Why I’m Not Roman Catholic Or Eastern Orthodox Part 2; Theses 21-40

  1. In the traditional language generic things such as a unicorn had an ousia and a physis. It was not understood to actually exist because it had no hypostasis. In the same way, if the generic human nature of Christ has an ousia and a physis but no hypostasis, how can it be said to be real? Therefore, the hypostatic construction is docetic and at best semi-docetic. Cyril’s answer here is to say that the human nature received its hypostasis from the Logos. But this avoids the issue. The issue is not the source of the hypostasis but the possible existence of it. Secondly, McGuckin contradicts himself and Cyril on pages 206-207 regarding the definition of person. In an exposition of Cyril’s construction he says, “neither the soul nor the Nous nor the flesh is the real substrate of the person, but the divine hypostasis which has imaged itself in the human hypostasis.” But I thought the human didn’t have its own hypostasis. The single subjectivity of the hypostatic union posits a generic nature who is not an individual man and is therefore notional and not real. Patristics like to criticize Reformed imputational soteriology as having nominalist leanings, yet they fall prey to clear nominalism here.
  1. Defining “person” as a subject is weak denotation at best. A rock can be the subject of a sentence but it is not a person. The lack of a connotative definition is a glaring whole in the Patristic theory. Using the term “reality” is also a problem. Is a dream a reality?
  1.  On page 183 McGuckin admits that Cyril was never able to meet Apollinaris’ objection to Cyril’s view of person:

“It remains to be seen whether he [Cyril] was able to meet the challenge Apollinaris had posed any more successfully than he; that is, how the existence of a soul in Christ could be reconciled with a single-subject Christology.”

  1. The hypostatic construction clearly mixes the essences of human and divine. Cyril says in, Third letter of Cyril to Nestorius,

“This we receive not as ordinary flesh, heaven forbid, nor as that of a man who has been made holy and joined to the Word by union of honour, or who had a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and real flesh of the Word [ut vere vivificatricem et ipsius Verbi propriam factam.].”

I want to know: 1. How the human nature could be not of a man and at the same time be our nature? 2. How it could be not that of a man, be “life giving” and at the same time, not be divine? (John 6:63) The body of Jesus is efficacious in the sacrament to improve the sanctification of the believer (Divine yet again). His body is the real flesh of the Word (Divine yet again). The union was of such a nature that the divine imputed attributes of a life giving character to the human (The language of “true flesh” is ambiguous).

        1. It must be admitted and has been admitted by Eastern Orthodox teachers themselves that Cyril is rejected on this point in the Council of Chalcedon under the clause that the natures are without mixture. This is distinctly Nestorius’ view. These people are totally confused.
        1. Cyril was unable to deal consistently with Messiah’s suffering. Anathema 4 says,

“If anyone distributes between the two persons or hypostases the expressions used either in the gospels or in the apostolic writings, whether they are used by the holy writers of Christ or by him about himself, and ascribes some to him as to a man, thought of separately from the Word from God, and others, as befitting God, to him as to the Word from God the Father, let him be anathema.”

Yet he says in his Letter of Cyril to John of Antioch about peace,

“Furthermore we all confess that the Word of God is impassible though in his all-wise economy of the mystery he is seen to attribute to himself the sufferings undergone by his own flesh. So the all-wise Peter speaks of “Christ suffering for us in the flesh” and not in the nature of his unspeakable godhead.”

Here he distributes between the natures, violating his own anathema.

        1. The Ecumenical councils contradict themselves regarding the union. In

Constantinople 553, The Capitula of the Council VII the two natures are said to be in one. The section immediately begins by acknowledging Chalcedon’s one person “in two natures” (Defintion of Faith) and then turns it around and says two natures in one (implied person). The construction of Chalcedon is an inconsistent compromise between Nestorius’ strongest arguments and Cyril’s. Nestorius is downed because Church politics demanded the threat of Constantinople be removed by Pope Celestine. It was Rome vs. Constantinople not just Nestorius vs. Cyril.  Cyril’s “Mia Physis” itself rejects two natures in one person. At the fourth session of Chalcedon “in two natures” was rejected (McGuckin 235) however due to Marcian’s threats it was settled as the default reading since there was nothing else anyone could agree on. (McGuckin 235, 236) Yet anchoretic Christians think these councils were especially inspired of the Holy Spirit. Why then were they unable to construct a positive definition? On page 240 McGuckin explains that Chalcedon means that “Christ is made known (to the intellect) in two natures.” Not that he is really in two natures. If that’s the kind of sneaky subtle religion that the Easterners want they can have it. Cyril’s “one Incarnate nature of the divine Word” was clearly rejected by Chalcedon 451 A.D.  Yet many, if I can say most, Cyrilians thought Chalcedon was Nestorian. Alan Spence says,

“How then are we to characterize the Definition of Chalcedon? Drawing on both traditions  it presented in confessional form the elements necessary for an adequate or comprehensive Christology, which included the substantial unity of Christ’s person and the full and active reality of both his manhood and his Godhead. It is therefore a misunderstanding, I believe, to view it as a framework within which a number of orthodox Christologies (including the Alexandrian and Antiochene formulations) are possible.  On the contrary, there was no Christology to hand which was able to incorporate coherently its various elements. Therein lay the Definition’s essential instability and the theological reason why the controversy lingered on in the centuries beyond Chalcedon with such tragic consequences for the unity of the Church.”[1]

        1. A Communication of attributes would destroy a true human nature. Owen says,

“It is granted, that the Lord Christ having a human nature, which was a creature.  Nor do any men fancy such a transfusion of divine properties into the human nature of Christ, as that it should be self-subsisting, and in itself absolutely immense; for this would openly destroy it.”[2]

        1. The idea that the flesh of Christ is life giving (Anathema 11) is refuted by Messiah when he says, John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
        1. The early councils are scandalous. The councils explicitly forbid marriage, which is a clear mark of apostasy per 1 Tim 4:1-5. Prohibitions of marriage are found in the first council of Nicea in the Proposed Action on Clerical Celibacy in the notes section per Hefele, Chalcedon 452 canon 15-16, and Council of Ancyra A.D. 314 Canon 10. I will be content to agree with Clement in Stromata, Book 3.45 when he calls this teaching antichrist. Therefore, why should we care what they say about Christology?
        1. The hypostatic construction is referred to as paradoxical (John A. McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria, 154, 177, 185, 187, 191, 195, 201, 221). Paul Gavrilyuk in The Suffering of the Impassible God admits that predicating suffering of the Logos is a paradox (62-64, 134).[3]

This leaves the Bible without a defense and removes the validity of the exclusive nature of the Bible’s religion as it leaves the door open for every false religion in the world to defend itself with the excuse of paradox. James Anderson’s Paradox in Christian Theology admits this when he says,

“If it turns out that adherents of the latter two religions [Judaism and Islam] can mirror the Christian’s appeal to mystery in defense of their own paradoxical teachings, then this is the price to be exacted for reconciling orthodox Christian doctrines with the rationality of Christian faith. In my estimation, it is a price worth paying.”[4]

How insulting then is it not only to Elohim, but to unbelievers when we go around telling people we are the only true religion and all other religions lead to hell, to eternal destruction, but we can’t demonstrate the superiority of it? Isn’t that what Elohim was demonstrating in Exodus when after turning a rod into a snake he devoured the other two snakes to show his dominant power over the mystic paradoxical religion of the pagans?

        1. When attempts have been made to solve the paradoxes, per Thomas V. Morris’ The Logic of God Incarnate, a two mind view is usually the proposed solution. Shedd also posits this view when he says “he has two modes or forms of consciousness.” (Dogmatic Theology Vol. 2, 267). On pages 306-307 Shedd says again,

“In the one person of Jesus Christ, consequently, there are two different kinds of consciousness or experience: one divine and one human. But these two kinds of consciousness do not constitute two persons, any more than the two kinds of experience or consciousness, the sensous and the mental, in a man, constitute him two persons.”

This is just semantics and sophistry to skirt around the Nestorian position. Shedd says again, “The Logos in himself knew the time of the day of judgment, but he did not at a particular moment make that knowledge a part of the human consciousness of Jesus Christ.” (273) This is much like Morris’ view. (McGuckin said that he did know it but said this for economic reasons. This shows the inherent difference in the union between protestant and patristic and if the effects change the cause changes, therefore a different Christology is needed).

In an exposition of Owen Alan Spence seems to also posit two minds when he says, “his human self-consciousness knew and experienced God always indirectly and by means of the Holy Spirit, for only in this way could it remain truly human.”[5]

Wiles in expositing Athanasius says,

“He [Athanasius] is, however, extremely careful in his use of it [two-nature exegesis] to insist that it must not be understood to imply two distinct sets of actions or experiences. Every act is the act of the one divine Lord, acting sometimes in his purely divine capacity, sometimes in accordance with his adopted human status. In fact the two cannot possibly be rigidly separated in practice when even such an exalted utterance as ‘I and my Father are one’ has to be uttered with a human tongue”[6]

James Anderson shows how this is incompatible with the one person construction:

“If claims about Jesus possessing two distinct ranges of consciousness, two distinct sets of experiences, beliefs, etc., are to be coherent then it must be possible to refer to those mental features *without* those features being necessarily owned by an particular person.  Yet this is precisely what our concept of a person rules out. If experiences are necessarily individuated with respect to persons, then at the most fundamental logical level it makes no sense to speak of *one* person with *two* distinct consciousnesses (in the sense that each consciousness might in principle be ascribed to a different person than the other).”[7]

I could say the same thing about two natures of one person. Second, two minds necessarily implies two persons on either the Clarkian construction or the Patristic.  Apollinaris denied a human mind in Christ and a human soul. Anderson’s comment suggests that the hypostatic union must deny a distinct human mind in Christ.  Does this not strengthen our accusation that the hypostatic union is Apollinarianism? Appolinaris posited God in a body [one mind] (McGuckin180). On pg. 312 Shedd exposes the key cognitive error of Apollinarianism,

“Christ had ‘a rational soul.’ Westminster L.C. 37. This was held in opposition to Apollinarianism; which would find the rational element for the human nature in the eternal reason of the Logos.” Afterwards Apollinaris added that the human nature had only an animal soul. This was refuted by such passages as Mat 26:38  Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful kjv, Mark 6:6, Mat 8:10, and Luke 7:9. Shedd adds that Apollinaris defended the idea the “the mental suffering of Christ was suffering of the divine nature; otherwise it could not be a real atonement.”

Paul Gravrilyuk said the same positing the Logos’ suffering as a paradox. Which is a soft way of defending Ariansim. When Christ says, “I and my Father are one” John 10:30, Shedd says, “The form of his consciousness at that instant was divine…When he spoke the words: ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28), the form of his consciousness at that instant was human.” (319) He later says that it was the mode of consciousness of the human nature that cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me.” On page 320 Shedd asserts that “Man has two general forms of consciousness, the animal and the rational.” Does he argue for this or give any scriptural support? Nope. It may be that Shedd did not believe in two minds.

        1. It is clear that Yeshua was a man and absolutely distinct as an individual being distinct from the Father. McGuckin says on page 133,

“When Jesus appears in the Gospels to have been praying, for example or searching for the will of God in his life [Which is clearly implied in Isa 49:4 where he despairs that his labor is in vain], he could hardly have done this sensibly or honestly if all the time he knew exactly what the will of God was, being the eternal Logos and as such the very mind and will of God himself. Cyril would explain Jesus’ prayer life as an economic exercise done largely for our instruction and edification.”

On the Patristic view the Logos is the subject of the statement “I have labored in vain.” Yet at the same time he knows that he will see the result of the anguish of his soul and be satisfied (Isa 53:11) knowing that his labor is not in vain. Nonsense. Cyril’s so called solution is nonsense. Yeshua really struggled in prayer and with doubt because he was a true man and was to suffer all our temptation but without sin.

34. The Patristic Church refused to deal with what Nestorius was saying and simply believed what Cyril’s party said he was teaching as McGuckin admits on page 165. He quotes Nestorius as saying,

“I did not say that the soul was one and God the Logos another. What I said was that God the Logos was by essence one thing, and the Temple (Jn 2:19-21) by essence another, but that there was one Son [One Sonship] by conjunction (synapheia).” Loofs (1905) 308.

McGuckin says on page 170 that the only word Nestorius had to label his view was “prosopon.”  The strange thing is, earlier on page 160 he admitted that Nestorius referred to the union as “sonship.” Nestorius explicitly denied that the union between the human and divine in Christ is more than the union God had with the prophets as McGuckin admits on page 163 with a quote from Nestorius.  Nestorius’ view was two metaphysical subjects and one covenantal subject. Nestorius referred to this as the prosopon or “observable reality” (McGuckin 157) of the union. Here he shows that he did not believe the union was just words. Here again, is prima facie evidence that the Patristic Church erred in its judgment of Nestorius.

        1. How did Elohim think about the hypostatic religion of the anchoretics? He sent a Muslim invasion and in particular sacked Alexandria, Cyril’s stomping grounds. To this day Alexandria is dominated by the Muslim faith. The entire anchoretic system laid the eggs of the Muslim religion of Conquest and the Papacy, possibly the two most evil organizations to ever exist. You shall know them by their fruits.
        1. If Cyril’s theology was so convincing to everyone, why did he have to bribe them? (McGuckin admits it on page 106. Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, 36)

 

          1. Cyril held to a kenotic theory of the incarnation which clearly lowers the “deity” of the Logos to the Arian view. (McGuckin, 134, 50, 189)
          1. The condemnation of Nestorius was due to the substituted pagan appetites of Ephesus as it had for centuries worshipped the Mother Goddess Diana. Ephesus was for centuries the chief proponent of the goddess Diana/Artemis. From many early church documents such as Tertullian, To His Wife 1.6, Examples of Heathens Urged as Commendatory of Widowhood and Celibacy, the anchoretic church was determined to show the pagans that they could practice their pagan practices better as Christians and many times the traditions of the early Church were to substitute for the pagan traditions as to make a smooth way of transition (The liturgical calendar/the Christian year is one out of many examples). In this case the substitution of the cult of Mary for Diana was clear. McGuckin says on page 60,

“The popular celebration following the announcement of the deposition of Nestorius after the council’s first session cannot wholly be explained by the orchestration of the events by Cyrillian clerics, for the citizen’s of Ephesus were wholeheartedly behind the propagation of the Theotokos title. For them the defense of the Mother of God was synonymous with upholding the honor of their own city whose Christian identity and prestige was inextricably linked with her cultthe Mother of God, as patroness would ensure that Ephesus had as glorious a future in the Christian oecumene as once it had in its now overshadowed past when it was dedicated to the mother Goddess, Ephesian Artemis.”

McGuckin says again on page 88-89,

“The women chanting in torchlit processions to honor the Virgin Mother of God resonated deep echoes for the Ephesians of the ‘virgin mother of the god’ Isis, whose cult used just such illuminated liturgies.”

The pagan connection to the “Theotokos” seems undeniable and Nestorius added that the paradoxical union of Cyril posited the “suffering god” motif of Horus and Hercules on Mount Aetna. Paul Gravrilyuk admits as much mentioning the suffering gods Osiris, Kore, who was ravished by Adonis and taken to the underworld, Dionysius, who was devoured by the Titans, and Orpheus was torn apart by the Thracian maenads. (Pg. 36)  

          1. Cyril was, and the hypostatic system is Apollinarian. Cyril’s task to preserve the Logos as the single subject of all incarnate acts and posit an “ontological” union without mixing the essences and creating a new nature (The hallmark of Apollinaris’ construction) was impossible from the start and he failed miserably. Cyril’s “One Enfleshed nature of the Logos” is enough vindication of this accusation alone. It was a political move and an effective one at that. I am not alone in this seeing that Chalcedon rejected it (McGuckin 213) and Cyril himself moved away from it later on (McGuckin 227). However, at the 2nd Council at Ephesus in 449 Dioscorus restated Cyril’s construction without the compromised concessions made to the Antiochenes. (McGuckin 232) This council was consistent, therefore not ecumenical, because consistency is usually bad politics. The rejection of “Mia Physis” however was not a commitment to truth but a compromise so that the Antiochene schools would come along with them (McGuckin 241).

Cyril often replied that he posited no change in the Logos in the union and that he believed in the true humanity of Christ yet he never shows how a generic humanity can receive its hypostatization from the Logos without a mixture of essences.  Ousia + physis is not real without a corresponding hypostasis. What Cyril did do is appeal to paradox and then simply assert ad hoc that he’s not Apollinarian. McGuckin says,

“Cyril frequently presses the point of this paradox home with great vigour: the flesh of Christ is divine flesh, inherently life giving, though evidently and necessarily human, that is ‘flesh’, for if it were not given in material fashion, as for example as the Christian’s food in the Eucharist, the transforming blessing could not begin to be communicated to material creatures.” (pg. 187)

So how is it that the human nature is real and distinct and yet possesses divine attributes? Oh, that’s a paradox. On page 201 McGuckin says that the union produces not another nature but a “new condition of existence.” Then the union is not essential. It is accidental.  John Owen denied that the Logos acted at all on the human nature. Alan

Spence in an exposition of Owen says,

“The divine nature does not act directly on the human nature and there is no real communication of properties between them.”[8]…“there were no aspects of his activity where God, or the divine nature replace the normal operation of his humanity.”[9]

Then the human nature cannot receive its hypostasis from the Logos if the Logos never acts on the human nature. Therefore, on Owen’s construction, the humanity is not real and his construction is therefore docetic.

I agree with C.E. Raven,

“Apollinaris can only be condemned by those who are prepared to allow that the whole Greek school from Justin to Leontius and John of Damascus is similar…since the divergences between them and the heresiarch are merely verbal and superficial.”[10]

          1. The hypostatic union cannot escape a necessity of change in the Son. Shedd says, “A theanthropic person is a Trinitarian person modified by union with a human nature” (268). This is uniform language in hypostatic writings and is prima facie evidence that the hypostatic union is self-refuting. The Logos is of the same essence with the Father and is therefore immutable on their theology. To posit a modification in the Logos is a denial of his divinity. On page 191 McGuckin exposits Cyril’s treatment of the impassibility Of God. He says that Cyril denied there was any true suffering on the part of the divine nature and in reference to the phrase, “God suffered”,

“Cyril says that it is being used as a synonym for God-in-the-flesh, and this crucial qualification is given in the very paradox itself, since all Christians will, or ought to, admit that suffering death, sorrow, and suchlike are inapplicable to’God in himself’, but no longer inapplicable to God-made-man”.

Yet this is the exact point Nestorius makes to deny Theotokos and posit Chritokos. This is hypocrisy!

John of Damascus in Book 3.7 says,

“He therefore became flesh and He took upon Himself thereby the first-fruits of our compound nature , viz., the flesh animated with the intelligent and rational soul, so that the very subsistence of God the Word was changed into the subsistence of the flesh, and the subsistence of the Word, which was formerly simple, became compound , yea compounded of two perfect natures, divinity and humanity, and bearing the characteristic and distinctive property of the divine Sonship of God the Word in virtue of which it is distinguished from the Father and the Spirit”.

This construction again posits change in the Logos. Nestorius said in, Bazaar of Heracleides, Book 1 Part 2.7,

“But by those who pass for orthodox these things are said, that he is of the very nature of the Father, impassible and without needs and unchangeable and immutable, and then, as the Jews mocked, calling him Christ, and surely crucified him, / so also the former attribute unto him in word a nature unchangeable, impassible and without needs, and they ascribe unto him all sufferings and every need of the body and make over all the things of the soul and the intelligence to God the Word in |94 virtue of an hypostatic union. And, like those who change him from his nature, at one time they call him now impassible and immortal and unchangeable, and afterwards they prohibit him from being then called immortal and impassible and unchangeable, being angry against any one who repeatedly calls God the Word impassible. Once thou hast heard; it is then enough for thee. And they predicate two whole natures of the divinity and of the humanity and they predicate a change of natures by union, attributing nothing either to the humanity or to the divinity in making over the things of humanity to the nature and those of the divinity to the nature. And they preserve not even the things which belong to the divinity by nature, in making God the Word of two ousias in nature; and they dissemble the man and all that is his own, on whose account the Incarnation took place and in whom it took place and through whom we have been released from the captivity of death. And they make use indeed of the name of orthodox, but in fact they are Arians.”[11]

No, in order to be an Arian you have to deny the whole idea of a union of natures. Leo Donald Davis comments saying,

“So God learned through personal condescension what it is to be a man. Knowing all as God, Christ subjected himself to the scale of ignorant manhood to make even ignorance his own.”[12]

Paul Gavrilyuk made an effort to answer this accusation from the Patristic view. He failed miserably. It’s a bit disappointing when the author will admit such things as this:

“The first point to be observed about the divine impassibility  in the anti-Nicene theology is that the early Fathers did not make much of this concept. The description of God as impassible fades in importance before the emotionally colored divine characteristics of mercy, love, goodness, and compassion.”[13]

In Chapter 2, Gavrilyuk’s main premise is that divine impassibility means, “that the Christian God is Free from the Unworthy Passions of Pagan Deities.”(48) So it is not that he has no emotions but that he has holy emotions. He takes his view from Justin martyr, Apol. 1.25.1-3 (49); he also quotes Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 2.16 (pg. 58). On page 105-106 and 129 he admits the Arian tendency of the hypostatic construction. He refers to the fact that in the early Church, men such as Athanasius and other early fathers viewed people who stuck strictly to the immutability and complete transcendence of a monotheist God as Judaizers.(pg. 106)

[1] Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration John Owen and the Coherence of Christology (New York, T&T Clark, 2007), 147

[2] John Owen, The Works of John Owen Vol 5 (The Leighton Publications, The Protestant Episcopal Book Society, Philapdelphia, PA, 1862) ed. Rev William H. Goold, 261

[3] Paul Gavrilyuk , The Suffering of the Impassible God, (Great Claredon St, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 62-64, 134

[4] James Anderson, Paradox in Christian Theology (Eugene, OR: Paternoster Theological Monographs, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2007), 285

[5] Quoted in Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration John Owen and the Coherence of Christology (New York, T&T Clark, 2007), 121

[6] Gavrilyuk, The Suffering of the Impassible God, 133, From Athanasius, Ep. ad Serap. 4.14 Cf.  (Ps-?) Ath., Ar, 3.35

[7] James Anderson, Paradox, 97-98

[8] Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration John Owen and the Coherence of Christology (New York, T&T Clark, 2007), 61

[9] Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration John Owen and the Coherence of Christology (New York, T&T Clark, 2007), 118

[10] Alan Spence, Incarnation and Inspiration John Owen and the Coherence of Christology (New York, T&T Clark, 2007), 108

[11] Nestorius, Bazaar of Heracleides, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site, available from http://www.ccell.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/nestorius_bazaar_1_book1_part1.htm; Internet; accessed February 2010

[12] Ibid. 44

[13] Paul Gravrilyuk, The Suffering, 47

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