Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is Chemnitz Chalcedonian?

This is the continuation of a ridiculously long discussion that began in the comments section of this thread, moved to this thread, and then this thread, and it's also being discussed in part of this thread at Pontifications.

The bottom line is that I think Martin Chemnitz violated the Chalcedonian prohibition against confusing the natures by arguing that the sacramental presence in the Lord's Supper is by divine will. I explained it at Pontifications this way:

Chemnitz says:“On the basis of the doctrine of the personal union, therefore, this axiom is very true and sure, and all the gates of hell cannot overturn it, namely, that the Logos, can be present with His assumed human nature wherever, whenever, and however He wills, not only in some place with His essential attributes but also according to and on account of the secret and ineffable personal union of the humanity with deity. When He wishes His body or assumed nature to be present, sought, apprehended is to be decided and judged not by our own argumentation, although it may have the appearance of form of rational logic, but only on the basis of the sure Word of God revealed in Scripture.

For this presence of Christ’s assumed human nature, of which we are now speaking, is not a natural or essential presence, but a voluntary and wholly free presence which depends only on the will and power of the Son of God, that is, on His promises and assertions to us whereby with definite word He assures us of His will to be present with His human nature.”

This is echoed in the Formula of Concord:“Even as many eminent ancient teachers, Justin, Cyprian, Augustine, Leo, Gelasius, Chrysostom and others, use this simile concerning the words of Christ’s testament: This is My body, that just as in Christ two distinct, unchanged natures are inseparably united, so in the Holy Supper the two substances, the natural bread and the true natural body of Christ, are present together here upon earth in the appointed administration of the Sacrament. 38] Although this union of the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine is not a personal union, as that of the two natures in Christ, but as Dr. Luther and our theologians, in the frequently mentioned Articles of Agreement [Formula of Concord] in the year 1536 and in other places call it sacramentatem unionem, that is, a sacramental union, by which they wish to indicate that , although they also employ the formas: in pane, sub pane, cum pane, that is, these distinctive modes of speech: in the bread, under the bread, with the bread, yet they have received the words of Christ properly and as they read, and have understood the proposition, that is, the words of Christ’s testament: Hoc est corpus meum, This is My body, not as a figuratam propositionem, but inusitatam (that is, not as a figurative, allegorical expression or comment, but as an unusual expression).”

Now, the notion seems to be that the divine will can give the human nature, Christ’s Body, a kind of presence that it does not have naturally; namely, the voluntary or willed presence. That strikes me as a straight confusion or mixing of the natures, which can *never* happen under Chalcedon (viz., the fact that it happens only under the special circumstances of the sacrament doesn’t make it any more permissible than would be a temporary annihilation of the human nature). I think that the difficulty is fundamentally Christological because of the use of the patristic analogy drawn between the Eucharist and the hypostatic union, and in this case, it seems that the problem is Monothelete in character, since the divine will overrides even the properties of the human nature. But it could arguably be Nestorian instead (although I’d note that Nestorians also endorsed a form of monotheletism), since the “sacramental union” seems to be a reality formed from the natures being joined to one another but not fused with one another (Monophysitism). The monothelete hypothesis seems quite plausible to me for two reasons:(1) As Josh S has explained it, Lutheran doctrine apparently holds that the both the divine and human wills act in communion in all acts of Christ, so that there cannot be acts purely of the divine will. That would suggest an impermissible confusion of the wills akin to monotheletism (and condemned by Constantinople), assuming he is correct. Moreover, this confusion appears to derive from exactly the Origenistic dialectic of opposition that St. Maximus rejects in rebutting monothelitism.(2) The Lutherans seem to have had quite a poor understanding of the patristic concept of theosis, and in particular, their account of the deification of the will used to explain the aforementioned communion of the wills in all actions appears to flatly contradict St. Maximus’s account. This sloppy handling of the communicatio idiomatum with respect to the wills could certainly explain why they didn’t perceive the contradiction with the patristic writings in their account of the Lord’s Supper.

Now it’s certainly not an *obvious* problem, but I think it is an extremely serious problem. It truly appears that this concept of the Real Presence violates the Chalcedonian prohibition on the confusion of the natures.

Far from reassuring me, the responses have only made me more doubtful, as I will explain below. My earlier words are in blue, Eric Phillips' words are in red, and my responses are in back:

"The whole point is that without the 'nature without hypostasis' concept, the hypostatic union doesn't work."

Your assumption that Christ's humanity _had_ a hypostasis in the first place is itself semi-Nestorian. A hypostasis is a particular instance of an ousia. From the first moment that Jesus existed as a particular instance of human nature, He was also divine. The only hypostasis Jesus has ever had, qua His humanity, is the unique Hypostasis of the God-Man, which before the Incarnation was eternally that of the Logos.

For reference, my previous statement referred toward the hypostasis of the human nature having been subsumed by the person of the Word. That isn't to say that I think that the human nature had any pre-existent hypostasis (thanks for that clarification), but the reason for the human nature lacking a hypostasis is its union to the divine person of Christ. I argued that this is analogous to St. Thomas's notion of the substance of the bread/wine being subsumed by the substance of Christ.

Also, your comment, while interesting, doesn't explain what you find objectionable about a "willed local presence."

The objection to Chemnitz's notion of a "willed local presence" is that the mechanism seems to violate Chalcedon, since it changes an attribute of the nature (presence) by divine will. While St. Thomas's notion of accidents without substance might seem odd initially, it is at least analogous to the nature without its own hypostasis asserted in the hypostatic union. Although that mechanism could be wrong, it doesn't involve the operation of the divine will in a way that violates the integrity of the human nature.

"You also get confusion of the natures if anything is willed contrary to one of the natures."

Jonathan! Think what you're saying! Suffering is contrary to the divine nature, and yet God suffered on the cross. Eternal life is contrary to the human nature, and yet Christ and all His Own are going to live eternally. You're rejecting the whole communicatio idiomatum here!

OK, this is exactly what I'm talking about. God's impassible divine nature most assuredly did not suffer on the Cross. The human nature suffered on the cross, and because one person has both divine and human nature, that person suffered on the cross. But to imagine that the divine nature suffered would be monstrous. Eternal life is hardly contrary to human nature. Death was a corruption of the fall, but all bodies will eventually be raised incorruptible (the damned to eternal torment, and the holy to everlasting life with God). There is nothing unnatural about a human being raised to life; the unnatural part was that they died in the first place. Theosis (partaking in the divine nature) can never be construed as a communication of attributes one to another. Do you not realize that your version of the communicatio idiomatum is blasphemous according to Chalcedon?

Josh S continued as follows:
I don't agree with Aquinas' account. It sounds like he is making the "hypostasis" a third thing. It sounds like he's tending philosophically toward Nestorianism, but needs to find himself an out.

The lack of an individual hypostasis in the human nature is not from Aquinas; it's from the Greek Fathers in opposition to Nestorianism. It would be awfully odd for the people condemning Nestorianism to tend toward Nestorianism. Again, Meyendorff's Christ in Eastern Christian Thought does wonders for explaining this.

Chemnitz's account of the scholastics' eventual rejection of the communicatio maiestaticum is interesting; Pieper maintains that it was still the case in the 19th. Of course, the Orthodox teach no such thing. You seem to be falling into the trap of trying to derive what is possible because of the human nature by pure reason rather than Scripture.

That's probably because you aren't considering the Orthodox teaching of theosis, which completely contradicts the notion of attributes of the divine essence being communicated to a human essence.

BTW, many Lutherans do teach a communicated omnipresence to the human nature, but this is in the same sort of way divine glory is communicated to the human nature.

Considering that the Orthodox account is that divine glory is communicated to the human nature by participation in uncreated energies rather than the divine essence, that would be pretty hard to support.

It's not natural for a human being to be worshipped (cf the entire OT), but Jesus is worshipped as God (cf the entire NT).

He's worshipped as a person, not as an essence.

Jesus' presence throughout the universe, then, is a communicated presence, not a diffusion of his body throughout space or an annihilation of his body's natural mode of presence.

Show me one other human being with "communicated presence."

Explaning in terms of raw ontology how this is or its precise nature is simply beyond the capability of human reason, and any attempts to do so are pure folly.

Which is why the Orthodox kept it simple. Christ's human nature is exactly like ours in all ways except sin. If Christ's human nature is in any way different from ours, then we aren't saved.

I do like how you completely ignored Eric pointing out that miracles happen according to the will of God, and that Catholics teach transubstantiation is a miracle...

God can't violate the integrity of His own human nature. Violating the integrity of bread and wine is not forbidden by Chalcedon.

19 Comments:

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

J. Prejean writes:

"the reason for the human nature lacking a hypostasis is its union to the divine person of Christ."

But the human nature _doesn't_ lack a hypostasis. Christ was a specific, particularized man; ergo, His human nature had a hypostasis. It just happens to be the Hypostasis also of the Eternal Word.

J. Prejean again:

"The objection to Chemnitz's notion of a 'willed local presence' is that the mechanism seems to violate Chalcedon, since it changes an attribute of the nature (presence) by divine will."

But Jonathan, presence is NOT an attribute of natures. We agreed on this back on HWS, right? Presence is an accident. It's phenomenal, not essential.

J. Prejean:

"OK, this is exactly what I'm talking about. God's impassible divine nature most assuredly did not suffer on the Cross."

Of course not. Natures don't DO anything. But the PERSON of God most assuredly DID suffer on the cross, by means of His human nature.

Prejean:
"The human nature suffered on the cross,"

No, it didn't. Natures are not subjects. They don't DO anything. The _God-Man_ suffered on the cross, via His human nature.

Prejean:
"Eternal life is hardly contrary to human nature. Death was a corruption of the fall, but all bodies will eventually be raised incorruptible..."

The resurrection is not part of human nature, you know. It's part of our union with Christ. It's all grace. Death is part of human nature; that Adam and Even could have evaded it had they not sinned is not attributable to human nature, but rather to the supporting grace of God (Athanasius is quite explicit on this point in _On the Incarnation_).

Prejean:
"Theosis (partaking in the divine nature) can never be construed as a communication of attributes one to another."

Well, you're dead wrong about that. We're going to be holy for all eternity by means of our union with Christ. We are neither holy nor eternal by nature, but God is both. Ergo, communicatio idiomatum. Deny that, and you deny Theosis, period.

Prejean:
"Do you not realize that your version of the communicatio idiomatum is blasphemous according to Chalcedon?"

You keep saying things like that, but you haven't actually explained yourself yet. And after the way you've butchered the distinction between physis and hypostasis in this latest post, I don't think you understand Chalcedon in the first place.

 
At 1:43 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"But the human nature _doesn't_ lack a hypostasis. Christ was a specific, particularized man; ergo, His human nature had a hypostasis. It just happens to be the Hypostasis also of the Eternal Word."

Sure, but it lacks its own hypostasis. That's more the hypostasis "just happening" to be the hypostasis of the Eternal Word; it's the essence of the hypostatic union.

"But Jonathan, presence is NOT an attribute of natures. We agreed on this back on HWS, right? Presence is an accident. It's phenomenal, not essential."

Bodily presence is a proper accident of the human nature. Mess with it, and you violate the nature itself. My point is that Chemnitz talking as if the bodily presence can be communicated by divine will is a violation of the human nature.

"Of course [the divine nature did] not. Natures don't DO anything. But the PERSON of God most assuredly DID suffer on the cross, by means of His human nature.
...
No, [the human nature] didn't. Natures are not subjects. They don't DO anything. The _God-Man_ suffered on the cross, via His human nature."

I'm having to be a bit less than rigorous here, because you seem to be using the sentence in a way that it can't be used (suggesting that the property of suffering was communicated from the human nature to the divine nature). What you said here was accurate, but that is *all* that can be said of "God suffered on the Cross." God did not suffer at all via His divine nature.

"The resurrection is not part of human nature, you know. It's part of our union with Christ. It's all grace. Death is part of human nature; that Adam and Even could have evaded it had they not sinned is not attributable to human nature, but rather to the supporting grace of God (Athanasius is quite explicit on this point in _On the Incarnation_)."

Of course, but I said that eternal life was not *contrary* to human nature. It's not an *essential* part of being human to die. No divine property needs to be communicated in order for us to be ever-living.

"Well, you're dead wrong about that. We're going to be holy for all eternity by means of our union with Christ. We are neither holy nor eternal by nature, but God is both. Ergo, communicatio idiomatum. Deny that, and you deny Theosis, period."

You really need to separate partaking of (participating in) the divine nature from communication of attributes. The former is Orthodox Christology; the latter is heresy. Nothing is contrary to nature in humans being *personally* holy or eternal through partaking in the divine nature.

"You keep saying things like that, but you haven't actually explained yourself yet. And after the way you've butchered the distinction between physis and hypostasis in this latest post, I don't think you understand Chalcedon in the first place."

It would be a lot darn easier if you weren't describing perfectly ordinary things like theosis in terms of communication of attributes between natures. That certainly isn't patristic in origin.

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

JP/CC writes:
"Sure, but [the human nature] lacks its own hypostasis."

No, it doesn't. It's own hypostasis is the hypostasis of the God-Man, the same as has ever been the Eternal Word. A hypostasis isn't part of a nature; it is the _particularized expression_ of a nature.

JP/CC:
"Bodily presence is a proper accident of the human nature."

Okay, a distinction must be made here: It is part of the Nature of Bodies to have specific presence, and part of the Nature of Humans to have bodies, so it is part of the Nature of Humans to have specific presence. I agree with that. But the _location_ in which they are specifically present is entirely a matter of accident.

JP/CC:
"My point is that Chemnitz talking as if the bodily presence can be communicated by divine will is a violation of the human nature."

I'm sure Chemnitz doesn't say that Christ gets His bodily presence from any fresh motion of the divine will. Christ has bodily presence because He is a man. What is communicated is not bodily presence, but the ability to be bodily present in more than one specific place at the same time.

Next you claim that I suggested "that the property of suffering was communicated from the human nature to the divine nature," which is just false. I didn't say that anywhere. What I said is that God the Son (a Hypostasis, please note) suffered and died on the cross.

JP/CC:
"Of course, but I said that eternal life was not *contrary* to human nature. ... No divine property needs to be communicated in order for us to be ever-living."

I'm not talking about some phenomenal _endless_ life, where someone manages to dodge all the things that are harmful to his body and always to find a sufficient supply of the things that his body needs. I'm talking about _Eternal_ life. Immortality. That IS contrary to human nature. Human nature is bodily, and it is natural for bodies to be dissoluble. Even in the Garden, Adam and Eve needed food. The Immortality we will experience in Eternity is proper to God's nature, but quite alien to ours.

JP/CC:
"It would be a lot darn easier if you weren't describing perfectly ordinary things like theosis in terms of communication of attributes between natures. That certainly isn't patristic in origin."

It is entirely Patristic in origin, and biblical to boot. Theosis is union with God, achieved for us in the work of Christ, who united God and Man in Himself so that He might defeat sin and death and become "the firstborn of many brethren," the first of a new race--human, but sharing in the divine nature all the same. Which is what we become when we are baptized into Him.

I can't even imagine how you would go about distinguishing between the _communicatio_ of Theosis and that of the Incarnation, which is its model, ground, and cause. There is a _hypostatic_ difference, in that we don't get to be hypostatically identical with the Son of God, but the _communicatio idiomatum_ was never about hypostases in the first place.

 
At 6:26 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"No, it doesn't. It's own hypostasis is the hypostasis of the God-Man, the same as has ever been the Eternal Word. A hypostasis isn't part of a nature; it is the _particularized expression_ of a nature."

Yes, but the fact that two natures can share the same hypostasis is normally contradictory. That's what I mean by the human nature "not having its own hypostasis."

"Okay, a distinction must be made here: It is part of the Nature of Bodies to have specific presence, and part of the Nature of Humans to have bodies, so it is part of the Nature of Humans to have specific presence. I agree with that. But the _location_ in which they are specifically present is entirely a matter of accident."

True, but so is their mode of presence. I can't communicate my body's presence somewhere while staying here. It is not in the accidental mode of presence for bodies to be multiply present.

"I'm sure Chemnitz doesn't say that Christ gets His bodily presence from any fresh motion of the divine will. Christ has bodily presence because He is a man. What is communicated is not bodily presence, but the ability to be bodily present in more than one specific place at the same time."

Right. It is that ability, specifically, that I am calling a violation of the property of Christ's Body.

"Next you claim that I suggested 'that the property of suffering was communicated from the human nature to the divine nature,' which is just false. I didn't say that anywhere. What I said is that God the Son (a Hypostasis, please note) suffered and died on the cross."

OK, I didn't think you meant that, but I wasn't entirely sure, given that you think that attributes can be communicated between natures.

"I'm not talking about some phenomenal _endless_ life, where someone manages to dodge all the things that are harmful to his body and always to find a sufficient supply of the things that his body needs. I'm talking about _Eternal_ life. Immortality. That IS contrary to human nature. Human nature is bodily, and it is natural for bodies to be dissoluble. Even in the Garden, Adam and Eve needed food. The Immortality we will experience in Eternity is proper to God's nature, but quite alien to ours."

This is, I think, plainly wrong, or at the very least, entirely irreconcilable with Greek soteriology. It is our natural destiny to be glorified, so it's hardly unnatural when it happens. That is, in a very real sense, what humans are made to do. We aren't naturally ever-living, but we are naturally made to be ever-living. That's what theosis is.

"It is entirely Patristic in origin, and biblical to boot. Theosis is union with God, achieved for us in the work of Christ, who united God and Man in Himself so that He might defeat sin and death and become "the firstborn of many brethren," the first of a new race--human, but sharing in the divine nature all the same. Which is what we become when we are baptized into Him."

That's not a new kind of thing in the sense of a nature with new properties. It's just a new union, the mysterious interpenetration of the natures without confusion or mixture (i.e., theosis).

"I can't even imagine how you would go about distinguishing between the _communicatio_ of Theosis and that of the Incarnation, which is its model, ground, and cause. There is a _hypostatic_ difference, in that we don't get to be hypostatically identical with the Son of God, but the _communicatio idiomatum_ was never about hypostases in the first place."

The communicatio doesn't apply in the sense of attributes being communicated between natures except in the sense of hypostasis. IOW, your account is wrong (non-Chalcedonian) in both instances.

 
At 10:40 PM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

JP/CC:
"Yes, but the fact that two natures can share the same hypostasis is normally contradictory. That's what I mean by the human nature 'not having its own hypostasis.'"

Regardless of what you meant, the statement is wrong. Yes, it is normally contradictory for two natures to share the same hypostasis. Just say that, and you'll be fine. The human nature in Christ _does_ have its own Hypostasis: Christ.

JP/CC
"This is, I think, plainly wrong, or at the very least, entirely irreconcilable with Greek soteriology."

It's straight, unadulterated Augustine, which ought to mean something to you, as a Roman Catholic. Nor is it "irreconcileable with Greek soteriology." As I mentioned earlier, Athanasius quite explicitly taught what I am saying about Adam's natural mortality being held in check only by divine grace, and Cyril of Alexandria says the same thing when he says that men lost the Holy Spirit by sinning, thus losing their ward against natural mortality and their path to divinization. Human nature itself, without superadded union to God, is anything but immortal.

JP/CC:
"That's not a new kind of thing in the sense of a nature with new properties."

Not ontologically, no. But experientially, it sure is. What do I care what deficiencies my nature has, if God's nature is there to fill them up for me-the-hypostasis?

"The communicatio doesn't apply in the sense of attributes being communicated between natures except in the sense of hypostasis."

The phrase "except in the sense of hypostasis" doesn't make any sense. What you should say is, "except indirectly via the hypostasis." Note, when I said "the communicatio idiomatum has never been about hypostases," I used the plural: -es. That is, it has never been about hypostases exchanging traits with each other, but only about natures exchanging them indirectly via a common hypostasis.

See what I posted over on Pontifications for more.

 
At 3:51 AM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"Regardless of what you meant, the statement is wrong. Yes, it is normally contradictory for two natures to share the same hypostasis. Just say that, and you'll be fine. The human nature in Christ _does_ have its own Hypostasis: Christ."

OK, I'm agreeable to that.

"As I mentioned earlier, Athanasius quite explicitly taught what I am saying about Adam's natural mortality being held in check only by divine grace, and Cyril of Alexandria says the same thing when he says that men lost the Holy Spirit by sinning, thus losing their ward against natural mortality and their path to divinization. Human nature itself, without superadded union to God, is anything but immortal."

I'm not denying grace at all. My point is that it is natural for humans to have those properties by partaking of the divine nature (which is given by God purely gratuitously). Nothing in the human nature is inconsistent with participating in the divine nature.

"What do I care what deficiencies my nature has, if God's nature is there to fill them up for me-the-hypostasis?"

My point is that there is no deficiency in your nature. It is meant to be given everlasting life. That is its purpose.

"The phrase 'except in the sense of hypostasis' doesn't make any sense. What you should say is, 'except indirectly via the hypostasis.'"

In any case, the point is that the ineffable hypostatic union does not actually confer the attributes of the divine nature on the human nature, so that, for example, the human nature does not live forever by having the Godhead's property of being eternal.

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

I thought of how I could explain it in terms of the red-hot sword analogy. Think of God as the oven that generates heat. The sword receives heat from the oven because it is conductive; it is in the nature of the sword (assuming that it is not defective, such as by being rusty) to participate in the heat from the oven. The sword never acquires the natural attribute of heat generation from the oven, even though it can radiate heat to the extent that it has participated in the oven's heat. That's what theosis is.

And it's not purely a matter of participating in Christ. Moses radiated the divine light himself by contact with the divine energies (God's "back parts") and Enoch and Elijah were bodily assumed into Heaven. But those were special interventions of God, isolated cases of the divine will, while Christ's Incarnation represents a universal redemption. Obviously, for the damned, this redemption (bodily resurrection) is agony, being forced to face their rejection of God.

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

You are correct when you say that God made the Human Nature to be receptive of divine influence in a way He did not make, say, the nature of rocks, or of dogs. We were created to be divinized, yes. As St. Augustine said, "He has made us for Himself, and our hearts are ever restless until they rest in Him." But the prerogatives that come with divinization are still matters of grace, not traits of our nature, and will lead to our experiencing many things that are directly contrary to the experiences our nature alone would force us to have.

You wrote, "the human nature does not live forever by having the Godhead's property of being eternal."

Not by appropriating it, right, only by sharing it in Christ. And when Christ's body is invisibly present in the Eucharist, it is not so by appropriating the divine nature's property of being invisible and omnipresent, but only by sharing it indirectly via the actions and will of the common hypostastis: Christ. That is the Lutheran explanation.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"Not by appropriating it, right, only by sharing it in Christ. And when Christ's body is invisibly present in the Eucharist, it is not so by appropriating the divine nature's property of being invisible and omnipresent, but only by sharing it indirectly via the actions and will of the common hypostastis: Christ. That is the Lutheran explanation."

Right, and my point is that would be sharing a property that would be inimical to the human nature (more specifically, to the propery accident of bodily presence), which is confusing the natures. I don't think that we misunderstand each other at all. What you said is exactly what I find objectionable in Chemnitz's Christology (or more generally, the Lutheran account of the communicatio idiomatum). The sharing of attributes can't result in a violation of either nature; otherwise, it violates Chalcedon. You seem to be arguing that everlasting life and glorification of the body is a violation of the human nature, which strikes me as manifestly untrue. As the Greek Fathers understood it, that is exactly what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

CC/JP says:
"The sharing of attributes can't result in a violation of either nature."

Chalcedon says nothing about "violation." That's your own term, and it isn't promoting clarity in this discussion. What Chalcedon says is that the natures are not _confused_ or _changed_. That is, the humanity remains humanity, even when the Person causes it to partake in something that is not within human nature to do, e.g. coming back to life. It doesn't matter a bit if, in your subjective evaluation, this looks like some kind of "violation" to you. We do not teach that the human nature in Christ mixes with the divine nature to form some hybrid nature, nor do we teach that either nature undergoes ontological change. Therefore, we do not run afoul of Chalcedon.

"You seem to be arguing that everlasting life and glorification of the body is a violation of the human nature"

There's that word again. I haven't called anything a violation. What I said is that theosis is _contrary_ to human nature, i.e. that it causes human beings to have experiences and prerogatives that are the direct opposites of the ones they would have if simple human nature had its way with them. The fact that God planned from the beginning for the mortal one day to "put on immortality," and accordingly designed human nature with a spiritual component, does not change the fact that mortality is a trait of bodily nature, and hence also of human nature. And immortality is contrary to mortality, if the words mean anything at all.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

Just FYI, there are at least three different strains of monotheletism: that of Sergius, that of Nestorius, and that of the Eutychians. In that respect, Monotheletism is a more general term than Monophysitism, which is why I used it. But that doesn't really matter, since no matter what specification that is applied to it, the error is confusion of the natures.

"Chalcedon says nothing about 'violation.' That's your own term, and it isn't promoting clarity in this discussion. What Chalcedon says is that the natures are not _confused_ or _changed_. That is, the humanity remains humanity, even when the Person causes it to partake in something that is not within human nature to do, e.g. coming back to life. It doesn't matter a bit if, in your subjective evaluation, this looks like some kind of 'violation' to you."

You don't seem to understand that the term "confusion" means exactly what I mean by "violation," so I thought that the substitution of terms would be helpful. The characteristic attributes of each nature must be preserved entirely, so if it is contrary to human nature to be raised from the dead, then the human nature simply cannot be raised from the dead by the action of the divine will. As St. Maximus says, "According to the [hypostatic] exchange, the natural attributes of the two parts of Christ are exchanged according to the ineffable union, without a change or mixture of the natural principles." And later, "If it be an act of reverence on for thee to say that the natures are without the characteristic attributes of each, or that Christ is perfect God and perfect man without the properties that go with each perfection, then the Councils anathematize thee, and before them, the Fathers, who decreed that we should not only confess the natures but the properties of each nature as well." What you are saying simply cannot be true; nothing contrary to the nature can be given to either nature. To do so is the definition of impermissible confusion; the humanity would not "remain humanity" as you put it if it is given a contrary property.

"We do not teach that the human nature in Christ mixes with the divine nature to form some hybrid nature, nor do we teach that either nature undergoes ontological change. Therefore, we do not run afoul of Chalcedon."

It's on a property by property basis, not merely the entirety of the nature. It's not only that the entire natures are never confused; it's that no *properties* of the natures are confused either. You do run afoul of Chalcedon and Constantinople if you teach that a contrary property can be given to either nature by any means. In fact, that's exactly why monothelitism is condemned, because it confuses *properties* of the natures (namely, the divine will and the human will).

"There's that word again. I haven't called anything a violation. What I said is that theosis is _contrary_ to human nature, i.e. that it causes human beings to have experiences and prerogatives that are the direct opposites of the ones they would have if simple human nature had its way with them."

Then we'll use your term "contrary to human nature" rather than "violation." Either way, it is anathematized by Chalcedon and Constantinople.

"The fact that God planned from the beginning for the mortal one day to 'put on immortality,' and accordingly designed human nature with a spiritual component, does not change the fact that mortality is a trait of bodily nature, and hence also of human nature. And immortality is contrary to mortality, if the words mean anything at all."

Here, you should have stuck with the Greek and kept in mind the doctrine of apophaticism. The entire point was that the Godhead is utterly incomprehensible and inexpressible in human language, so that the best we can do is to say what it is not: Un-create, In-finite, Un-defined, In-comprehensible, Im-mortal. Other words specifically applied to God, like "Eternal" are similarly defined solely by being not their human counterparts ("not temporal," for example). In the theological sense, we are never Immortal or Eternal, because it can never be the case that we have always "been" (of course, even "being" does not apply to God, since He transcends that as well). What we CAN be described as having is "athanasia" (the state of being not-dying, NOT the divine state of being Im-mortal). This is because dying is not naturally necessary for being human; indeed, Adam and Eve could have been sustained by God's grace forever and yet remained human. Thus, being un-dying is not a contradiction of human nature.

On the other hand, a created thing being Immortal or Eternal in the divine sense is utterly impossible. The attributes of the human nature and the divine nature are "different kinds of things," to use St. Maximus's term. This is what St. Maximus says about the synthesis of properties:
"If thou sayest that there is a synthesis of wills, then thou shalt be forced to say that there is a synthesis of all other natural properties as well. In other words, if thou art to be consistent in thy position, [there must be a synthesis] of the Uncreate and the created, of the Infinite and the finite, of the Undefined and the defined, of the Immortal and the mortal, of the Incorruptible and the corruptible. Thus thou dost assent to a ridiculous notion."

The complete otherness of the divine essence prevents any sharing of the divine properties in the way that you are describing. Through partaking in the divine nature, the human nature is fulfilled as the image of God, but it does not become other than what it is.

To summarize, the idea that a property "contrary to nature" can be given to humanity is exactly the confusion of natures that Chalcedon forbids. If you are, in fact, admitting this as your position, then I can't see how you can consider yourself Chalcedonian.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

CC writes:

"You do run afoul of Chalcedon and Constantinople if you teach that a contrary property can be given to either nature by any means."


You persist in hearing what you want me to say, instead of hearing what I actually do say. Yes, I realize that's the only way you'll be able to continue this particular witch hunt, but it's hardly honest. I will explain once more. Please read it carefully this time:

We do NOT teach that any trait was ADDED or GIVEN to either nature in the Incarnation. We teach only that the PERSON of Christ is able at any time to act according to whatever traits of either Nature He wishes to employ, and that when He does, this will necessarily involve at least one of the two natures in an act that is contrary to its own attributes.

So kindly stop attributing to me statements such as the above.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"You persist in hearing what you want me to say, instead of hearing what I actually do say. Yes, I realize that's the only way you'll be able to continue this particular witch hunt, but it's hardly honest."

I don't accuse you of dishonesty for misunderstanding what I'm saying. Please grant me the same courtesy. Thanks.

"I will explain once more. Please read it carefully this time:"

I shall.

"We do NOT teach that any trait was ADDED or GIVEN to either nature in the Incarnation. We teach only that the PERSON of Christ is able at any time to act according to whatever traits of either Nature He wishes to employ, and that when He does, this will necessarily involve at least one of the two natures in an act that is contrary to its own attributes."

OK, I will give you the chance to explain this statement however you would like to explain it. As I understand it, in a theandric act, each nature operates according to its own respective operation. In that respect, neither nature is involved "in an act contrary to its own attributes;" rather, each nature operates according to its attributes (energeia, in this case). Thus, if an act is entirely improper to the nature (such as raising a human being from the dead), then that nature does not operate at all in the theandric action. The operations of either nature may be attributed to the person, but the operations of each nature may not be attributed to the other nature. Please explain how you would differ, if at all, from that statement.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

Okay, here is how I differ from that explanation:

We should not speak of the Natures "operating" or doing anything else. The Person is always the subject, not the Nature. It is inaccurate, for example, to describe Christ's death on the cross by saying, "The human nature died." We should say, rather, "Christ died by means of His human nature." This is a technical point, but an important one. To speak otherwise is to make Nestorian suggestions, whether one believes them or not.

Accordingly, I would change your statement, "If an act is entirely improper to the nature...then that nature does not operate at all in the theandric action," to "If any act of the Person is improper to one nature, that means He is acting according to the other nature." Thus far, I think we are agreed.

So one way for a nature to participate in an action of the Person is to be the source of the ontological traits the Person employs in that action. But there is another way: If Christ performs X in the power of His divinity, and X concerns His body in some way, His body is going to be part of X even if X is entirely beyond the capacities of human nature. When Christ willed to walk on the water, for example, the power to do so did not come from His humanity, but since the thing He willed was that He should walk bodily upon the sea, the body was included in the act, even though the act was contrary to the nature of bodies.

And that's exactly the model by which Lutheran theology understands the Real Presence in the Eucharist. The power to be present in that way does not come from the body, but since Christ has willed to be bodily present, the body is included in the act. He does not add to the Human Nature, even temporarily, the ability to be multi-present, etc. The body is involved solely via the action of the hypostasis.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"We should not speak of the Natures 'operating' or doing anything else."

I disagree a bit with that notion, because "two operations" was exactly the term used to describe the two wills. I think it's probably reasonable to say that an operation of the nature is the nature operating, although I agree that natures themselves don't "do" anything in the sense of being a subject of something done. But if you prefer "acting according to (or by means of) X nature," I think that serves as well.

"Thus far, I think we are agreed."

I believe so.

"So one way for a nature to participate in an action of the Person is to be the source of the ontological traits the Person employs in that action."

I agree.

"But there is another way: If Christ performs X in the power of His divinity, and X concerns His body in some way, His body is going to be part of X even if X is entirely beyond the capacities of human nature. When Christ willed to walk on the water, for example, the power to do so did not come from His humanity, but since the thing He willed was that He should walk bodily upon the sea, the body was included in the act, even though the act was contrary to the nature of bodies."

Here is one point where we diverge. I think your previous description is an absolutely exclusive description of how natures participate in actions; otherwise, the operations of the natures are being confused. In this case, I'd say that there is nothing contradictory to the human nature in walking on water. It certainly isn't within the natural power of human beings to walk on water, but I don't think there is any contradiction in being held suspended above water and being human. He is walking according to His human nature (levering the legs back and forth and whatnot), and He is miraculously keeping Jesus from plunging below the surface according to His divine nature. There is no proper attribute of the human nature that says that you can't be held above the water by divine force, and His Body isn't "part of" the action in any sense it wouldn't ordinarily be (viz., by taking a series of steps).

"The power to be present in that way does not come from the body, but since Christ has willed to be bodily present, the body is included in the act."

Here's the big divergence. The Body *can't* be included in this divine act, because what would be done to the Body contradicts its nature. Glorified bodies can do a lot of cool things that ordinary bodies can't do (much like trees have a lot of characteristics that seeds don't have), but they can only exist in one and only one somewhere (i.e., they are circumscribed). They can get from somewhere to somewhere else extremely quickly, and they can even go through material objects to do it, but they can't multi-locate. So if God were to will this, He would confuse the natures. He would give the Body an operation contrary to its nature, much as if He turned His Body into a fish or an anvil. That's the big Chalcedonian no-no; nothing can be done to the human nature contrary to the human nature, hypostatically or otherwise.

"He does not add to the Human Nature, even temporarily, the ability to be multi-present, etc. The body is involved solely via the action of the hypostasis."

No, but the willed mode of bodily presence contradicts the human nature. Either what is present is not His Body (proper to the human nature), or the natures are confused by the action.

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

"There is no proper attribute of the human nature that says that you can't be held above the water by divine force"

Nor is there any proper attribute of human nature that says you can't be raised from the dead, and even made to live immortally by divine power. Nor is there any proper attribute of human nature that says you can't manifest in multiple places at the same time by divine power. Really, once divine power is admitted to the question, it's silly trying to limit the options. The POINT is that none of these actions are properties of human nature. All of these actions are contrary to human nature, and a human being may engage in them only as enabled by God. It is entirely arbitrary of you to claim that multi-presence is somehow MORE contrary to human nature than immortality.

And in any case, even if I conceded your arbitrary claim, it wouldn't actually matter to the bottom line of our discussion. I have demonstrated that we do not teach a change or confusion in either nature, but rather a purely hypostatic communicatio idiomatum.

 
At 4:07 AM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"Nor is there any proper attribute of human nature that says you can't be raised from the dead, and even made to live immortally by divine power."

As I said, "imperishably" or "undyingly" is a better description, because immortality could be confused with an attribute of the divine nature, but this is basically right.

"Nor is there any proper attribute of human nature that says you can't manifest in multiple places at the same time by divine power."

The suggestion that having a circumscribed physical body is not essential to humanity is completely contrary to Paul's (and the Church Fathers') concept of bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:35-46). If the body were inessential to human nature in the manner described, then bodily resurrection would be nonsense, as it would be impossible to assert a hypostatic union between body and soul when they were separated at death.

"Really, once divine power is admitted to the question, it's silly trying to limit the options."

So God can turn His Body into a fish? How would he share our human nature in that case?

"The POINT is that none of these actions are properties of human nature."

So? No one is arguing that the human nature is capable of doing them. The problem is that you don't seem capable of distinguishing between two kinds of properties of human nature: what a human can DO, and what a human can have DONE TO HIM. There are things that humans can't do by nature, but that they can have done to them without affecting their essential nature. Other things would affect their essential nature.

"All of these actions are contrary to human nature, and a human being may engage in them only as enabled by God."

A human nature doesn't "engage in" things that are contrary to its nature at all. The point is whether what the divine nature is doing to the human nature is *contrary* to human nature, not whether it is within the sole power of the human nature. If I fly in an airplane, I'm still human. If I turn into a bird, I'm not. There's nothing arbitrary about that. One involves the definition of humanity (body and soul), and the other does not.

"It is entirely arbitrary of you to claim that multi-presence is somehow MORE contrary to human nature than immortality."

It's not the least bit arbitrary. Body and soul are essential attributes of humanity. Presence is part of the definition of what having a materially existent body is. As I mentioned before, dying is not an essential attribute to humanity. You can be human without dying. What is entirely arbitrary is for you to use the Chalcedonian concept of human nature while selectively disregarding what that actually entailed. By your argument here, there is no such thing as a human nature, because no attribute is essential to its preservation.

"And in any case, even if I conceded your arbitrary claim, it wouldn't actually matter to the bottom line of our discussion. I have demonstrated that we do not teach a change or confusion in either nature, but rather a purely hypostatic communicatio idiomatum."

If my claim is correct, then you do teach confusion, whether the communication is hypostatic or not. There are some things that simply can't be done to a body without contradicting the form of the human nature (e.g., changing it into a fish).

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Eric Phillips said...

Whatever utility this discussion may once have had has evaporated. Your recent assertions are arbitrary enough to count as special pleading. You do not understand the Definition of Chalcedon, and for that reason you are unable to make determinations regarding the Chalcedonian Orthodoxy of others.

I encourage you to run these ideas of yours past a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Patristics scholar. Maybe you'll listen to someone who isn't a Protestant. Reading a book on the theology of St. Cyril of Alexandria would also be a godo idea. I would put together a little list of suggestions for you, but I'm running short on time to finish my own Patristics dissertation, and need to put any research time to better use right now.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

"Your recent assertions are arbitrary enough to count as special pleading. You do not understand the Definition of Chalcedon, and for that reason you are unable to make determinations regarding the Chalcedonian Orthodoxy of others."

The fact that you call them special pleading without interacting with the essentiality of body and soul that I laid out rings a bit hollow. I fail to see where the essentiality of body and soul to humanity is the least bit arbitrary, and in fact, I have demonstrated to the contrary that it is essential. I can't help but feel that you would have to understand the Scriptural and patristic roots of my argument before you could determine whether I do or don't understand Chalcedon.

"I encourage you to run these ideas of yours past a Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Patristics scholar. Maybe you'll listen to someone who isn't a Protestant. Reading a book on the theology of St. Cyril of Alexandria would also be a godo idea."

I certainly shall (and in fact, I did the latter just before this discussion commenced). Alas, it is St. Maximus's explanation of St. Cyril that drove me to raising an objection, so I have serious doubts that anything will change. The entire reason that I objected to Chemnitz in the first place was that I wanted to see if there would be any significant objections to my position. Whether I convinced you or not, you certainly haven't convinced me that there are any flaws in my argument.

"I would put together a little list of suggestions for you, but I'm running short on time to finish my own Patristics dissertation, and need to put any research time to better use right now."

Ah, the infamous argument from authority. Well, I'll lock the thread so you won't be tempted. Thanks for your time.

 

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