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Dogmatology Seminar 17 Theology Proper

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Andrew Hodge                                                                                                 5th February 2006

CMI Dogmatology Seminar 17

The Humanity of God the Son

L.P.Chafer "Systematic Theology" Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Dallas Theological Seminary 1948 and 1976  I, 365-372  God the Son: His Humanity

 

 

Examine the errant views of Jesus’ humanity:

In a true sense, the Trinitarian controversies attacked the Deity and humanity of Christ, and their union into one nature (see Seminar 12).

The following chart gives a summary of the major errant views:

PERVERSIONS OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST14
Party Time Reference HumanNature DivineNature
Docetists Late 1st century 1 John 4:1–3 Denied Affirmed
Ebionites 2nd century Irenaeus Affirmed Denied
Arians 4th century Condemned at NiceaA.D. 325 Affirmed Reduced
Appollinarians 4th century Condemned at Constantinople,A.D. 431 Reduced Affirmed
Nestorians 5th century Condemned at Ephesus, A.D. 431 Affirmed Affirmed15
Eutychians 5th century Condemned at Chalcedon, A.D. 451 Reduced Reduced16

[1]

The charts appended to my notes for Seminar 15 give a much fuller treatment of this.

Docetism was historically (1st Century) the initial category of error. Docetists denied the genuine humanity of Christ ie Christ appeared to be human but was really just divine. This concept was associated with the inherent ‘evilness’ of the physical world and ‘goodness’ of man as taught by Marcion and the Gnostics. Although they affirm Christ’s deity, clearly He could not redeem humanity if He were not also human (Hebrews 2:14, 1 John 4:1-3).

The Ebionites (2nd Century) believed that Christ was not pre-existent and received the Spirit at His baptism. The proponents of this view were Judaizers who were legalists. Although clearly monotheist, they denied the genuine Personal Deity of Christ. Only a fully Divine Christ is worthy of worship (John 1:1, 20:28), only a Divine Christ can satisfy the just demand of an infinitely holy God (1 John 1:9), and God and scripture would be lying when they affirm Jesus’ pre-existence (John 1:1-2, Hebrews 13:8).

The Arians also denied the genuine Deity of Christ, limiting Him to being the first and greatest created Being. I had accepted that this prerogative belonged to Satan (Ezekiel 28:12). Being created, Christ then could not be fully God, co-equal in a Trinity, but subordinate to the Father instead. He was only homoiousia (like) rather than  homoousia (consubstantial). This logically extends to a form of polytheism. The same objections apply to this as to the Ebionites - only a Divine Christ is worthy of worship, only a Divine Christ can save.

The Appollinarians (who followed Appollinarius, Bishop of Loadicea - not a good start [Revelation 3], although he did not teach until the 4th Century) denied the full humanity of Christ, giving Him instead the Divine Logos in place of a human mind, so that the man Christ had a human body and a human soul, but not a human spirit. This view was a response to Arianism, the pendulum swinging to the opposite end of the Deity-humanity spectrum. Justyn Martyr was one of the prominent proponents of this doctrine, but it was condemned at three Councils (Antioch in AD 378 and 379, Constantinople AD 381). This idea was associated with the assumption that the Logos of Christ was the same as the capacity to reason in every man (which is clearly heretical; although we are admonished to ‘have the mind of Christ’, we don’t have it as a matter of course). The Appollinarians did at least affirm the Deity and humanity of Christ, but failed to recognise that if Christ did not have a human mind, He could not be truly human (Hebrews 2:14, 1 John 4:1-3). This view is clearly contrary to Scripture - see below.

The Nestorians (5th Century) denied the full unity of the two natures of Christ - union was ‘moral’ not ‘organic’. Hence there were two persons, with the Divine in control over the human. This view was condemned by the Synod at Ephesus 431AD because the bishops wanted to guard against the heresy that Christ was ‘adopted’ by Mary. Instead they affirmed that Mary was theotokos ie ‘the one who bore the Son of God’, which has been twisted down through the ages by Catholicism to mean ‘Mother of God’. Nestorius at the Ephesus synod argued for ‘Christotokos’ which in many respects, looking back, would have been preferable. Perhaps the only argument for Nestorianism is that the human Jesus, who died, is distinguished from the Divine Jesus who could not die, as an aid to understanding the ‘union’ between the two natures. This of course means that the Divine side of Christ was not involved in the sacrifice of the Cross, could not therefore satisfy the Father’s justice and we could not be saved (Revelation1:12-18).

The Eutychians (5th Century) denied any distinction between the two natures, the human being swallowed by the Divine to create a third entity which was different from either of the two original natures. This is termed monophysitism , fundamentally the opposite of Nestorianism. This view must accept that Christ was neither fully God nor fully man, and could not therefore fulfil the tasks of either. From October 8th to November 1st 451 AD, a large church council convened at Constantinople and produced the Chalcedonian Definition which guarded against Appollinarianism, Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

2Wayne Grudem "Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith" Abridged by Jeff Purswell  Intervarsity Press, Leicester, England 1999 pp243-244

3ibid p244

To this day this definition has been the standard orthodoxy on the Person of Christ2. The complete Definition may be found in Grudem3 and is an excellent description of the Scriptural view of the hypostatic union.

Chart and explain the prophecies of a human Messiah:

The two following charts are taken from H. Wayne House4:

32. Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled in Christ (Presented in the Order of Their Fulfillment)
Scripture Stating Subject of Scripture Stating
Prophecy Prophecy Fulfillment
Genesis 3: 15 Born of the seed of a woman Galatians 4:4
Genesis 12:2-3 Born of the seed of Abraham Matthew 1: 1
Genesis 17: 19 Born of the seed of Isaac Matthew 1:2
Numbers 24:17 Born of the seed of Jacob Matthew 1:2
Genesis 49: 1 0 Descended from the tribe of Judah Luke 3:33
Isaiah 9:7 Heir to the throne of David Luke 1 :32-33
Daniel 9:25 Time for Jesus' birth Luke 2: 1-2
Isaiah 7:14 Born of a virgin Luke 1 :26-27, 30-31
Micah 5:2 Born in Bethlehem Luke 2:4-7
Jeremiah 31 : 15 Slaughter of the innocents Matthew 2: 16-18
Hosea 11:1 Flight to Egypt Matthew 2: 14-15
Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3: 1 Preceded by a forerunner Luke 7:24, 27
Psalm 2:7 Declared the Son of God Matthew 3:16-17
Isaiah 9:1-2 Galilean ministry Matthew 4: 13-17
  .  
Deuteronomy 18: 15 The prophet to come Acts 3:20, 22
Isaiah 61:1-2 Came to heal the broken hearted Luke 4:18-19
Isaiah 53:3 Rejected by his own (the Jews) John 1: 11
Psalm 110:4 A priest after the order of Melchizedek Hebrews 5:5-6
Zechariah 9:9 Triumphal entry Mark 11: 7, 9, 11

 
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Scripture Stating Subject of Scripture Stating  
Prophecy Prophecy Fulfillment  
Psalm 41 :9 Betrayed by a friend Luke 22:47, 48  
Zechariah 11: 12-13 Sold for thirty pieces of silver Matthew 26:15; 27:5-7  
Psalm 35: 11 Accused by false witness Mark 14:57-58  
      .
Isaiah 53:7 Silent to accusations Mark 15:4, 5  
Isaiah 50:6 Spat upon and smitten Matthew 26:67  
Psalm 35: 19 Hated without reason John 15:24, 25  
Isaiah 53:5 Vicarious sacrifice Romans 5:6, 8  
Isaiah 53: 12 Crucified with transgressors Mark 15:27, 28  
Zechariah 12: 1 0 Hands pierced John 20:27  
Psalm 22:7-8 Scorned and mocked Luke 23:35  
Psalm 69:21 Given vinegar and gall Matthew 27:34  
Psalm 109:4 Prayer for his enemies Luke 23:34  
    .  
Psalm 22: 18 Soldiers gambled for his coat Matthew 27:35  
Psalm 34:20 No bones broken John 19:32-33, 36  
Zechariah 12: 1 0 Side pierced John 19:34  
Isaiah 53:9 Buried with the rich Matthew 27:57-60  
Psalm 16:10; 49:15 Would rise from the dead Mark 16:6-7  
Psalm 68:18 Would ascend to God's right hand Mark 16:19  

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It should be noted that the title of Messianic Prophecies of the OT fulfilled in the NT all predict a Messiah who comes physically to earth, is physically resurrected, and physically ascends to return to heaven, completely identifying with our humanity and in the process proving His own. A similar list is contained in the Thompson Chain Reference (4306b), and a full treatment is given by Herbert Lockyer5.

            Chafer notes that OT passages stating Christ’s coming in His humanity fall into two categories:

1.      Types. It is obvious that where blood is shed, a body sacrificed, or a typical person appears, the human element is indicated. The difficulty lies in mistakenly separating the human from the Divine because only the blood of the Divine Christ is sufficient atonement for sin. The concept of the union of the two natures is not easy to comprehend when it is required to ascribe human blood to a Divine nature. Nevertheless it must be so else salvation is impossible. Chafer says there are about 50 OT types representing the humanity of Christ.

2.      Prophecy. Multiple scriptures prophecy the coming of a physical Messiah/Christ eg Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, Job 9:32-33.

Cite the evidences of Christ’s humanity:

1.   Born of a woman Luke 1:31-35 and termed “fruit of the loins,” “her           firstborn,” “of this man’s seed,” “seed of David,” “His father David,” “the seed of Abraham,” “made of a woman,” “sprang out of Judah.” 6

2.      Received a human name - Jesus. There are 4 OT and one NT characters with the same name. Also called “the Son of Man” and “the Man Christ Jesus”

3.      Jesus possessed a human body (multiple scriptures including 1 John 4:2-3), soul (Matthew 26:38) and spirit (John 13:21). It should be remembered that there are few references to the soul and spirit of Christ, the latter most often referring to the Holy Spirit.

4.      He displayed human limitations. I cannot improve or summarise the passage that Chafer uses to illustrate this:

4 H. Wayne House  Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1992 pp60-61

5 Herbert Lockyer  All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible  Lamplighter Books (Zondervan), Grand Rapids, Michigan  1973

6Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. Originally Published: Dallas, Tex. : Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948., Vol. 1, Page 368-369. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993.

“He was weary; yet He called the weary to Himself for rest. He was hungry; yet He was “the bread of life.” He was thirsty; yet He was “the water of life.” He was in an agony; yet He healed all manner of sicknesses and soothed every pain. He “grew, and waxed strong in spirit”; yet He was from all eternity. He was tempted; yet He, as God, could not be tempted. He was self-limited in knowledge; yet He was the wisdom of God. He said, “My Father is greater

 than I” (with reference to His humiliation, being made for a little season lower than the angels); yet He also said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” “I and my Father are one.” He prayed, which is always human; yet He Himself answered prayer. He said, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness”; yet all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth. He slept on a pillow in the boat; yet He arose and rebuked the storm. He was baptized, which was only a human act; yet at that time God declared Him to be His Son. He walked two long days’ journey to Bethany; yet He knew the moment that Lazarus died. He wept at the tomb; yet He called the dead to arise. He confessed that He would be put to death; yet He had but a moment before received Peter’s inspired declaration that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. He said, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” yet John tells us, “He needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” He was hungry; yet He could turn stones into bread. This He did not do; for had He done so, He would not have suffered as men suffer. He said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” yet it was that very God to whom He cried who was “in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” He dies; yet He is eternal life. He freely functioned in His earthlife within that which was perfectly human, and He as freely functioned in His earth-life within that which was perfectly divine. His earth-life, therefore, testifies as much to His humanity as to His Deity, and both of these revelations are equally true.”7

Chafer also reminds us that Christ has the offices of Prophet, Priest and King all of which to a greater or lesser degree depend on His humanity.

5.      Death and Resurrection. Death in terms of humanity requires a physical life to be terminated. What spiritual horrors Jesus voluntarily journeyed through cannot be imagined.

The disciples gazed at a physically resurrected body as Christ showed Himself by many infallible proofs, and as He was seen by them as He ascended back to His Father.

6.   Second Advent and Millennial reign - both physically appreciable and physically necessary in order to occupy the literal Throne of David.

 

Defend the benefits of maintaining a balanced view of the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ our Lord:

As noted above, imbalances of varying degrees result in varying levels of heresy, blasphemy, and reducing the natures of Christ to a point where He could not in fact achieve salvation for anyone (let alone the proponent of the heresy!). Working back from the fact that I am saved, the two natures of Christ had to remain in a position where He was indeed capable of achieving that, in accord with revealed, simple, literally interpreted Scripture.

 

Identify the consequences of an imbalanced view of the humanity and deity of Christ on our theology and lives:

See above and await the rigours of the Seminar.

7ibid p369-370


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15 15. Nestorians believed that Christ was two persons.

16 16. Eutychians taught that Christ had one mixed nature, neither fully human nor fully divine.

[1]Enns, Paul P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997, c1989.

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