The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology

"XXIV. Conclusions"


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1. The result of all the Christological controversies is this: Jesus in one Person, a Divine Person, but has two natures, divine and human, which remain unmixed, distinct. His humanity includes a human soul and mind. That human mind as we saw in section VIII had the vision of God from the first instant of conception. He also had a human will, self-moving, yet never contradicting the divine will, for that human will was possessed or owned by a Divine Person, and hence sin was impossible.

2. Our neat classification and explanation does mean there is no mystery to the incarnation. There is an immense one. Plato had said in his Symposium 203 that no god associates with humans, Aristotle said in his Nichomachean Ethics 8. 7 that friendship between a god and man is impossible - the distance is too great. The gods Plato and Aristotle had in mind included some beings unworthy of the name of a god. What would they say if they heard that the infinite, the utterly transcendent God not only associates with us, but even became a man, one of us, and immeasurably further, permitted Himself to be killed in so painful and disgraceful a way! Deuteronomy 21. 23 said: "Cursed by anyone who hangs on the wood!"

3. Also, our speculative reasoning breaks down when we go very far into this mystery. We know God cannot be passive, cannot receive anything, cannot change. Yet the Second Person of the Holy Trinity did "assume" a human nature. We seem to be driven by reason to say He did not even have a relation to that humanity. Yet it was part of the one Person. We can work out on paper the relation between the knowledge of the vision and various other reactions in Him - but we cannot really understand or picture how these are in actuality.

This dilemma strongly resembles the dilemma we face when we think of how God knows things. It cannot be in a passive way, taking on information; nor can it be merely active - that would make Him as limited as a blind man who knows a chair is moving only because He is pushing it. St. Thomas knew better than to press farther. He explained God can know free future decisions because eternity makes them present to Him. Clearly true. But the next question: HOW does He know them once they are present? Thomas remained silent, wisely. Some foolishly say He knows them only because He causes them. But then there is no reason to go to the work of explaining that eternity makes these present to Him. Instead we could simply say He plans to cause the future free decision. Thomas never says that. So we are driven to simply say:He is transcendent: beyond and above all our categories and classifications. Plato was right when He said that the Good is "beyond being" (Republic 6, 509B; cf. Plotinus, Enneads, 6. 8. 9)