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Divinity and humanity of Christ
  • What are the different views on the unity of the two? ie. Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox.

    It is my understanding, that this is what caused a clash in the fourth council (Council of Chalcedon).

    We stood by our position that Christ's humanity and divinity were united in full to the person of Christ. In other words, Christ was 100% God and 100% human in the same time (Miaphysite).

    However, I came into a discussion with someone and a few questions arose. If Christ was fully human, then as a human, you are limited. You cannot be everywhere at once, you are limited by the needs of your body, etc... Now if that is the case, God chooses to limit His divinity. How then, can we at that point say He is 100% God.

    Say, you answer and say He could unlimit Himself and be at all places at once, never feel hunger, etc.. then at that point if He had that ability, He isn't 100% human.

    How do we commune the two? How do the Eastern church and Catholics commune them ? If I understand correctly they interpret the two natures as dyophycism?
  • The Coptic Orthodox Church says that God took flesh from St Mary and United it with His Divinity in the person of Christ.

    The union between both natures was without mingling, nor confusion, NOR did they separate, for a moment, or "a twinkle of an eye".

    we do not talk about the unity as if it is like two elements mixing and creating a new substance - i.e. like Carbon and Oxygen can combine to create Carbon Dioxide. No. It is a hypostatic union. Its more along the lines of Fire uniting with metal. When fire unites with a metal, the fire remains fire.

    Here some properties of a metal:

    * Strong
    * Malleable
    * React with oxygen to form basic oxides
    * Sonorous
    * High melting and boiling points
    * Good conductors of electricity
    * Good conductors of heat
    * Mainly solids at room temp.
    * Shiny when polished
    * When they form ions, the ions are positive
    * High density

    When the 2 unite, the metal's properties remain the same.
    The Fire doesn't change to metal either.
    When the fire is united with the iron (in a furnace), you can hit the iron anyway you want.. it is STILL malleable.
    You can crush it, bruise it, and do what u want. But the fire is not affected by beating the piece of metal that it is united with.

    The Coptic Church, after the incarnation of the Logos, given that the 2 natures of Christ are united and never separated - they do not any longer talk about Christ's nature as having 2 natures united in the Person of Christ (WHICH IS STILL CORRECT! By the way!) - but they term it the "The Nature of the Incarnate Logos".
    This nature is known as Miaphysitic. Hence we are MIAPHYSITES.

    Now, because we talk about the 1 nature of Christ that is OBVIOUSLY the unity between his 2 natures, this term has caused so much emotional pain for our Chalcedonian brothers who believe EXACTLY the same as us but word it differently. The pain is so unbearable for them, and their love for us is so small that they cannot see we are also Miaphysites like them.

    This differs from the Catholics who are duophysites: they believe that Christ had 2 natures. So far, so good.
    The Catholics see that when Christ was hungry - this was his Human Nature that kicked in.
    When Christ rose from the dead, this was his Divine Nature that was activated. So... again, the wording here is causing a LOT of distress to many groups.

    It would seem to me that in this day and age where we can communicate effectively, such issues should have been ironed out AGES ago.

    I do not say that the Chalcedonians are wrong, nor the Catholics. Not at all. Their wording is not like ours. The result is the same - that The Word / Logos of the Father united his Divinity with our Humanity IN the person of Christ. This is the essential common denominator between us all.

    When we say that there was no "mingling" between these 2 natures, we mean that one nature did not lose properties due to its unity with the other nature: God being fully man, & Fully God - united.

  • Agreed, but for sake of discussion, I'd like to be picky and complicate things a little.

    [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165431#msg165431 date=1373618669]
    we do not talk about the unity as if it is like two elements mixing and creating a new substance - i.e. like Carbon and Oxygen can combine to create Carbon Dioxide. No. It is a hypostatic union. Its more along the lines of Fire uniting with metal. When fire unites with a metal, the fire remains fire.

    You can crush it, bruise it, and do what u want. But the fire is not affected by beating the piece of metal that it is united with.
    [/quote]

    I'm no physicist, so I'll do my best explaining my view. Here, we are focusing on the metal in this example. However, hasn't the fire lost some of its abilities? In the metal, can the fire start burning paper? Can the fire in the metal expand with such easyness and create a forest fire? I'm going to an extreme to illustrate a point. Yes, the metal and fire are one. The metal is still 100% metal, but the fire has lost some of it's strength. The fire is not 100% the typical fire. The fire has limited itself to the iron/the metal. I am not sure you get my point. I'm picking on a very small detail of the example cause that was the root of my discussion.

    In reality, these little details are not the most important. We are talking about a mystery, that most likely cannot be explained by our limited minds.

    Anyways, apparently, some quite knowledgeable servants in my church were saying that God chose to limit Himself in the human Body. But I couldn't really swallow that, because if He limits Himself, He is no longer 100% God. But possibly this is true, I just couldn't make sense of that.

    [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165431#msg165431 date=1373618669]
    I do not say that the Chalcedonians are wrong, nor the Catholics. Not at all. Their wording is not like ours. The result is the same - that The Word / Logos of the Father united his Divinity with our Humanity IN the person of Christ. This is the essential common denominator between us all.
    [/quote]

    Could not agree more.
  • [quote author=ShareTheLord link=topic=14537.msg165432#msg165432 date=1373633583]
    Agreed, but for sake of discussion, I'd like to be picky and complicate things a little.

    [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165431#msg165431 date=1373618669]
    we do not talk about the unity as if it is like two elements mixing and creating a new substance - i.e. like Carbon and Oxygen can combine to create Carbon Dioxide. No. It is a hypostatic union. Its more along the lines of Fire uniting with metal. When fire unites with a metal, the fire remains fire.

    You can crush it, bruise it, and do what u want. But the fire is not affected by beating the piece of metal that it is united with.
    [/quote]

    I'm no physicist, so I'll do my best explaining my view. Here, we are focusing on the metal in this example. However, hasn't the fire lost some of its abilities? In the metal, can the fire start burning paper? Can the fire in the metal expand with such easyness and create a forest fire? I'm going to an extreme to illustrate a point. Yes, the metal and fire are one. The metal is still 100% metal, but the fire has lost some of it's strength. The fire is not 100% the typical fire. The fire has limited itself to the iron/the metal. I am not sure you get my point. I'm picking on a very small detail of the example cause that was the root of my discussion.

    In reality, these little details are not the most important. We are talking about a mystery, that most likely cannot be explained by our limited minds. But apparently, some quite knowledgeable servants in my church were saying that God chose to limit Himself in the human Body. But I couldn't really swallow that as if He limits Himself, He is no longer 100% God. But possibly this is true, I just couldn't make sense of that.

    [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165431#msg165431 date=1373618669]
    I do not say that the Chalcedonians are wrong, nor the Catholics. Not at all. Their wording is not like ours. The result is the same - that The Word / Logos of the Father united his Divinity with our Humanity IN the person of Christ. This is the essential common denominator between us all.
    [/quote]

    Could not agree more.
    [/quote]

    Hello!

    My apologies - I've never seen you here before; a hearty welcome to you!

    Well, the example, like ALL analogies, is limited - isn't it? This example of Iron in Fire - is given by St Cyril of Alexandria: here is his exact wording:



    When iron is brought into contact with fire, it becomes full of its activity; and while it is by nature iron, it exerts the power of fire. And so the life-giving Word of God, having united Himself to His own flesh in a way known to Himself, endowed it with the power of giving life. And of this He certifies us Himself, saying, "Verily, I say to you, he that believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life." And again, "I am the living bread, that came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I shall give is My flesh for the life of the world. Verily, I say to you, that if you eat not the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father; so He that eats Me shall also live because of Me." When therefore we eat the holy flesh of Christ, the Saviour of us all, and drink His precious blood, we have life in us, being made |668 as it were, one with Him, and abiding in Him, and possessing Him also in us.


    I'll write more to explain the other points you had.

  • [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165433#msg165433 date=1373635536]
    Hello!

    My apologies - I've never seen you here before; a hearty welcome to you!

    Well, the example, like ALL analogies, is limited - isn't it? This example of Iron in Fire - is given by St Cyril of Alexandria: here is his exact wording:


    When iron is brought into contact with fire, it becomes full of its activity; and while it is by nature iron, it exerts the power of fire. And so the life-giving Word of God, having united Himself to His own flesh in a way known to Himself, endowed it with the power of giving life. And of this He certifies us Himself, saying, "Verily, I say to you, he that believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life." And again, "I am the living bread, that came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I shall give is My flesh for the life of the world. Verily, I say to you, that if you eat not the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father; so He that eats Me shall also live because of Me." When therefore we eat the holy flesh of Christ, the Saviour of us all, and drink His precious blood, we have life in us, being made |668 as it were, one with Him, and abiding in Him, and possessing Him also in us.

    [/quote]

    No worries, thank you for your warm welcome!
    That part in bold is exactly the part that bothers me a little. It seems to me that when we put it in those terms, God is limited. Maybe I am misunderstanding tho? Offcourse, we can only use analogies to a certain point, but I was just curious to find a position from the church on that little subtlety that is being brought up.

    [quote author=dthoxsasiPhilanethrope link=topic=14537.msg165433#msg165433 date=1373635536]

    I'll write more to explain the other points you had.
    [/quote]

    Waiting impatiently :)
  • examples are limited, they can never tell us everything about God.
    God is not limited.
    :)
  • Just because Christ was not physically present everywhere does not imply He was not spiritually present in all places. Recall the first chapter of John where Christ claims He saw Nathaniel under the fig tree even though He was not physically there to see him.

    I recommend you read On The Incarnation by saint Athanasius, you could find it in a google search.
  • [quote author=Amoussa01 link=topic=14537.msg165878#msg165878 date=1378779517]
    Just because Christ was not physically present everywhere does not imply He was not spiritually present in all places. Recall the first chapter of John where Christ claims He saw Nathaniel under the fig tree even though He was not physically there to see him.

    I recommend you read On The Incarnation by saint Athanasius, you could find it in a google search.
    [/quote]

    This response has come up so many times, that I think someone should just write a synopsis of this book on this forum.

    Do you have a good link to the Incarnation of the Word by St Athanasius?
  • I think you should read Chapter 7 the Refutation of the Gentiles
  • Although new, perhaps I can help understand some things:

    1. You must understand that all metaphors are weak and incapable of fully making the point.
    2. Following our holy father St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the Disciple of St. Paul, we must confess that God, being uncreated, bears absolutely NO similarity to anything that is created. Because of this, there is no metaphor or analogy that can convey his essence. The best we can do is say what he is not. Beyond that, we can only know what he has revealed. God is the utterly transcendent one.
    3. Nevertheless, God, the utterly transcendent and unknowable one is truly known through his acts of power, although his essence lies beyond our grasp. We know him because of what he does in us, but not through gazing upon his ineffable essence.
    4. In these last days, the Word of God, the second person of the Holy and Immortal and Almighty Trinity, in order to reconcile man to God, Became a man, and took on, not the APPEARANCE of man, not the mere body of man, but the entirety of man in order to bring man back to God and save him from the power of the devil, death and the despair of an apparently meaningless existence and mortality.
    5. This uniting of the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity with a whole and complete human nature, to include all the components that make any human person whole and entire, is called by the church, the hypostatic union, or the union on the level of Being or nature.
    6. Specifically, God the Logos, the Word, took to himself and made HIS own a human body, a human soul, a human intellect, a human "energy" or activity, and a human will. He took all those things that make any individual person a real person and made them HIS OWN so that HE may be truly said to be man; he who from Eternity is God. But, this does not mean that in this union there is a Divine person and a human person side by side, or in conjunction, no. There is ONE Person who is Divine, the Word of God. But he made the nature of man HIS OWN, so that his Divinity is his by nature, and his humanity he calls his own, and he exists in it by nature Simultaneously with his divinity.
    7. So, because, philosophically, Ever single individual being has a single individual existence and an individual nature, it follows that Christ, the Word incarnate is truly one in the unity of a single nature: But it is not a nature that is mixed, or a nature that is fused, or a nature that is a third thing that came out of two pre-existing things (humanity and divinity), no. Rather, we call the union of the nature of God and the Nature of Man in the unity of a single being, the Nature of the Incarnate Logos. It is the Nature of the Incarnate Word to be Human and Divine simultaneously in the unity of a single being.
    8. This particular type of unity of God and Man is necessary for our salvation, because if he who was crucified on the cross was not God himself in the flesh, then his sacrifice for us to win us back from Satan would be ineffectual. It would not be a redemptive sacrifice. At best it could perhaps win back a single individual, life for life, but the full effect could not be extended throughout all time and offered to all men unless he who extended his arms on the cross and offered himself to the world was truly God.
    9. You will hear some other Christians say that Christ is one and that he really is one divine person who is fully God and fully man. They emphasize the duality of his natures, but they claim they do not separate them. Generally, this is considered an orthodox explanation, with some qualification, but as St. Cyril of Alexandria said, it is really a way of thinking for simpler minds, who do not take the time to comprehend the entire unity of the God-man, Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity made man for our sake.
    10. In Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Logos, there is only ONE who wills and acts and does all things: The incarnate Logos, but he does so in accordance with the natures that have come together in him. So yes, he wills things as man, and since he is without sin, he is free from the compulsions of a vacillating or crooked will, and purely and entirely wills as man to do the will of his Father. But because it the LOGOS who performs these actions, and the natures have been united in him, they always act in harmony together, for it is ONE who acts, Christ our God.
    11. When we consider the actions of the Incarnate Logos, we admit that in reality all his acts are one as he is one. There is no Identity Disorder in Christ. Nevertheless, in theory and abstractly, we can distinguish between the natures of humanity and divinity when he works. But the reality is unity, not duality.


Memorial for HH Pope Shenouda

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