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Thread: What constitutes a person?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pentecost View Post
    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.
    The intent was to preserve the true humanity of Christ. That's a pretty practical concern. Without a human will, we end up with a body being manipulated by the Logos, but not an actual human being. Despite the accusations of Nestorianism, it is not Nestorian to insist that Jesus was a full human being.

    Two wills that are in agreement is of course perfectly fine. One consciousness with two wills seems impossible. How could the two wills make decisions if they are one consciousness? I think your position is effectively monothelite. (37818 is, of course, overtly monothelite.) The Third Council of Constantinople said "for although joined together yet each nature wills and does the things proper to it and that indivisibly and inconfusedly. Wherefore we confess two wills and two operations, concurring most fitly in him for the salvation of the human race." “For each form (μορφὴ) does in communion with the other what pertains properly to it, the Word, namely, doing that which pertains to the Word, and the flesh that which pertains to the flesh.”

    It's hard to see how the human nature could have its own natural operations and its own actions without having a separate consciousness. Note that this language speaks of the nature is willing and doing things. This is treating "nature" not as we do in modern language, where it is effectively a set of characteristics that define a particular type of thing, but as an actual entity that does things, with the natures "in communion" with each other.

    The original question was about the Trinity. However if the things that characterize a person in the modern sense are associated with the nature, then it would make sense that there is only one for the Trinity, as there are two for Christ, based on the number of natures.

    Is this Nestorian? That's a hard question to answer. The condemnations of him have an almost hysterical tone, accusing him of teaching "two Christs." Obviously that would be heresy if anyone actually said it. Unfortunately the official documents don't come to grips with the details of what he said and meant. Many modern scholars think that's because he was essential orthodox, and the condemnation was primarily political. But it leaves us without an easy way to define what is and is not Nestorian. Thus we see even to this day regular accusations by Lutherans that Reformed theology is Nestorian. I'm saying that the doctrine of the 3rd Council of Constantinople can't reasonably be considered to be heretical, even if Nestorius would have actually agreed with it. Of course the other possibility is that the whole approach of using natures and hypostases to describe the Incarnation and the Trinity was flawed to begin with.
    Last edited by hedrick; 01-03-2015 at 02:11 PM.

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    The two-consciousness theory pretends that Jesus never changed his form from being "the form of God" to "the form of a servant." That is why it is wrong.

    Philippians 2:6-7
    ...who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

  3. Amen 37818 amen'd this post.
  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
    The two-consciousness theory pretends that Jesus never changed his form from being "the form of God" to "the form of a servant." That is why it is wrong.

    Philippians 2:6-7
    ...who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.
    The usual approach, as I understand it, is that the incarnation doesn't change the Logos, i.e. form of God, but rather the Logos took on a second form.

  5. Amen RumTumTugger amen'd this post.
  6. #24
    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    The intent was to preserve the true humanity of Christ. That's a pretty practical concern. Without a human will, we end up with a body being manipulated by the Logos, but not an actual human being. Despite the accusations of Nestorianism, it is not Nestorian to insist that Jesus was a full human being.
    Yes, of course I did not mean Jesus being a full man was not important, merely that this discussion is impractical because we most explicitly make that claim that he was and now we're quibbling over whether or not how the other reached that conclusion might be implicitly self denying.

    Two wills that are in agreement is of course perfectly fine. One consciousness with two wills seems impossible. How could the two wills make decisions if they are one consciousness? I think your position is effectively monothelite. (37818 is, of course, overtly monothelite.)
    A will, is a way to make a decision. As a fallen man my will is never going to align fully with the will of God, Jesus had an unfallen man will, meaning it had potential to be in perfect concert with the will of God, and Jesus consciously chose to keep it in line with the will of God, which he knew perfectly, being that he is God... Really I don't think that answers your assertion that two wills with one conciousness seems impossible, but I can conceptualize it, and if pressed could likely make a metaphor to your satisfaction.
    The Third Council of Constantinople said "for although joined together yet each nature wills and does the things proper to it and that indivisibly and inconfusedly. Wherefore we confess two wills and two operations, concurring most fitly in him for the salvation of the human race." “For each form (μορφὴ) does in communion with the other what pertains properly to it, the Word, namely, doing that which pertains to the Word, and the flesh that which pertains to the flesh.”
    Was that a response to 37818? Because I can affirm it.

    It's hard to see how the human nature could have its own natural operations and its own actions without having a separate consciousness. Note that this language speaks of the nature is willing and doing things. This is treating "nature" not as we do in modern language, where it is effectively a set of characteristics that define a particular type of thing, but as an actual entity that does things, with the natures "in communion" with each other.
    A thing can have operations and perform actions without being concious, and those things can be interconnected with other things. Gears come immediately to mind. They are made to spin and move things (it's natural operation), it does spin and move things (it's own actions) and it is not concious. Of course it is imperfect because it lacks will and only has the energy given to it, but it has a definite nature.

    The original question was about the Trinity. However if the things that characterize a person in the modern sense are associated with the nature, then it would make sense that there is only one for the Trinity, as there are two for Christ, based on the number of natures.
    I think I might have gotten confused along the way. There is one God nature, and presumably that means God has only one nature. Christ has two natures. One God and one Man. That seems to eliminate the Man nature from participating in the Trinity. Which essentially separates Christ from the Trinitt, of which he is an essential member thereof. I don't know if I'm objecting to myself, you, or longstanding traditional truth, and I really want to be in agreement with the last. On this point I am confused, will you please help me with it?

    Is this Nestorian? That's a hard question to answer. The condemnations of him have an almost hysterical tone, accusing him of teaching "two Christs." Obviously that would be heresy if anyone actually said it. Unfortunately the official documents don't come to grips with the details of what he said and meant. Many modern scholars think that's because he was essential orthodox, and the condemnation was primarily political. But it leaves us without an easy way to define what is and is not Nestorian. Thus we see even to this day regular accusations by Lutherans that Reformed theology is Nestorian. I'm saying that the doctrine of the 3rd Council of Constantinople can't reasonably be considered to be heretical, even if Nestorius would have actually agreed with it. Of course the other possibility is that the whole approach of using natures and hypostases to describe the Incarnation and the Trinity was flawed to begin with.
    I am very conflicted, because I hate the idea of abandoning the councils because they must have served some good purpose, but they were largely just competitions between Antioch and Alexandria... I know I want to emphasize the Godhood of Jesus and the essential unity of his God-Manness but I do not want to stray from orthodoxy, because even if I don't understand it, I desperately want to trust it. I have nothing but scorn for Arian, Modalist, and Tritheist beliefs, but it's hard to accept other rulings, since the Neo-Platonism that was once rampant only seems to carry into modern orthodoxy via the councils...
    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

  7. #25
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pentecost View Post
    I think I might have gotten confused along the way. There is one God nature, and presumably that means God has only one nature. Christ has two natures. One God and one Man. That seems to eliminate the Man nature from participating in the Trinity. Which essentially separates Christ from the Trinitt, of which he is an essential member thereof. I don't know if I'm objecting to myself, you, or longstanding traditional truth, and I really want to be in agreement with the last. On this point I am confused, will you please help me with it?
    One classical answer I know to your question is the “communication of attributes.” It says that because Christ is a single person, things which metaphysically would seem to apply only to one nature actually apply to the person as a whole because of the union. This was pushed furthest by the Lutherans, because of their doctrine of communion. That required Christ’s body to be unbiquitous. That is possible because omnipresence applied to Christ’s human body through the communication of attributes.

    See also the following page from the Orthodox perspective: http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/doctrine1.aspx, and partcularly the following: “Thus, in death itself—for Jesus' death was indeed a fully human death—the Son of God was the "subject" of the Passion. The theopaschite formula ("God suffered in the flesh") became, together with the Theotokos formula, a standard of orthodoxy in the Eastern Church, especially after the second Council of Constantinople (553). It implied that Christ's humanity was indeed real not only in itself but also for God, since it brought him to death on the cross, and that the salvation and redemption of humanity can be accomplished by God alone—hence the necessity for him to condescend to death, which held humanity captive.”

    I am very conflicted, because I hate the idea of abandoning the councils because they must have served some good purpose, but they were largely just competitions between Antioch and Alexandria... I know I want to emphasize the Godhood of Jesus and the essential unity of his God-Manness but I do not want to stray from orthodoxy, because even if I don't understand it, I desperately want to trust it. I have nothing but scorn for Arian, Modalist, and Tritheist beliefs, but it's hard to accept other rulings, since the Neo-Platonism that was once rampant only seems to carry into modern orthodoxy via the councils...
    Most modern Christology is not rooted in the councils, but in current understandings of the NT language. Thus N T Wright, who is pretty much the most conservative representative of modern Jesus scholarship, has frankly stated that Chalcedon seems like a “confidence trick.” For his approach to the Incarnation see http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_JIG.htm. I think his NT exegesis is hard to argue with, though that that particular paper doesn’t deal enough with the preexistence passages to be complete.

    Modern theology tends to see the union between God and man as a functional union, though there have been other suggestions, such as one that Jesus is part of the identity of God. I don’t believe this approach is Arian, Modalist or Tritheist. Whether it is Nestorian is less clear, since as you point out that particular debate was as much politics as anything else. I think if you don’t use neo-Platonic categories Nestorianism doesn’t mean anything.

    To answer your question about the participation of the human in God, I would object to the classical formulation because it tends to imply that humanity is a nature that is separate from God’s nature. But that makes no sense, because the fact that God is trinitarian rather than unitarian, which surely is essential to his nature, is a result of the incarnation. Historically, the Trinity comes from the preexistence passages in the NT, which say that Jesus is the human form of what Wright will argue is basically the Jewish concept Wisdom. And that became the Logos in the Trinity. Because I don’t understand the Trinity using person and nature, I see the preexistence passages, and the Trinity that resulted from them, as a pointer to the fact that the human being Jesus reflects something that was true of God all along. That is, the Incarnation isn’t something that can be added to a God of the philosophers by uniting it with a human nature. A God who can be incarnate is different from a unitarian God from the beginning. An incarnatable God has from the beginning the experience of the obedient son as well as the Father. So the Logos, which is the preexistence of Christ, represents that incarnatableness of God. Thus there is at least the potential of being human present in the nature of God all along. This may not be so far from the Eastern Orthodox passage i quoted. It also seems to have been present in 17th Cent Reformed thought (in the concept of the Logos incarnandus) and Karl Barth, though I haven’t had a chance to see just how close these ideas really are to mine.

    As for the battle between Alexandria and Antioch: Chalcedon adopted two-nature language that was originally Antiochene, though I think Chalcedon is best understood as broad enough to allow moderate versions of either formulation. I accept Chalcedon, under the understanding (fairly common among Church historians) that it wasn’t intended as a complete Christology, but simply a way to set reasonable limits. The next ecumenical council, in excommunicating Theodore as well as Nestorius, betrayed that compromise. The result was an overly uncritical Alexandrian approach, which led to the monothelite controversy. To resolve it, they ended up with a formulation that is fairly similar in intent to Theodore’s (though the terminology is very different), giving the natures some level of ontological reality, whether you accept my characterization of “pseudo-hypostasis” or not.

  8. #26
    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    Two wills that are in agreement is of course perfectly fine. One consciousness with two wills seems impossible. How could the two wills make decisions if they are one consciousness? I think your position is effectively monothelite. (37818 is, of course, overtly monothelite.) The Third Council of Constantinople said ". . . ."
    Please show me from the word of God, Jesus had two wills being one soul/person, having two natures not being mixed and not being the same person of the Father.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/monotheletism
    Last edited by 37818; 01-04-2015 at 09:34 AM.
    . . . 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.

  9. #27
    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hedrick
    The usual approach, as I understand it, is that the incarnation doesn't change the Logos, i.e. form of God, but rather the Logos took on a second form.
    That interpretation is flawed, though, because it disregards the whole point of the passage (shown in the surrounding verses below), which is that Christ humbled himself. Taking on a persona while maintaining his own glory would not be humbling himself.

    Philippians 2
    4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: . . . 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

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    We're now beginning to see arguments against orthodoxy, not against my personal theology. There's only so far I'm prepared to defend Christology as it developed after Chalcedon, since my own posting 25 indicates that I think the NT used very different categories from the neo-Platonic ones. However

    Quote Originally Posted by 37818 View Post
    Please show me from the word of God, Jesus had two wills being one soul/person, having two natures not being mixed and not being the same person of the Father.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/monotheletism
    I've been speaking with respect to orthodox theology, not the NT. For my understanding of NT Christology see the second section of posting 25 above.

    The Scriptural passages that were used in the original discussion were passages like Mat 26:34, which assume a human will that submits itself to the divine will. The difficulty with those citations is that Jesus always refers to the Father, so one could presumably maintain that this was the Logos submitting to the Father. However those do seem to be the original Scriptural support.

    For me, a distinct human will is part of full humanity. I don’t see how you can remove such a major function from humanity as the will and still claim it to be full humanity. But when we start looking at whether the will is part of the nature or the person, we’re getting into a metaphysics that I don’t think works anyway, as I noted in 25.

    There’s also a soterological issue. Jesus’ humanity is taken to be a fully restored humanity, and we benefit from its restoration by the double exchange. But there’s a basic principle going back to Irenaeus: “what was not assumed was not restored.” The corruption of the will is the most serious problem of the fall. If Jesus didn’t assume a real human will but in restored form, I think we’ve got a big problem.

  11. #29
    tWebber 37818's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedrick View Post
    We're now beginning to see arguments against orthodoxy, not against my personal theology. There's only so far I'm prepared to defend Christology as it developed after Chalcedon, since my own posting 25 indicates that I think the NT used very different categories from the neo-Platonic ones. However



    I've been speaking with respect to orthodox theology, not the NT. For my understanding of NT Christology see the second section of posting 25 above.

    The Scriptural passages that were used in the original discussion were passages like Mat 26:34, which assume a human will that submits itself to the divine will. The difficulty with those citations is that Jesus always refers to the Father, so one could presumably maintain that this was the Logos submitting to the Father. However those do seem to be the original Scriptural support.

    For me, a distinct human will is part of full humanity. I don’t see how you can remove such a major function from humanity as the will and still claim it to be full humanity. But when we start looking at whether the will is part of the nature or the person, we’re getting into a metaphysics that I don’t think works anyway, as I noted in 25.

    There’s also a soterological issue. Jesus’ humanity is taken to be a fully restored humanity, and we benefit from its restoration by the double exchange. But there’s a basic principle going back to Irenaeus: “what was not assumed was not restored.” The corruption of the will is the most serious problem of the fall. If Jesus didn’t assume a real human will but in restored form, I think we’ve got a big problem.
    Jesus' full humanity is not at issue. His full deity being the Son is not at issue. Jesus being one individual, a distinct person from God the Father and the Holy Spirit is not at issue. The issue of will being of two natures versus the will of being a real person. The truth on this matter is the true othodoxie.
    . . . 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.

  12. #30
    tWebber Pentecost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37818 View Post
    Jesus' full humanity is not at issue. His full deity being the Son is not at issue. Jesus being one individual, a distinct person from God the Father and the Holy Spirit is not at issue. The issue of will being of two natures versus the will of being a real person. The truth on this matter is the true othodoxie.
    Come to think of it, what prompted my questioning of you hendrik was the seeming of there being two Christs, which I know you do not believe. The terminology we've been using leads us down odd roads.

    I appreciate the two links you shared hendrik, I was getting so caught up in the Neo-Platonism (which I actively accepted 5 years ago before my conversion) that I forgot to think like a Christian, someone who's God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I was thinking very abstract, as a scholar rather than a believer, who has seen God move in such a way that I couldn't keep from nodding at the Orthodox site's idea of experiencing truth (which is what being a Pentecostal is arguably about as compared to other traditions), and I had to agree that God isn't necessarily something because we connecture it, we know what God is like because we see it, and Jesus lived as only God could have lived.

    I always enjoy reading of the Eastern church's views because they are so concrete and reminiscent of my own, perhaps it sounds foolishly circular, but it reaffirms my grounding.
    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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