« Mail Voting and Civic Ritual | Main | Is Anything Real Self-Identical? »

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bill et al.,

Orthodox Christology must include the doctrines of enhypostasis and anhypostasis. These doctrines state, respectively, that the hypostasis of Christ's human nature is just the hypostasis of the Son, and that apart from the second hypostasis of the divine trinity personalizing Christ's human nature, it would not be an hypostasis or person of its own.

The hypostasis which personalizes the human nature of Jesus Christ is the second hypostasis of the Trinity. This hypostasis does not necessarily personalize a human nature, however, since it does so out of free will, and thus "Jesus the Man" does not necessarily exist. But here the emphasis lies on the Man, since the hypostasis does necessarily exist. There is no contradiction here.

There is no person or hypostasis "Jesus" separate from the second person of the Trinity. "Jesus" is just the name that was given to the Son when he was born as a human. For this reason, it would be unhelpful to say that "the man Jesus does not exist necessarily," since this proposition appears to make reference to a person or hypostasis separate from the Son. There is no such hypostasis. The hypostasis of the Son exists necessarily, and he it is that personalizes the human nature of Jesus Christ. There is no other person. At best we can say that the human nature of the Son does not exist necessarily, or is not personalized necessarily, in which case no contradiction ensues.

Good post, Bill. I agree that it’s useful to canvass all theoretical possibilities. The following is suggested for examination - not proposed as doctrine!

Triad limb 3 states that Jesus the man does not exist necessarily. By this, do you mean the human nature of Jesus as the 2nd Person of the Trinity does not exist necessarily? If so, can we question that statement?

In “The Logic of God Incarnate” Thomas Morris makes two distinctions that might help us. If I understand correctly, the first distinction is between “being fully but not merely a thing” and “being fully and merely a thing”.

For example, a human being is fully but not merely an animal. Like other primates, humans have characteristics necessary and sufficient for full primateship. However, human beings possess higher properties and thus are not mere primates. Birds are fully but not merely physical, because birds possess characteristics such as being alive, being self-moving, being able to nurture their young, etc. These characteristics are not had by the merely physical. Similarly, although mere human beings are fully and merely human, the divine 2nd Person as Incarnate Jesus is fully but not merely human. In His human nature, He has the properties necessary and sufficient for full humanity. He also has higher divine characteristics.

The second distinction is between “properties commonly possessed by humans” and “properties essential to humanity”. Essential human properties are ipso facto common to all humans, but not all common human properties are essential to humanity.

For example, rationality is an essential human property and thus common to humans. But although ignorance is common to humans, perhaps ignorance is not essential for full humanity. Moreover, perhaps contingency is common to mere humanity but not essential to full humanity. Perhaps in the case of the divine 2nd Person only, He exists necessarily as God and in His necessary existence possesses something like the archetype of human nature, although that archetype was instantiated at and fully actualized by the Incarnation. In short, Jesus is the 2nd Person of the Trinity and necessarily has the archetype of human nature, and hence isn’t contingent as human.

Many questions arise. Here is one: Can a person necessarily possess an archetypal nature if that nature is fully actualized in time?

“Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” (Tolkien, LOTR)

Well, I'll have to chance it anyway. :-)
First, thanks for the post, Gandal...I mean, Bill! I understand the points that you (and John Bavinck, on another thread) are making, and those points are subtle but helpful for a layman such as myself.
You have made a 'conceptual space' where Chalcedon could be seen as sensical; in John's post, a level of comfort was achieved at the cost of denying certain theological assertions.
I will ponder further; for the nonce, the 'qua' arguments are not convincing, imo, and I would like to know your assessment of them.
I think the 'personhood' concept is the key to Chalcedon - and fwiw, I don't accept the formulation of 'one person, two natures' and though a level of comfort can, seemingly, be had for those that accept the dogma, that is not the same as a positive statement of what it means.
Fascinating subject. Thanks again.


Steven,

So you agree that the orthodox Xian is committed to each of the three propositions, but you hold that the three are collectively consistent. There are two distinct individualized natures that are supported by the same hypostasis or suppositum, and that hypostasis is the 2nd person of the Trinity.

This brings us to the problem of the 'alien supposit.' For what we have here is a case of an individual substance -- the man Jesus -- that is not its own supposit.

So we may be trading one incoherence for another. How can a substance have an alien supposit?

Elliot,

I haven't read T V Morris recently, but your explanation of his distinctions sounds accurate.

My problem is that I don't understand how something could be fully human but not contingent. Jesus is fully human and shares fully in our predicament which includes being contingent. How could a human animal be a necessary being?

A perhaps different problem. The idea as Steven well explained it is that one and the same supposit, which exists necessarily, supports two distinct individual natures, one human, the other divine. But if H is the nature of x, how can x exist at times and in possible worlds where it does not support H?

I am of course assuming that a nature of x is essential to x. If you say the Incarnation is an exception, then you blow apart the metaphysical framework invoked in the first place to make sense of the doctrine.

Might be better to say that the Incarnation is impenetrable to the finite intellect.

Bill, I don’t have Morris’ book handy. I read it some time ago. I hope I presented the distinctions correctly.

About the alien supposit problem: I agree that a nature of x is essential to x, and I agree that the Incarnation may well be impenetrable to the finite intellect. But do we have a case of an alien supposit?

In Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Ch. 30; pgs. 608-610), J.P. Moreland and W.L. Craig propose something like the following. I paraphrase:

There is only one hypostasis in Jesus: the 2nd person of the Trinity; the Logos. The pre-incarnate Logos possesses the archetype of human nature. This archetype includes all properties necessary for human selfhood. When the Logos incarnated, this archetype united with a human body, thereby instantiating its humanity. The human body of Jesus is not its own hypostasis. Rather, the Logos is the one hypostasis of the divine and the human natures. The Logos is the individual property-bearer and rational soul of Jesus. Thus, there is no alien supposit. There is one supposit: the Logos.

And the archetypal human nature of the Logos necessarily exists. The body of the Incarnation is contingent. Taking on a contingent body, Jesus the Logos is fully human, shares fully in the human predicament, and thus fully redeems the fallen human condition.

What exactly is the meaning of the word 'hypostasis'?

This sounds like the heresy of Appolinaris of Laodicea (310-390 A.D.)according to which the 2nd person takes on a human body. But the doctrine is that the 2nd person takes on a man, body and soul, not a mere human body. The Logos-Jesus relation is not a special case of the mind-body relation.

If you say that the nature of x is essential to x, then you are in trouble. For if human nature s essential to the 2nd person, then the Incarnation is not a contingent event, nor one before which there was a time before the Incarnation. Surely orthodoxy maintains that the Incarnation is an historical, contingent event.

It looks like the Biola boys avoid the alien supposit by embracing the heresy of Appolinaris. Excuse me while I prepare the instruments of torture . . . These Protestants needed to be hauled to Rome for interrogation.

Hypostasis: literally, that which stands under, support, substratum, that which has a thing's properties or the thing's nature. 'Suppositum' in Latin. Plural: 'supposita.' 'Supposit' in English.

For Aristotle, every primary substance is its own supposit. But the Incarnation doctrine forced the ad hoc move of saying that in one case there is a primary substance (Jesus) who has an alien supposit, namely, the 2nd person of the Trinity.

I lectured on this in Prague about a year ago, but failed to convince the Czech scholastics or anybody else except perhaps Dale Tuggy.

Let me reiterate that I’m not proposing doctrine but presenting a theoretical model that has been suggested.

Moreland and Craig write that their postulation is similar to that of Apollonarius, but that their position avoids the errors of Apollonarius condemned as heretical in 377 A.D. They write that the basic error of Apollonarius is that, on his view, at the Incarnation the Logos “assumed mere animality, not humanity”. (p. 609). However, on the Moreland-Craig view, the Logos “contained the archetype of human personhood in His own nature” (608). As such, “in assuming a hominid body the Logos brought to Christ’s animal nature just those properties that would serve to make it a complete human nature” (608). This view, according to Moreland and Craig, “nullifies the traditional objections because it lies safely within the boundaries of Chalcedonian orthodoxy” (609).

You wrote “If you say that the nature of x is essential to x, then you are in trouble. For if human nature is essential to the 2nd person, then the Incarnation is not a contingent event, nor one before which there was a time before the Incarnation. Surely orthodoxy maintains that the Incarnation is an historical, contingent event.”

But are you assuming that the Incarnation is an essential aspect of the archetypal human nature of the Logos? I agree that orthodoxy maintains that the Incarnation is an historical, contingent event. But must we assume that the Incarnation is necessary to the archetypal human nature of the Logos? If the Logos does indeed have an archetypal human nature (a point still under discussion), can’t it be separate from the Incarnation such that the Incarnation is a contingent event but the archetypal human nature of the Logos is a necessary form?

Elliot,

Thank you for your rich and helpful comments. I need to know more about what the archetype of human personhood is and how it relates to human nature.

Is the idea that the Logos (the 2nd person) does not have essentially a human nature but does have essentially the archetype of human nature?

Bill et al.,

My suggestion in response to the current of the discussion is that the Incarnation/Trinity must be recognized as sui generis phenomena which do not obtain according to the normal way of nature. It is obvious that God is beyond nature and it may be that our metaphysics, developed as it was through the contemplation of the conditions of ordinary existence, does not allow for this special act of God which took place in Christ. If anything, they ought to be the standards for a true metaphysics, rather than the other way around, since they come from God who is the cause of all being itself. There has to be a conceptual reorientation around the revelation of the Incarnation/Trinity.

My impression, too, is that Craig & Moreland's proposal is heretical since they ostensibly deny that the incarnate Son had a distinctly human psychology (soul), as opposed to merely endowing the animality of his human nature with his divine psychology. Gregory Nazianzen's argument applies here: what is not assumed is not redeemed. If God in the Incarnation does not assume also a distinctly human psychology, fallen and imperfect same as mine, and sanctifies it through the union with the divine nature, then the whole of human nature is not saved and redeemed, and my own human psychology (soul) is not transformed through my union with Christ.

As an aside - I remembered a book that has been languishing on my shelves for years - "Studies in Words" by CS Lewis - so I grabbed it and a good cigar and headed for the garden this afternoon. The first chapter is a study of the word 'nature'; a word with a long and colorful history.
In particular, I was interested in the word transliterated as 'phusis'- Greek for 'nature', as used in the following N.T. verse:

2 Pet 1:4: by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature (phusis), having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

This particular word for nature - phusis - at the time of writing of the N.T., was just about what we would expect.

It is NOT as in this example from the book:
"Man is represented both in the Timaeus and in Genesis as the subject of a separate and special creation; as something added, by a fresh act of God, to the rest of 'nature'.....It could therefore be felt that what man shares with (the rest of) nature, what he has only because he is a creature and not because he is a special creature, is natural in contradistinction to his specific, specially created, differentia."

It IS like this:
"Aristotle...in his famous definition, "whatever a thing is like when its process of coming-to-be is complete, that we call the phusis of each thing.""

So in the end, the word 'nature' in Chalcedon, that had me exercised, is nothing esoteric. It is what a thing is 'like'. My question was whether a thing's 'nature' is an 'essence' or is merely a description of what a thing is 'like'. Unless Chalcedon gave the word 'phusis' an explicitly theoretical content, I think I'm safe in sticking with the more mundane 'description' language.

(I'm reminded also that theologians make a distinction between God's communicable traits and his incommunicable ones (think the 'omni-' powers). I hope to comment on this later, as there may be a confusion between 'communicable traits' and 'phusis' in Chalcedon.


Bill and all,

I believe the Moreland-Craig idea is that the Logos (the 2nd Person of the Trinity) has essentially the *archetype* of human nature. I don’t know if this means that the Logos has essentially a human nature with the essential properties thereof or not. They write that prior to the Incarnation God the Logos possesses the properties sufficient for human personhood, except for corporeality (609). This statement suggests that God’s archetypal human nature includes the properties sufficient for perfect human personhood, sans corporeality. If the archetypal human nature is sufficient for human personhood, yet lacks corporeality, I suppose the archetype would include the property of “being possibly corporeal”, and that possessing this property is sufficient for human personhood, although actual embodiment occurred at the Incarnation.

I’ve also wondered exactly what the relationship is between an archetype of a nature and the nature which instances that archetype, and how this relationship shapes the M-C view. Perhaps an archetype is an abstract universal which can be exemplified as a nature in a concrete particular, whereby a nature is a set of essential properties and capacities which make a thing what it is and not something else. The exemplification of the archetype is the nature of the concrete particular.

Suppose an archetype is something like a Platonic form or a universal. Then is an archetype of x itself x? Is archetypal humanity itself a human nature with the properties thereof? This sounds like a possible “Third Man” problem, although perhaps such problems are neutralized when the universal is grounded in the aseity of God.

My read on the Moreland-Craig position is that, on Apollonarius’ view, at the Incarnation the Logos assumed mere animality but not humanity. But on the M-C view, at the Incarnation the Logos assumed full humanity insofar as the Logos brought His archetypal humanity, with its archetypal human properties, to the hominid body of Jesus. The Logos did not assume mere animality. Rather, the Logos assumed complete humanity in virtue of supplying the archetype of humanity that he possesses in His pre-existent form to the body in a way that neither confused the natures nor divided the Person.

To follow-up, my understanding of the M-C view is that they affirm that the Incarnate Son has a human psychology, but He has this human psychology in a special way. God in the Incarnation assumes a human psychology, but He does so in virtue of bringing His pre-incarnation archetypal perfect human personhood to the body in a way that neither confuses the natures nor divides the Person.

The pre-incarnate Person of the Logos has a divine nature and an archetypal human nature. The rational soul of the Logos is the rational soul of Jesus the Christ. Thus, the rational soul of Jesus the Christ has a divine nature and an archetypal human nature, but this archetypal human nature is embodied at the Incarnation. However, the Incarnate Christ had a human mental experience during His embodied time. He mostly refrained from using His divine omniscience in order to experience the human condition, although in His human experience His thinking is the thinking of a perfect human, not a fallen one.

So on the M-C view, what is assumed is redeemed: the Logos assumed a complete human nature and hence redeemed the complete human nature, including the complete human mind.

"They write that prior to the Incarnation God the Logos possesses the properties sufficient for human personhood, except for corporeality (609). This statement suggests that God’s archetypal human nature includes the properties sufficient for perfect human personhood, sans corporeality.""

That is a very interesting statement, and now I will have to read the M-C material.

One thing I will be looking for is - without corporeality, IS there such a thing as a human person?

Hi Bill,

What does the left side of the identity claim in 1 name?

Is “the man Jesus” a name for a person? If so, then the proponent of Chalcedon will want to affirm the truth of 1, but deny the truth of 3: the thing named by “the man Jesus” - that person - does exist necessarily.

Is “the man Jesus” a name for the person, along with the assumed nature? Similar to how “sitting-Socrates” is sometimes used as an example of a name for a substance along with an inhering accident of sittingness. If so, then the proponent of Chalcedon will want to affirm the truth of 3, but deny the truth of 1: the thing named by “the man Jesus” is not identical to the Second Person of the Trinity.


best,
Tim

The comments to this entry are closed.

Google Search Engine

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2008

Categories

Categories

October 2017

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
Blog powered by Typepad