Horton on being made “One Flesh with Christ”

Sep 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts

At the West Coast Ligonier conference, Dr. Michael Horton was asked the following question:

Dr. Michael Horton
(Photo by Ligonier Ministries: source)

For Dr. Horton: “You said that we are not an extension of Christ’s kingdom. How does that cohere with our being the body of Christ? Our being the hands and feet of Christ, as it were?”

HORTON: We bear witness to the redemption that Christ has wrought. Yet we are co-workers with Christ, because we are proclaiming him. The difficulty is that sarx and soma are sometimes confused. We are not made one flesh with Christ. We are made one with Christ by the Spirit. He is the first-born from the dead. We have an organic, covenantal relationship, but there is not a fusion between the believer and Christ.

In his answer Horton draws a distinction between sarx [flesh] and soma [body], such that being incorporated into Christ’s Mystical Body is to be understood in terms of having a “covenantal relationship” with Christ by the Spirit. He draws the distinction between sarx and soma in order to try to acknowledge that in some sense we are the “body of Christ” while denying that we are the hands and feet of Christ. Soma, for Horton, is without sarx; soma is purely spiritual. But this raises serious theological problems. If sarx is incompatible with soma, then Mary gave birth to a body without flesh (i.e. docetism), or she gave birth to flesh without a body (i.e. a teratoma). On the other hand, if sarx is compatible with soma, then Horton cannot appeal to the difference between these two terms to ground his claim that Christ’s Mystical Body is merely covenantal or spiritual, and not an ontological union, a participation in Christ’s human nature and in Christ’s divine nature.

Horton’s notion that Christ’s Mystical Body (i.e. the Church) is soma without sarx, (and hence pneuma) is ecclesial docetism; it denies the human nature of Christ’s Mystical Body, and this entails that the Church is not visible, even though embodied Christians are visible.1 Moreover, denying the human nature of Christ’s Mystical Body entails that we, being merely human, cannot truly be joined to Christ’s Mystical Body. The situation would remain as it was before the incarnation — man cannot get up to the divine. If there is no ‘fusion’ of the believer and Christ, then either we come to participate in the divine nature apart from participating in Christ’s flesh (thus nullifying the incarnation), or we simply do not come to participate in the divine nature, in which case heaven remains closed off to us.

Even though he uses the phrase “we are made one with Christ by the Spirit,” by denying that we become Christ’s hands and feet, Horton seems to exclude ontological union with Christ. Horton maintains that we have “an organic, covenantal relationship” with Christ, meaning that Christ makes promises to us, and applies the benefits of these promises and His redemptive work to us by His Spirit. But these promises and these benefits and the presence of Christ’s Spirit with us or even in us do not ontologically unite us to Christ. That is because a covenant is an act of the will, or mutual acts of will. Mutual promises do not ipso facto effect ontological union. Nor does receiving promised benefits procured by Christ’s redeeming work. Ultimately, we do not need mere benefits: we need nothing less than to be made partakers of the divine nature in order to enter into divine life and obtain the Beatific Vision. We need to be joined ontologically to the divine nature, as Christ is ontologically joined to human nature. Even the presence of the Spirit with or in us does not entail that we have been made partakers of the divine nature, because the Spirit is present everywhere, and yet not everything is a partaker of the divine nature. What we need is real participation in Christ’s divine nature, through participation in His human nature; this is the meaning of John 6. And through our Eucharistic participation in the one Bread which is Christ Himself, we who are many are one Body, which is His Mystical Body.2

Horton denies that we are the hands and feet of Christ, even though this is how St. Paul describes us in 1 Corinthians 12, and indirectly in Romans 12, Ephesians 4-5, and Colossians 1-2. For Horton we merely “bear witness to the redemption Christ has wrought,” the way satisfied customers bear witness to the quality and efficacy of a purchased product. For Horton, that is the sense in which we are Christ’s hands and feet, merely as  co-workers with Christ. In the Catholic tradition, by contrast, we are co-workers with Christ precisely because we are truly members of His Mystical Body. We are truly the hands and feet of His Mystical Body, of which He is the Head. By denying that we are Christ’s hands and feet, and by appealing to the idea of covenant, Horton seems to conceive of the union of Christ’s people with Christ as merely a stipulation of the divine will, not an ontological union, not a “fusion”, as he put it. But the Church’s tradition handed down to us from the early Church Fathers maintains that Christ took on human nature, so that we might become partakers of His divine nature, through union with Him. As St. Athanasius said:

For He was made man that we might be made God.” (On the Incarnation, 54.3)

And again:

‘I am from earth, being by nature mortal, but afterwards I have become the Word’s flesh, and He carried my affections, though He is without them; and so I became free from them, being no more abandoned to their service because of the Lord who has made me free from them. For if you object to my being rid of that corruption which is by nature, see that you object not to God’s Word having taken my form of servitude; for as the Lord, putting on the body, became man, so we men are deified by the Word as being taken to Him through His flesh, and henceforward inherit life everlasting.’ (Discourse III Against the Arians, 34)

And again:

For as He, having come in our body, was conformed to our condition, so we, receiving Him, partake of the immortality that is from Him. (Discourse III Against the Arians,57)

And again:

Accordingly it is no good venture of theirs to say that the Word of God came into a certain holy man; for this was true of each of the prophets and of the other saints, and on that assumption He would clearly be born and die in the case of each one of them. But this is not so, far be the thought. But once for all ‘at the consummation of the ages Hebrews 9:26, to put away sin’ ‘the Word was made flesh John 1:14 ‘ and proceeded forth from Mary the Virgin, Man after our likeness, as also He said to the Jews, ‘Wherefore do you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth ?’ And we are deified not by partaking of the body of some man, but by receiving the Body of the Word Himself. (Ad Max 2; Letter 61.2)

And Origen said:

[F]rom Him there began the union of the divine with the human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine, not in Jesus alone, but in all those who not only believe, but  enter upon the life which Jesus taught, and which elevates to friendship with God and communion with Him every one who lives according to the precepts of Jesus. (Contra Celsus, III)

And Hilary of Poitiers said:

And lest this very truth that whosoever will may become a son of God should stagger the weakness of our faith (for most we desire, but least expect, that which from its very greatness we find it hard to hope for), God the Word became flesh, that through His Incarnation our flesh might attain to union with God the Word. (On the Trinity, I.11)

In these and many other places in the Fathers we find the idea that God the Word became flesh, that we, through union with His flesh, might be made partakers of His divine nature. In no way does this ontological union destroy our own individual identity or nature; nor do we cease being creatures. Grace perfects nature. Just as Christ’s divine nature was not destroyed in His becoming man, so our deification through ontological union with Christ does not destroy our individual identity or humanity, but elevates and perfects it even beyond its natural perfection.

In Horton’s statements we see the influence of voluntarism as a philosophy underlying his theology. Ontological union with Christ through His sacraments is replaced by transactional exchanges through covenants. There is no indication in Horton’s statement that through the sacraments we become partakers of the divine nature, as St. Peter stated in 2 Peter 1:4. But, if we are not made partakers of the divine nature, then there is no need for Christ to have become a partaker of human nature. The whole point of Christ becoming a partaker of human nature was so that we, through ontological union with Christ, could become partakers of His divine nature. That is the purpose of the divine promises, to bring about this ontological union between Christ and His Bride, as one flesh. This is why in 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council (Twelfth Ecumenical) said:

In which [Church] there is the same priest and sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine; the bread being changed (transsubstantiatio) by divine power into the body, and the wine into the blood, so that to realize the mystery of unity we may receive of Him what He has received of us. And this sacrament no one can effect except the priest who has been duly ordained in accordance with the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself gave to the Apostles and their successors. (Canon 1)

Horton’s denial that Christ is one flesh with His Church goes against what St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:22-32)

To deny that Christ is one flesh with His Church is to claim that a husband has greater unity with his wife than Christ has with His Church. But according to St. Paul the union of husband and wife is a type, and the type is never greater than that which it typifies. Therefore, if the husband is one flesh with his wife, then it is false that we through our incorporation into Christ’s Mystical Body do not become one flesh with Christ. We are members of His Mystical Body with which He is one, and which is also His Spouse. That one-flesh union of Christ with His Spouse is perfected at His return, when we shall see Him face to face. But even here and now, through our baptism we are incorporated into His Mystical Body, and thus made “one flesh” with Him. The two becoming one flesh began at the incarnation. We do not become His hands and feet only at the Parousia; we become His hands and feet at our baptism, when we are washed by His Spirit and made members of His Body, the Church. Through the Eucharist we feed on His body, blood, soul and divinity, and in this way are granted to participate in His human nature and in His divine nature. If we were not made one flesh with Christ, we would be lost, because only through the hypostatic union can we participate in the divine nature. Only by union with His flesh do we, through the hypostatic union of the God-man Jesus Christ, participate in His divine nature. And only by participating in the divine nature can we enter into eternal life.

  1. Human nature is not instantiated entirely and fully only within the individual; it is entirely and fully instantiated only in the family and society, because man by nature is a social being, a political animal. The first man, Adam, began an earthly human society through natural generation in a state of original sin; the second Adam, Christ Jesus, began a divine-human society through regeneration by His Spirit through baptism into His Mystical Body. []
  2. 1 Corinthians 10:17 []
Tags: ,

151 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. One question. I agree with what you said (as far as I could understand, I’m going to have to reread it later), but it doesn’t seem to go well with 1 Corinthians 6:12-20:

    “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

    Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own bodyDo you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

    St. Paul makes an argument against sexual immorality based on our unity with Christ. However, the unity that he seems to emphasize is our unity with God in the Spirit, or the fact that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. He does say we are members of Christ’s body, but in verses 16 and 17 he contrasts our physical unity in the flesh with a prostitute with being one with the Lord “in the spirit”.

    Why would he contrast the two unities like that if we are one with Christ in the flesh as well? Why does he say “he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in the Spirit”?

    I may be asking a really simple question, but I’d just like to hear your take on that passage.

  2. Stephen,

    Good question. The two things in conflict (in 1 Cor 6:15-17) are not one-flesh union with a prostitute, on the one hand, and merely spiritual (bodily-less) union with Christ on the other hand. The first premise in St. Paul’s argument against fornication here is that our bodies are members of Christ. In 1 Cor 6:15 St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” The meaning is clarified in other places (e.g. 1 Cor 12). Our bodies are members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which He is the Head. This union has been effected by the Spirit, but that does not mean that it is only a union of our souls (and not our bodies) with Christ, or that we are only united to Christ’s Spirit, and not to His Body. By His Spirit we are made partakers of His physical Body, and thus incorporated into His Mystical Body of which He is the Head. It is precisely because our bodies are members of Christ’s Body, that we must not join them to another through fornication, for they belong to Christ (as your hand belongs to you) and should be treated accordingly. Our bodies can either be members of the harlot, or they can be members of Christ’s Mystical Body. They cannot be both. But the contrasting unions are not flesh and non-flesh, but carnal and divine. The divine-wrought union of believers with Christ, effected by His Spirit, is not a merely spiritual (bodiless) union; it does not bypass our bodies, or Christ’s Body. The relation between Christ’s physical Body (born of the Virgin Mary) and His Mystical Body is not accidental. From His pierced side, while he slept upon the tree, flowed the blood and water by which, through the holy sacraments, His Bride is formed, and His Mystical Body constituted. The divine-wrought unity of believers with Christ unites us both to His Body and to His Spirit.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  3. He draws the distinction between sarx and soma in order to try to acknowledge that in some sense we are the “body of Christ” while denying that we are the hands and feet of Christ.

    The “hands and feet” phrase came from the questioner. What Horton rejected was that Christians are Christ’s flesh, in the sense of “fusion” (presumably, ontological). From the Horton quotation it seems he would only deny that we are the hands and feet if that is understood in the ontological-fusion sense. But since such an interpretation is not worn on the face of the phrase “Christians are Christ’s hands and feet,” I don’t think it’s helpful to claim without elaboration that Horton makes such a denial, as you do here and later on (“Horton denies that we are the hands and feet of Christ, even though…”). I would think that even you do not accept such a claim absolutely literally; for ontological fusion with Christ’s humanity does not imply ontological fusion with his hands or feet. Are you part of his hands, or feet; and left or right? Is no part of the Church fused to any other part of his body (e.g., the eyes, ears, etc.)?

    Soma, for Horton, is without sarx; soma is purely spiritual. But this raises serious theological problems. If sarx is incompatible with soma, then Mary gave birth to a body without flesh (i.e. docetism), or she gave birth to flesh without a body (i.e. a teratoma). On the other hand, if sarx is compatible with soma, then Horton cannot appeal to the difference between these two terms to ground his claim that Christ’s Mystical Body is merely covenantal or spiritual, and not an ontological union, a participation in Christ’s human nature and in Christ’s divine nature.

    It seems that by soma and sarx’s being “compatible” you mean that one can be where the other is (hence their being incompatible implies giving birth to one without the other). It seems that by Christ’s soma you understand his physical body. But Horton is simply not subject to this dilemma you present (if soma/sarx are compatible then…if incompatible then…) because there are other alternatives. As I understand Horton, he is not even claiming that Christians are ontologically united to Christ’s body (soma). If that were the claim, then from the inextricable connection between Christ’s soma and sarx it would follow that one cannot be united to one without also being united to the other. The claim is fundamentally about the nature of the union-relation (it is spiritual and covenantal), not about the nature of the second relatum of the union-relation (Christ’s body). Whether we are united to Christ’s “body” or “flesh” or something else, the nature of the union is spiritual and covenantal. Why the distinction between ‘soma’ and ‘sarx’ then? First, it’s not clear to me that he intended to “ground” his claim about the nature of the union in that terminological distinction; as you alleged. Perhaps the semantic sense of ‘soma’, when distinguished from that of ‘sarx’, yields itself more easily to a non-literal interpretation. That is, the connotations of “We are Christ’s body” can be different from that of “We are Christ’s flesh,” the former perhaps being more amenable to a non-ontological interpretation.

    Horton’s notion that Christ’s Mystical Body (i.e. the Church) is soma without sarx, (and hence pneuma) is ecclesial docetism; it denies the human nature of Christ’s Mystical Body, and this entails that the Church is not visible, even though embodied Christians are visible.

    He didn’t deny the human nature of the Church; he denied that the church is fused with Christ’s human nature. If “ecclesial docetism” refers to the denial that the ecclesia is ontologically united with Christ’s human nature, then I suppose he affirmed ED; though, unlike actual docetism, it is no heresy, as far as I know =]. “ED” more literally construed, though, seems to suggest the denial of a human nature to the Church, which is obviously not endorsed by Horton (the Church is not made up of phantoms). When we clarify what it seems you meant by ED, it obviously does not follow that the Church is not visible. Is Christ’s flesh-and-bones body visible (to humans)? No. It was before he ascended and will be when he comes again.

    Moreover, denying the human nature of Christ’s Mystical Body entails that we, being merely human, cannot truly be joined to Christ’s Mystical Body. The situation would remain as it was before the incarnation — man cannot get up to the divine.

    If this were a problem (man’s inability to “[ontologically] get up to the divine”), it would also have been a problem before the Fall. But I don’t see Scripture presenting the Incarnation as a solution to any such problem. Rather, it is a solution (though I do not claim it is merely a solution) to the problem of sin; an ethical, not ontological, problem. Why should a Protestant like Horton, or me, affirm the existence of the problem you assert exists? More precisely, why should one think that the ontological divide is a problem? (I touch on a few verses you mention below.)

    If there is no ‘fusion’ of the believer and Christ, then either we come to participate in the divine nature apart from participating in Christ’s flesh (thus nullifying the incarnation), or we simply do not come to participate in the divine nature, in which case heaven remains closed off to us.

    I take it that you affirm that the Incarnation would have occurred even had there been no Fall? I take it that by “heaven remains closed off” you mean, not that without the Incarnation all humanity, sinless or not, would, invirtue of our non-divinity, be under God’s wrath and condemned to hell; but rather that, even in a sinless state, the fellowship with God in a non-Incarnation world would be limited, in that we could only reach a more ideal state of fellowship through an ontological union. But why is God’s bringing about the existence of a “upgraded” (glorified) new heaven and earth through his divine power not sufficient to bring about such a state of fellowship? Why does glorifying heaven and earth and glorifying humanity at the eschaton require fusing us with Himself?

    Where is ontological participation in the divine nature written to be a precondition for entrance to heaven? You have mentioned 2 Pet 1.4 and John 6. But it seems there are perfectly natural alternative interpretations. Moral transformation is large in the context of the former (e.g., “life and godliness” in v. 3, escaping “corruption” in v. 4, the moral attributes in v. 5f.); so it seems natural to take partaking of the divine nature to involve becoming like God, not becoming God; as a wise person is like, but non-identical with, another wise person. As for John 6, bracketing the fact (as I see it) that the Catholic view of the mass/supper is inextricably bound to your interpretation, I don’t see the passage saying anything – even on a literal interpretation – about ontological union between the “eaters” and the “eaten.” A car does not become the fuel added to it for functioning, and an animal does not become the things it consumes for sustenance.

    We need to be joined ontologically to the divine nature, as Christ is ontologically joined to human nature.

    Did the Son need to be joined to human nature? Or do you mean that we need to be joined to the divine nature in the way that the Son is (without necessity) joined to the human?

    Horton seems to conceive of the union of Christ’s people with Christ as merely a stipulation of the divine will, not an ontological union, not a “fusion”, as he put it.

    No Horton doesn’t imply that the union is merely a stipulation; you’re neglecting the spiritual aspect (i.e., Holy-Spirit aspect).

    Ontological union with Christ through His sacraments is replaced by transactional exchanges through covenants.

    If by “transactional exhanges” you mean something purely forensic, then, again, no; for the same reason (Holy-Spirit aspect). The sacraments are genuine means of grace for the Reformed.

    But, if we are not made partakers of the divine nature, then there is no need for Christ to have become a partaker of human nature. The whole point of Christ becoming a partaker of human nature was so that we, through ontological union with Christ, could become partakers of His divine nature.

    The Son partook of human nature so that (at least) the seed of the woman could crush the serpent’s head. It’s obviously false that the “whole point” of the Incarnation was an ontological union; and I don’t see why I should think such a union was even a point. I was separated from God by sin, not by my (mere) humanity; and my non-divinity is a pre-condition of my very existence and hence of my fellowship with God, not an obstacle to it. Can a human be transformed into a rock; or would that not be, instead, the destruction of a human and coming-into-existence of a rock in its place? a fortiori how can I become divine and still exist?

    Therefore, if the husband is one flesh with his wife, then it is false that we through our incorporation into Christ’s Mystical Body do not become one flesh with Christ

    Husbands do not become one flesh, in the sense of ontological fusion, with their wives! Paul’s writing here hardly demonstrates your point, when the kind of union he speaks of is ostensibly not the kind of union you are claiming exists between Christ and the Church. (I’m not claiming that Paul contradicts your point, because the husband-wife relation is only a picture of the Christ-church relation.) It is to be sure a very intimate and important union, but then again it is only your characterization of Horton’s position (as purely stipulative, like a customer and a product, etc.) that gives the impression that Horton has denied such a feature of the Church’s relation with Christ. There is a middle ground position between that of a nominal and that of an ontological union; and just as you admit (below) an eschatological enhancement of the relation, so too will such an enhancement be maintained by Horton (I’m sure).

    That one-flesh union of Christ with His Spouse is perfected at His return, when we shall see Him face to face.

    At his bodily return =]. (Will I be fused with the face I see with my eyes, or just with the hands and/or feet?)

  4. Dan,

    Thanks for commenting. I fixed your html tags. Our site did not recognize those you were using.

  5. Dan,

    Thanks for your comments. You raise many different points and questions, and it would be far too much to go into all of them at once. It would be better to focus on just a few things at a time, and preferably that which is fundamental to the others. I find the following three to be the fundamental points.

    First, you seem to think that our only two options are these: either we are made parts of Christ’s physical Body, or St. Paul’s meaning in 1 Cor 12 is not literal but merely figurative. That is the ecclesial form of Capharnaitism. The Capharnaites thought of the Eucharist carnally, and imagined that Jesus would cut off parts from His body, and give it to them. But the traditional position regarding the Mystical Body is that St. Paul is speaking literally, not of Christ’s physical Body, but of His Mystical Body. Christ’s Mystical Body is no more metaphorical than Eve was to Adam. It is a real Body, formed from Christ’s own physical Body, sustained and supported by Him as its Head. If the Mystical Body of Christ were a mere metaphor, then it would follow that it is not visible, even while individual embodied believers are visible. (See here.)

    The second fundamental point has to do with the original state of man, and the impossibility of attaining to the Beatific Vision apart from participating in the divine nature. The Pelagian error denied man’s supernatural end, and hence denied that man (even prior to the Fall) needed grace to attain salvation. Christ, the Second Adam, restored what the first Adam lost. Christ restored to us justice and sanctity. Hence the first Adam had these, and lost them through sin. God made man in justice and holiness. In that respect Adam and Eve were in friendship with God, having agape, which is a supernatural gift from God. By their sin they lost agape, as can be seen in their fleeing from God and hiding from Him. This is why we are said to be renewed. In Christ, we are made new again, with the supernatural gift of righteous the first couple possessed in the Garden. St. Augustine explains:

    We have received justice from which man had fallen off through sin. (De Gen. ad Litt. VI.24.35)

    And the second Council of Orange (529) teaches the same thing, against the Pelagians:

    Even if human nature remained in that integrity in which it was formed, it would in no way save itself without the help of its Creator. (Can. 19)

    Even if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they could never have been saved apart from the help of divine grace, which is the supernatural gift of participation in the divine nature, for a creature cannot of itself attain to anything divine. But the supernatural life which is heaven is divine. Hence no creature can of itself attain to heaven, apart from the gift of grace, the gratuitous gift of participation in the divine nature by which man is elevated to a supernatural end, a good that entirely exceeds what man can imagine or conceive. (1 Cor 2:9)

    And St. Thomas Aquinas adds:

    Some say that man was not created in grace; but that it was bestowed on him subsequently before sin: and many authorities of the Saints declare that man possessed grace in the state of innocence. But the very rectitude of the primitive state, wherewith man was endowed by God, seems to require that, as others say, he was created in grace, according to Ecclesiastes 7:30, “God made man right.” For this rectitude consisted in his reason being subject to God, the lower powers to reason, and the body to the soul: and the first subjection was the cause of both the second and the third; since while reason was subject to God, the lower powers remained subject to reason, as Augustine says [Cf. De Civ. Dei xiii, 13; De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. i, 16. Now it is clear that such a subjection of the body to the soul and of the lower powers to reason, was not from nature; otherwise it would have remained after sin; since even in the demons the natural gifts remained after sin, as Dionysius declared (Div. Nom. iv). Hence it is clear that also the primitive subjection by virtue of which reason was subject to God, was not a merely natural gift, but a supernatural endowment of grace; for it is not possible that the effect should be of greater efficiency than the cause. Hence Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiii, 13) that, “as soon as they disobeyed the Divine command, and forfeited Divine grace, they were ashamed of their nakedness, for they felt the impulse of disobedience in the flesh, as though it were a punishment corresponding to their own disobedience.” Hence if the loss of grace dissolved the obedience of the flesh to the soul, we may gather that the inferior powers were subjected to the soul through grace existing therein. (Summa Theologica I Q.95 a.1 co.)

    And the Council of Trent ruled definitively:

    If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse, let him be anathema. (Session V.1)

    The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord; this is not merely everlasting existence; this is a participation in God’s own divine life. Heaven is eternal life. Hence, since to have eternal life one must participate in the divine nature, one cannot enter Heaven without participating in the divine nature.

    The third fundamental point is the nature of sin. You claimed:

    Rather, it is a solution (though I do not claim it is merely a solution) to the problem of sin; an ethical, not ontological, problem.

    That is Manichean dualism. As St. Augustine explained, sin is not only a privation of goodness; sin is also a privation of being. On the relation of goodness and being, see Summa Theologica I Q.5. Man’s moral problem is also an ontological problem. Mortal sin drives out divine life from the soul. To be dead in sin is not merely an ethical problem; it is also an ontological problem. It is to *lack* a participation in the divine life, which is God’s very own Being. A mere turning of the will is not sufficient to recover that divine life, because the act of a mere creature cannot obtain to a supernatural end. Hence the fundamental ethical problem of fallen man is an ontological problem; he needs grace, i.e. participation in the divine nature. This grace comes to us through the sacraments, by which we receive the divine life, the eternal life.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  6. Andrew,
    I appreciate your modifying the formatting of my post; especially for the italics. Incidentally I’m trying another attempt at quoting/italicizing (it would be nice if there were a “preview” button so one could see what one’s post would look like before submitting).

  7. Bryan,
    Thanks for your post.

    B: First, you seem to think that our only two options are these: either we are made parts of Christ’s physical Body, or St. Paul’s meaning in 1 Cor 12 is not literal but merely figurative.

    D: I never used the word ‘figurative’ (nor ‘merely figurative’) and never discussed 1 Cor. 12. Perhaps you inferred that I entertain a “figurative” interpretation of the Church’s being Christ’s body from my use of ‘literal’ (or ‘non-literal’) in a couple of places. By a literal interpretation of ‘body’ I meant the everyday interpretation of ‘body’, which is material and, in the case of living beings, biological. Hence a non-literal interpretation of the claim that the Church is Christ’s body would be an interpretation that did not identify the church with Christ’s physical body. Such an interpretation, being negative (i.e., it is not like this), is susceptible to multiple different ways of fleshing out (pun inadvertent). I didn’t actually defend any particular view myself, but defended Horton’s view (or his brief statement concerning it), that our union with Christ is covenantal and spiritual, from some of your criticism.

    B: The second fundamental point has to do with the original state of man, and the impossibility of attaining to the Beatific Vision apart from participating in the divine nature.

    D: Just in case it’s unclear, by “participation in the divine nature” I take you to mean an ontological fusion between God and a human, i.e., a union of being between the two; based on your original post and your statement in this post that lacking such participation is to lack “God’s very own Being.”

    B: The Pelagian error denied man’s supernatural end, and hence denied that man (even prior to the Fall) needed grace to attain salvation.

    D: Salvation? There was nothing for man to be saved from prior to the Fall. This is not to say that pre-fallen man did not have an unrealized eschatological telos (for glorified existence and fellowship with God).

    B: Christ, the Second Adam, restored what the first Adam lost. Christ restored to us justice and sanctity. Hence the first Adam had these, and lost them through sin. God made man in justice and holiness. In that respect Adam and Eve were in friendship with God, having agape, which is a supernatural gift from God. By their sin they lost agape, as can be seen in their fleeing from God and hiding from Him. This is why we are said to be renewed. In Christ, we are made new again, with the supernatural gift of righteous the first couple possessed in the Garden.

    D: I agree, in essence, with this. But in your last post you claimed more. You asserted the necessity of man’s ontological union with God, through the Incarnate Christ. Hence, it seems you’ve implied that Christ provides something more than Adam lost, something Adam never had; that is, unless the hypostatic union achieved in the Incarnation is something Adam either had or could have achieved without the Incarnation?

    B: Even if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they could never have been saved apart from the help of divine grace, which is the supernatural gift of participation in the divine nature, for a creature cannot of itself attain to anything divine. But the supernatural life which is heaven is divine. Hence no creature can of itself attain to heaven, apart from the gift of grace, the gratuitous gift of participation in the divine nature by which man is elevated to a supernatural end, a good that entirely exceeds what man can imagine or conceive. (1 Cor 2:9)

    D: You’ve asserted that pre-fallen Adam and Eve needed to be saved. I don’t even know what this is supposed to mean. You’ve also asserted that grace is fusion with God and that heaven is divine. If you have an argument for any of these claims, I’m all ears =]. I don’t mean to imply that you’re obligated to provide me with one/some, though; it’s also beneficial to just hear your perspective. You seem to suggest that the following citation from Trent

    Trent: If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse, let him be anathema (end quote)

    supports your claims, since after your assertions you say “And the Council of Trent ruled…” and then provide the citation, but I fail to see how the citation says anything of the kind. I don’t see anything in the citation I would disagree with.

    B: The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord; this is not merely everlasting existence; this is a participation in God’s own divine life.

    D: Of course eternal life is not merely everlasting existence; but it’s a big leap from there to the idea that it is ontological union with God.

    After I said “Rather, it is a solution (though I do not claim it is merely a solution) to the problem of sin; an ethical, not ontological, problem,” you said

    B: That is Manichean dualism. As St. Augustine explained, sin is not only a privation of goodness; sin is also a privation of being.

    D: You seem to be suggesting that the Manicheans held, contra Augustine, that sin is not a privation of being. I don’t see how its meaningful (or argumentatively relevant) to compare what I said with such a view, since I do not endorse the ancient Platonic conception of being. Hence, in distinguishing an issue of being from an issue of morality I would not mean what a Platonist would mean by using similar words.

    B: Man’s moral problem is also an ontological problem. Mortal sin drives out divine life from the soul.

    D: Pre-fallen man did not have a moral problem, but he was not ontologically fused with God; was not united to Christ and through him hypostatically united with the divine; was not in “heaven”. Hence, pre-fall an ontological “problem” obtained, but there was no moral problem. It follows that there is an ontological “problem” that is not a moral one, and further that the moral problem of sin is not an ontological problem; unless you are going to introduce more than one ontological problem.

    B: To be dead in sin is not merely an ethical problem; it is also an ontological problem. It is to *lack* a participation in the divine life, which is God’s very own Being.

    D: If to be dead in sin is to lack participation in God’s very own being, then everything not fused with God’s being is sinful; which is absurd (e.g., implies that rocks and trees are sinful) and unbiblical (e.g., denies the Fall of non-deified humans into sin).

    Dan

  8. Dan,

    I prefer not to dialogue with long lists of point-counterpart exchanges. I find that form tedious and almost always unprofitable. I find it much more profitable to focus on one or two points at a time. So here are two:

    D: Salvation? There was nothing for man to be saved from prior to the Fall. This is not to say that pre-fallen man did not have an unrealized eschatological telos (for glorified existence and fellowship with God).

    Salvation is not only salvation from, it is also salvation to. And that supernatural end (the Beatific Vision) is impossible to attain, apart from grace. Aquinas explains:

    But man’s perfect Happiness, as stated above (Question 3, Article 8), consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. Now the vision of God’s Essence surpasses the nature not only of man, but also of every creature, as was shown in the I, 12, 4. For the natural knowledge of every creature is in keeping with the mode of his substance: thus it is said of the intelligence (De Causis; Prop. viii) that “it knows things that are above it, and things that are below it, according to the mode of its substance.” But every knowledge that is according to the mode of created substance, falls short of the vision of the Divine Essence, which infinitely surpasses all created substance. Consequently neither man, nor any creature, can attain final Happiness by his natural powers. (Summa Theologica I-II Q.5 a.5 co.)

    And that is why Adam and Eve were given grace by God, prior to their Fall. It was by grace that they were able to walk with God in the cool of the day. No one can have friendship with God apart from grace, because no one can have agape without grace. And this grace is a participation in the divine nature by which man is elevated to a supernatural end.

    Secondly, you wrote:

    If to be dead in sin is to lack participation in God’s very own being, then everything not fused with God’s being is sinful;

    That is a non sequitur, because the unspoken referent of the antecedent of the conditional is the rational creature (humans and angels). Only rational creatures have the capacity to receive the life of God. Only rational creatures have the capacity to sin. Hence just as a rock is not properly said to be blind, so also only those creatures that have the capacity to receive the life of God are, when lacking it, properly said to be dead in sin.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  9. Bryan,

    Dan: Salvation? There was nothing for man to be saved from prior to the Fall. This is not to say that pre-fallen man did not have an unrealized eschatological telos (for glorified existence and fellowship with God).

    Bryan: Salvation is not only salvation from, it is also salvation to. And that supernatural end (the Beatific Vision) is impossible to attain, apart from grace. Aquinas explains:

    Aquinas does not say (in the citation) that a gift of grace, elevating the powers of a man beyond his “natural” ones, amounts to God’s giving His being to someone. And although I am no Aquinas scholar, I would doubt that he seriously maintained such a doctrine, given divine simplicity. If you want me to take this prima facie (to me) philosophically absurd and theologically flawed idea seriously, I’ll need some kind of argument or explanation. It sounds absurd because of the obvious gulf between the kind of thing deity is and the kind of thing humanity (or a human) is. An infant human can become an adolescent human (persisting through the change), whereas an adolescent cannot become a stone (such a transformation would involve the destruction of one thing and the introduction of a non-identical thing, not the persistence of one thing through a change). A human can become a glorified human, with a glorified body and a morally pure soul. But a human cannot become God; for the same reason that any instance of some kind of thing cannot become (i.e., persist into) an instance of some radically different kind of thing. It sounds theologically flawed because, for one thing, it seems utterly unbiblical (where is grace identified with God (i.e., with His being)?). Grace is God’s favor, not God’s being. And if we turn to a subjective or renovative sense of grace (i.e., grace “in” one), then even here there is no reason, that I see, to identify the grace with God’s being.

    Even if salvation is to something, that does not imply that is not also from something as well. If you are using the term such that it is only to, and not from, something, then I think you’re using it in a peculiar way. If you are using it such that it is both to and from something, if you spell out explicitly what it is that Adam and Eve, pre-fallen, needed to be saved from, it will also be apparent that you’re using the term in a peculiar way (at least in my experience). But you’re of course entitled to stipulate the term to mean whatever you want, as long as it’s clear how you’re using it.

    Bryan: To be dead in sin is not merely an ethical problem; it is also an ontological problem. It is to *lack* a participation in the divine life, which is God’s very own Being.

    Dan: If to be dead in sin is to lack participation in God’s very own being, then everything not fused with God’s being is sinful;

    Bryan: That is a non sequitur, because the unspoken referent of the antecedent of the conditional is the rational creature (humans and angels).

    I interpreted your ‘It is to’ as indicating an equivalence between the things on each side. Hence, the claim that to be dead in sin is to lack God’s being was taken to indicate an equivalence, i.e., that what it is to be dead in sin is to lack God’s being. If two concepts are equivalent, then something satisfying one satisfies the other. So if we add in being rational to the left side (such that it is “being a rational creature dead in sin”), that would imply that something that lacks God’s being (e.g., rocks) are not only dead in sin but also rational creatures dead in sin. Clearly you don’t think this, nor did you think that rocks are dead in sin at all (rational or not). But then either you need to modify what you’ve said, or I need to interpret it differently. Perhaps the idea is that there is an equivalence between a human’s being dead in sin and a human’s lacking God’s being. But this raises the question of why there is something bad about a rational creature’s lacking God’s being and not about something else’s lacking God’s being. It is easy to explain why a human can be a sinner and not a rock, on my view; since sin involves transgression of the law of God, and such transgression implies the exercise of will. There is nothing sinful about being non-divine(!), and hence there is no moral problem with non-rational creatures.

    Only rational creatures have the capacity to receive the life of God.

    But according to what you’ve stated about moral and ontological issues, rational creatures are sinful unless they actually have God’s being. To be sinful is to lack God’s being. Bryan, was Adam created divine (assuming such a supposition even makes sense)? If not, then was he created in a state of sin, under the wrath and indignation of God? Which of us is actually being consistent with Trent, here?

    Best,
    Dan

  10. Dan,

    Instead of responding to everything in your last comment, I’ll focus on the first three sentences, and the last paragraph. Aquinas did in fact teach that grace is a participation in the divine nature. Grace, for Aquinas and the Catholic Church, is not merely divine favor. Aquinas writes:

    According to the common manner of speech, grace is usually taken in three ways. First, for anyone’s love, as we are accustomed to say that the soldier is in the good graces of the king, i.e. the king looks on him with favor. Secondly, it is taken for any gift freely bestowed, as we are accustomed to say: I do you this act of grace. Thirdly, it is taken for the recompense of a gift given “gratis,” inasmuch as we are said to be “grateful” for benefits. Of these three the second depends on the first, since one bestows something on another “gratis” from the love wherewith he receives him into his good “graces.” And from the second proceeds the third, since from benefits bestowed “gratis” arises “gratitude.”

    Now as regards the last two, it is clear that grace implies something in him who receives grace: first, the gift given gratis; secondly, the acknowledgment of the gift. But as regards the first, a difference must be noted between the grace of God and the grace of man; for since the creature’s good springs from the Divine will, some good in the creature flows from God’s love, whereby He wishes the good of the creature. On the other hand, the will of man is moved by the good pre-existing in things; and hence man’s love does not wholly cause the good of the thing, but pre-supposes it either in part or wholly. Therefore it is clear that every love of God is followed at some time by a good caused in the creature, but not co-eternal with the eternal love. And according to this difference of good the love of God to the creature is looked at differently. For one is common, whereby He loves “all things that are” (Wisdom 11:25), and thereby gives things their natural being. But the second is a special love, whereby He draws the rational creature above the condition of its nature to a participation of the Divine good; and according to this love He is said to love anyone simply, since it is by this love that God simply wishes the eternal good, which is Himself, for the creature. (Summa Theologica I-II Q.110 a.1 co.)

    The idea that grace is merely divine favor is a nominalistic conception of grace, and entails Pelagianism. Here’s why. If grace were merely divine favor, then so long as God had a favorable disposition toward Adam and Eve, then by their own efforts they could have attained the supernatural end of the perfect Happiness of the Beatific Vision. But, for the reasons I pointed out in comment #8, man, by his natural powers cannot attain a supernatural end. That is why Pelagianism ultimately reduces to one of two claims: it either denies that man has a supernatural end (and thus denies that man needs participation in the divine nature to attain that end) or it denies that grace is a participation in the divine nature (and thus implies that man, by his own natural power, can attain to a supernatural end). Claiming that Adam and Eve could attain heaven without participation in the divine nature is Pelagianism in that it entails either that man by his own natural powers can attain a supernatural end or that heaven is natural, i.e. not supernatural. Adam and Eve could have attained the supernatural end which is the Beatific Vision only if they were elevated by divine grace (i.e. participation in the divine nature) so that their actions were moved by a supernatural principle and ordered to a supernatural end, as Aquinas explains:

    “virtue is disposition of what is perfect–and I call perfect what is disposed according to its nature.” Now from this it is clear that the virtue of a thing has reference to some pre-existing nature, from the fact that everything is disposed with reference to what befits its nature. But it is manifest that the virtues acquired by human acts of which we spoke above (55, seqq.) are dispositions, whereby a man is fittingly disposed with reference to the nature whereby he is a man; whereas infused virtues dispose man in a higher manner and towards a higher end, and consequently in relation to some higher nature, i.e. in relation to a participation of the Divine Nature, according to 2 Peter 1:4: “He hath given us most great and most precious promises; that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine Nature.” And it is in respect of receiving this nature that we are said to be born again sons of God.

    And thus, even as the natural light of reason is something besides the acquired virtues, which are ordained to this natural light, so also the light of grace which is a participation of the Divine Nature is something besides the infused virtues which are derived from and are ordained to this light, hence the Apostle says (Ephesians 5:8): “For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light.” For as the acquired virtues enable a man to walk, in accordance with the natural light of reason, so do the infused virtues enable a man to walk as befits the light of grace. (Summa Theologica I-II Q.110 a.3 co.)

    Virtue, explains Aquinas, is a disposition according to a thing’s nature. But the supernatural virtues exceed man’s nature, in that they dispose man towards a higher end, in relation to a higher nature. That higher nature is the divine nature. Receiving this divine nature, explains Aquinas, is what it means to be born again as sons of God. Only by receiving this divine nature are our actions and dispositions capable of being ordered to that supernatural end. Without participating in the divine nature, our actions would be ordered toward at most a natural end. But that natural end is not the supernatural end, i.e. the perfect happiness of God Himself, i.e. the Beatific Vision.

    Participating in the divine nature is not incompatible with God’s simplicity. Participating in the divine nature does not mean that God cuts off a part of Himself and gives it to us. It means that our being participates in His being, elevated to that eternal life of the three Divine Persons, such that we are made sons of God. To get some idea of it, think of Jesus’ physical body. His physical body now participates in the life of the Triune God. His physical body is both created and divine. So by our baptism we too are made partakers of the divine nature, and become sons of God, by natural gift of God we are creatures, and by supernatural gift of God we are granted to participate in His divine nature, such that we are sons of God.

    Lastly, you wrote:

    But according to what you’ve stated about moral and ontological issues, rational creatures are sinful unless they actually have God’s being. To be sinful is to lack God’s being. Bryan, was Adam created divine (assuming such a supposition even makes sense)? If not, then was he created in a state of sin, under the wrath and indignation of God?

    Rational creatures are sinful unless they actually have God’s being (i.e. participate in His divine nature), only because God always offers His grace, and so therefore not having grace is [for those having reached the age of reason] only the result of having sinfully rejected God’s grace. Adam was created with grace (i.e. participation in the divine nature), as I explained here, just as the angels were created in grace, as I explained here. Adam was not created in a state of sin.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  11. Bryan,

    Aquinas did in fact teach that grace is a participation in the divine nature.

    The question is whether he taught that grace is God’s very being, and only if Aquinas meant, by ‘participation’, a fusion or identity or overlap of being does the following portion of the citation agree with what you’ve said (which is a distinct issue from giving a good reason to think it’s true, or, for that matter, giving an explanation of how to even make sense of the idea):

    AquinasBut the second is a special love, whereby He draws the rational creature above the condition of its nature to a participation of the Divine good; and according to this love He is said to love anyone simply, since it is by this love that God simply wishes the eternal good, which is Himself, for the creature. (Summa Theologica I-II Q.110 a.1 co.)

    You have repeatedly used the language of ‘participation’ in making your claims, and that is fine, but what is in dispute is not that language per se but the idea of the fusion of the grace-recipient’s being with God’s very being.

    Adam was created with grace (i.e. participation in the divine nature),

    Thanks for answering my question, but now it’s hard to see what you mean by participating in God’s being, being ontologically fused with him; because when I think of Adam, as created, it seems obvious that his being is not fused with God’s. Was he glorified, as the creation and the church will be post eschaton? Did he have the beatific vision? Was he hypostatically united to God through Christ? Was he deified? But if not, then are you holding that being fused with God can be a matter of degree; and does that not suggest that Adam was in fact created sinful to some degree (given your equation of moral and ontological issues)?

    Participating in the divine nature is not incompatible with God’s simplicity. Participating in the divine nature does not mean that God cuts off a part of Himself and gives it to us.

    Right; God has no parts, and hence we cannot be given a part. But that means that for our being to fuse with God’s, our being must be fused with all of God’s being, the whole of God. One problem with this is that when Aquinas explicates simplicity (in the 1st part of ST, the section on simplicity) he denies not only that God has parts, but also that God is a part of anything else. If the whole of God is fused with someone, then although that avoids implying that God has parts, it implies that God is part of other things; contra Aquinas.

    It means that our being participates in His being, elevated to that eternal life of the three Divine Persons, such that we are made sons of God. To get some idea of it, think of Jesus’ physical body. His physical body now participates in the life of the Triune God.

    You call for me (or anyone) to “think of” Jesus’s physical body, implying that you’re appealing to some non-controversial point to help establish your controversial one. But I don’t see such an aid in considering Jesus’s body, since I see no reason to think his physical body is fused with God’s being. Christ’s human and divine natures are distinct, not confused or co-mingled etc. It seems to me an appeal to the Incarnation hurts, rather than helps, your point.

    His physical body is both created and divine.

    No it isn’t. Being created is incompatible with being divine, as an essential property of deity (so it seems most evident to me) is uncreatedness; and hence something that is created cannot be divine, and vice versa. (This also strongly suggests a denial of simplicity, because the idea that God at one time lacked a physical body (before the Incarnation) and then acquired one seems to entail that God gains a part.) There is no counterexample in the truth, “Christ is both physical and divine,” for strictly speaking what is physical in Christ (his human nature) is distinct from what his divine in him (his divine nature). This does not mean it is inappropriate to say things like “Christ is both physical and divine,” for Scripture attributes things to the person that obviously strictly speaking apply to only one of the natures (e.g., God purchased people with his blood).

    The idea that grace is merely divine favor is a nominalistic conception of grace, and entails Pelagianism. Here’s why. If grace were merely divine favor, then so long as God had a favorable disposition toward Adam and Eve, then by their own efforts they could have attained the supernatural end of the perfect Happiness of the Beatific Vision.

    I deny that if grace were merely divine favor, it would follow that Adam and Eve could have by their own efforts attained a supernatural end, because it is possible that they required divine aid to do such a thing and yet the divine aid was something else than grace. In other words, the dispute is over the proper referent of ‘grace’, and I can find your definition ludicruous without denying that there is indeed something that performs some of the functions you take “grace” to perform (such as elevating man’s powers, spurring to action, etc.). I can hold that when the Scripture says someone is “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” ‘grace’ refers to divine favor; and yet that of course anyone who is a recipient of such grace is affected, internally, in certain ways (e.g., given the gift of faith). And just to be clear, I don’t think I claimed that grace was merely divine favor. I am open to the idea that it has a semantic range.

    Dan

  12. Dan,

    Instead of a fisk-style exchange, which is tedious and makes much more work (because so many of the points are based on misunderstandings/disagreements on certain more fundamental points), a much better form of interaction is to focus on one or two points at a time, and then work back later to questions or disagreements yet unresolved. Let me address your claim about Christ’s physical Body, because that is a crucial point to resolve. You wrote:

    I see no reason to think his physical body is fused with God’s being. Christ’s human and divine natures are distinct, not confused or co-mingled etc.

    Of course Christ’s two natures are not confused or co-mingled. But denying that Christ’s physical Body is God is Nestorianism. Mary gave birth to God, not just to a nature or to a body. And hence the Being she gave birth to is eternal, because God is eternal. Even though His physical Body came into existence, it came into an eternal existence, because the Being it acquired is God’s very Being, the Being of the One eternally begotten of the Father. Elsewhere I wrote:

    If you had lived in Galilee in AD 31, and gone down by the Lake and seen a crowd, and pushed your way through to the source of the attention, what exactly would you be looking at? A body? Yes, but more than a body. A man? Yes, but more than a man. A nature? Yes, but more than a nature. You would be looking at God. Jesus was not a human nature extrinsically connected to God. Nor was He a human being or human person extrinsically connected to God. Both of those are Nestorianism. They fail to recognize that what came forth from the womb of the virgin Mary was not a nature, but a divine Person in two natures. Jesus is the Logos. The ‘is’ is not one of extrinsic unity. A greater unity takes up within itself lesser unities. The divine Person (i.e. the Second Person of the Trinity) took human nature upon Himself, such that its act of being was His Person.

    To touch Jesus, was to touch God, just as to give birth to Jesus was to give birth to God (Theotokos). And it is equally true that God suffered and died on the cross, even though God in His divine nature cannot suffer or die. Yet Christ in His human nature can and did suffer and die. To touch Jesus was to touch something eternal. But wasn’t the matter composing His body created? Yes. But what is in front of you (on the shore of Galilee) is not merely matter. Nor is it merely matter and a soul (both of which were created). What is in front of you is the eternal Second Person of the Trinity. That is because the act of being, i.e. the act of existence, in which those created things (body and soul) have been taken up into, is the Eternal Logos. Just as when you eat an apple, and it becomes you, so the body and soul of Christ (though they didn’t exist before the moment of conception) were taken up into the Logos [at the moment of the incarnation] such that their identity and act of being is the identity and Being of the Logos [their human *nature* nevertheless preserved].

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  13. Dan (#11):

    You have repeatedly used the language of ‘participation’ in making your claims, and that is fine, but what is in dispute is not that language per se but the idea of the fusion of the grace-recipient’s being with God’s very being.

    I am not sure what you mean by “fusion,” or in what sense you are prepared to admit the language of “participation.”

    It might be helpful, at this point, to summarize Norman Russell’s taxonomy of “deification” (from The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, 1-3):

    Deification, or theois, is used in these senses:

    Nominal (honorific)
    Analogical (extrinsic likeness)
    Metaphorical (intrinsic likeness / real relation)

    There are two distinct Metaphorical senses of “deification”:

    Ethical (intrinsic likeness of shared property)
    Realistic (intrinsic likeness of participation)

    According to Russell, “participation occurs when an entity is defined in relation to something else. For example, a holy person is an entity distinct from holiness, but is defined as holy because he or she has a share in holiness.” Likewise, a person deified by participation in God is distinct from God, but is really deified precisely because he has a share in God.

  14. Bryan,

    Dan: I see no reason to think his physical body is fused with God’s being. Christ’s human and divine natures are distinct, not confused or co-mingled etc.

    Bryan: Of course Christ’s two natures are not confused or co-mingled. But denying that Christ’s physical Body is God is Nestorianism.

    Nestorianism denies the unity of the person, or, conversely, affirms the existence of a human person distinct from the person of the Logos (two persons). Denying that Christ’s body is divine is not tantamount to such a claim, nor does it imply such a claim; for the non-divinity of the body does not imply the existence of a mere human person embodied in that body. Christ’s body is the Logos’s body and no one else’s.

    You say “of course Christ’s two natures are not confused or co-mingled.” But what is his human nature, if not (in part) his body? If Christ’s human nature is non-divine, and his body divine, then his human nature is something other than his body. What is it?

    Mary gave birth to God, not just to a nature or to a body.

    She gave birth to God, in the sense that the only person occupying her womb was a divine one. I do not see reason to affirm that she gave birth to God, in the sense that God’s being was located in a region of space and then moved into another region of space (in the birth-event); it seems sufficient to hold that the divine nature was (is) united to a body that underwent such movement.

    If you had lived in Galilee in AD 31, and gone down by the Lake and seen a crowd, and pushed your way through to the source of the attention, what exactly would you be looking at? A body? Yes, but more than a body. A man? Yes, but more than a man. A nature? Yes, but more than a nature. You would be looking at God.

    We can see people in virtue of seeing parts of them. Suppose humans have a body and immaterial soul as parts. Even if my friend’s soul is an essential part of him, and even if his soul is constitutive of his personhood and his identity, I can see him (i.e., his person) without seeing his soul, in virtue of seeing his body. Likewise, I can see my friend (and his body) without seeing all of his body (e.g., all his organs). Perhaps we can even see people without seeing any part of them. It seems I can see a scuba diver in virtue of seeing the scuba gear he is wearing. In the case of Christ, I would say Galileans could see the person of Christ (who is a divine person) in virtue of seeing his body (one of the person’s parts); however, his divinity (divine nature) would not be seen.

    Jesus was not a human nature extrinsically connected to God. Nor was He a human being or human person extrinsically connected to God.

    I don’t know what “extrinsically connected” or “extrinsic unity” mean.

    Just as when you eat an apple, and it becomes you, so the body and soul of Christ (though they didn’t exist before the moment of conception) were taken up into the Logos [at the moment of the incarnation] such that their identity and act of being is the identity and Being of the Logos [their human *nature* nevertheless preserved]

    I probably don’t know what you mean by “taken up into” and “act of being” etc. If the identity of Christ’s body is the identity of the Logos, that seems to say that Christ’s body and the Logos are identical; which is false. The apple analogy seems to betray your concession that the natures are distinct. An apple can only become part of a human by being destroyed, by losings its distinctive nature (in being broken up into its atoms, etc.).

  15. Dan,

    Denying that Christ’s physical body is divine does entail Nestorianism, because it entails that there are two beings: a human being, and God. But a human being is ipso facto a human person, i.e. an individual substance of a rational nature. You claim that Christ’s [physical] body is the Logos’s body. But everything is the Logos’s. (1 Cor 10:26) For that reason, mere possession is not sufficient for the hypostatic union. The body that was pierced for our transgressions does not just belong to the Logos; it is the Logos. He was pierced for our transgressions. Otherwise, God didn’t die on the cross, only a body the Logos owned died on the cross.

    A body is not human nature or a part of human nature. A body is the organized material principle of a corporeal living substance. Bodies are not parts of natures. That would be a category mistake. Natures are formal. The nature of a thing is its formal principle, that which makes it to be the kind of thing that it is. A living body is a matter-form composite. To be human requires having a body, but that does not make a body a part of human nature. That’s why saying that that [physical] body is Christ is not saying that the divine nature is human nature, or that the divine nature is part of human nature, or that the human nature is part of the divine nature.

    The reason to affirm that Mary gave birth to God, is because the Council of Ephesus (431) declared this infallibly against the Nestorians. Mary is the Theotokos, the God-bearer. God was located in her womb, and then God came out of her womb. To deny this is to deny that this Child was(is) God. Your confusion about extrinsic and intrinsic union is (I think) what’s causing the problem here. The hypostatic union is not mere possession. The hypostatic union was in a certain sense like the union of a soul and body. My body is me. My soul is me. My body is not all of me, but it is me. My soul is not all of me, but it is me. Likewise, the instantaneous union of the Logos to human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin was not merely one of possession. It was an [instantaneous] becoming. At the moment of conception He became man, without ceasing to be God, and without changing. Matter which had not been God was, at the very same moment it was given a created soul, changed into God, by acquiring as its being the Being of God, in the Person of the Logos.

    Christ’s divine nature as it is in itself could not be seen when looking at Him in Nazareth AD 31. But that living, breathing body in front of you then was not a part of God; it was (and is) God, i.e. God in human flesh. If you punch me in the stomach, you haven’t just punched a part of me; you have punched me. (Reductionism is false.) Likewise, if you touched the Son of Man, you touched God, not a part of God, but God incarnate.

    The union of soul and body is not one of identity. The soul informs the body, such that one substance is formed. The soul is not identical to the body. And yet, together, they are each principles of one and the same substance. Likewise, just because Christ’s physical body is Christ Himself, that doesn’t entail that everything true about Christ’s body is true of Christ. My right arm is me. If you pinch my right arm, you have pinched me. But that doesn’t mean that every true statement about me is true of my right arm, or that every true statement about my right arm is true about me. You’re right that an apple can only become part of a human by being substantially changed. But in the case of the hypostatic union, the act of existence by which Christ’s body and soul have their being is not a created act of existence; it is the Eternal Being of God. And yet this body and soul are not destroyed by participating in the divine Being. They (united) retain their nature (i.e. human nature) while simultaneously being the Eternal Being of God, in the Logos.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  16. Bryan, A couple of things.

    Take a look at the last chapter of Covenant and Salvation. He stupidly writes the following. “Here the Irenean emphasis prevails over the Athanasian: just as Jesus’ humanity was not swallowed by his deity, the consummation will not render us as something more than human, but as perfectly human.” 286

    Anyone who was read Ireneaus knows that the same material and emphasis on theosis is found there that is later found in Athanasius. Horton apparently hasn’t read the primary texts.

    If the church is invisible, it’s the basis for denying icons of saints. If the saints be perfected, then they can’t be depicted. In a similar fashion did the Iconoclasts, waxing Origenistic distinguish between body and flesh, affirming the resurrection of the body, but denying that of the flesh. Horton is assuming that divinity and matter are somehow intrinsically opposed. His doctrine of creation is defective. See Giakalis, Images of the Divine.

    Second, Horton’s view mirrors in many respects that of Theodore of Mopsuestia who reserved the full effects of baptism and the sacraments to the future life-“The power of holy baptism consists in this: it implants in you the hope of future benefits, enables you to participate in the things which we expect, and by means of the symbols and signs of the future good things…” commentary on the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist, 53-54 Likewise incorruptability doesn’t strictly apply to Christ in his humanity, but only to him qua divinity. Here you can see a similar aversion to flesh.

    Keating writes “…we cannot speak of ‘salvation as divinization in Theodore. According to Norris, Theodore does not take the goal of redemption to be the divinization of man, but rather a return to humanity’s true obedience to God. The goal is the acquisition of immortality and sinlessness grounded in a free, rational obedience to God. This is precisely what Christ accomplished in his human life, through his union with the Word, and what we are called to accomplished through the grace of our union with Christ in the Spirit. According to Grillmeier, ‘The idea that comes into play here is not so much that of divinization as the idea of “conjunction”, conjuctio, and moral obedience, always with reference to Christ.’ Even when describing our heavenly existence where the full reality of our salvation will be accomplished, Theodore refrains from using language that would denote or even imply a direct participation in divine life. It is unsurprising that Theodore makes no use of 2 Pet 1:4, ‘partakers of the divine nature’, iin his estimation of the goal of salvation: he and the Antiochene tradition more widely did not accept 2 Peter as part of the canon of the New Testament. The characteristic feature of Theodore’s account of Christ, of the gift of the Spirit and of our sanctification, is the cautious remoteness of the divine from the human.” Keating, The Appropriation of Divine Life in Cyril of Alexandria, 225.

    Also, Horton has also denied the consubstantiality of Christ with all men. He also confuses person with nature, for if the unity with Christ’s flesh implied a fusion with Christ personally, this could only be true if nature and person are the same things in Christ.

    On the other hand Bryan, when you talk of participation in the divine nature, I am assuming you mean the divine essence. Obviously you do not think that the human nature becomes what the divine essence is. So what do you have in mind in terms of participation?

  17. Perry:

    On the other hand Bryan, when you talk of participation in the divine nature, I am assuming you mean the divine essence. Obviously you do not think that the human nature becomes what the divine essence is. So what do you have in mind in terms of participation?

    I hope this helps answer your question.

    Catholic Encyclopedia, article Supernatural Gift (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06553a.htm)

    A supernatural gift may be defined as something conferred on nature that is above all the powers (vires) of created nature. When God created man, He was not content with bestowing upon him the essential endowments required by man’s nature. He raised him to a higher state, adding certain gifts to which his nature had no claim. They comprise qualities and perfections, forces and energies, dignities and rights, destination to final objects, of which the essential constitution of man is not the principle; which are not required for the attainment of the final perfection of the natural order of man; and which can only be communicated by the free operation of God’s goodness and power. Some of these are absolutely supernatural, i.e. beyond the reach of all created nature (even of the angels), and elevate the creature to a dignity and perfection natural to God alone; others are only relatively supernatural (preternatural), i.e. above human nature only and elevate human nature to that state of higher perfection which is natural to the angels. The original state of man comprised both of these, and when he fell he lost both. Christ has restored to us the absolutely supernatural gifts, but the preternatural gifts He has not restored. …

    The absolutely supernatural gifts, which alone are the supernatural properly so called, are summed up in the divine adoption of man to be the son and heir of God. This expression, and the explanations given of it by the sacred writers, make it evident that the sonship is something far more than a relation founded upon the absence of sin; it is of a thoroughly intimate character, raising the creature from its naturally humble estate, and making it the object of a peculiar benevolence and complaisance on God’s part, admitting it to filial love, and enabling it to become God’s heir, i.e. a partaker of God’s own beatitude. …

    Divine adoption is a new birth of the soul (John 1:12-13 and 3:5; 1 John 3:9; 5:1; 1 Peter 1:3 and 1:23; James 1:18; Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:5). This regeneration implies the foundation of a higher state of being and life, resulting from a special Divine influence, and admitting us to the dignity of sons of God. “For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren” (Romans 8:29). cf. also 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 3:26-27 and 4:19; Romans 13:14. As a consequence of this Divine adoption and new birth we are made “partakers of the divine nature” (theias koinonoi physeos, 2 Peter 1:4). The whole context of this passage and the passages already quoted show that this expression is to be taken as literally as possible not, indeed, as a generation from the substance of God, but as a communication of Divine life by the power of God, and a most intimate indwelling of His substance in the creature. Hence, too, the inheritance is not confined to natural goods. It embraces the possession and fruition of the good which is the natural inheritance of the Son of God, viz., the beatific vision.

  18. Hi Andrew,

    Dan (t0 Bryan): You have repeatedly used the language of ‘participation’ in making your claims, and that is fine, but what is in dispute is not that language per se but the idea of the fusion of the grace-recipient’s being with God’s very being.
    Andrew: I am not sure what you mean by “fusion,”

    If x’s being and y’s being are fused (i.e., in a state of fusion), then at least part of x’s being is at least part of y’s being. In other words, x and y share some being, in the strictest sense of “share” (according to which, if two people “share” a necktie, there is just one tie to go around, that they have to alternate between them). Resemblance, even exact, between x and y is not sufficient for fusion; for x and y might not literally share any being.

    According to Russell, “participation occurs when an entity is defined in relation to something else. For example, a holy person is an entity distinct from holiness, but is defined as holy because he or she has a share in holiness.” Likewise, a person deified by participation in God is distinct from God, but is really deified precisely because he has a share in God.

    I’m not sure how to interpret all of this. Particularly, alot seems to hang on what it meant by having “a share in holiness” and “a share in God.” On one interpretation, I can see that it amounts to fusion; however on such an interpretation the idea that any human is ever fused with God strikes me as problematic. On another interpretation, it would not amount to fusion, but in such a case it seems misleading to equate “participation” with ontological union with God’s being (as has been done in this thread).

    Dan

  19. Bryan,

    Denying that Christ’s physical body is divine does entail Nestorianism, because it entails that there are two beings: a human being, and God.

    Denying that Christ’s body is divine does not entail that there is a human being and (in addition) God, because a human body is not the same thing as a human being. A human being has a body, a human being can exist apart from his body, and a body can exist even if a human being no longer does (as a corpse); all of which is inconsistent with the idea that a human body is a human being.

    You claim that Christ’s [physical] body is the Logos’s body. But everything is the Logos’s. (1 Cor 10:26)

    I didn’t merely say Christ’s body is the Logos’s body; I said it was the Logos’s body and no one else’s. Everything is not the Logos’s in this way. My body belongs to both myself and God (not in the same way); Christ’s body belongs to the Logos in the way in which my body belongs to me, and there is no one other than the Logos to which the body also belongs in this way.

    The body that was pierced for our transgressions does not just belong to the Logos; it is the Logos. He was pierced for our transgressions. Otherwise, God didn’t die on the cross, only a body the Logos owned died on the cross.

    The body that was pierced by nails is not the Logos; if x and y are identical, they have the same properties. But the body did not create all things visible and invisible, while the Logos did; and the body was created, while the Logos was not. I agree that he (the Logos) was pierced by nails, in the sense that his body was so pierced (which is how anyone who is so pierced gets pierced).

    The reason to affirm that Mary gave birth to God, is because the Council of Ephesus (431) declared this infallibly against the Nestorians.

    That’s no reason for me, since I don’t ascribe any such infallibility to the council. As stated in one of my first posts in the thread, I’m Protestant.

    Mary is the Theotokos, the God-bearer. God was located in her womb, and then God came out of her womb. To deny this is to deny that this child was(is) God.

    The import of the appellation, when understood in the context of the denial of Nestorianism, is that only one person came from Mary’s womb and that that person is God. I’ve already agreed with this. As far as the next sentence, it is not precise and I think I’ve already covered in a prior post the senses in which I would and would not agree with it.

    Your confusion about extrinsic and intrinsic union is (I think) what’s causing the problem here.

    I said I didn’t know what “extrinsic union” means. That’s because the phrase was used without explanation or definition, not because I was confused.

    It doesn’t seem to me that we are closing in on any consensus concerning the alleged fact that Christ’s body is divine, and hence on the idea that there is, therein, some sort of explanation of or analogy of or aid for understanding the alleged ontological union between other humans and God. However, it would seem the Incarnation should not be necessary for you to appeal to in this connection, since you have claimed, I think, that Adam was created in a state of ontological union with God. Was God incarnate in Adam, either as a whole or to some degree? If not, it seems the issue of ontological union is separable from the issue of divine incarnation.

    Dan

  20. A human being has a body, a human being can exist apart from his body

    We are not spirits who own bodies. We are essentially material beings, not accidentally. When we refer to a human, we are either referring to one substance or two (body and soul). If the human is essentially the soul then the body is a separate substance which is animated by the soul. In the case of the Incarnation – Bryan is absolutely right, that is Nestorianism exactly. But, as you said, with these councils not being infallible, perhaps Nestorius was right and the Church wrong. I have a Reformed friend who thinks this to be the case.

    The human soul can exist apart from the body but only because it has a proper operation (the intellect) and not because it is by nature a separate substance from the body. The body and soul are created together because, naturally, they belong together in the order of unity which we refer to as the human person. To repeat – the human person is not essentially a spirit which is accidentally linked up to, by ownership or any other means, a body.

    Also, a corpse is not a human. It is formerly human. The molecules that go into a brick are not essentially brick – they can be other things also. That doesn’t mean that a brick is essentially “brickness” and has nothing to do with its matter. Similarly, the molecules that make up our physical body are all things that are not essentially human, but while united to myself in the body, they are human. The water I drink becomes part of my body – I don’t merely claim ownership of a particular set of h20 molecules. So that when I die, the soul departs, and what remains is no longer my body – but a corpse. It now is merely water, carbon, and whatever else goes into the makeup. Formerly it was not.

    if x and y are identical, they have the same properties. But the body did not create all things visible and invisible, while the Logos did; and the body was created, while the Logos was not.

    Suppose that two years ago, I built a house. If I ask the question today, “are these the hands that built my house?” The answer is yes, even though they, materially speaking, are not the same hands. All those old cells have long died out and be replaced. The reason is that new matter is assumed into my body by means of consumption and nourishment. When that happens, the molecules lose their identity being united under the substance of hamburgers and pizza, and being assumed into the greater unity of my human body. These are now ME, they have not become owned by me, they have become me. It is right to say that these hands are the same as the hands two years ago. In like manner, the song, “Mary Did You Know” is quite right when it says “When you kiss this little Baby, then you’ve kissed the face of God.” And when we say Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the reference to Christ includes His Body even though, as the Divine Essence He is immutable, eternal, etc., and the molecules that belong to His Body, by definition, are not.

    Also, you do not understand Nestorianism (and that is why you think you are not Nestorian) Nestorius did not deny the unity of the person of Christ as you said above in 14. Here is Nestorius himself writing to St. Cyril of Alexandria:

    The body therefore is the temple of the deity of the Son, a temple which is united to it in a high and divine conjunction, so that the divine nature accepts what belongs to the body as its own. Such a confession is noble and worthy of the gospel traditions. But to use the expression “accept as its own” as a way of diminishing the properties of the conjoined flesh, birth, suffering and entombment, is a mark of those whose minds are led astray, my brother, by Greek thinking or are sick with the lunacy of Apollinarius and Arius or the other heresies or rather something more serious than these.

    The Catholic encyclopedia says this:

    Nestorius, as well as Theodore, repeatedly insisted that he did not admit two Christs or two Sons, and he frequently asserted the unity of the prosopon.

    A pro-Nestorian website (The “Nestorian Church” http://www.nestorian.org ) says this of his beliefs:

    1. Nestorius became bishop of Constantinople in 428. He came from the Antioch school and was taught theology there by Theodore of Mopsuestia. He opposed a relatively new theological and devotional slogan Theotokos – affirming that Mary was the “God-bearer” or “Mother of God.” Nestorius was concerned with the thought that God might be seen to have had a new beginning of some kind, or that he suffered or died. None of these things could happen to the infinite God. Therefore, instead of a God-man, he taught that there was the Logos and the “man who was assumed.” He favored the term “Christ-bearer” (Christotokos) as a summary of Mary’s role, or perhaps that she should be called both “God-bearer” and “Man-bearer” to emphasize Christ’s dual natures. He was accused of teaching a double personality of Christ. Two natures, and two persons. He denied the charge, but the term Nestorianism has always been linked with such a teaching.

    There is no substantial difference in the belief that you have articulated and what Nestorius held.

  21. Dan,

    This is the great tragedy of the Reformation. It not only was schismatic but it also has fallen into, in some places, Christological error. I had a seminary professor who once said to our class, “We do not worship the man Jesus but the Word.” He used this defend the Presbyterian position against icons and images (this was NOT at RTS but another reformed seminary I attended for a year). The sad part, as I recall this, is that many in the class did not recognize the Nestorian influence of this statement and the irony is that this professor would deny Nestorianism yet hold to de facto Nestorianism.

  22. Tim,

    Dan: A human being has a body, a human being can exist apart from his body
    Tim: We are not spirits who own bodies. We are essentially material beings, not accidentally.

    In saying that a human being “has” a body, I wasn’t intending to convey what you seem to think I believe. The point of using “has” was not to emphasize any idea of accidental connection but to emphasize the lack of identity (if x has y, and not vice versa, then it is false that x is identical with y). As far as my claim that a human being can exist apart from his body, you seem to agree (“The human soul can exist apart from the body but only because…”).

    Also, a corpse is not a human.

    I didn’t say it was. I said a human body can be a corpse.

    Dan: if x and y are identical, they have the same properties. But the body did not create all things visible and invisible, while the Logos did; and the body was created, while the Logos was not.
    Tim: Suppose that two years ago, I built a house. If I ask the question today, “are these the hands that built my house?” The answer is yes, even though they, materially speaking, are not the same hands.

    They are the same hands, but they are composed now by different material.

    All those old cells have long died out and be replaced. The reason is that new matter is assumed into my body by means of consumption and nourishment. When that happens, the molecules lose their identity being united under the substance of hamburgers and pizza, and being assumed into the greater unity of my human body. These are now ME, they have not become owned by me, they have become me.

    The molecules in the pizza did not lose their identity when the pizza was consumed, and for the same reason the molecules did not become you when you ate the pizza. The reason is the distinction between identity and constitution or composition. Certain molecules composed a pizza, and later on composed part of your body, but this is consistent with a molecule’s retaining the same identity through the change. In fact, the identity’s not changing is presupposed by the claim that a certain molecule was once in a pizza and later on in a body. But maybe we are not necessarily disagreeing as to substance.

    It is right to say that these hands are the same as the hands two years ago. In like manner, the song, “Mary Did You Know” is quite right when it says “When you kiss this little Baby, then you’ve kissed the face of God.”

    Provided you kiss the baby on the face =].

    And when we say Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the reference to Christ includes His Body even though, as the Divine Essence He is immutable, eternal, etc., and the molecules that belong to His Body, by definition, are not.

    Christ is the second person of the Trinity (‘is’ of identity). However, this does not mean his body stands in the same identity relation (to the second person of the Trinity), because even if the denotation of ‘Christ’ is some object part of which is the body, the identity relation conveyed in “Christ is the second person of the Trinity” does not necessarily obtain between the second person of the Trinity and all the parts or aspects of the object denoted by ‘Christ’. For example, Tim’s hands now are (‘are’ of identity) Tim’s hands two years ago; but the matter constituting Tim’s hands now is not the matter constituting Tim’s hands two years ago. (Further, supposing (say, by a miracle) the matter were the same, it would nevertheless be false that Tim’s hands now are the matter constituting Tim’s hands two years ago; because of different modal properties between hands and matter.) Therefore, even if certain matter is part of what is denoted by ‘Tim’s hands now’, the identity relation ascribed between Tim’s hands now and Tim’s hands two years ago in “Tim’s hands now are Tim’s hands two years ago” does not apply to the matter. Likewise, even if a body is part of what is denoted by ‘Christ’ in the claim “Christ is the second person of the Trinity,” the identity relation ascribed does not comprehend the body, but rather the person.

    Also, you do not understand Nestorianism (and that is why you think you are not Nestorian) Nestorius did not deny the unity of the person of Christ as you said above in 14.

    Actually, I never said Nestorius was a Nestorian. You are the first person to use the word ‘Nestorius’ in this thread; and one of the sources you quote supports my representation of the heresy (“Nestorianism”) in this thread:

    http://www.nestorian.org: He [Nestorius] was accused of teaching a double personality of Christ. Two natures, and two persons. He denied the charge, but the term Nestorianism has always been linked with such a teaching.

    Best,
    Dan

  23. Dan>

    The point of using “has” was not to emphasize any idea of accidental connection but to emphasize the lack of identity (if x has y, and not vice versa, then it is false that x is identical with y).

    The identity of both body and soul is in the higher unity of the human person to which they both belong.

    I didn’t say it was. I said a human body can be a corpse.

    If we qualify that saying “the material that composes a human body can be a corpse” then I can agree. The human body has the potential to become a corpse by the separation from the soul. But once it is separated from the soul, it is no longer a human body. Human bodies necessarily have souls- that’s what makes them human (as opposed to a Carl Sagan experiment where he combines all the particular chemicals in their exact ratios).

    The molecules in the pizza did not lose their identity when the pizza was consumed

    They no longer make a pizza and it’s not intelligible to call my body an animated mound of pizza, beer, rice and whatever else I consume. My body has its own identity and things which are assumed into my body are taken up into that unity. I don’t see anyway around this, but maybe you can clarify how you think that pizza remains pizza after it comes into me. (To clarify, we’re not talking about the chemical make up of the molecules, we’re talking about what the thing is.)

    In fact, the identity’s not changing is presupposed by the claim that a certain molecule was once in a pizza and later on in a body.

    A change occurs in the pizza; all changes presuppose at least something persisting through the change. But, there is such a thing as “tree” and “not tree”. When we look at what composes a tree, all of those molecules had to go, somehow, from “not tree” to “tree.” Likewise for human bodies. The substance is said to change, even if appearances remains, when a thing is taken up into a higher order of unity. Otherwise, only non-reducible elements would be substances. All other things would just be collections of substances. If we can come to agree on this concept, then we will agree on the rest. If not, we can’t.

    one of the sources you quote supports my representation of the heresy (”Nestorianism”) in this thread:

    Believing in two persons would certainly be under the scope of the condemnation of Nestorianism. But the fullness of the condemnation falls to anyone who will not affirm the fullness of the Incarnation – i.e. that Jesus’ hand was the hand of God, so God’s hand was nailed to the Cross, that Mary is the mother of God, and that His Body is Divine.

  24. Dan, (re: #19)

    You seem to think that the only two options are having a body (like having a pet, or having a car) and being identical to a body. You say that Christ can’t be identical to His physical body, and therefore His physical body cannot be Him, and must only be something He owns. You don’t seem to realize that there is a third option. As a result, Christ’s being crucified is, for God, according to your Christology, like someone totaling your car, or killing your pet. You say:

    I didn’t merely say Christ’s body is the Logos’s body; I said it was the Logos’s body and no one else’s. Everything is not the Logos’s in this way. My body belongs to both myself and God (not in the same way); Christ’s body belongs to the Logos in the way in which my body belongs to me, and there is no one other than the Logos to which the body also belongs in this way.

    According to your position, incarnation just means that God makes a zombie. Then, since nobody else owns the zombie, and since God owns it, therefore God has become incarnate.

    But the incarnation is so much more than God owning a zombie; it is so much more than God ‘turning the lights out’ in a rational creature (or preventing the ‘lights’ from coming on). Instead of demon-possession, you have construed the incarnation as if Jesus were Logos-possessed. The incarnation is not Jesus possessing a human being or possessing a human body or possessing a human soul. The incarnation is the Logos becoming human, not through a change in the Logos, but by taking taking up a body and rational soul into His very act of existence, as I explained above. Union is not necessarily Leibnizian identity. A human being (with body and rational soul) is ipso facto a human person. The only way (if it could be) for God to make a zombie is either not to make a body, or not to make a rational soul. As soon as God joins a rational soul to a body, there is a human person; that existing being is ipso facto a human person.

    So that’s why the position you’re describing is Nestorian, because metaphysically, adoptionism is Nestorian, even if the human person is by stipulation suppressed or eliminated (zombified). The position you are describing requires that you stipulate zombiehood in order to avoid the human person coming into existence. But you seem not to realize that when God creates a human soul, and unites it to a human body, He does not then create an additional entity, i.e. a human person. The human person just is the rational corporal substance formed by the union of body and soul. So wherever there is a human being, that same entity is a human person. So, by having two beings (i.e. a human being, and a divine being), your position is Nestorian. Or, if you say that there is one being (i.e. the divine Being), and a body, then either the body does not exist (i.e. docetism), or if it exists, then it is a being but not a human being (i.e. Christ didn’t become fully human; that’s Apollinarianism), or it exists and is a human being (i.e. Nestorianism), or its very act of being is the divine Being (i.e. orthodoxy).

    That’s why according to the orthodoxy position laid out in ecumenical councils, the Son of Man is not a human being; He is a divine being. As soon as you say two beings, then one Being only owns the other (in which case the crucifixion is like totalling your car), and you have two persons (which is Nestorianism).

    Nestorianism is incompatible with theosis precisely because it is incompatible with God becoming man. To understand what heaven is, we must first understand what Christ did at the moment of the incarnation. And in order to understand the incarnation, we must first understand what a human being is.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  25. Perry,

    Good to hear from you. Thanks much for your comments. I agree substantially with all three of your points. As for participation in the divine nature, I’m going to hold off opening the participation discussion, in part because I’ve got an academic deadline this week, and also because it really deserves its own thread, and it deserves a very careful treatment (one to which I hope you would contribute). Also, it would be easy to get side-tracked in disagreements about it here, when what’s most important in the Catholic-Protestant discussion here is simply a basic recognition that grace is more than mere divine favor, and is essentially a participation in the divine nature.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  26. Hi Tim,

    Dan: The point of using “has” [in “a human has a body”] was not to emphasize any idea of accidental connection but to emphasize the lack of identity (if x has y, and not vice versa, then it is false that x is identical with y).
    Tim: The identity of both body and soul is in the higher unity of the human person to which they both belong.

    The problem is that it seems to me that we are using ‘identity’ in different ways. When I say that x and y are identical, I mean that x and y are the same thing. If a body x can cease to exist while a soul y goes on existing, then x and y are simply not identical; not the same thing. If they were the same thing, the destruction of one would entail the destruction of the other. In other words, if x ceases to exist, and y is the same thing as (i.e., is identical with) x, then y has ceased to exist. Identity is the tightest kind of unifying relation there is; it obtains only between every thing and itself; and so denying the relation of identity between x and y does not mean there are not other very intimate relations between them. For instance, it seems to me that two things can be non-identical and yet occupy the exact same space (e.g., the matter in a slice of pizza and the slice of pizza). Denying that the matter of the pizza is identical with the pizza does not imply that the pizza “owns” the matter or that the pizza could have existed without the matter.

    I’ve explained what I mean by identity; and I don’t know what you mean by the “identity of both body and soul” in the above quotation; it sounds like you are speaking not of identity but of some other intimate connection or relation.

    Dan: The molecules in the pizza did not lose their identity when the pizza was consumed
    Tim: They no longer make a pizza and it’s not intelligible to call my body an animated mound of pizza, beer, rice and whatever else I consume. My body has its own identity and things which are assumed into my body are taken up into that unity. I don’t see anyway around this, but maybe you can clarify how you think that pizza remains pizza after it comes into me. (To clarify, we’re not talking about the chemical make up of the molecules, we’re talking about what the thing is.)

    I don’t think the pizza remains pizza after you consume it or that your body (after eating pizza) is an animated mound of pizza; the pizza no longer exists once consumed. But the molecules that were in the pizza can survive, or persist through, the destruction of the pizza, such that they were once in a pizza and are now in you. I would say certain molecules composed (perhaps what you mean by “make”) a pizza, and later on become part(s) of your body; but not that certain molecules are a pizza, nor that certain molecules are your body.

    A change occurs in the pizza; all changes presuppose at least something persisting through the change.

    Unless ceasing to exist is counted as a “change.” God could annihilate a molecule (including all its parts, such that nothing remained), in which case nothing would persist through the change (i.e., exist before and after the change). I’d say, after you consume the pizza, the pizza has not persisted (because it no longer exists) but parts of it (such as molecules) have persisted.

    I’ll hold off on replying to another thing you say, about reductionism etc. and how this is a key issue for whether we agree or disagree; and wait to see if my clarifications of what I have been saying make further discussion or debate necessary or not.

    Believing in two persons would certainly be under the scope of the condemnation of Nestorianism. But the fullness of the condemnation falls to anyone who will not affirm the fullness of the Incarnation – i.e. that Jesus’ hand was the hand of God, so God’s hand was nailed to the Cross, that Mary is the mother of God, and that His Body is Divine.

    I have not denied the fulness of the Incarnation, and I have affirmed that kissing Jesus’s face implies kissing God’s face and that Mary is the mother of God. I have denied that Jesus’s body is divine. If it could be shown both that this denial has been officially condemned as part of the Nestorianism heresy and that the meaning of the authors of such a condemnation actually meant what I have meant by such a denial, then I would agree that I have espoused something that falls under the scope of the condemnation of Nestorianism.
    Best,
    Dan

  27. Bryan,

    You seem to think that the only two options are having a body (like having a pet, or having a car) and being identical to a body.

    You say that Christ can’t be identical to His physical body, and therefore His physical body cannot be Him, and must only be something He owns.

    As a result, Christ’s being crucified is, according to your Christology, like someone totaling your car, or killing your pet.

    According to your position, incarnation just means that God makes a zombie.

    Instead of demon-possession, you have construed the incarnation as if Jesus were Logos-possessed.

    I reject these claims as misrepresentations. Despite your talk about “third options” and such, as if I am the one failing to see the entire range of possibilities, it seems that you are the one who is operating in terms of an insufficient understanding of the alternatives. Hence the inaccurate pigeon-holing. Hence when I talk about human’s “having” bodies you assume (it seems) that the having-relation there must be the same as the relation of ownership that obtains when someone “has” a car or a pet. Here is an obvious difference: my body is part of me, while my dog (supposing I have one) is not. If someone “has” a spouse, we “have” here a relation that is neither one of parthood nor one of ownership, but something else. I don’t know how many different kinds of having-relations there are, but there’s clearly a multiplicity.

    The incarnation is the Logos becoming human, not through a change in the Logos, but by taking taking up a body and rational soul into His very act of existence, as I explained above.

    You have used the language of “act of existence” before, though it is still opaque (to me).

    Union is not necessarily Leibnizian identity. A human being (with body and rational soul) is ipso facto a human person.

    I agree that a human being is (is identical with) a human person. And hence I agree that if we have a human being, we ipso facto have a human person. I could even agree that if we have a body and a (conjoined) rational soul, we ipso facto have a human person; however in the case of the Incarnation, what is peculiar (i.e., unlike the typical case) is that the human person is the Logos. The humanity of the person is the Logos’s humanity. The Incarnation is not a case of “possession” (as in demon possession) because possession implies the taking-over of one person by another, and there is no possessed person in the Incarnation. The incarnation is not a case of a “zombie” because a “zombie” (as I think you are using the term, at any rate) would be a body, or body-soul composite, without a personal subject (i.e., without an actual human being or person); and there is no such thing in the Incarnation, for the Logos is the subject.

    As soon as God joins a rational soul to a body, there is a human person; that existing being is ipso facto a human person.

    If it is necessarily the case that a “joined” soul and body brings about the existence of a human person, then, in the Incarnation (i.e., in the case of the relevant body and soul in the Incarnation), either the human person is (is identical with) the Logos, or it is not. If it is not, then what you’ve said implies Nestorianism (at least nominally), for we have two non-identical persons (namely, the human person and the Logos). If the human person is the Logos, then this is what I’ve said above.

    So that’s why the position you’re describing is Nestorian, because metaphysically, adoptionism is Nestorian, even if the human person is by stipulation suppressed or eliminated (zombified).

    I haven’t endorsed adoptionism for the same reason I haven’t endorsed “possession”: there is just one person, and there always was only one person. Since there has always been only one person, there has never been a second person to be suppressed or eliminated by another.

    Or, if you say that there is one being (i.e. the divine Being), and a body, then either the body does not exist (i.e. docetism), or if it exists, then it is a being but not a human being (i.e. Christ didn’t become fully human; that’s Apollinarianism), or it exists and is a human being (i.e. Nestorianism), or its very act of being is the divine Being (i.e. orthodoxy).

    The body does exist. I’ve already argued (with no rebuttal, that I recall) that a body is not (i.e., is not identical with) a human being/person; and this does not imply that Christ didn’t become fully human. I am fully human, and yet my body is not a human being/person; hence, a body’s not being a human being/person does not preclude a person’s being fully human. I don’t understand your final, “orthodoxy” option: that Christ’s body’s “act of being is the divine Being.”

    Bryan to Perry: Also, it would be easy to get side-tracked in disagreements about it [participation] here, when what’s most important in the Catholic-Protestant discussion here is simply a basic recognition that grace is more than mere divine favor, and is essentially a participation in the divine nature.

    The idea that grace is more than mere divine favor is not in dispute here (I said earlier in the thread that I wasn’t limiting the semantic range of the term to such favor). A key point of dispute is the contention that grace is God’s being, such that someone’s receiving grace from God amounts to someone’s receiving God’s being. The only thing I recall you saying so as to unpack this idea was that it amounted to participation in God’s being. It seems to me that at some point, at least an explanation or analysis of what participation in God’s being is is important.

  28. Dan,

    If I may, given your last response, what is it that you disagree with Bryan or Tim about? The Incarnation means that we, by Christ, become partakers of the divine nature. Humanity has been, in Christ, taken up into the very life of God.

  29. Tom,

    If I may, given your last response, what is it that you disagree with Bryan or Tim about?

    I don’t know whether or not Tim and I disagree about any substantial point. My sense of the basic disagreement between Bryan and I is that he thinks Christ’s body (i.e., the physical, human body) is divine and that I, in denying this, am at least implicitly endorsing some form of Nestorianism; whereas I think that Christ’s body is not divine and that Bryan’s affirmation of its divinity fails to honor the distinction between, and non-mixture of, Christ’s divine and human natures. And I think the broader relevance of the dispute is supposed to be that if Christ’s body is divine then this buttresses the case for the view that human creatures can have God’s being; a view I see as extremely philosophically problematic.
    Dan

  30. Dan,

    you said: “if Christ’s body is divine then this buttresses the case for the view that human creatures can have God’s being”

    Are you here referring to the fact that the Church is the body of Christ, so if Christ’s body is divine, then that has implications for human participation in God’s being?

    Chrysostom teaches at one point (before Ephesus, of course) the following:

    “For by union and by conjunction God the Word and the flesh are one, not in any confused way, nor by an obliteration of the senses, but by a certain union that is indescribable and beyond understanding. . . . There was no possibility of raising [our fallen nature] again, unless He that fashioned it in the beginning should stretch His hand to it and remold it anew, by rebirth through water and the Spirit.”

    You mentioned “the view that human creatures can have God’s being [as] . . . extremely philosophically problematic.” What is the philosophical problem with this view?

    I am more interested in your answers to Bryan, so don’t bother writing in response to mine unless you have already answered him.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  31. Dan,

    According to your position there is one divine Person (i.e. the Logos) and two beings: a human being (consisting of body and rational soul), and the eternal divine being. This one divine Person (i.e. the Logos) has the human being as a “part.” But, in your opinion, the part that is the human being is created, not divine.

    According to this conception of parthood, the act of existence by which a part has its being, need not be the same act of existence by which the whole of which it is a part, has its being. Hence, two separate beings, joined only extrinsically (e.g. by a relation of, say, ownership), can simultaneously be related as part to whole, so long as one of them is a person, and is the only person who owns the other being. Given this conception of parthood, then it follows that even though the act of existence by which your car has its being is not the same act of existence by which you (the human being) have your being, nevertheless, your car is a part of you, because you own it, and nobody else does. Hence, the crucifixion was to the Logos like someone smashing your car. But that’s a reductio. Hence you need to revise your conception of parthood, so as to exclude mere possession.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  32. Dan,

    Ephesus says:”If anyone shall dare to say that the assumed man (ἀναληφθέντα ) ought to be worshipped together with God the Word, and glorified together with him, and recognized together with him as God, and yet as two different things, the one with the other (for this “Together with” is added [i.e., by the Nestorians] to convey this meaning); and shall not rather with one adoration worship the Emmanuel and pay to him one glorification, as [it is written] “The Word was made flesh”: let him be anathema.”

    How can I worship with one adoration the Emmanuel if his body is not divine? I don’t understand.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  33. Dan,

    I don’t want to triple-team you here, but this is what I think you’re saying: That a body is not the person per se because it is only part of the person and does not carry with it all of the qualities of that person. Because of that, X cannot be referred to as Z when Z is a composite of X & Y – or in relevant terms, the body cannot be referred to as the person because the person is the composite of body and soul. Now I agree that far. So I think we agree about the identification issue. (If not, let me know what I missed).

    But here’s where I think we disagree: It seems that if a person is a composite of soul and body then, by definition, not everything that could be said of the person could be said of either the soul or the body. I think that is the angle that you’re taking. My finger is not my hand; my hand is not my limb; my limb is not my body; my body is not my person. Right?

    This is a bottom up approach, but a top down approach identifies a thing by it’s unifying principle. So that California is American but not America; and the Body of Christ is Divine, but not Divinity itself. California was taken into the greater unity of America and is fully American. Likewise with the created molecules that participated in the Incarnation.

    We can see how ordinarily unhelpful it is to start from the bottom – up: California is not American because America existed before California. Or, the Body of Christ is not Divine because the Logos existed before the Body. Both arguments are equally wrong and for roughly the same reason.

  34. Dan,

    Re: #18 (> #13),

    If x’s being and y’s being are fused (i.e., in a state of fusion), then at least part of x’s being is at least part of y’s being. In other words, x and y share some being, in the strictest sense of “share” (according to which, if two people “share” a necktie, there is just one tie to go around, that they have to alternate between them).

    Thanks. I do not think that sharing a necktie would qualify as an instance of fusion between two beings. Nor do I know what to make of this as an illustration. The first example of “fusion,” in the sense of “shared being,” that I could come up with was that of conjoined twins (e.g., sharing a vital organ). I do not think of our participation in God along that line, primarily because it would imply that God and man are mutually dependent for existence.

    I’m not sure how to interpret [N. Russell’s construal of participation]. Particularly, alot seems to hang on what it meant by having “a share in holiness” and “a share in God.” On one interpretation, I can see that it amounts to fusion; however on such an interpretation the idea that any human is ever fused with God strikes me as problematic. On another interpretation, it would not amount to fusion, but in such a case it seems misleading to equate “participation” with ontological union with God’s being (as has been done in this thread).

    Recasting Russell’s taxonomy in light of this discussion, here are some basic options for understanding our participation in the divine nature:

    (1) Participation as fusion
    (2) Participation as identity
    (3) Participation as resemblance (sharing some, but not all, properties)

    So far as I can tell, you (rightly, I think) reject (1) and (2). It seems to me that you might plunk for (3), which enables you to affirm that grace is more than divine favor, but includes the bestowing of those properties by which we come to resemble God (e.g., holiness, justice, wisdom), while not being related to God by definition; i.e., deified.

    I do not think that (3) does justice to the rich biblical (and traditional) language used to describe the relation of God and man in a state of grace in Jesus Christ. I do not want to duplicate the discussion above, so I will simply note that a fourth understanding of our participation in the divine nature,

    (4) Participation as ontological union

    does not seem to be identical with any of the first three options. I think that (4) does come closer to (1) than to the other understandings of participation. But it is important to note that ontological union as fusion, or “shared being,” does not entail that both parties are identical, nor does it entail that this union involves a relationship of mutual dependence, as in the case of conjoined twins who share a vital organ. Also, man does not become deified by participating in a part of, or some of, God. He is deified by participating in, sharing the being of, God. This does not entail the unity of identity precisely because man remains man, a created being. It does entail more than a moral resemblance due to the fact that the grace that brings salvation is not (primarily) some created thing or abstract property, but God himself. Finally, salvation as ontological union does not entail that God becomes dependent for his being upon man, because man is not added to God like a part or appendage.

    For the rest, I mean, how such an ontological union is possible, and what is its mode, I defer to the ongoing discussion on the Incarnation of Our Lord. We are ontologically united to God by becoming partakers of Christ. So the nature of the Incarnation really is foundational to the doctrine of salvation.

  35. Bryan,

    According to your position there is one divine Person (i.e. the Logos) and two beings: a human being (consisting of body and rational soul), and the eternal divine being. This one divine Person (i.e. the Logos) has the human being as a “part.” But, in your opinion, the part that is the human being is created, not divine.

    According to my position there is not a human being and (in addition) a divine person. E.g., I said the following in my most recent post to you: “I agree that a human being is (is identical with) a human person.” Since I have identified a human being with a human person, if I held that we were dealing with a divine person and also a human being that would imply I held that we were dealing with a divine person and also a human person; which would be two persons, which I’ve denied. So I would not say that the divine person has a human being as a part. But I would say that the divine person has a human body and soul as parts. The parts that are parts of human beings (body, soul, and anything that is a part of either of those) are created, not divine. But the being of which such things are parts is the Logos and is divine.

    According to this conception of parthood, the act of existence by which a part has its being, need not be the same act of existence by which the whole of which it is a part, has its being.

    Once again: “act of existence” is opaque to me. Please explain what it means or use different phraseology (if only for future reference; it may not be necessary to clarify what you meant in the post to which I am replying).

    Hence, two separate beings, joined only extrinsically (e.g. by a relation of, say, ownership), can simultaneously be related as part to whole, so long as one of them is a person, and is the only person who owns the other being. Given this conception of parthood, then it follows that even though the act of existence by which your car has its being is not the same act of existence by which you (the human being) have your being, nevertheless, your car is a part of you, because you own it, and nobody else does.

    Because of what I’ve said just above, I can’t analyze all your inferences; but my car is obviously not a part of me. This view of parthood, according to which y is a part of x if x owns y and nobody else owns y, is false (my car is a counterexample, satisfying the sufficient condition but obviously not being a part of me); and I haven’t espoused it.

    Here is my sense of things. Earlier I said Christ’s body was the Logos’s and no one else’s (i.e., no other person’s). You objected that everything belonged to the Logos, and I responded that your criticism was inappropriate because it ignored my “and no one else’s” (even if my body belongs, in some sense, to God, it is mybody). It seems to me that you have run with this and assumed (1) that by saying the body is the Logos’s I meant something like “mere possession” or “ownership” (which is false) and (2) that this idea of exclusive belonging (belonging to one person only) was put forth as some conception or analysis of parthood, of what it is for one thing to be a part of another (which is false). This is the only explanation that occurs to me for why you would think that you have some sort of “reductio” here for what I’ve said, but the position I see you attacking (noting again that I don’t understand some of your sentences) is one you’ve imputed to me, not one I’ve actually expressed.

    Hence, the crucifixion was to the Logos like someone smashing your car. But that’s a reductio. Hence you need to revise your conception of parthood, so as to exclude mere possession.

    I don’t need to revise what was never in my vision. There is one person in connection with the Incarnation, the Logos. This person assumed humanity, took on a human body and soul. Since there is just one person here, the Logos is the “personal subject,” as it were, of the consciousness of the human mind. Hence, the crucifixion, for the Logos, was like a crucifixion would be for any other human, involving one’s body being horribly damaged and one’s mind (in virtue thereof) registering horrible pain. Further, even if there is some sense in which one thing is like another thing (e.g., a crucifixion and one’s car being totaled), a reductio based on the likeness would require spelling out the relevant respects and degrees of likeness.

  36. Tim,

    But here’s where I think we disagree: It seems that if a person is a composite of soul and body then, by definition, not everything that could be said of the person could be said of either the soul or the body. I think that is the angle that you’re taking. My finger is not my hand; my hand is not my limb; my limb is not my body; my body is not my person. Right?

    Right. But I don’t see why you would disagree. Isn’t it obvious that your finger is not your hand, etc.? Isn’t it obvious that there are things that can be said truly about you that cannot be said truly about your parts? E.g., you are a body-soul composite, but your body is not a body-soul composite.

    This is a bottom up approach, but a top down approach identifies a thing by it’s unifying principle. So that California is American but not America; and the Body of Christ is Divine, but not Divinity itself.

    I would affirm “California is American” and deny that California is America. If you agree that California is not America, I would think you would agree that your finger is not your hand.

    We can see how ordinarily unhelpful it is to start from the bottom – up: California is not American because America existed before California. Or, the Body of Christ is not Divine because the Logos existed before the Body. Both arguments are equally wrong and for roughly the same reason.

    My reason for denying the divinity of Christ’s body is not (at least not fundamentally) that the Logos pre-existed the body. California can be American, despite America’s existing before it, because (1) America can grow to encompass it. What also seems required is (2) that the feature of being “American” is something that can be possessed by any part of America. Some features of things are distributed across all their parts, others not. It seems that “American” is, since it seems that any stretch of soil America acquires becomes “American” soil. But it seems to me that most features of things (at least of relatively complicated things) are ones that either apply to a thing as a whole but not to its parts or only apply to certain parts (and perhaps to the whole in virtue thereof) and not others. Being a body-soul composite, for instance, is a feature of me but of none of my proper parts. When I gain a part, say, through consuming food, the part I gain does not inherit the feature “being a body-soul composite”. A porcupine is “spiky” in virtue of a part of its being spiky (the spiky shell), and other parts of it (such as the underbelly) are not spiky. It does not follow, as far as I can see, that the Logos’s body becomes divine in virtue of His assuming it, because what is also required is the idea that the feature of “divine” (or being divine) distributes to the acquired part.

    I don’t think it does. It is not a freebie that comes with the idea of Incarnation itself, it seems to me, so it should require some argument; and I am open to hearing one if anyone has one. However, for one who wants to say that the body is divine, it is possible that there is merely a verbal disagreement between us. For instance, if what one means by “Christ’s body is divine” is that Christ is divine and, in virtue thereof, we can call his parts divine; then there is perhaps no disagreement as to the substance (though I would think such a person talks misleadingly). An analogy: someone says that a porcupine is spiky, and I say that strictly speaking, the back is spiky (and not the front); and one says, “That’s all I really meant by ‘a porcupine is spiky’.” When I deny the divinity of the body, I am saying that strictly speaking the body itself is not divine.

  37. Andrew,

    Dan: If x’s being and y’s being are fused (i.e., in a state of fusion), then at least part of x’s being is at least part of y’s being. In other words, x and y share some being, in the strictest sense of “share” (according to which, if two people “share” a necktie, there is just one tie to go around, that they have to alternate between them).
    Andrew: Thanks. I do not think that sharing a necktie would qualify as an instance of fusion between two beings.

    I could probably have worded the part about the tie better. I was not using the necktie example as an example of fusion at all, but as an illustration of how I was using ‘share’. If two people have to fight over one tie, they “share” the tie; whereas if two people have “matching” ties (i.e., resembling ties, they are not “sharing” a tie (on how I was using ‘share’). Hence, fusion involves a sharing of being, where the sharing is literal sharing, not a matter of resemblance of two strictly speaking distinct portions of being.

    Thanks for clarifying what (at least you) mean by participation. It seems to me that (4) (ontological union) falls under ontological fusion, as I defined it, since I do not think fusion implies mutual dependence, in and of itself (though there may be some cases of fusion that are also cases of such dependence).

    For the rest, I mean, how such an ontological union is possible, and what is its mode, I defer to the ongoing discussion on the Incarnation of Our Lord. We are ontologically united to God by becoming partakers of Christ. So the nature of the Incarnation really is foundational to the doctrine of salvation.

    A problem I have with this is that it has been claimed that Adam was created in ontological union with God (noting that I don’t know whether Bryan meant what you do by the phrase). Hence, either being a partaker of Christ is not necessary for fusion with God, or Adam was created such that he proleptically, as it were, stood in some relation to Christ already (and not merely some relation, but one of “partaking”). I agree the Incarnation is foundational to the doctrine of salvation, but the soteriological context undergirding the Incarnation (Gen. 3:14f.) is one of a Fall into sin, not a failure of created beings to be divine beings. Man was not created in a state of plight, notwithstanding Christ’s absence, and he did not need to be “saved” from his mere humanity.

  38. K. Doran,

    you said: “if Christ’s body is divine then this buttresses the case for the view that human creatures can have God’s being”

    Are you here referring to the fact that the Church is the body of Christ, so if Christ’s body is divine, then that has implications for human participation in God’s being?

    I was referring to Christ’s physical, human body (which is now a glorified, resurrection body, but still a human body); not to the Church.

    You mentioned “the view that human creatures can have God’s being [as] . . . extremely philosophically problematic.” What is the philosophical problem with this view?

    I won’t try to capture “the” problem, but will briefly mention some problems. (1) If I have (or am capable of having) God’s being, where is it (would it be) in me? Is it part of my body? Co-extensive spatially with my body? In my soul? I don’t see how any of these possibilities obtain, and if none of them do, it seems I simply don’t have it at all; for there is nothing to me (i.e., to my being) except for this finite individual located in space and time consisting of a body/soul. (This doesn’t conflict with there being an intimate connection between God’s being and my being; we are talking about ontological fusion here.) (2) God is simple, i.e., having no distinct parts. He is identical with his being and his being is identical with all his attributes, both individually and collectively. Further, many of God’s attributes are not merely attributes, but modes of having attributes. E.g., God doesn’t merely have the attribute of timelessness; he timelessly has attributes (e.g., is timelessly omnipotent). For my being and God’s being to intersect, for me to have God’s being, implies that at least part of me consists of all of God’s being (I can’t have just a part because God has no parts). But this is impossible, for neither me nor any part of me is (or could be) a timelessly eternal self-existent omnipotent and sovereign spirit. Divinity is God’s very being and his very (triune) person(ality); it’s not a quantity that can be spread around on stuff.

    How can I worship with one adoration the Emmanuel if his body is not divine? I don’t understand.

    Christ’s body’s not being divine would only preclude you from worshipping Christ if worshipping Christ required worshipping his body. But this is false. Must a husband adore his wife only by adoring her body? Can’t he adore her? Further, it seems dubious that in the case of Christ it is even possible for us to worship his body, even should one be so inclined. I have not seen his body, nor have I heard or read a description of it (Scripture gives us none), so how would I bring it to mind in an attempt to worship it? I could think of the person of Christ (i.e., God (the Son)) and then think of the body of that individual; however once I have the person in my mind (which is non-problematic, since, unlike Christ’s body, the person is delivered to us and characterized for us in history (e.g., by reading Scripture, or hearing testimony historically passed down), what’s the point of transferring the focus of my worship onto the body itself (which I can only refer to by parasitically first referring to the person whose body it is) rather than just keeping it on the person? Further, even if Christ’s body were divine, you would not be worshipping with just one adoration if you worshipped the body, unless you failed to also worship the person(!), since whether the body is divine or not, the body and the person whose body it is are not the same thing (I don’t claim that this would be condemned by Ephesus; perhaps they meant to deny two objects of adoration, not universally, but when the two objects were of particular kinds).
    Best,
    Dan

  39. Dan, (re: #35)

    I’m glad we agree that your car is not a part of you. The problem is that the conception of parthood implicit in your Christology entails that your car is a part of you (assuming that you alone own your car). That’s because you claim that Christ’s physical body is a part of the Logos, even though His physical body (according to you) is not the same being as the divine being. (Your position entails that the act of existence of His physical body is not the eternal divine act of being. ) His physical body and the divine being are, for you, two distinct beings, the former created and the latter uncreated and eternal. But the former is owned by the latter, and owned only by the latter. So the conception of parthood implicit in your Christology entails that any being having an act of existence distinct from that of another being, is a part of the other being, so long it is owned by the other being and owned only by the other being. Hence, two separate beings, joined only extrinsically by a relation of ownership ipso facto satisfy the criteria for the part-whole relation, so long as one of them is a person, and is the only person who owns the other being. Now, since you are a person, and you are the only one who owns your car, then your car satisfies the criteria you have specified for parthood. And hence it follows that your car is a part of you. But since you reject the notion that your car is a part of you, the conception of parthood implicit in your Christology is incompatible with your belief about what things are and are not parts of you. To resolve this internal incompatibility within your position, you can either accept that your car is a part of you, or deny that Christ’s physical body is a part of the Logos, or grant that Christ’s physical body is divine.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  40. Dan,

    Let me repeat the anathama from Ephesus: “If anyone shall dare to say that the assumed man (ἀναληφθέντα ) ought to be worshiped together with God the Word, and glorified together with him, and recognized together with him as God, and yet as two different things, the one with the other (for this “Together with” is added [i.e., by the Nestorians] to convey this meaning); and shall not rather with one adoration worship the Emmanuel and pay to him one glorification, as [it is written] “The Word was made flesh”: let him be anathema.”

    They anathamatize Nestorians who claim that they worship the two _together_ rather than the two as one, because in worshiping them _together_ the Nestorians implicitly assert that God the Word and the assumed man are “two different things.” Both the Nestorians and the Catholics agreed that God the Word and the assumed man are worshiped and glorified. I.e., the fathers don’t leave any room for people who refuse to worship the assumed man at all. In fact, they don’t want to allow for a sufficient distinction between the assumed man and God the Word that someone could possibly worship one without worshiping the other. In light of this, how can you escape the spirit behind this anathema while claiming that — when you with one adoration worship the Word made flesh — you don’t worship His flesh? The anathema is specifically designed to condemn those who believe that the flesh and the word are “two different things;” even if those people were willing to admit that both were to be glorified and worshiped! How much more so is the anathematized “difference” emphasized among those, like you, who won’t even agree to worship both?

    Furthermore, they seem completely unaware of your practical concerns about whether it is possible to worship the Word made flesh (because, supposedly, only the Word himself is divine, not his Flesh).

    I’m not a philosopher or a theologian, but can you see why your incarnational theology offends piety, when you claim that Jesus’s body wasn’t taken up “enough,” so-to-speak, that it was divine? There’s still a big gap between God and man in your version of the incarnation. The language and spirit of the Fathers doesn’t leave such a gap! My piety is moved by their language and what I take to be their meaning: Jesus’ body was divine. Your language and meaning leaves me far away from my savior. Not philosophy, I know, but I will leave that for the philosophers at CTC.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  41. I just noticed that the above anathema specifically deals with your issue of whether the assumed man is divine:

    “if anyone shall dare say that the assumed man. . . is recognized together with him ([“God the Word”]) as God, and yet as two different things. . . let him be anathema.” They are anathematizing people who are willing to confess that the assumed man is God, on the mere fact that these people want to make too great of a distinction between the assumed man and the Word. Thus, both the Nestorians here anathematized and the Catholics viewed the assumed man as God! Given what the Nestorians and the Catholics both agreed upon, is it possible that you would not be anathematized by both of them for claiming that the assumed man is not even recognized as God? You draw a further distinction between the two than the Nestorians who were here anathematized.

    Your beliefs frighten me — I don’t mean to offend you. I’m just telling you the honest truth. Your language is not consistent with the kerygma which converted me. This may be irrelevant for philosophy, but I tell you anyway because sometimes the “data” of whose piety is undermined by your language can be useful in reevaluating your language.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  42. Your beliefs frighten me — I don’t mean to offend you.

    K Doran you don’t know my beliefs. I never made a distinction between the man and the Logos, and expressed no concerns over whether the Word made flesh can be worshipped.

    Your language is not consistent with the kerygma which converted me. This may be irrelevant for philosophy, but I tell you anyway because sometimes the “data” of whose piety is undermined by your language can be useful in reevaluating your language.

    Which language should I re-evaluate, the language I actually used or the language you have used (of me) in your attempt to pin me with piety-undermining heresy? I never even used the word ‘man’ at all in my post to you, yet this was pivotal for your linking my alleged view with the Ephesus citations. If you read ‘man’ when I wrote ‘body’, or if you think the two concepts are interchangeable, then you weren’t tracking with me. The effect language has on someone is substantially based on how it is received and interpreted. It is of course possible that even if you had a perfect conception of my beliefs you or your piety would still be offended and frightened, etc.; and that would be unfortunate. I also eschew the subtext concerning me and philosophy but won’t go into that more.

  43. Well, I guess I don’t see how the assumed man could be considered God if that man’s body isn’t in some sense divine. That’s why I connect your statement that Jesus’ body is not divine with the statement from Ephesus that the assumed man should be considered as God.

    What frightens me about your belief that Jesus’ body is not divine is that it seems to separate me from Jesus — or at least to separate my flesh from Jesus. I don’t understand all the fuss that orthodox Christians make about resurrection in the flesh if the flesh can’t be deified, even in Jesus, of all people. Of course this is just a fear, so it isn’t actually part of the philosophical /theological discussion directly. I don’t have the training to participate directly.

    I mentioned that my response wasn’t philosophy because I am still more interested in your responses to the CTCers than your responses to my quotes. I don’t understand much philosophy but I am starting to get a sense of what is going on by watching the interplay. But I thank you for responding to me in any case.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  44. Dan, I’m really enjoying the exchange.

    If you agree that California is not America, I would think you would agree that your finger is not your hand.

    I do.

    But it seems to me that most features of things (at least of relatively complicated things) are ones that either apply to a thing as a whole but not to its parts or only apply to certain parts (and perhaps to the whole in virtue thereof) and not others.

    I agree. But my body is human not because of its chemical makeup. There’s nothing inherently human about the h20, carbon, and whatever else that makes up my body. It’s human because it is absorbed into my unity – like California is American. Likewise, the chemicals that composed the Body of Christ were not Divine because of their chemical makeup but because they were absorbed into the unity of Christ’s Person. Given all this, I don’t see how you can deny that Christ’s Body is divine while maintaining that my body is human. It is precisely what makes my body human that made Christ’s Body divine (and human).

    An analogy: someone says that a porcupine is spiky, and I say that strictly speaking, the back is spiky (and not the front); and one says, “That’s all I really meant by ‘a porcupine is spiky’.” When I deny the divinity of the body, I am saying that strictly speaking the body itself is not divine.

    Our disagreement isn’t merely with words, at least not on this particular point. The view you are articulating is dualism, which I reject. The reason why the analogy of the porcupine doesn’t work is because it is speaking of a thing accidentally which is not like what we are discussing. We are discussing whether the Body of Christ is divine and that is a question of substance, not accident.

    1. Whatever can be said substantially of a thing is true of every part which is essential to its being.
    2. A corporeal thing is composed of form and matter by definition; therefore both form and matter is essential to its being.
    3. A human is corporeal.
    4. Christ is human.
    5. Therefore whatever can be said substantially of Christ can be said of His form (Soul) and matter (Body).
    6. Christ is divine.
    7. To speak of a thing as “divine” or as “human” is to speak of it substantially.
    8. Therefore His Body is divine.

  45. Dan:

    Thanks for clarifying what (at least you) mean by participation. It seems to me that (4) (ontological union) falls under ontological fusion, as I defined it, since I do not think fusion implies mutual dependence, in and of itself (though there may be some cases of fusion that are also cases of such dependence).

    So long as “fusion” is understood not to entail identity (in the sense of each entity having the same set of properties) or mutual dependence, and so long as it does involve “sharing some being,” i.e., God sharing his being with us in Christ Jesus, then I can accept this term as expressive of my beliefs concerning salvation, although the more common (and, perhaps, more acceptable) designation is “participation” or “union with Christ.”

    From what you have written, it seems that you would be amenable to speaking salvation in terms of participation, only unburdened of some ontological freight; i.e., whatever it is that renders participation a kind of “fusion.” I still have not seen in what sense you accept salvation as participation in God (that is, unless you are thinking that resemblance is a form of participation). Perhaps you could elaborate?

    I agree the Incarnation is foundational to the doctrine of salvation, but the soteriological context undergirding the Incarnation (Gen. 3:14f.) is one of a Fall into sin, not a failure of created beings to be divine beings. Man was not created in a state of plight, notwithstanding Christ’s absence, and he did not need to be “saved” from his mere humanity.

    The Fall deprived man of sanctifying grace. This had a debilitating effect upon his nature, insofar as grace perfected his nature, ordering man towards his final end, which is perfect, ontological union with God. It is true that “man was not created in a state of plight.” But it is also true that he was not created as having already received his final end. In short, there is a teleological dimension to the Edenic narrative. Therein, Adam, though created good, is given to move on towards the good (symbolized by the Tree of Life), to a more perfect form of being. Of course, he failed to do this. From this perspective, we can understand that salvation involves not only a restoration to original righteousness, it also puts our feet back on the primordial path to the Tree of Life.

  46. Tim,

    I think my post is relatively long. As far as I’m concerned there need be no rush in replying to it, and you don’t need to feel obligated to reply to all of it (though you can if you want).

    I agree. But my body is human not because of its chemical makeup. There’s nothing inherently human about the h20, carbon, and whatever else that makes up my body.

    I take it that by “inherently human” you mean essentially part of a human body, and as such the atoms in your body are not “inherently human” because they can exist outside a human body; e.g., as part of a rock, or a river, or just floating in outer space, etc. However, this does not seem a good reason to conclude that your body’s being human is not due to its chemical makeup, for it seems that this same principle applies with respect to the atoms in most everything. For example, the atoms in a tree are not “inherently treeish,” since the atoms making up the tree could be doing other things; e.g., some of them could be in a rock while others are in a dog. Yet, isn’t a tree a tree in virtue of (1) having constituent parts of certain kinds that (2) stand in certain kinds of relations to each other? E.g., there is a trunk, roots, branches, leaves, etc. (pertaining to (1)), and these are related to each other in a certain way; e.g., the trunk is connected to the roots, the roots are periodically sending nutrients up to other parts, etc. (pertaining to (2)). Even though there isn’t anything “treeish” about any particular molecule (such as an h20 molecule) in a tree, it seems evident that the tree is still a tree in virtue of, for one thing, its chemical makeup. In other words, the chemical makeup is a key part of what makes the thing a tree (rather than something else). Likewise, even though there is nothing inherently human about small parts of a body (such as this carbon atom, that h20 molecule, etc.), the body can still be human in virtue of its chemical makeup. I’ll defend this option further below in responding to your text.

    [My body is] human because it is absorbed into my unity – like California is American.

    Let’s distinguish between the issue of what makes your body human now (or at any arbitrary time) and what made your body human when it first came into existence (in general, this is the distinction between origin and subsequent persistence). What is relevant here is origin.

    There seems to be a crucial disanalogy between your body and California. You did not pre-exist your body; America did pre-exist California. In the case of California, there actually was something for it to be absorbed into. In your body’s case, the “unity” that is you did not pre-exist your body’s existence. Could the body have come into being simultaneously with your coming into being, and be absorbed, in that moment, into you; such that your body was a human body in virtue of that absorption?

    I doubt it, because it seems that the explanatory priority is the other way around. In order for your body, upon its creation, to acquire status as a human body in virtue of being absorbed into your unity, your unity (or you) must be human at that moment (otherwise why would the body be human in virtue of the absorption, rather than, say, a porcupine body in virtue of being absorbed?) But how are you human in the first place, at that moment? Is it not because, at the moment of origin, you are a human body and soul composite? If you are a human being upon origin in virtue of being a composite of such a body and soul upon origin, then the body cannot be human, upon origin, in virtue of your unity (for your “unity” is only a human one in virtue of, for one thing, the body). But if you are not a human being in virtue of such, what is it that makes you human upon origin? I would say a human being exists (at the moment of origin) in virtue of, in part, a human body’s existing, and that the body’s being human obtains in virtue of the nature of the body’s parts and their interrelations ((1) and (2) above). That this is the proper order of explanation is suggested by thinking about how God would go about creating a human being, as opposed to say, a gorilla. If God wanted to create a human rather than a gorilla he would create a human body (and soul) rather than a gorilla’s body, and he would create a human body rather than gorilla body by creating the body with the characteristics of a human body, the characteristics that make a body human as opposed to something else. I’m not claiming there is any temporal gap between these explanatory phases; but there is a logical progression: human-like body makes the body human, and the human body (along with soul) makes the being a human being.

    Turning from origin to subsequent persistence, it could be that for subsequent persistence through time the body’s being human depends on the status of the person. For example, perhaps consumed food becomes part of a human body in virtue of being consumed by an already-human person, and perhaps if the person dies, the body ceases to be “human” (so you’ve said earlier)). The talk you’ve given of absorption into unity makes more sense to me when applied to diachronic development of an already-existent thing.

    Likewise, the chemicals that composed the Body of Christ were not Divine because of their chemical makeup but because they were absorbed into the unity of Christ’s Person. Given all this, I don’t see how you can deny that Christ’s Body is divine while maintaining that my body is human. It is precisely what makes my body human that made Christ’s Body divine (and human).

    First, supposing Christ’s body is divine in the way you say, what does the divinity amount to? It sounds like a purely formal divinity; i.e., in virtue of the unity of Christ’s person’s being divine, his body is divine. But what does that mean? Does the body acquire any concrete qualities that a body of a non-divine human lacks? Is there anything qualitatively different about the flesh and bones and blood? Does any divinity “inhere” in the body itself, or is the body just divine in the sense that it is integrally connected to a divine source or locus? I’m not positive that the divinity here is one I would disagree with, such that we have a non-verbal disagreement.

    Second, I don’t see how Christ’s body could be human, on your account. If your body is human in virtue of being absorbed into the unity of you (a human person), and Christ’s body is divine in virtue of being absorbed into the unity of Christ’s person, wouldn’t Christ’s body be purely divine and not human, on this view? For, the person of Christ is the Logos, a divine person. Since the Logos only became flesh in the Incarnation, he was not human antecedently; but on your theory the nature of the body depends on the antecedent nature of the person absorbing the body. The Logos was not human antecedently, so there would be no basis, within the absorbing unity, for the body’s being human. You could say it is human in virtue of (1) and (2) (i.e., Christ’s body is human because that’s the kind of body God made), which, while justifying the claim that Christ’s body was human, would undercut your argument for ascribing it divinity.

    Our disagreement isn’t merely with words, at least not on this particular point. The view you are articulating is dualism, which I reject.

    There are a number of kinds of “dualism,” depending on the relevant subject matter, and I certainly maintain a dualism (reject a monism) when it comes to the Creator and what is created. I don’t see this as problematic for the Incarnation, since in the Incarnation deity did not transform into humanity but took on a humanity.

    I haven’t responded to the last parts of your post where you bring in accident and substance, and speaking accidentally and substantially, in part because a lot has been said already, and also because it’s not as clear to me. I’m not sure what it is to speak substantially of a thing. If it pertains to speaking of what (kind of) substance a thing is, I don’t see how Christ’s body could be said substantially to be both divine and human (wouldn’t that make it two substances, “a human being” and “a divine being”?). Perhaps one can speak substantially in more than one way, due to there being hierarchies of substance-kind (e.g., species, genus); but I don’t see how divine and human could go together in one thing on that conception either.

    Dan

  47. Andrew,

    From what you have written, it seems that you would be amenable to speaking salvation in terms of participation, only unburdened of some ontological freight; i.e., whatever it is that renders participation a kind of “fusion.” I still have not seen in what sense you accept salvation as participation in God, in some sense distinct from resemblance. Perhaps you could elaborate.

    I don’t think salvation is participation in God. If we are speaking of salvation in the sense of the present state of being saved, salvation is deliverance from the wrath of God against sin, into a state of reconciliation and adoption. If we are speaking of salvation in the sense of the future hope or destination, salvation is fellowship with God and Christ in a glorified heaven and earth in glorified bodies in a state with no sin or evil or suffering. It’s not as if I think salvation is participation in God but, due to philosophical scruples, want to qualify the level or kind of participation that salvation consists of; I simply don’t see the basis for approaching the issue with “participation” as a central or organizing principle in the first place (which is not to deny that one might be able to construct some definition of “participation” the obtaining of which I would affirm).

    Dan: I agree the Incarnation is foundational to the doctrine of salvation, but the soteriological context undergirding the Incarnation (Gen. 3:14f.) is one of a Fall into sin, not a failure of created beings to be divine beings. Man was not created in a state of plight, notwithstanding Christ’s absence, and he did not need to be “saved” from his mere humanity.
    Andrew: The Fall deprived man of sanctifying grace, and it had a debilitating effect upon his nature, insofar as grace perfected his nature in the sense of ordering man towards his final end, which was perfected, ontological union with God. It is true that “man was not created in a state of plight.” It is also true that he was not created as having already received his final end. In short, there is a teleological dimension to the Edenic narrative. Therein, Adam, though created good, is given to move on towards the good (symbolized by the Tree of Life), to a more perfect form of being. Of course, he failed to do this. From this perspective, we can understand that salvation involves not only a restoration to original righteousness, it also puts our feet back on the primordial path to the Tree of Life.

    I completely agree that there was a teleological end to man as originally created (he was to work his way to God’s eternal Sabbath rest, etc.). Further, this end involved an elevated level of existence, a glorified existence. There is an eschatological orientation of the creation; it is to go from glory to glory. But I reject the idea that the telos involved ontological union. God can glorify and “upgrade” so to speak his creation, as well as the level of his fellowship/communion with creatures, without fusing Himself with it/them. Further, if partaking of Christ is necessary for such ontological union, then the Fall was a help rather than a hindrance to this telos, unless you maintain that Christ would have come even had there been no Fall.

    Dan

  48. K. Doran,

    What frightens me about your belief that Jesus’ body is not divine is that it seems to separate me from Jesus – or at least to separate my flesh from Jesus.

    The idea that your flesh is separated from Jesus could be taken to mean (1) that your flesh is not “attached” to him (as in, “The hand was separated from the arm by the knife”), or (2) that your flesh is not with him or in his presence (as in, “The husband was separated from his wife by her being kidnapped”).

    I don’t understand all the fuss that orthodox Christians make a bout resurrection in the flesh if the flesh can’t be deified, even in Jesus, of all people.

    Hmm; I see plenty of reason to make a fuss about resurrection in the flesh, without endorsing deification of the flesh. Here are two: (A) Scripture teaches it (and in fact says that without the resurrection the religion is worthless – 1 Cor); (B). I want to live forever as opposed to being dead forever; so naturally I want to “fuss” about the resurrection.

    In virtue of the resurrection we will never be separated from Jesus, in sense (2). Job 19:25-27. That’s good enough for me.

  49. Dan,

    You said: “Further, if partaking of Christ is necessary for such ontological union, then the Fall was a help rather than a hindrance to this telos, unless you maintain that Christ would have come even had there been no Fall.”

    I am reminded of the Exultet which I sang several Easter Vigil’s ago: “Oh Happy fault, which gained for us so great a redeemer!”

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  50. Dan,

    You say that Christ’s physical body is a being other than His divine Being, and that He (and He alone) owns His physical body, and that His physical body is a part of Him. But your car is a being other than you, and you (and you alone) own your car, and yet you deny that your car is a part of you. So if Christ’s physical body is a part of Him, why isn’t your car a part of you? What makes Christ’s physical body a part of Him, that your car does not have in relation to you?

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  51. Dan,

    On the first part of your reply: I believe that a human is human in virtue of a soul-body composite and that the soul is the form of the body, which I take it, you do not believe. This must be where we are parting ways. In the gorilla example, could God, in your view, put a human soul into a gorilla body? I don’t think He could because I hold a human soul to be the form of a human body such that such an idea would be like saying God could make a square circle.

    isn’t a tree a tree in virtue of (1) having constituent parts of certain kinds that (2) stand in certain kinds of relations to each other?

    If that definition includes the reference to a tree’s form (because a form is what makes those constituent parts stand in proper relation to each other) then I agree. But there is a difference in a tree and a piece of wood although the parts are the same. I.e. at the exact moment I chop down a tree, nothing physical has changed at all in the utmost branches but I would hold that, although their constituent parts are still perfectly in tact, the branches are no longer part of a tree but part of a dead piece of wood. (Likewise with the body, at the moment of death, the body becomes a collection of dead cells – no longer a human body; it now IS what the materialist has always thought it to be).

    I’m not sure I’m grasping your argument on origins. Here’s what I think: that God creates the body and soul together as a human and my personhood is, and is reducible to, the composite of these two. My personhood is not a third thing that is above the soul-body composite because I am human and only human and do not pre-exist my soul-body composite. (Many of the dualists, as you know, held the pre-existence of the soul to deal with this question because they held that the soul itself was the unifying principle instead of the soul-body composite.) Of course, with Christ, we have a special circumstance that His Personhood is above the soul-body composite. So He is divine by virtue of the pre-existence and higher unity of His divine essence and Human by virtue of His soul-body composite, the essence of human person, which was absorbed into His higher unity. If we hold the soul as the form of the body, then it seems to me to follow that Christ was not merely a pre-existent divine soul that inhabited or took ownership of a human body but rather, a divine pre-existent person that incarnated Himself into a human soul-body composite, in a miraculous way (if ever there was a miracle) such that it was not two person either by virtue of human-soul composite because at the moment of conception, that body-soul composite was assumed into the higher unity of the second person of the Trinity. I’m not sure if I’m side stepping your argument of origins; if I am, it’s because I don’t understand it; it’s not intentional.

    The talk you’ve given of absorption into unity makes more sense to me when applied to diachronic development of an already-existent thing.

    I guess you’re arguing that in order for a thing ‘to be’ in virtue of the particular unity it belongs to, that unity has to already exist. But I don’t understand your reason for this. If America was created as an entity that was divided into 13 colonies (ignore any historical discrepancies for the sake of the argument) North Carolina, as soon as it was North Carolina, was also American. But that does not mean that NC is American for reasons unrelated to its absorption in the unity of America. We can conceive of a unity being created with division of parts that are what they are by virtue of the greater unity that they belong to. Such is the case with the human person.

    Does the body acquire any concrete qualities that a body of a non-divine human lacks? Is there anything qualitatively different about the flesh and bones and blood? Does any divinity “inhere” in the body itself, or is the body just divine in the sense that it is integrally connected to a divine source or locus? I’m not positive that the divinity here is one I would disagree with, such that we have a non-verbal disagreement.

    Divinity is immaterial by its essence so certainly nothing would be materially different in the hypothetical case that some matter became absorbed into a divine unity. Obviously, the details of the Incarnation are beyond me, but I at least don’t like the direction of saying “divinity inheres in the body itself” as if, the material components of the human body could contain some quality that made them divine since divinity, as I said, is essentially non-material. I say I don’t like the direction because I think it’s the wrong way to think about it. Divinity didn’t come down and hide inside of matter, but rather, matter was lifted up to divinity by virtue of being assumed into the greater unity of the divine Person. A molecule of water may be exactly that, but then it may be joined to the higher unity of a fruit and truly becomes part of that fruit such that we can call that h20 molecule ‘fruity’ instead of ‘watery’ (indulge me), because it is no longer mere h20 which, as an inanimate substance, is of a lower unity than the fruit. Then, when the fruit is consumed by a person, that same h20 is no longer ‘watery’, and no longer ‘fruity, but now it is ‘human’ by virtue of its assumption into the human unity which is higher than the fruit. Later on, that same h20 molecule, consumed by Christ, is no longer watery, no longer fruity, no longer merely human, now it is divine by being absorbed into the even higher unity of the divine person.

    Second, I don’t see how Christ’s body could be human, on your account.

    This is a serious question; as you know, the earliest heresies generally denied the humanity rather than the divinity of Christ! I might come up a little short here because of my limitations and the inherent mystery of the Incarnation; it’s the most unique of all earthly events by far! But it seems to me that given the concept that a human is a human by virtue of the body-soul composite, that unity remains intact perfectly through the mystery of the incarnation in a way that, the fruit’s unity is not. The unity of a fruit breaks down in its absorption into the human body and completely loses its identity as fruit. But the unity of the H20 molecule is not lost; it is maintained. So it could still rightly be called a molecule of water because that’s what it is, but there is another sense in which is something more than h20 by virtue of its absorption. So, unlike the fruit, it doesn’t lose that unity which makes it h20 because it is a molecule that cannot be reduced (at least not by means of human consumption). The human body-soul composite cannot be reduced either, except by death, so that when it is absorbed into a higher unity (an entirely unique event) it retains, in some real sense, its identity of a human while, in an equally real sense, taking on the divine identity. I’ll let some of the real Thomists here correct me if I’m misspeaking.

    Let’s see where that gets us and we can get into substance and accidents. I think you are understanding what I meant correctly, that to speak “substantially” is to speak of what a thing is per se, as opposed to speaking accidentally (he has brown hair, he has legs, etc.)

  52. Dan (Re #47),

    Thanks for clarifying. Yes, the question of whether the Incarnation would have been necessary apart from the Fall is, per the nature of the case, speculative, but extremely important (at least) with respect to consideration of human teleology. It seems to me that your conceptions of redemption and beatitude fall short of biblical language concerning the same. I mean, on your view there must be a lot a salvation language in the Bible that is ontologically void–pure similes.

  53. Andrew,

    Thanks for clarifying. Yes, the question of whether the Incarnation would have been necessary apart from the Fall is, per the nature of the case, speculative, but extremely important (at least) with respect to consideration of human teleology.

    I understand and sympathasize with a position that is non-dogmatic or ambivalent about the counterfactual state of affairs concerning the Incarnation and no Fall (i.e., would Christ have come had there been no human fall or sin?). However, it seems to me your claims about teleology, ontological union, and the role of Christ in all of this puts you in a position that requires you to take the issue as more than a speculative one. Presumably it is not speculative (but is relatively clear-cut and certain) that man was created with a teleological orientation, and presumably it is not speculative that this end involved ontological union. If partaking of Christ is also necessary for such union, as I think you’ve said, then it is plain that there would have been no union without Christ, in which case it is plain that man could not reach his telos without Christ. It seems to me that this puts you in a position that must insist, not merely suggest speculatively, that the Fall was incidental to the Incarnation, i.e., that it would have happened anyway.

    It seems to me that your conceptions of redemption and beatitude fall short of biblical language concerning the same. I mean, on your view there must be a lot a salvation language in the Bible that is ontologically void–pure similes.

    Where does the Bible express redemption or beatitude in terms of ontological union with God?

    Dan

  54. Tim,

    On the first part of your reply: I believe that a human is human in virtue of a soul-body composite and that the soul is the form of the body, which I take it, you do not believe.

    I would agree I don’t believe it (as in, have a positive belief in it), but this is not so much because I deny it but rather because it’s not very transparent to me and (probably because of this) I don’t find it an overly useful or illuminating way of conceptualizing things. In the case of some things, like inanimate artifacts, I do find the matter/form conception clear and acceptable (I have no problem distinguishing the matter and “form” of a bronze statue, e.g.). When it comes to living things, I spoke in terms of (1) (roughly, the parts) and (2) (roughly, the relations among the parts: e.g., this is next to that, this is connected to that, this has a certain causal effect on that), and it seems to me that this basically covers anything one could say about a thing in terms of its matter and form. That is, it seems that anything you could say about a tree’s being a composite of matter and form or being “unified” etc. could be expressed in terms of (1) and (2). If I am wrong about this and the “form” of a living thing is something over and beyond what can be expressed in terms of (1) and (2), then I would probably reject the idea that living things have “forms” (because if it is not expressable in (1) and (2) I don’t know what is supposed to be or why it is not superfluous to appeal to it). As far as the human mind, I am inclined to think it is immaterial.

    (Likewise with the body, at the moment of death, the body becomes a collection of dead cells – no longer a human body; it now IS what the materialist has always thought it to be).

    This is one of the reasons I brought in (2). When someone dies, certain relations cease to exist in the body; e.g., the heart (one part) stops pumping blood to other places (other parts). The parts themselves aren’t sufficient for a substance to exist; suppose a grid of lazers (criss-crossing like the marks on graph paper) passed through a human body and effectively broke apart the connections between the body parts (though they would look, to the eye, like they were still connected; they would be spatially contiguous at least). The parts would all be there (1), but we wouldn’t have a body anymore because the parts wouldn’t be causally integrated (2).

    I’m not sure I’m grasping your argument on origins. Here’s what I think: that God creates the body and soul together as a human and my personhood is, and is reducible to, the composite of these two. My personhood is not a third thing that is above the soul-body composite because I am human and only human and do not pre-exist my soul-body composite…Of course, with Christ, we have a special circumstance that His Personhood is above the soul-body composite. So He is divine by virtue of the pre-existence and higher unity of His divine essence and Human by virtue of His soul-body composite, the essence of human person, which was absorbed into His higher unity. If we hold the soul as the form of the body, then it seems to me to follow that Christ was…a divine pre-existent person that incarnated Himself into a human soul-body composite, in a miraculous way (if ever there was a miracle) such that it was not two person either by virtue of human-soul composite because at the moment of conception, that body-soul composite was assumed into the higher unity of the second person of the Trinity. I’m not sure if I’m side stepping your argument of origins; if I am, it’s because I don’t understand it; it’s not intentional.

    The origins argument was an argument against your argument for Christ’s body’s divinity. As I understood the argument, it was basically that (A) as a general principle, the body acquires its humanity (or divinity) in virtue of the thing that it is absorbed into, or the broader unity that it becomes integrated into. Hence, since (B) the thing that Christ’s body is absorbed into is a divine person, (C) the body acquires divinity. The origins argument opposes (A), which if false would leave the inference from (B) to (C) unsupported. This representation may also explain why I thought your view implied the non-humanity of Christ’s body; if the humanity derives from the person (per (A)), there is no humanity to derive in the case of the Logos.

    Basically, I argued that the humanity of a typical human person’s body is not derived from some distinct thing (the person). This is because, in order for a body to derive humanity from something else, the something-else must have the appropriate nature of “human” (otherwise, there is no reason to think the event of absorption would transfer humanity to the body as opposed to, say, tree-nature or gorilla-nature). But without considering the nature of the body, there is no fact of the matter about what kind of thing the individual is (human, tree, gorilla, etc.) and so no basis to impart any particular nature to the individual’s body as opposed to any other. Rather (and it seems to me you agree in your comments above), an individual is human in virtue of having a human (ensouled) body. This does not mean that the body and soul exist before the person, or that they would still be a human body and soul without the person’s existing too; but it means that (at origin) the humanity of the body and soul is what bestows humanity on the person, not that the humanity of the person bestows humanity on the body and soul. This is, again, supported by thought experiments of how God would create a human. He wouldn’t create a human person and thereby bring into being a human body and soul; he would create a human body and soul and (supposing they are united) thereby bring into being a human person. In other words, God’s creating a human being supervenes on God’s creating a human body-soul composite; in doing the latter, he has already done, so to speak, the former; or, doing the latter is how he does the former (and not vice versa).

    Further, let me add a distinction between the basis for a human body’s existing and the basis for a human body’s being human. You hold that if a human person dies his body ceases to exist. This suggests that the body’s humanity depends on the person, insofar as if the person dies, the body ceases to exist and what ceases to exist cannot be anything, such as human. But what makes the body human when it does exist (more precisely, at the moment of its origin)? One could hold that it is its own nature; i.e., this is simply the kind of body God made (He made particular kinds of molecules in particular kinds of configurations and causal relations, etc.). And further, it is because of the kind of (ensouled) body made (at origin) that the individual whose body it is is the kind of individual it is (e.g., a human being, or gorilla, or tree).

    (A) posits a dependence of the nature of the body on the nature of the person; whereas the above remarks suggest an alternative view, (A*), where the nature of the body (at origin) depends not on the nature of the thing whose body it is but rather on the nature of the body’s parts (on (1)) and the nature of their relations (on (2)). For example, is the body carbon-based, what kind of DNA does it have, what is its size and shape, etc. (A*) can explain why Christ’s body is human; that’s just the kind of body God made (as opposed to creating a gorilla embryo, for example, in Mary’s womb). But opting for (A*) rather than (A) undermines (my interpretation of) your argument for Christ’s body’s divinity (or at least one of your arguments); because (A) was what asserted a link between the body’s nature and the person’s nature (rather than a dependence of the body’s nature on the nature of its parts and their relations) and thereby provided the rationale for holding that the body derived divinity from the Logos’s person. In sum, (A) searches for the source of the humanity of the body in some distinct thing from the body; (A*) searches for it in the body itself (which again does not mean that the body will ever exist without being the body of something).

    Obviously, the details of the Incarnation are beyond me, but I at least don’t like the direction of saying “divinity inheres in the body itself” as if, the material components of the human body could contain some quality that made them divine since divinity, as I said, is essentially non-material.

    If the human body is essentially material, and divinity essentially non-material, doesn’t that imply that the human body (not person) is essentially non-divine? Perhaps you’d distinguish between divinity and being divine, the former being a kind of thing (e.g., human being, tree, Deity), the latter being a predicate that can be applied to instances of kinds of things (e.g., this human being is black, or six feet tall, or divine); and say that a human body cannot be deity/divinity but can be predicated with divinity. This would allow one to say that although a body (being material) cannot be divinity (since divinity is immaterial), a body can have divinity, or be divine, or be predicated with divinity. But then my questions come back about whether this brings about any qualitative change in the body, inheres in the body’s parts, etc. If you think not merely that what is (identical with) divinity/deity is essentially immaterial but also that what is (predicated as) divine is essentially immaterial, then the body can’t be predicated as divine since it is not essentially immaterial. One could deny any inherence by going with what I call below a “relational” view.

    Divinity didn’t come down and hide inside of matter, but rather, matter was lifted up to divinity by virtue of being assumed into the greater unity of the divine Person. A molecule of water may be exactly that, but then it may be joined to the higher unity of a fruit and truly becomes part of that fruit such that we can call that h20 molecule ‘fruity’ instead of ‘watery’ (indulge me), because it is no longer mere h20 which, as an inanimate substance, is of a lower unity than the fruit.

    Excluding God and angels, it seems that the unity of all animate substances is founded on the unity of inanimate substances, E.g., a human body is composed of cells, and cells are composed of molecules the unity of which is “inanimate” (a molecule itself is not a living thing, though it may be part of one).

    Then, when the fruit is consumed by a person, that same h20 is no longer ‘watery’, and no longer ‘fruity, but now it is ‘human’ by virtue of its assumption into the human unity which is higher than the fruit. Later on, that same h20 molecule, consumed by Christ, is no longer watery, no longer fruity, no longer merely human, now it is divine by being absorbed into the even higher unity of the divine person.

    I think this stuff (the two above quotations) is key. Currently two questions come to mind: whether, granting Christ’s body is absorbed into the higher unity of the divine person, divinity transfers to what is absorbed; and whether, if so, the absorbed divinity really brings about any intrinsic change in the body itself, as opposed to merely relational change. These issues are related.

    What does it mean for something to be divine? It seems to me that to be divine is to possess divine attributes, or attributes of deity. This is supported by the thought that there is no distinction in God between his deity/divinity and Himself. That is, it is not that he has divinity or deity, and then some other attributes; but rather his divinity is co-extensive with himself and all his attributes. It is also supported by asking what we mean when we refer to the Logos as a divine person. What do we mean by “divine person” if not a person with the divine attributes? You have said that divinity is essentially immaterial, and this is also in line with what I’m saying, since this is a divine attribute. I would say that just as a body is not immaterial, it is also not uncreated, necessarily existent, timeless, etc (other divine attributes – though there is some controversy over some of them).

    This could be taken to suggest a negative answer to the question of whether Christ’s body acquires divinity in being absorbed into the unity of the person. But it could also be taken to suggest, as part of a positive answer, a relational answer to the second question. On this view, divinity is acquired by the body, but what this means is not that the body itself undergoes an intrinsic change, but rather that it is divine in the sense that it acquires a relation to something that is divine. If I consume food and a carbon atom that was in the food becomes part of my body (say, by becoming part of a certain cell that is part of the body), does the carbon atom undergo any intrinsic change in virtue of ceasing to be part of, say, an apple, and becoming part of a human body? It’s not clear to me that it does. It seems we can account for the change in relational terms. E.g., the atom used to be part of an apple and it is now part of a cell (and thereby part of a human body). This is a relational change because the change is one of the relationship between the atom and other things (the atom and an apple, the atom and a cell). If one explicates Christ’s body’s “taking on” divinity, or being absorbed into the unity of a divine person, in relational and not intrinsic terms, then it’s not clear to me that I would disagree (as to substance).

    It may also be the case that our disagreement, insofar as we have one, is not best couched in terms of whether Christ’s body is “divine” or not. It may be that the dispute is more properly over the “level” or “tightness” of the unity of the person with his parts. As an analogy: some philosophers hold that a table is something “over and above” its parts being arranged in a particular way (perhaps another way of putting it: that there is a “unity” to the table that can’t be analyzed in terms of other relations, such as all the relations among the parts); while others deny. Is the intrinsic nature of a table leg different from what it would be if detached from the table? In the case of Christ’s person (whereby I designate the “thick” as opposed to “thin” conception of the person, the person considered with all his properties and parts), is there something unique about the nature of the body (and its parts – including its limbs and organs and cells and atoms etc.) that can’t be captured only in terms of its connection to the unique (divine) personal subject? Does the intrinsic nature of the atoms in my index fingertip change at the moment the finger (not just the fingertip) is severed from the hand; and likewise is the intrinsic nature of Christ’s body’s atoms different from the intrinsic nature they would have if the person whose parts they are were not divine? (Unfortunately I don’t know if the notion of “intrinsic” is amenable to much analysis.)

  55. Dan,

    You said: “On this view, divinity is acquired by the body, but what this means is not that the body itself undergoes an intrinsic change, but rather that it is divine in the sense that it acquires a relation to something that is divine. If I consume food and a carbon atom that was in the food becomes part of my body (say, by becoming part of a certain cell that is part of the body), does the carbon atom undergo any intrinsic change in virtue of ceasing to be part of, say, an apple, and becoming part of a human body? It’s not clear to me that it does. It seems we can account for the change in relational terms. E.g., the atom used to be part of an apple and it is now part of a cell (and thereby part of a human body). This is a relational change because the change is one of the relationship between the atom and other things (the atom and an apple, the atom and a cell). If one explicates Christ’s body’s “taking on” divinity, or being absorbed into the unity of a divine person, in relational and not intrinsic terms, then it’s not clear to me that I would disagree (as to substance).”

    I like the idea of a relational understanding of divine, because it reminds me of transubstantiation and the trinity (and of what Tim was saying about Christ’s body above, which made a lot of sense to me). But I think the word “part” may be inaccurate. I can’t put my finger on why at the moment, but one reason may be that saying that things that have been taken-up into the divinity are a “part” of the divinity reminds me of people incorrectly saying that “part” of Jesus is geographically present wherever the Eucharist is present.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  56. I spoke in terms of (1) (roughly, the parts) and (2) (roughly, the relations among the parts: e.g., this is next to that, this is connected to that, this has a certain causal effect on that), and it seems to me that this basically covers anything one could say about a thing in terms of its matter and form. That is, it seems that anything you could say about a tree’s being a composite of matter and form or being “unified” etc. could be expressed in terms of (1) and (2).

    A substance (human) is generated by matter (body) taking on form (soul). I think this is compatible with what you’re saying here, we’re just using different terminology. Your 1 is matter (parts) and your 2 is form (connection, organization).

    On the argument from origins, listening to it a second time, I think I did understand it correctly and I think my reply above suffices – particularly the example of North Carolina being American by virtue of its absorption into the unity of America of which, in its first instance, it is a constituent part.

    If the human body is essentially material, and divinity essentially non-material, doesn’t that imply that the human body (not person) is essentially non-divine?

    Man is necessarily created. But Jesus was fully man. This is a contradiction if we want to get into it.. but this is our religion. We could also use many other examples to show this. God is essentially immutable. Man is essentially mutable. But Jesus is a man. So then can Jesus be both God and man? At the heart of our religion lies a great contradiction. Namely, a cross.

    the latter being a predicate that can be applied to instances of kinds of things (e.g., this human being is black, or six feet tall, or divine);

    The first two things (black, six feet tall) differ from the third (divine) in two crucial ways: 1. They are accidental, the third is substantial 2. They are physical, the third is metaphysical. These things must be treated differently.

    One could deny any inherence by going with what I call below a “relational” view.

    I don’t think the relational view works for reasons that should become apparent if you answer Bryan’s question above in #50.

    whether, granting Christ’s body is absorbed into the higher unity of the divine person, divinity transfers to what is absorbed

    1. Divinity isn’t a quality that is transferred to the body as heat is transferred to a body by fire.

    whether, if so, the absorbed divinity really brings about any intrinsic change in the body itself, as opposed to merely relational change. These issues are related.

    2. Yes the change is intrinsic as opposed to a relational change which is extrinsic.

    I think you will see 1 & 2 as contradictions. But when I say “intrinsic change” I do not mean “physical change” or something that can be measured in a laboratory. I’m speaking in metaphysical terms. Nothing measurable is happening on a physical level. Otherwise, all the Christological controversies could have been settled by test tubes and microscopes if they had possessed the technology. But microscopes cannot tell you what a thing is on a metaphysical level. I think this also answers your later illustrations with the atoms of apples, fingers, etc.

    I would say that just as a body is not immaterial, it is also not uncreated, necessarily existent, timeless, etc (other divine attributes – though there is some controversy over some of them).

    This is exactly why the Incarnation is a mystery. God animating a human body is one thing.. God becoming human is something on an entirely different level. This is the center of Christianity and we must face it with arms and heart wide open.

  57. Hello Dan.

    By “speculative” I was indicating that the Incarnation in case of a non-Fall refers to a “counter-factual state of affairs.” I do not know whether my take on this question is ambivalent. I simply do not know whether the Incarnation was necessary given the teleology of Edenic man (I suspect that it was, though it hard to see how one can “know” something like that), nor do I know whether the necessity of the Incarnation (in this sense) is dogmatically taught by the Catholic Church.

    Here are some examples, from the St. John’s Gospel, of salvation construed as ontological union with God:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…. to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God…. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. (From John 1, RSV)

    Eternal life is an ontological category in St. John’s Gospel, as indicated in 5:26: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself….” This life is really communicated to men in Christ Jesus, as we see throughout the Gospel:

    In John 3:1-21, Our Lord reveals the new birth of Holy Baptism, believing into him unto eternal life, wherein our deeds are “wrought in God.”

    In John 6:47-51, Our Lord reveals the communion of the Holy Eucharist, whereby his life, the life that is in the Father, is communicated to us by the Spirit (6:63):

    ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

    The consummation of eternal life is not ultimately a matter of residence in a place (external relation). Rather, the consummation of salvation, the telos of man, is in God:

    “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? (John 14:5-10)

    As we have already seen, this ontological union, which is perfected in heaven, is enjoyed even now through the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church: “In that day [i.e., Pentecost] you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)

    Mankind’s unity with God in Christ is the telos of Our Lord’s self-oblation:

    And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me…. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:19-23, 26)

    St. Paul also considers ontological union with God to be the goal of humankind:

    The peculiar unity of Christ and the Church is revealed to St. Paul on the road to Damascus in the words of Our Lord: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4)

    This revelation, apparently, forms the basis of Paul’s doctrine of union with Christ.

    Thus he writes of the transformative effects of justification, wrought by our cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit:

    Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us….

    Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:1-5, 18-21)

    This last bit, wherein the transformative dimension of justification is clearly stated, is explicitly linked to deification in 1 Corinthians 5:21:

    For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    The ontological dimension of justification, whereby we acquire the divine life, is also expressed by the language of sonship:

    For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)

    Lest we be tempted to presume that man’s adoption to sonship in Christ Jesus (the only-begotten Son) is a purely legal affair, I refer to St. John once more:

    See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature [literally, “seed”] abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. (1 John 3:1-9)

    The divine nature, or seed, is the cause of our union with God, which is to live in love, which is to abide in God.

    Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:7-16)

    John summarizes matters thusly:

    And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

    Back to St. Paul, whose doctrine of the Eucharist is resonant with that of St. John, both emphasizing our participation in Jesus Christ:

    The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

    Participation in Christ is also part and parcel of Paul’s doctrine of Baptism:

    For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13; see Romans 6:1-5)

    To wax brief: The revelation of the unity of Christ and the Church sets the context for our understanding of salvation as union with God. The Church is the Body of Christ. Lest we be tempted to suppose that this is (yet another) simile, and ontologically void, here is how Paul writes of the Catholic Church:

    [H]e has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22; see 3:20, 4:11-16)

    Paul was keenly aware of the ontological implications of being a living member of the Body of Christ:

    Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:24-27)

    This is already long. Consider also that we can obtain immortality in Jesus Christ. (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, 2 Timothy 1:10) Yet immortality belongs to God alone. (1 Timothy 6:16) This has been part of the theological case for deification, which does not assume that our immortality in Christ is simply a happy application of the (supposedly) inherent immortality of the natural soul.

    Therefore, there is ample reason to take St. Peter, that old rock, at face value when we writes that

    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

  58. Bryan,

    You say that Christ’s physical body is a being other than His divine Being, and that He (and He alone) owns His physical body, and that His physical body is a part of Him. But your car is a being other than you, and you (and you alone) own your car, and yet you deny that your car is a part of you. So if Christ’s physical body is a part of Him, why isn’t your car a part of you? What makes Christ’s physical body a part of Him, that your car does not have in relation to you?

    I did not see this post of yours until Tim mentioned post #50 and I went to look at what it was. I am receiving email notifications of new posts, and for some reason I never received an email about this post of yours.

    As I said in my last reply to you (#35), the ownership language (“owns”) is yours and not mine. I’ve never explicated the relation between the Logos and his body in terms of ownership. Although I and I alone own my car, nothing I have said commits me to the conclusion that my car is a part of me, since I haven’t said that the relation between Christ and his body is an ownership relation like what obtains between me and my car. As far as what makes Christ’s body a part of him, that does not apply between me and my car, let me quote from what I already said in 35:

    Dan: There is one person in connection with the Incarnation, the Logos. This person assumed humanity, took on a human body and soul. Since there is just one person here, the Logos is the “personal subject,” as it were, of the consciousness of the human mind. Hence, the crucifixion, for the Logos, was like a crucifixion would be for any other human, involving one’s body being horribly damaged and one’s mind (in virtue thereof) registering horrible pain.

    Presumably it is obvious that there are significant differences between the relation between you and your car and the relation between you and your body. But for similar reasons there are obvious differences between the relation between you and your car and the relation between Christ and his body. In the case of you and your car, ‘your’ in ‘your car’ indicates ownership: the car that is owned by you, or more precisely, the car that, according to certain social and legal norms, you have the right to use and to proscribe others from using, etc. In the case of Christ and his body, we have a personal subject and the body in which he is, well, embodied. It seems that having a body, or being embodied, is a fairly primitive relation, one which may not be susceptible to further non-circular analysis in terms of other relations.

    As far as Christ’s body’s being a part of him, I have used that language. First, I re-state my earlier clarification that I never explicated the meaning of parthood, or what it is for one thing to have another as a part, in terms of ownership, much less exclusive ownership (i.e., being owned by one thing only). Ownership is not sufficient for parthood: I can own a car but it’s not a part of me. Neither is ownership necessary for parthood: certain parcels of sand can be part of a bigger parcel of sand, though sand, being inanimate, doesn’t “own” anything. Second, I find the language of parthood useful, in the case of Christ, though I don’t know if anything hangs on it. Human beings have a body and mind as parts, and that is why I extended the language to the case of Christ and have said he has a body and mind, or rational soul, if you prefer, as parts.

    There is a crucial difference between the ordinary human and Christ that is relevant here, namely, that Christ’s person is not co-extensive with his human parts (his body and mind). Since Christ is a divine person, he has a divine “part” that is located “outside” his human body and mind (e.g., he is still omnipresent and sustains all things by the word of his power, and is he in whom all things hold together, etc.). In contrast, with us I think it is plausible that we are co-extensive with our human parts: if my body and mind were both destroyed, all of me would have been thereby destroyed and I would completely cease to exist.

    Another difference is that none of Christ’s human parts are essential parts, whereas all of our human parts are essential (though the body may not be temporally essential, i.e., essential at every moment of time we exist (we can lose bodies and then re-gain them, while surviving the interim)).

    So there are differences between the nature of the parthood relations between us and our bodies and Christ and his (involving co-extension of being with the human parts, and the modal force with which the parts are possessed). Despite the differences I think it is appropriate to say that Christ’s human parts are parts of him, though one must guard against interpreting this to imply (what would be a correct inference in the case of us) that the relevant parts exhaust him (i.e., that his being is co-extensive with the parts, that he does not exist outside them). The main reasons for speaking this way are (1) the parallel with ordinary humans (human bodies are parts of humans) and (2) the embodiment relation seems to entail parthood (i.e., it seems that if x is embodied in y then that is sufficient for y’s being part of x); and the differences I’ve mentioned don’t seem to undermine this (e.g., a substance can have accidental parts, not only essential ones).

    Dan

  59. Tim,

    On the argument from origins, listening to it a second time, I think I did understand it correctly and I think my reply above suffices – particularly the example of North Carolina being American by virtue of its absorption into the unity of America of which, in its first instance, it is a constituent part.

    It’s hard to see how your example with NC and being American helps your case, since there are crucial disanalogies between this case and the case of Christ’s body and being divine, and it also suggests, in some ways, an interpretation of the relation between Christ’s body and divinity that I think you reject. (1) Christ’s body is essentially human; plausibly NC is accidentally American (if the south won the civil war and absorbed NC, would NC cease to exist, being replaced with a resembling state that was not identical with NC? If not, NC is only accidentally American, since it could be part of the “Confederate States of America” (or whatever) instead of the U.S. of A.) (2) North Carolina, insofar as it is an entity at all, is plausibly a conventional entity or a logical construction; i.e., its existence is dependent on certain societal and political rules and conventions. So too with the property “being American.” (3) It is dubious whether being absorbed into America brings about any intrinsic change in NC; the relevant kind of changes seem relational; i.e., NC comes to stand in certain relations to other entities that it would not stand in if it were not American.

    I don’t think you’ve justified the claim that Christ’s body is divine for the same reason that your body is human (which the origins issue concerned); but it seems to me this is not an essential part of your view or overall argument anyway.

    Man is necessarily created. But Jesus was fully man. This is a contradiction if we want to get into it.. but this is our religion. We could also use many other examples to show this. God is essentially immutable. Man is essentially mutable. But Jesus is a man. So then can Jesus be both God and man? At the heart of our religion lies a great contradiction. Namely, a cross.

    Maybe you are using ‘contradiction’ loosely, so that it applies to paradoxical or mysterious things and not just literal contradictions; I hope so. I wouldn’t advise taking this line with a Muslim. The cross is a stumbling block and foolishness according to the world’s wisdom, but there is no contradiction in it. Otherwise Paul could hardly have formed rational arguments in connection with it and its purpose (e.g., its place in Rom. 3-4 for accounting for God’s justice despite his passing over sins and justifying wicked people).

    I don’t think the relational view works for reasons that should become apparent if you answer Bryan’s question above in #50.

    I’ve just responded to this post of his, and I don’t see the point you’re trying to make here.

    1. Divinity isn’t a quality that is transferred to the body as heat is transferred to a body by fire.

    2. Yes the change is intrinsic as opposed to a relational change which is extrinsic.

    I think you will see 1 & 2 as contradictions.

    By ‘relational’ I do not mean ‘extrinsic’. The latter seems to have certain connotations (at least in this thread) that are not necessarily appropriate in all relational changes. I would only see 1 and 2 as contradictory on a certain very broad interpretation of ‘quality’ in 1. If it indicates a physical quality (like heat or color), then I affirm the consistency of 1 and 2. I understand the coherence and compatibility of the following two claims: when a table leg is broken off of a table, there is an intrinsic change in the nature of all the parts of the leg; when the leg is broken off, all the parts of the leg acquire no new physical qualities.

    Dan: I would say that just as a body is not immaterial, it is also not uncreated, necessarily existent, timeless, etc (other divine attributes – though there is some controversy over some of them).
    Tim: This is exactly why the Incarnation is a mystery. God animating a human body is one thing.. God becoming human is something on an entirely different level. This is the center of Christianity and we must face it with arms and heart wide open.

    Although it is possible to affirm both sides of a contradiction, it is not possible to affirm a side of a contradiction the meaning or import of which one does not understand. Although, discussing this with you has greatly helped my thinking on the issue. Further, one might get the impression from what you’ve said that you are implying that I think God did not become human and that the center of Christianity is your particular way of understanding the relation between Christ’s body and his divinity or person.

    Dan

  60. Dan,

    It’s hard to see how your example with NC and being American helps your case

    I didn’t use it to support my case because, like you said, there are too many breakdowns in the analogy. I used it to show that the argument of origins is not valid.

    Christ’s body is essentially human; plausibly NC is accidentally American

    In this analogy, NC is as a hand to the body, not as the body to the soul. The hand, or rather the constituent elements of the hand, are as accidentally human as NC is accidentally American. Please re-think the analogy with that in mind and if you don’t think it shows the origins argument to be ineffective, let me know why.

    Maybe you are using ‘contradiction’ loosely,

    Sorry, I was being sloppy there. I meant that it’s a contradiction in the same way that what you mentioned (man is essentially material therefore not divine) is a contradiction: i.e. only apparently. The Incarnation is not an absolute contradiction, and the cross bit is a reference to Chesterton.

    By ‘relational’ I do not mean ‘extrinsic’.

    Have you changed your view? Because earlier you said:

    On this view, divinity is acquired by the body, but what this means is not that the body itself undergoes an intrinsic change, but rather that it is divine in the sense that it acquires a relation to something that is divine.

    A couple questions: 1. How do you think your view differs from Docetism? 2. When angels took on flesh in the OT, was there any difference in their relationship to the bodies they animated and the relationship of Christ to His Body? If so, what are those differences?

  61. Dan,

    In #50, I asked, “So if Christ’s physical body is a part of Him, why isn’t your car a part of you? What makes Christ’s physical body a part of Him, that your car does not have in relation to you?” Your answer in #58 is essentially that the Logos is related to His physical body by an embodiment relation.

    If the “embodiment relation” is an extrinsic relation (i.e. is a relation between two distinct beings), then it is equivalent to the ownership relation, and doesn’t explain why one of the beings is a part of the other being. Only if the “embodiment relation” is an intrinsic relation, (i.e. a relation within one being), can Christ’s physical body be said to be a part of Him. But if the embodiment relation is a relation within one being, then Christ’s physical body is divine.

    In #24 I wrote:

    So that’s why the position you’re describing is Nestorian, because metaphysically, adoptionism is Nestorian, even if the human person is by stipulation suppressed or eliminated (zombified). The position you are describing requires that you stipulate zombiehood in order to avoid the human person coming into existence. But you seem not to realize that when God creates a human soul, and unites it to a human body, He does not then create an additional entity, i.e. a human person. The human person just is the rational corporal substance formed by the union of body and soul. So wherever there is a human being, that same entity is a human person. So, by having two beings (i.e. a human being, and a divine being), your position is Nestorian. Or, if you say that there is one being (i.e. the divine Being), and a body, then either the body does not exist (i.e. docetism), or if it exists, then it is a being but not a human being (i.e. Christ didn’t become fully human; that’s Apollinarianism), or it exists and is a human being (i.e. Nestorianism), or its very act of being is the divine Being (i.e. orthodoxy).

    In #27 you responded:

    The incarnation is not a case of a “zombie” because a “zombie” (as I think you are using the term, at any rate) would be a body, or body-soul composite, without a personal subject (i.e., without an actual human being or person); and there is no such thing in the Incarnation, for the Logos is the subject.

    Because you claim that Christ’s physical body is a being other than the divine being, and because Christ’s human soul is also (for you) another being other than the divine being, and because wherever a human body is united to a human soul there ipso facto is a human person, therefore, your position entails the existence of a human person in addition to the Logos, and hence is Nestorian. In order to keep the human person from coming into existence (and thus getting Nestorianism), you would to have to claim that Christ did not have a human soul (or a human body). In other words, you would have to somehow prevent a human soul from joining a human body.

    Why don’t Catholics and Orthodox have this suppressed-zombiehood problem? Because we all affirm that the act of existence of Christ’s physical body and human soul is the divine and eternal act of existence. An already existing Person is the very being of this physical body and human soul, not just the possessor or owner of this physical body and human soul. But as soon as you deny that the act of being of this physical body and human soul is the eternal divine act, then when that human soul and physical body are joined to each other, ipso facto there is a human person (in addition to the Logos), and hence you’re strapped with Nestorianism. You can’t stipulate the non-existence of the human person, without falling into some form of Apollinarianism, i.e. denying that Christ has a human soul, either simpliciter or by denying that His human soul has a human intellect/human will). That’s the only way to prevent the existence of a human person, given your claim that Christ’s physical body is not divine. So if you wish to maintain that Christ’s physical body is not divine, then to prevent the existence of the human person you have to adopt Apollinarianism. Otherwise, your position is Nestorian, because the union of a human body with a human soul ipso facto entails the existence of a human person.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  62. Andrew,
    Thanks for this biblical case for ontological union as being involved in salvation.

    There are a number of passages that you cite, both with and in some cases without commentary, where it is not clear how you are getting the idea of ontological union between Christians and God therein. I suspect that in some, the alleged support for this idea is perceived due to conflating (1) salvation’s involving ontological union with God and (2) salvation’s involving ontological aspects or ontological change. For example, you say:

    Eternal life is an ontological category in St. John’s Gospel, as indicated in 5:26: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself….” This life is really communicated to men in Christ Jesus, as we see throughout the Gospel:

    (my emphasis) I’m not challenging the claim that eternal life involves ontological aspects, but this is not the same as its involving ontological union with God. I suspect that in other cases, the alleged support is linked to conflating (1) salvation’s involving ontological union with God and (3) salvation’s involving union with God. There are other kinds of unions and relations between God and man aside from ontological; and a non-ontological interpretation of a relation between God and man is not thereby “ontologically void,” because of the distinction between (1) and (2) already mentioned. Suppose God enters into a union with creatures, where the union is not ontological union (i.e., union of creatures’ being with God’s being), but that results in an ontological change in the creature. Here we have a union that is not of ontological union with God, and yet the union is not ontologically void because it implies an ontological change in the creature. In sum, a challenge to salvation as involving ontological union is neither a challenge to salvation as involving ontological aspects or import for the creature, nor a challenge to salvation as involving union, nor a challenge to salvation as involving union with ontological import (e.g., transformative effects).

    The following are some places in your post where it is not clear how or why you are getting the idea of ontological union between Christians and God from the relevant passage:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth…. to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God…. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. (From John 1, RSV)

    John 5:26: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself….”

    In John 3:1-21, Our Lord reveals the new birth of Holy Baptism, believing into him unto eternal life, wherein our deeds are “wrought in God.”

    “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? (John 14:5-10)

    However, I think I see where you get the idea of ontological union in the following passages:

    In John 6:47-51, Our Lord reveals the communion of the Holy Eucharist, whereby his life, the life that is in the Father, is communicated to us by the Spirit (6:63):

    ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

    As we have already seen, this ontological union, which is perfected in heaven, is enjoyed even now through the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church: “In that day [i.e., Pentecost] you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)

    And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me…. I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:19-23, 26)

    These places in John 14 and 17 may seem to teach ontological union, because of the language about being “in” things. Christ is in His Father, the disciples are in Christ, and He is in them. The glory which the Father gave Christ he has given to his disciples, “that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me…” The reason I do not see these places as teaching ontological union between the disciples and God is that I’m not convinced that in the context the kind of union Christ is talking about is ontological, a union of his disciples’ being with his (and the Father’s) being. I think this is supported by Christ’s talk concerning his disciples’ being one with each other. The unity Christ desires his disciples to have with each other is not, it seems, an ontological union; for there is no ontological union between fellow disciples. But this union or oneness among believers is likened to the oneness of the Father and Christ, and to their being “in” each other.

    Regarding John 6 and Christ as the bread of life, I imagine one might think this supports ontological union because of the idea that Christ’s being is bestowed on those who eat his flesh and drink his blood. If this is not the alleged connection to the issue of ontological union, feel free to let me know. As you yourself mentioned, it is by the Spirit that we receive life from Christ. Discussing this sufficiently may get us into a broader dispute over the Eucharist, but I see a natural way of taking the portions about bread of life etc. in the passage that does not imply ontological union. Christ likens himself to bread, and as bread nourishes by being eaten, he speaks of himself (in the vein of the analogy) as providing life by being eaten. But the nature of the eating may not be the same as it was in the case of the mana with Moses (i.e., actual eating and digesting); rather it can be coming to Christ or believing in Him (e.g., 6:35; 7:37-38) or some spiritual conception of eating. And the nature of the life-giving may not be the same as it was in the case of the mana (i.e.,nourishing the body); Christ’s flesh gives us life, for one thing, by his offering it on the cross and the consequent blessings purchased (e.g., Heb. 10:19-20 for a stark case of how his flesh provides salvation).

    Lest we be tempted to presume that man’s adoption to sonship in Christ Jesus (the only-begotten Son) is a purely legal affair, I refer to St. John once more:

    I’m not so tempted. For one thing, we receive and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But God’s being becomes my being? That doesn’t follow from denying a merely legal interpretation.

    Back to St. Paul, whose doctrine of the Eucharist is resonant with that of St. John, both emphasizing our participation in Jesus Christ:

    The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

    “We who are many are one body.” Ontologically? No. The believers who are part of the body of Christ are not ontologically united with each other; i.e., their being is not shared with each other. Hence the unity in view is not ontological, it seems. Which, again, doesn’t mean it is purely forensic or commercial or non-transformative.

    To wax brief: The revelation of the unity of Christ and the Church sets the context for our understanding of salvation as union with God. The Church is the Body of Christ. Lest we be tempted to suppose that this is (yet another) simile, and ontologically void, here is how Paul writes of the Catholic Church:

    My emphases. But is the unity ontological, and is the union in salvation ontological? (1) is distinct from (2) and (3). And supposing that the union is not ontological would not make the unity a “simile”, as far as I see. What would it be a simile of? Neither would it make the unity “ontologically void”, as mentioned at the top (for a non-ontological union can bring about real, transformative change). Maybe you could elaborate on what you mean by simile and void in this connection, if you want to press this point.

    Therefore, there is ample reason to take St. Peter, that old rock, at face value when we writes that

    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

    This seems a tendentious translation; it translates the participial phrase (about escaping corruption) as if it were coordinate with becoming partakers of the divine nature (such that through the promises one does two things: become partakers and escape corruption), whereas the most natural translation it seems to me (which is the one most translations go for, that I’ve looked at at any rate) is to translate it : “…by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” The difference is that in the first escaping corruption is disconnected from partaking of divine nature, and both are done through the promises; whereas in the second partaking of the divine nature is linked both to the promises and to escaping corruption (i.e., escaping corruption is in some sense prior to and perhaps explanatory of what it is to partake of the divine nature). As I’ve already suggested in an earlier post (near the beginning of the thread), it seems natural, in context, to take partaking of the divine nature in this verse as resembling God in various ways (such as moral attributes) – which would explain how partaking of the nature is linked to escaping corruption. However, I admit that an ontological interpretation (where partaking of the divine nature involves acquiring God’s being) is possible. But I don’t think such an interpretation is implied by the term’s meaning.

    Dan

  63. Dan,

    You said: “But the nature of the eating may not be the same as it was in the case of the mana with Moses (i.e., actual eating and digesting); rather it can be coming to Christ or believing in Him (e.g., 6:35; 7:37-38) or some spiritual conception of eating.”

    Then why didn’t Jesus say this to the scandalized disciples who left after this hard teaching? He was willing to correct misconceptions among his disciples in other places. And why is the particular Greek word for “eat” used in this passage indicative of chewing or munching, as the Catholic NAB explains?

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  64. Dan,

    And supposing that the union is not ontological would not make the unity a “simile”, as far as I see. What would it be a simile of? Neither would it make the unity “ontologically void”, as mentioned at the top (for a non-ontological union can bring about real, transformative change). Maybe you could elaborate on what you mean by simile and void in this connection, if you want to press this point.

    My distinction between ontological and non-ontological had to do with “a lot of” salvation language, not all salvation language in Sacred Scripture. So I can grant that some such language has an ontological dimension without necessarily involving union with God. Thus, when St. John says that we become children of God by virtue of the divine nature dwelling within us, one could say, well, what really happens (all that really happens) is that we acquire some finite properties which are similar to those properties that God possesses in a infinite way. This is a relationship of likeness, and does involve some kind of ontological change. But it is precisely the “unity” here involved that is ontologically void. A man and a goat both share the property of being able to beget offspring. And this property is, in the man and in the goat, ontological. But the unity hereby established between man and goat is not ontological, it is a resemblance, an abstract kind of unity.

    Thus I cited Scripture to the effect that the kind of salvific change which you allow is not what we would expect by the unity language actually used, which is not, in many cases (though it is in others), merely that of likeness: “children of God,” “God’s seed abides in him,” “partakers of the divine nature,” “the fullness of him who fills all in all,” and “eternal life,” which is the life of the Father (which is why the “eternal life” passages connote union with God). On your view, the “children,” “nature / seed,” and “Body” language, which naturally denote an ontological unity, are prominent examples of similies (comparisons of things that are fundamentally unalike), or, at most, intrinsic likenesses (via some shared property). In either case, the actual, even the predominant, biblical language of salvation is purely metaphorical, and the unity denoted thereby is ontologically void.

    The unity Christ desires his disciples to have with each other is not, it seems, an ontological union; for there is no ontological union between fellow disciples.

    “We who are many are one body.” Ontologically? No. The believers who are part of the body of Christ are not ontologically united with each other; i.e., their being is not shared with each other. Hence the unity in view is not ontological, it seems.

    If the Church is the Body of Christ, then every living member of the Church is ontologically united with one another in the one, undivided Body.

    This [2 Peter 1:3-4, RSV] seems a tendentious translation; it translates the participial phrase (about escaping corruption) as if it were coordinate with becoming partakers of the divine nature (such that through the promises one does two things: become partakers and escape corruption), whereas the most natural translation it seems to me (which is the one most translations go for, that I’ve looked at at any rate) is to translate it : “…by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” The difference is that in the first escaping corruption is disconnected from partaking of divine nature, and both are done through the promises; whereas in the second partaking of the divine nature is linked both to the promises and to escaping corruption (i.e., escaping corruption is in some sense prior to and perhaps explanatory of what it is to partake of the divine nature).

    Neither translation of the participial phrase does the kind of work that you seem to suppose.

    As to the RSV translation: It is perfectly acceptable in many cases to translate a participial phrase by supplying a conjunctive, thus treating the phrase as a separate clause. This does not “disconnect” the phrase from the main clause. In this translation, the participle is allowed to be influenced by the case of the main verb (subjunctive). No one can miss the connection between escaping the corruption and partaking of the divine nature. You cannot have one without the other, but this does not render their relation (grammatically or in reality) one of apposition, which is what you seem to be suggesting at the end of the quoted section.

    In 2 Peter 1:4, “having escaped the corruption” may quite naturally be taken as a predicate of “you” (the implied subject) rather than as an adverbial phrase modifying “may become” (the verb). In this case, the RSV translation is far from “tendentious.”

    Other translations, the ones you prefer, emphasize the subordinate nature of the participial phrase. But this interpretation does not render the relationship with “you may become partakers of the divine nature” one of apposition. The definite article (lacking in the this case) is almost always required in order for apposition to be an interpretive option. Interestingly enough, if we take the participial phrase as adverbial, modifying “may become partakers…” we end up with the logical equivalent of the RSV interpretation. Nigel Turner notes that the adverbial participle is a “circumstantial ptc.” and “differs from a supplementary ptc. in that the latter cannot without impairing the sense be detached from the main verbal idea, whereas the circumstantial is equivalent to a separate participial clause.” (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. III: Syntax, 153, emphasis added.)

  65. Bryan Cross:

    Ultimately, we do not need mere benefits: we need nothing less than to be made partakers of the divine nature in order to enter into divine life and obtain the Beatific Vision. We need to be joined ontologically to the divine nature, as Christ is ontologically joined to human nature.

    Institutes of the Christian Religion
    CHAPTER 15.

    STATE IN WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL—THE IMAGE OF GOD—FREE WILL—ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    8. … God has provided the soul of man with intellect … [to] this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness.

    Dan’s post #47:

    I completely agree that there was a teleological end to man as originally created (he was to work his way to God’s eternal Sabbath rest, etc.). Further, this end involved an elevated level of existence, a glorified existence. There is an eschatological orientation of the creation; it is to go from glory to glory. But I reject the idea that the telos involved ontological union.

    Do you agree with Calvin that the human nature that man possessed before the Fall “not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness”? That is, do you believe that there existed the potential within the pre-Fall human nature to achieve the “teleological end” for which man was created?

    Dan, you write that man as he was originally created “was to work his way to God’s eternal Sabbath rest” – could you please elaborate on the work that man needed to do that would have resulted in the beatific vision had the Fall not occurred?

  66. I haven’t abandoned the threat (yet), but due to work (school) I’m trying to ignore it and not write posts during the week; so though I plan on responding to recent posts I don’t plan on doing it till Sat. or Sun.

  67. I mean ‘thread’ not ‘threat'; what threat? =]

  68. Freudian slip? :-)

  69. Tim,

    In this analogy, NC is as a hand to the body, not as the body to the soul. The hand, or rather the constituent elements of the hand, are as accidentally human as NC is accidentally American. Please re-think the analogy with that in mind and if you don’t think it shows the origins argument to be ineffective, let me know why.

    The relevant analogue of NC is the whole body itself. Where is the relevant connection between NC and USA (the former being part of the latter), and Christ’s body and Christ(‘s person) (the former being part of the latter)? You claimed that Christ’s body’s humanity (i.e., its property of being a human body) obtains in virtue of its absorption into the unity of the person (whose body it is); and so it would seem the relevant similarity is that, just as NC is American in virtue of its absorption into the unity of the USA (whose part NC is), Christ’s body is human in virtue of its absorption into the unity of Christ(‘s person). But I’ve already argued that, with the case of a human body and its humanity, this is not how it goes, through the “origins” argument, and I don’t see how raising this analogy constitutes a rebuttal; unless the idea is that if it works this way with NC and USA then it also works this way with Christ’s body and Christ (which does not follow, especially in light of there being fundamental disanalogies between the two cases, which you’ve conceded).

    Further, you have said things which seem to imply that the origins argument was cogent. From earlier:

    Dan: Second, I don’t see how Christ’s body could be human, on your account.

    Tim: This is a serious question; as you know, the earliest heresies generally denied the humanity rather than the divinity of Christ! I might come up a little short here because of my limitations and the inherent mystery of the Incarnation; it’s the most unique of all earthly events by far! But it seems to me that given the concept that a human is a human by virtue of the body-soul composite, that unity remains intact perfectly through the mystery of the incarnation in a way that, the fruit’s unity is not.

    (my bold) First, I don’t think this explains at all how, on your proposal where the person’s body acquires humanity in virtue of the unity of the person, Christ’s body could actually acquire humanity (for there was no humanity in the person antecedently to be derived – only divinity). How can you account for the claim that Christ’s body is human without implicitly appealing to my account in the origins argument of how a body acquires humanity (namely, in virtue of the nature of its parts and their interrelations)? Is not Christ’s body human because that’s the kind of body God made in Mary’s womb (or more precisely, because that’s the kind of body God made to which the Son united himself)?

    Second, you seem to concede here (in the bold) that a human person is a human person in virtue of being a body-soul composite. But if a person is human in virtue of being a body-soul composite (presumably, a human body / human soul composite), this is to concede the order of explanation or analysis inherent in the origins argument. This was that the humanity of a person (i.e., the fact of a person’s being a human person) obtains in virtue of a person’s having a human body and soul. Conversely, you had said a body (such as Christ’s, or yours) is human in virtue of being absorbed into the unity of the person. These are contrary orders of analysis, and it sounds like you are endorsing mine when you say that a human is a human by virtue of the body-soul composite.

    Dan: By ‘relational’ I do not mean ‘extrinsic’.

    Tim: Have you changed your view? Because earlier you said:

    Dan: On this view, divinity is acquired by the body, but what this means is not that the body itself undergoes an intrinsic change, but rather that it is divine in the sense that it acquires a relation to something that is divine.

    As ‘extrinsic’ is sometimes used, it implies something more than ‘relational’. John’s being blown up by an atomic bomb is a relational change (involving a relation, “being blown up by,” between John and a bomb), though it certainly is intimately connected with intrinsic change (e.g., John’s body’s vaporizing), whereas John’s becoming taller than Steve might be dubbed an “extrinsic” relational change, in that the relationship between the relata involves no genuine interaction between them. Perhaps an extrinsic relational change is a relational change that implies no intrinsic changes (that’s not quite right). But since a relational change may or may not be accompanied by an intrinsic change, the two are not mutually exclusive.

    The second statement of mine just quoted is defective, in that it seems to pit intrinsic change in Christ’s body against Christ’s body’s being divine in the sense that his body acquires a relation to something that is divine. However, the issue of whether the union of Christ with his body involves intrinsic change in the body is a distinct issue from whether (or in what sense) Christ’s body is divine. There can be intrinsic changes in Christ’s body (i.e., effects for its intrinsic nature), in virtue of its relations to Christ, without the body’s acquiring divinity. In other words, there are kinds of intrinsic change aside from becoming divine, and so a body’s not becoming divine does not mean it is not intrinsically changed by acquiring a relation to something divine.

    Now since in response to my previous attempts to probe into the issue of just how or in what sense Christ’s body (i.e., the physical body and all its bodily parts, not the man as a unified substance) is divine you (basically) appealed to mystery, I don’t know what the body’s alleged divinity really amounts to. That is, I don’t know in what its divinity consists. Two views come to mind: the body and its parts exemplify certain divine attributes (which you seemed to deny at first, with immateriality at least); or, the body is divine in the sense that it bears some relation or relations (e.g., embodiment or being embodied by) to something that is divine. This second choice would be a relational view of the body’s divinity, however, in light of my remarks above, this view would not imply that the body underwent no intrinsic change in association with entering into its relation(s) with the person whose body it is. That is, one could hold that the body and all the atoms making it up undergo some sort of intrinsic change in virtue of being united to the Logos, but without this intrinsic change amounting to these things’ becoming divine (in the sense of taking on divine attributes themselves).

    A couple questions: 1. How do you think your view differs from Docetism?

    I know my view differs from Docetism in that it affirms that Christ had a human body. I have no idea why this question would be asked.

    2. When angels took on flesh in the OT, was there any difference in their relationship to the bodies they animated and the relationship of Christ to His Body? If so, what are those differences?

    I don’t have a particular view on how angels appear(ed) as men, so as to form a comparison with the Incarnation. Likewise I don’t have a particular view on how to understand the metaphysics of angelic appearances where they appear in angelic, not human, form. It’s an interesting issue.

  70. Bryan,

    In #50, I asked, “So if Christ’s physical body is a part of Him, why isn’t your car a part of you? What makes Christ’s physical body a part of Him, that your car does not have in relation to you?” Your answer in #58 is essentially that the Logos is related to His physical body by an embodiment relation.

    The embodiment relation was a key part of my explanation for my calling Christ’s body a part of him.

    If the “embodiment relation” is an extrinsic relation (i.e. is a relation between two distinct beings), then it is equivalent to the ownership relation,[…]

    It does not follow from two things’ standing in an extrinsic relation that they stand in an ownership relation (much less that it is equivalent to one). If a billiard ball hits another ball, causally influencing it, we have an “extrinsic relation” as you are using the phrase (a relation between two distinct things) but obviously no ownership relation. Further, there are things that enter into embodiment relations that also do not own anything. A bacterium has a body, and yet it does not own anything.

    […]and doesn’t explain why one of the beings is a part of the other being. Only if the “embodiment relation” is an intrinsic relation, (i.e. a relation within one being), can Christ’s physical body be said to be a part of Him.

    Two interpretations of extrinsic and intrinsic (as you have expressed them) come to mind. “Two distinct beings” could be taken to mean two non-identical beings, or two disjoint beings, i.e., two beings that do not overlap. You and your body are non-identical (not the same things), but they are not disjoint (for your body is part of you, within you). Two billiard balls would be both non-identical and disjoint – each one is not within, but rather outside, the other. As far as a relation within one being (an intrinsic relation), on one interpretation, one of the terms of the relation is within the other. E.g., your body and you; in the embodiment relation, one term (body) is wholly within the other (you). On another interpretation, the terms can be disjoint, but both inside some third thing. On both interpretations, the relation is within one being, but in the second case, the one being is non-identical with the two beings actually standing in the relation. E.g., a molecule in a cell causally impacts another molecule in a cell. Even though the two molecules are disjoint, the relation would be intrinsic on the second interpretation, because the relation occurs within one being (namely, the cell).

    Both kinds of extrinsic relation are compatible with the second kind of intrinsic relation (i.e., a relation can be both extrinsic and intrinsic). The 1st kind of intrinsic relation is compatible with the 1st, but not the 2nd, kind of extrinsic relation. In the case of Christ and his body, the embodiment relation is intrinsic in the 1st sense (Christ’s body is not outside of Christ), and also extrinsic in the 1st sense (Christ’s body is non-identical with Christ, just as your body is non-identical with you) but not in the 2nd (Christ’s body is not disjoint from our outside of Christ –like two billiard balls are disjoint).

    But if the embodiment relation is a relation within one being, then Christ’s physical body is divine

    Why? As a general rule, it does not follow from x’s being embodied in y that properties of x are exemplified by y. I am embodied in a human body. Yet while I am a person, my body is not. While I am a human being, my body is not. I am conscious; my body is not. Nor does it follow that in the case of an intrinsic relation in general the properties of each relatum are shared. A certain pile of sand has a different weight than a certain part of it (consisting of a smaller pile within it). So why should we think that if the Logos is embodied in a human body then the Logos’s property of being divine is exemplified by the body?

    Further, what do you mean when you say that Christ’s physical body is divine? How is that to be understood? Does it mean that certain divine attributes are exemplified by the body? If so, which ones?

    Because you claim that Christ’s physical body is a being other than the divine being, and because Christ’s human soul is also (for you) another being other than the divine being, and because wherever a human body is united to a human soul there ipso facto is a human person, therefore, your position entails the existence of a human person in addition to the Logos, and hence is Nestorian.

    In order for the entailment to follow, the third premise would need to read (with italicized additions) “wherever a human body is united to a human soul there ipso facto is a non-divine human person.” I claim that one of the peculiarities in the Incarnation is that no such person comes into existence (for the relevant person here, the Logos, already existed). If the third premise is revised with my addition, then it would still be ambiguous between two interpretations. The premise can be taken as making a subjunctive claim: if there were a human body-soul composite, there would be a non-divine human person. If the conditional is taken to hold true in all metaphysically possible situations (i.e., no matter what, the consequent follows from the antecedent), I would say that it is false, for the Incarnation is a counterexample. But if it is interpreted as a claim about normal situations (i.e., the state of things in God’s ordinary providence), then the conditional is of course true; though the premise now does not help yield the Nestorian conclusion. If we read premise 3 as you actually wrote it, I affirm it; with the proviso that in the (unique) case of the body-soul composite in the Incarnation the human person is the Logos.

    Why doesn’t a non-divine human person come into existence when the body and soul come into existence? Because there is “no room,” so to speak, for such an entity to do so. The Logos unites himself to the body and soul simultaneously with their coming into existence, thereby becoming a human being; and thereby obviating the existence of any other human person who ordinarily would come into existence in virtue of the union of such a body and soul.

    In order to keep the human person from coming into existence (and thus getting Nestorianism), you would to have to claim that Christ did not have a human soul (or a human body). In other words, you would have to somehow prevent a human soul from joining a human body.

    I think not, because of the remarks just given. I allow a human soul to join a human body, but do not assume that the union gives rise to a newly existing person. It does not give rise to a new person, for the Logos is an “old” person; but it does give rise to a new 1st person perspective for an old person, and to a new mode of being for an old person. This is a tough issue, but we’ll see whether your view can do any better on this point =].

    Why don’t Catholics and Orthodox have this suppressed-zombiehood problem? Because we all affirm that the act of existence of Christ’s physical body and human soul is the divine and eternal act of existence. An already existing Person is the very being of this physical body and human soul, not just the possessor or owner of this physical body and human soul. But as soon as you deny that the act of being of this physical body and human soul is the eternal divine act, then when that human soul and physical body are joined to each other, ipso facto there is a human person (in addition to the Logos), and hence you’re strapped with Nestorianism.

    It’s not clear how your view avoids the existence of a human person in addition to the Logos. You’ve proposed that the person of the Logos “is the very being of” Christ’s body and soul. Ok, but how does that explain why no human person arises, in addition to the Logos, in connection with the union of the body and soul? Why doesn’t the union of the body and soul give rise to a human person the “very being” of which is the Logos, just as the very being of the body and of the soul is the Logos? If a body can have the Logos as its very being without the body’s ceasing to be a body, and likewise for the soul, what keeps a new person from coming into existence who would then have, as its very being, the Logos? In other words, why don’t we have, in addition to the Person of the Logos, a human person whose being is the Logos? When you said earlier, “and because wherever a human body is united to a human soul there ipso facto is a human person,” in arguing against me, were you putting forth a premise that you do not believe?

  71. K. Doran,

    You said: “But the nature of the eating may not be the same as it was in the case of the mana with Moses (i.e., actual eating and digesting); rather it can be coming to Christ or believing in Him (e.g., 6:35; 7:37-38) or some spiritual conception of eating.”

    Then why didn’t Jesus say this to the scandalized disciples who left after this hard teaching?

    It is hinted at throughout John 6, before many of the disciples leave in the first place. Throughout the chapter Christ’s role as the bread of life, and His life-giving capacity, is connected with coming to him and believing in him (v. 29, 35, 40, 47-48). And I’ve already provided a plausible reason for his using language of eating in addition to using language of coming to him and believing: since he is likening himself to bread, he speaks of being eaten in line with the comparison (since that is how bread nourishes or gives life). In other words, the mana given by Moses (as well, perhaps, as the food given by Christ to these people earlier) is the foil: these Jews, if they want to have eternal life, must eat Christ (no other food being sufficient to give them true life). The point is not the mechanics of the eating but the object of eating. We are not to drive a wedge between coming to him in faith and eating his flesh; both are things that imply being raised on the last day (e.g., v. 40, 54), and hence it is natural to identify them as getting at the same thing. (Need I point out that one can partake of the RC Eucharist and yet fail to be raised unto life on the last day?)

    As far as why Christ didn’t make it clearer, or more explicit, I don’t need to explain or justify Christ’s failure to do it, because it is common for Christ to speak in this way.

    He was willing to correct misconceptions among his disciples in other places.

    Since the Twelve never express any conviction that what Christ was teaching was that they must literally chew on him and drink his blood, one should not expect Christ to be recorded as explicitly denying such an interpretation with his disciples. I would think that the disciples were mystified by the teaching, and yet held that the teaching was true (v. 68) and important, even if they did not completely understand it. There is a difference between correcting an erroneous interpretation and providing or clarifying a true one, and if Christ were obligated to do the latter whenever his disciples needed it Christ would never have gotten around to going to the cross.

    And why is the particular Greek word for “eat” used in this passage indicative of chewing or munching, as the Catholic NAB explains?

    ‘Eating’ is also indicative of chewing and munching, in a key sense: that’s how we eat things. The issue one must mull over is whether the context in which the terms are used (whether it be “eat,” “munch,” “chew,” “devour,” or whatever) is more amenable to a literal or non-literal interpretation of the terms (or, more precisely, of the sentences in which the terms occur). I’d chew on that before agreeing with what was ostensibly the interpretation of the clearly befuddled Jews (v. 52).

  72. Andrew,

    My distinction between ontological and non-ontological had to do with “a lot of” salvation language, not all salvation language in Sacred Scripture. So I can grant that some such language has an ontological dimension without necessarily involving union with God. Thus, when St. John says that we become “children of God” by virtue of the divine nature dwelling within us, one could say, well, what really happens (all that really happens) is that we acquire some finite properties which are similar to those properties that God possesses in a infinite way.

    I do not think “all that really happens” in becoming children of God is that we gain certain resemblances to God. Becoming a child of God is more than an ontological matter; and so if certain resemblances are “all that happens” with respect to the ontological dimension it doesn’t mean these resemblances are all being a son of God amounts to (for the ontological dimension is not the only dimension). But I’d agree that on my view, with respect to the ontological dimension of salvation (i.e., the dimension pertaining to aspects of the ontology of the saved person), something like resemblance with God is the closest we could come to participating in his being. But I’ll deny that our relation to God is merely one of resemblance in these respects, for there are aspects of salvation other than the ontological nature of the saved person.

    But it is precisely the “unity” here involved that is ontologically void.

    Understood.

    Thus I cited Scripture to the effect that the kind of salvific change which you allow is not what we would expect by the “unity” language actually used, which is not, in many cases (though it is in others), merely that of likeness:[…]

    Because of the distinction between ontological and non-ontological dimensions of salvation, I deny that I hold that “kinds of salvific change” are exhausted by resemblances between our being and God’s. For example, salvation also involves being loved and forgiven by God as opposed to being under his wrath.

    […]”children of God,” “God’s seed abides in him,” “partakers of the divine nature,” “the fullness of him who fills all in all,” and “eternal life,” which is the life of the Father (which is why the “eternal life” passages connote union with God).

    We’re not on the same page as to the natural understanding of such phrases as allegedly implying ontological union. I don’t see ‘children of God’ as naturally implying ontological union with God (union of my being with God’s being). My father and I are not ontologically united with each other; we do not share being. Ontological union is not an ordinary implication of a father-child relationship. (Incidentally, resemblance is).

    Dan: The unity Christ desires his disciples to have with each other is not, it seems, an ontological union; for there is no ontological union between fellow disciples.

    “We who are many are one body.” Ontologically? No. The believers who are part of the body of Christ are not ontologically united with each other; i.e., their being is not shared with each other. Hence the unity in view is not ontological, it seems.

    Andrew: If the Church is the Body of Christ, then every living member of the Church is ontologically united with one another in the one, undivided Body.

    The church is the Body of Christ, but (ostensibly) I am not ontologically united with every other Christian; and so it is false that if the Church is the Body of Christ then every member of the Church is ontologically united with all the others. I don’t see how you can justify the claim that any two believers are ontologically united with each other without changing the nature of ontological union in view. Ontological union, as we defined it, was a literal sharing of being between two things. I don’t see how any two believers share being. It does not follow that two Christians share some of their being from each of them’s sharing being with Christ, for ontological union is not transitive. If x is so united with y, and y with z, it doesn’t follow that x is so united with z. Imagine the delta of a river, where multiple streams converge. Each stream merges with the delta, but each stream remains distinct from each other stream. (I’m not proposing this as a model of the church and Christ or anything, but just providing a counterexample to the assumption, should one make it, that ontological union is necessarily transitive.) What is more, the alleged ontological union between Christ and the believer is part of what is in dispute, and so it is problematic to justify or ground the ontological union of believers with each other through appealing to their allegedly ontological union with Christ.

    You appealed to passages both in John and 1 Corinthians to support the idea that ontological union with God is involved in salvation (and, in the case of 1 Cor., that such union is involved in the Church as Christ’s Body); yet in both cases the kind of union in view obtained among the believers themselves (not merely between each believer and God). But fellow believers are distinct, non-overlapping beings (there is no parcel of being x that is simultaneously part of the being of two distinct believers y and z). And yet fellow believers are united to each other, are “one” with each other, are “one body” with each other, are “one” with each other as they are one with the Son and as the Son is one with the Father. Hence, it is very plausible to take the kind of unities here as non-ontological unities; which does not imply that the unities do not bring about ontological changes in the persons involved. For example, by my union with Christ I am transformed from within by the work of His Spirit; such transformation has ontological aspects and is a result of my union with Him, but it does not follow that the union giving rise to the transformation is constituted by an ontological union between my being and God’s being. I suspect that the idea that the union of Christ with his church is a literal sharing of being gains a lot of apparent support from a false dichotomy (in virtue of not being exhaustive), a conceptual scheme according to which we either have our being united with Christ’s being or we have a purely legal or forensic or commercial relationship with him.

    As to the RSV translation [of 2 Pet 1.4]: It is perfectly acceptable in many cases to translate a participial phrase by supplying a conjunctive, thus treating the phrase as a separate clause.

    I’ve deleted a number of my comments about translations and this verse, because I don’t think they were important or relevant enough to the overall issue. In sum, I think that the NAS makes more plausible than it would be otherwise an interpretation where partaking of the divine nature is not ontological union (though it doesn’t logically preclude another interpretation), and that the RSV makes more plausible than it would be otherwise an interpretation where it is ontological union (though it doesn’t preclude another interpretation); but I’m not going to rely on any particular translation in interpreting the verse, since I’m not prepared to argue that the NAS is a better translation than the RSV and don’t think the RSV translation precludes the interpretation I’ve offered.

    In post #3 I said:

    Dan: Moral transformation is large in the context of [2 Pet. 1:4] (e.g., “life and godliness” in v. 3, escaping “corruption” in v. 4, the moral attributes in v. 5f.); so it seems natural to take partaking of the divine nature to involve becoming like God, not becoming God; as a wise person is like, but non-identical with, another wise person.

    To expand a bit: moral qualities, insofar as they are “shared” by people, yield themselves to a resemblance as opposed to a union interpretation. If two people are holy, it is more natural to interpret that to mean that they resemble each other in a particular way, not that there is some one thing that they literally share. Hence, in light of the moral content in the passage, it is plausible that the partaking of the divine nature involves conformed to God’s likeness through, e.g., being cleansed from sin and corruption.

    If you have an argument, or want to provide some exegesis, for taking this verse to teach ontological union, aside from an appeal to the alleged “face value,” feel free.

  73. Mateo,

    Institutes of the Christian Religion
    CHAPTER 15.

    STATE IN WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL—THE IMAGE OF GOD—FREE WILL—ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    8. … God has provided the soul of man with intellect … [to] this he has joined will, to which choice belongs. Man excelled in these noble endowments in his primitive condition, when reason, intelligence, prudence, and Judgment, not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness.

    Dan’s post #47:

    I completely agree that there was a teleological end to man as originally created (he was to work his way to God’s eternal Sabbath rest, etc.). Further, this end involved an elevated level of existence, a glorified existence. There is an eschatological orientation of the creation; it is to go from glory to glory. But I reject the idea that the telos involved ontological union.

    Mateo: Do you agree with Calvin that the human nature that man possessed before the Fall “not only sufficed for the government of his earthly life, but also enabled him to rise up to God and eternal happiness”? That is, do you believe that there existed the potential within the pre-Fall human nature to achieve the “teleological end” for which man was created?

    Yes.

    Dan, you write that man as he was originally created “was to work his way to God’s eternal Sabbath rest” – could you please elaborate on the work that man needed to do that would have resulted in the beatific vision had the Fall not occurred?

    The work he needed to do was obedience to God’s will. For example, he was to guard the garden and refrain from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He failed to do both when the serpent came. There was also the creation mandate to propagate and rule over the earth, etc. In addition to these explicit commands, he was of course obligated to adhere to the moral law written on the heart.

    Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task. God’s eternal plan comprehended a falling away from this telos, a failure to realize it, and a subsequent Incarnation (a 2nd Adam) and redemption; whereby the telos (and its blessings) are secured by God himself as man (Heb. 10:5-7) for man (Heb. 2:5-13), resulting in an end-state that is more glorious than and is better than it would have been had man achieved the telos himself (e.g., Rev. 21:22-23).

  74. Dan, hope your work went well, good to hear back from you. A five-pronged discussion, eh? I will try to be brief.

    I do not think “all that really happens” in becoming children of God …

    Right-O. My example was unfortunate, as I could have used any number of things that we agree upon as being non-ontological dimensions of salvation. I used an example of something we don’t agree about.

    I think that we have pin-pointed where the disagreement lies as to the ontological dimension of salvation. I take it that ontological union with God is of the essence of salvation. You disagree, maintaining that the ontological dimension of salvation is exhausted by certain created resemblances to God, which make for a kind of union, itself non-ontological.

    We’re not on the same page as to the natural understanding of such phrases as allegedly implying ontological union. I don’t see ‘children of God’ as naturally implying ontological union with God (union of my being with God’s being).

    First, “children of God” is not the only phrase to which I pointed. The others, especially “partakers of the divine nature,” strongly imply an ontological union with God. Secondly, our being children of God is accounted for by the divine seed (RSV, “nature”) that abides in us. Our divine sonship is not a matter of mere adoption.

    I take the union between a man and his offspring as ontological due to the fact that there is one nature, human nature, that informs each human being and also because of the unique causal relation between offspring and progenitor. The identical nature does not make the beings identical, i.e., the same being, but it does render us the same kind of being, human, which is not like a “resemblance” between beings that share the same color or weight, and not the kind of participation as that of sharing the same necktie.

    In terms of dogmatic theology, we do not partake of the divine nature as being “begotten.” Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God. But this does not rule out the ontological interpretation, according to which we become children of God, not as begotten (or by nature), but as regenerated by indwelling grace, wherein we “become partakers of the divine nature.” In Christ, who is God, we participate in the nature of God, which is to participate in the very being of God.

    Imagine the delta of a river, where multiple streams converge. Each stream merges with the delta, but each stream remains distinct from each other stream. (I’m not proposing this as a model of the church and Christ or anything, but just providing a counterexample to the assumption, should one make it, that ontological union is necessarily transitive.

    Agreed. On all points. I would add: I do not, in fact, think that “ontological union is necessarily transitive.” I do think that the parts of a living body are ontologically united one to the other. The Church exists as a living body. Therefore, the parts of the Church are ontologically united to one another.

    What is more, the alleged ontological union between Christ and the believer is part of what is in dispute, and so it is problematic to justify or ground the ontological union of believers with each other through appealing to their allegedly ontological union with Christ.

    Actually, you asserted the non-ontological unity of believers in an earlier post. I was replying to your claim, which is repeated here (though with an important qualification):

    The church is the Body of Christ, but (ostensibly) I am not ontologically united with every other Christian; and so it is false that if the Church is the Body of Christ then every member of the Church is ontologically united with all the others. [emphasis added]

    Your hypothesis of the non-ontological unity of believers seems to presuppose an alleged non-ontological union with Christ. Since this is precisely what is being debated, your assertion is undermined by the very problematic to which you refer; i.e., it begs the question.

    My thesis is that if the union of Christ and the Church is ontological, then (per the unity that obtains between parts of the body) the unity of believers is ontological.

    If you have an argument, or want to provide some exegesis, for taking this verse to teach ontological union, aside from an appeal to the alleged “face value,” feel free.

    Now that is tendentious.

    My appeal to the face value of 2 Peter 1:4 occurred at the end of a long post (#57) wherein I supplied several passages of Scripture, some with comment, that indicate that we do indeed enjoy ontological union with God in Christ Jesus. Thus, as a kind of cumulative case, I suggested that we actually partake of God’s nature.

    Furthermore, I have provided a little bit of exegesis of the most critical passage in question, 2 Peter 1:4. I note that you have subsequently backed off your assertion about the quality of the RSV translation thereof, which translation you took as possibly supportive of ontological union and therefore a threat to your thesis of union as mere resemblance.

    Our disagreement over the meaning of this verse, and the many other verses to which I have appealed, appears to be primarily philosophical. Thus, I am pretty sure that no amount of exegesis will resolve this matter. There is nothing in Sacred Scripture itself to prevent you from taking any bit of it as a simile or a mere metaphor or a hypothetical. Therefore, the argument is already taking place (at some length) at the level on which it must proceed.

    My intention in appealing to what Scripture actually says is (1) to remind us of what are the fundamental premises here involved, and (2) to suggest that these can more plausibly be taken to indicate that salvation involves ontological union with God than not. It is not, in any case, a fallacy to point out the actual words of Sacred Scripture, according to which we have become partakers of the divine nature.

  75. Dan,

    I’m sorry to have to rush through this so please let me know if I missed something that is important to you; it’s not intentional. In the interest of a return to simplicity (again, not trying to ignore any points) let me reply in this way:

    I never denied that a human was a human by virtue of its body soul composite, but that is not to say that an arm, as a mere part, is a thing independent of the quality of ‘human’. It still gains its being from the unity of the person. If you cut off an arm, at the exact instant that it is severed, it is entirely the same in composition (molecules and their relation to each other) yet it is not human.

    The Body of Christ is human in virtue of its body-soul composite just like yours and mine. But the Person of Christ pre-existed the incarnate Body in that unique event such that the body-soul composite was assumed into the greater divine unity. But, as shown above, a thing which does not change its essential composure does not lose its essence in such an assumption. If something you have said has shown this to be in error, it has gone over my head.

    I’ll drop the Docetic reference for now but I do have a reason behind it. We can return later if it comes to that. As for the Angelic bodies, I do not see any fundamental difference in those animated bodies (theirs and theirs alone, in perfect part-owner relationship) and in the Incarnation given your standpoint. Before I was Catholic, I also took an indifferent stance, but more or less assumed that the same thing was happening in both cases. I think it is important.

  76. Mateo

    I apologize for the delay as my HD died and I am just now catching up n the discussion. I appreciate the reference to the Cath Ency but it really isn’t helpful for a few reasons.

    If I don’t become what God is, then whatever the divine life is, it doesn’t seem to amount to what the Fathers and Scriptures say about theosis. If the divine life isn’t the divine essence and there isn’t anything more to God than the essence, then I can’t see that this doesn’t amount to anything more than a created simultude. I am then related to God via an extrinsic relation of efficient causation. That is God produces created effects in me and that is far too anemic a sense of participation to map on to the patristic notion of theosis. This seems to be what the author of the article has in mind when it speaks of “ resulting from a special Divine influence…”

    It is also hard to see how an intentional union in the beatific vision can adequately explain the deification of the matter of the body.

  77. Andrew,

    Looking over your comments it isn’t clear to me what the union with God amounts to on your view. If you’ve read Russell then you know that the patristic tradition is sufficiently clear that we do in fact become what God is. If the being of God is the essence of God, and God is simple as say Augustine and Thomas think, then what does it mean to participate in the divine essence? And if grace is deity, a causal relation of divine power to effects in the soul seems insufficient to guarantee that we become what God is. A mere indwelling is insufficient for theosis.

    You also cite 2 Cor 5:21, but if we are to take it in a transformative sense in becoming what God is, this will also entail that Christ participated in our corrupted nature, since God made him to be sin. I’d be interested to know how you understand that language with reference to Christ.

  78. Doran

    I think you are misinterpreting Ephesus. It does not teach that the assumed man should be considered deity. It teaches rather that the subject of the human nature is God. Ephesus and Chalcedon are sufficiently clear that the essence of humanity remains intact and doesn’t become deity in terms of the divine essence. There is no confusion of mingling of essences in the Incarnation.

    What Ephesus objected to was the idea of a man, as an individual being joined through an act of will to the individual thing or hypostasis that was the Logos. So for Nestorius, there were two hypostases or substances that jointly produced a single subject, a prosopa, a single appearance. The prosopa was the product of the union. Humanity then was the tool of the divine will since Nestorius confessed one will of the prosopa. Humanity was related to the divine through a subordinating and predestinating relation of will.

    So the anathema isn’t designed to condmn those who believe the flesh and the word are two different things, since both Ephesus and Chalcedon admit that two things exist after the union. What it condemns is the idea of a prosopic union, where there are two substances contiguously and extrinsically related through will.

    On your view it seems there is only one thing that is deity, the divine essence. If you think the flesh of Christ is deified, do you think it becomes the divine essence? If not, then either it doesn’t become deified or there is something that is God that isn’t the essence. While Dan’s views frighten you, your views frighten me since they look a lot like Monophysitism.

  79. Tim,

    You wrote that if the human is essentially the soul then the body is a separate substance animated by the soul. I don’t think this is true. Plotinus for example doesn’t think that the body amounts to a substance. The body is in the soul since it is the soul coming to matter that makes body.

    Also, you wrote that a corpse is formerly a human. What are we to say then of Christ entombed? This is especially significant since his human body is never separated, even in death from his divine person. This seems like a significant counter example.

    As for the divinity of the body of Christ, on your view what is deity is the divine essence. The body is not the divine essence and following Chalcedon is preserved as being human. This does not imply that I deny the deification of Christ’s flesh. I affirm the communication idiomatum, but it is a communication of divine energies and not the divine essence via the hypostasis. Consequently it is not a question of substance or accident, but energy following Cyril and Maximus.

    The 8 step argument you give also maps quite well the Monophysite theology of Severus, complete with the language of “absorption.” I’d argue that the hypostasis is not a substance, in the first sense. This is one of the defects of Hellenistic philosophy is that they lacked a concept of person. Consequently, when I invoke saint Peter, contrary to Aquinas I pray to the person of saint Peter and not to his soul. Christ is a human being, but he is not a human person and this shows us that a body-soul composite is not sufficient for personhood, since it implies either Monophysitism or Nestorianism.

    You also wrote that divinity being immaterial doesn’t bring about any material change in deification. I can’t help but think of biblical cases like the Transfiguration with Christ’s flesh illuminated to the physical eye with the divine glory as a counter example. Certainly there seems to be strong biblical reasons to see some perceptible change.

  80. Mateo: Do you agree with Calvin that … there existed the potential within the pre-Fall human nature to achieve the “teleological end” for which man was created?

    Dan: Yes.

    The reason I asked that question is because I was struck by this comment by Bryan Cross in his post # 10:

    The idea that grace is merely divine favor is a nominalistic conception of grace, and entails Pelagianism. Here’s why. If grace were merely divine favor, then so long as God had a favorable disposition toward Adam and Eve, then by their own efforts they could have attained the supernatural end of the perfect Happiness of the Beatific Vision. But … man, by his natural powers cannot attain a supernatural end. That is why Pelagianism ultimately reduces to one of two claims: it either denies that man has a supernatural end (and thus denies that man needs participation in the divine nature to attain that end) or it denies that grace is a participation in the divine nature (and thus implies that man, by his own natural power, can attain to a supernatural end). Claiming that Adam and Eve could attain heaven without participation in the divine nature is Pelagianism in that it entails either that man by his own natural powers can attain a supernatural end or that heaven is natural, i.e. not supernatural. …

    See also:

    Aquinas and Trent: Part 3, Bryan’s post # 2:

    Pelagianism is not just a heresy with respect to fallen man, but also with respect to man in his pre-Fall state.

    Mateo: … could you please elaborate on the work that man needed to do that would have resulted in the beatific vision had the Fall not occurred?

    Dan: The work he needed to do was obedience to God’s will. For example, he was to guard the garden and refrain from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He failed to do both when the serpent came. There was also the creation mandate to propagate and rule over the earth, etc. In addition to these explicit commands, he was of course obligated to adhere to the moral law written on the heart.

    …the telos (and its blessings) are secured by God himself as man … for man … resulting in an end-state that is more glorious than and is better than it would have been had man achieved the telos himself …

    Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. Romans 4:4

    Hmmm … if man had not fallen, the works of man would have earned him the due wage of the Beatific Vision. But Adam needed to use his free will to rebel against God so that God could implement the divine plan of the Incarnation to bring man to a final end that was even more glorious than merely beholding the Beatific Vision. Do I have that right?

    What would have prevented the Son of God from becoming incarnate in the terrestrial paradise if Adam had been obedient instead of rebellious?

    I don’t see any reason to believe that God ever rewards the sin of disobedience to his expressed will. Nor do I see anything in scriptures that gives credence to the idea that the sin of disobedience opens the door to man to bring man to a final end of an even greater life than the final end of the man that is obedient to God. In fact, I see the exact opposite of that belief attested to throughout the scriptures i.e. sciptures attest that the sin of disobedience to God’s expressed will brings death and loss of life to man:

    “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Gen 2:16-17

    … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live …Deut 30:19

    … the wages of sin is death … Romans 6:23

    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! Romans 6:1-2

    Dan:

    Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task.

    This is something that I suspected that at least some Calvinists believe, but I have never had anyone confirm this. I have a BIG problem with this idea.

    We know that God explicitly expressed his will to Adam that he should not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You affirm that Adam needed to be obedient to God’s will as it was revealed to Adam. Can you explain to me how God’s expressed will can possibly be in conflict with his ultimate will? Here is my big problem with what you are claiming: if God has an ultimate will that is different from what he expressly reveals to us to be His will, how can we be sure that it isn’t really God’s will to covet, steal, lie, commit adultery, murder, etc.? If God’s ultimate will can be different from what he explicitly reveals to us to be His will, how can we be sure about anything that God reveals to us?

    Dan:

    God’s eternal plan comprehended a falling away from this telos, a failure to realize it, and a subsequent Incarnation (a 2nd Adam) and redemption; whereby the telos (and its blessings) are secured by God himself as man (Heb. 10:5-7) for man (Heb. 2:5-13), resulting in an end-state that is more glorious than and is better than it would have been had man achieved the telos himself (e.g., Rev. 21:22-23).

    One does not need to believe in pre-fall Pelagianism to believe that man was predestined for an end that was more glorious than what was contained in the potential of his pre-Fall human nature. I believe that Adam could have been obedient to God because he had free will, but his obedience would never have earned for him the right to behold the Beatific Vision. I believe that the Beatific Vision can only be received by man as a gratuitous gift from God, and that it is impossible for man, under any circumstances conceivable, to put God into a position where God owes man as a just wage due the works of man the beholding of the Beatific Vision .

    I believe that before man was created, that he was predestined to behold the Beatific Vision. It reveals the greatness of the unconditional love of God that even though Adam rebelled against God,
    that God did not change his ultimate will for man to behold the Beatific Vision.

    Thank you for giving me honest answers to my questions. May God bless you abundantly!

  81. Mateo,

    You wrote that you had a big problem with the Calvinist idea that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task. The problem is, this is not just a problem for Calvinists, but for all Augustinians, Thomists, Scotists or Ockhamists since they all more or less say the same thing, that it was God’s consequent will in one shape or form. That means if you’re Catholic, its a problem for you too it seems.

  82. Dan,

    You wrote that man’s inability to autonomously ascend to the divine were a problem, then it was a problem prior to the Fall. This I think is correct. This is why our first parents were given tasks, to become deified through habituation. Further, Scripture does speak of a divide between humanity and divinity as a problem as Scripture presents the incarnation of Christ as the solution, since it is in Christ that all of creation is recapitulated. (Eph 1:10)

    You also present a dilemma that if there is no fusion then either there is participation in deity apart from the flesh of Christ or we do not participate in the divine nature closing off heaven to us. But there is a tertium quid available. In the communicatio idiomatum, Christ’s flesh is deified not by a substantial or essential change, but by an energetic change. Just as heat is the activity or energy of fire, and so metal is made to glow with the heat of the fire, it does not become essentially or substantially fire. Ontological union without essential fusion.

    For the record I hold with the Orthodox tradition (I’m Orthodox too.) that the Incarnation would have occurred anyway and was in fact God’s eternal intention apart from sin. Sin was an attempt to stop the incarnation from happening so I turn things around. That said, the reasons why a relationship with God needs to be intrinsic can be sketched. First, humanity is made in the image of God and that image is eternal and that image is Christ, in whose image we are made. The logos of human nature then is divine so that an extrinsic relationship is inadequate for humanity to be what it is. God is therefore the formal cause of creatures. Second, certain powers of that nature can only be actualized by hypostatic or personal activity, specifically freely willed activity, which can only be done as one of that object and from the inside. The immortality of humanity could not be achieved through an extrinsic use of power without overturning God’s eternal will for human nature to be what it is. Being conformed to Christ’s image requires personal activity.

    The moralistic gloss on 2 pet 1:4 is inadequate since theosis entails moral transformation. Your thesis has to be more than just moral transformation then, but a specific kind of moral transformation of a more strictly deontological bent it seems. Secondly, if you take God to be simple in the Augustinian-Thomistic sense, then attributes are not properties. So it isn’t clear to me what it means to say that we partake of God’s moral attributes as you suggest. Secondly, given your view of simplicity, it isn’t possible to have some of them and not all of them. It is an all or nothing deal as you noted elsewhere. So your own interpretation is inconsistent with your view of partaking of the moral attributes or so it seems to me.

    Further if it is becoming like God like one wise person is like another wise person, then the passage is incorrect, since that would mean we were partakers or sharers not in the divine nature, but in a created nature, since what we have is something created and not something divine. Secondly, the example you give seems inadequate. God is intrinsically immortal and I become immortal derivatively and the immortality that I have is God’s immortality. If I am wise and Socrates is wise, I do not possess Socrates’ wisdom derivatively. Thirdly, both wise persons are wise by virtue of having the same property though discretely instantiated, But on your view God has no intrinsic properties since God is simple and so I can’t be holy as God is holy since God has no properties that we both can have since he has no properties. The philosophical theology here seems to be limiting the exegetical possibilities.

    It isn’t clear than an appeal to resemblances will help either since that seems to turn on something being the same between two objects. So to say that two people are holy will entail that something is the same between them. When God is said to be holy and the saints are said to be holy, how do you gloss what is the same between them qua holiness? To say that we are sharers in the divine nature because we are cleaned form sin and corruption and so like God, if God is uncreated and we are created, how then can a removal of sin and corruption per se make us like God? That is, even sinful agents qua essence are already like God since sin is no essence. Do you think everything is already “deified” just to a lesser degree prior to the eschaton?

    You write that it is obviously false that the whole point of the incarnation was an ontological union. It isn’t obvious to me. While it is true that sin separated you from God, it doesn’t follow that the incarnation occurred primarily for the sake of sin. Furthermore, either in terms of divine logos or divine ideas, humanity has an eternal existence in God. It seems that the incarnation for you has merely instrumental value and so Christ isn’t consubstantial with all humanity. He is another instance of a type qua humanity, rather than the new font of the race, a new Adam, in which the entire race is recapitulated. Non-divinity may be a precondition for your existence, it doesn’t follow that your existence is formally autonomous from God.

    The idea of theosis is not that your essence is replaced by the divine essence, but that your essence, which itself is a divine energy/activity, is actualized hypostatically with divine power. Immortality is a divine activity. Consequently a resurrected body is still flesh, but it is divinely empowered flesh. The saints likewise are not merely wise, they are divinely wise.

    As for the husband and wife being one flesh, if this is to be glossed as an extrinsic or some metaphorical relation, what are we to make of saint Paul’s teaching that the believing spouse makes the unbelieving spouse holy along with their children? While it isn’t isomorphic with the union Christ has with the Church, it certainly seems stronger than your view will allow.
    Bryan glosses Pelagianism correctly that it denied humanity’s supernatural end, to which you denied that prior to the fall there was nothing for man to be saved from. There seems to be more to be drawn out to make the Pelagian problem clearer. Pelagianism asserted that grace was actualized and natural as human nature, which the Pelagians called “natural grace.” Consequently, there was no need for an inherent or intrinsic aid. All divine help was extrinsic and in the form of modeling behavior. One of the sticking points at the Reformation was whether grace/righteousness was added to nature as Augustine had maintained or it was intrinsic to human nature. Rome claimed the first and the Reformers the second. This is why they maintained that the imago dei was lost or intrinsically altered at the fall. It is also why the idea of a probationary period for Adam became unmotivated since Adam was already fully constituted. What was probationary became externalized in a Pelagian conception of a pact of works. So to say that there was nothing more in terms of salvation sounds rather Pelagian. On the other hand when you seem to suggest that there was an unrealized eschatological telos for Adam, given that Adam is constituted holy and righteous from the get go and already has fellowship with God, it isn’t clear to me what this further eschatological end might be.

    You argued via an ad absurdum that if not participating in God is to be in sin, then rocks an such are sinful which is absurd. But Paul seems not to think so in Romans 8, where he speaks of the whole creation suffering on account of sin because it is cut off from God in some way due to our sin. It seems here that you are glossing sin much too narrowly in terms of personal choice, which would be absurd for rocks, birds, cheese puffs, but sin also has a wider sense of corruption and decay. This is why Christ unites all things in heaven and earth to himself in the incarnation as Paul says. (eph 1:10-11) Nor does such a view deny the fall of non-deified humans into sin, since deification has both natural and hypostatic component as well as being a process. That our first parents had not completed the process doesn’t imply that they had not already started it. Character is like jello, it congeals over time and the fact that they didn’t have their characters fixed, doesn’t imply that they weren’t on their way to fixing them.

    You seem to accept that humans can become glorified but not deified. But is the glory by which they are glorified a created glory or an uncreated glory? If the former, this seems to contradict explicit statements of Scripture that indicate that Christ gives his glory to his saints. (Jn 17:22) On the other hand, if it is uncreated, this seems to violate your view of divine simplicity as well as implying a robust view of deification, since the glory seems to be something other than the divine essence. If you don’t see any scriptural support for taking grace as identical to deity, what are your thoughts on the divine glory?

    While you are correct in saying that there is nothing sinful about being non-divine, the problem that arises is the relationship between human nature and say for ease of communication, the divine idea of it in terms of a ‘seminal reason?” In some sense human nature is such and so appropriately human when it is related to God directly and immediately apart from sin. In that sense and to that degree, it is in communion with deity since creation is never formally cut off from God

    You asked if being deified can admit of degrees and argue that this seems to suggest that Adam was created sinful. This would only follow if we conflate natural goodness with moral goodness. It doesn’t follow from the idea that moral corruption can bring about natural corruption. For my part, I deny both the Reformation view of Adam as intrinsically righteous and Rome’s view of super added gifts/ righteousness. Adam was created naturally good, but morally innocent.

    You wrote that being created is incompatible with being divine since divinity is an essential property of deity. Something created cannot be divine and vice versa. But on the view of simplicity you seem to adhere to, God has no essential properties. Further, to define God and creatures in terms of opposite properties wrecks the doctrine of creation, for now God is in a metaphysically opposing relationship with creatures. If God is good, creatures must be bad. Furthermore, there are biblical examples of created things becoming divine, such as Moses’ face with the divine glory as well as the flesh of Christ, which is why his touch could heal.

    You also write that the two natures of Christ are distinct and so saying that Christ is physical and divine is not a counter-example to one of your arguments because the two natures are distinct. While it is true that the natures are distinct, the human nature is taken up into the divine person and properties of divinity are communicated to it, hence the communicatio idiomatum. So first while it is true that the two forms are not mixed, the human nature is united to the divine person such that the hypostasis of Christ is now composite. And second, the divine glory, immortality, etc. are given to the flesh of Christ quite clearly in the biblical material.

    You write against Bryan’ charge of Pelagianism that divine favor wouldn’t be sufficient for the attainment of their supernatural end since some other form of divine aid could be necessary. But given the Protestant schema of justification, any inward power isn’t a joint cause or a jointly sufficient cause or a contributing cause of divine favor. The declaration alone is sufficient. Moreover, given the doctrine of federal imputation, the moral credit of the actions of a creature can be imputed to the entire race without that individual creature being divine. Likewise the atonement of Christ is valuable because God so willed it to be so apart from any intrinsic value it may have. That said, its hard to see why any other aid would be necessary or if it were, how it could amount to a contributing cause, let alone anything that constituted human nature like an entelechy.

    You write that you can take grace as causing internal effects, such as faith. But then what does union with Christ amount to but a contiguity of two things, one created and the other divine, unless Christ is a creature too. Certainly Paul has plenty to say about salvation as union with Christ which doesn’t seem to permit itself to be cashed out in terms of a created similitude caused in us. Nor does making the union covenantal help since it only posits a created, albeit metaphysically thin, intermediary between Christ and us.

    As I noted above, Nestorianism doesn’t deny the unity of the person, it just has a different notion of person and the union. Nor does Nestorianism strictly speaking affirm two persons. What was at issue between Cyril and Nestorius as the nature of the single subject. With Nestorius, the hypostasis was a concretely existing nature, which produced certain effects. The two substances were united through an act of divine will to produce a single person or appearance. The union then was prosopic since the resulting product was the prosopa or “person.” Cyril on the other hand, took hypostasis to mean person rather than substance, either as an individual thing or form.

    You are correct that denying that Christ’s body is divine is not of itself Nestorian. Denying that there is a transfer of energies or properties from the divine nature via the divine hypostasis to the human nature certainly is Nestorian though. It is also rather Nestorian or Monophysite to think of a human person as a body-soul composite since it conflates being an individual being, a this, with a person. The relevant counter example is that of the Trinity. God is one being, but three persons. Added to this is the fact that Christ is not per Chalcedon a human person or a divine-human person as the WCF 8.2 indicates. Consequently, when you wrote that “that the human person is the Logos” this falls afoul of Chalcedon. Enhypostinization of the humanity of Christ doesn’t imply a human hypostasis in Christ.

    Equating participation with ontological union would only be problematic in the ways you think if we think of it in terms of replacing one essence with another, or rather if we take God to be simple in the way you seem to believe. If there is more to deity than the divine essence, we can maintain that no one becomes God by essence and no alteration in human essence occurs. The notion of “fusion” is a cognitive misfire motivated by a metaphysic that has only substances and accidents and no energies.

    I think you are correct to argue that if a body-soul composite is a human person then Nestorianism will result. Of course the Monophysites and Apollinarianism thought as much too which means that we can take it in the other direction, namely that the hypostasis of Christ is some new thing or the divine hypostasis takes the place of soul. One of the former two options seems to be what others have been unknowingly advocating in opposition to you.

    You argued that it is false that Christ’s body is to be worshipped. But what are we to make of the adoration shown to Christ’s body in the scriptures? Is the adoration passed on through the created human nature to the divine person, as from an image to the prototype that it represents or is the adoration never genuinely worship and so only paid to the human nature? If the latter, how is the non-adoring veneration ever given to the divine person of Christ? On the other hand, if Christ’s flesh is glorified with the divine glory and God’s glory is God, should you refrain from worshipping that which is deity in the case of Christ’s glorified flesh?

    You argue that if an ontological I necessary then the fall was an aid, unless Christ would have become incarnate even if there had been no fall. I think this is a good reason for maintaining that Christ would have been incarnate anyway. That is I argue in the other direction that since theosis is true, this implies Christ would have become incarnate anyway.

    I’d argue to the contrary of your claim that God can “upgrade” his creation without theosis. He can’t since the upgrade requires an intrinsic and hypostatic union. A mere exercise of power would overturn the logos or nature of respective things, which is why it required a recapitulation of all things in Christ as Paul says. Predestination is primarily Christological, not anthropological.

    You argue that one can have the resurrection of the flesh without deification, but I wonder how this is so. First, because God alone has the property of being immortal. Unless you think God has intrinsic properties sans simplicity and that he gives them out “on loan” to his creatures, I am not clear how you can adhere to the notion of the resurrection of the flesh which entails the immortality of that flesh. Scripture seems to indicate that the immortality that we possess and become is divine and not the created effect of God’s efficient causation or concurrent power. The resurrection also entails the glorification of that flesh with divine glory, not a created substitute.

    You argue that the union is not ontological since the disciples being one with each other is not ontological. But I think this is wrong and here’s why. You are assuming it seems that the language of being one with respect to the Father, Son and Spirit is one of essence, while this obviously can’t be true of the disciples, their unity must be significantly less. But why assume that the unity here spoken of the Trinity is the essential unity when the context is one of activity of the persons, specifically in the economia and in the divine glory and especially when Christ speaks of sharing said eternal glory with the disciples ecplicitly? This only follows if we assume an Augustinian-Thomistic view of simplicity. If God isn’t simple in that way, then it is possible for the disiciples to be one “just as” the Father and Son are one, namely in energy or activity or glory. This seems to jive with Paul’s language elsewhere of being one spirit in the Lord and being co-workers with Christ. Added to this is the visible spiritual union manifested at Pentacost between the disciples in the Spirit with the flames of divine glory perched on their heads or that their touch or physical items that they touched were infused with the divine glory/power just as the flesh of Christ was.

    Much the same could be said with reference your comments on distinct believers. If we think of persons as instances of an essence (body-soul composite in this case) and if ontological union amounts to the replacement or alteration of their essence and the essence is simple, then it would follow that the union would entail the personal identity of all believers. But if we reject the two preceding glosses, this conclusion doesn’t follow. That is, if persons are not instances of specific natures and if ontological union isn’t an essential change, then the argument that believers cease to remain hypostatically distinct and discrete individual objects falls through.

    You also wrote of union with Christ and how it beings about created effects in you. What do you mean exactly when you say you are united to Christ? What kind of union is it and what is the thing you are united with? The divine person? The human nature? If you are united to Christ through a declaration and imputation and that moral credit is a created thing, since Christ earned it on earth, how does this not either place a created intermediary between God and believers or imply that Christ is a creature?

    Just a parting reference, the most extended contemporary exegesis of 2 Pet 1:4 is, James Starr’s monograph, Sharers in the Divine Nature, 2000.

  83. Perry Robison If I don’t become what God is, then whatever the divine life is, it doesn’t seem to amount to what the Fathers and Scriptures say about theosis. If the divine life isn’t the divine essence and there isn’t anything more to God than the essence, then I can’t see that this doesn’t amount to anything more than a created simultude. I am then related to God via an extrinsic relation of efficient causation. That is God produces created effects in me and that is far too anemic a sense of participation to map on to the patristic notion of theosis. This seems to be what the author of the article has in mind when it speaks of “ resulting from a special Divine influence…”

    “If the divine life isn’t the divine essence…”

    The divine life is the divine essence:

    … the good which we ought to hope for from God properly and chiefly is the infinite good, which is proportionate to the power of our divine helper, since it belongs to an infinite power to lead anyone to an infinite good. Such a good is eternal life, which consists in the enjoyment of God Himself. For we should hope from Him for nothing less than Himself, since His goodness, whereby He imparts good things to His creature, is no less than His Essence. Therefore the proper and principal object of hope is eternal happiness.5

    [5] ST, II-II, q. 17, a. 2

    Andrew Preslar quoting Thomas Aquinas in his article St. Thomas Aquinas on Assurance of Salvation

    Catholic Encyclopedia Supernatural Gift

    As a consequence of this Divine adoption and new birth we are made “partakers of the divine nature” (theias koinonoi physeos, 2 Peter 1:4). The whole context of this passage and the passages already quoted show that this expression is to be taken as literally as possible not, indeed, as a generation from the substance of God, but as a communication of Divine life by the power of God, and a most intimate indwelling of His substance in the creature.

    In the name of the holy Trinity, Father, Son and holy Spirit, we define, with the approval of this holy universal council of Florence, that the following truth of faith shall be believed and accepted by all Christians and thus shall all profess it: that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration.

    ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF FLORENCE (1438-1445)
    Session 6—6 July 1439

    I believe that when the author of this Catholic Encyclopedia article writes that man partakes of the divine nature not as a “generation from the substance of God”, that he is trying to say that man does not possess the essence of the divine nature as does the as does the Son, i.e. the Son has his essence through the eternal generation of the Son by the Father. Nor does man posses the divine nature as does the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Holy Spirit “has his essence and his subsistent being from the Father together with the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration.”

    What I think that author of the article is NOT saying is that the divinization of man is “a created simultude” (your phrase), which I take to mean something that is a mere shadow of divine life, and not a partaking of the divine life itself.

    ”If I don’t become what God is …”

    How do you interpret 2 Peter 1:4, when Peter says we are made “partakers of the divine nature”? Do we lose our human natures when we receive our glorified bodies? Are we regenerated as divine beings with the divine nature of God at the Resurrection of the Dead?

    Bryan Cross, in his post # 16 to the article Ecclesial Deism, makes this point regarding our deification:

    As regards our deification, we never become identical to the divine nature. That would, again, mean that grace destroys nature. We participate in the divine nature. How we do so is a mystery.

    Christ took on human nature, in such a way that this man (Jesus) is God. We are deified by sharing in the divine life, particularly in the life of Christ. But we are not hypostatically united to God in the sense that I (the human person) become [identical to] one of the three Persons of the Trinity. That would make grace destroy nature. We are deified by way of participation, not absolute identification. There is an ontological asymmetry between God and man, so that the hypostatic union is not the same as our participation in the divine nature. When Christ became man, that human nature was given not created being, but His Being …. However, when we are deified, we do not give being to God, but are elevated to participate in His inner Being. Christ has divine nature by ontological necessity, and human nature by a free choice of humble self-giving love. In the deified state, we have human nature by creation, as a gift from God in the natural order, and we participate in the divine nature as a glorious gift of love from God in the supernatural order.

    I like Bryan’s phrase: “There is an ontological asymmetry between God and man” because it allows me to make up a name for the union that man has with God through the hypostatic union. Let me call the union with God of a man that is in as state of grace the “asymmetric union”.

    The three stages of the asymmetric union of man on earth are:

    The purgative way
    The illuminative way
    The transforming union

    The final end of the asymmetric union is:

    The Beatific Vision

    In all stages of the asymmetric union “we participate in the divine nature as a glorious gift of love from God in the supernatural order.” (See Bryan Cross’s quote above). The various stages listed above of the “asymmetric union” are how I would define theosis . If you have a better definition that this of theosis than this, please post it. I would like to know what you believe about theosis.

  84. Perry,

    On my view, ontological union with God amounts to a participation in the being of God, in the realistic sense of participation (see the taxonomy in my comment, #13). To participate in the divine essence, therefore, means that I am inwardly changed such that my being is defined by God’s being, as the being of a holy man is defined by holiness (per Russell’s example). This requires absolutely no change in God, nor does it involve loss of my human nature or personal identity.

    The grace that brings salvation is two-fold: the created (including the temporary) gifts of grace (i.e., faith and hope, which pass away) and the uncreated gift of grace, which is ontological union with the Holy Trinity in the deified body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The ontological interpretation of “righteousness” in 2 Cor 5.21 does not require the same of “sin.” If Christ actually became sin, he could not participate fully in the being of God, which is impossible for a person who is God by nature (and it is the person who sins). However, it does not follow that if Christ is only made sin after a figure (being reduced to a “curse” by virtue of his subjection to suffering and death) then we are only made righteous after a figure. There are obvious reasons why God cannot, and per the nature of the case (to make us righteous in Christ) would not, actually become sin. There is no obvious reason why we cannot actually become the righteousness of God through participating in the Incarnate life of the spotless Lamb of God. It is the “in him” of 2 Cor 5.21 that implies ontological union. We are not “in him” after a mere figure of speech, not even a divine figure of speech (simile, metaphor or legal fiction).

    The Lutheran and Reformed misunderstanding of the nature of concupiscence is not, in reason, opposed to the real transformation of sinners into the righteousness of God. Likewise, the possibility of remaining in a state of grace (righteousness) while being guilty of venial sin is not opposed to actually being the righteousness of God in Christ. Our union with Christ, unlike his union with the Father, is not according to nature (such that we would be in God just so long as we are what we are) and admits of a progressive participation (hindered though not destroyed by venial sin) in the divine nature (i.e., sanctification).

  85. Perry Robinson

    Mateo,
    You wrote that you had a big problem with the Calvinist idea that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task. The problem is, this is not just a problem for Calvinists, but for all Augustinians, Thomists, Scotists or Ockhamists since they all more or less say the same thing, that it was God’s consequent will in one shape or form. That means if you’re Catholic, its a problem for you too it seems.

    What if I am a follower of Duns Scotus on this issue? Wouldn’t that solve my problem?

    Incarnation in Franciscan Spirituality – Duns Scotus and the meaning of Love, by By Seamus Mulholland OFM

    … In Scotus, the Incarnation is not a contingency plan when the original creative process of God goes awry because of sin. Scotus rejects this notion as too central an emphasis on Man to the extent that the freedom of God to act in love is determined by an external necessity i.e. the redemption from sin. Scotus understands the Incarnation as always being in the mind of God even before the historical and existential physicality of creation itself and the fact of sin.

    The Incarnation is the model for creation: there is a creation only because of the Incarnation. In this schema, the universe is for Christ and not Christ for the universe. Scotus finds it inconceivable that the ‘greatest good in the universe’ i.e. the Incarnation, can be determined by some lesser good i.e. Man’s redemption. This is because such a sin-centred view of the Incarnation suggests that the primary rôle of Christ is as an assuager of the universe’s guilt. …

    Scotus argues that the reason for the Incarnation is Love. The Love of God in himself and the free desire that God has to share that love with another who can love him as perfectly as he loves himself, i.e. the Christ. Scotus says that all the souls that were ever created and about to be created could not, cannot and never will measure up to the supreme love that Christ has for the Trinity. The very fact of the preconception of the Incarnation in Scotus’s thought means that we are co-heirs to this Trinitarian love that Christ has. The Incarnation, then in Duns Scotus, becomes the unrepeatable, unique, and single defining act of God’s love. God, says Scotus, is what he is: we know that God exists and we know what that existence is: Love. Thus, if Man had not sinned Christ would still have come, since this was predetermined from all eternity in the mind of God as the supreme manifestation of his love for the creation he brings about in his free act.

  86. Perry, mateo, et al,

    Perry has raised several dozen points and questions, most of which tend towards emphasizing the differences between (some) Catholic and (some) Orthodox theologians. The manner of our participation in God is one point upon which Catholics and Orthodox, and East and West generally, express themselves quite differently. Whether there are irreconcilable differences in dogma underlying these various idioms is itself a disputed question.

    Eventually, we will address some of the differences, including the putative dichotomies, between Catholic theology and Orthodox theology. For now, unless everyone is simply determined to follow another path, I suggest we follow Bryan’s suggestion in #25:

    … it would be easy to get side-tracked in disagreements about it here, when what’s most important in the Catholic-Protestant discussion here is simply a basic recognition that grace is more than mere divine favor, and is essentially a participation in the divine nature.

    This entire discussion has involved clarifying and restating our positions and asking questions about other positions and arguments. That is all well and good, and I hope that it will continue. But no comment thread, while remaining useful to anyone, can be everything to everyone.

    Also, remember that brevity is a virtue much to be desired, especially in this context. See our Posting Guidelines, paragraph four.

  87. Mateo,

    Since I am not Catholic, reciting Catholic beliefs to me won’t function as an argument. We don’t share the same view of God. Consequently, I don’t endorse your conception of divine simplicity and so I don’t think of the divine good as simple and simply one good. Nor do I think of the divine goods as the essence. Consequently I reject the notion of the beatific vision as is common among Orthodox theologians.

    Secondly, nothing you wrote shows that what we become is deity but rather there is just the language of receiving good things and such. The imparting of the divine essence in the beatific vision doesn’t amount to theosis since it doesn’t include the body and I don’t become what God is. Moreover since I take Aquinas to be heterodox, citing him to me isn’t persuasive.

    If the divine life is the divine essence, then to say that it is not a communication from the divine essence is false. If the divine life isn’t the divine essence, then simplicity is false. Or do you have a tertium quid between the divine life being or not being the divine essence? Indwelling doesn’t amount to deification either. Citing Florence to an Orthodox Christian isn’t exactly persuasive either since its heterodox.

    The author of the article seems to gloss it in terms of effects produced in us and those effects as effects can’t be divine on your schema since God, the divine essence is not an effect. If you think we possesses the divine essence in a different mode, fine, but possession doesn’t necessarily amount to becoming that thing. So now we have moved the issue to what possession amounts to.

    I interpret 2 Pet 1:4 as many of the Fathers do, namely that we become by grace what God is by nature. We become deity via the divine energies, which are not the essence. So no, as I explained above to Dan, we do not cease to be human, since the deification is not a replacement of our essence. Deification is according to energy, not essence.

    As for Bryan, in either way he could mean this, that we do not become the divine nature, it is false. The Fathers are sufficiently clear and repeatedly so that we become the divine nature. It is just that they don’t take the divine nature to be exhausted or reducible to the divine essence. Using the term participation with no significant gloss on what that amounts to just masks the problem.

    I don’t need to be a divine hypostasis to become what God is by nature a la the energies. Again, to throw out participation without explaining what exactly that means to a reasonable degree makes it a filler word doing no explanatory or justificatory work. Any theological position can use the term, but it doesn’t follow that they teach theosis.

    I don’t think God is being either, but beyond being as taught by Maximus, Ps. Dionysius and John of Damascus so I don’t think God gives us his being if by that being is the same as essence. On the other hand, if you think that God’s essence is his being how do you explain that God gives his being to his humanity without entailing Monophysitism? Moreover, if his human nature has a divine act of existence, this seems to imply the heresy of monoenergism, a denial of a created activity in Christ. I also don’t think necessity or contingency are applicable to God since God ad intra is not being, so glossing the difference in terms of having the divine nature by ontological necessity. Moreover, if human nature has the divine nature, what is the sense of having? And secondly, doesn’t divine nature = divine essence?

    If I thought that theology was a science, it might be important to have a beatific vision under which all the other sciences could be gathered. But since I don’t think theology is a science, the beatific vision is superfluous to me

    Again, talking about participating in the divine nature as a glorious gift of love sounds great, but until you explain what it means to participate, and especially in terms of becoming what God is, it isn’t theosis. If you want to know what I believe about theosis, just pick up say Russell’s text on it.

  88. Andrew,

    I am not clear on a few points. First, the arguments given against Dan I think can only go through in the main and your position can evade the same problems only if there is some explication of what participation in the divine nature amounts to. So far, I haven’t seen anything that does that. Consequently, my points on theosis aren’t diversions, but speak directly to the points in question. My implicit argument is that at the end of the day, since your metaphysic won’t permityou to gloss deification as a sufficiently robust participation without entailing heterodox conclusions on the one hand and since it doesn’t, your position is fundamentally the same, assertions aside, as Dan’s.

    Second, it seems to me, if I can be bold enough for a moment, that its permissible to bring up Catholic Protestant differences and discuss them and even mention the Orthodox, when useful to bludgeon Protestantism, but whenever an Orthodox view as articulated by myself is brought to bear on the arguments, it is shuttled away. I am not sure why my view can’t be part of the conversation.

    I think rather that the Orthodox have something to add to the discussion between Protestants and Catholics, which is just to say that this is not a two way conversation. Why is it that I can’t make the same argument against your position that you make against Dan’s Protestantism? I mean its your blog and you can do what you like, but it looks kinda like special pleading.

    As for ontological union, to say that it amounts to a participation in the being of God in a realistic sense doesn’t explain what participation is and hence can’t serve as vindication for that claim. If the being of God is the divine essence and your being is defined by the divine being, then your form is the divine essence, is it not? If not, how is that consistent with Thomas’ doctrine of divine simplicity where the divine essence is the divine being? That seems problematic. No Christian view of theosis says we become the divine essence. On the other hand, if it is definitional in some notional sense, that is hardly adequate to map on to the patristic material regarding theosis. I just don’t see how your are entitled to the concept. Do you become what God is or no? Consequently, I don’t see how the interlocutors here can make good on their criticism of Dan and Protestantism more widely.

    I suppose I reject the idea of created grace. Interestingly, it is a point upon which Catholics and Protestants agree and the Orthodox don’t. To say that the uncreated grace is the ontological gift of union would only do work clarifying the position for me if I knew what “union” amounted to here. But I don’t and I haven’t seen an explanation of what kind of union it is, unless you could direct me to it here or elsewhere.

    You argue that relative to 2 Cor 5:21 the transformative language can’t be interpreted in terms of Christ being transformed into sin, since Christ is divinely and hypostatically impeccable. I agree, if we interpret sin narrowly, but Scripture doesn’t also so define sin. It also defines it more widely, as corruption. So God made him to partake of our corruption, even though he committed and could not do so, no personal sinful acts. This is in line with Hebrews 4:15.

    There sure seems like an obvious reason why you can’t become the divine righteousness wherein God is righteous. That is that such a thing is the divine essence and you can’t be the divine essence. I agree with ontological union, but I don’t see how the language of participation, indwelling and such shows how you are entitled to the concept as found in say Russell’s text.

  89. Andrew,

    Sorry for the copying of your end ofyour post. feel free to edit it out and then delete this.

  90. Mateo,

    The short answer is no, Scotus won’t help since he thinks God predestines human actions too, which includes the Fall. Tying it in with the motive of love doesn’t seem to help much. Besides, I don’t think Christ is predestined as Scotus doesm which only creates more Christological problems than it solves.

  91. I woke up and opened my inbox and saw like 18 new posts in the thread, and was elated to see they weren’t all addressed to me. Just a passing comment for now, relating to the relevance to the thread of some of Perry’s remarks. It seems to me that the main point of this thread is the dispute over whether believers are ontologically united with God (i.e., that there is a literal sharing of being between a believer and God). This issue was key in Bryan’s opening post on Dr. Horton’s allegedly flawed view of the relation of Christ to the Church, and the whole discussion of the nature of the Incarnation (which in large part, though not entirely, has been an extended attempt to pigeon hole me with some heresy or other) was precipitated by Bryan’s attempt to appeal to the incarnation to support his view here, that humans and God can share being. Further, I myself have already raised objections to this thesis stemming from considerations from divine simplicity (in posts 9, 11, 38), which depended not at all on peculiarly Orthodox considerations.

  92. Perry: I am not clear on a few points. First, the arguments given against Dan I think can only go through in the main and your position can evade the same problems only if there is some explication of what participation in the divine nature amounts to. So far, I haven’t seen anything that does that.

    (my bold). Andrew and I defined ontological union in posts 18, 34, 37, 45.

    [Participation was also defined at the end of #13–Andrew P.]

  93. Perry and Dan,

    You have each, from different angles, claimed that ontological union with God is inconsistent with divine simplicity. I will go back and look over those claims, but for the sake of clarification and focus could you restate the gist of your arguments? I have thought about it and cannot see how participation in God and divine simplicity are incompatible. I mean, if our participation in the divine essence entailed some change in God, or made God somehow dependent upon us, then I could see the force of the objection here. As it is, I don’t. Thanks.

    Perry,

    I am not trying to exclude you from the conversation. But this is a website dedicated to Catholic and Protestant dialogue. You are welcome to contribute to that dialogue, so long as our posting guidelines are respected.

  94. Perry –

    Plotinus for example doesn’t think that the body amounts to a substance.

    I haven’t read Plotinus but I agree that there cannot be a substance composed of matter without form.

    Also, you wrote that a corpse is formerly a human. What are we to say then of Christ entombed? This is especially significant since his human body is never separated, even in death from his divine person. This seems like a significant counter example.

    Not sure about the entombed Christ. I am sure that there is a point in time where the physical components of a body go from being human to not human. I take that moment to be death. What that means in relation to the entombed Christ (not to mention relics) is probably beyond me.

    The 8 step argument you give also maps quite well the Monophysite theology of Severus, complete with the language of “absorption.”

    I’m not familiar with his work enough to engage in this fully but I do not deny the two natures of Christ nor am I using “absorption” in the sense of destruction or loss of one thing which is absorbed into another – much like California was not abolished when it was absorbed into the United States unlike the CSA which was abolished, or as a drop of water is not abolished when absorbed into the body unlike an apple which is abolished in that process. Some things can be absorbed into others and take on a new identity by virtue of their participation in the greater unity, yet still retain their former identity without loss or material change.

    You also wrote that divinity being immaterial doesn’t bring about any material change in deification. I can’t help but think of biblical cases like the Transfiguration with Christ’s flesh illuminated to the physical eye with the divine glory as a counter example. Certainly there seems to be strong biblical reasons to see some perceptible change.

    We only know immaterial things through material means. God can and does choose to reveal Himself, from time to time, in a more perceptible way through material means so that we may know Him more fully.

  95. Perry,

    you said: “I think you are misinterpreting Ephesus. . . While Dan’s views frighten you, your views frighten me since they look a lot like Monophysitism.” Thanks for the correction! I don’t know any theology, or what any of the terms mean, so my participation is mainly counterproductive in such a discussion. But my intuition tells me that there must be some sense in which christ’s body was divine, a sense that has teeth to it, so to speak, and isn’t merely a metaphor. I don’t know what that sense is, or whether my intuitive sense of piety is correct, but there it is. I should note that my intuitive sense of piety has usually lead me correctly regarding christological controversies settled in the first millenium (by which I mean that when I read the declarations of the councils and popes, what they say makes more sense with my intuition than what the heretics said), but in at least one instance it has been wrong, and I have gladly made use of a papal declaration to improve my intuition. So it would not surprise me if my intuition is wrong again! Sadly, I don’t know any theological or philosophical terms, so I will have to both bow out of the discussion and avoid monophystism by just doing the best I can to affirm Christ’s two natures!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  96. What are we to say then of Christ entombed? This is especially significant since his human body is never separated, even in death from his divine person.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Christ in the tomb in his body

    625 Christ’s stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the “Living One” can say, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore”:465

    God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.466

    626 Since the “Author of life” who was killed467 is the same “living one [who has] risen”,468 the divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:

    By the fact that at Christ’s death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word.469

    “You will not let your Holy One see corruption”

    627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him”470 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.”471 …

  97. Dan,

    I meant if there is an explication of participation in the divine nature by Andrew or Bryan that is consistent with their doctrine of God. In comment 34 Andrew gives Russell’s taxonomy but that book is about specifically Eastern patristic theology and it isn’t clear if Catholicism can avail itself of that theological grid to gloss participation in the divine nature since Catholic theologians have for centuries claimed that the Eastern distinction between essence and energies is to be rejected. The only thing to be of God is the essence, which is impossible.

    The sharing of being is problematic since for God, essence and being as the act of existence are identical by Catholic lights. To share in God’s being is to share in his essence, which is impossible on practically anyone’s gloss. No one can become the divine being if the being is the same thing as the essence. To share in the being is to be that thing.

    When Andrew writes in comment #45 of “fusion” being acceptable if it doesn’t entail the identity in terms of having the same set of properties, I am left wondering if this amounts to deification at all but puts us back on resemblances. If I don’t have the divine property of immortality for example, then this isn’t going to count as theosis, and then Bryan’s criticism will be applicable to this position. That is, there is no real sharing in God but only a created resemblance.

  98. Andrew,

    If the blog is devoted to Protestant and Catholic issues, then I am not clear why in comment #86 you write that you will address the differences between Catholic and Orthodox theology.

    As for simplicity it seems rather straightforward. God’s being is his essence on your view. God is self subsisting being, he is his own act of existence. To become the divine being is to become the divine essence which is impossible. You cannot “share” the being without “sharing” the essence as well on your view since they are the same thing. Now God could create in me by efficient causation created effects similar to him via the analogia entis, and we can call that “sharing” or “participating” in the divine nature. This would preserve your doctrine of simplicity, but at the cost of denying a more robust doctrine of theosis.

  99. Tim,

    It seems to me that your comments do not touch the counter example I put forward but rather you are trying to maintain the position no matter. But it seems to me that the body of Christ entombed is about as good a counter example as one could want.

    The Severians do not deny the humanity of Christ either. Here we need to grip the difference between Eutychianism and Monophysitism. The latter held a more nuanced position which affirmed the existence of a human substance after the union. Severus was its most able defender, though nonetheless heretical. Is there a way you can distinguish the position being advanced here from Monophysitism?

    It isn’t clear tome that we only know immaterial things through material means. The disciples seeing the divine glory didn’t see something material and they didn’t see it via something material. They saw the eternal divine glory with their physical eyes or so the text seems to indicate. Or do you think that they saw a created substitute or some other option?

  100. Perry,

    you are trying to maintain the position no matter.

    I do maintain that there is a point in time at which the material in a human body ceases to be human. And I will maintain that until I’m shown otherwise. The example of the entombed Christ does not prove me wrong on this point, it merely raises an interesting question about a possible miraculous exception or some other aspect unrelated to whether once an molecule is part of a human body, it remains so. I take it as a given that once blood leaves the body, it is no longer part of that body. The Blood of Christ, may still be divine (by what miracle I do not know), but that doesn’t mean that my body is scattered all over the world wherever I have bled.

    Is there a way you can distinguish the position being advanced here from Monophysitism?

    I haven’t studied Severus. If there’s something heretical or erroneous in what I said, what is it?

    It isn’t clear tome that we only know immaterial things through material means. The disciples seeing the divine glory didn’t see something material and they didn’t see it via something material. They saw the eternal divine glory with their physical eyes or so the text seems to indicate. Or do you think that they saw a created substitute or some other option?

    I don’t know if it is absolutely true that we only know immaterial things through the material, but it is certainly true ordinarily. If God ever uses something immaterial to teach us, then it is outside of the realm of nature – a miracle.

  101. Perry wrote:

    To become the divine being is to become the divine essence which is impossible.

    This is an assertion, not an argument. I see no reason why those who are in Christ cannot participate in the divine essence.

  102. Andrew,

    I didn’t think it was hard to see the implicit argument, but here’s a rough version for discussion. Not a few Catholic theologians for the last thousand years have discussed it one way or another.

    God’s being is identical with his essence (Premise)
    If a thing becomes God’s being, then it becomes God’s essence.
    But it is impossible to become God’s essence.
    Therefore it is impossible for a thing to become God’s being. (MT)

  103. Perry,

    The premise,

    But it is impossible for a thing to become God’s essence

    is what needs to be argued for. Hitherto, the notion that it is impossible to participate in God’s essence has only been asserted.

  104. Hello Perry,

    It it impossible to for any creature to become God’s essence by primary nature, but it is not impossible for a created nature to participate in the divine essence, because participation is not replacement of the primary nature but participation by the primary nature. The sense of ‘becoming’ in the Catholic conception of participation in God’s essence is not becoming by primary nature, but becoming by participation. And so it is possible in that sense to become God’s essence. The problem with the four line argument you stated is the ambiguity in the word ‘become’ in its third premise. In one sense of ‘become’, the third premise of your argument is correct, but in another sense of ‘become’, the third premise is not correct. And it is that latter sense that is the Catholic sense.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  105. Bryan

    ,A few things here. First, participation as a term only helps if I know what you mean by it. I don’t. I know what I mean by it, but I prefer to let you cash that out.

    The issue is not whether we become divine or deity in a derivative or underivative sense. The issue then is not whether by “participation” or in a non-participatory way. The issue is becoming deity when deity means being only the divine essence.

    So I am not characterizing the Catholic position relative to the way we become deified but in what they think deification consists. I am not at least trying to object to the former since I am not at all clear on what that is, as my questions below indicate. As I noted before, I am not clear on what “participation” amounts to as it seems to me to function as a filler word. Consequently, participation by the primary nature, the essence of the participator is a semantic void at this point. Does this mean you think that humans become the divine essence in a derivative way? That doesn’t sound right though, does it? In what way does one become what God is by essence without a change in the essence of creature? How then can the creature be said to become uncreated? If it isn’t an essential change and it isn’t an accidental change, what is it? And how does God not being the formal cause of creatures fit into this?

    Historically, by my reading, the patristic material is fairly uniform in denying that we become the divine essence in any sense.

  106. Andrew,

    As a substitute for an argument, I’ll make an appeal to authority for the time being. As I noted before, the Fathers fairly uniformy deny that we become the divine essence in any sense. This is fairly clear in Russell’s text that you cited, not to mention the mountain of other literature on the subject of theosis.

  107. Tim Troutman: I take it as a given that once blood leaves the body, it is no longer part of that body.

    At the Resurrection of the Dead, all of the dead “will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear.” (See Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 997 & 999.)

    Suppose a person dies and his body is cremated and his ashes are scattered over the earth or sea. Where is the body of that person that will be raised at the Resurrection of the Dead?

  108. Matteo – that’s a good question. The specific reference I’m making, in the claim that a cadaver is no longer a human body, is that a human body is a human body in virtue of the soul-body composite. You cannot have a human body without a human soul (form) just as any other thing cannot be that particular thing without its form.

    When the Catechism speaks of us resurrected with the same body, therefore, this is not a reference to the specific molecules that compose that body, but rather a reference to the same soul-body composite. My physical body is not at all the same, in terms of molecules, with the body I had last year. All of those old cells have died out and have been replaced. Yet my body is 100% the same even though 0% of the molecules remain. In the same way, we shall be resurrected with the same body without the necessity of having the same particular molecules. (Although, it is perfectly possible that the very same molecules which were present at the state of death, although partially different from a day before death and entirely different from those a year before death, might be re-used for the resurrected body as far as I know. On the other hand, the molecules composing the risen body seem to be either super-natural or endowed with super-natural features with which earthly molecules are not ( such as the ability to pass through other matter )).

    I think that the resurrection of the _same_ body is sameness in reference to the same corporeal matter as in the same particular principle of individuation rather than as the same particular molecules which is unimportant even to the ordinary, living continuity of the body.

  109. Perry,

    I don’t think I’ll be “cashing it out” to your satisfaction. If ‘deity’ means “being only the divine essence”, then nothing could become divine. But that would create a difficulty for the hypostatic union, because in the hypostatic union this human nature [i.e. Christ’s] is divine. The hypostatic union is not only the means by which we become partakers of the divine nature; it is also the key to understanding the mystery of theosis, insofar as this mystery can be understood by us in this present life.

    Does this mean you think that humans become the divine essence in a derivative way?

    To answer this question I would have to know exactly what you mean by “derivative way.” I don’t think of it in terms of derivation. But perhaps it is; I can’t say without knowing more about what you mean by ‘derivative way.’

    In what way does one become what God is by essence without a change in the essence of creature?

    Aquinas says, “What is substantially in God, becomes accidental in the soul participating the Divine goodness, as is clear in the case of knowledge.” (ST I-II Q.110 a.2 ad 2) According to Aquinas this participation takes place fundamentally in the essence of the soul, and only derivatively in the powers of the soul. “For as man in his intellective powers participates in the Divine knowledge through the virtue of faith, and in his power of will participates in the Divine love through the virtue of charity, so also in the nature of the soul does he participate in the Divine Nature.” (ST I-II Q.110 a.4) We do not cease to be creatures, or cease to be humans. We, as creatures and as humans, acquire in the nature of our soul, a union (of participation) in the divine life. This is accidental to us, in the sense that we remain human (and we remain creature). But that in which we participate (i.e. the divine nature) is such that our participation in its makes us, in a certain true sense, one with it, and hence divine, without destroying our human nature or our createdness.

    How then can the creature be said to become uncreated?

    Not by primary nature per se (which is created and never ceases to be created) but by participation in the uncreated. That which we are by participation is uncreated. Hence such participation is eternal life.

    If it isn’t an essential change and it isn’t an accidental change, what is it?

    This change is unique, and this is to be expected, given that we’re talking about union with God. The human essence is not destroyed or lost; rather participation in the divine nature gives the creature (by participation) a new nature (i.e. the divine nature) in which the primary nature participates. Ordinarily, the accident inheres in the substance. Here the substance, by what is accidental to the soul, has (by participation) an additional nature, i.e. the divine nature.

    And how does God not being the formal cause of creatures fit into this?

    No creature can have God as formal cause, simply by definition, because God is essentially uncreated. To have God as formal cause would necessarily be not to be creature. But participation in the divine nature is not the divine nature being the formal cause of the creature’s substance. Rather, the divine nature is the formal cause of the accident which is the creature’s participation in the divine nature. But because the divine nature is superior to human nature, even having the divine nature by participation gives the whole creature a new nature, without destroying or eliminating human nature.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  110. Bryan Cross: It is impossible to for any creature to become God’s essence by primary nature, but it is not impossible for a created nature to participate in the divine essence, because participation is not replacement of the primary nature but participation by the primary nature.

    This makes sense to me. But what did Calvin believe?

    I understand why you say that in regards to the pre-Fall human nature of Adam, that Calvin is teaching Pelagianism. Calvin believed that Adam was created with a pre-Fall human nature that possessed, within his uncorrupted human nature, the potential to behold the Beatific Vision. In order for pre-Fall Adam to behold the Beatific Vision, Adam first needed to perform certain works of righteousness. This would be analogous to the athlete that is born with the potential to manifest a Gold Medal performance at the Olympics. The athlete has to do the work necessary to develop his potential before the Gold Medal routine can be manifested in actuality.

    What I don’t understand is what Calvin believed about man’s human nature after the Fall; and what, exactly a Calvinist means when he describes grace as “divine favor” given by God to fallen man.

    I am hoping that someone can help me here.

    Is it fair to say that Calvin believed that after the Fall, that Adam acquired an entirely different human nature, a new corrupt human nature that Adam passed on to his progeny?

    Did Calvin believe that Adam’s new corrupt human nature made it impossible for either Adam or his progeny to act in a manner that is wholly pleasing to God?

    Is the “divine favor” that is given to the elect dwelling on earth the reception of a new human nature that is different than the corrupt human nature they inherited from Adam? If so, since the elect on earth cannot behold the Beatific Vision while they are on earth, is that because the elect on earth do not yet have human natures with the potential of beholding the Beatific Vision? In order to behold the Beatific Vision, do the elect ultimately have to be restored to the human nature Adam possessed before the Fall?

    If the elect are NOT receiving new human natures by the grace of God, what is that they are receiving as “divine favor” that allows them to behold the Beatific Vision?

    If the elect are not participating in the divine nature of God while they are on earth, how can the elect manifest the divine love that Jesus manifested while He was on earth?

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34

    Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:7-8

    For Horton we merely “bear witness to the redemption Christ has wrought,” the way satisfied customers bear witness to the quality and efficacy of a purchased product.

    Doesn’t that amount to Pelagianism?

  111. Tim Troutman: On the other hand, the molecules composing the risen body seem to be either super-natural or endowed with super-natural features with which earthly molecules are not …

    I agree that glorified bodies must be composed of something that is quite unlike the matter that composes our earthly bodies, because the atoms that compose our bodies are subject to decay. Corpses can be dated by measuring what is left of the isotope of Carbon 14 in the corpse, which is a measure of the decay of the atoms that are in the corpse. Glorified bodies are free from the “bondage to decay” – the whole of creation will be set free from the bondage to decay when man receives his glorified body. ( Roman 8: 19-21)

    CCC 627 says this about Christ’s body in the tomb: Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” That is to say, that even before Christ took on his glorified body, his dead body in the tomb was not subject to corruption. There are also saints whose corpses are preserved in miraculous states of incorruption, such as St. Bernadette:

    Image of the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette: Click Here

    The statement that “Soma, for Horton, is without sarx; soma is purely spiritual” is not right, because both our physical bodies and our souls are sanctified by the Incarnation and the Resurrection. To me, the miracle of incorrupt bodies of dead saints bears witness to the reality of the sanctification of the body through Christ’s body.

    Paul makes the point that sexual immorality is a sin against the body (unlike other sins), and that we are to glorify Christ in our bodies:

    Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1Cor 6: 18 -20

    How can we glorify God in our bodies if our bodies are not sanctified by Christ through His body?

    To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus … 1Cor 1:2

  112. Bryan,

    I agree that if deity means being only the divine essence then theosis is impossible, (though I don’t think Andrew does) which is in part the trouble I am having understanding your view. If God is simple in the way Augustine and Aquinas think, I can’t see how we in fact became what God is. It is also why I have a problem understanding the participation language since if theosis is becoming deity and deity is being only the divine essence, and that is impossible, and since there is only the divine essence because of simplicity, then the participation language entails that I do not become deity and so no theosis. The difference between Dan’s view and your own then would be between an a thicker or thinner inherence relation, which has serious implications for Christology.

    Likewise, I have a hard time understanding how you can say given the above that the humanity of Christ is divine. Its essence is certainly not. If we wish to make its act of existence divine, then its act of existence will be the divine essence, given that in God, essence and existence are identical. That can’t be right since that would entail some form of Monophysitism or so it seems to me. This is not to say that I deny that the humanity of Christ is deified since I affirm it, but I affirm in terms of hypostasis and energy and not essence.

    If you take me for a fair minded person, then if you give a plausible “cashing out” I can at least concede its plausibility. But in the face of nothing, there isn’t much I can do or consider. It will also make me doubt that for all of the language Catholics use about deification against Protestants as displayed here that they can really make good on it and so really haven’t preserved the patristic teaching.

    Roughly what I mean by derivative, I mean to say that we have it “on loan” from God. God alone is immortal in so far as God has the property of immortality not only inherently but intrinsically and without fail. You’d say necessarily while I’d say eternally. Your earlier remarks seemed to be trying to assuage the worry that we become the divine essence in the way that God is, via simplicity, the divine essence. Your remarks were to the effect that we become divine derivatively or via participation and not on our own. That’s fine, but my concern wasn’t the way or mode but if it could be said to be so in any way. So my worry wasn’t if we become the divine essence by “participation” but if we become the divine essence on your view in any sense. It seems you mean to say we can be said to become so in so far as the divine essence indwells us as an accidental subtance.

    As for Aquinas, my questions and problems aren’t with the idea of divine indwelling as such except insofar as divine indwelling is insufficient for theosis. Theosis entails more than divine indwelling and such entails more than the divine essence existing in the soul as an accident of some sort.

    Other worries would be not so much about the soul, but about the body since Aquinas’ view has to map on to the patristic material on the deification of matter and the body and not just the soul.

    Granted that we do not cease to be creatures, but if God is per simplicity only the divine essence and we do not become the divine essence but it only inheres or indwells in us, that is our souls, I find it hard to see how this maps on to the patristic material on theosis and isn’t fundamentally the same view as the Protestant one you were attacking above, namely one of inhabitatio dei. The difference then between Protestants and Catholics would be over the nature and consequences of the inhabiting.

    If the virtue of charity is a created effect through which we participate in the divine essence, then it is hard to see again how this is really the patristic doctrine of theosis since we don’t become what God is. Charity here seems to me to be acting as a created similitude and intermediary, but perhaps more clarification will show me otherwise. Again, much hinges on what “participate” means. This is why saying that we become the divine essence by “participation” isn’t helpful since it is possible of all kinds of understandings. Many heretical Christologies have a doctrine of theosis and speak of theosis via “participation”, but it is what their view of participation amounts to where the problem lies. Take Theodore of Mopsuestia or Calvin for that matter. Using the word over and over again without a gloss show that your view maps the patristic material or that your view isn’t different than Dan’s at bottom. Why can’t Dan say the same thing?

    On my reading theosis isn’t merely an extrinsic causal relation (not that your view is) whereby God keeps us in existence forever. Neither is it a mere indwelling whereby we have access to God by virtue of created effects. Theosis entails an intrinsic union and an intrinsic change in terms of actualization or energy. The two natures are united energetically. I suspect the difference between us is how we understand human nature relative to deity. For my view, human nature is an eternal logos, predestination in Christ. Virtues then are not supernatural, but natural things actualized by divine power hypostatically. Consequently, theosis makes us uncreated without an essential change yet the change is inherent and intrinsic. So for my view, God is the formal cause of all creatures, for every logos of every nature is in God and is God. Its just that every or any logos isn’t the divine essence, pace simplicity.

    Your explanation of what kind of change seems to leave us with a kind of contiguity of two substances, or things, with one (the divine) subordinating the other, but perhaps I am misreading you here and this is not implied. But it seems to be just like what you found objectionable in Dan’s Christology, namely two substances related by will via accidents, a kind of instrumental union. There are two substances or individual things, with one “having” the other. I suppose it would be helpful to know what it means to say that the human substance “has” an additional nature. When you write that the divine nature is the formal cause of the inhering accident, do you mean to say that the divine essence is the accident in human nature?

    Thanks for the amicable convo.

  113. Perry,

    I have to be brief because of time constraints. So, please forgive me for responding paragraph by paragraph to your last comment (#112).

    If God is simple in the way Augustine and Aquinas think, I can’t see how we in fact became what God is. It is also why I have a problem understanding the participation language since if theosis is becoming deity and deity is being only the divine essence, and that is impossible, and since there is only the divine essence because of simplicity, then the participation language entails that I do not become deity and so no theosis.

    The problem with that argument is the premise “deity is being only the divine essence”. Again, the hypostatic union shows us that something can be both divine and human, i.e. not be “only the divine essence.”

    Likewise, I have a hard time understanding how you can say given the above that the humanity of Christ is divine. Its essence is certainly not. If we wish to make its act of existence divine, then its act of existence will be the divine essence, given that in God, essence and existence are identical.

    That conclusion does not follow, because it is not the divine essence per se that became incarnate but the Son who became incarnate. There is not Leibnizian identity between what is true of the Son, and what is true of the divine essence.

    So my worry wasn’t if we become the divine essence by “participation” but if we become the divine essence on your view in any sense. It seems you mean to say we can be said to become so in so far as the divine essence indwells us as an accidental substance.

    I don’t think I said anything about an accidental substance, because I don’t know exactly what you mean by accidental substance. The Trinity indwells us, but not merely by location or power. That would not be true union. Theosis would be impossible if indwelling were merely copresence or colocation or cooperation. These are all extrinsic, even if internal. What is necessary for union is something intrinsic. That’s why participation is [in us] a quality, not a relation, but it is a participation in the divine nature.

    As for Aquinas, my questions and problems aren’t with the idea of divine indwelling as such except insofar as divine indwelling is insufficient for theosis. Theosis entails more than divine indwelling

    I agree, *if* “divine indwelling” is conceived of extrinsically (as I described just above).

    and such entails more than the divine essence existing in the soul as an accident of some sort.

    That would need to be shown, I think.

    Other worries would be not so much about the soul, but about the body since Aquinas’ view has to map on to the patristic material on the deification of matter and the body and not just the soul.

    That’s not a problem, from my point of view, because the body has its being from the soul, and hence it has its supernatural being likewise from the soul’s participation in the divine nature. How that works out in terms of bodily death and the resurrection, is another discussion.

    but if God is per simplicity only the divine essence and we do not become the divine essence but it only inheres or indwells in us, that is our souls, I find it hard to see how this maps on to the patristic material on theosis and isn’t fundamentally the same view as the Protestant one you were attacking above, namely one of inhabitatio dei.

    I completely agree. That’s why indwelling can’t be merely extrinsic. But an accident in the essence is not extrinsic. Accidents need not be extrinsic. Hence, I think the Church’s doctrine can avoid the concern you are raising.

    If the virtue of charity is a created effect through which we participate in the divine essence, then it is hard to see again how this is really the patristic doctrine of theosis since we don’t become what God is.

    Again, I agree. If I had said that only through charity do we participate in the divine essence, then I would have the problem you mention. But the Catholic position is not that grace is charity. Charity is the immediate fruit of sanctifying grace.

    On my reading theosis isn’t merely an extrinsic causal relation (not that your view is) whereby God keeps us in existence forever. Neither is it a mere indwelling whereby we have access to God by virtue of created effects.

    I completely agree.

    But it seems to be just like what you found objectionable in Dan’s Christology, namely two substances related by will via accidents, a kind of instrumental union. There are two substances or individual things, with one “having” the other. I suppose it would be helpful to know what it means to say that the human substance “has” an additional nature.

    The difference between Dan’s position and the Catholic position has to do with the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic union, something I mentioned very early on in the comments. Extrinsic union is equivalent (in terms of degree of union) with the union of ownership or possession, or control. We can think owning a car, or of demon-possession for example. But the Catholic position is that this union is not extrinsic, but intrinsic. The ‘having’ is not a having of a possession, but the sort of having a substance has to its nature (i.e. formal cause); it is that by which one is what one is. The divine essence is not the formal cause of the human nature per se (because in that case grace would destroy nature), but it is is the formal cause of an accident inhering in the soul, and that accident is participation. So here too our participation in the divine nature is that by which we (as creatures) are what we are: i.e. sons and daughters of God. The participation itself is created, because it is a participation by a creature (and so is not eternal), but the formal cause of the participation (i.e. and the object of the participation) is uncreated (i.e. God). And that is why in Catholic theology indwelling by the Three Persons is not merely extrinsic to the person in the state of grace.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  114. Perry (from your comment addressed to Bryan):

    I agree that if deity means being only the divine essence then theosis is impossible, (though I don’t think Andrew does) which is in part the trouble I am having understanding your view.

    Just to clarify, I think that theosis would be impossible if it meant being only the divine essence. Anything which is only the divine essence would not also be human and created, but the deified man remains both of these, even while being raised, in Christ Jesus, to participation in the divine essence. I do not think that I have written anything that implies otherwise.

    The appeal to authority (#106) is, of course, entirely valid. I am still reading (and processing) Russell, along with the Alexandrian and Cappadocian Fathers themselves (to whom I am increasingly devoted, as you will doubtlessly be gratified to hear). Hitherto, I cannot see a dichotomy between what these Fathers (and in some cases Doctors) of the Church teach concerning deification and the teaching of St. Thomas, himself a Doctor of the Church.

  115. Bryan Cross: The Trinity indwells us, but not merely by location or power. That would not be true union. Theosis would be impossible if indwelling were merely copresence or colocation or cooperation. These are all extrinsic, even if internal.

    I agree that the indwelling of the Trinity is not merely the “copresence or colocation” of God in man. But I don’t see how God’s “copresense” in man could be something that is extrinsic to man.

    Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange makes the distinction between the way God is present in men through the “presence of immensity” and the special presence of God in the just through the indwelling of the Trinity.

    The Three Ages of the Interior Life,
    Ch. 4, The Blessed Trinity Present in Us, Uncreated Source of our Interior Life

    … Scripture teaches us that God is present in every creature by a general presence, often called the presence of immensity. … Holy Scripture does not, however, speak only of this general presence of God in all things; it also speaks of a special presence of God in the just.

    Can we really say that the presence of God in the man though the “presence of immensity” is something that is extrinsic to man? It seems to me that God is intrinsically united to man through the presence of immensity, since man cannot exist apart from the presence of immensity.

  116. Bryan,

    Do you mean to imply that for Aquinas there is something else that is God other than the essence? How is that consistent with simplicity? If the divine essence is the same as the act of existence, what else is there than the essence? Thomas writes,

    “But since relation, considered as really existing in God, is the divine essence Itself, and the essence is the same as person, as appears from what was said above (Question 39, Article 1), relation must necessarily be the same as person…For, since the divine simplicity excludes the composition of matter and form, it follows that in God the abstract is the same as the concrete, as “Godhead” and “God.” ST 1.40.1cff.

    I agree that the hypostatic union is a counter example to the view, but since Aquinas seems to me to hold to the view, that is plenty of help to me, but no help to Aquinas. The question is the “something” that is not the divine essence in the concrete and I hold that it is the hypostases, but Thomas doesn’t seem to think so. So I am not clear how this helps your position since Thomas seems to be affirming what I said, namely that there is nothing more to God than the essence.

    I agree that it is not Leibnizian identity, but is it sameness per idem secudum rem or idem secundum rationem or some other possible form of sameness? Aquinas seems to think that in God, rather than in our judgments about God, essence and existence are the same so that the act of being is the same in a very strong and perhaps the strongest possible sense with the essence. If you think they are in themselves not the same in some way, what way do you have in mind?

    I believe you wrote that the divine essence exists in the soul as an accident, albeit a very special sort of accident, so it is probably my error in speaking of it as an accidental substance. If the divine essence exists in the soul as an accident, I can see how it is inherent, but not how it is intrinsic to human nature formally speaking. To get to a robust view of it being intrinsic, we’d need to cash out the imago dei and go from there.

    I take it as uncontroversial that the Fathers take theosis to be more than the divine essence existing in the soul as an accident. I think Fathers like Maximus and John of Damascus are sufficiently clear on that point. John spends a good deal of time on the doctrine of energies in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith and in doing so teaches that theosis is more than an inhering accident.

    To be clear, body and matter are not the same so “participation” of one wouldn’t entail participation of the other. Second, the body doesn’t seem to be directly deified by the kind of intentional union that the beatific vision requires. The deification of the body isn’t mediated through the soul in us anymore than it is in Christ. The body is deified immediately and directly via the hypostasis.

    If accidents need not be extrinsic, this implies that some accidents can be and some can’t be. I’d need to know the class of accident that you think the divine essence in the soul falls under to know if it qualifies as an accident that can’t be extrinsic. I suppose I think an accidental inherence, intrinsic though it may be to be inadequate if it doesn’t entail a formal union with God. I think the concept of energies supplies this, which is why I favor that view. By formal union I should be clear. I do not mean to say that our essence becomes the divine essence. This is so because for me, the energies are not the essence, with the latter being imparticipatable. My worry is that grace is still seemingly alien to nature.

    As for grace and charity, aren’t they both deity or no? If no, then the problem I posed seems to stick, namely a created intermediary. If yes, then we are back to thinking about the kind of accident the divine essence is and the kind of union it bears to human nature.

    I am not sure that Dan can’t speak of union in the same way you do. It historically has been the case that Protestant Scholastics talked about union with Christ in terms of accidents inhering in the soul, even if this wasn’t the ground of the forensic declaration. And I am not sure that Dan glossed his view in terms of possession and even if it were so, not all forms of control, possession and ownership imply an extrinsic relation. Certainly the Orthodox via their view of theosis in and by hypostatic recapitulation think and talk of the energies in terms of possession and control without in the slightest entailing the notion of an extrinsic union.

    If grace comes to us from the outside and it is an accident in the soul, it is hard to see how either I become what God is and secondly how it is appropriate to human nature. If humans are made in the divine image, then the relation isn’t one of accident to substance, but of something more intimate and appropriate. This is and has been no small problem in Catholic theology for a long time as you I am sure well know. This is exactly the point when you write that the having is the sort that a substance has to its form, but that is exactly what you deny, namely that God is the formal cause of creatures, so I find it hard to see how you can claim that it is that kind of “having.”
    God as the formal cause of creatures would only entail the destruction of nature if the form of creatures that was divine was the divine essence, but if it is not, then this doesn’t follow. Without simplicity, the argument won’t go through. That is, the form of creatures is not distinguished from God in terms of an opposing relationship or one of negation.

  117. Andrew,

    Allow me to clarify. I meant not to posit as a problem the idea that we become only God and your view can’t do that. What I find problematic is how your view can affirm that we become what God is since God is only the divine essence, and it is impossible to become or participate in the divine essence. (God would have to be being for that to be even possible, but he’s not-pun!) I am not concerned with the sideshow of a problem of how on your view we remain human. My worry is coming from the other direction, namely if we can be said to be deified and be what God is. I suppose part of this is due to our different position on virtues since I hold following Maximus that they are natural things and you hold that they are supernatural.

    I do not mean to be personal and rude but your remarks about the Fathers and theosis seem to indicate that this was not a deal breaking issue for you prior to your conversion to Catholicism. If it had been I trust it is something you would have studied prior to your conversion.

    Since Rome denies the doctrine of energies, I see a great difference between what the Fathers teach and what Rome teaches. The real question is this, is there a real, as in metaphysically distinguishable though not separable difference akin to identity without reduction between the essences in Christ and their respective energies or are energies distinguished from essence only notionally or definitionally? And the second is like unto it, does Christ in the Passion at any point will with his human will to preserve his life and hence will a different object than going to the cross that is willed with the divine will or no? If we give a negative answer to the second or take the second option of the first, we will be endorsing monothelitism and monoenergism. Just look what Anselm and Thomas says for example. They certainly side with the monothelites there against Maximus and the Sixth Council. If the Sixth Council is right, Anselm,Thomas, et al are seriously wrong in their Christology and Triadology.

    It goes without saying that Thomas, while a great mind is not a doctor of the Church, but a material heretic. But of course, that is just to say that the Orthodox don’t think Rome is the Church or Thomas a saint. But you knew that already. ;)

  118. Perry,

    What I find problematic is how your view can affirm that we become what God is since God is only the divine essence, and it is impossible to become or participate in the divine essence.

    Back to square one. This is still just an assertion.

    I do not mean to be personal and rude but your remarks about the Fathers and theosis seem to indicate that this was not a deal breaking issue for you prior to your conversion to Catholicism. If it had been I trust it is something you would have studied prior to your conversion.

    That sounds a little personal, and perhaps a little rude as well. I did study the doctrine of theosis prior to becoming Catholic.

    The 6th EC teaches concerning the two wills:

    And the two natural wills not in opposition, as the impious heretics said, far from it, but his human will following, and not resisting or struggling, rather in fact subject to his divine and all powerful will.

    I know of nothing in St. Thomas or St. Anselm that is contrary to this doctrine. You could try to find some examples, since even a Doctor of the Catholic Church is not personally infallible.

  119. Perry et al.,

    This is a very interesting discussion — thanks for continuing it in public. You mentioned, Perry, that Thomas is a material heretic because of his Christology, and you hold to Maximus’ views instead. But by that standard, because of his ecclesiology, is not Maximus a material heretic as well (by the EO standard of ecclesiology, not by the Catholic standard)? As Andrew said, “even a Doctor of the Catholic Church is not personally infallible.” Thus, maybe calling Thomas a material heretic is too harsh. You could just say that you don’t agree with everything Thomas says, just as you don’t agree with Maximus’ ecclesiology. That would be more amenable to ecumenical discussion.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  120. Andrew,

    The idea that the divine essence is beyond participation and beyond knowledge isn’t a controversial point in the Eastern tradition, so I don’t think its an assertion, except an assertion of a well recognized fact. God is huperousia, which is why the East doesn’t subscribe to the beatific vision.

    As for my experience, most Catholic converts never do any significant reading in the Orthodox tradition prior to their conversion, or at least nothing comparable to what they read of the Latins and Franks. This is true of people like Scott Hahn as well as people like Tim Pawl who I knew at SLU. (When people like Stump say things like “I’ve given up trying to understand the Cappadocians.” it doesn’t exactly engender confidence.) It never usually goes beyond reading Ware’s pop book and a few articles. If this isn’t the case with you, I am glad you made a more informed decision.

    Sure the 6th council teaches two wills, but it also teaches two energies, and Maximus, like Cyril before him, being the touchstone at this point, is explicit that Christ in his Passion wills two different things simultaneously and that was the crucial point contrary to Honorius, Pyrrus and Sergius. Both Anselm and Thomas deny this, not to mention the doctrine of the energies. Take Anselm for example, when he writes, “Christ, therefore, came not to do his own will but that of the Father, for his holy will was not derived from his humanity, but from his divinity.” CDH, 1:9. Now is that orthodox or heterodox? What is your judgment? Monothelitism was more than just a denial of a human will, as plenty of advocates of imperial monothelitism did confess two wills so a mere confession of two wills isn’t sufficient.

    And the point of a doctor of the church not being personally infallible was the point. Even if it were so that Aquinas were one, it wouldn’t follow that he was correct. Aquinas gets plenty of things wrong, either in terms of what texts he examines in fact say or on theological points even by Catholic principles. The same goes for Augustine.

  121. K Doran,

    I believe I am familiar with the texts from Maximus on Rome that you allude to and needless to say, I don’t think they teach what Catholic apologists think they do. I don’t think an examination of the texts supports Pastor Aeternus or Satis Cognitum but in fact are evidence against them. Second, it’d be helpful to look at Maximus’ statements when confronted with the fact that Rome had agreed with the Monothelite imperial policy. If Rome confesses the right faith, then he will be in communion with them was his reply. See Larchet’s recent article on Maximus’ ecclesiology for more. Besides, Maximus’ doctrine of energies won’t license the implications necessary for a Catholic ecclesiology in the first place.

    Thomas affirms the Filioque, which for the Orthodox is material and formal heresy condemned in the 8th council. So that’s just for starters. It wasn’t too harsh for Thomas to call the Orthodox heretics for denying it.

  122. Perry,

    Yes, those who agree with your assertion will recognize it as a fact.

    C3 (EC6) does teach two wills, as you say, and it also teaches something concerning the relationship between the wills, including the bit I just cited:

    And the two natural wills not in opposition, as the impious heretics said, far from it, but his human will following, and not resisting or struggling, rather in fact subject to his divine and all powerful will.

    The statement from Anselm is not heterodox from the perspective of this teaching. The human will is subject to the divine and all-powerful will; hence, Our Lord does not will two contrary things. The human will is derived from the divine will with respect to the thing willed.

    Yes, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church do make errors. This goes for all of them.

  123. Andrew,

    Yes, Russell also agrees with the idea too.

    Second, the interpretation that you give to the council is the explicit monothelite and monoenergist view, which Maximus refutes in his Disputation with Pyrrus. Always following the divine will doesn’t imply a subordination via a predestinating act of will and it doesn’t imply that Christ didn’t will otherwise than to go to the Cross. So there are good reasons for thinking that your interpretation of the council is wrong, especially considering that Maximus wrote some of its canons.

    Third, the view you give is also the view explicitly expressed by Honorius, Pyrrys and Sergius, for which they were all condemned as heretics.

  124. Dr. Perry Robinson:

    Isn’t it the case that most Christological heresies eminated from and even dominated the East?

    Take, for instance, arianism as well as monophysitism.

    In the case of the former, it was precisely because of how the Arian heresy dominated (and, therefore, disrupted) the East that the Council of Nicaea itself was called. Yet, even after the decrees of Nicaea, the East continued to endorse the heresy to such extent that its orthodox bishops (e.g., the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, was exiled to Gaul while others fled to Rome for safety) had to escape its clutches and make an appeal to the Pope.

    In the case of the latter, need I remind you Leo’s tome which laid out the necessity of Christ’s two natures in spite of the East’s 2nd Council of Ephesus, which endorsed that blatant heresy while Pope Leo vehemently opposed it, thus calling it merely a “robber council”?

    As to those fathers and doctors of the Church which the East would consider heretic, the fact that the East have come to regard a titanic figure in Church History such as the Augustine himself a heretic (the filioque, it seems, being the most heretical in the East’s own estimation) would make any genuine Christian of the West skeptical as to the correctness of such assessments made by the East especially given their biased leanings and the historical animosity it continues to bear towards the West; not to mention, as stated in the aforementioned, the fact that it came not only to give birth to but also embrace said heresies does not speak well of its record for opposing heresy.

    Yet, I must admit, your particular insight into these things is quite delightfully profound, to say the least.

  125. K. Doran: This is a very interesting discussion — thanks for continuing it in public.

    I agree!

    Much of the discussion on this thread involves unpacking the meaning of this sentence of Bryan Cross in his article: “We need to be joined ontologically to the divine nature, as Christ is ontologically joined to human nature.”

    The Catholic understanding of sanctifying grace and what it means to “participate in the divine nature” is indivisible. IMO, the Catholic understanding of why sanctifying grace brings about an “ontological union” between human nature and divine nature is being articulated quite well in the ongoing discussion.

    In the Catholic understanding, sanctifying grace does not destroy human nature; sanctifying grace perfects human nature. Pre-fall Adam, post-Fall Adam, and Adam with his glorified body would have the same human nature in all these states of being – the difference in these three states of being is the extent to which Adam is participating in the divine nature of the Holy Trinity. That said, I am still having trouble understanding how “Reformed” theology differs from Catholic theology on this point, and part of my problem is that I don’t understand the Reformed understanding of human nature, the Reformed theology of grace, and the Reformed theology of how grace affects human nature.

    First, I need to understand the Reformed understanding of human nature. Perhaps someone can help me here.

    In regards to the human nature possessed by man after the Fall, Bryan Cross writes this regarding the Lutheran understanding of fallen man’s human nature:

    A Reply from a Romery Person

    In Lutheran theology man’s very nature was damaged, and his intellect and will were radically corrupted.

    The above is really an assertion that man became an entirely new species after the Fall, because man’s “very nature” was damaged by the Fall. From what I little I understand about Reformation theology, this is not that much different than what the typical Calvinist believes. But Calvinists (in the web world at least) speak about the Christian having two natures, a “Sin Nature” and a “New Nature”, e.g:

    The Sin Nature

    We sin because we have a sin nature. Every human being possesses a sin nature — a corrupt nature inherited from Adam.

    Christians have two natures at work in their being — one is the old sin nature, and the other is a new nature controlled by the Spirit. These two natures are constantly at war with each other.

    At Christ’s second coming, when the believer’s body is glorified, the sin nature will be destroyed once and for all.

    The Sin Nature

    The Sin Nature is that part of the essence of the soul acquired at Adam’s fall and subsequently passed on to every person at birth.

    The Sin Nature is the center of the soul’s rebellion against God.

    The Sin Nature is perpetuated in human beings through physical birth.

    The believer continues to have his Sin Nature after salvation.

    The Sin Nature is not found in the believer’s resurrection body.

    This conception of human nature is very confusing to me, i.e. the idea that man became a new species with a corrupt “sin nature” after the Fall; that Christians have two natures while they are on earth; and that the Christians will have only one nature after the resurrection of the dead.

    Help!

  126. Roma,

    I am not a doctor, but thanks anyhow, though for a time I studied to be one (DPhil).
    The geographical location of the heresy is irrelevant, though heresies like Pelagianism were by and large limited to the pre-Frankish west. Other heresies like Spanish Adoptionism and Montanism weren’t exactly Eastern phenomenons either. We could add to that list Monarchianism which was influential at Rome. I believe Tertullian and Hippolytus have a thing to say about it if memory serves.

    All of the major councils were also in the East too it should be remembered, so if the location of many heresies is a blemish, certainly the councils in the East removes it. What ecumenical council in the first thousand years is in Rome? While at times people like Athanasius fled to Rome, it is also true that this circumstance was turned around at times. Where did people go when Honorius was Pope? Where did Pope Martin flee to?

    Furthermore, there is a very good reason why most occurred in the East, because most of the major sees and Christian education was in the East. The Easterners were far more up on the intricacies of theology than the west, especially when the West fell to the Frankish hordes. In some cases, Eastern theologians had to bring Rome up to speed on matters since they weren’t even aware of the theological issues at satake. Not t mention that most theology was done in Greek and Latin was taken to be inadequate for really doing theology since it was a more parsimonious language. The Latins and then later the Franks weren’t exactly stellar theologians either so much so that one of my old profs remarked that prior to Augustine, and for some time after every western theologian “was a moron.”
    To say regarding the Arian heresy that the East continued to endorse Arianism isn’t quite fair. The East wasn’t monolithic. Most were semi-Arian Homoiousians who wished to maintain a distinction between the Father and Son which they thought homoousious might endanger. Seeing that the term came from Sabellian usage, they had a point. Given the lack of terminological clarity, there was some justification for their worry. And it is true that many pro-Nicenes were still in the East and things went back and forth. Not to mention the fact that Arianism persisted the longest in the West.
    As for Leo’s Tome, I remind you that it had to be examined to make sure it was in line with Cyril’s teaching as Alexandria was also a Petrine See and Cyril, not Leo was the touchstone of orthodoxy. This is why Cyril could set aside the Pope’s judgment against Nestorious at the council of Ephesus. Second, Leo’s Tome suffers from weaknesses which Fathers then and scholars now recognize that the theology of Cyril and later Neo-Chalcedonian theologians do not. (Natures don’t perform actions, persons do.) The reason why Ephesus was called a synod of bandits was because it reached its conclusions at the point of a sword, violating the conditions for a canonical council, which is why it was illegitimate. The fact that it endorsed heterodoxy was icing on the cake and was manifested in its resort to violence.

    Augustine puts forward the Filioque as a speculation, and not as dogma. Second, both East and West take an even greater figure of Gregory of Nyssa as heretical in his teaching of the apokatastasis. We could add people like Origen, Justin and others to the list. Should we by your reasoning be skeptical of Rome on that basis too? How about Bernard of Clarivaux’s insistent denial of the Immaculate Conception?

    Given the western agreement and then revocation of the decision against the Filioque established in 879 and then the forced Latinization for nearly a century in the 13th century, the historical animosity is quite justified if not understandable. We can add to the fact the now well established forgeries of patristic texts, established by Catholic scholars at places like the Augustinianum in Rome for example, in support of doctrines at points enforced on the Easterners at the point of a sword to the data. (Basil never taught the Filioque.) We can also add various teachings that had currency or the way things have been taught by Catholic theologians that have now been rescinded to the explanatory data to explain some of the Orthodox misconstruals of Catholic doctrine. (Unbaptized children go to hell, as taught at Florence.) And of course misconstrual or bias is not a one way street. Just read Martin Jugie on Palamas or any Catholic treatment of Saint Mark of Ephesus, which would make the Jesuit fabricators of the Nag’s Head Fable blush. The same goes for myths invented by westerners about Saint Photius as well. So I think I must disagree with your assertion of biased leanings an historical animosity. Things just aren’t that simple.

    It is important in assessing a position to go out of your way to read the best that a position has to offer and to make sure that one reads both sides of the argument. So I’d recommend that perhaps things aren’t quite so clear cut as you present for someone reading different authors in a different tradition.

  127. Perry,

    It looks like you are merely adding assertions about the Christology of C3 to your assertions concerning deification and divine simplicity. This gets us nowhere. Here is what I suggest: Re-read Bryan’s post and any subsequent arguments, pro or con, as to whether or not salvation involves an ontological participation in God. If you cannot find anything there with which to interact, then don’t. I think that the question of whether or not ontological union with God is consistent with divine simplicity is still on the table. If you have a case to make that these are mutually inconsistent, please make that case. If you would like to cite Sacred Scripture, Ecumenical Councils or Church Fathers to that effect, all the better.

  128. Perry, (#116)

    I wasn’t implying that there is “something else that is God other than the [divine] essence.” The hypostatic union is not a “counter example” to divine simplicity. Just because we do not say that the divine essence became incarnate, while we do say that the Logos became incarnate, it does not follow that the Logos’ becoming incarnate is a “counter example” to divine simplicity, or is incompatible with divine simplicity. The Logos is the divine essence, but the ‘is’ is not Leibnizian identity, because when we speak of the Son we include the relation of begotten (not begetting), and it is, properly speaking, this hypostasis that became incarnate.

    As for grace and charity, aren’t they both deity or no? If no, then the problem I posed seems to stick, namely a created intermediary.

    There is created grace (i.e. our participation in the divine nature), and uncreated grace (i.e. the Holy Spirit). There is created charity (i.e. charity as a supernaturally infused disposition of the will directed in self-giving toward God as Father, and hence a participation in the Love of the Trinity), and there is uncreated charity (i.e. God Himself). Uncreated grace and uncreated charity are both deity; in God they are the same. As for whether there is a “problem” of a “created intermediary,” that has yet to be shown.

    If humans are made in the divine image, then the relation isn’t one of accident to substance, but of something more intimate and appropriate.

    Not necessarily. We are made with a passive potency to receive grace. That potency is natural to us, but grace itself is not.

    This is exactly the point when you write that the having is the sort that a substance has to its form, but that is exactly what you deny, namely that God is the formal cause of creatures,

    Christ’s relation to His physical body is not identical to God’s relation to creation. For the former, the having is like that which a substance has to its form. But in creation, the form of the creature is not the divine essence itself, otherwise there would be no creatures, or no Creator-creature distinction.

    God as the formal cause of creatures would only entail the destruction of nature if the form of creatures that was divine was the divine essence, but if it is not, then this doesn’t follow.

    Exactly.

    Without simplicity, the argument won’t go through. That is, the form of creatures is not distinguished from God in terms of an opposing relationship or one of negation.

    We can’t say that all creatures have a divine spark in them, a piece of God. That would clearly be wrong. So the forms of creatures are not divine, even though they have God as their source. All that is in God is God, and all that is in a creature is created (excepting those rational creatures in a state of grace). So the form of a mouse, for example, is not divine, even though God is the source of that form. If the form of a mouse were divine, then we would need to treat the form of a mouse as we treat the Eucharist, and give adoration to the form of the mouse. But clearly that can’t be right. Therefore, the form of a mouse is not divine. And therefore the forms of creatures are distinct from God.

    You’re raising many different questions, on many different subjects (essence, relation, simplicity, grace, participation, hypostatic union, monothelitism, energies, etc.). Those are all very important questions, but here at CTC we want to proceed in our discussions in a much more focused way, not considering many different things, each of which deserves its own discussion, all in a single thread. We want to focus on one thing at a time, and do so in an ordered, careful way. We want our combox discussions to stay on-topic. But thanks very much for the interaction.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  129. Dear Perry,

    You said:
    “As for Leo’s Tome, I remind you that it had to be examined to make sure it was in line with Cyril’s teaching as Alexandria was also a Petrine See and Cyril, not Leo was the touchstone of orthodoxy. This is why Cyril could set aside the Pope’s judgment against Nestorious at the council of Ephesus.”

    I believe that these claims should be compared with the research of Dom John Chapman, in his “The first eight general councils and papal infallibility” available for free on google books below:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=hP0OAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=%22The+first+eight+general+councils+and+papal+infallibility%22&source=bl&ots=GNUJzDCIgG&sig=1WSQvmG72t0MY9LJcy6dPyScp-U&hl=en&ei=7LnpSvHLKsaolAfI0v3_BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22The%20first%20eight%20general%20councils%20and%20papal%20infallibility%22&f=false

    At some point, I encourage you to quickly read Chapman’s sections on Ephesus and Chalcedon, and tell me where you disagree (they are short sections, a quick read). My email is: KBDh02@yahoo.com. I notice that you’ve been making similar claims elsewhere on the internet. So, to improve your dialogue with Catholics, it will be good to process what Chapman and others have said about these councils.

    Please don’t bother responding in this thread, since the CTCers would like to remain on topic. Just respond to my email when you get a chance. Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  130. mateo (re #125),

    …and part of my problem is that I don’t understand the Reformed understanding of human nature, the Reformed theology of grace, and the Reformed theology of how grace affects human nature.

    Our Reformed readers should feel free to correct me here, but I think that part of the difference stems from the theological categories, “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” which many Reformed theologians employee. My understanding of this schema is that Adam did not possess, or require, sanctifying grace before the Fall. (See Turretin, Institutes, 5th topic, ch. 11.)

    Hence, the Fall was not the loss of sanctifying grace, but a ruination of human nature, wherein it became totally depraved. In the Covenant of Grace, God does not build upon human nature, which would involve a return to the Covenant of Works. Rather, salvation takes place in a new sphere, apart from nature/works, i.e., the Covenant of Grace.

    I believe that it is more common for Dispensationalists to talk about the Two Natures, but both these and the “covenant theologians” seem to deny the principle that grace perfects nature (affirming instead, simul iustus et peccator). Unfallen man’s existence in the Garden is still relevant, but primarily as a dispensation of strict justice. This strict justice still obtains, but only to condemn (since we are all sinners).

    On the Catholic reading, wherein Adam was created in a state of sanctifying grace, the significance of the Edenic covenant for the ongoing narrative of redemption is somewhat different. I’ll repeat, with modification, my synopsis of this from an earlier comment:

    The Fall deprived man of sanctifying grace. This had a debilitating, though not destructive, effect upon his nature, insofar as grace had perfected his nature, enabling man to order his natural capacities aright, and ordering man (not without the free will of man) towards his final end, which is perfect, ontological union with God. In short, there is a teleological dimension to the Edenic narrative that hinges upon the gift of sanctifying grace. Adam, though created good, and enjoying the friendship of God, is given to move on towards the good (symbolized by the Tree of Life), to a more perfect form of being–i.e., beatitude. Of course, he failed to do this.

    From this perspective, we can understand that salvation in Christ involves not only a restoration to original righteousness, it also puts our feet back on the primordial path to the Tree of Life.

    All that being said, and I hope it helps with your question, I do not think that theosis stands or falls with the covenant of works / covenant of grace dichotomy. I would be interested to know whether there are any Reformed covenant theologians who affirm some kind of deification. My guess is that there are, but these are probably not hanging around in the NAPRC.

  131. K Doran,

    Chapman’s work is now over one hundred years old and while worth reading has been overturned with respect to Chalcedon and Leo’s Tome. See John McGuckin, Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy, Brill. And yes I’ve read Chapman.

    The rest is in an email to you.

  132. Thank you Andrew, for your thoughtful response. I am getting a better understanding of the differences between Catholicism and Calvinism from CTC, and this will help me in the RCIA classes that I teach. I see now that I can’t assume that a Protestant would have the same understanding of “human nature” that a cradle Catholic would have.

    Andrew Preslar: Our Reformed readers should feel free to correct me here, but I think that part of the difference stems from the theological categories, “Covenant of Works” and “Covenant of Grace” which many Reformed theologians employee. My understanding of this schema is that Adam did not possess, or require, sanctifying grace before the Fall.

    Calvin’s belief that pre-Fall Adam did not possess sanctifying grace (as Catholics understand sanctifying grace) creates a significant difference between Calvinism and Catholicism. This particular Calvinist belief has all sorts of ramifications that affect many doctrines of the Catholic faith.

    Re: “Covenant of Works” / “Covenant of Grace” – I never heard of this dichotomy until I read John Deane’s article at CTC The Grandeur of Covenant Theology. In that article, John Deane quotes Chapter VII of the Westminster Confession:

    The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    Bryan Cross makes the point that Calvin was teaching Pelagianism with respect to man in his pre-Fall state (see my post #80 in this thread). That makes the “Covenant of Works” problematic for a Catholic. In the inquiry stage of RCIA, I like to spend time delving deep into the first three Chapters of Genesis, because a Catholic understanding of why Christ came into the world is dependent upon an orthodox understanding of Genesis. It is my experience from teaching RCIA classes that many adults (including many of Catholics) have a vague understanding of the Fall that involves God banishing Adam and Eve from Paradise because Eve bit an apple from a forbidden tree – an understanding they probably picked up as a child, and which haven’t thought much about since then. Then there are the “adult” teachings about the Fall that some catechumens in RCIA have heard, teachings that treat Genesis as mere myth; that Fall is best understood in terms of modern psychology; that the Fall never really happened, that only six day creationists believe that Adam and Eve were really our first parents, etc. If an orthodox understanding of the first three chapters of Genesis isn’t established among the catechumens, it becomes very difficult to bring forth a coherent understanding of the Sacramental Grace of Baptism.

    I am very grateful that at CTC that I can have a discussion with adults that don’t dismiss the Fall as something that is essentially irrelevant to Christianity! In future inquiry classes I am going to incorporate the points that Bryan Cross made in his article Why Did Adam Originally Need Grace? Which brings up a question, what is the CTC policy for copying material for use in religious instruction?

    Andrew Preslar: Hence the Fall was not the loss of sanctifying grace, but a ruination of human nature, wherein it became totally depraved.

    And prior to the Fall, Calvin clearly taught that Adam had freewill, and that that Adam exercised his freewill to be disobedient to God’s expressed will. Thanks to CTC, I finally understand why the typical Calvinist that I have had contact with outside of RCIA will make certain arguments that to me seemed unreasonable. It has been my experience that the Calvinist will readily acknowledge that Adam had both freewill and an uncorrupt human nature before the Fall – but then adamantly refuse to acknowledge that Adam fell from a state of grace by being disobedient to God. I now see why it is pointless to argue with a Calvinist that if Adam could fall from grace by being disobedient to God, that a Christian could also fall from grace by being disobedient to God. My analogy is pointless to a Calvinist because the Calvinist doesn’t believe that Adam was ever in a state of grace. I have no idea if the Calvinist believes that Christians are in a state of grace – or if “grace” just something that restores the Christian back to the spiritual state of Adam before the Fall – or if grace even does that much, since one sin by Adam totally destroyed his nature, but the many sins by a Christian seems to have no effect whatsoever on his nature.

    Discussions with Calvinists have left me baffled by what, exactly, “grace” means to a Calvinist. And I still don’t understand what a Calvinist means by “grace”. But I do know that whatever the Calvinist may mean by the word grace, it means something that is very different to him than the Catholic understanding of sanctifying grace. Sometimes I think that what the Calvinist means by grace is what Catholics would call actual grace. But I am not sure about that either, since at least some Calvinists seem to think that grace is essentially a legal contract that guarantees them entrance to Heaven even if they live their entire lives as “carnal Christians”. One thing that I have learned is that Calvinism covers a very broad spectrum of beliefs! Perhaps I have been exposed to Calvinists that are atypical, and not growing up “Reformed”, I no doubt have a pretty confused idea about Calvinism. CTC to the rescue – a group of men dedicated to getting past the cliches and “committed to having a thorough discussion on matters of importance to Catholic and Reformed Christians.”

    I hope the topic of what a Calvinist means by “grace” gets covered in detail in a future article at CTC – (maybe that article has already been written and I don’t realize it because I have only read a small portion of what CTC has in the archives).

    Andrew Preslar: I believe that it is more common for Dispensationalists to talk about the Two Natures, but both these and the “covenant theologians” seem to deny the principle that grace perfects nature (affirming instead, simul iustus et peccator)

    The material that Jonathan Deane quoted from the Westminster Confession states that the “covenant of grace” was “administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel …under various dispensations”. How the Westminster Confession concept of dispensations differs from the Dispensationalists concept of dispensations is not clear to me either. Again, that is gist for another article from CTC. However, if both camps are affirming Luther’s doctrine of simul iustus et peccator, then they have an understanding of man in a state of grace that is problematic for a Catholic:

    RESPONSE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO THE JOINT DECLARATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION

    The major difficulties preventing an affirmation of total consensus between the parties on the theme of Justification arise in paragraph 4.4 The Justified as Sinner (nn. 28-1,0 ). Even taking into account the differences, legitimate in themselves, that come from different theological approaches to the content of faith, from a Catholic point of view the title is already a cause of perplexity. According, indeed, to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in baptism everything that is really sin is taken away, and so, in those who are born anew there is nothing that is hateful to God … it remains difficult to see how, in the current state of the presentation, given in the Joint Declaration, we can say that this doctrine on “simul iustus et peccator” is not touched by the anathemas of the Tridentine decree on original sin and justification.

    IMO, delving into the above would be worth an article at CTC.

    Andrew Preslar: Unfallen man’s existence in the Garden is still relevant, but primarily as a dispensation of strict justice. This strict justice still obtains, but only to condemn (since we are all sinners).

    I don’t understand the point that you are making here. I also understand that it is easy to ask a question that would take a book to answer – there is no need to take this thread off topic trying to explain this to me. Again, this is material that would make for a good article at CTC.

  133. Andrew Preslar: On the Catholic reading, wherein Adam was created in a state of sanctifying grace, the significance of the Edenic covenant for the ongoing narrative of redemption is somewhat different. I’ll repeat, with modification, my synopsis of this from an earlier comment:

    The Fall deprived man of sanctifying grace. This had a debilitating, though not destructive, effect upon his nature, insofar as grace had perfected his nature, enabling man to order his natural capacities aright, and ordering man (not without the free will of man) towards his final end, which is perfect, ontological union with God. In short, there is a teleological dimension to the Edenic narrative that hinges upon the gift of sanctifying grace. Adam, though created good, and enjoying the friendship of God, is given to move on towards the good (symbolized by the Tree of Life), to a more perfect form of being–i.e., beatitude. Of course, he failed to do this.

    From this perspective, we can understand that salvation in Christ involves not only a restoration to original righteousness, it also puts our feet back on the primordial path to the Tree of Life.

    Bryan Cross makes many of the same points in his wonderful article A Reply from a Romery Person :

    In Lutheran theology man’s very nature was damaged, and his intellect and will were radically corrupted. In Catholic theology, at the Fall man lost sanctifying grace, lost agape, lost the four preternatural gifts, and suffered the four wounds of nature. Among those wounds of nature were ignorance in the intellect, and malice in the will. Each of man’s powers was wounded, though not destroyed, but man’s nature was not destroyed. We were human before the Fall, and we remain human after the Fall. … Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve were in friendship with God. They walked with God in the cool of the day. And their friendship with God shows that they had agape, and thus that they had sanctifying grace. Had they obeyed God faithfully, then because they were participants in the divine nature, their acts of obedience to God would have merited on the supernatural level, and hence merited a supernatural end. That is how they would have merited heaven. In the Catholic position, Christ by His Passion has merited sanctifying grace for us, so that by receiving that grace through the sacraments He established, we are, in this respect, restored to the state of Adam and Eve.

    It seems to me, that everything that Bryan Cross said in his article quoted above is perfectly orthodox. The CCC affirms that Adam was destined to be fully divinized:

    CCC 398 … Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. …

    There is one point that Bryan makes that I think is speculative, and I believe that I can disagree with it because it is not yet a matter of defined doctrine. My disagreement is with this sentence:

    Had they obeyed God faithfully, then because they were participants in the divine nature, their acts of obedience to God would have merited on the supernatural level, and hence merited a supernatural end. That is how they would have merited heaven.

    I believe that if Adam and Eve had not fallen, they would have never merited the Beatific Vision by obedience informed by agape. I believe that the Beatific Vision would have come to Adam and Eve and their progeny only as an unmerited gift in the terrestrial paradise, and that gift would have been received by them through the Incarnation of the Son of God in the terrestrial paradise. I believe that this point about the Incarnation being necessary for man to realize full divinization is germane to this thread, but let me digress for a moment before I make that point.

    Many years ago I was listening to an audiotape lecture by Scott Hahn that he made shortly after he became a Catholic. Scott was talking about sanctifying grace and divinization, and as an aside, Scott said that he was being criticized by some of his old colleagues because they felt that he had really fallen off the deep end with his new talk about divinization. Scott also made a point that I vaguely remember being taught as a youngster; that the state of being of the man that has received Baptism is greater than the state of being of Adam before the Fall. I don’t think that Scott Hahn elaborated on why that is so, but this thread has made me aware of one reason of why that might be so, and that is the point that I think is germane to this thread.

    We are blessed and transformed by the Incarnation. The Word did not become incarnate in the terrestrial paradise where Adam dwelt before the Fall. The Word became incarnate in this “valley of tears”, the place of Adam’s banishment, where all creation groans to be set free from the bondage of decay. Our mortal physical bodies are sanctified because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in our dying universe. When Horton says “We are not made one flesh with Christ. We are made one with Christ by the Spirit”, it seems to me that Horton is missing something important about the Word becoming flesh.

    What Horton is missing in seeing only that we are spiritually joined to Christ is hard for me to explain, but I will try. A woman once told me about an experience that she had had while praying the rosary. She said that as she was meditating upon the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation that she was suddenly filled with a sense of awesome wonder. She said that she understood that when the Son of God became flesh in Mary’s womb, that every single particle in the universe became energized and transformed by this singular event. She couldn’t explain exactly what she meant by the matter of our universe being transformed because God took on flesh, but I think I “got it”, and what she shared with me touched me in heart and mind. This is, of course private revelation, and one can disbelieve it and be a perfectly orthodox Catholic. I hope I am making sense, that even though we have mortal bodies, our mortal bodies are sanctified to a greater extent than Adam’s pre-Fall body, because the Word became flesh in our world, and not the terrestrial paradise.

    Andrew, thanks again for responding to my posts. May God bless you and all those who labor to bring about the reunification of all Christians.

  134. Hey mateo,

    My point in that last bit you cited in #132 is related to this bit, which you cited earlier in your comment, from Jonathan’s article (from WCF, VII):

    The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    My point is that, per Reformed covenant theology, the Covenant of Works, according to which unfallen man was to obtain eternal life by obedience, is still operative today in the sense that anyone who could live a morally perfect life would by their good works merit eternal life. However, due to total depravity, no one actually merits eternal life in this way. So the practical purpose of the Covenant of Works after the Fall is to condemn sinners (i.e., everyone). According to Catholic thought, on the other hand, wherein there is no “Covenant of Works” (i.e., no eternal life to be obtained apart from sanctifying grace), man’s experience in the Garden before the Fall is still relevant because Adam, like us, was given the gift of sanctifying grace and thereby enabled to pursue the supreme good of beatitude (symbolized by the Tree of Life).

  135. By the way, thanks for sharing those bits in your last comment, and for the kind words toward CTC. And thank you for teaching RCIA. I have had the privilege of talking to a few RCIA teachers about their ministry, and am very grateful for the work you all do.

  136. I think that we have pin-pointed where the disagreement lies as to the ontological dimension of salvation. I take it that ontological union with God is of the essence of salvation. You disagree, maintaining that the ontological dimension of salvation is exhausted by certain created resemblances to God, which make for a kind of union, itself non-ontological.

    I maintain that the closest one can get to ontological union with God is resemblance in certain ways. But I wouldn’t say resemblances to God exhaust the ontological dimension, because there is more to our ontology than resemblance to God; or at least there are more ways to look at it. E.g., the resurrection body is an ontological aspect of salvation but we need not bring in resemblance here to make sense of it.

    First, “children of God” is not the only phrase to which I pointed. The others, especially “partakers of the divine nature,” strongly imply an ontological union with God.

    I didn’t touch on ‘partakers of the divine nature’ there because the passage was discussed elsewhere in my post. I don’t see how ‘partakers of the divine nature’ strongly implies ontological union with God. Why should I think that? When I said that if you had an argument or some exegesis, I’m all ears (or something like that), I was being sincere (though I can see how it could come across as sarcastic or something). You haven’t provided any lexical information about the relevant terms, much less exegesis of any sentences in the 2 Pet. ch. 1, to buttress your claim about the verse (v. 4). Can’t two things that share no being partake of a common nature, e.g., two men each having wisdom, or two horses each “partaking” of horseness? Why think Peter is affirming a fusion of Christians’ being with God’s being?

    Secondly, our being children of God is accounted for by the divine seed (RSV, “nature”) that abides in us. Our divine sonship is not a matter of mere adoption.

    Even if our sonship is not explained merely in terms of adoption, adoption is one of the ways it is expressed (Rom. 8:15, 23; Gal. 4:5 ).

    I take the union between a man and his offspring as ontological due to the fact that there is one nature, human nature, that informs each human being and also because of the unique causal relation between offspring and progenitor. The identical nature does not make the beings identical, i.e., the same being, but it does render us the same kind of being, human, which is not like a “resemblance” between beings that share the same color or weight, and not the kind of participation as that of sharing the same necktie.

    Since ontological union is a literal and strict sharing of being by two things, when you say there is one nature, human nature, that informs each human, I don’t see how this is not like the case of two human’s sharing a necktie; but you deny that it is like the case of the necktie. Of course there are some differences, in that two humans do not have to fight over their humanity, whereas with a tie only one person can wear it at once (comfortably, at any rate). But the analogy seems apt when it comes to the nature of the sharing: literally a single thing, indivisible, is present in more than one subject. However, if by “one” human nature informing each human you do not mean that one thing is literally present in two subjects, but rather that one person has humanity and another person has humanity and their respective humanities perfectly resemble each other or fall under some unifying concept; then this does not amount to ontological union.

    If the sharing of humanity is taken to amount to a single thing’s being present in two places (or at least multiple subjects; in the case of a human and God, it may not make sense as much sense to talk about the shared nature’s being in two different places), then I grant that this would be ontological union between two humans but I (1) deny that it obtains and claim (2) that even if it did obtain Scripture could not intend to convey such an ontological union between Christians and God through phraseology of being “children of God.” The idea that humans literally share a human nature was endorsed by some Medieval theologians/philosophers but it’s fallen out of vogue, in my experience at least. One reason is that nominalism (w/ respect to shared natures) is more popular now than then; and I think makes much more sense. Socrates and Plato resemble each other in various ways; as agreed upon by all. Why do we need to bring in, in addition to their resemblance, an object that they share, i.e., that literally inheres in each of them? It is not needed to explain the resemblance; for resemblance can be (and seems a good candidate for being) primitive (i.e., a basic notion that isn’t explained non-circularly in terms of something else). Nor is it needed to explain how two things come to resemble each other; the causal story for why Plato and Socrates are both humans need not involve a thing they share but rather a resemblance in the mechanisms that brought them into being (e.g., each was the union of a pair of gametes with particular (resembling) features involving material constitution, genetics, etc.).

    Turning to (2). But suppose two humans do literally share a single nature. This kind of union obtains irrespective of father-son relationships. Every human has this kind of union with every other human (since all equally partake of human nature). Hence Scripture does not this kind of union in mind when it calls Christians “children of God.” If this phraseology is meant to imply ontological union, then the kind of union needs to be one that trades on the peculiar father-child relation (or at least parent-child relation). Something that is peculiar to this relation, which you mention, involves offspring and progenitor; however you don’t explain how and I don’t see how the causal relation between a father and son implies ontological union between father and son. What is the nature of the union? It needs to be something more than shared humanity, since a father shares this with a distant cousin too.

    If it isn’t clear how two humans literally share their being with each other (or some of their being), then a fortiori it isn’t clear how Scripture is supposed to imply this kind of a union between a believer and God through calling such a person a son or child of God.

    In terms of dogmatic theology, we do not partake of the divine nature as being “begotten.” Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God. But this does not rule out the ontological interpretation, according to which we become children of God, not as begotten (or by nature), but as regenerated by indwelling grace, wherein we “become partakers of the divine nature.” In Christ, who is God, we participate in the nature of God, which is to participate in the very being of God.

    I agree we become children of God as we are regenerated by indwelling grace. But in order for this to support your claims this needs to be explicated as God putting his very being inside one. Where is “grace” ever so explicated?

    I do think that the parts of a living body are ontologically united one to the other. The Church exists as a living body. Therefore, the parts of the Church are ontologically united to one another.

    What do you mean by “a living body” in the 1st sentence? I figured you meant a biological body, but the Church is not “a living body” on this interpretation. If the people in the Church are ontological united to one another, and such union involves shared being, then the people in the church share being with each other. What is this shared aspect? If I share being with another person, doesn’t that mean that part of my being is where they are, such that I am not wholly located in and with my body? You’ve said that it is through Christ that believers have such union, but this is to explain a channel through which union occurs, not the thing that is shared itself through the channel.

    Andrew: Actually, you asserted the non-ontological unity of believers in an earlier post. I was replying to your claim, which is repeated here (though with an important qualification):

    Dan: The church is the Body of Christ, but (ostensibly) I am not ontologically united with every other Christian; and so it is false that if the Church is the Body of Christ then every member of the Church is ontologically united with all the others. [emphasis added]

    Andrew: Your hypothesis of the non-ontological unity of believers seems to presuppose an alleged non-ontological union with Christ. Since this is precisely what is being debated, your assertion is undermined by the very problematic to which you refer; i.e., it begs the question.

    I didn’t beg the question because, contra what seemed to you to be the case, my claim was not based on presupposing an alleged non-ontological union with Christ. The claim was based on what seems to be an obvious empirical and philosophical point: that I am a wholly distinct being from other human beings, not sharing any of my being with them. This point then was a premise in an argument that the kind of union Christ speaks of in e.g. John and 1 Cor. is not an ontological union (for the kind of union obtains between believers and ostensibly this is not ontological). If you were to argue, however, that believers are ontologically united to each other, on the basis of their ontological union with Christ (though my counterexample to the transitivity of union shows that this does not follow in and of itself), this would be begging the question; since the passages you brought in were meant to be evidence for the claim that believers are ontologically united with Christ. In other words, the passages would only support union with Christ if you presuppose union with Christ, unless you have an alternative justification for co-believers being united with each other that does not bring in ontological union with Christ.

    My thesis is that if the union of Christ and the Church is ontological, then (per the unity that obtains between parts of the body) the unity of believers is ontological.

    But the burden was to argue for an indicative, not merely a conditional; i.e., that it is in fact the case that the union of Christ and the Church is ontological. In other words, this thesis is consistent with my being right. It could be the case both that the relevant union is not ontological and that if it were ontological believers would be ontological united with each other. Why do you affirm the antecedent of the conditional, rather than rejecting it with me? As for why I reject the antecedent, one reason – that I’ve already touched on – is that it’s not clear the conditional is true: union is not transitive. If I am united with Christ and you are united with Christ it doesn’t follow that I am united with you.

    My appeal to the face value of 2 Peter 1:4 occurred at the end of a long post (#57) wherein I supplied several passages of Scripture, some with comment, that indicate that we do indeed enjoy ontological union with God in Christ Jesus. Thus, as a kind of cumulative case, I suggested that we actually partake of God’s nature.

    Ok, but since I’ve been disputing the parts of the cumulative case, it seems that this assertion about 2 Pet 1.4 needs some independent justification on its own. There is also a key difference between affirming an interpretation of a verse based on a case from other Scripture and rejecting an interpretation of a verse based on a case from other Scripture where the rejected interpretation contradicts that broader case. E.g., if someone believes that Scripture teaches that people can lose salvation, then the broader case for that thesis may lead one to reject an interpretation of a verse that implied one cannot lose salvation. But my interpretation of 2 Pet. 1.4 does not, as far as I know, contradict the idea of ontological union. You could be right about all the other passages cited while it’s also being the case that Peter is not addressing that issue or making that thesis.

    Furthermore, I have provided a little bit of exegesis of the most critical passage in question, 2 Peter 1:4. I note that you have subsequently backed off your assertion about the quality of the RSV translation thereof, which translation you took as possibly supportive of ontological union and therefore a threat to your thesis of union as mere resemblance.

    I don’t know if I ever commented on the quality of the RSV translation; I just said it made your interpretation more plausible than the NAS (e.g.) does. But as I said, I’m not prepared to argue which is a better translation. “More plausible” is a comparative; two things can both be very implausible, and yet one is more plausible than the other, or two can be very plausible, and yet one is a little more plausible than the other. The point about the translations was comparative (and probably niggling and maybe not worth harping on); but it didn’t mean I think the RSV makes your interpretation more likely than my interpretation or a threat to it. An interpretation can be implausible on two translations, and yet comparitively better on one than the other. IOW, because of my reading the context of the passage, and because of philosophy, I find your interpretation more implausible than mine, whatever the translation, but the gap in plausibility between the two interpretations is bigger on the NAS.

  137. Hi Andrew,

    I think that we have pin-pointed where the disagreement lies as to the ontological dimension of salvation. I take it that ontological union with God is of the essence of salvation. You disagree, maintaining that the ontological dimension of salvation is exhausted by certain created resemblances to God, which make for a kind of union, itself non-ontological.

    I maintain that the closest one can get to ontological union with God is resemblance in certain ways. But I wouldn’t say resemblances to God exhaust the ontological dimension, because there is more to our ontology than resemblance to God; or at least there are more ways to look at it. E.g., the resurrection body is an ontological aspect of salvation but we need not bring in resemblance here to make sense of it.

    First, “children of God” is not the only phrase to which I pointed. The others, especially “partakers of the divine nature,” strongly imply an ontological union with God.

    I didn’t touch on ‘partakers of the divine nature’ there because the passage was discussed elsewhere in my post. I don’t see how ‘partakers of the divine nature’ strongly implies ontological union with God. Why should I think that? When I said that if you had an argument or some exegesis, I’m all ears (or something like that), I was being sincere (though I can see how it could come across as sarcastic or something). You haven’t provided any lexical information about the relevant terms, much less exegesis of any sentences in the 2 Pet. ch. 1, to buttress your claim about the verse (v. 4). Can’t two things that share no being partake of a common nature, e.g., two men each having wisdom, or two horses each “partaking” of horseness? Why think Peter is affirming a fusion of Christians’ being with God’s being?

    Secondly, our being children of God is accounted for by the divine seed (RSV, “nature”) that abides in us. Our divine sonship is not a matter of mere adoption.

    Even if our sonship is not explained merely in terms of adoption, adoption is one of the ways it is expressed (Rom. 8:15, 23; Gal. 4:5 ).

    I take the union between a man and his offspring as ontological due to the fact that there is one nature, human nature, that informs each human being and also because of the unique causal relation between offspring and progenitor. The identical nature does not make the beings identical, i.e., the same being, but it does render us the same kind of being, human, which is not like a “resemblance” between beings that share the same color or weight, and not the kind of participation as that of sharing the same necktie.

    Since ontological union is a literal and strict sharing of being by two things, when you say there is one nature, human nature, that informs each human, I don’t see how this is not like the case of two human’s sharing a necktie; but you deny that it is like the case of the necktie. Of course there are some differences, in that two humans do not have to fight over their humanity, whereas with a tie only one person can wear it at once (comfortably, at any rate). But the analogy seems apt when it comes to the nature of the sharing: literally a single thing, indivisible, is present in more than one subject. However, if by “one” human nature informing each human you do not mean that one thing is literally present in two subjects, but rather that one person has humanity and another person has humanity and their respective humanities perfectly resemble each other or fall under some unifying concept; then this does not amount to ontological union.

    If the sharing of humanity is taken to amount to a single thing’s being present in two places (or at least multiple subjects; in the case of a human and God, it may not make sense as much sense to talk about the shared nature’s being in two different places), then I grant that this would be ontological union between two humans but I (1) deny that it obtains and claim (2) that even if it did obtain Scripture could not intend to convey such an ontological union between Christians and God through phraseology of being “children of God.” The idea that humans literally share a human nature was endorsed by some Medieval theologians/philosophers but it’s fallen out of vogue, in my experience at least. One reason is that nominalism (w/ respect to shared natures) is more popular now than then; and I think makes much more sense. Socrates and Plato resemble each other in various ways; as agreed upon by all. Why do we need to bring in, in addition to their resemblance, an object that they share, i.e., that literally inheres in each of them? It is not needed to explain the resemblance; for resemblance can be (and seems a good candidate for being) primitive (i.e., a basic notion that isn’t explained non-circularly in terms of something else). Nor is it needed to explain how two things come to resemble each other; the causal story for why Plato and Socrates are both humans need not involve a thing they share but rather a resemblance in the mechanisms that brought them into being (e.g., each was the union of a pair of gametes with particular (resembling) features involving material constitution, genetics, etc.).

    Turning to (2). But suppose two humans do literally share a single nature. This kind of union obtains irrespective of father-son relationships. Every human has this kind of union with every other human (since all equally partake of human nature). Hence Scripture does not this kind of union in mind when it calls Christians “children of God.” If this phraseology is meant to imply ontological union, then the kind of union needs to be one that trades on the peculiar father-child relation (or at least parent-child relation). Something that is peculiar to this relation, which you mention, involves offspring and progenitor; however you don’t explain how and I don’t see how the causal relation between a father and son implies ontological union between father and son. What is the nature of the union? It needs to be something more than shared humanity, since a father shares this with a distant cousin too.

    If it isn’t clear how two humans literally share their being with each other (or some of their being), then a fortiori it isn’t clear how Scripture is supposed to imply this kind of a union between a believer and God through calling such a person a son or child of God.

    In terms of dogmatic theology, we do not partake of the divine nature as being “begotten.” Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God. But this does not rule out the ontological interpretation, according to which we become children of God, not as begotten (or by nature), but as regenerated by indwelling grace, wherein we “become partakers of the divine nature.” In Christ, who is God, we participate in the nature of God, which is to participate in the very being of God.

    I agree we become children of God as we are regenerated by indwelling grace. But in order for this to support your claims this needs to be explicated as God putting his very being inside one. Where is “grace” ever so explicated?

    I do think that the parts of a living body are ontologically united one to the other. The Church exists as a living body. Therefore, the parts of the Church are ontologically united to one another.

    What do you mean by “a living body” in the 1st sentence? I figured you meant a biological body, but the Church is not “a living body” on this interpretation. If the people in the Church are ontological united to one another, and such union involves shared being, then the people in the church share being with each other. What is this shared aspect? If I share being with another person, doesn’t that mean that part of my being is where they are, such that I am not wholly located in and with my body? You’ve said that it is through Christ that believers have such union, but this is to explain a channel through which union occurs, not the thing that is shared itself through the channel.

    Andrew: Actually, you asserted the non-ontological unity of believers in an earlier post. I was replying to your claim, which is repeated here (though with an important qualification):

    Dan: The church is the Body of Christ, but (ostensibly) I am not ontologically united with every other Christian; and so it is false that if the Church is the Body of Christ then every member of the Church is ontologically united with all the others. [emphasis added]

    Andrew: Your hypothesis of the non-ontological unity of believers seems to presuppose an alleged non-ontological union with Christ. Since this is precisely what is being debated, your assertion is undermined by the very problematic to which you refer; i.e., it begs the question.

    I didn’t beg the question because, contra what seemed to you to be the case, my claim was not based on presupposing an alleged non-ontological union with Christ. The claim was based on what seems to be an obvious empirical and philosophical point: that I am a wholly distinct being from other human beings, not sharing any of my being with them. This point then was a premise in an argument that the kind of union Christ speaks of in e.g. John and 1 Cor. is not an ontological union (for the kind of union obtains between believers and ostensibly this is not ontological). If you were to argue, however, that believers are ontologically united to each other, on the basis of their ontological union with Christ (though my counterexample to the transitivity of union shows that this does not follow in and of itself), this would be begging the question; since the passages you brought in were meant to be evidence for the claim that believers are ontologically united with Christ. In other words, the passages would only support union with Christ if you presuppose union with Christ, unless you have an alternative justification for co-believers being united with each other that does not bring in ontological union with Christ.

    My thesis is that if the union of Christ and the Church is ontological, then (per the unity that obtains between parts of the body) the unity of believers is ontological.

    But the burden was to argue for an indicative, not merely a conditional; i.e., that it is in fact the case that the union of Christ and the Church is ontological. In other words, this thesis is consistent with my being right. It could be the case both that the relevant union is not ontological and that if it were ontological believers would be ontological united with each other. Why do you affirm the antecedent of the conditional, rather than rejecting it with me? As for why I reject the antecedent, one reason – that I’ve already touched on – is that it’s not clear the conditional is true: union is not transitive. If I am united with Christ and you are united with Christ it doesn’t follow that I am united with you.

    My appeal to the face value of 2 Peter 1:4 occurred at the end of a long post (#57) wherein I supplied several passages of Scripture, some with comment, that indicate that we do indeed enjoy ontological union with God in Christ Jesus. Thus, as a kind of cumulative case, I suggested that we actually partake of God’s nature.

    Ok, but since I’ve been disputing the parts of the cumulative case, it seems that this assertion about 2 Pet 1.4 needs some independent justification on its own. There is also a key difference between affirming an interpretation of a verse based on a case from other Scripture and rejecting an interpretation of a verse based on a case from other Scripture where the rejected interpretation contradicts that broader case. E.g., if someone believes that Scripture teaches that people can lose salvation, then the broader case for that thesis may lead one to reject an interpretation of a verse that implied one cannot lose salvation. But my interpretation of 2 Pet. 1.4 does not, as far as I know, contradict the idea of ontological union. You could be right about all the other passages cited while it’s also being the case that Peter is not addressing that issue or making that thesis.

    Furthermore, I have provided a little bit of exegesis of the most critical passage in question, 2 Peter 1:4. I note that you have subsequently backed off your assertion about the quality of the RSV translation thereof, which translation you took as possibly supportive of ontological union and therefore a threat to your thesis of union as mere resemblance.

    I don’t know if I ever commented on the quality of the RSV translation; I just said it made your interpretation more plausible than the NAS (e.g.) does. But as I said, I’m not prepared to argue which is a better translation. “More plausible” is a comparative; two things can both be very implausible, and yet one is more plausible than the other, or two can be very plausible, and yet one is a little more plausible than the other. The point about the translations was comparative (and probably niggling and maybe not worth harping on); but it didn’t mean I think the RSV makes your interpretation more likely than my interpretation or a threat to it. An interpretation can be implausible on two translations, and yet comparitively better on one than the other. IOW, because of my reading the context of the passage, and because of philosophy, I find your interpretation more implausible than mine, whatever the translation, but the gap in plausibility between the two interpretations is bigger on the NAS.

  138. Tim,

    I never denied that a human was a human by virtue of its body soul composite, but that is not to say that an arm, as a mere part, is a thing independent of the quality of ‘human’. It still gains its being from the unity of the person. If you cut off an arm, at the exact instant that it is severed, it is entirely the same in composition (molecules and their relation to each other) yet it is not human.

    What does it mean to say it is not human? That it is no longer part of a human being? That its intrinsic nature has changed?

    You say the arm “gains its being” from the unity of the person. All of it? As you say, at the instant it is severed, it is “entirely the same in composition (molecules and their relations to each other).” Is not the being of the molecules a large part of the being of the arm, such that much of the being remains after the severing?

    Is any property the arm has part of its being, such that losing a property (such as being a part of a human being) amounts to losing some being?

    The Body of Christ is human in virtue of its body-soul composite just like yours and mine. But the Person of Christ pre-existed the incarnate Body[…]

    Christ’s body is not incarnate. Christ is incarnate in his body.

    […]in that unique event such that the body-soul composite was assumed into the greater divine unity. But, as shown above, a thing which does not change its essential composure does not lose its essence in such an assumption. If something you have said has shown this to be in error, it has gone over my head.

    I think we are addressing distinct things. I have not denied, as far as I am aware, that something can maintain an essential nature despite being absorbed into some higher unity. You seem to think that I am denying that Christ’s body could be united with the person of Christ without the body’s nature’s, as a distinct human nature, being somehow jeopardized in the absorption. But from my perspective I have not been maintaining that the body cannot maintain a distinctive nature while being united to the Logos, but rather I have been maintaining that the union does not transfer divinity to the body as something that literally inheres in the body and its parts themselves.

    It seems to me much of what I have been doing is rebutting a line of reasoning of yours involving the idea that Christ’s body is divine for the same reason that his (and your) body is human, namely, in virtue of being absorbed into the unity of the person. E.g., in post #44 you say: “It is precisely what makes my body human that made Christ’s Body divine (and human).” If what make Christ’s body human also makes it divine, then I have been wrong (for Christ’s body is obviously human).

    It seemed to me you have offered, as a justification for the claim that Christ’s body its divine, the idea that what makes Christ’s (and your) body human also makes it divine. I’ve argued that this is false. Christ is divine because he is the Logos; his body is human because that’s the kind of body he created and united himself to. The body’s connection to a person may be necessary for its existence as a body (since death makes the body cease to be a body), but it doesn’t mean that the nature of the body flows from the nature of the person. If, per impossible, the Logos united itself to a dog, the dog-like body would depend for its existence on the Logos, but it would be a dog-like body because that’s the kind of body it is.

    I’ll drop the Docetic reference for now but I do have a reason behind it. We can return later if it comes to that. As for the Angelic bodies, I do not see any fundamental difference in those animated bodies (theirs and theirs alone, in perfect part-owner relationship) and in the Incarnation given your standpoint.

    I’ve denied ad nauseum that the person-body relation in the Incarnation as I’ve explained it in this thread is one of ownership. As far as a part-whole relation, I’ve also maintained that our bodies are parts of us; so there shouldn’t be anything here that is threatened by an alleged parallel with angelic animations of bodies. What would help me see the alleged threat for my position here is to see it spelled out how an alternative position avoids this problem (I asked Bryan something similar in my last post to him). How does your view of the Incarnation avoid the angelic parallel? More precisely, what is it that human beings have that the angelic-animation cases lack, and how does an alternative view of the Incarnation preserve that extra thing?

  139. Mateo,

    Hmmm … if man had not fallen, the works of man would have earned him the due wage of the Beatific Vision. But Adam needed to use his free will to rebel against God so that God could implement the divine plan of the Incarnation to bring man to a final end that was even more glorious than merely beholding the Beatific Vision. Do I have that right?

    God would have given unfallen man glorified existence, sabbath rest, on the basis of his obedience/works. Ultimately on the basis of Adam’s, in particular. I don’t know what you mean by free will. God’s eternal plan was that man fall and God become incarnate and redeem fallen man. Part of redemption is bringing fallen man to the glorified state that he was created for. So it is bringing him out of wrath, but not merely to where he started, but to where he was supposed to go from where he started. This end state is more glorious for a number of reasons. There is the Incarnation, and there is the fact that the acts of God in history fro which He will be everlastingly glorified include not only creation (Rev 4) but also redemption (Rev 5).

    What would have prevented the Son of God from becoming incarnate in the terrestrial paradise if Adam had been obedient instead of rebellious?

    Nothing. I haven’t claimed that God couldn’t do it. But Scripture presents the Incarnation as a response to the Fall (Gen. 3, the seed of the woman, etc.).

    I don’t see any reason to believe that God ever rewards the sin of disobedience to his expressed will.

    I never said he did.

    Nor do I see anything in scriptures that gives credence to the idea that the sin of disobedience opens the door to man to bring man to a final end of an even greater life than the final end of the man that is obedient to God. In fact, I see the exact opposite of that belief attested to throughout the scriptures i.e. sciptures attest that the sin of disobedience to God’s expressed will brings death and loss of life to man:

    I’ve never denied that disobedience to God’s will brings death to man. But there’s this qualification called “redemption.” God saves people from the death that is the just punishment for their disobedience. For those that God saves their sins are imputed to Christ (2 Cor 5) rather than themselves (Rom. 4); it is because of Christ’s taking our sins (1 Pet 2.24) and their punishment (Col 2.13-14) that God can in fact pass over sins, refraining from punishing them (Rom 3.24-26). Hence you’ve given a false dichotomy. God’s punishing disobedience is not the “exact opposite” of an act of disobedience’s (specifically, Adam’s) opening the door to a greater end for man; for Christ takes the punishment for those who receive the greater end.

    As far as “credence” for this idea, unless you provide some Scripture that supports the idea that Christ would have come in the absence of a Fall, I think it’s most evident that an act of disobedience (Adam’s) opened the door to a greater end for man (since an end with Christ is greater than one without). Further, Scripture is replete with God’s using sin as part of bringing about greater good. Gen. 50:20; Acts 4:27-28; Rom 5:20-21, 8:18-23, 9:17, 11:11, 11:32; Rev. 5.

    Dan: Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task.

    Mateo: This is something that I suspected that at least some Calvinists believe, but I have never had anyone confirm this. I have a BIG problem with this idea.

    Anyone who has a meaningful and biblical doctrine of divine providence should believe this, Calvinist or not.

    We know that God explicitly expressed his will to Adam that he should not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You affirm that Adam needed to be obedient to God’s will as it was revealed to Adam. Can you explain to me how God’s expressed will can possibly be in conflict with his ultimate will?

    I don’t think his expressed will is in conflict with his ultimate will. God told Adam not to eat of the tree. There is no conflict because the expressed will is a command promulgated to a creature, and the ultimate will is a sovereign divine intention for the course of history. These are different kinds of things. We would have a conflict if God had a sovereign divine intention for Adam to obey the command and also one for him to disobey the command. That would be a conflict. But there is no conflict with God commanding one thing and decreeing that the command be broken. E.g., “Let my people go” in Exodus. Pharaoh was told to let the Israelites go by God and yet God explicitly tells us that he is going to harden Pharaoh so he will not comply. I don’t claim it is easy to understand, and I can see why one might think there is a tension or paradox here. But the 1st step is understanding the coherence of the claims, how both can be true; how God can sovereignly intend for a creature to violate a moral commandment. One may ask why he would do this, but that is a distinct issue. The first issue is whether you understand that there is no logical contradiction.

    Here is my big problem with what you are claiming: if God has an ultimate will that is different from what he expressly reveals to us to be His will, how can we be sure that it isn’t really God’s will to covet, steal, lie, commit adultery, murder, etc.? If God’s ultimate will can be different from what he explicitly reveals to us to be His will, how can we be sure about anything that God reveals to us?

    Although the conditionals you give aren’t completely clear, because we are working with multiple senses of “will” and you often make no specification about how you are using it in particular places, on the interpretation that I think is what you intend, I deny that either of the antecedents obtain. If God’s ultimate will were one thing and he revealed it to be something contrary, he would be a liar. God’s ultimate will (by which I understand his sovereign will or decree, that is always efficacious) is sometimes revealed to us. E.g., in Gen. 50 God tells us that he intended for Joseph to be sold into slavery; and in Acts 4 that he intended that Christ be crucified; and in the prophetical books he tells us of his bringing a nation against another nation; and in Exodus he tells us about what he is doing with Pharaoh. However, with respect to the vast majority of historical events, God does not reveal his ultimate will. Consider Joseph’s brothers. God’s ultimate will was that they sell him into slavery. However, this involved breaking God’s express will concerning moral commandments. This does not make true the antecedent of your first conditional, because giving commandments does not imply the ultimate will that they be kept. God’s “express” will is not what God expresses His (ultimate) will to be; it is prescriptions he gives people. Conflating God’s express will (what he commands people to do) with expressions or revelations of his ultimate will may lie behind your “big problem.” We can be sure of what God reveals to us because He is not a liar. The Reformed believe in the distinction between a decretive will and a “moral” will (involving, for one thing, commands) precisely because God has told us about it (e.g. with Pharaoh) and we trust him. And this is not unique to the Reformed. Molinists (originally Jesuits, but now including many Protestants) essentially have to buy the distinction as well and obviously Jansenists would have bought it too.

    One does not need to believe in pre-fall Pelagianism[…]

    If you are going to talk about “pre-fall Pelagianism” you should define what that means, because it is an idiosyncratic way to apply the term.

    […]to believe that man was predestined for an end that was more glorious than what was contained in the potential of his pre-Fall human nature. I believe that Adam could have been obedient to God because he had free will, but his obedience would never have earned for him the right to behold the Beatific Vision. I believe that the Beatific Vision can only be received by man as a gratuitous gift from God, and that it is impossible for man, under any circumstances conceivable, to put God into a position where God owes man as a just wage due the works of man the beholding of the Beatific Vision.

    I never said man could “put God into a position where God owes man” something. God is sovereign over the kinds of arrangements He is involved in with respect to what he would or would not “owe” anyone. If God offers life and blessing to one if they obey His law, then (consequently) He will be “obligated” to provide it to one who obeys (because, essentially, of His obligating himself). The language about “earning” and “owing” and “wage”, by the way, is entirely yours; I haven’t described my position about the pre-fall dispensation in those terms.

    I believe that before man was created, that he was predestined to behold the Beatific Vision. It reveals the greatness of the unconditional love of God that even though Adam rebelled against God,
    that God did not change his ultimate will for man to behold the Beatific Vision.

    And isn’t God lucky that Adam so acted and thereby revealed the greatness of that unconditional love =]

  140. Dan –

    Is there an intrinsic change in a drop of water that is consumed by a person, or does it remain the same?

  141. Matteo –

    Dan: Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task.

    Mateo: This is something that I suspected that at least some Calvinists believe, but I have never had anyone confirm this. I have a BIG problem with this idea.

    Dan: Anyone who has a meaningful and biblical doctrine of divine providence should believe this, Calvinist or not.

    Dan is correct. Aquinas teaches that all things whatsoever fall under God’s providential plan.

  142. Perry,

    You wrote that man’s inability to autonomously ascend to the divine were a problem, then it was a problem prior to the Fall. This I think is correct. This is why our first parents were given tasks, to become deified through habituation.

    So refraining from fruit-eating and procreation and gardening, if done often enough, make one divine? =] The development of character that occurs through obedience to God makes one a holy human being; to conflate this with deification renders void the moral content of the concept of a human being qua human being.

    Further, Scripture does speak of a divide between humanity and divinity as a problem as Scripture presents the incarnation of Christ as the solution, since it is in Christ that all of creation is recapitulated. (Eph 1:10)

    The question is whether the ontological divide is a problem; apparently you think this verse teaches deification?

    In the communicatio idiomatum, Christ’s flesh is deified not by a substantial or essential change, but by an energetic change. Just as heat is the activity or energy of fire, and so metal is made to glow with the heat of the fire, it does not become essentially or substantially fire. Ontological union without essential fusion.

    I don’t see the tertium quid. In the analogy, the iron is not ontologically united with the fire. The being of the fire is not shared with the being of the iron. Rather, the fire brings about certain changes in the iron.

    The moralistic gloss on 2 pet 1:4 is inadequate since theosis entails moral transformation. Your thesis has to be more than just moral transformation then, but a specific kind of moral transformation of a more strictly deontological bent it seems.

    This doesn’t follow. What you would need, it seems, is for moral transformation to entail theosis (such that a moralistic gloss would imply theosis).

    Secondly, if you take God to be simple in the Augustinian-Thomistic sense, then attributes are not properties. So it isn’t clear to me what it means to say that we partake of God’s moral attributes as you suggest.

    One can’t know whether divine attributes are properties if one doesn’t define ‘property’. I don’t think I’ve said that “we partake of God’s moral attributes.” What I’ve said is that we can resemble God in certain ways.

    Secondly, given your view of simplicity, it isn’t possible to have some of them and not all of them. It is an all or nothing deal as you noted elsewhere. So your own interpretation is inconsistent with your view of partaking of the moral attributes or so it seems to me.

    I’ve never said we partake of the moral attributes in the sense of possessing God’s own attributes within us.

    Further if it is becoming like God like one wise person is like another wise person, then the passage is incorrect, since that would mean we were partakers or sharers not in the divine nature, but in a created nature, since what we have is something created and not something divine.

    Doesn’t follow. When one says becoming like God is like one wise person’s being like another wise person, that implies that there is some parallel to be found; not necessarily that the two are the same in all respects. Things are like other things in various respects. And I never said that one of the relevant respects was the created nature of the nature we partake of. This doesn’t even make sense, because moral character is not really a proper object of creation. My moral character is not created; it is exemplified. It is not a thing, but a way I (who am a thing) am.

    Secondly, the example you give seems inadequate. God is intrinsically immortal and I become immortal derivatively and the immortality that I have is God’s immortality.

    Whether we are united with God, ontologically, i.e., at least some of our being is identical with at least some of God’s being, is what is at stake, not something that can be presupposed in an objection. But assuming that the very immortality you have is identical with God’s is to do this.

    Thirdly, both wise persons are wise by virtue of having the same property though discretely instantiated,

    That is one theory of properties; it’s not the one I accept. I do not think that any property is literally identical across multiple instances; rather there are diverse properties that resemble each other.

    But on your view God has no intrinsic properties since God is simple and so I can’t be holy as God is holy since God has no properties that we both can have since he has no properties.

    I have not denied that God has intrinsic properties; all simplicity requires is that he is identical with his intrinsic properties. All that what I have said denies is that you can be holy “as” God is holy in the sense of literally possessing His holiness. But that just drops out of my view of properties (as particulars, “tropes”, rather than universals).

    It isn’t clear than an appeal to resemblances will help either since that seems to turn on something being the same between two objects. So to say that two people are holy will entail that something is the same between them.

    Why/how? Why can’t resemblance be primitive?

    The idea of theosis is not that your essence is replaced by the divine essence, but that your essence, which itself is a divine energy/activity, is actualized hypostatically with divine power. Immortality is a divine activity. Consequently a resurrected body is still flesh, but it is divinely empowered flesh

    I don’t understand these claims.

    As for the husband and wife being one flesh, if this is to be glossed as an extrinsic or some metaphorical relation, what are we to make of saint Paul’s teaching that the believing spouse makes the unbelieving spouse holy along with their children? While it isn’t isomorphic with the union Christ has with the Church, it certainly seems stronger than your view will allow.

    I never glossed the husband-wife relationship as “extrinsic” or “metaphorical.” What is this even supposed to mean? Metaphorical of what? What I claimed was that a husband is not ontological fused with a wife, and vice versa; and hence that this hardly entails that the Christ-church relation is characterized by such a fusion. As far as a spouse making another spouse or children holy, it is easy to interpret this in a non-ontological way, for holiness itself is very often in Scripture a cultic notion that concerns divinely instituted conventions of set-apartness that does not entail particular qualities inhering within one. What exactly is “my” view supposed to allow, vis-a-vis the Christ-church relation, that falls short of a husband-wife relation? Am I going to hear the false dichotomy between ontological union and purely legal relation trotted out out again? (the dichotomy being false because not exhaustive, not because it is not exclusive.)

    You argued via an ad absurdum that if not participating in God is to be in sin, then rocks an such are sinful which is absurd. But Paul seems not to think so in Romans 8, where he speaks of the whole creation suffering on account of sin because it is cut off from God in some way due to our sin. It seems here that you are glossing sin much too narrowly in terms of personal choice, which would be absurd for rocks, birds, cheese puffs, but sin also has a wider sense of corruption and decay.

    Romans 8 says the creation was subjected to bondage and futility, not that it sinned. You yourself say Paul speaks of the creation suffering “on account of sin” and because of “our” sin.

    You seem to accept that humans can become glorified but not deified. But is the glory by which they are glorified a created glory or an uncreated glory?

    I’d say that we are created, and our resurrection bodies are created. ‘Glory’ needs to be defined. If it refers to a certain kind of value or dignity or worth, then I don’t think it even falls into the categories of created/uncreated and hence I would say “neither” to your question; for only concrete things fall into these categories. If it refers to a visible quality of a resurrection body, e.g., epiphanic light, then I’d say it is created, but not properly. That is, God creates a body with certain qualities; the proper object of creation is said to be the body itself. The qualities are created in the sense that God wills the created body to be a certain way, and its being that way is dependent on his creative will.

    You asked if being deified can admit of degrees and argue that this seems to suggest that Adam was created sinful.

    What I said, if I recall correctly, was that if the moral problem of sin was equivalent with an ontological problem of lacking God’s being within us (an equivalence Bryan, not me, alleged), then if being deified admits of degrees and Adam was created in a state of non-maximal deification then he was created sinful (at least to some degree).

    You wrote that being created is incompatible with being divine since divinity is an essential property of deity. Something created cannot be divine and vice versa. But on the view of simplicity you seem to adhere to, God has no essential properties.

    No, God does indeed have essential properties on my view. And I don’t think the 1st sentence represents what I said. The inference in it doesn’t make sense. It should be, I think, being created is incompatible with being divine since being uncreated is an essential property of whatever is divine.

    While it is true that the natures are distinct, the human nature is taken up into the divine person and properties of divinity are communicated to it, hence the communicatio idiomatum.

    Which properties of divinity are communicated to it?

    And second, the divine glory, immortality, etc. are given to the flesh of Christ quite clearly in the biblical material.

    Obviously immortality is given to it. I don’t know what you mean by the divine glory. I don’t see the transfiguration as implying that God’s being temporally inhered in Christ’s bodily parts, if this is part of what you’re getting at.

    But then what does union with Christ amount to but a contiguity of two things[…]

    sounds like a husband-wife relationship.

    It is also rather Nestorian or Monophysite to think of a human person as a body-soul composite since it conflates being an individual being, a this, with a person.

    So what is a human person then?

    Added to this is the fact that Christ is not per Chalcedon a human person or a divine-human person as the WCF 8.2 indicates. Consequently, when you wrote that “that the human person is the Logos” this falls afoul of Chalcedon. Enhypostinization of the humanity of Christ doesn’t imply a human hypostasis in Christ.

    I don’t understand the first sentence (admittedly I’m up late). Are you saying the WCF is wrong or right? If Christ is neither a human person or a divine-human person, what is he? A divine-and-not-human person?

    The notion of “fusion” is a cognitive misfire motivated by a metaphysic that has only substances and accidents and no energies.

    Well I’ve denied that fusion occurs between God and man. The notion itself is perfectly intelligible; perhaps you just mean that it doesn’t work with God. So what are energies and how are they supposed to get you ontological union between believers and God?

    I think you are correct to argue that if a body-soul composite is a human person then Nestorianism will result.

    I didn’t argue this; maybe the opposite. Bryan argued that if a body-soul composite is a human person then Nestorianism results unless we suppose the composite’s “act of being” is the Logos. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of.

    You argued that it is false that Christ’s body is to be worshipped. But what are we to make of the adoration shown to Christ’s body in the scriptures?

    Such as? Things like wiping feet or anointing with burial oil or embracing are not acts of adoration “shown to” Christ’s body. They are acts of adoration shown to his person through interacting with his body.

    Is the adoration passed on through the created human nature to the divine person, as from an image to the prototype that it represents[…]

    It doesn’t need to be passed on through the human nature; it can be directly given to the person. Can a husband not adore his wife immediately upon seeing her, or does his adoration have to focus on her body and then only mediately her person? In a religious context, adoration of an image per se, i.e., that is adoration of the image itself, is idolatry and does not pass on to anything.

    I’d argue to the contrary of your claim that God can “upgrade” his creation without theosis. He can’t since the upgrade requires an intrinsic and hypostatic union. A mere exercise of power would overturn the logos or nature of respective things, which is why it required a recapitulation of all things in Christ as Paul says.

    Two unargued assertions concerning the very issue in question. A mere exercise of power would overturn the nature of things? We’re talking about the one who upholds these things in their existence at every moment and keeps their nature from dissolving into nothing by his exercise of power.

    You argue that the union is not ontological since the disciples being one with each other is not ontological. But I think this is wrong and here’s why. You are assuming it seems that the language of being one with respect to the Father, Son and Spirit is one of essence, while this obviously can’t be true of the disciples, their unity must be significantly less.

    Does it seem that I am assuming that? Where? The relevant union in view between Father and Son is not ontological union because, as I’ve said, the relevant unity is said to obtain between human beings too. It is true that the Father Son and Spirit share being, but these places in John are not good prooftexts for that. That is not the kind of union in view, even if that kind of union obtains.

    What do you mean exactly when you say you are united to Christ? What kind of union is it and what is the thing you are united with? The divine person? The human nature? If you are united to Christ through a declaration and imputation and that moral credit is a created thing, since Christ earned it on earth, how does this not either place a created intermediary between God and believers or imply that Christ is a creature?

    Being united with Christ involves transformative, Spiritual, forensic, covenantal, ecclesiological and eschatological dimensions. It involves e.g. being a new creation, being indwelt by His Spirit, being sealed thereby for the day of redemption, being adopted as the Father’s son, being seen by the Father through Christ and his merits, being identified with Christ in persecution and suffering. The thing I am united with is Christ, the person. It doesn’t make any sense to me to say that “moral credit is a created thing.”

  143. Tim,

    Is there an intrinsic change in a drop of water that is consumed by a person, or does it remain the same?

    If a drop is an aggregate of H2O molecules, the drop is destroyed whenever its molecules are scattered, which probably happens fairly quickly after it goes down the throat. As for each H2O molecule, I’d say that when the body absorbs it (speaking now of just one of them, but applying the same principle to them all), i.e., makes it a part of itself (such as through digestion), then there is a change in the intrinsic nature of the H2O molecule (though I’m open to this being false). The change is due to its becoming part of a biological organism. The nature of the change is unclear to me; that is, I intuit a change, but it’s hard to specify what the change really is or consists in.

  144. Andrew,

    Perry and Dan,

    You have each, from different angles, claimed that ontological union with God is inconsistent with divine simplicity. I will go back and look over those claims, but for the sake of clarification and focus could you restate the gist of your arguments? I have thought about it and cannot see how participation in God and divine simplicity are incompatible. I mean, if our participation in the divine essence entailed some change in God, or made God somehow dependent upon us, then I could see the force of the objection here. As it is, I don’t. Thanks.

    The problem simplicity poses for union with creatures (as I am presenting it) is not that it would involve a change in God, nor that it would make God dependent on a creature, but rather it would involve a division in God. (1) God has no parts. Further, it follows from (1) that (2) God is identical with his intrinsic attributes. If God were distinct from, say, his immateriality, or his power, or his knowledge, then we would have divisions in God and distinct parts, contra (1).

    If there is some being such that it is both part of my being and part of God’s being (which ontological union involves), this shared being is all of God’s being, God’s entire being (from (1)). However, if all of God’s being is part of my being, then all his attributes are part of my being (by (2)). But it is plainly false that my being, whether in whole or part, is a timeless and omnipotent and immaterial spirit, for instance.

    The force of the argument may be elucidated by noting how denying simplicity avoids it. Suppose one held that God were not simple. it would be easier to maintain that I share being with God, for one could hold that such a sharing, or such an overlap, does not bring in its wake the entirety of the divine attributes; just as two circles can partially overlap because they have parts, whereas if a circle “overlaps” with a point then the entirety of the point necessarily is in the circle.

  145. Dan,

    Your argument shows that participation in the divine nature involves composition in the one who thus participates. It does not demonstrate that this participation involves composition in God, since God does not participate in the divine nature.

    There is no tertium quid such as you posit in the first part of the second paragraph.

    As for the assertion at the end of the second paragraph: using the conclusion of your argument as a premise in the same is entirely unconvincing.

    [I deleted my initial response to the last paragraph, because I am in haste and what I had written did not even make sense to me.]

  146. Andrew,

    Your argument shows that participation in the divine nature involves composition in the one who thus participates. It does not demonstrate that this participation involves composition in God, since God does not participate in the divine nature.

    The argument does not show that participation in the divine nature involves composition in the one who thus participates. All the argument is premised on is that there is some shared being. One could think that that shared being includes merely some of God’s being and merely some of the man’s being, or all of God’s being and merely some of the man’s being, or merely some of God’s being and all of the man’s being, or all of God’s being and all of the man’s being. I agree the argument does not demonstrate that participation involves composition in God; in fact I emphasized the opposite, that given simplicity God’s being in its entirety, rather than some part, is shared with the man. It’s unclear what you mean when you say “God does not participate in the divine nature.” Since we defined participation in the divine nature as sharing being with God, God certainly does participate in the divine nature; as he has the same being as the divine nature. He is the divine nature. Conversely, if God did not participate in the divine nature, then all of God’s being is distinct from all of the divine nature’s being; which is false (His being is the divine nature’s being).

    There is no tertium quid such as you posit in the first part of the second paragraph

    I didn’t posit a third thing; I posited an overlap in being, being that is both had by the man and by God; and if you deny that there is this then you’re denying that there is ontological union! It’s been defined as a literal sharing of being, i.e., there is being that is both part of the being of the man and part of the being of God.

    As for the assertion at the end of the second paragraph: using the conclusion of your argument as a premise in the same is entirely unconvincing.

    I did not use the conclusion of my argument as a premise. Here is the premise:(C) it is plainly false that my being, whether in whole or part, is a timeless and omnipotent and immaterial spirit,. Here is the conclusion: I am not ontologically united to God. Here are the other premises that lead from this premise to the conclusion: (A) if I am ontologically united to God, then my being includes, either as whole or part, all of God’s being, the entire divine being. And: (B) If my being includes all of God’s being, then it includes all the divine attributes. C is a denial of B’s consequent, which entails the denial of B’s antecedent, which, being A’s consequent, entails a denial of A’s antecedent, which is the conclusion: I am not ontologically united with God. (A) and (B) both flow from the doctrine of simplicity. God’s being cannot be possessed by another only in part, since there are no parts; it is either all or nothing. And God’s being is identical with His intrinsic attributes (e.g., he doesn’t have goodness, like creatures, He is his goodness); hence (B).

    Do you find (C) unconvincing merely because you thought it was my conclusion, such that you thought I had committed a fallacy? Or do you actually think (C) is false? If so, please explain.

    I don’t see how you can maintain union without covertly either re-construing ontological union or denying divine simplicity, such that we can be united to part of God without being united with all his attributes. Divine simplicity precludes a model where two circles overlap (as if linked rings). Circles have spatial parts; the more apt analogy would be a geometrical point, partless. Just as a two-dimensional figure can’t have, within its being (borders), a point without having the entire point, you can’t have God’s being without having all of it, and all of Him, since his being is Him and His features/attributes.

  147. Dan,

    For one who subscribes to divine simplicity, (C) is unconvincing because ontological participation in the divine nature, per simplicity, involves ontological participation in timelessness, immateriality, etc., which is what you claim, in this premise, is “plainly false.”

    Since I subscribe to both simplicity and salvation as participation in the divine nature, I also maintain that (C) is false. However, I do admit that our real participation in God is not plainly true. Deification cannot be verified the way that, say, my pulse can be verified.

    Since we defined participation in the divine nature as sharing being with God, God certainly does participate in the divine nature; as he has the same being as the divine nature. He is the divine nature.

    I do not think that God shares being with God; hence, God does not participate in the divine nature. I take it that “God has the same being as the divine nature” and “God is the divine nature” do not mean the same thing. I affirm the latter proposition.

    This is the bit in which I thought you were positing some third thing:

    If there is some being such that it is both part of my being and part of God’s being (which ontological union involves), this shared being is all of God’s being, God’s entire being (from (1)).

    This seemed to posit three entities: (1) God, (2) a man, and (3) the divine nature (the “shared” being). Since I think that there is no distinction between (1) and (3), I do not think that there is “some being” that is “both part of my being and part of God’s being.”

  148. Response to Dan’s post #139

    Dan: God would have given unfallen man glorified existence, sabbath rest, on the basis of his obedience/works.
    … If you are going to talk about “pre-fall Pelagianism” you should define what that means, because it is an idiosyncratic way to apply the term.

    I define Pre-fall Pelagianism as this (your words): “God would have given unfallen man glorified existence, sabbath rest, on the basis of his obedience/works.”
    See also Bryan Cross’s post # 10 in this thread where he gives the theological reasons for calling this Pelagianism.

    Dan: I don’t know what you mean by free will.

    Calvin taught that Adam had free will in the terrestrial paradise, and I agree with Calvin on that point:

    Institutes of the Christian Religion

    BOOK I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE CREATOR.

    CHAPTER 15. STATE IN WHICH MAN WAS CREATED. THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL – THE IMAGE OF GOD – FREE WILL – ORIGINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    section 8. Free choice and Adam’s responsibility

    … In this upright state, man [before the Fall] possessed freedom of will, by which, if he chose, he was able to obtain eternal life. It were here unseasonable to introduce the question concerning the secret predestination of God, because we are not considering what might or might not happen, but what the nature of man truly was. Adam, therefore, might have stood if he chose, since it was only by his own will that he fell

    Dan: God’s eternal plan was that man fall and God become incarnate and redeem fallen man.

    I agree that it was God’s plan to become incarnate, but I don’t agree that it was God’s plan for Adam to be disobedient. God doesn’t even tempt man to sin; less yet does God will for man to sin!

    Dan: Part of redemption is bringing fallen man to the glorified state that he was created for.

    I also believe that before man was created, that God had a plan to bring man to a glorified state. I don’t agree that God needed an act of willful disobedience by Adam to bring man to this glorified state.

    Dan: This end state is more glorious for a number of reasons. There is the Incarnation, and there is the fact that the acts of God in history fro which He will be everlastingly glorified include not only creation (Rev 4) but also redemption (Rev 5).

    I agree that the end state of man is more glorious because of the Incarnation. That is why I believe that if Adam had been obedient, that the Word would have become incarnate in the terrestrial Paradise. I don’t agree that the end state of man is more glorious because of man’s sin.

    Mateo: What would have prevented the Son of God from becoming incarnate in the terrestrial paradise if Adam had been obedient instead of rebellious?

    Dan: Nothing. I haven’t claimed that God couldn’t do it. But Scripture presents the Incarnation as a response to the Fall (Gen. 3, the seed of the woman, etc.).

    I disagree with this interpretation of scriptures, i.e. that the Incarnation is a response to the Fall, as if the Fall were necessary for the Incarnation. My belief is that is was always God’s plan for the Word to become Incarnate, and that Adam’s disobedience did not change God’s will to become the Incarnate Word.

    Mateo: Nor do I see anything in scriptures that gives credence to the idea that the sin of disobedience opens the door to man to bring man to a final end of an even greater life than the final end of the man that is obedient to God. In fact, I see the exact opposite of that belief attested to throughout the scriptures i.e. scriptures attest that the sin of disobedience to God’s expressed will brings death and loss of life to man

    Dan: I’ve never denied that disobedience to God’s will brings death to man. But there’s this qualification called “redemption.” God saves people from the death that is the just punishment for their disobedience.

    We agree that disobedience to God’s will brings death to man. I believe we also agree that it is through Christ’s death and resurrection that men are saved from the just punishment for their disobedience.

    Dan: For those that God saves their sins are imputed to Christ (2 Cor 5) rather than themselves (Rom. 4); it is because of Christ’s taking our sins (1 Pet 2.24) and their punishment (Col 2.13-14) that God can in fact pass over sins, refraining from punishing them (Rom 3.24-26).

    We could get into a discussion about different theologies of atonement, but I don’t want to do that on this thread. I agree with this by C.S. Lewis:

    Mere Christianity: We are told that Christ was killed for us, and that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed. Any theories we build up as to how Christ’s death did all this are, in my view, quite secondary: mere plans and diagrams to be left alone if they do not help us, and even if the do help us, not to be confused with the thing itself.”

    Scripture also testifies that Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world. That is why the Catholic can preach to any man that “Christ died for your sins”.

    1 John 2:1-2 Jesus Christ the righteous … is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

    Dan: Hence you’ve given a false dichotomy. God’s punishing disobedience is notthe “exact opposite” of an act of disobedience’s (specifically, Adam’s) opening the door to a greater end for man; for Christ takes the punishment for those who receive the greater end.

    What false dichotomy have I created? I was trying to make the point that I don’t see anything in the Scriptures where God ever rewards sinning, because everything I see in scriptures shows that God punishes sinning. I readily acknowledge that Christ bore my sins on the Cross. Oh, such unfathomable mercy – how great is our God!

    My point is that I am not being rewarded by God for my sinning, nor am I being brought to a greater end because of my sinning. I am being brought to a greater end because of God’s unbelievable love for me in spite of my sinfulness:

    1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.

    Dan: As far as “credence” for this idea, unless you provide some Scripture that supports the idea that Christ would have come in the absence of a Fall, I think it’s most evident that an act of disobedience (Adam’s) opened the door to a greater end for man (since an end with Christ is greater than one without).

    What is “most evident” to you is not at all evident to me! I agree that man has a greater end because of Christ, but I don’t agree that there are any Scriptures that show that Christ needed sin to become the Incarnate Word.

    Dan: Further, Scripture is replete with God’s using sin as part of bringing about greater good. Gen. 50:20; Acts 4:27-28; Rom 5:20-21, 8:18-23, 9:17, 11:11, 11:32; Rev. 5.

    I agree that God can cause good to emerge from evil. What I don’t agree with is that God needed any sin whatsoever to bring us to that greater good.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Providence and the scandal of evil.

    311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

    For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.

    Dan: Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task.

    Mateo: This is something that I suspected that at least some Calvinists believe, but I have never had anyone confirm this. I have a BIG problem with this idea.

    Dan: Anyone who has a meaningful and biblical doctrine of divine providence should believe this, Calvinist or not.

    Calvin believed that Adam could have been obedient to God if Adam had exercised his free will to be obedient. Calvin also believed that if Adam had been obedient, that Adam would have reached the end for which he was created. (See above quote from the Institutes). I think that Calvin was completely wrong to say that God had a secret will for Adam to be disobedient. Adam only knew what God expressly told him, and if we can’t trust in what God expressly reveals to us, what can we trust in?

    Dan: We would have a conflict if God had a sovereign divine intention for Adam to obey the command and also one for him to disobey the command. That would be a conflict.

    I agree! And that is why I am confused about what point your are trying to make about the difference between God’s expressed will and God’s ultimate will. Why do you say that you believe that “it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task?” Calvin believed that Adam could have achieved the end for which he was created by being obedient. Doesn’t that show that God’s ultimate will (i.e. the end for which man is created) is NOT determined by whether or not Adam was obedient?

  149. Dan: Of course, I also believe that it was never God’s ultimate will that pre-fallen man succeed at his task.

    Mateo: This is something that I suspected that at least some Calvinists believe, but I have never had anyone confirm this. I have a BIG problem with this idea.

    Dan: Anyone who has a meaningful and biblical doctrine of divine providence should believe this, Calvinist or not.

    Tim Troutman: Dan is correct. Aquinas teaches that all things whatsoever fall under God’s providential plan.

    The CCC’s section on Divine Providence:

    GOD CARRIES OUT HIS PLAN: DIVINE PROVIDENCE

    Providence and secondary causes

    306 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan.

    Tim, I don’t see anything in this section of the CCC that supports Dan’s idea that to believe in a “biblical” doctrine of divine providence, that I need to accept Dan’s two propositions:

    1.) That it was never God’s ultimate will that Adam should be obedient to God
    2.) That God needed Adam to sin before He could become the Incarnate Word.

    God makes use of man’ co-operation to serve his “master plan”. I believe that we both agree to that. The question to my mind is this, does God need man’s disobedience to implement his “master plan”?

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    410 After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall. …

    412 But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, “Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away.” And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'”

    St. Thomas Aquinas says that sin does not prevent God from raising up human nature even after sin. The CCC agrees with Aquinas on that point. The difference that I have with Dan has to do with this controversy:

    Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma Dr. Ludwig Ott

    Part 2 The Work of the Redeemer

    Section 2. Controvery as to the Conditioned or Unconditioned Predestination of the Incarnation

    There is a controversy between the Thomists and the Scotists as to whether the prime motive of the Incarnation of the Son of God was the redemption of mankind, so that without the Fall of the first parents the Incarnation would not have taken place (conditioned predestination of the Incarnation) or whether it was the glory of God. In the Scotist view the Son of God, in order to crown the work of the Creation, would have become man even without the Fall, but in an impassible body (unconditioned or absolute predestination of the Incarnation). The conditioned predestination of the Incarnation is taught by theThomists, the unconditioned by the Scotists …

    The Church (to my knowledge) has never definitively settled this dispute between the Thomists and the Scotists. Obviously, I believe with the Scotitsts in the absolute predestination of the Incarnation. Until this controversy is definitively settled, a Catholic is free to side with either the Thomists or the Scotists.

    Tim, do you believe in the unconditioned or the conditioned predestination of the Incarnation?

  150. Matteo – I don’t have strong opinions one way other the other on the unconditioned vs conditioned predestination of the Incarnation. As for the issue of providence and the Fall, it’s starting to get off topic so I have started a new thread with my reply.

  151. Mateo: Dan’s two propositions:

    1.) That it was never God’s ultimate will that Adam should be obedient to God
    2.) That God needed Adam to sin before He could become the Incarnate Word.

    I never affirmed 2; this is a misrepresentation. In fact I explicitly denied it:

    Mateo: What would have prevented the Son of God from becoming incarnate in the terrestrial paradise if Adam had been obedient instead of rebellious?

    Dan: Nothing. I haven’t claimed that God couldn’t do it. But Scripture presents the Incarnation as a response to the Fall (Gen. 3, the seed of the woman, etc.).

    And regarding 1. I didn’t say it was never God’s ultimate will that Adam be obedient to God. Adam was very often obedient to God. I said it was never God’s ultimate will that Adam succeed at his creational mandate and thereby achieve eschatological blessing by works.

Leave Comment

Subscribe without commenting