Re: Orthodoxy (was Re: Biblical Interpretation Reconsidered)

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 14:08:54 EST

On Thu, 01 Jan 2004 11:01:12 -0500 George Murphy <>
> D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
> >
> > On Tue, 30 Dec 2003 13:35:56 -0500 George Murphy
> <>
> > writes:
> > > Dr. Blake Nelson wrote:
> ...........................
> > Could a Y chromosome like Joseph's, or taken from him, have been
> > miraculously transferred? Of course. So? My point is simply that
> for Mary
> > to be /Theotokos/, there had to be an unprecedented miracle.
> >
> > > On balance I have to agree with Blake here. The
> hypostatic
> > > union means that
> > > divine and human are united in a single person, which is the
> Second
> > > Person of the
> > > Trinity. That does not entail any particular belief about how
> such
> > > a union was
> > > accomplished, whether or not it came about by a direct, rather
> than
> > > mediated, act of God
> > > or, in particular, whether or not Jesus had a human father.
> It's
> > > true that it seems
> > > easiest to picture (which, N.B., is not the same as "explain")
> how
> > > this might have taken
> > > place in terms of virginal conception, but that is far from a
> proof
> > > that it did take
> > > place in that way.
> >
> > I recognize that there has been, and continues to be, multiple
> views on
> > every theological point. Such was the crux of all the ecumenical
> > councils. It is my firm belief that most of these modern
> alternatives are
> > products of a kind of tunnel vision. Let me try an illustration of
> what I
> > mean from the discussion of oil supply and a hydrogen energy
> economy,
> > especially considering Glenn's information. Here are some
> solutions.
> > Extract all the oil from the known pools. Get the fuel from oil
> shale
> > deposits. Make all cars, trucks, trains and boats hydrogen
> powered. Use
> > coal, but capture all the carbon and sulfur compounds produced by
> > combustion. There are all kinds of straightforward solutions
> until
> > everything they ignore comes up. Then they are seen to be silly.
> This is all beside the point. In principle we can understand
> all the physics,
> economics &c involved in the issues of energy resources. But even
> if we accept (as of
> course I do) the "that" of the hypostatic union, we don't understand
> the "how" of it.
> It is, to use your language, "an unprecedented miracle." You are,
> however, overstating
> the matter if you insist that virginal conception _must_ have been
> an essential part of
> that miracle. We simply don't know that God could not have
> accomplished the union of
> human and divine natures in the person of the Logos in some other
> way. & that was my
> only point here.
Ah, the problems with analogies! I was trying to indicate that the data
are more restrictive than some recognize. You seem to say that, since
it's a miracle, there are few restrictions. We'll continue to disagree.
> > Theologians similarly produce solutions that only work if the
> > consequences are ignored. For example, your question about Paul
> and John
> > may be turned on its head: why should they mention something that
> > everyone at the time knew? When did someone feel he had to explain
> to you
> > that all mammals breathe air?
> If we want to understand the theology of Paul or John, we
> have to operate with
> their extant writings and not with speculations about what "everyone
> at the time" knew.
> & this is especially the case if that speculation is pure question
> beggging - the
> question being precisely whether "everyone at the time," including
> Paul and John knew
> it.
> > As a quibble on your language, there are those who acknowledge
> the
> > divinity of Jesus without recognizing his deity. I was told of a
> very
> > liberal churchman who remarked that he and his colleagues used
> the
> > traditional language, but with different meanings. In addition to
> such
> > deliberate misrepresentations, there is the general problem of
> ambiguity.
> > Clarity sometimes requires such complicated specification that it
> becomes
> > unclear.
> Your quibble does not touch my language. I said "The
> hypostatic union means
> that divine and human are united in a single person, which is the
> Second Person of the
> Trinity." I should have said "divine and human _natures_" but my
> shorthand should have
> been clear. The word "divine" needs to be used here because there's
> no English
> adjective that I know of formed directly from "deity." It is
> proper to say that Jesus
> is "divine" because of his divine nature, kata Chalcedon, though of
> course one then must
> also speak of his humanity. & while it can be said (because of the
> communication of
> attributes) that "Jesus is God," that kind of language may be
> misleading because it
> suggests that he is God _simpliciter_ and not human. Thus it needs
> the additional
> statement "God is human." Similarly it can be misleading to speak
> of Christ's "deity"
> unless one qualifies it (as in Wesley's Christmas carol" as
> "incarnate deity."
> Of course people can play games with the language of either
> "divinity" or
> "deity" & say that all of us have "a spark of divinity" & so forth
> but my language made
> it clear that that wasn't what I was talking about.
Good! Because there have been "games," there is terminology that I
avoid--and challenge. You've not been sensitized the same way.

> & since we're quibbling, let me note that your response to
> Blake's statement,
> "Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, is
> not a creature,"
> namely that it "Sounds patripassian," is incorrect. How it sounds
> is either docetic
> (that Christ's humanity was only apparent) or monophysite (that his
> humanity was
> swallowed up in divinity). Patripassianism in itself doesn't say
> anything about the
> humanity of Jesus but is a modalistic claim about the Trinity -
> i.e., it was the Father
> who suffered on the cross.
I take your correction.
> Whether or not Blake meant his statement in a docetic or
> monophysite sense is
> another matter & something he may want to address. The human nature
> assumed in the
> Incarnation is created, but the Second Person of the Trinity who
> assumed it is, _in
> itself_, not. It would seem to be correct (but here I'm just
> stating my theological
> opinion) to refer to the person of Christ as a creature because the
> communication of
> attributes in the hypostatic union means that the properties of the
> human nature can be
> ascribed to the person - which is why Mary is to be called
> theotokos.
> 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.
> Shalom,
> George
I think Bob Schnieder's post is a fitting coda to this series.Since he
started it, as far as I'm concerned, he can end it.
Received on Fri Jan 2 14:13:17 2004

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