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Tuesday, December 01, 2020


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I know of one possible solution.

William Lane Craig affirms what he calls neo-Apollinarianism. On this model of the incarnation, the Logos is the archetypal man and so already possessed the properties requisite for human nature in his pre-incarnate state (but obviously not a body). You can fill in whatever properties you think those might be (rationality, self-consciousness, freedom of the will, etc.) That is, the Logos has all those properties of human personhood, and by assuming a human body, the Logos brings to the animal nature those properties that make it a complete human nature.

So, Christ's (the incarnate Christ) nature is a body/soul composite. And the soul is just the second person of the trinity, the Logos. In response to the objection that this being is not truly human and so not a genuine incarnation (just a God 'clothed' in human flesh) because the soul is the divine Logos, and not a truly human soul, Craig responds that the Chalcedonian statement does not require that Christ must have a MERELY human soul.

Whether this model is coherent and consistent with both the council of Chalcedon and DDS are questions beyond me. But I think it nicely shows how the Word might have both divine and human natures from all eternity.

What do you think?

This is not a rebuttal, but only a construal of the argument which seems less shocking.
If we interpret the modalities as expressions of our limited knowledge of what is the case, the difficulty seems to me to disappear. From God's point of view (which is atemporal), there is no contingency, no necessity. What exists, exists simpliciter, not contingently or necessary. The Incarnation may be a contingent event, in a particular time and a particular place, from our point of view, but in God's view, it simply is. Which means, yes, He has a human nature from all eternity, which doesn't mean 'from the beginning or time', but rather 'in the eternity', eternally.
Does it make sense to you?


That is a very clear statement of a neo-Apollinarian position. Thank you.

>>And the soul is just the second person of the trinity, the Logos.<<

Unfortunately, the Christian idea is not that God, in the person of the Son, assumes a human body, but that the Son assumes a man, with a human soul and a human body. Incarnation, despite the etymology, is not a divine soul's acquisition of a human body, but the Son's becoming a fully human man, wth human body and human soul. Redemption requires that God die on the cross, not merely a human body.

For the point of view of Chalcedonian orthodoy, Craig's view is heretical. Appolinarianism is very appealing and easy to understand, but heretical. The Word did not merely become flesh, but flesh and human soul.

FROM the point of Chalcedonian othodoxy . . . .

In would say:
From the first moment of his existence on and forever, tha man Jesus of Nazareth is taken up into the Second Person of the trinity, i.e. in the eternal selfpresence (relation of God to himself) that is the "Son". This divine selfpresence unites the human and the divine nature in the sense that Jesus is fully human und fully divine (human and divine nature are distinct but connected). God does not change since this relation is eternally constituted by God. And God's trinity does not contradict his simplicity since the three self-presence-relations in God are really identical to God and not three "parts" of the Godhead. However, believing in Jesus as the Son of God says something about ourselves, as well: We participate in the eternal love between the Father and the Son. Only in this way communion with God is possible. The Son of God assumend in Jesus a human nature in order to reveal us our communion with God in a human word that neverless is the Word of God. This is the "point" of Incarnation.

Dr. BV, Yes, I thought you might take issue with that. I too find it somewhat suspicious. It does seem to involve a sleight of hand, since on this view, Christ does not have a merely human soul/mind.

But on the other hand, the statement that 'Christ is truly God and truly man' does seem to be true on this model, if the Logos does possess all those properties essential for human personhood and divinity. And isn't that sufficient for a genuine incarnation? Christ was fully a human man in virtue of having a human body and possessing those properties requisite for human personhood.

@Tom "Craig responds that the Chalcedonian statement does not require that Christ must have a MERELY human soul."

On the contrary, The Chalcedonian Definition states that "the same [Christ] is perfect in manhood … truly man, the same of a reasonable soul and body ... consubstantial with us according to the manhood." In no way would the Fathers of Chalcedon have contemplated or allowed this to be construed or interpreted in an Apollinarian manner. If Christ's soul were divine and not human, there would be a Eutychian confusion of natures, which the CD specifically excludes. And if this is not sufficient, the Sixth Oecumenical Council (Constantinople III) in 680-681 specifically affirmed that in Christ there was a human will as well as a divine will.


That is what I would say to Tom. You are right about CD. I don't understand what Craig is saying, as reported by Tom.


To understand classical theism, you have to understand that, while God created the world, there was no necessity that he do so. He might have created a different world than the one he created, or no world at all. To understand that, you have to understand the modalities non-epistemically.

To understand Christianity, you have to understand that, while God became man, there was no necessity that he do so. He might not have sent his Son into the world. (Had it not been for the Fall, he presumably would not have done so.) To understand that, you have to understand the modalities non-epistemically.

Fr. Deinhammer,

I apologize for not responding to your last e-mail message. I was working on a long response, but it failed to find a focus.

I am wondering if you appreciate the question that is being raised in this thread. The question is: did the Logos (Second Person) have a human nature from all eternity? Or did the Logos acquire that nature some 2000 years ago?

The modal side of the question is this: Does the Logos have the human nature necessarily or contingently?

Fr. Deinhammer,

Another question for you. After the Ascension of Christ, body and soul, did the Logos come to acquire a material adjunct? How could the wholly immaterial God have matter imported into it?

When he ascended, Christ didn't drop his body and return to God as a pure spirit. He ascended body and soul according to the orthodox teaching as I understand it.

Jonathan, thank you for pointing that out. I suppose I'm not sure what to think, having not studied the Council of Chalcedon myself. Yet Craig is certainly not uninformed. I suppose my question would be, is 'perfect in manhood' or 'truly man' equivalent to 'merely a man'?


No. 'Truly a man' does not mean 'merely a man.' Not according to CD anyway. The official line is that the incarnate Christ is fully human and fully divine: one person (hypostasis) with two natures.

But how could one and the same item be both mortal and immortal? Or limited on knowledge and unlimited in knowledge? Etc.

Dear Dr. Vallicella,

Thank you! As I see it:

The "human" and "divine nature" are not on the same ontological level (God does not fall under concepts), so your questions seem to me in a way difficult and problematic. But no, the Second Person did not have a human nature from all eternity (God is not in time, anyhow). In other words: God does not need us.

God does not necessarily "have" the human nature. But within faith we realize that the man Jesus is taken up in the Second Person, i.e. in God's self-presence-relation that we call the "Son". This relation is indeed eternal. In this sense, we could say that Jesus is "always" the Son of God. God does not change for the Son is constituted as a self-presence-relation from all eternity.

Ascension is not meant "physically". It means that Jesus is in all eternity the Son of God, and that we partake in His relation to the Father.

This is important: According to Chalzedon the human and divine nature are not confused but related ("unvermischt" und "ungetrennt" = "voneinander verschieden" aber "miteinander verbunden").

"Bodily resurrection and ascension" means from my point of view that the life of Jesus is eternally present in God and that He is the cause of our salvation in the sense that we have a share in His relation to the Father.


The Scotist/Franciscan claim of the Primacy of Christ is that Christ's Incarnation was planned regardless of whether man had fallen or not. The Incarnation is a good in itself that not only made possible our redemption, but also laid the ground for our Deification, which I take it is different from redemption. If Adam had not sinned, it's not clear that he would thereby be Deified as well. If this is right, the incarnation is not contingent. It was planned as a good from eternity to lead us to our highest aim--Deification. It's possible that while Christ's Incarnation was not contingent, his death and resurrection may have been.

Dr, BV,

if they are not equivalent, then how is Craig's neo-Apolinarian model at odds with CD? How Christ can have both divine attributes and human attributes seems to be a separate issue. That's an issue any model of the incarnation has to deal with, is it not? (I suppose one would appeal to reduplicative predication here. Craig himself does this by appealing to depth psychology, proposing that Christ's omni-attributes were largely subliminal in his unconscious mind. Are things just getting weirder now?).


>>if they are not equivalent, then how is Craig's neo-Apolinarian model at odds with CD?<<

I said, "'Truly a man' does not mean 'merely a man.'" I am merely a man. Christ is not merely a man because he is also God. But he is truly a man. So it is obvious that, in this context, the two expressions are not equivalent.

To be a man is to have a human body and a human soul. Now on Appolinarianism, Christ does NOT have a human soul: the soul of Christ is God the Son. Now this is obviously at odds with CD.

Brian Y.

Thanks for your comment. I am not a theologian. I just learned something.


Pater Deinhammer,

Vielen Dank fuer ihre Antwort.

Lieber Herr Doktor Vallicella,

Meine Antwort war nicht gut. Die Problematik liegt darin, dass wir ständig "von Gott her" denken wollen. Das ist aber, wenn wir wirklich die Unbegreiflichkeit Gottes anerkennen wollen, nicht möglich.

Die zentrale Frage lautet: Wie ist eine reale Relation Gottes auf die Welt möglich. Und im Fall der Inkarnation ist die Antwort: Gott ist auf den Menschen Jesus in der Weise bezogen, dass diese Relation von Ewigkeit her eine göttliche Relation ist, nämlich die Relation Gottes auf sich selbst, die Sohn ist. In diese Relation ist Jesus aufgenommen. Weil Jesus nicht der konstitutive Terminus dieser Relation ist, gibt es keine Veränderung in Gott.

Man kann sich nicht in die "Perspektive Gottes" versetzen oder von "Gott her" denken. Das scheint mir sehr wichtig zu sein, wenn wir wirklich von Gott sprechen wollen.

In Bezug auf die Christologie empfehle ich sehr:

Mit den besten Grüßen aus Innsbruck,

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