from the Logos *as persons* in the way my sisters and I are distinguished.

    If it is replied that in that case, all three persons of the Trinity must then be one person, since they are all omniscient, I can only say that while I haven’t figured that out, it seems clear that Scripture presents the persons of the Trinity as each having their own distinct identity. The Father speaks of the Son and Spirit as being distinct from himself. Yet you never hear Jesus speak in terms of, “The Logos and I are one Christ,” or, “I have always been, but the human person whose mouth is moving has not always been.”

    Just some thoughts I’ve had lately. I wish I could say I had something more than criticisms to offer, but perhaps one of you gents can build on that, or else correct my thinking. I’d love some feedback.

  120. David Reece Says:

    Patrick T. McWilliams,

    You said, “Now, if what distinguishes one person from another is the propositions they think, then it is easy to see how I, Patrick, can be distinguished from my three sisters – we disagree all the time. But with Jesus, *all* of his propositions are the same truths known by the Logos. Thus it seems to me that we cannot differentiate Jesus from the Logos *as persons* in the way my sisters and I are distinguished.”

    I disagree. As has been mentioned, the Logos and the man Jesus have some different thoughts. The man thinks “I thirst.” The Logos does not.

    You said, “If it is replied that in that case, all three persons of the Trinity must then be one person, since they are all omniscient, I can only say that while I haven’t figured that out, it seems clear that Scripture presents the persons of the Trinity as each having their own distinct identity. The Father speaks of the Son and Spirit as being distinct from himself. Yet you never hear Jesus speak in terms of, “The Logos and I are one Christ,” or, “I have always been, but the human person whose mouth is moving has not always been.”

    The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all think some differnet propositions. the Father thinks, “I am the Father. I am not the Son. I am not the Holy Spirit.” The Son Thinks, “I am the Son. I am not the Father. I am not the holy Spirit.” The Spirit thinks, “I am the Holy Spirit. I am not the Father. I am not the Son.” These differnece alone are enough to make them three differnet persons.

    However, your idea that The father never says “I am the Christ” reminds me that all three persons of the Trinity would say I am God. Although the two persons of Christ do not share a nature like the trinity, I think that must share a covenant of legal identity that allows them to be legally interchangable.

    You said, “Just some thoughts I’ve had lately. I wish I could say I had something more than criticisms to offer, but perhaps one of you gents can build on that, or else correct my thinking. I’d love some feedback.”

    What do you think?


  121. David,

    Regarding subject of indexical propositions (e.g. “I am the Father; I am not the Son.”), you are of course correct. But (forgive me, I do not know the technical term) isn’t the objective truth of the propositions the same for each member of the Trinity? The Father is the Father, the Son is the Son, and the Spirit is the Spirit, and all three Persons know it. What differs is how their distinct personal identities approach that proposition.

    For the Son to think, “He is the Father,” and for the Father to think, “I am the Father,” and if a proposition is the *meaning* of a declarative sentence, isn’t the objective proposition the same?

    Jack and Jim are playing ball. Jack’s at bat. Jim throws the ball. Jack thinks, “Jim thew the ball to me.” Jim thinks, “I threw the ball to Jack.” Isn’t the proposition, the truth, the reality the same? If Jim says, “I threw the ball pretty fast that time,” Jack will nod in agreement, because he agrees to the proposition represented by the sentence Jim spoke aloud from his own personal viewpoint.

    The three Persons of the Trinity each think all true propositions, but their mental approach, if you will, to those propositions is from the distinct viewpoints of their respective selves.

    I’m not saying Clark made this distinction (I don’t think he did), but it seems to make sense to me. In this formulation, I suppose a ‘thought’ would be considered a proposition *as possessed by a particular mind/person*. If I’ve gone horribly awry, someone please tell me, haha.

    “Although the two persons of Christ do not share a nature like the trinity, I think that must share a covenant of legal identity that allows them to be legally interchangeable.”

    That is a very intriguing idea! I’ll have to mull that one over a bit.


  122. David, after mulling for a few seconds, wouldn’t such a covenant of legal identity mean that Jesus’ obedient life and atoning death would be imputed to the Logos, then imputed to the elect? It would also seem to entail our sins imputed to Jesus would also, by legal identity, be imputed to the Logos. Thoughts?

  123. Sean Gerety Says:

    @ Patrick. I understand your frustration. Please see the second part of my review of Anderson’s Paradox in Christian Theology (https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/choosing-paradox-part-two/). Whereas Morris’ solution to the problem of the Incarnation eliminates the inherent contradictions in the traditional understanding, his view of “person” as a suppostium is, in my view, less than satisfying. Further, I think Anderson’s criticism of Morris’ theory are actually spot on. Anderson writes:

    . . . the Definition of Chalcedon does not explicitly endorse a ‘two minds’ or ‘two consciousnesses’ view of Christ, but neither does it explicitly rule out such a view. No doubt something approximating Morris’s view, albeit less clearly articulated, was favoured by Antiochene school of christology. Indeed, a dual psychological perspective is intimated by the Definition itself through its claim (echoed by the Athanasian Creed) that Christ’s humanity entailed the possession of a ‘rational soul’. . . It cannot be denied that Morris ‘divides’ the two natures in *some* sense, partitioning as he does the consciousness, experiences, and beliefs of Christ with respect to each nature. However, one would be hard-pressed to argue that Morris’s view falls outside the boundaries of orthodoxy laid down by Chalcedon, given the difficulty of determining with sufficient precision how the strictures of the Definition are to be understood. (93,94)

    So far so good. However,

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

    Which, oddly enough brings us back to Clark. I’m certainly open to other attempts at definitions,but there is no question that the traditional understanding of a person as an “individual reality/subsistence,” or “an individual reality, or particularity, as it subsists in God and those made in his image,” or Bryan Cross’ definition of person as “an individual substance of a rational nature” are all equally bad. Actually, given some of the meaningless verbiage offered in place of a definition I think anything is an improvement which is why I can’t see the relevance of rejecting out-of-hand a definition simply because some think it “Lockean” or that it’s “Nestorian-ish.” IMO that’s a red herring. Anyway, if you can come up with something better than Clark’s definition I’m all ears. However, don’t expect any help from the professional religious class like Alan Strange or Jon Bonomo over at Lane’s blog. Their arguments have now devolved into foot-stampling and abusive ad hominem.

  124. truthitself Says:

    Oops
    I wrote “,conscientiousness implies knowledge”. I meant consciousness implies knowledge.


  125. If anyone is interested, I found Locke’s actual definition of person: “A thinking intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself” (Locke, ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ [London: Heinemann, 1918], 85.).

    I don’t think it helps, but it is interesting that even after stressing the cognitive abilities necessary for personhood, he still felt the need to stress that a person “can consider itself as itself.”

    I’m just seriously having trouble seeing Scripture presenting Jesus as considering himself as a distinct identity from the Logos.

  126. Sean Gerety Says:

    Actually, IMO Locke’s definition is pretty good. It’s certainly an improvement over a “person” as a real and distinct self-conscious ego within a particular “nature” or “essence.” Also, I think that it goes without question that the Scriptures do present Jesus at no time considering himself as a distinct identity from the Logos. The man Jesus was the Second Person incarnate.

    It also seems that “A thinking intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself” could entail two centers of consciousness or two minds. It also makes the question of “natures” irrelevant. It think it would work in regard to me, you, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I just wonder if the question of “being” would apply to the persons of the Godhead or would the definition now imply tri-theism?

    Of course, Locke’s definition could be modified to something like “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself.” Since in Jesus the divine mind of God the Son contained, but was not contained by, his earthly mind, or range of consciousness, Jesus could still be considered “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself.” The question remains, since the divine mind contained, but was not contained by Jesus’ earthly mind, could the two minds be considered together as a thinking intelligence or would an intelligence be restricted to each mind or range of consciousness again implying two persons? In any case, it certainly seems promising and is an improvement over the religious non-definitions being thrown around by the “theologically trained” over at Green Baggins. Of course, what do you do then when you come to Matthew 27:46? I’m going back to bed.

  127. Sean Gerety Says:

    OK, and before I go, since Jesus’ earthly mind has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, i.e., he thinks and identifies himself in terms of the divine mind of the Second Person which contains, but is not contained by his earthly mind, then per Matthew 27:46 there could have been a rift between Jesus’ earthly and divine minds at that moment on the cross without losing his self identity as the Son of God or as the Son of Man. There is no rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity and yet Jesus remains “a true man, a real human being” or more specifically a real person per this modified Lockean definition “whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed.”

    Admittedly, I am thinking out loud, but I’m hoping someone will let me know what is wrong with this construction?


  128. The reason I didn’t think Locke helped is because I thought the word “being” was meaningless because everything is a “being” (that is, everything exists).

    As an aside, I wonder what Locke would have to say about the current “after-birth abortion” controversy going on. With his tabula rasa theory, I wonder if he’d consider newborns as persons.

    I think your revision to “a thinking intelligence…” is better, but then again, what is “a thinking intelligence” but a mind? Then we are back to defining ‘person’ as a mind.

    Although I suppose that could work if we left “…which can consider itself as itself (that is, as a distinct identity)” (although even the word identity might be ambiguous here, I don’t know). But if we then say that the human mind is unable to think of itself as a distinct identity, and derives its identity from the Logos, aren’t we back where we started and saying that Christ is not a human person, only a divine one?

    It is a difficult situation because if we consider the human mind from the standpoint of the Logos, it is not an independent complete self but rather a subset of the divine (complete) set of propositions. From the standpoint of the man’s mind alone, however, it seems to meet all the requirements for personhood. I keep getting driven back to a “person within a person” construction.

    What if we went back to what I was saying at the beginning of the thread and began considering the human mind as the subset of propositions determined by the Logos to belong to that “smaller” mind. Thus what we have is a single eternal mind willingly creating a second mind (this one functioning temporally) out of his own propositions. The self, the identity, the person is the same, but there are two levels of consciousness. It might be analogous to when you’re aware that you’re dreaming. At one level of consciousness, you are smoking a pipe with Gandalf & Bilbo, yet you are also aware that there is “more” to life and that the “larger” consciousness is lying in bed asleep.

    While all this is indeed hard to swallow, I think we do have to keep reminding ourselves that Christ is unique and that it is very difficult for us to imagine what it was like for the incarnate Jesus to be unable to access certain divine propositions while knowing that it his own larger center of consciousness which was determining which propositions could be accessed. (I’m implementing Morris’ asymmetrical accessing relationship scheme here.)

    Sean, I think your handling of Matt 27:46 is just fine.

  129. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hello! I again ask: Jesus said in John 6:38, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

    How could the the divine 2nd Person of the Godhead come down to earth not to do His own will, but the will of the divine 1st Person of the Godhead?


  130. Hugh, because a will is a property of a person, and not nature, as is commonly said.

  131. Hugh McCann Says:

    So while the eternal divine Son and eternal divine Father share one nature, they are not one person, nor one will, apparently. That’s hard to get, 1 nature w/ 2 wills.

    So, in the Godhead: 3 persons & 3 wills with 1 nature?

    And in the incarnate Christ: 2 natures in 1 person with 1 will?

    So when Jesus says, I and my Father are one {John 10:30}, he speaks of their identical nature?

  132. Hugh McCann Says:

    Or perhaps Jesus in John 6:38 is merely saying that he came to do the Father’s will.

    That his will is subsumed in the Father’s?

    A la, I do always those things that please him {John 8:29}?

    The famous prayer of Christ in Gethsemane {Luke 24:42} shows that Jesus was willing (pun intended) to do not his own will, but the will of his Father.

  133. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Patrick. I want to stay on the slightly modified version of Locke’s definition. I was about halfway through a response to your long reply above, but ended up deleting it by accident. Stay tuned.

  134. Hugh McCann Says:

    Over @ ‘baggins, Matthew reminds me that Jesus had a divine and a human will.

    So, in the incarnate Christ: 2 natures in 1 person with 2 wills?

    So, Patrick, could it be that a will is a property of a Nature, and not a Person?

  135. Hugh McCann Says:

    I want to here confess to my Christological confusion!


  136. Hugh,

    “That’s hard to get, 1 nature w/ 2 wills.”

    You and I share a human “nature.” We have two wills.

    Before I go any further, exactly what do you mean by “will”? I find the term is used in all sorts of ways.

  137. hughmc5 Says:

    Patrick, I mean by will: desire[s], want[s], longing[s].

    Please also see conversation at ‘baggins.

  138. truthitself Says:

    Patrick
    Does this human “nature” that you and Hugh share Think?

  139. Sean Gerety Says:

    The reason I didn’t think Locke helped is because I thought the word “being” was meaningless because everything is a “being” (that is, everything exists).

    I agree as any word that can be predicated on everything logically means nothing. That’s why I suggested “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself.” I suppose a dog too could be categorized as a thinking intelligence, with the exception I suppose of my dog Bosco, but no dog has reason and reflection and consider itself as itself.” Further, this definition doesn’t require a physical body.

    I think your revision to “a thinking intelligence…” is better, but then again, what is “a thinking intelligence” but a mind? Then we are back to defining ‘person’ as a mind.

    Yes, it could, but the broader definition is not so restricted as “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself” could, unless I’m missing something, entail more than one center of consciousness or one mind and addresses your point concerning Jesus’ self identification as Son of God and Son of man.

    Although I suppose that could work if we left “…which can consider itself as itself (that is, as a distinct identity)” (although even the word identity might be ambiguous here, I don’t know). But if we then say that the human mind is unable to think of itself as a distinct identity, and derives its identity from the Logos, aren’t we back where we started and saying that Christ is not a human person, only a divine one?

    Isn’t that the goal?

    It is a difficult situation because if we consider the human mind from the standpoint of the Logos, it is not an independent complete self but rather a subset of the divine (complete) set of propositions.

    But, the Logos is “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself.” As we’ve been over this before, the Second Person doesn’t think “I’m the Father.” Also, you couldn’t say God is “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself.”

    From the standpoint of the man’s mind alone, however, it seems to meet all the requirements for personhood. I keep getting driven back to a “person within a person” construction.

    What if we went back to what I was saying at the beginning of the thread and began considering the human mind as the subset of propositions determined by the Logos to belong to that “smaller” mind. Thus what we have is a single eternal mind willingly creating a second mind (this one functioning temporally) out of his own propositions. The self, the identity, the person is the same, but there are two levels of consciousness.

    I think that’s right. I admit I have to think about this all some more. But, at least we’re not left with only a nature, even an impersonal human nature, dying for our sins.

    It might be analogous to when you’re aware that you’re dreaming. At one level of consciousness, you are smoking a pipe with Gandalf & Bilbo, yet you are also aware that there is “more” to life and that the “larger” consciousness is lying in bed asleep.

    As far as analogies go, I prefer Morris’ computer analogy:

    “Think, for example, of two computer programs or informational systems, one containing the but contained by the other. The divine mind had full and direct access to the earthly, human experience resulting from the Incarnation, but the earthly consciousness did not have such full and direct access to the content of the overarching omniscience proper to the Logos, but only such access, on occasion, as the divine mind allowed it to have. There thus was a metaphysical and personal depth to the man Jesus lacking in the case of every individual who is merely human. The Logic of God Incarnate, 102, 103”

    Sean, I think your handling of Matt 27:46 is just fine.

    I don’t know, but the more I think about person defined as “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself” eliminates the question of natures and is not necessarily limited to a single mind. Now, maybe there are other weaknesses that I haven’t considered, but I think Locke’s definition (slightly modified) wasn’t at all bad.


  140. Hugh, in that case, I’ve no problem with saying the three Persons of the Trinity share one will – they share a completely united desire & goal. But if that’s how we’re defining will, I don’t see Christ as presented as having two conflicting desires or goals.

    truthitself, perhaps if you defined nature I could know how to answer you. For me, a nature is a collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category. Hugh and I are both humans, therefore we have in common a human nature. A nature is more like a set of requirements rather than an object which meets those requirements. So with that definition, no, the nature Hugh and I share doesn’t think, because it’s basically a list.

    Sean, I said,

    “But if we then say that the human mind is unable to think of itself as a distinct identity, and derives its identity from the Logos, aren’t we back where we started and saying that Christ is not a human person, only a divine one?”

    You replied, “Isn’t that the goal?”

    My goal is to arrive at a definition of person such that Christ can be considered as a single person with two minds or centers of consciousness. But Clark’s criticism of the orthodox formulation is that Christ is not a *human* person, which would entail Sproul’s point that the 2nd Person didn’t die, only his human “nature.” Of course you realize this is unacceptable as you say later, “But, at least we’re not left with only a nature, even an impersonal human nature, dying for our sins.”

    That being said, upon further consideration, I don’t think it actually poses a problem for us, particularly if one defines nature as I have above. The eternal, divine 2nd Person has always had a divine nature – that is, he is divine – that is, he meets all the requirements of the category “divinity”. Among these attributes is an omniscient mind. Now when that divine 2nd Person “took on a human nature,” it means he added certain attributes to his person/self/identity which meant that he now met the requirements of a “human nature” – he became a man without ceasing to be divine. One of those requirements was the possession of a temporal mind associated with a body of flesh (associated does not necessarily mean attached).

    So we now have a single Person who is both divine and human because he possesses all the attributes essential to divinity, and he possesses all the attributes essential to humanity. The 2nd Person is omniscient (divine) and yet possesses a second center of consciousness which functions on a temporal level (human), while retaining a single self-identity. He is immutable in that he is eternally omniscient and cannot lose his power or propositions (divine), yet the 2nd Person thirsts because his temporal consciousness is associated with a body that needs water. The 2nd Person died because he possessed a body to be separated from.

    Because each “nature” or set of required attributes belongs to only one mind/center of consciousness, and both centers of consciousness belong to the eternal identity of the 2nd Person, we are able to say that the 2nd Person was both omniscient and that he grew in wisdom, without contradiction, because we are speaking of his two centers of consciousness.

    Perhaps I’m a fool, but this makes perfect sense to me. Also, I don’t see it as being outside Chalcedonian orthodoxy (which while technically unneccessary, ends up a great help in convincing others one isn’t a heretic). I think it definitely improves upon Chalcedonian terminology. Now we can actually mean something coherent when we say Christ was one Person with two natures: He was a single instance of reasonable intelligence which could consider itself as itself, possessing all the necessary attributes of both divine and human categories. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. What an incredible story we have to tell.

  141. Sean Gerety Says:

    …and this could all be a case of linguistic gymnastics in an attempt to conform to a tragically flawed formulation that made the dividing line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy rest on the single word “person” which remained undefined (or at best ill defined) for 1500 years. FWIW I’m happy with Clark’s solution too.


  142. My concern with using a single-person formulation has less to do with capitulation to Chalcedon than it does with presenting a Christology one can teach from the pulpit without having rocks thrown at one’s head by an otherwise godly congregation who has seriously misunderstood what one is getting at. “Person” is one of those words which, while difficult to define, everyone knows what it means (if you know what I mean). I wouldn’t make the exact language or formulation a test of orthodoxy anyway. In cases like this, it’s more important to make sure people reject certain out-of-bounds views (e.g. Arianism) than it is making sure every t is crossed and every i dotted.

    Perhaps if Clark had been able to finish his book, he’d have addressed the idea of identity and more fully explored the oneness of Christ. I look forward to discussing it with him with glorified 20/20 hindsight.

  143. hughmc5 Says:

    Patrick,
    You shan’t need to chat with Clark; you’ll have the Lord himself (with all his constituent bits) to ask directly!


  144. Hugh, you’re right of course, but the Logic of God will always beat me in chess. I hope to defeat Clark one day. It’s on my heavenly to-do list.

  145. truthitself Says:

    Patrick
    “truthitself, perhaps if you defined nature I could know how to answer you. For me, a nature is a collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category. Hugh and I are both humans, therefore we have in common a human nature. A nature is more like a set of requirements rather than an object which meets those requirements. So with that definition, no, the nature Hugh and I share doesn’t think, because it’s basically a list.”

    Nice “definition” other than being totally unintelligible (meaningless)

    Patrick
    Please explain how an unthinking “nature” wills? Are you denying the primacy of the intellect? Should I define each of these terms?


  146. truthitself, just because you don’t understand doesn’t mean what I said was unintelligible or meaningless.

    As for explaining how an unthinking nature wills, why would I want to do that? I’ve just said that a will is a property of a person and that a nature doesn’t do anything but describe whatever possesses it. I’m hardly denying the primacy of the intellect. I think instead of you defining each of your terms, it might be more profitable to actually think about what I’ve written for a wee bit longer before you sarcastically respond.

    Cheers!

  147. truthitself Says:

    Patrick: “truthitself, perhaps if you defined nature I could know how to answer you. For me, a nature is a collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category. Hugh and I are both humans, therefore we have in common a human nature. A nature is more like a set of requirements rather than an object which meets those requirements. So with that definition, no, the nature Hugh and I share doesn’t think, because it’s basically a list.”

    If I need to define nature for you, I will, but my understanding is that for you the collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category (such as human) would not include thought. Would it include a heartbeat? Breathing? Choice? (that is volition), Is it not the intellect that drives the volition. My understand is that this was Calvin’s position. Calvin recognized two faculties of the human soul (mind, heart, spirit), the intellect (that which understands) and the will (that which chooses).

    You are right that I have no idea what your definition of nature is, but the more I consider what you have written, the less I have any idea what you are trying to say.

    Would sarcasm be an attribute necessarily belonging to each instance of a given category (i.e. human)?


  148. “…my understanding is that for you the collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category (such as human) would not include thought.”

    I’m not sure why you would think that. To be a human one must have a mind.

    “Would it include a heartbeat? Breathing?”

    No.

    “Choice? (that is volition), Is it not the intellect that drives the volition.”

    Yes.

    “You are right that I have no idea what your definition of nature is, but the more I consider what you have written, the less I have any idea what you are trying to say.”

    😦

    “Would sarcasm be an attribute necessarily belonging to each instance of a given category (i.e. human)?”

    🙂

  149. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, I think your handling of Matt 27:46 is just fine.

    Nah, it isn’t. The more I think about it you still end up with two persons.


  150. Sean,

    “The more I think about it you still end up with two persons.”

    Do you mean two identities, two selves? I feel like if I were one of the disciples, I’d have to look Jesus in the eye and ask him, “Who am I talking to right now? Is it God, or is it a man? Who is using that mouth to speak? Is he still around, or am I talking to the other one right now?”

  151. Sean Gerety Says:

    I keep running into Charlie Ray’s point (can you believe it!) and frankly one that started the entire brouhaha over at the Green Baggins blog :

    “Patripassionism or any idea of God suffering is a heresy as defined by the early church. Jesus suffered as a human person. Ok, you got me. I agree with Clark on those issues.”

    Again, it’s not a question of what died, but who? Did a person die? Since the Second Person, the Logos, cannot die, who died? It seems nonsensical to say “a divine person died according to his human nature but not according to his divine nature.” In reality despite all the traditionalist protests you don’t have a divine person dying at all, but just a human nature attached to a divine person like an appendage. “A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself” can as easily be attached to both minds or “natures.” As Clark asks, “How can a human consciousness, mind, heart and will not be a human person?” I don’t know, but it seems that my modified Lockean definition fails just as miserably as Locke’s in unifying two minds in one person. IMO the only solution to the problem are the usual vagaries that employ unintelligible words signifying nothing (preferably employing lots of difficult Greek and Latin terms along the way to help in the obfuscation) is the only way to remain faithful to the traditional creedal formulation.


  152. “Since the Second Person, the Logos, cannot die, who died?”

    Isn’t that begging the question though? I maintain that the 2nd Person could and did die because the 2nd Person was not only divine but human. Again, we must define death: the separation of mind and flesh. The 2nd Person was incarnated, therefore he had a body to be separated from.

    “It seems nonsensical to say ‘a divine person died according to his human nature but not according to his divine nature.’ In reality despite all the traditionalist protests you don’t have a divine person dying at all, but just a human nature attached to a divine person like an appendage.”

    I agree. That’s pretty much what Sproul said, and what reignited me thinking about Christology again.

    “’A thinking intelligence that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself’ can as easily be attached to both minds…”

    I think the wording needs to be improved, but I think it’s heading in the right direction. We must not forget that the temporal consciousness was fully contained within the truths known by the Logos. There is 100% overlap, thus the identity of the temporal consciousness is found in the Person of the Logos.

  153. truthitself Says:

    Patrick:
    Hugh
    “That’s hard to get, 1 nature w/ 2 wills.”
    You and I share a human “nature.” We have two wills.

    The Great One (Me):
    “Patrick
    Does this human “nature” that you and Hugh share Think?”

    Patrick: ” Hugh and I are both humans, therefore we have in common a human nature. A nature is more like a set of requirements rather than an object which meets those requirements. So with that definition, no, the nature Hugh and I share doesn’t think, because it’s basically a list.”

    Patrick quotes the Great One, “…my understanding is that for you the collection of attributes necessarily belonging to each instance in a given category (such as human) would not include thought.”

    and then replies: “I’m not sure why you would think that. To be a human one must have a mind.”

    Me:
    Is this mind on “the list”? Does it think? Does it will? Breathing and having a heartbeat are not on the list. I am sure that I could better understand, if I were allowed to see the list.

    PS I have never met Hugh, in the flesh (so to speak), but I have corresponded with him and I am almost certain that he thinks. If he did not think, neither would he will. A “nature” that does not think does not get you one will let alone two.


  154. truthitself,

    Possession of a mind is one requirement for being human, therefore all humans have minds.

    One’s heart and lungs can stop working and one is still human, therefore breathing and a heartbeat are not essential to a human nature.

    Maybe this will help you understand what I mean. Not only do I have a human nature, I have a Bible college student nature, a husband nature, a father nature, a male nature, a Trekker nature, a Chess player nature, and a blogger nature. That is, I meet the list of requirements to be considered as all of those things.

    Now, possession of a mind is part of the nature of a chess player. It is also a requirement of the nature of a Bible college student. This doesn’t mean I have two minds. One suffices.

    Hugh and I share a human nature. All I mean by this is that he and I are both humans, that is, we both meet the requirements of humanity. We share a nature in that we are in the *same* category in this case.


  155. I usually don’t even bother with the term “nature” (e.g. Christ has a divine nature and a human nature). I just say Christ was divine and Christ was human, and then explain how he meets the requirements of both categories.

  156. Sean Gerety Says:

    FWIW I came across the following quote from Sproul (part of which was quoted by Romanist Bryan Cross on Green Baggins). Anyway, I’m may work it into another post, but thought it was interesting:

    Once sin was concentrated on Jesus, God cursed Him. When the curse of the law was poured out on Jesus, He experienced pain that had never been experienced in the annals of history. I have heard of graphic sermons about the excruciating pain of the nails in the hands, of hanging on a cross, and of the torturous dimensions of crucifixion. I am sure that they are all accurate and that it was a dreadful way to be executed, but thousands of people in world history have undergone the excruciating pain of crucifixion. Only one man has ever felt the pain of the fullness of the unmitigated curse of God upon Him. When he felt it, He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Some say that he did to quote Psalm 22. Others say He was disoriented by His pain and didn’t understand what was happening. God certainly did forsake Him. That is the whole point of the atonement. Without forsakenness, there is no curse. God at that moment in space and time, turned His back on His Son.

    In the midst of His forsakenness, I doubt He was even aware of the nails in His hands or the thorns in His brow. He was cut off from the Father. – Who Is Jesus?

    Who could disagree with Sproul at this point? Frankly, I think Sproul’s arguments are excellent.

    Now, consider this from Cross:

    But, given Chalcedonian Christology, and this conception of propitiation by the exhaustion of divine punishment for sins on a substitute victim, then to whom were our sins imputed, and who bore the Father’s wrath? It has to be a who; it cannot be a mere nature. So it has to be the Logos. But this only raises further difficulties. If the sin was imputed to the Logos without qualification, then the break in communion between the Father and the Logos during the crucifixion entails that God is passible even in His divine nature . . . . The rejoinder is that sin was imputed to the Logos only according to His human nature. But, even so, it is still the Logos, not a human nature, who becomes guilty. And therefore the wrath of the Father cannot be directed only to a human nature, but must be directed to His own Logos. So this rejoinder doesn’t resolve the problem of a breakdown in intra-Trinitarian communion, or preserve divine impassibility. And a breakdown in intra-Trinitarian communion entails either polytheism or Arianism, as I’ve argued elsewhere . . . .

    FWIW I don’t think that Protestants (see Green Baggins blog) who hold to a strict Chalcdonian orthodoxy did a very good job trying to overcome this problem. However, according to Dr. Allan Strange Cross’ challenge is just as much a problem for Catholics as it is for Protestants and “The mystery is ‘resolved’ only in the rationalism of real Nestorianism (#126) [i.e., Clark’s solution] or in denying wrath, as Bryan has done.”

    It’s interesting, because Strange admits the mystery has been resolved by Clark, but according to him Clark should be rejected because he is guilty of “the rationalism of real Nestorianism.” Now, admittedly Strange’s anathema here would have some force if he had any idea what a “person” is, but when I asked him to define “person” so that he might succeed where the other “theologically trained” experts on Lane’s blog so miserably failed, he simply got in a huff and walked off after demanding the moderators rebuke and censor me. As Clark rightly observes:

    Some unfriendly critics [i.e., Alan Strange] will instantly brand the following defense of Christ’s humanity as the heresy of Nesorianism. Nestorius, you remember from the early pages of this study, taught, or was supposed to have taught, that the Incarnation of the Logos resulted in two persons. This view of Nestorius, with its accompanying condemnation, cannot be sustained either logically or historically. As for the history, several scholars assign the heretical view of his followers, who supposedly developed his suggestions beyond his approval. Nor can the charge of heresy be logically stantiated. The reason should have become obvious pages ago. Neither Nestorius nor his opponents had any clear idea of what a *person* is. They used the word but attached no meaning to it. In their discussion and writings the term was as much nonsense syllables as *substance* and *nature.* However distasteful it may be to those students whose knowledge is confined to fifteen minutes of a broader lecture in the Systematic Theology class, and all the more distasteful to the professor who knows little more than those fifteen minutes [again Strange], they must be forced to acknowledge that the Chalcedonian bishops and the later theologians were talking non-sense, because their terms had no sense at all.


  157. Sean, do you think Clark was attempting to improve upon Chalcedon’s understanding or Nestorius’?

  158. Sean Gerety Says:

    I honestly don’t think he was interesting in doing either. I think when he turned his mind to the problem of the Incarnation he saw the deficiencies in both and sought to answer the question; Who or what died on that Cross? A nature or a person or something else entirely? Of course, the traditionalists would say a divine Person, the Logos, according to his human nature died on the cross, but how does a divine Person and not die since a rift in the everlasting Trinity is impossible? Aren’t they just positing two persons; one person according to his divine nature and the other according to his human nature? Of course, you can do and say just about anything if you don’t define your terms and Clark was rightly appalled by the failure of theologians to unambiguously define what they mean by “person.” As Clark was fond of saying: Define or discard. Further, since the divine Person of the Incarnation is God, then as Lane said: “It is meaningless to say “God died in His humanity.” It’s just as meaningless as saying “God grew in grace and favor and wisdom in His humanity.” Replacing the word God for the name Logos changes nothing. The historic doctrine logically leads to absurdities, or what Alan Strange affectionately calls “a mystery” (which is just a clever theological phrase for ignorance).


  159. What do you think of my use of the term nature which allows a single person to be both divine and human? This would allow the 2nd Person to die because the 2nd Person was a human person as well as a divine person. Or do you agree with “truthitself” that I’m just spouting off vain babblings?

  160. truthitself Says:

    Patrick
    I hope you are not suggesting that all bloggers think.


  161. lol that’s why I didn’t use bloggers as a category that necessarily required a mind. I knew someone would make that joke.

  162. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ll be honest. I haven’t been following too closely to your exchange. I’ve been busy with other things.


  163. I am appalled. What could possibly be more important than contemplating whether or not all bloggers are persons?

  164. Cam Porter Says:

    I think at the moment most bloggers’ fingers hit the keyboard, there is a temporary union of “unwholesome anonymity” and “self-congratulatory pontification”, creating a compound being that succeeds in perpetuating inanity. It is “blogospherical monophysitism”, and it will be condemned in a future conciliar webinar. 😉


  165. Has Mr. Porter read Clark’s book? What say ye? 🙂

  166. truthitself Says:

    The exchange of ideas generated by this post has been nothing at all if not thought-provoking.

  167. Cam Porter Says:

    I did read Clark’s book (about two years ago now, it seems), but plan to read it again shorty, once I buy the book (I was only borrowing the book the first time, not that that effects my ability to comment 🙂 ). I remember liking his arguments and affirming his desire for clarity over-and-against conciliar and traditional imprecision – and not just because I am a Clark “fan”.

    Re: Christology, Chalcedon, and protestant inconsistency:

    As my inquiring mind has been aroused from a derelict concession to “Chalcedon-or-else” traditionalism, I plan to read Morris’ book, Clark’s book again, and other works, with an eye towards having a more precise, scriptural (which always carries with it the obvious weight of ‘logical’) view of Christology. To paraphrase what I stated in a previous post, many protestants engaged in this Christological debate seem to be figuratively genuflecting to the ecumenical creeds, which reeks of a papist’s implicit affirmation of the infallibility of conciliar declarations. We rightly charge the Arminians, the Dispensationalists, and the Romanists (to use only three with whom we are at odds) with the crime of imposing the matrix of their theological traditions upon the text of scripture, but then we turn around and place Chalcedon, like a cellophane template, upon the glorious revealed Christology of Holy Writ to force the reconciliation (while unwittingly feeding the hungry pontiff that dwells in our bosom)*.

    As a Reformed Christian; as a subscriber to the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689; as one who affirms the legitimacy and utility of creeds in the hedging in against error; and as one who most certainly affirms Christ’s sovereign and providential building of His church throughout history, I must say, nevertheless, that it is unmistakably inconsistent with sola scriptura to be bound immobile within the confines of the declarations and formulations of the historical church. As a departed Met.Tab. preacher would say, they are not things “whereby we are to be fettered”. We should, with that spirit – humble as I pray it to be – seek to shed any “papistical garments” (hat-tip to my elder, and Luther) that we, as beneficiaries of the Reformation, can inconsistently wear at certain points in the apologetic enterprise, and put on the better clothing of our Berean Protestantism.

    Re: Person, nature, substance, essence, subsistence, etc:

    I do have some things I’d like to say. 🙂

    ___________________________________
    –ps: probably not the answer you were looking for, but, whatever. 🙂

    *In all my rambling, I am not saying that Chalcedon is unprofitable, or that the patristics were out-to-lunch. They no doubt constructed a declaration that sought to uphold the full deity and full humanity of Christ. I believe though, in so doing, they have not completely done justice to the biblical data, and have left us with something in want of definitional clarity, and theological precision. It may very well be that, in their focused efforts to combat legitimate error, coupled with – perhaps – a less than judicious bent against perceived error (due to party-politics and “school-vs-school” bias), the clearness of terms and statements became tertiary, even though they affirm, thankfully, that Christ is truly God and truly man.


  168. Hear, hear, Cam. Should you ever feel like sharing your thoughts on persons, natures, substances, essences, subsistences, etc., I’ll be all ears.

    truthitself, don’t even think about asking me how a being consisting entirely of ears can think.

  169. truthitself Says:

    Patrick
    I remember a certain candidate for president who claimed to be all ears. Had he thought about the size of his ears I think he would have left that comment alone.

  170. rgmann Says:

    “One further implication must be drawn from the ‘one person’ teaching of the Definition. It means that there were not two ‘self-consciousnesses’ within Jesus. Prior to the Incarnation the Son was self-consciously divine, but after and by virtue of the Incarnation, the one Son was still self-consciously divine and now consciously human as well.” (Reymond, p. 611)

    “Some theologians, for example, J. Oliver Buswell Jr., have suggested that the answer [to the seeming paradox of the Incarnation] lies in the postulation of two ‘levels’ of consciousness in Jesus — a level of active consciousness at which level Jesus as a man developed in wisdom and knowledge as do all other men and at which level he acknowledged ignorance of some things and another (subconscious?) level of awareness at which level as the Son of God he knew all things at the same time. At any moment of his life, theoretically, he could have called up to his active level of consciousness any knowledge of datum he desired from the infinite pool of divine knowledge which was his possession. But prior to the Incarnation, in the eternal decree respecting his ministry on earth, it had been determined that he would hold in his active consciousness only such information as is available to other Spirit-guided men.” (Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p. 619).

    William Lane Craig has written a very good article that fleshes out the above position in greater detail, if anyone cares to read it.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-birth-of-god

    It’s about the best explanation of the Incarnation I’ve come across yet. I see no reason why one person cannot have two “levels” of consciousness as described above. Moreover, it’s fully biblical and orthodox, unlike the two-person view…

  171. Cam Porter Says:

    Craig reads like ‘semi-kenotic modified-Apollinarianism’, to me, navigating within, and to be reconciled to, the Chalcedonian rubric. But maybe I’ll read it again, slower.

  172. rgmann Says:

    No, Craig’s view is not “semi-kenotic” or “modified-Apollinarianism,” but is rather fully in line with the orthodox doctrine of Enhypostasia:

    Enhypostasia. The doctrine that, in the incarnate Christ, though the humanity has no ‘person’ (hypostasis) of its own, it is not on that account ‘anhypostatic’ (deprived of a hypostasis), but finds its hypostasis in the hypostasis of the Logos. Thus the distinguishing features of the particular man who Jesus is, as well as the essential qualities of the species (mankind) to which He belongs, are attributed to the Divine hypostasis. (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O95-Enhypostasia.html)

  173. rgmann Says:

    Berkhof makes the same distinction as Craig does…

    “There is but one person in the Mediator, the unchangeable Logos. The Logos furnishes the basis for the personality of Christ… The human nature of Christ as such does not constitute a human person. The Logos did not adopt a human person, so that we have two persons in the Mediator, but simply assumed a human nature… At the same time it is not correct to speak of the human nature of Christ as impersonal. This is true only in the sense that this nature has no independent subsistence of its own. Strictly speaking, however, the human nature of Christ was not for a moment impersonal. The Logos assumed that nature into personal subsistence with Himself. The human nature has its personal existence in the person of the Logos. It is in-personal rather than impersonal. For that very reason we are not warranted to speak of the human nature of Christ as imperfect or incomplete. His human nature is not lacking in any of the essential qualities belonging to that nature, and also has individuality, that is, personal subsistence, in the person of the Son of God.” (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 322.)


  174. I don’t think it’s unfair to call Craig’s view a sort of “modified Apollinarianism.” He practically says it is himself.

    I think what Craig is getting at is pretty much what I’ve been trying to say the whole time, only I’ve been attempting to provide more precise definitions than Craig does. I also wouldn’t describe the omniscience of the Logos as Christ’s “subconscious.” I prefer to think of it in terms of two centers of consciousness with an asymmetrical accessing relationship, to use Morris’ language.

  175. rgmann Says:

    Patrick, isn’t saying that one person has “two levels” of consciousness or “two centers” of consciousness or a “conscious” and “subconscious” aspect to his mental capacity pretty much the same thing? I fail to see much of a difference.

    By the way, I suppose that if the doctrine of Enhypostasia can be classified as a form of “modified Apollinarianism,” then Craig’s view can be described that way as well. But I see a distinct difference between the two doctrines. Craig is simply explaining how the one hypostasis of the Logos can have two levels of consciousness after the Incarnation — self-consciously divine from all eternity and now consciously human as well.


  176. Roger, I meant that I wouldn’t want to say that the omniscient Logos somehow became dormant or was controlled by the temporal consciousness, but rather remained fully aware at that level.

    As for whether or not Craig has modified Apollinarianism or not, I’m sorry if you’re embarrassed to admit that (because of a disturbing elevation of an ecumenical creed), but I’m just taking Craig’s words as he’s written them:

    “The question which remains, I think, is whether Apollinarius’ view is totally bankrupt or whether it did not contain a valuable kernel of truth which is still salvageable.”

    “Step 2: Affirm with Apollinarius that the soul of Jesus Christ was God the Son. What Apollinarius rightly saw was that the best way to avoid the Nestorian fallacy of having two persons in Christ is to postulate some common constituent shared by his human nature and his divine nature, so that these two natures overlap, so to speak. On Apollinarius’ proposal that common constituent was the soul of Jesus Christ.”

    “But are these shortcomings of Apollinarius’ view irremediable? I don’t think so.”

    “This reformulation nullifies the traditional objections to Apollinarianism.”

  177. Cam Porter Says:

    “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

    If the humanity of Christ has no ‘person’; if the “personhood” of Christ comes exclusively from the divine person (and by virtue of the hypostatic union, “in-personalizes” an impersonal nature, providing the distinguishing features and essential qualities to the man Christ Jesus), then, as I see it, and among other things such as a form of Apollinarianism attempting to wear the raiment of scriptural harmony, we have a Christological-soteriological inconsistency, a diminishing of the authenticity of Christ’s office as priest (as well as his role as the vicarious sacrifice He, as priest, offers up), and a problem with Romans 5 “federal-head parallelism”. But, I can’t elaborate and provide qualifications…I have to leave. 😉


  178. Cam, perhaps I’m jumping the gun as I’ve not read your elaborations and qualifications, but that passage seems to establish the unity of personal identity, I think.

    HE (the 2nd Person, by whom are all things, cf. v.10) had to be made like his brethren (I’m assuming we can all agree this means to become a man), so that HE (still the 2nd Person) might be a merciful and faithful high priest, etc. The “he” who makes propitiation as high priest is the same “he” who had to be made like his brethren. One divine person who, through the incarnation, is now also a human person and thus able to serve as high priest, make propitiation, and serve as federal head to his people.

  179. rgmann Says:

    Patrick: As for whether or not Craig has modified Apollinarianism or not, I’m sorry if you’re embarrassed to admit that (because of a disturbing elevation of an ecumenical creed), but I’m just taking Craig’s words as he’s written them…

    I honestly think that you’re missing the primary intent of what Craig wrote. He went on to argue that the “valuable kernel of truth” in Apollinarius’ view was salvaged by Chalcedon itself:

    “In order to settle the dispute between Antioch and Alexandria an ecumenical council was convened at Chalcedon in the year 451. The statement issued by the Council is a profound and careful delineation of the channel markers for an orthodox doctrine of the incarnation. It seeks to affirm what is correct in both schools’ views while condemning where they go wrong. Basically, the statement affirms with Antioch [Nestorianism] the diversity of Christ’s natures but with Alexandria [Apollinarianism] the unity of his person: one person having two natures.”

    So both heresies, according to Craig, contained a “valuable kernel of truth” in them. But that hardly means that the Chalcedon Creed should be described as a “modification” of Nestorianism and Apollinarianism. And neither should Craig’s view, if we want to be fair with the entirety of what he wrote.

    For example, after saying that his “reformulation nullifies the traditional objections to Apollinarianism,” he goes on to explain why — i.e., because it fulfills all of the requirements of Chalcedon’s one person with two natures definition:

    “For, first, Christ does have on this view two complete natures, divine and human, including a rational soul and a body. Second, as a result Christ is truly human, and so his death on our behalf is valid. Notice that Christ is not merely human, since he was also divine, but he was nevertheless truly human and so could stand as our proxy before God, bearing our punishment so that we might be freed.”

    “On the theory I’m proposing Christ is thus one person, but in that person conscious and subconscious elements are differentiated in a theologically significant way. Unlike Nestorianism my proposal does not imply that there are two persons, anymore than the conscious aspects of your mind and the subconscious aspects of your mind constitute two persons.”

    That’s why I said that Craig’s position was more in line with the orthodox doctrine of Enhypostasia than with Apollinarianism. Perhaps the following explanation of this doctrine might help you to see its connection with Craig’s view:

    This terminology was coined in the 6th century by Leontius during discussions of the identity of the personal centre, the self-conscious ‘I’, of Jesus Christ. If this self-conscious ‘I’ was the divine Word, the human nature assumed lacked a human self-consciousness; this looked dangerously like the Apollinarian denial of Christ’s true humanity and hence of his fitness to act as our redeemer. The contrary theory, of a full human self-consciousness in Christ independent of and alongside the Logos, threatened the integrity of the incarnation as an act by which the pre-existent Son of God became man, and also gave rise to another person alongside and independent of the Logos, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth, who is then not the eternal Son of God and can neither reveal God nor bring God’s salvation to us.

    Leontius proposed that, negatively, the human self-conscious ‘I’ had no existence of its own; it existed only within the hypostatic union with the Logos (Gk. an = without, hence anhypostasia).

    Positively, he proposed that it is present and real only in (Gk. en) the divine ‘I’ (hence enhypostasia). This permits the assertion of full manhood but retains the biblical recognition that the essential self-hood of the God-man is that of the eternal Son and Word of God who effectually reveals God and brings divine salvation to mankind. (Bruce Milne, Know the Truth, p. 145.)


  180. Ye gods and little fishes, Roger, I wasn’t saying Craig was offering a non-Chalcedonian formulation. It’s abundantly plain from Craig’s own words that he appreciated what Chalcedon said the Incarnation was *not*, but was attempting to build a positive formulation by recognizing that Apollinarius was on the right track but ultimately failing by denying that Christ had a human mind/consciousness/whatever.

    That’s not to say Craig isn’t in line with enhypostasia, either. Good grief.

  181. Hugh McCann Says:

    Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
    Who can explore His strange design?
    In vain the firstborn seraph tries
    To sound the depths of love divine.
    ’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
    Let angel minds inquire no more.
    ’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
    Let angel minds inquire no more.

    ~ C. Wesley

    Stanza two, “And Can it be That I Should Gain?”


  182. Tim Keller has an interesting take on Christ’s forsakenness. He observes that Jesus’ cry of “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is the only time when he doesn’t refer to God as Father. He then says that Jesus lost his relationship with the Father so we could have it.

    Now this was in a spoken sermon (not a written work), so I don’t want to nail him to the wall for something he may not have completely meant, but whatever we make of Christ’s forsakenness, I have trouble saying the Son of God temporarily lost his Sonship.

    Like I said, I don’t know how far Keller meant to push that, but I thought the language was an interesting choice.

  183. David Reece Says:

    Patrick T. McWilliams,

    I have heard similar things from other pastors in the past.

    I put a post with questions about this here:

    https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/epistemological-confusion/#comment-8440

    I would appreciate your help. Thank you for the articles thus far btw. I am still working on this stuff and feel like you and Sean are ahead of me in the reading and thinking on the subject.

  184. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Patrick. I’ve heard that said too, but don’t forget about John 20:17: “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

  185. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie Ray has posted a reply here.

    However, since I hate his blog’s combox format I decided to reply to some of his comments here instead.

    Charlie writes:

    If Jesus Christ is really two persons and not one person, then logically He cannot be ONE mediator between God and men. Ironically, then, Clark’s view is hopelessly irrational and raises more problems than it solves.

    I thought being a “reasonable” Christian meant that logic had some value, but as anyone can see what Charlie has written above doesn’t follow. Jesus being two persons yet one mediator is no more problematic than there being three persons yet one God. I would have thought Charlie would have thought that through a bit more, but evidently not. Isn’t this the same Charlie Ray who wrote:

    Patripassionism or any idea of God suffering is a heresy as defined by the early church. Jesus suffered as a human person. Ok, you got me. I agree with Clark on those issues.

    According to at least the accepted historic and traditional interpretation of Chalcedon, Jesus wasn’t a human person at all. He was a divine person who took upon himself humanity. No human person died on the cross at all, at best what died was a “it”; an impersonal nature. Either that or the divine person died, the Logos, but that is, as Charlie says, partipassionism (which, strictly speaking relates to the idea of the Father suffering, but I’ll take what I can get).

    It is true that God cannot suffer on the cross. But it is equally true that the hypostatic union cannot be severed. What Clark did not explain or define is how his alleged two persons view avoids the logical problem of separating Christ from Christ.

    Actually, he did, but that requires Charlie think things through further than perhaps he is either willing or able. As I’ve said, I don’t think the Incarnation can be read and understood without first dealing with the groundwork already laid by Clark in The Trinity. Besides, as I explained in my follow up piece, “Epistemological Confusion”:

    In addition, what does it mean that “Christ was an eternal divine person who added humanity to deity… to His divine person.” Did the divine Person add to Himself some sort of Jungian collective consciousness? The Scriptures say that Jesus was like us in every way except without sin (see Hebrews 2:17 and 4:15). Well, I’m not “humanity.” I’m an individual human person: a man and a sinner. If Jesus is “an eternal divine person who added humanity to deity,” then He is not like me at all. I’m mutable, can suffer (and probably over the last year have suffered quite a bit), decay, and die. I was made from the dust of the ground and to the dust I shall return. I have been made in God’s image, and, as such, have been created with a rational mind (despite what some unfriendly critics may say). Thoughts pass through my mind in successive order as I live and move and have my being in God, and my knowledge, whatever little I may have, is derivative. When I come to the propositions of Scripture I can and do, by God’s grace and through the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, think some of God’s actual thoughts after him (to steal a phrase from Van Til). However, in the man Jesus there was and is a one to one correspondence between his human thoughts and the divine thoughts of the Second Person. As Thomas Morris described the relationship, in Jesus the divine mind of the Second Person contained but was not contained by Jesus’ human mind. There weren’t just a few univocal points of contact here and there between Jesus’ human thoughts and the thoughts of the divine Second Person. Jesus always, immediately, and continually thought the thoughts of the Second Person, and, as a result, rightly identified himself completely as God’s natural born Son; the first born of many brothers. That’s because Jesus didn’t just think some of the divine thoughts, he thought all the thoughts of the divine Second Person of the Trinity, the Logos, as in him are hidden all (and not just some) of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To see the man Jesus is to see the divine Second Person, quite literally, in the flesh.

    Yet, for Van Tillians like Strange the Incarnation is both an ontological and epistemological impossibility. According to Van Til man’s knowledge and God’s knowledge will not and cannot “coincide at any single point.” In Van Til’s famous illustration where he would draw a large circle above a smaller one connected by two vertical lines, there is and can be no overlap between God’s knowledge and knowledge possible to man. Yet, in Jesus there was a complete overlap of Van Til’s proverbial two circles. Van Til’s conception of the Creator/creature distinction, sometimes wrongly called the archetype/ectype distinction, requires that man’s knowledge is forever the ectype, a copy of the original, never the archetype. Therefore it follows that all human knowledge is and can be only the analog of God’s knowledge. There isn’t just a separation between the mode or process of God’s knowing as compared to the mode or process of man’s knowing, there is a complete break, an absolute division, between the content of God’s knowledge and that which can be known by man. To put it another way, the man Jesus could never posses the archetypal or original thoughts of the Second Person. For man knowledge is forever and always “analogical” and if that is true for all men as Van Til insisted, then it is true for the man Jesus Christ as well.

    As I’m sure even Charlie can see, if there was and is a complete identity between Jesus’ divine mind which contained but was not contained by Jesus’ human mind, then the separation on the cross; the forsakenness and abandonment along with the punishment Jesus was to receive on account of our sin was not only possible but it really happened. This was not a “metaphorical” abandonment or something less than the “absolute” punishment due us as a result of our sin. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Clark’s solution completely avoids the ontological problems of the traditional formulation.

    A further problem with Clark’s view is that he makes no distinction in The Incarnation between communicable and incommunicable attributes/propositions.

    Of course it does and for the exact same reason that Morris’ two minds theory avoids all the inherent contradictions of the traditional understanding/interpretation of Chalcedon. There is an epistemological union, not an ontological one in the Incarnation. The question becomes one of definition; specifically how do you define a person? Therefore, if person is defined in terms of one’s mind or center of consciousness, or as a composite of propositions (i.e., a person is what he thinks), then Clark’s view differs not in the slightest from Morris only that Clark doesn’t back away from defining a person in terms of one’s mind or “rational soul.”

    The divine propositions are not communicable to men.

    Then Charlie is no different than a Van Tillian who denies any and all univocal points of contacts between God’s thought (propositions) and man’s thoughts (propositions derived from God).

    But Clarkians who condemn other heresies–while committing their own theological errors without any solid logical propositions settling all the problems raised by their views–are contradicting the axiom that Scripture IS the Word of God and the axiom that the Westminster Standards are the best summary of the teaching of the infallible and inerrant Holy Scriptures.

    Admittedly, it’s hard to make heads or tails out of this run-on sentence, but at least when we condemn things like the Federal Vision or NPP we demonstrate where the error lies. Charlie just assert that an error has been made, point to the Confessions, and expects everyone to bow down. Sorry, Charlie is not my pope (or anyone else’s for that matter).

    While I consider myself a Clarkian

    Rest easy Charlie, because you’re no more a Scripturalist than Drake Shelton. Anyone who would say “The divine propositions are not communicable to men” has never even grasped Clark’s first principle.

  186. Sean Gerety Says:

    But Clarkians who condemn other heresies–while committing their own theological errors without any solid logical propositions settling all the problems raised by their views–are contradicting the axiom that Scripture IS the Word of God and the axiom that the Westminster Standards are the best summary of the teaching of the infallible and inerrant Holy Scriptures.

    Also, let me just add, while certainly the high water mark of Protestant confessionalism, the Westminster Confession is not in any sense the “axiom” of the Christian faith. That role is reserved to the Scriptures alone. Besides, no Protestant would ever assume that the Standards are somehow inviolable as they have been, and I think rightly, amended and revised in a couple of places over the years and could certainly be amended or revised further in the future.


  187. Okay, I’m re-reading The Incarnation. I’m seeing that Clark is operating on a number of unspoken assumptions, but I’m passing over them for the time being and assuming he is correct.

    Then I hit this passage which deals with some things I’ve brought up before regarding indexical propositions (e.g. “I am eternally begotten).

    “Therefore, since God is Truth, we shall define /person/…as…a composite of propositions.

    …[T]heologians will complain that this reduces the Trinity to one Person because, being omniscient, they all have, or are, the same complex. This objection is based on a blindness toward certain definite Scriptural information. I am not at the moment referring only to the eternal generation of the Son and the eternal procession of the Spirit. I am referring to the complex of truths that form the Three Persons. Though they are equally omniscient, they do not all know the same truths. Neither the complex of truths we call the Father nor those we call the Spirit, has the proposition, ‘I was incarnated.’ This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex. Other examples are implied. The Father cannot say, ‘I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho.’ Nor can the Spirit say, ‘I begot the Son.’ Hence the Godhead consists of three Persons, each omniscient without having precisely the same content. If this be so, no difficulty can arise as to the distinctiveness of human persons. Each one is an individual complex. Each one is his mind or soul. Whether the propositions be true or false, a person is the propositions he thinks” (54-55).

    Elsewhere Clark defines a proposition as “the meaning of a declarative sentence.” He even gives examples of how different sentences convey the same proposition (e.g. “Jack threw the ball,” and, “The ball was thrown by Jack”). It is true that only the Father thinks, “I begot the Son,” but isn’t the pronoun ‘I’ simply a stand-in for ‘The Father’?

    Contrary to Clark’s claim that the persons of the Trinity “do not all know the same truths,” both the Father and the Spirit know that the Father begot the Son. For that matter, I know it, too. The only difference between the Father’s knowledge of that truth (the meaning) and the Spirit’s is that only the Father can approach that proposition speaking in the 1st person singular, while the Spirit is restricted to using 2nd (“You begat the Son”) or 3rd person singular (“He begat the Son”).

    This is why I think Clark’s definition of person must be improved upon to include the ability to recognize one’s self as a distinct individual. Setting aside the issue of the Incarnation for the moment, and considering only the doctrine of the Trinity, does it not seem that Clark has overlooked his own definition of ‘proposition’? Somebody, anybody, let me know what you think on this.

    If I’m right, I think the definition of person should be a composite of propositions (i.e. a mind) which is able to recognize itself as a distinct individual (i.e. is self-aware). Before I try to apply that definition to the Incarnation, I wanted to post this and see what response I get.


  188. Another problem in that passage from Clark is the implication that the 2nd Person of the Trinity thinks, “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho.” It seems terribly inconsistent to say that the Logos could think this and yet not think, “I thirst.”

  189. Sean Gerety Says:

    If I’m right, I think the definition of person should be a composite of propositions (i.e. a mind) which is able to recognize itself as a distinct individual (i.e. is self-aware).

    I’m not exactly sure what you’re after or even what problem you’re trying to solve as adding self awareness doesn’t change the fact that Jesus had two minds. Are you saying Jesus had one mind? If so, how can one mind be both ignorant of some things and ignorant of nothing? Anyway, like I said, I’m not sure what the problem is you’re trying to solve.


  190. I’m concerned with Clark’s passage dealing with the Trinity. If his definition of person needs to be modified there, *then* I’ll move on to the Incarnation. I’m still working out what that would mean. What did you think about what I said regarding the Trinity & propositions?

  191. Sean Gerety Says:

    Clark’s minor infelicities aside, if that’s what they were (and if Morris’ theory is correct then what is true of the human mind/person is just as true for the divine mind/person), I’m still trying to figure out why you think Clark’s definition “must” be improved upon?


  192. Because Clark claims his definition works for divine persons, which are distinguished from each other by the “different propositions” they think. But they *don’t* think different propositions; they just approach the propositions from their own distinct vantage point. The Father thinking “I begot the Son” and the Spirit thinking, “The Father begat the Son” is the same proposition, the same truth. Therefore *all* of the propositions possessed by *each* of the persons of the Trinity are in *complete* overlap with each other. The only difference is how they think of them, which depends upon which person is doing the thinking.

    Therefore it’s not enough to say that persons are collections of propositions, and what distinguishes one person from another is the particular set of propositions. If that were true, then there would only be one omniscient person comprising the Godhead, because all three persons possess *all* the divine propositions.

    The difference between Trinitarian persons consists in a recognition of their own distinct individual identities, affecting how they approach certain propositions (Either “I begat the Son,” “The Father begat me,” or, “The Father begat the Son.” –All three sentences convey the same proposition from the perspectives of different persons).

    I’m not even anticipating what effect this will have on the Incarnation formula. I’m rereading The Incarnation with an open mind, and so far I’m leaning heavily toward Clark’s view for now, but this passage seemed to contradict Clark’s own understanding of what propositions are, and it affects his definition of the Trinity so much that it won’t work.

  193. Cam Porter Says:

    Patrick,

    I get what you’re saying regarding the propositions, but I think the thrust of Clark (“This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex”) is that the proposition has peculiar application to the one represented by, in the examples, the 1st-person-singular. The relationship of the proposition to the one declaring it, is different for that person than any other person who understands and assents to it, in that the proposition declared bears exclusive significance to them and is a constituent element of their individuality. In other words “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho” is a proposition that only the Son can declare in the first-person-singular with propriety (among the members of the Triune Godhead), while the proposition itself, with regards to knowledge of it, is known by the Father, and the Spirit, (and Patrick McWilliams). When Clark says: “each one is his mind or soul. Whether the propositions be true or false, a person is the propositions he thinks”, it would apply in the case of the Triune Godhead (with the obvious exclusion of falsity, lest we destroy theology proper) in that, again, only the Son can think/say, truly, “I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho”. While the others know by omniscience, and while we know by revelation, none of us can claim that proposition as being an indicative concerning our person (whether or not anyone else, other than the Father or the Spirit, has tread such a path, we still understand the “I” in the indicative as being the God-Man, Christ Jesus). An “indicative concerning” is not the same as an “indicative affirmed”. If the first-person “I” brings no knowledge difference to the table of individuality, separating the declarer from those who know the proposition – no deictic exclusivity to the referent thinking/stating the proposition – then I fear my new Volkswagen Jetta may be owned by, not only me, but all my neighbours also. I will not relinquish my keys! 😉

  194. Cam Porter Says:

    …and my post appeared after your most recent on, so… 🙂

  195. Cam Porter Says:

    *one


  196. Cam, I do understand how Clark is distinguishing between the persons; I just think he is being imprecise in his terms. In the passage I quoted, he says the difference is the propositions. Yet the propositions are the same, what’s differing is the individual persons’ respective approaches to those propositions. Perhaps that is the difference between “proposition” and “thought” — A thought is a proposition as grasped by a particular person. So Clark is right when he says the persons of the Trinity are distinguished by what they think, but not quite as precise when he says they possess different propositions.

  197. Cam Porter Says:

    Right. I guess what I was getting at, cryptically, was that propositional exclusivity is in fact established by the pronoun employed. “David was the king of Israel” is the same for you and I – we understand and can intellectually assent, but “I, David, am king in Israel” is a proposition of “the Davidic complex” and exclusive to him as a referent. We can understand and assent to a proposition delivered to us employing the first-person-singular, but we do so by the necessary mental exercise of converting it to the third-person-singular. For example, when a preacher cites, sermonically, “in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…”, that proposition to him is, really, “in the year that king Uzziah died, *Isaiah* saw the Lord”, but, with regards to propositions populating the complex that is Isaiah, it is *possessed* only by Isaiah. So, Clark can, judiciously, speak of the possession of different propositions in that sense. I write this from the position of assuming that Clark, being a smart fella’, probably thought through his use of terms and anticipated the charge of imprecision. Though, the fact that we are having this conversation may be proof of imprecision/lack-of-perspicuity on his part…or the simple evidence of mental deficiency on both our parts (or just mine). Probably the latter (specifically, the third option set between brackets). 😉

  198. Sean Gerety Says:

    Either “I begat the Son,” “The Father begat me,” or, “The Father begat the Son.” –All three sentences convey the same proposition from the perspectives of different persons.

    This is where I think you’re confused as they’re not the same propositions at all. The meaning conveyed by “I am the Son begotten of the Father” is not the same as “I begot the Son.”


  199. Sean, you’re right that those two sentences you provided are different propositions. They have different verbs, for starters. The meaning of the first is identification of the Son. The meaning of the second is describing an activity of the Father. But those two propositions will look different depending on which Person thinks them:

    p1 (Father): He is the Son begotten of me.
    p1 (Son): I am the Son begotten of the Father.

    p2 (Father): I begot the Son.
    p2 (Son): The Father begot me.

    However, the three sentences I provided are the same proposition. They all have the same logical meaning: “X begat Y.” X is the same in all three sentences (the Father), and Y is the same in all three sentences (the Son).

    Cam, I see what you’re getting at, but that would seem to make the difference between persons dependent, not on the propositions, but on the individual’s actions (e.g. “I saw…”) which enable him to think that proposition from a first-person (“I…”) perspective. So again, we are back to an individual self-identity (resulting in different *thoughts*) being the true mark of distinction between persons.

  200. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, have you read Joel Parkinson’s The Intellectual Trinunity of God?


  201. Rereading Parkinson’s Intellectual Trinity of God and he gets at the same thing, resulting in his own modification to say that persons are distinguished by, not *what* they think (objectively), but *how* they think (subjectively). The difference lies in the subject, the individual identity of the one doing the thinking, not the object, the propositions known.


  202. I see a problem with positing an intellectual unity between two persons of Christ in the same way Parkinson describes the intellectual unity of the Trinity (with which I would agree).

    Parkinson shows the unity of the Trinity lies in their completely shared objective knowledge. The plurality in the Trinity lies in each person’s unique subjective knowledge – their point of view, “how” they think.

    It has been posited that the human Jesus’ knowledge is objectively the same (although not as extensive) as that of the Logos, while his subjective knowledge differs (e.g. Jesus thinks “I thirst,” while the Logos cannot think that subjective thought).

    The problem is that the complex of objective knowledge of the Logos is *exactly the same* as that of the Father and Spirit. Thus it would seem that the unity between the Logos and Jesus must also be the same unity between the Father and Jesus, and the Spirit and Jesus. Thus we are left with the question, what is the unique relationship between the Logos and Jesus that Jesus does not share with the Father and Spirit?

    If we say that it is because both the Logos and Jesus think, “I am Christ, the Redeemer of the elect,” all we’ve done is avoid the issue because we still haven’t explained how the Logos, who doesn’t suffer or die for anyone, can possibly be called Christ, the redemptive sacrificial Lamb of God.


  203. It’s interesting also to note that Parkinson says the 2nd Person of the Trinity can think “I will or have died on a cross.”

  204. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thus we are left with the question, what is the unique relationship between the Logos and Jesus that Jesus does not share with the Father and Spirit?

    It seems there are many things. As Gary Crampton writes:

    Moreover, in Luke 2:52 we read that Jesus Christ went through a period of human development, in that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” The Bible teaches us that Jesus had human needs, such as food (Matthew 4:2), drink (John 4:7), and sleep (Mark 4:38). We are also told that Jesus suffered as “He learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8). He grew weary (John 4:6), and He had human blood in His veins (John 19:34; Hebrews 2:14).

    In James 1:13 we are taught that God cannot be tempted. But in Matthew 4:1-11 and Hebrews 2:17-18, we are told that Jesus was tempted. Obviously, then, this temptation had to do with His human rather than His divine nature. Further, Scripture teaches that God is omniscient (Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20), but in Mark 13:32 we read that the Son does not know the time of the second advent – an obvious reference to His humanity. The Bible also teaches that God is the law giver (Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12), and therefore He is above the law: “He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3; 135:6). But Christ as a human being, “was born under [subject to] the law” (Galatians 4:4). Then too, we know that God, being immutable, does not emote. As the Confession (2:2) states: He is “without body, parts, or passions.” Yet Jesus, as a human being, did emote. For example, He expressed irritation or indignation (Mark 10:14), He grieved (Mark 3:5), He was perplexed, distressed, and troubled (Mark 14:34; John 12:27), and He expressed astonishment or marvel (Mark 6:6; Luke 7:9).

    This in no way is to imply that Jesus’ human nature is a part of the Trinity. It is not. His humanity is as much a part of God’s creation as is the rest of mankind’s. What is unique about the human Jesus is that He is without sin. This truth is frequently witnessed to in he New Testament. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit, thereby avoiding the corrupt nature which He would have otherwise inherited through Adam’s seed (Luke 1:35). And throughout His life He remained “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”(Hebrews 7:26). He was the lamb of God, “without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Even though He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet [He remained] without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). And when He suffered on behalf of His elect, He “committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21-22). Hence, God the Father “made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us [the elect], that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
    http://tinyurl.com/cx2r3su


  205. Sean, the Father and Spirit are also sinless. That is not a unique relationship between the Logos and Jesus.


  206. Also, Crampton sticks to the traditional wording and insists that the human nature of Christ is person, resulting in a single Person who is both divine and human.

    Brian Schwertley has said that while Christ had two centers of consciousness, he had only one self-consciousness, therefore he is one Person. Something to chew on, anyway.

  207. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick it is hard to take your objections seriously if you won’t read the quotes provided in their entirety. Can any of the persons of the Trinity be tempted? No. Therefore, being tempted is not something Jesus shares with the Father and Spirit.


  208. *”…the human nature of Christ is personal…”


  209. Sean, I actually read the quote provided twice, then clicked the link to get context.

    “Can any of the persons of the Trinity be tempted? No. Therefore, being tempted is not something Jesus shares with the Father and Spirit.”

    First you gave an example of something Jesus shares with all three persons of the Trinity. Now you’re providing an example of something Jesus has that *none* of the persons of the Trinity have.

    I’m still looking for something that uniquely ties the man Jesus to the Logos.

  210. Sean Gerety Says:

    I have no idea what you’re looking for then. Happy hunting.


  211. Sean, why do we say it was the 2nd Person who was incarnated, and not the Father, Spirit, or all three? What’s the special relationship between Jesus and the Logos?

    It can’t be objective knowledge, because Jesus shares that with the Father and Spirit too.

    It can’t be temptation, because the Logos can’t be tempted.

    It can’t be sinlessness, because Jesus shares that with the Father and Spirit too.


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