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November 15, 2007 / Daniel

The doctrine of Christ

Here’s part of my work for my Christian theology class.   

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten God, an eternal member of the Trinity, without beginning or end (John 1:1-4, 18; Rev. 1:8, 17). In accordance with His redemptive plan, God the Father sent God the Son into this world to humble Himself by becoming a man (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:5-11).

I believe in the ineffable mystery of the incarnation, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (Mark 2:1-12; John 1:14; 4:6; 8:52; 10:30-39; 12:39-41; Rom. 9:5; 10:9; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1-3; 2:10-15). He has two distinct natures, which are perfectly united in one person.

He was born of the Virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). He lived a perfect human life in obedience to His Father and in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-18; Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:14-15). He was tempted and tried in every way that is common for man, and yet since He always desired to please His Father, temptation had no power over him (Matt. 4:1-11; 26:36-46; John 8:29; 2 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 2:14-18; James 1:13).

BTW, the phase “Only Begotten God” comes from the NASB translation of “μονογενης θεος” in John 1:18.

 Feedback?  I’m curious to hear about how you view the incarnation.  Any “kenosis” folks?  Or what about the impeccability of Christ? 

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17 Comments

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  1. Matthew C / Nov 16 2007 8:47 am

    I believe in the impecability of Christ. I think the Kenosis thing is heresy and potentially very damaging in its implications.

  2. Daniel / Nov 16 2007 4:35 pm

    Do think that Christ limited himself in anyway by becoming a man?

  3. Matthew C / Nov 16 2007 5:09 pm

    Only in terms of his status.

    But in your next comment you might say something to change my mind, so I say this with caution.

  4. Daniel / Nov 16 2007 5:16 pm

    Do think that the infant Jesus understood that He was God?

  5. Levi Michael / Nov 16 2007 5:24 pm

    How about this?
    The Uncircumscribable was circumscribed. The Immaterial took material form.
    I visited with a Oneness Pentecostal friend the other day who said something like, “the Virgin Mary gave to Jesus Christ, who manifested God. Sounds like heresy. I think he thinks that Jesus’ body belonged to a man named Jesus which was animated by God’s indwelling (obviously in a way that had never happened before).

    I’m not sure I know what Kenosis means when capitalized. I must be out of the proverbial loop.

  6. Levi Michael / Nov 16 2007 6:10 pm

    Daniel,
    Check out Fr. Joseph’s post on the Nativity over at Orthodixie.
    It relates, of course, to the doctrine of the Incarnation and its full implications.

  7. Matthew C / Nov 16 2007 6:54 pm

    Daniel, the infant Christ was also almighty God who posessed perfect knowledge of all things.

    Both natures in the personal union of Christ posessed a mind with knowledge.

    I do think the danger in opposing the heresy of Kenositic christology is to fall into Nesotorianism; dividing the two natures such that personal union is meaningless. But He did posess both natures as distinct.

  8. Daniel / Nov 16 2007 10:32 pm

    I think that the Kenosis theory developed in the 18th century in order to explain the incarnation. It’s based on Phil. 2:5-11. The gist of it is that in becoming a man, Jesus set aside of some of his attributes (mainly the omni’s). After his exaltation, He picked them back up.

  9. Matthew C / Nov 16 2007 10:50 pm

    I think it is a denial of the union of manhood and godhead in His person.

    If Christ currently poesses humanity, then the kenosis was unnecessary, if He no longer posses humanity, then the unity of manhood and godhead is fundamentally denied.

  10. Daniel / Nov 17 2007 3:45 pm

    Matthew,

    I’m with you, but I think that it’s important to emphasize that Jesus was just some “superman, demigod” flying around. He was truly human. I know that you agree. I just have a hard time understanding how the infant Jesus could be thinking, “I’m the second person of the Trinity.” I think that limits his humanity.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I can see why the kenosis is attractive to some.

  11. Matthew C / Nov 17 2007 4:00 pm

    Theological dumbing down.

    I heard a Charismatic speaker once. He advocated Kenosis by presenting the trad view along the lines of the caricature you give here- ‘some “superman, demigod” flying around.’

  12. Daniel / Nov 17 2007 4:43 pm

    I’m meant that Jesus wasn’t just a superman sort of character. I think that you picked that up.

  13. Daniel / Nov 17 2007 4:44 pm

    Matt,

    I’m curious. Did Jesus have two different minds (divine and human)? Did He have two different wills?

  14. Matthew C / Nov 17 2007 5:09 pm

    As orthodox theology holds, our Lord had two wills and, naturally having a full human nature He had a full human mind distinct from the divine.

    These two natures co-existed harmoniously in the one person of Christ.

  15. Daniel / Nov 17 2007 5:26 pm

    Was the “two minds” and “two wills” alluded to in the Chalcedon Creed? Is that you mean by “orthodox theology”?

    I’m having a hard time understanding how one person can have two minds, or two consciousnesses. That sounds like Jesus had multiple personalities.

  16. Matthew C / Nov 17 2007 5:39 pm

    Monothelitism, which held that Christ had only one will came later than Chalcedon.

    However, Monothelitism was eventually recognised as heresy.

    Certainly, Apollinarianism, which denied that Christ had a human soul was condemned by Chalcedon.

    If we hold that our Lord was truly human, He must have had an human mind.

    It is difficult to comprehend the unity of two minds in one person, but this we must hold.

    They co-existed harmionoulsy.

  17. Matthew C / Nov 17 2007 5:41 pm

    Confession of Chalcedon:

    “Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin.” He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
    We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.”

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