Wednesday, March 23, 2005

You talkin' to me?

UPDATE -- Readers, be sure to check out this post after you finish reading this one. The sleeping dragon has been awakened.

I must admit that Eric Svendsen took a ... shall we say, unique? ... tack in "responding" to my posts. He never showed my beliefs were Apollinarian or Monophysite (in fact, he never interacted with my beliefs at all), although he did manage to show that a set of "RC" beliefs that he invented out of thin air were, which admittedly was quite an impressive display of his ability to write fiction in a short time frame. He also never actually denied my charge of Nestorianism, which was based on the anathemas of Second Constantinople. He did, however, make a very strong case for the possibility that the terms "Nestorianism" or "the error of Nestorius" might not be technically accurate as a description of the condemned doctrines, since there are scholars who think that Nestorius might not have actually held those beliefs. Of course, after centuries of common use, the attribution of the condemned error to Nestorius has become a matter of historical convention to facilitate communication and to preserve continuity with previous work, but I have to give Dr. Svendsen his due for being so obsessively dedicated to technical correctness that he is willing to sacrifice such petty things as common sense and practical utility. Just think, if you brought that kind of pedantry to other fields, the term "Civil War" might finally be eliminated in favor of the more descriptive "War between the States," and perhaps Fermi's Golden Rule would be credited to Dirac instead.

In all fairness, I will say that Dr. Svendsen was not only focused on matters of terminology. He also provided a rather convenient definition of Nestorianism as well:

But this is the communication of attributes gone awry, and it is something the councils specifically warned against in their prohibition against confusing the natures and in their affirmation that each nature performs only those activities appropriate to that nature. Hence Christ the man was passible—he was weak, tired, hungry, thirsty, sorrowful, felt pain and wept. In addition he grew in wisdom and was ignorant of the day and hour of the end (Matt 24:36). Can we therefore rightly say that God is passible, that he feels pain, that he is weak, that he hungers and thirsts, that his wisdom grows or that he is ignorant of the future? Doesn’t the communication of attributes allow—indeed, demand—that we be able to make such statements with impunity? Such a notion is blasphemous.

Note the classic Nestorian condemnation of the communication of attributes as blasphemy, so that nothing associated with the human nature can be attributed to the personal term "God." Any scholar would immediately recognize this as the hallmark of heretical Nestorianism. Obviously, a corollary of this position would be that God cannot be born of woman, and hence, the term "God-bearer" would be considered similarly blasphemous to the Nestorian mind. By contrast, someone who held to an orthodox conception of the communicatio idiomatum would recognize that expressions like "God-bearer" are "correct in terms of the communication of attributes" (to use Harold O.J. Brown's phrase). Thus, we see here an excellent example of how someone holding an orthodox view will recognize the distinction in natures without thereby denying the communication of attributes, while a Nestorian heretic will reject the communication of attributes based on the distinction between natures. Congratulations to Dr. Svendsen for really capturing heretical Nestorianism in just a few short sentences.

At any rate, Dr. Svendsen's somewhat-unusual style of response inspired a couple of questions on the NoTRoMan (or should I say NesToRian) Board, so I thought I'd give my $0.02 in response.

Has it been the experience of others in this forum that most internet RC's hold to a Christology similar to J. Prejean?

Since I don't even hold the Christology that Dr. Svendsen described and it seems to have been invented by Dr. Svendsen entirely on the spot, I'm going to say "no" to that one.

After completely reading through the series of blog entries concerning the interaction with JP, I can honestly say that I was utterly amazed after reading the one listed above. It makes me scratch my head and think - "What is going on"?

You know, I had exactly the same impression after seeing an entire series that never managed to address any of my points. But you really do have to appreciate that someone can have an entire dialogue with an imaginary opponent without managing to touch on the real opponent's positions at all. There are politicians who couldn't pull that one off.


At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Tim Enloe said...

Man, can I relate to this one!


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