Re: Orthodoxy (was Re: Biblical Interpretation Reconsidered)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Jan 01 2004 - 14:21:53 EST

Robert Schneider wrote:
> Hello, Blake, Dave, and George,
> Lest you think that I simply rolled the grenade under the tent flap and
> walked away, know that I have followed your responses with interest and
> enjoyment. It's been a while since I've had a chance to review patristic
> orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and hadn't heard the words "patripassianism" or
> "monophysite" for some time. Any modalists here? It reminds me and perhaps
> others of how difficult the early Church's theologians found it to
> comprehend and articulate their understanding of the nature of Christ.
> George's clarification us that the orthodox view is that Christ is two
> natures in one person and not two persons in one nature will help us steer
> clear of monophysitism (yuk, yuk).
> But, given the original question I raised about the origin of Jesus' Y
> chromosomes, I think George's final comment is well taken:
> > You will note, of course, that I'm using Chalcedonian language here, but
> that
> > shouldn't be taken to mean that theology must be limited to the
> philosophical framework
> > of nature, person &c that Chalcedon worked with.
> Thanks to all of the work of contemporary biology, evolution, neuroscience,
> etc., our notions about what constitutes the human, and even if there is
> such a thing as "human nature" (I hold that there is), are so tremendously
> different from our patristic forebears in the faith that I think there is a
> challenge here for the contemporary Church to revisit the whole question and
> find a new language to convey to a contemporary believer how theology
> understands the relationship between divine and human in Christ. I think
> this is especially important in light of the rampant "Jesuology" that
> appears in some Christian circles that often blurs the distinction between
> the Father and the Son, and in its extreme versions turns Christ into an
> idol. When I listen to Christian radio (not often) and hear a Christian pop
> song that assigns titles of the Father to the Son, I have a tendency to
> shout out "Heresy!" That little Babe in the manger, in my understanding, is
> not the great I AM.

Bob -
        A couple of reservations:

        1) "Jesusology" is a term that Carl Braaten has used to describe the kind of
theology that can result from an unbalanced emphasis on "the historical Jesus" in
distinction from "the historic biblical Christ." This is at the opposite extreme from
the effective denial of the humanity of Jesus that is found among some conservative
Christians. Of course this is nothing new: There have always been Docetists and
Ebionites on the edges of the church.

        2) A kind of modalism that, as you say, blurs the distinction between Father
and Son is to be avoided, but I would hesitate to shout "heresy" when the title "I Am"
is applied to Jesus. The predicateless "I am" of the 4th Gospel may be related more
directly to the "I am he" of 2 Isaiah than to Exodus 3, but the effect is much the same
in either case. Why do people want to stone Jesus when he says "Before Abraham was, I
am." & why do they fall to the ground in Gethsemane when Jesus says "Ego eimi"? Of
course one could debate whether or not those occurences were historical, but it seems
clear that Ego eimi in these situations is a revelatory formula.

George L. Murphy
Received on Thu Jan 1 14:23:59 2004

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