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Word of Life Meeting 10

27 Jan

Today, we met and discussed the theandric union, the idea that Jesus is fully God and fully man. While we have discussed this topic before in several different forms, this chapter focuses exlusively on Jesus as both God and Man at once. It puts a great deal of emphasis on Jesus’ “two distinct natures” being included in “one unconfused Person” (remember these are two of the four pillars of Christology).

At a superficial glance, this may seem like it is beginning to get into unnecessary hair-splitting, almost as if we are attempting to over-define something we can’t completely understand anyway. But something to remember here is that the classic definitions and creeds sprang from the efforts of the Church Fathers to stave off early heretical teachings.

For instance, suppose that we deny Jesus had two distinct natures (this is called Monophysitism). Instead of being fully God and fully Man, He would be a weird mush of the two, a demigod of sorts whom we could neither fully identify with nor rightly worship.

Or, suppose we deny that Jesus was one unconfused Person (Diophysitism actually teaches this). The result is an image of someone with multiple personality disorder. Perhaps we would be forced to picture Him as swinging back and forth between the two extremes, whether involuntarily or voluntarily. Or perhaps we would picture Him as having a constant internal dialogue of two distinct people trying to share one human body. We end up with someone we can neither fully know nor trust.

So when approaching this “great mystery of godliness” (1Tim 3:16), there comes a point where we need to embrace by faith the idea that Jesus is fully God and fully Man. Our little Western/Greek mindset short-circuits, because we’re trying to make the nature of God line up like a math problem. We have learned to think critically, to classify things, to dissect things, to chart things out. This, to us, is what it looks like to grasp and understand something. But we tend to forget that this process only works well on things that are finite, and only completely works for things that are inanimate. God is living and transcendant. Good luck trying to file Him away in the annals of science and logic.

Something worth noting here is that the ancient Hebrew mindset of theology proper is much different than our “modern” Greek one (also note: whether or not you have ever been to Greece, in the West, all of our education, logic, philosophy, etc. can be traced back to guys like Plato and Aristotle). Greeks tend to approach God asking how He works. Hebrews tend to approach God asking who He is. This is known as the “divine identity,” seen throughout the Old Testament. Rather than piecing together God’s attributes and making lists, they look at who God is by how He has revealed Himself. God is the One who stretched out the heavens by Himself (Isa 40, Ps 104). God is also the One who showed up to Abraham and prophesied the birth of Isaac (Gen 18). God is the One who was on the top of Mount Sinai (Ex 19), and the One who was in the still small voice (1Kings 19). By approaching the question of Christ’s nature asking the question, “Who is He?” instead of “What is He?”, we will find ourselves much less offended and much more alive in love.

I don’t think the Greek mindset is inherently evil. I think it’s a really weak starting ground for trying to understand the Hebrew scriptures, but there is definite merit to the Greek-influenced idea of studying God’s attributes and nature. I believe this is part of the reason why God’s vision is for Jew and Gentile to become “One new man” (Eph 2:15), because we have so much to learn from each other, “to the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom 1:16). I don’t think we need to discard anything in which we detect a hint of Greek-ness, but when our Greek-ness gets in the way of our faith-ness, the Greek-ness has to be set aside(…-ness).

Speaking of Greek philosophical ideas, we skipped a little section of our book in our discussion today. If I remember correctly, it was from page 172-175. Basically, it opened by saying how no analogy could do justice to the theandric union. Then it went on to say that if we were to try and use an analogy, the best one would be of the union of a human soul and a human spirit making one person. While the book admits the shortfall of such analogy, it continued to try and explain it and draw connections. When I was reading through this section on my own before the study, I kept thinking,  Psychosomatic what? …Eucharistic what? I’m not even sure what’s being said, much less how this helps me love or understand Jesus more… So yeah, in short, we skipped that part.

My favorite part of the meeting is when we went through the Scriptures which speak of Jesus being both divine and human. We made the chart below…

 

Fully God

Fully Man

Isaiah 9:6

Immanuel – God with us

 

The Son who was born

Romans 1:3-4

Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection

Seed of David according to the flesh

Romans 9:5

Over all, eternally blessed God

Jewish ancestry according to the flesh

 

1Corinthians 2:8

The Lord of glory

Crucified

 

Romans 8:3

God’s own Son

Likeness of sinful flesh

 

Colossians 1:15-20

Image of invisible God, Creator, fullness of Father

 

The blood of His cross

Colossians 2:9

Fullness of the Godhead

Dwelling bodily

 

Philippians 2:6-8

In the form of God, equal with God

Made of no reputation, form of a bondservant, likeness of man, appearance of man, obedient to death

1 Timothy 2:5

Mediator (representing God)

Mediator (representing Man), fully Man

1 Timothy 3:16

God

Manifested in the flesh

 

John 1:14

Word

 

Flesh

Next Week: Finishing out chapter 6. It should be good!

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