What’s really wrong with Apollinarianism?

Theology / Biblical Studies

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What is Apollinarianism, and what’s really wrong with it?

Apollinarianism is a well-known Christological heresy; a way of understanding the person of Christ that historic Christianity rejected. The orthodox Christian way of thinking about the person of Christ is summed up in the chalcedonian definition. In brief, it is that Christ is one person who is fully human and fully God. He has everything necessary for a complete human nature, and he additionally has everything necessary for a divine nature. Is Jesus a person? Yes. Is that person divine? Yes, because a person with a divine nature is a divine person. Is that person human? Yes, because a person with a human nature is a human person. But we are still only talking about one person, something possible because Christ has two natures, not just one.

Since the writers of the Chalcedonian formula were dualists about human beings (i.e. they believed that human beings consisted of a human body and a rational human soul, namely an immaterial soul), they said that Jesus had a human body and a rational soul. And because he is also divine, he had the divine Logos (that is, the eternal second person of the Trinity who had become incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth). I don’t think of human beings as consisting of a body and an immaterial soul, but I’ll set that aside for now, because all of the positions I’m discussing in this article are dualist positions.

Some Christological heresies denied that Jesus was fully divine (like Arianism). But there were two main Christological heresies that accepted the divinity of Christ. One was Nestorianism, the view that Jesus Christ is really two persons – the divine Logos and a human person. This undermines the unity of Christ. The other was Apollinarianism, a view that undermined the orthodox claim that Christ, although one person, had two natures.

[According to Apollinarius,] what came together in the incarnation, then, was the divine Logos and part of a human nature (a body).

According to Apollinarianism (named after the bishop Apollinarius), Christ did not have a complete human nature. He did not have a human body and soul, only a human body. The mind of Christ was the divine Logos. What came together in the incarnation, then, was the divine Logos and part of a human nature (a body). Without realising it, many Evangelical Christians, I think, hold to an Apollinarian view of Jesus, where the physical part is man and the immaterial part is God (whereas we mere humans, they would say, have an immaterial human soul). This is not just a view held by laypeople without realising it either. Apologist William Lane Craig openly holds this view, maintaining that from all eternity the divine Logos already had all the necessary features of a human mind, so that when the incarnation occurred, Jesus of Nazareth had a human body as well as the Logos – which doubled as the human mind, because it is the same as a human mind (and then some, being divine). Dr Craig thinks that Apollinarianism, historically, was misunderstood as teaching that Christ’s human flesh existed prior to the incarnation, which is probably not what Apollinarius really thought. Really, Apollinarianism only needed to maintain that the human mind or soul existed beforehand, namely within the divine Logos itself, in order to achieve a genuine incarnation in which Jesus is fully God and fully man, having a human body, a human mind or soul (which is in the Logos), and the Logos (which is doubt double duty as the human mind and the Logos), as follows:

In Jesus, the divine Logos took the place of the human nous and thus became embodied. As a result, in Christ God was constitutionally conjoined with man. Just as the soul and the body are essentially different but in man are combined in one human nature, so also in Christ there exists one nature composed of a part coessential with God and another part coessential with human flesh.1

I will assume here that this is the right way to construe Apollinarianism.

Orthodox Christology has always maintained that the human and divine natures in Christ cannot be peeled apart.

So what’s wrong with Apollinarianism? Firstly, it has a number of strange implications when combined with other aspects of Christian orthodoxy. Orthodox Christology has always maintained that the human and divine natures in Christ cannot be peeled apart. The unity of the person is essential. So when Jesus died on the cross and – on a dualist view – his soul left his body, what survived was not merely human or merely divine. His divine “part” did not become unattached from his human “part” and survive by itself. If his human soul survived the death of his body, it stayed “with” the divine Logos. From an Apollinarian point of view, this means that the Logos survived, and that is how his human nature survived as well, since the divine Logos contains within it the human mind. This has a striking implication. If the Apollinarian view is correct, then God did not become human in the incarnation, because the divine Logos had always been human. If the Apollinarian wants to deny this, then they will need to deny that the surviving mind of Christ after his death was human (since this is ontologically the same thing as the Logos prior to the incarnation), thereby claiming that the divine and human natures can be separated after all. But then Craig would have to acknowledge that his model does not satisfy the criteria of Chalcedonian orthodoxy. If he is to make the attempt to remain within the requirements of Orthodoxy in terms of the two natures, then, he will have to deny that Christ became human in the incarnation, a claim that itself flies in the face of what orthodox Christianity has always said.

It is one thing to think that God exists necessarily, but it is another to think that humanity exists necessarily!

It looks to me as though Apollinarianism has a second curious implication. The nature of the divine Logos, at least according to the theologians of Chalcedon, is not accidental. It is not as though it could have been some other way, but as chance would have it, the Logos turned out to be what it is. Rather, the Logos has its nature necessarily. And the Logos is “the archetypal man” on Craig’s view, because he “already possessed in his preincarnate state all the properties necessary for a human self.”2 It is one thing to think that God exists necessarily, but it is another to think that humanity exists necessarily! This, however, appears to be an implication of Apollinarianism. This implication, naturally, need not be a show-stopper. It does not present an obvious reason for an orthodox Christian to think that Apollinarianism must be false, but it is an unexpected and unusual implication nonetheless.

But whatever quirky implications Apollinarianism might have, some more problematic than others, it remains – even in its more sympathetically interpreted form – vulnerable to what was always the most serious objection. Apollinarianism is a disaster for the story of human redemption and that is the main reason why it should be rejected. Gregory Nazianzen explained that objection as follows:

If anyone has put his trust in Him as a Man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole. …

Further let us see what is their account of the assumption of Manhood, or the assumption of Flesh, as they call it. [I]f it was that He might destroy the condemnation by sanctifying like by like, then as He needed flesh for the sake of the flesh which had incurred condemnation, and soul for the sake of our soul, so, too, He needed mind for the sake of mind, which not only fell in Adam, but was the first to be affected, as the doctors say of illnesses. For that which received the command was that which failed to keep the command, and that which failed to keep it was that also which dared to transgress; and that which transgressed was that which stood most in need of salvation; and that which needed salvation was that which also He took upon Him. Therefore, Mind was taken upon Him. [emphasis added]3

The objection is often summed up with one short excerpt: “That which he has not assumed he has not healed.” If Christ brought the larger part of human nature with him into the world, assuming only a partial human nature in this world, then only that which Jesus assumed – the human body – is redeemed. The human mind was never assumed, for the Logos, on Apollinarianism, always had the only mind or soul he would ever have and it certainly did not need to be healed or redeemed. In a strange twist, this model results in a redeemed body but an unredeemed mind.

In the Incarnation, the Son of God takes to himself that which is in need of redemption, he takes it to the cross where it is put to death and it is restored in the resurrection. Apollinarianism makes this impossible. Indeed it offers no assurance that the human will is not going to turn again against God and fall back into sin in the world to come, because the human will – the human mind – has never been assumed and redeemed by Christ. While Bill Craig may have done well to call us back to a more sympathetic understanding even of those whom the Church has branded heretics, he has not redeemed Apollinarianism from the principle flaw that made it heresy in the first place.

That is what is really wrong with Apollinarianism.

Glenn Peoples

Similar Posts:

If you liked this post, feel free to help support this project.

  1. William Lane Craig and James Porter Moreland, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 599. []
  2. Craig and Moreland, Philosophical Foundations, 608-609. I am aware that Dr Craig is on record denying, as some other theologians do, that all of God’s attributes are necessary. Some, he maintains, are accidental. But being the archetypal man surely cannot be an accidental attribute. []
  3. Gregory Nazianzus, “To Cledonius the Priest Against Apollinarius,” Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers part 2, volume 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.), 648. []
{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Marc Belcastro January 13, 2015, 8:04 pm

    Hi, Glenn. Interesting thoughts here. I find myself inclined to be sympathetic to Craig’s Christology, so I hope you don’t mind if I offer a few thoughts in response to your objections.

    — “If Apollinarian view is correct, then God did not become human in the incarnation, because the divine Logos had always been human. If the Apollinarian wants to deny this, then they will need to deny that the surviving mind of Christ after his death was human (since this is ontologically the same thing as the Logos prior to the incarnation), thereby claiming that the divine and human natures can be separated after all.”

    I believe Craig regards (something like) this objection as constituting the most powerful criticism of his view, and the following appears to be his gesture at a suggested response. You’re probably familiar with his suggestion, so let me know if you’re somehow unpersuaded by my brief rehearsal of it. 🙂

    Concerning the first part of your above objection, Craig would insist it’s false that the Logos has always been human, and he would explain this by claiming that while the Logos has always possessed those features necessary for humanity (as its archetype, as you note), such features only become sufficient when appropriately associated with a humanoid body.

    Concerning the second part of your objection, although the surviving (post-crucifixion) mind of Christ is ontologically identical to the Logos prior to the incarnation, there are important accidental or contingent differences which must be taken into account. Prior to the incarnation, the Logos never was appropriately associated with a humanoid body, and so never brought to such a body the necessary features of humanity, and thus never was a body-soul composite. (For Craig, it seems, possessing a human nature just is being such a body-soul composite, at least at some time.) After the crucifixion, however, the surviving soul of Christ was once appropriately associated with a humanoid body, just as the surviving souls of other humans (who have died) were once associated with humanoid bodies, respectively. Craig holds that we can properly consider these other souls “human”—distinguishing them from, say, angelic souls—because they were previously associated with a humanoid body. The same, then, would apply to the surviving soul of Christ.

    — “It is one thing to think that God exists necessarily, but it is another to think that humanity exists necessarily! This, however, appears to be an implication of Apollinarianism.”

    I don’t think the Apollinarian is committed to this implication. As indicated in the preceding quote from Craig, the Logos possessed those properties which are necessary, not sufficient, for humanity in His preincarnate state. Further, since Craig appears to maintain that humanity requires a body-soul composite (at least at some time), it isn’t the case that humanity exists necessarily.

  • Marc Belcastro January 13, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Continued from above…

    — “Apollinarianism is a disaster for the story of human redemption and that is the main reason why it should be rejected. . . . The objection is often summed up with one short excerpt: ‘That which he has not assumed he has not healed.’ If Christ brought the larger part of human nature with him into the world, assuming only a partial human nature in this world, then only that which Jesus assumed – the human body – is redeemed. The human mind was never assumed, for the Logos, on Apollinarianism, always had the only mind or soul he would ever have and it certainly did not need to be healed or redeemed. In a strange twist, this model results in a redeemed body but an unredeemed mind.”

    The contention “that which he has not assumed he has not healed,” I agree, initially sounds plausible, but it’s unclear to me whether Chalcedonian Christology demands that we accept it, or that we’re in violation of its parameters if we reject it. Christ presumably didn’t assume a sin nature—I acknowledge that some have claimed otherwise—but His atoning work is capable of healing or redeeming ours.

    In any event, suppose we concur with Gregory’s contention. Why should the Apollinarian accept the characterization of his view which alleges that Christ “[assumed] only a partial human nature” such that only the human body is redeemed? Craig proposes that the divine elements of Jesus’ consciousness were primarily subliminal during His time on Earth, thereby constituting for Jesus an experience of the world (or phenomenal perspective) like other humans’ experiences (or perspective) of the world. The Logos didn’t assume a human mind in the sense that Thomas Morris suggests, according to which a human mind was incorporated or added to His own, yielding two distinct minds in total. Perhaps this reading of “assume” is too narrow. Perhaps “assume” could legitimately be taken or expanded to allow that the Logos’ assumed a human range of consciousness by largely suppressing the divine constituents in the incarnation. His conscious life, as a result, was qualitatively or phenomenally the same as ours. In my estimation, this makes it plausible to suppose that Christ had a human mind, or, following Morris, that Christ’s mind was fully but not merely human.

    It seems to me that this is a virtue of Craig’s version of Apollinarianism, for it furnishes a Christology in which something unifies the divine and human natures of the Son. And it avoids the specter of Nestorianism which, according to some, afflicts Morris’ two-minds portrait, for it’s difficult to see how two distinct minds don’t entail the existence of two, distinct persons.

  • Glenn January 13, 2015, 9:33 pm

    Hi Marc
    “such features only become sufficient when appropriately associated with a humanoid body”

    I think that’s a problematic response for Craig to make. He believes that the Logos survived the crucifixion. Now clearly the body of Jesus did not survive death (!), which means that the Logos now lacks the features required in order to be human, meaning that Craig commits to the view that the human and divine natures can be separated from each other. i.e. he must deny Chalcedon. I find it weak to say that the Logos can go from being not-human to being human by uniting with a body, but not ceasing to be human when it loses the body. Presumably he would say that a human soul created without a body would be human, and would continue to be a human soul when united with a body, and when it leaves a body. So it seems a bit ad hoc to make the stipulation that the Logos isn’t human, then becomes human without any ontological change, then continues to be human even though it is ontologically the same as when it wasn’t.

    Remember that Craig said: “The Logos already possessed in his preincarnate state all the properties necessary for a human self.” Honestly, I fail to see how the Logos can meet all the necessary conditions for a human self without thereby meeting the sufficient conditions (“necessary but not sufficient” would apply to the necessary conditions when considered individually, supposing there were more than one).

    The contention “that which he has not assumed he has not healed,” I agree, initially sounds plausible, but it’s unclear to me whether Chalcedonian Christology demands that we accept it, or that we’re in violation of its parameters if we reject it.

    Right. Not all serious errors are in violation of the chalcedonian formula. “Christ presumably didn’t assume a sin nature—I acknowledge that some have claimed otherwise—but His atoning work is capable of healing or redeeming ours.” A sin nature isn’t really a thing. A human nature is. Christ assumed and healed the human nature, transforming it from a sin(ful) nature and into a glorified one.

    Surely an Apollinarian has no option but to agree that the Logos did not assume a complete human nature. Craig is clear that the mind or soul of Jesus is the Logos. If humans have souls that need redeeming, the Logos never took one of those to itself in the incarnation. I don’t think you can get around it by talking about the Logos limiting itself so that its conscious experience was like ours. That is surely imitation. We cannot let “assume” mean that. If what you’re suggesting is true then really Craig needn’t have defended Apollinarius, because it’s perfectly fine to say that Jesus brought a body into the world too, and wasn’t born – as long as his body limited itself to function just like ours! No, I think the Church’s very important response to Apollinarianism remains completely intact.

  • Marc Belcastro January 14, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Thanks. Sorry about the double post.

    I don’t think Craig would agree that “a human soul created without a body is human,” for he would question the grounds for identifying the soul as human, and not as some other bodiless soul (like an angel). For Craig, possessing a human nature is being a body-soul composite, at least at some time. Embodiment, then, is a necessary condition for being human.

    You note that you “find it weak to say that the Logos can go from being not-human to being human by uniting with a body, but not ceasing to be human without that association,” but I’m unclear what your argument is supposed to be here, exactly.

    Perhaps you intend to substantiate your indictment in what you further note here: “it seems a bit ad hoc to make the stipulation that the Logos isn’t human, then becomes human without any ontological change, then continues to be human even though it is ontologically the same as when it wasn’t.” A few of thoughts. First: what do you mean by “ontological change?” I suspect we mean different things. Second: the Logos didn’t undergo an essential change—or, to my mind, “an ontological change”—when He went from a preincarnate state, to an embodied incarnate state, to a disembodied incarnate state, and then again to an embodied incarnate state. Rather, it’s certain accidental or contingent changes which are important for Craig’s proposal. Third: for substance dualists, something like this picture is plausibly what obtains for humans. When a human dies, and her soul becomes disconnected with her body, one of the most promising answers to the question, “Why is that soul human?” is “Because it was once connected with a humanoid body.”. The dualist can remain open to other candidate explanations, but this one strikes me as a natural place to start. Thus, it doesn’t seem ad hoc at all to claim that a soul’s history of embodiment is consequential.

    “Honestly, I fail to see how the Logos can meet all the necessary conditions for a human self without thereby meeting the sufficient conditions.”

    Can you expound what you think is problematic?

    “A sin nature isn’t really a thing. A human nature is.”

    This isn’t obvious. A sin nature could be thought of as a property all humans exemplify, but which Christ didn’t, in which case Christ didn’t assume this. Also, one could note that your suggestion presupposes, without argument, a particular interpretation of Gregory’s contention: that which He hasn’t assumed, He hasn’t healed, iff “that” refers to some thing. And even if we provisionally accept this reading, properties seem to qualify as things in some fashion.

    “If humans have souls that need redeeming, the Logos never took one of those to itself in the incarnation.”

    This is unsurprising, if souls or minds individuate persons. Lastly, Craig’s defense of Apollinarianism is motivated because, of course, he’s interested in defending a biblical conception of incarnation, not of incarnation…

  • Marc Belcastro January 14, 2015, 3:52 pm

    I copy/pasted the wrong text above. Sorry. The final line should read: “not of incarnation simpliciter.

  • Glenn January 14, 2015, 5:18 pm

    “For Craig, possessing a human nature is being a body-soul composite, at least at some time.”

    Well if it’s just at “some time,” then it could be a future time. 🙂 Plus, this seems to mean that a human body isn’t a human body if it doesn’t have a soul (since the only thing that gives rise to humanity is the compound of the two, you say). So if we were to clone a human body and keep it alive (i.e. functioning so that it stayed alive but was brain dead), we would only think it was a human body, but we would be mistaken.

    You say you’re unclear on what my argument would be. Were I to spell it out, my argument is supposed to be something like this:
    1) Human beings are human because they have human nature.
    2) The preincarnate logos, according to Craig, had all the necessary features of humanity (which I take to be a human nature), and it retained that humanity after the death of Jesus.
    3) Consequently the divine Logos was always human.

    I cannot see any good reason to add on “and it must have had a human body at some point in the past,” other than as an improperly motivated (i.e ad hoc) stipulation to save Apollinarianism.

    I understand that on the Apollinarian view, the Logos didn’t undergo an ontological change – that’s why I added “without an ontological change.” What I meant is that it seems ad hoc to say that the same ontological entity can go from being non-human to human with no ontological change, and then back into the same state as before it became human, only to now be deemed human. Craig seems to be rejecting essentialism about human nature if he thinks that something can go from being non-human to being human without any ontological change.

    It seems like a sort of word game to get around heresy. When Chalcedon said that the natures could not be separated, it meant that the divine nature could not be separated from the human nature it assumed. But on Craig’s view, the Logos became separated from everything it assumed in the incarnation.

    “Can you expound what you think is problematic?”

    Sorry. In that context, I thought I did! If the preincarnate Logos met literally meet all the necessary conditions for a human self (as Craig says), then the preincarnate Logos met the sufficient conditions for a human self – and was a human self. If you don’t think that follows, could you explain why not?

    Lastly, “A sin nature could be thought of as a property all humans exemplify, but which Christ didn’t.” So ontologically, you seem to agree with me that it’s not a thing (i.e. metaphysical entity). And if you mean the property of being sinful, you’re right. But the Logos assumed the thing that – in us, anyway – has the property of being sinful, namely the human nature.

    So I really don’t see anything that would present a problem for the historic response that the Church made to Apollinarianism. “That which is not assumed is not healed” seems to constitute an absolutely sufficient (and I think, compelling) reason to reject it.

    Plus, remember that given the way you are talking about what it means for the Logos to “assume” a human nature (i.e. it doesn’t have to take anything from this world in order to do it, but it can just limit the functions of the existing Logos), then we may as well embrace even the extreme version of Apollinarianism that Craig thinks is a caricature: The view that Jesus’ body was pre-existent. I mean as long as it imitates our body, then it meets the criteria for being “assumed,” given how you have characterised it.

  • Jeremy January 19, 2015, 7:01 am

    “Let us make man in our image” and “God is spirit”. Clearly God isnt a physical human being. Craig’s arguments concerning the Logos meeting all the conditions necessary to be a human self could be reflective of the image in which we are made. Or put the other way round, human selfs are images of the divine self.

  • Glenn January 19, 2015, 10:05 am

    Jeremy, do you mean that being created in God’s image means being made of the same stuff that God is made of?

    If you do mean that, on what grounds do you think this?

  • Chuck January 19, 2015, 5:28 pm

    Gentlemen, I hesitate to say a word about your Apollinarianism discussion, because I admit I skipped over some of it, so you can call me shallow or unsophisticated. But I think some others of your regular readers may also be about ready for a new subject.

    So Glenn, are you saying that Craig (whose work I have not studied for myself) is actively promoting a dangerous doctrine? I think most people have just heard of him as “the guy who takes on athiests”.

  • Glenn January 19, 2015, 8:43 pm

    Chuck, no I don’t think Apollinarianism is dangerous. Christology is like a minefield and it’s easy to misstep (where a “mine” represents an error, not harm). There are other Evangelical Christians who make missteps that are just as bad. So we need to extend grace to each other in this area. I think Apollinarianism would be a disaster if it were true (since it would undermine human redemption). That is when things would get serious, but it’s not true.

  • Jeremy January 19, 2015, 10:33 pm

    I was theorizing that being made in Gods image means everything we are is in some way copied from God, hence Craigs idea that the divine Logos could contain everything necessary to be human and a lot more besides. Kind of fits in with the idea that Christ emptied himself to become man.
    Wrt to what we are made of, what does being made in the image of God mean. At least part of the traditional understanding is having a spiritual component to our being sometimes ( incorrectly ) called a soul. If this is correct i would assume the spirit is of the same “stuff” as God. What stuff is God made of?

  • Marc Belcastro January 21, 2015, 7:46 am

    A future time? Perhaps. 🙂 But I suspect Craig is inclined to constrain the temporal condition by saying some time (as in some past time), not just any time, given his concern to preserve a distinction between different kinds of immaterial beings.

    “this seems to mean that a human body isn’t a human body if it doesn’t have a soul”

    I worry that “humanity” is ambiguous. It seems some body (cloned or otherwise) could be human by virtue of its genetic constitution, and that some entity could be human by virtue of its being (or having been) a body-soul composite. To be human in the first sense is a purely physical matter; the second appeals to a more metaphysical consideration.

    Re: your argument: Craig would claim—I realize I spoke unclearly about this earlier—that the preincarnate Logos didn’t possess all the necessary features of humanity, but rather just those features which would be essential for personhood when connected with a human body. To have a complete human nature, then, He would need to appropriately associate or connect those features with a hominid body.

    Is this vulnerable to the “imitation” objection you raised? I’d be interested in knowing what imitation is. Would it mean He acquired mere animality and not full humanity by incarnating? Also, if Craig rightly understands Apollinarius’s thesis that the Logos is the archetypal man, then it would appear that humans are (in a sense) imitating God by virtue of having been made in God’s image – by (at least) being persons who happen to be embodied.

    Re: Craig and essentialism about human nature: If essentialism about human nature is the view that, for all x, if x has a human nature (or the property being human), then having a human nature (or being human) is essential to x, then Craig would be indeed committed to rejecting this view.

    Re: your “ad hoc” criticism: I’m uncertain it’s accurate to say the Logos returned to “the same state as before it became human,” for the Apollinarian would insist that we must take seriously (i) the Logos’s embodiment, (ii) His living/dying an embodied life/death, and (iii) and why His being alive again constitutes a resurrection and not second incarnation. For these reasons, the Logos was unembodied prior to the incarnation but disembodied in between His death and resurrection.

    “When Chalcedon said that the natures could not be separated, it meant that the divine nature could not be separated from the human nature it assumed.”

    Where exactly does Chalcedon say this? And do you mean “could” in the modal sense?

    You said I seem to agree with you that a sin nature (even when construed as a property) isn’t a “metaphysical entity.” I think properties are or can be metaphysical entities; they’re just not substances.

    I’ll respond to your final paragraph next time. 🙂

  • Glenn January 21, 2015, 10:15 pm

    You’ll understand, I hope, why I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that a soul isn’t a human soul if it has never been part of a composite entity that is a human being, but a human body can be human just by virtue of what it is, even when it has never been part of such a composite. This appears to be special pleading.

    “Craig would claim—I realize I spoke unclearly about this earlier—that the preincarnate Logos didn’t possess all the necessary features of humanity, but rather just those features which would be essential for personhood when connected with a human body.”

    Well I wasn’t hypothesising. I was quoting him saying that the preincarnate Logos “already possessed in his preincarnate state all the properties necessary for a human self.”

    As for the imitation objection, I didn’t raise that to what Craig said. I raised it to what you said, when you suggested that “assumed” can just mean to limit the function of the Logos to do what humans do. That is imitation. And as I said, if that can be adequate for assumption, then there would be nothing wrong with Jesus’ body being presxistent, provided it imitated a human body.

    Lastly (I don’t want to harp on, so this will be my last), I don’t think you really gave three reasons why the Logos didn’t return to the state in which it was prior to the incarnation. The fact of his embodiment doesn’t obviously change this, neither does his having lived and died (although on your view I guess the Logos didn’t die at all), and neither does the fact that he was resurrected and not reincarnated. Ontologically he was the same as prior to the incarnation and these reasons don’t seem to interfere with this.

    “Where exactly does Chalcedon say this?”

    I didn’t say this is what Chalcedon said, I’m pointing out that this is what it means. The Logos came into the world and took a human nature, from which it was never separated. But on Craig’s view, the Logos was separated from everything it assumed from this world.

    Anyway, that’s all from me. 🙂

  • Greg Logan July 15, 2016, 10:57 am

    Admittedly, the following paragraph makes no sense – while at the same time being key to your article.

    In brief, it is that Christ is one person who is fully human and fully God. He has everything necessary for a complete human nature, and he additionally has everything necessary for a divine nature. Is Jesus a person? Yes. Is that person divine? Yes, because a person with a divine nature is a divine person. Is that person human? Yes, because a person with a human nature is a human person. But we are still only talking about one person, something possible because Christ has two natures, not just one.

    For a person to be so devoid of nature as to be both divine and human indicates that person could just as well be an antelope or a frog…. The concept – more so, the organic reality, of person is completely devoid of meaning and substance. But now talk to me about God with only a nature but no person….

    Most assuredly, according to traditional christology, the person of Jesus (or, the Son or the Word depending on which traditionalist you speak to…) existed PRIOR to an incarnation – and that SAME person continued – and, since there is only one person – as you noted, that one and only person IS the divine person, divine son, divine Logos or whatever title you want to give to that person. For you to suggest that the divine person operating the impersonal, functionless human nature of Jesus is NOT divine – is, well, I don’t really have words for this type of thinking.

    The reality is simple – Jesus declares that he is a man (Jn8:40) distinct from God. Not an impersonal nature – not a divine person inhabiting and actuating an impersonal human nature – but a man. Why are we making a lot of stuff up that contradicts Jesus clear description of Himself????

    Sincerely,

    Greg Logan

  • Greg Logan July 15, 2016, 11:02 am

    Similarly, re your statement “the Son of God takes to himself that which is in need of redemption” while frankly a medivial caricature still allows a critique.

    The fact is, my human PERSON needs to be redeemed – and I need a real human person – not a divine person hanging out in a mere impersonal human nature to do so.

    Best

    Greg

  • Glenn July 18, 2016, 4:17 pm

    “For you to suggest that the divine person operating the impersonal, functionless human nature of Jesus is NOT divine – is, well, I don’t really have words for this type of thinking.”

    Greg, if you say that the human nature of Jesus is in fact divine, then you have no grounds on which to appeal to tradition, if that is indeed what you’re doing.

    I’m sorry that my explanation doesn’t make sense to you. You’re to first to report such a problem. But thanks for your comments.

  • Greg Logan July 18, 2016, 4:53 pm

    Glenn

    I think you may have misunderstood my comment – perhaps partly because it could be misconstrued. Allow me to clarify –

    First – at no point did I intend to suggest that the human nature of Jesus is in any sense divine. The human nature is the human nature.

    What I took issue with is that the divine person became something OTHER THAN a divine person when he took on human nature. Here is the offending sentence –

    ” Is that person human? Yes, because a person with a human nature is a human person.”

    The reality is that a divine person is ALWAYS a divine person. In fact the traditional hypostatic union view is indeed that Jesus was not a man but a divine entity actuating an impersonal human nature (anhypostasis). I was assuming you would be familiar with this. To suggest otherwise is to play games with the essence of person-ness (which I assume is not purely conceptual – or you would not have any distinction between F, S, HS….:-)).

    In this sense, the hypostatic union is simply a species of Apollinarianism.

    Best

    Greg Logan

  • Glenn July 19, 2016, 2:01 pm

    Greg:
    “What I took issue with is that the divine person became something OTHER THAN a divine person when he took on human nature. Here is the offending sentence”

    Well I certainly haven’t said that Jesus wasn’t a divine person.

Leave a Comment

Remember: All comments should conform to the blog policy and you must use your real name. Comments that do not conform may be removed in whole or in part. You can review the blog policy here.

 Characters remaining