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Thread: What constitutes a person?

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    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    No, they don't mean the same thing. In both the incarnation and the trinity, the nature has a will and other things that we think of as characterizing a person. Thus the Trinity has a single will. The Catholic Encyclopedia maintains that the Trinity has a single mind, which knows itself with a three-fold consciousness. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm) In most contexts that would make him (them? it?) closer to one person than three, I think. Similarly, it was ruled a heresy to deny that Christ has two wills: human and divine. I think you can substantiate that he has separate consciousness, memory, etc. Thus from a typical modern point of view Christ is two persons.
    I can see merit in the points made by everyone up until your post... I'm sure it's because I don't understand it then. Can you elaborate? It sounds to me like you're advocating Nestorianism.
    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

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  3. #12
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pentecost View Post
    I can see merit in the points made by everyone up until your post... I'm sure it's because I don't understand it then. Can you elaborate? It sounds to me like you're advocating Nestorianism.
    No. If you look at Christology you will find that the orthodox position has always maintained that Christ had all the functions of a human. This includes a separate human soul (denying it is Apollinarianism) and will (denying it is the monothelite heresy). I don't believe consciousness was part of the patristic discussion, but I think it's a reasonable extension to assume a separate consciousness to go with the separate will.

    The question is whether this means that there is a separate person. Obviously not as orthodox Christian theology uses "person." But most people I know would consider something with a soul and a will to be a person. I don't think the classical hypostasis is the same thing as the modern concept of personality. That was the original question, whether person as used in theology means the same thing as the modern concept of person. I think the answer is no.

    As I understand the discussion of the Incarnation in Aquinas' Summa, the human nature is exactly like a normal human person, except that it is not "complete." That is, a normal human exists on its own. But Christ's human nature, although identical to a normal human person, exists only as the way for the Logos to be present in human form.
    Last edited by hedrick; 01-01-2015 at 01:38 PM.

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    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    No. If you look at Christology you will find that the orthodox position has always maintained that Christ had all the functions of a human. This includes a separate human soul (denying it is Apollinarianism) and will (denying it is the monothelite heresy). I don't believe consciousness was part of the patristic discussion, but I think it's a reasonable extension to assume a separate consciousness to go with the separate will.
    I do not. Will: "the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action."
    Consciousness: "the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world." Are the two dictionary definitions Google provided that seem relevant. A will may be a product of a consciousness, but two consciousnesses seems to be two people, the question of what makes up a person is unsettled, but the basic secular understanding involves being self-aware, which is only half of the definition of consciousness, using non-idiosyncratic definitions, you have described two people in one Christ. (And to be contrarian) Having a human soul does not necessitate having a divine soul as well. And how are you meaning soul? From my understanding of Apollinarianism the divine Logos replaced the human soul, so does that make soul equivalent to nature?

    The question is whether this means that there is a separate person. Obviously not as orthodox Christian theology uses "person." But most people I know would consider something with a soul and a will to be a person. I don't think the classical hypostasis is the same thing as the modern concept of personality. That was the original question, whether person as used in theology means the same thing as the modern concept of person. I think the answer is no.
    Do you agree with most people you know? Why did you group the idea of personality=hypostasis with the other statements in this paragraph? They do not seem connected.

    As I understand the discussion of the Incarnation in Aquinas' Summa, the human nature is exactly like a normal human person, except that it is not "complete." That is, a normal human exists on its own. But Christ's human nature, although identical to a normal human person, exists only as the way for the Logos to be present in human form.
    I am not sure it follows that you can be fully man, without having a "complete" human nature. For what it's worth, I think there is miscommunication here, because it seems like you're clearly expressing Nestorianism in your first paragraph of the quoted post, but then in the second it seems that you're denying your own point. I'm left confused about what you actually believe.

    You mentioned earlier the Catholic encyclopedia, are you Catholic, or were you just using that as a resource? I ask because the councils are usually quite irrelevant to my faith, and I'm not sure how far I'd be willing to accept them. I can positively affirm the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed (without the Filioque), but beyond that? I am not sure. If the Eastern Orthodox are being ecumenical with the Miaphysites how do they understand the councils that they consider part of infallible church history? I do not know.

    I refreshed myself on the relevant heterodoxies and the councils, although I confess, I've never extensively studied them, so that I could give a proper response, and I am just left puzzled by your seeming position of yes, all that leads to Nestorianism, but not. I feel I am missing something.
    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

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    Technology Staff Leonhard's Avatar
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    Interestingly the word 'person' came into being when trying to describe what there were three of in the trinity. Three 'persona' one God.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pentecost View Post
    I do not. Will: "the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action."
    Consciousness: "the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world." Are the two dictionary definitions Google provided that seem relevant. A will may be a product of a consciousness, but two consciousnesses seems to be two people, the question of what makes up a person is unsettled, but the basic secular understanding involves being self-aware, which is only half of the definition of consciousness, using non-idiosyncratic definitions, you have described two people in one Christ. (And to be contrarian) Having a human soul does not necessitate having a divine soul as well. And how are you meaning soul? From my understanding of Apollinarianism the divine Logos replaced the human soul, so does that make soul equivalent to nature?

    Do you agree with most people you know? Why did you group the idea of personality=hypostasis with the other statements in this paragraph? They do not seem connected.

    I am not sure it follows that you can be fully man, without having a "complete" human nature. For what it's worth, I think there is miscommunication here, because it seems like you're clearly expressing Nestorianism in your first paragraph of the quoted post, but then in the second it seems that you're denying your own point. I'm left confused about what you actually believe.

    You mentioned earlier the Catholic encyclopedia, are you Catholic, or were you just using that as a resource? I ask because the councils are usually quite irrelevant to my faith, and I'm not sure how far I'd be willing to accept them. I can positively affirm the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed (without the Filioque), but beyond that? I am not sure. If the Eastern Orthodox are being ecumenical with the Miaphysites how do they understand the councils that they consider part of infallible church history? I do not know.

    I refreshed myself on the relevant heterodoxies and the councils, although I confess, I've never extensively studied them, so that I could give a proper response, and I am just left puzzled by your seeming position of yes, all that leads to Nestorianism, but not. I feel I am missing something.
    I used the Catholic Encyclopedia because it expresses a traditional Western understanding. My own Christology is different, but I thought the question here was with respect to typical Christian theology.

    I refer to typical understanding of person because I thought the question was about the meaning of the word. Words are defined by how they are commonly used. If the question was about "person" as used in the Trinity and Incarnation, that's a different question.

    I believe Aquinas meant "complete in itself" or perhaps "self-contained." Obviously he would not say that Christ's human nature was incomplete, since that would violate Chalcedon.

    I don't think any classical creeds spoke of consciousness. However the canons against monothelites say that Christ had a distinct human will and took distinct human actions. Previously he was decided to have a human soul. Obviously he had a human body. This seems to constitute him a human person within the common-language meaning of person. You may, of course, disagree.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pentecost View Post
    I do not. Will: "the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action."
    Consciousness: "the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world." Are the two dictionary definitions Google provided that seem relevant. A will may be a product of a consciousness, but two consciousnesses seems to be two people, the question of what makes up a person is unsettled, but the basic secular understanding involves being self-aware, which is only half of the definition of consciousness, using non-idiosyncratic definitions, you have described two people in one Christ. (And to be contrarian) Having a human soul does not necessitate having a divine soul as well. And how are you meaning soul? From my understanding of Apollinarianism the divine Logos replaced the human soul, so does that make soul equivalent to nature?

    Do you agree with most people you know? Why did you group the idea of personality=hypostasis with the other statements in this paragraph? They do not seem connected.

    I am not sure it follows that you can be fully man, without having a "complete" human nature. For what it's worth, I think there is miscommunication here, because it seems like you're clearly expressing Nestorianism in your first paragraph of the quoted post, but then in the second it seems that you're denying your own point. I'm left confused about what you actually believe.

    You mentioned earlier the Catholic encyclopedia, are you Catholic, or were you just using that as a resource? I ask because the councils are usually quite irrelevant to my faith, and I'm not sure how far I'd be willing to accept them. I can positively affirm the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed (without the Filioque), but beyond that? I am not sure. If the Eastern Orthodox are being ecumenical with the Miaphysites how do they understand the councils that they consider part of infallible church history? I do not know.

    I refreshed myself on the relevant heterodoxies and the councils, although I confess, I've never extensively studied them, so that I could give a proper response, and I am just left puzzled by your seeming position of yes, all that leads to Nestorianism, but not. I feel I am missing something.
    I used the Catholic Encyclopedia because it expresses a traditional Western understanding. My own Christology is different, but I thought the question here was with respect to typical Christian theology.

    I refer to typical understanding of person because I thought the question was about the meaning of the word. Words are defined by how they are commonly used. If the question was about "person" as used in the Trinity and Incarnation, that's a different question.

    I believe Aquinas meant "complete in itself" or perhaps "self-contained." Obviously he would not say that Christ's human nature was incomplete, since that would violate Chalcedon.

    I don't think any classical creeds spoke of consciousness. However the canons against monothelites say that Christ had a distinct human will and took distinct human actions. Previously he was decided to have a human soul. Obviously he had a human body. This seems to constitute him a human person within the common-language meaning of person. You may, of course, disagree.

    However this came up in the context of statements like this: "A "person" is a unique center of consciousness that is made in the image of God, who is 3 distinct centers of consciousness. It does not necessarily imply humanity or even corporeality, although possessing them does not invalidate personhood, nor does lacking them invalidate it." I agree with his definition of person. However it's not so clear that the Trinity has three centers of consciousness. For what it's worth, the Catholic Encyclopedia sees him as having a single three-fold consciousness. In context I don't think this is the same thing as three separate centers of consciousness. At least the Trinity has a single will and acts with a single action. Though classical theology didn't deal with "consciousness," three separate centers of consciousness would seem weird.
    Last edited by hedrick; 01-02-2015 at 03:39 PM.

  8. #17
    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    I used the Catholic Encyclopedia because it expresses a traditional Western understanding. My own Christology is different, but I thought the question here was with respect to typical Christian theology.
    The question here was extremely broad, being modified in that you tackled the issues of Trinitarianism and the doctrines of Incarnation, the question did not necessitate a "typical" response, just an orthodox one being that we are in Christianity 201.

    I refer to typical understanding of person because I thought the question was about the meaning of the word. Words are defined by how they are commonly used. If the question was about "person" as used in the Trinity and Incarnation, that's a different question.
    I asked, if the normal meaning of person applied to the Trinity in the OP, and then you began speaking about the Trinity in post #10, I do not understand how you knew what I was asking then, but apparently just learned it now. I did also ask after what a person is a the human sense, but you broadly ignored that, and so when responding to you, so did I.

    I believe Aquinas meant "complete in itself" or perhaps "self-contained." Obviously he would not say that Christ's human nature was incomplete, since that would violate Chalcedon.
    So Christ's human nature was not self-contained, and was therefore tied to his God nature, but they were still two distinct natures? Is that the understanding?

    I don't think any classical creeds spoke of consciousness. However the canons against monothelites say that Christ had a distinct human will and took distinct human actions. Previously he was decided to have a human soul. Obviously he had a human body. This seems to constitute him a human person within the common-language meaning of person. You may, of course, disagree.
    Up to this point, I believe I can agree. Jesus is certainly a human.

    However this came up in the context of statements like this: "A "person" is a unique center of consciousness that is made in the image of God, who is 3 distinct centers of consciousness. It does not necessarily imply humanity or even corporeality, although possessing them does not invalidate personhood, nor does lacking them invalidate it." I agree with his definition of person. However it's not so clear that the Trinity has three centers of consciousness. For what it's worth, the Catholic Encyclopedia sees him as having a single three-fold consciousness. In context I don't think this is the same thing as three separate centers of consciousness. At least the Trinity has a single will and acts with a single action. Though classical theology didn't deal with "consciousness," three separate centers of consciousness would seem weird.
    Now you are quoting Bill's definition of person, which I approve of, but he said the Trinity has three centers of consciousness, and you are saying one, yes? I agree with Bill, but even if I agreed with you and said the Trinity has only one awareness you still seem self contradictory because you already said Jesus has two consciousnesses, one human, one divine. So then is the human part of Christ participating in the Godhead? You must not think so it the Trinity has only one conciousness, but how is it "weird" for the Trinity to have three conciousnesses, but not weird that Jesus has two?

    I really doubt it's what you mean, but you're saying something both Sabellian and Nestorian.

    Because I think it is inadequate to merely say you're wrong, I will try to postively affirm something else:
    Jesus has two natures, in harmony with each other in such away that both his Wills lead to the same conclusion, and both his energies work towards the same goal, and this is because he has one conciousness that is both God and Man. This is one person. He is of the same God essance as the Father, and the Spirit, but they are three different people, because they are three distinct conciousnesses. Being God, they share the same divine Will, and the same divine energy. The human will and energy of Christ works together with that of the overall Godhead.

    I believe that is an orthodox phraseology, and that comes close to Miaphysitism, but is not. Maybe, I should have put this thread in Theology...

    I believe we are both orthodox, but your phrasings and the way you segment your posts are odd to me, I hope I am being understood by you?

    Edit: My previous post was done when I was very tired so it took about an hour, I'm happy to report that this only took about 15 minutes.
    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

  9. #18
    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    I think the talk about Jesus having two "wills" just tends to confuse people, and is fairly meaningless anyway.

  10. Amen Pentecost amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
    I think the talk about Jesus having two "wills" just tends to confuse people, and is fairly meaningless anyway.
    Well, yes. I can't think of any time I would bring it up except in this context, or to teach the history of schisms and heresies. It is a very impractical teaching.
    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? -Galatians 3:5

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    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Jesus who had two natures, I believe, only had one will. In His human nature had to learn obience to it.
    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

  13. Amen Obsidian amen'd this post.

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