Shibboleth

A recent fracas between Jay Dyer and Turretinfan has yeilded some results that bring to mind a biblical narrative as well as events in church history. There’s no need to reherse the the biblical narrative in Judges 12. The application in church history has been key technical terms to root out advocates of heterodoxy.  Heretics of many ages past have sought to cloak themselves behind ambiguous terms or the rejection of terms adopted by the church to encircle a divine truth to hide their heresy . As Francis Turretin, the esteemed Reformed scholastic of the seventeenth century wrote,

But it is often found that they who litigate more pertinaciously than others against the words, cherish a secret virus. It is sufficiently evident that those new corruptions of religion condemn the words adopted by the ancients for no other reason that they are unwilling to receive the things designed by them. Knowing that with the words they might abolish the doctrine also, we therefore did right in retaining them and insist on their use being not only lawful, but also beneficial and necessary for repressing the pertinacity of heretics and for bringing them out of lurking places. Institutes of Eclenctic Theology, vol. 1, 258.

Dyer and Turritanfan had been squabbling and fumbling over the Eucharist, specifically exchanging charges of heterodoxy-Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

So being characteristically me, I decided to ask Turretinfan a question.

Did a divine person suffer and die on the cross or no?

My question was obviously a test to see if he could confess as a Calvinist, orthodox Christology. The two natures are united in one divine person, which is not itself the product or result of the union, but rather takes up into himself human nature. Turritanfan’s answer was rather telling.

Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross.

I asked a follow up question to the effect of, this only answers my question if I already know that you think Jesus is a divine person. Is Jesus a divine person who suffered and died? But my follow up question was denied posting rights. Needless to say, his answer is inadequate since it can easily cloak a heterodox understanding. There are a few possibilities here. Perhaps he doesn’t wish to get “sidetracked” with a discussion on Christology. (So much for being Christ centered.) Maybe he is genuinely unsure how to answer the question or maybe he knows what I am asking and doesn’t in fact adhere to Chalcedonian Christology. Only he could clarify. But I have run into this kind of refusal to utter the shibboleths of orthodoxy far too often by Calvinists to think its just plain old ignorance. Turritinfan it seems isn’t enough of a fan after all.

As to the conceptual matters, the Nestorians admitted one “person” of Jesus Christ. They also admitted that things true of his humanity could be spoken of this one “person” with no communication of energies. What they would not admit was that this one “person” was the eternal Son, the divine Logos and so it was impossible for them to admit that God suffered, died or was born. Hence their aversion to the term Theotokos. In their view, the “person” Jesus Christ was the product or result of the union of the two natures. This is why it is possible to give an unorthodox reading to the statement that after the Incarnation Jesus is a composite hypostasis. That could mean that the person is the product of the two natures coming into union or it could mean that the one divine person takes human nature into his divine person. The latter is orthodox while the former is heterodox. Consequently, there is no divine-human person of Christ, as the Westminster Confession apparently and erroneously teaches, when it states,

“So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man. (WCF 8.2)

That this heterodox view has substantial roots in the Reformed tradition cannot be denied. Reformed theologian Bruce McCormack brings this out nicely in citations in a past post I wrote here. (Just scroll down to the material starting from Bruce McCormack and start reading from there.)  It is unfortunate that this heterodoxy makes its way into semi-popular works about Orthodoxy from Reformed writers as if it were the western theological position. Notice Donald Fairbairn in his Eastern Orthodoxy: Through Western Eyes,

Western theologians generally state that at the incarnation, divine and human natures were combined in an inexpressible union into a single person. This idea is connected to the Western way of describing the Trinity. Westerners emphasize the essence or nature of God to such a degree that we envision this nature as an entity itself, which could be combined with a human nature to make the person of Christ. 61

Now whatever defects Leo’s Tome may have, representing classical western Christology, this is not explcitly one of them. This is not the western theological tradition. It is not taught by Catholicism, Anglicanism or Lutheranism in their historic and representative documents and advocates. It is flat out Nestorianism. (You can find similar nonsense in Harold O. J. Brown’s work Heresies.) But Fairbairn is rather sloppy since on the very next page he speaks of this as being the view of “modern western theologians.” I have no idea who he thinks this view is to be attributed to since he gives no references.  But the fact that he could write as if this is the unquestioned western theological view is beyond disturbing. Of course, linked with McCormack’s comments referenced above with both authors coming out of the Reformed tradition, indicate again the troubling nature of “Reformed” Christology. Notice again McCormack’s important comments,

For Reformed Christians, it is not simply Chalcedon which defines “orthodoxy” within the realm of Christological reflection; it is Chalcedon as interpreted by the Reformed Confessions. 

This is why Reformed affirmations of adherence to Chalcedon’s Christology are vaccuous. The two are not compatible. So you have to pick-Chalecondian Christology or Reformed distinctives.

So I’ll ask again.

Turretinfan, did a divine person suffer and die on the cross?

32 Responses to Shibboleth

  1. ? says:

    Did a divine person suffer and die on the cross or no?

    Did a divine person fail to be omniscient or no?

    Did a divine person die or no?

  2. Chris says:

    You nailed TurretinFan on this one. He is a long time equivocator on this issue. (And others!).

  3. Garrison Keillor’s “Songs of the Cat”, lol. It’s been a while since I played that CD.

    “The town’s meat tasted furry for a week.”

  4. Jonathan

    But the cat came back, the very next day…
    I suppose I wasn’t clear on you rlimitation to post-reformation figures. I can go there too. The list you cited isn’t exhaustive as you know.

    As for Calvin, surleyhe wasn’t perfct, but that doesn’t mean he gets a pass when he teaches major heterodox views. His language is classically Nestorian just at the crucial points. And to be honest, the Reformed racke us over the coals for denying sola fide and other later developments but hey, Calvin makes a major goof in Christology, but no biggie? That’s a howler.

    2. Ok, fair enough.

    3. Davis doesn’t offer the same definition of the communicatio. He speaks of a transfer of properties which is what the Reformed deny. There is no exchange of properties, burt only an exchange of names. Can we say, Nominalism? As forPelikan, i don’t have it handy, but I’ll take a look. In anycase, An appeal to authority is only as good as the argument that the authority gives. If Pelikan is wrong, then it doesn’t matter what he says, right?

    4. Quite right that Muller and Berkhof don’t see it as incompatible with Chalcedon. How does it follow that it is compatible? It doesn’t. And on their face, Berkhof’s comments are signficantly troubling. Humanity can’t be deified? Really? What about the deification of Christ’s humanity then? What about the Resurrection?? And what does the uniy of the hypostatic union consist if there can be no interpenetration and the union is effected by a divine person in an intrinsic relation?

    5. Surely, but Cyril was the touchstone of Chalcedon, which is why Leo’s Tome had to be compared to it to ensure it was orthodox. And Alexander of Alexandria wasn’t the only voice at Nicea either. The Arians were there too. And?? The consistent patristic Cyrillian and Neo-Chalcedonian witness is to a transfer of energies, not merley names.

  5. Jonathan Bonomo says:

    Perry,

    After this I’m done. This is clearly a waste of time, and I don’t have the time to waste even if I did have any confidence that prolonging the discussion would be in any way productive.

    1. I thought I was clear that I’m talking here about post-reformation doctors. Calvin wasn’t perfect, and I admit his views here are not clearly defined. That doesn’t mean I think he was Nestorian in any sense, just that his language is uncareful at points.

    2. What you call an *appeal* to what I have seen was only meant as an attempt to be honest about the fact that I haven’t read everything.

    3. I don’t recall ever saying that there is no one who would agree with what you’ve said on the communicatio, only that you don’t have a *monopoly* there. Davis offers the same definition of the communicatio I have given in the back of his First 7 Ec. Councils. Pelikan in the section of Credo which deals with the person of Christ acknowledges that the Reformed have a valid claim to Chalcedon (if I recall correctly, it is torward the end of the section).

    4. I’m aware of the treatments of both Muller and Berkhof. Interestingly, I don’t see either of them saying that the Reformed gloss is non-Chalcedonian. It is only the case if I grant your premise that only those who agree with you on the communicatio are Chalcedonian, which premise I (as Muller and Berkhof) simply do not grant.

    5. As you know, the Cyrillians are not the only voices represented in Chalcedon.

    6. I read McCormack’s analysis when it was originally posted and found it unconvincing. I didn’t say that I haven’t read it, just that I don’t have the time to offer a full interaction on it.

  6. Jonathan,

    Well Is Calvin outside the mainstream? How about the Helvetic Confession? Appealing to what you have seen kind of smacks of anecdotal evidence.

    As I noted above, I’ll do a separate post on turrretin and co. specifically in what McCormack and otherts have brought out. So far though,you have left untouched the material from Calvin and others.

    In any case, you are certainly mistaken about the communicatio. Let me cite Muller for you.

    “Whereas the greatest difference betwneen the Lutherans and the Reformed appears in the genus maiestaticum, which the Reformed utterly reject, we note that the Reformed view of the communicatio, which tends to be restricted to the genus idiomaticum, approarches the communication more as a praedicatio verbalis, or verbal predication, of idiomata from both natures of the person, whereas the Lutheran view insists that the person actually bears the idiomata of both natures. The Reformed, in addition, do not view the apostelesmata, or shared operations, of the natures as a genus of the communicatio idiomatum but as a separate communicatio apostelesmatum according to which the distinct operations of both natures are brought to completion in the one work of Christ. Thus, Lutheran teaching is a real communicatio while the Reformed, remaining at the level of a communicatio in concreto only, is quite accuratley called antidosis onomaton, a mutual interchange of reciprocation of names, rather than a transfer of communication of properties…” Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, 74.

    or Berkhof

    “We must be careful not to understand the term [communicatio idiomatum] to mean that anything peculiar to the divine nature was communicated to the human nature , or vice versa; or that there is an interpenetation of the two natures, as a result of which the divine is humanized, and the human deified (Rome). The deity cannot share in human weaknesses; neither can man participate in any of the essential perfections of the Godhead.” Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 324.

    Do you have a reference for Davis and Pelikan, because I don’t think they say a mere exchange of names is Chalcedonian? And besides, appeals to authority are only as good as the arguments they make. Cyril and others explicitly speak of a transfer of energies, not of mere names.

    McCormack doesn’t accuse the Reformed tradition of it, he advocates it. And I’d think that until you’ve read his analysis, it’d be best to reserve judgment about might color his analysis, lest it be understood as an ad hom and posioning the well.

  7. Jonathan Bonomo says:

    Perry,

    Well, you’ve already admitted that Chalcedon can be wrongly misunderstood. I’d claim the same for Westminster, and I do so on the basis of the best expounders of the post-Reformation Reformed tradition. All the historic Reformed theologians that I know of do teach that the person of Christ consists of two natures *only* in the sense that he takes humanity into union with his divine hypostasis. (There may be some exceptions of which I am unaware, but given my current depth of reading in the relevant materials, I’d suggest that if there are they are not within the main-stream of the dogmatic tradition.)

    This is the import of the statements of Turretin, Bavinck, and Charles Hodge which I’ve already cited. I’ll add to them A.A. Hodge who, commenting specifically on the disputed passage in Westminster, states,

    “There are, in Christ, therefore, two natures, but one person; a human as well as a divine nature, but only a divine person. His humanity began to exist in the womb of the virgin, but his person existed from eternity.” (Commentary on the confession, banner of truth, 141)

    I’m not quite sure how our dogmaticians could be any more precise on these points.

    Further, on the communicatio: I’m sorry, but you simply don’t have a monopoly on the market there. Leo Davis, for one, would disagree, as he defines the communicatio in exactly the same terms which I have above. Pelikan also admits to the Reformed a valid claim to Chalcedonian orthodoxy.

    And I wasn’t making an ad hom argument about McCormack. I was simply acknowledging the fact (in passing, mind you) that one’s theological persuasion can often color how one chooses to read and cite texts (I’d say the same of myself, of course). Whether or not this is actually the case with regard to McCormack on this particular point, I do not know. I was simply voicing suspicion, as I simply do not see the Reformed Christological tradition as teaching anything like what you, or he, have been accusing it of.

  8. Jonathan,

    1. Your point would only have force if we ignored the historical context and usage of such terms in the theology of the Reformers and the Westminster divines. Pointing out key problematic phrases in a wider theological context doesn’t amount to isolating a passage form its context, but just the opposite.

    Secondly, even if doesn’t speak of the person being a product of theunion explicilty, doyou know of anyother way we can speak of the hypostasis as a divine and human hypostasis? As for consisting of two naures,that is exactly the point. Christ can only be said to consist of two natures in a secondary sense in so far as he takes humanity into his divine hypostasis, which precludes speaking of Christ as a divine/human person. The only way you can get to the latter is by thinking that the hypostasis is a product of the union, explicitly OUT of two natures, as Calvin wrote contra Chalcedon.

    2. The point about the communicatio idiomatum was that the defective Christology I am pointing out is a necessary condition for the Reformed gloss of the communiatio being verbal. This is why the Lutherans rightly freaked out about it. The idea of the hypostasis being out of two natures is a necessary condition for thinking that the communicatio is verbal.

    3. I pointed out that the Reformed tradition is not monolithing since it seemed you were using a double standard. When I pointed this problem out, the reply was that no one in the Reformed tradition thought so (which is factually false anyhow) as if the tradition was monolithic. I don’t need it to be monolithic, I only need these problems to be representative and essential parts of a Reformed outlook.

    McCormack’s background in Barth is irrelevant and is an ad hom. He is also an adequately trained historical theologian. If he is mistaken, then he is mistaken on the facts and his argumente relevant to them and not because he wrote a book on Barth.

    Besides, Barth;s probject seems quite distinct form his own christological outlook as Barth was attempting to bring the Reformed tradition into line with Chalcedonian Christology, which is why he has all that funky stuff about eveyr man being in Christ, either elect or damned.

  9. Jonathan Companik says:

    Jay: I don’t actually think we discussed the Eucharist. I think he mentioned it once.

    Jonathan: I think Perry was thinking of our dialogue on the Eucharist, and confused it with your dialogue with Turretinfan.

  10. Jonathan Bonomo says:

    Perry,

    A few brief thoughts, and then I must devote this weekend to other things. And I’m pretty sure that the coming week will be too busy to re-enter this discussion, so this will most likely be my last reply.

    1. I didn’t touch on Westminster specifically because I figured that my interpretation of it would be fairly clear from what I stated above, particularly the 3rd paragraph of my first comment. I admit that the isolated statement which you’ve pulled from Westminster is somewhat ambiguous, but the preceding statement of the Confession makes it clear that the divine Person assumed a human nature, and does not say anything about the person of Christ being the product of the union. As it is, the statement cited need not say what you accuse it of saying, need not be taken in any sense other than that the one incarnate Person consists of two natures.

    2. I’m pretty sure you know that the fact that you disagree with the Reformed articulation of the communicatio idiomatum is no shocking revelation to me. But I did not comment here to discuss the communicatio. I came here simply to address the assertion that the Reformed hold that the person of the incarnate Christ is the product of the union of the two natures.

    3. I agree that the Reformed tradition is not monolithic. But, if you admit this to be the case, why did you write a post accusing the entire Reformed communion of holding that the person of Christ is the product of the union?

    Nevertheless, while admitting that the Reformed are not monolithic, there are certain things which were taught early on which came to be rejected later, such as Zwingli’s abberant Christological and sacramental views. I don’t know a *whole lot* about McCormack, and like I said I don’t have the time to interact fully with the article you linked, but it wouldn’t surprise me if, as a neo-orthodox theologian, Barth’s affinity for Zwingli in these areas did not condition McCormack’s thinking somewhat.

  11. Jonathan,

    Well all sides admit a non-personal nature was assumed, even Nestorius. This is why I put “person” in quotes. So your comments really don’t go far in answering the charge.

    2nd, the Reformed gloss on the communicatio just is the Nestorian gloss for the most part-see McGuckin. It is a verbal predication only whereas Chalcedonian Christology posits a transfer of energies. I’d suggest by taking a peek at say Muller’s Dictionary entry on this or say David Scaer’s 6th chapter of Christology in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series or heck, just plain old Berkhof.

    I think it a bit too convenient to toss up the wall of THE Reformed tradition. As your compatriots are fond of informing me, the Reformed tradition is “hardly monolithic.”

    Later on, I’ll draw out Bavinck, Hodge and Turretin in a separate post. Perhaps you can return and comment for that. But as for your charge that no truely Reformed and informed persn holds what I charge, that is clearly false. McCormack alone is sufficient to show that charge to be false and there’s Fairbairn as well other contemporary scholars.

    I could also add the Second Helvetic Confession which speaks of two “hypostases” coming together. And you left untouched the problematic wording from the WCF.

    Of course there’s these gems from Calvin,

    “We therefore hold that Christ, as he is God and man consisting of two natures united but not mingled is our Lord and the true Son of God even according to, but not by reason of his humanity.” ICR, 2,15,4

    or again

    “For we affirm his divinity so joined and united with his humanity that each retains its distintive nature unimpaired, and yet these two natures constitute one Christ.” ICR 2,15,1

    or again

    Now the old writers defined ‘hypostatic union’ as that which constitutes one person out of two natures. this expression was devised to refute the delusion of Nestorius, because he imagined that the Son of God so dwelt in the flesh that he was not man also.” ICR 2, 15,5.

    Calvin’s grasp of Nestorius’ fault is confused at best and he inadvertaintly attributes to orthodox writers Nestorius’ actual position. Notice that the union is that which constitutes OUT of the two natures. That’s not Chalcedonian Christology my friend but something else and its rather obvious.

    There’s plenty more confusion in Ursinus, Vermigli and other writers on this point. So, I am not buying your argument and I stand by what I wrote until shown otherwise.

  12. Jonathan Bonomo says:

    Perry,

    I don’t have the time or the desire to interact with McCormack. I said what I felt the need to say on the matter. The second person of the Holy Trinity in the incarnation assumed an impersonal human nature. The *person* of Jesus Christ is not the *product* of the incarnation. This is the Reformed position. Interact with my comments however you wish.

    I will, however, offer a brief answer to your question on the communicatio. But I’m sure you could anticipate it: The Reformed teach that whatever may be predicated of either nature may, by virtue of the union, be predicated of the person. We reject that the properties unique to either nature are tranfered to the other, for we see this as involving confusion/mixture.

  13. Jonathan,

    I am well aware of what Bavinck, Hodge and Turretin say as I own all of them as well as other sources. But before I write a treatment concerning them, perhaps you could explain to me andothers here, why Bruce McCormack writes what he does in the comments I linked in the post. That might prove helpful in evaluating your charge that I am attacking a strawman.

    It might also prove helpful if you explained from your view the communicatio idiomatum, specifically in relation to the Reformed-Lutheran Christological dispute on this very same point.

    I look forward to your reply.

  14. Jonathan Bonomo says:

    I don’t have much desire/time to enter fully into the Reformed bashing party here, but a little air does need clearing. I’ll try to be as brief as possible so ya’ll can resume the beat down on your straw men.

    The assertion that the Reformed tradition holds that the person of Jesus Christ is the *product* of the hypostatic union is erroneous. I’m not aware of any historic, confessional Reformed dogmatician who holds to a view such as Perry, willy-nilly, thrusts upon the entire communion here. Even Charles Hodge (in my view among the most Nestorian-leaning of the Reformed) is rather clear in his ST that the personality of the incarnate Christ is to be located solely in the divine Logos, and that the human nature is impersonal: “It was a divine person, not merely a divine nature, that assumed humanity… hence it follows that the human nature of Christ, separately considered, is impersonal” (2.391). Bavinck makes the same point (3.305), as well does Turretin (3.311-313). More witnesses could be multiplied, but these three should suffice.

    When Reformed theologians speak of a divine-human person, they emphatically *do not* mean that the personality of Christ is the product of the union. Actually, what they mean is nothing but what Chalcedon itself clearly teaches (and which is Perry’s second option above in the possible interpretations of Chalcedon on Christ as a composite hypostasis), namely that the one incarnate *Divine* Person has taken human nature into union with himself and therefore possesses both a complete divine and a complete human nature. What we are not saying is that there is a new person formed from the union. We agree just as much as you that such a view is heterodox.

    As it is, historic Reformed theology wholeheartedly embraces both that Mary is Theotokos and that God was born, suffered, and died. I for one, as a Presbyterian, taught a Sunday School course this year during Advent on Chalcedon wherein I argued quite emphatically for the propriety of both propositions, and just as emphatically that anything else betrays a heterodox Christology. My Pastors were present and agreed wholeheartedly.

    And it’s pretty clear to me in studying the history of Reformed dogmatics that anyone who denies these things is not really Reformed (at least if we’re defining “Reformed” as the consensus of the Reformed churches seen in the 16th and 17th century Reformed doctors and Confessions). It is quite lamentable that American Evangelicals with a high view of divine sovereignty (such as John Piper, James White, Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, etc.) have basically highjacked the term. It’s actually kind of insulting.

    So, if you want to know what the historic Reformed churches believe, go to our recognized confessions and doctors… *do not* listen to folks with a blog who know little of the Reformed tradition beyond Spurgeon, R.C. Sproul, and James White.

    And as for the question, “did a divine person suffer and die on the cross?” From this confessional Presbyterian seminarian: emphatically, YES.

  15. Jay Dyer says:

    I don’t actually think we discussed the Eucharist. I think he mentioned it once.

  16. Pat,

    They would say that the imputation isn’t necessary for the beatific vision I suspect, but progressive sanctification is. Of course I don’t think the Reformed make a distinction between santifying and efficacious grace either.

    From the Orthodox perspective, we don’t believe in a beatific vision in the first place. As for purgatory, part of the problem is that it is represented as purgation coming through a created flame, rather than divine glory.

  17. photios says:

    Nominalism and Augustinism. I don’t see how you can have the former without the latter. What does it do to language when we say that all the divine names are convertible to the divine essence? Nominalism largely grew out of that debate. Why did Ockham say that a ‘relation is nothing that exists in reality?’

  18. photios says:

    Perry,
    But is Rome ‘Neo-Chalcedonian’? Which line did they follow in reading Chalcedon? Why did Rome make up the term ‘neo-chalcedonian’ in the first place? They obviously wanted to create differentiation between what Justinian was doing, which was the authentic doctrine, and what they think the actual teaching of Chalcedon is. For us, the 5th Council is the purification of what the 4th Council taught because the Nestorianizers were accepting the decree too. Now who were the Westerners defending prior to and up to the 5th Council in their refusal to condemn the three chapters? That very Theodore of Mopsuestia, this is because the west had a largely Nestorianized reading of the Council. The 5th Council has almost no use in their theological teaching, except as an opportunity to blast one of the Church’s greatest theologians (Justinian). They are comfortable with Theodore, even if not following him all the way explicitly, because of the similar ORDO THEOLOGIAE. And I do not believe Theodore’s problem was a problem of grammatical-historical exegesis (which I think is capable of taking into account typological motifs). Look how Photios handles the Carolingians. He implies that they are gnostics because they change the intention of what our Lord stated.

    Photios

  19. photios says:

    Pat,

    From a Reformed perspective, God sanctifies those whom he justifies. This is governed by their strong doctrine of predestination. Their problem with purgatory is not with the idea of purgation per se, but the idea that we have to go under satispassio to alleviate divine justice.

    Photios

  20. Photios,

    I think in the case of the Reformed it has more to do with their Nominalism than their Augustinian background. The Reformed as you well know are not purely Augustinian as is evidenced by their sin/grace dialectic.

    Sola Scrtiptura would help them if perhaps they truely practiced it or if it was possible to do so. They are guided in their exegesis by philosophical and theological presuppositions, a good number of which harken back to Theodore of Mopsuestia. In effect they have an oral tradition. This I think is verified in the case of Reformed views on typology in the OT and its relation to NT fulfillment. As for tradition and SS, that can be plainly seen in the filioque. The only Reformation body to take serious steps towards removing the Filioque were the Anglicans in the 19th and early twentieth century and they met with marginal success at best. If the Reformed really strained at practicing Sola Scriptura, the Filioque would face serious challengesm but if you bring it up to their laymen and clergy, they knee jerk defend it as if it were set in stone beyond exegetical challenge. The irony is that of all the things to protest as a manifestation of unilateral papal power to alter major Christian doctrines, you’d think that Protestants would howl louder than the hounds of hell, but instead you can’t hear so much as a squeak of a church mouse.

    I do agree that Rome relocates the problems in a good number of the explications made by her theologians. That said, I think it is akin to questions on evil and providence. Calvinism is worse than Thomism, even though with respect to the problem of freedom, evil and divine goodness at the end of the day, the different busses drop you off at the same general location. Thomism is a softer blow, but its still a punch.

  21. Pat says:

    I’ve always wanted to ask Reformed and Lutheran and all Protestants really if Sanctifying Grace is necessary to achieve the beatific vision. I am admittedly “dumb” about all of this, however, it seems if they say ‘No,Sanctifying Grace is not necessary (as many seem to say) then they should have a robust belief in Purgatory to deal with the sin that inheres in the “believer” as they understand it. If they say, “Yes, it is necessary then the whole Imputed righteousness Alone doctrine is meaningless. Any help on this for this simple observer?

    Pat

  22. photios says:

    I disagree completely. It’s just lip service to a decree that is inherently non-philosophical. All they are doing is masking and relocating their problem. In fact, the Reformed position is the very product of that philsophical Romanist problem. The problem lies with Rome, not the Reformed. The Reformed are a mere casualty to the situation: positionally and traditionally of the broader Augustinian tradition. Their adherence to sola scriptura should naturally relieve them of the problem. The truths of scripture cut the legs right out from under man’s philosophies, and they are largely incompatible.

  23. Photios,

    To be fair, Rome is not overtly nestorian or nestorianizing as the Reformed are. And Rome called them on it long ago, as did the Lutherans. Further, Rome has at her disposal sophisticated accounts of the assumption. One short one is by Taille, S.J., The Hypostatic Union and created ACtuation by Uncreated Act. I don’t agree with it, but it isn’t overtly Nestorian either.

  24. photios says:

    The sad fact of this is that Jay and Roman Catholicisim are no less Nestorian by my lights. How is the composite (humanity) going to exist in that which is a relation of the absolutely simple? The absolutely simple cannot admit of compositeness or a compound hypostasis. It would have to be related to it (human nature) extrinisically. And it would seem that that relation would have to be another appearance (Jesus Christ) or person.

  25. Carl says:

    This topic is very interesting to me. I left the reformed faith about one year ago to become Orthodox. As a Calvinist, I had never considered the implications of my Christology though it always bothered me how much time was spent in sermons reminding us how bad we were. Any hope of real change, real progress, in my journey toward Christ-like-ness was minimized. The grace of the Sacraments really had no effect in every life. All that mattered, it seemed, was that, positionally (forensically) I was justified but I was still a miserable sinner.

    I see in NeoChalcedonian’s comments this same perspective. There can be no real, ontological changes to my human nature…no hope of progress toward Theosis in this life since Christ is not in the business of transforming our human nature.

    So, am I correct in say that human nature, once God begins transforming it through grace, DOES NOW HAVE “the power to be good, righteous and acquire salvation” because of the Incarnation?

    Forgive me, I’m just beginning to learn.

  26. Neo,

    It has application in a number of ways, but most direclty in monergism. The single hypostatic will of the union, being divine determines and subordinates the human will, which is carried over to soteriology with God subordinating the will of humans.

    Second with the communicatio idiomatum being merely something verbal rather than a transfer of energies, something can be “truely” said of the “person” while not strictly true. There is therefore a forensic element present with the taxonomy not grounded in the reality. An exchange of names carries over to the transfer of moral credit ungrounded in the soul of its recipient.

    It also carries over to iconography. The main Reformed theological objection, like that of the iconoclasts was that iconodulism turned on Nestorianism since by representing the person of Christ in his humanity and not his divinity they would be separating these two. But this is only so if the hypostasis is a resulting composite of the union of the human and the divine. The irony is that the iconoclasm itself presupposes a Nestorian conception of union.

  27. (cont.)

    The guiding principle of Reformed theology, Christology and anthropology seems to be that what is predicable of the divine or human natures in general must be absolutely identical to what is predicable of specific divine or human persons. Therefore, I cannot say that a divine person suffered & died without saying that the divine nature suffered & died and I cannot say that any specific human persons can be good, righteous through their own actions without saying that human nature has the power to be good, righteous, etc. of itself, considered apart from God.

  28. Perry,

    I feel like the conceptual distinction at work in Reformed Christology must reappear in theological anthropology, especially with respect to human fall and salvation, but I am not clear on how. I will try to “think through” the Reformed model as I understand it.

    (1) Did a divine person suffer & die on the cross?

    Natures are the subjects of actions and “Christ” is a compound of divine & human natures and the divine nature cannot suffer & die. The human nature of Christ suffered and died.

    (2) Can human persons perform acts that are good, righteous and with salvific benefit?

    No, because the human nature lacks the power to be good, righteous and acquire salvation. The divine nature alone possesses these powers; humanity can only possess them forensically by the divine nature authoritatively *declaring* human natures to be such. To assert that humans *become* good, righteous, etc. is to confuse human nature with the divine nature.

  29. Neo,

    Expand and clarify.

  30. Perry,

    How does Reformed soteriology plug into this discussion, for we might ask can a “fallen” human person become the righteousness of God?

  31. Turretinfan does seem to equivocate on this issue.

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