Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jesus, God, and What St. Augustine Said

God's decision to become fully human, Jesus the Christ, doesn't make sense. Not to me, not if by "make sense" I mean fully understanding the Almighty's motives and methods.

As I've said before, God's God, I'm not: and there are some things I probably can't understand. Not with the few pounds of neural circuitry that's between my ears.

I like to understand things, but think St. Augustine was right:
"If you understood him, it would not be God"
(St. Augustine)
(Quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 230)
I have decided to follow the Word made Flesh, Jesus who in the beginning was with God, and is God. (John 1:1-14)

Sidestepping the Incarnation

Having trouble with the idea that Jesus is God and human isn't new. Neither is someone coming up with an alternative to that pivotal reality.

Two ways to sidestep the Incarnation showed up fairly early; three, counting a sort of 'compromise.'

Folks have said that Jesus:
  • Is not really human (Gnosticism)
    • Catechism, 465
  • Is human, with a God implant (Nestorianism)
    • Catechism, 466
  • Started human, then became purely divine (Monophysitism)
    • Catechism, 467
My guess is that variations on Gnosticism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism, will continue to pop up. I wrote about the first two earlier this month. (December 18, 2012; December 12, 2012)

A new wrinkle is to take the Nestorian idea that Jesus started human; and wasn't divine at all. Pretending that God doesn't matter, or doesn't exist, has been been very 'in.' (August 8, 2012)

Faith, Philosophy, and History

Saying that Jesus was human, and nothing more, is probably still a good way to be considered 'intelligent' in some circles.

But sometimes it's prudent to ask 'do I really want their approval?'

I've decided to follow the man who wouldn't stay dead; whose outfit has been riding out the rise and fall of empires and civilizations for two millennia.

There's full-bore dualism, too, and that's another topic. (August 31, 2011)

Monophysitism: Having it Both Ways

Monophysitism comes from two Greek words that mean "one" and "nature." It's the idea that Jesus was human, and divine: but not at the same time. I'm oversimplifying the concept, but that seems to be the gist of it.

I'll grant that it may be easier to believe that God couldn't - or didn't - become one of us, human, with a divine nature and a human nature. But my Lord didn't promise us "easy:" and, yep, that's yet another topic.

The fourth ecumenical council, at Chalcedon in 451, said that Jesus is God and man. Again.

They said that Jesus Christ is:
  • Perfect in
    • Divinity
    • Humanity
  • Truly God and truly man
    • Composed of
      • Rational soul
      • And body
    • Having the same substance or essence as
      • God the Father
        • Being divine
      • You and me
        • Being human
    (from Catechism, 467)

"Two Natures Without ... Separation"

Discussions of Who, and What, Jesus is can get quite technical: using terms like consubstantial, hypostasis, and πρόσωπον (prosopon). Here's part of what the Council of Chalcedon said, translated into my native language:
"...We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.92"
(Catechism, 467)
Jesus grew and learned, like we do; and was tempted, as we are: but did not sin. (Luke 2:52; Hebrews 4:15)

When my Lord was executed, a very real human life ended. What happened after that is - what else? - another topic.

Related posts:

2 comments:

JohnL said...

Thanks Brian for your comments. Hope you and your family had a wonderful and holy Christmas

Brian Gill said...

JohnL -

Sorry (!) about taking so long to respond - and clear your comment.

Earlier this week, I discovered that Blogger's comment filters are: overenthusiastic.

Again - sorry, and I'm learning.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.