ReKnewing Christology—Part 2

GB-portraitJust look at that face! How can you not love this guy? Greg’s been good enough to comment on our previous Part 1 post and we thought his questions and our answers warranted their own post as this Part 2. Greg agrees it may better represent the two minds view to speak of the ‘Logos’ (rather than ‘Jesus’) being the subject of these two minds (divine and human). But he points out that it is ‘Jesus’ who in the gospels is described as both knowing things derived from the divine mind (“Before Abraham was I am”) and being ignorant of things (“No one knows the day or the hour, not even the Son”).

Greg asks:

“How is this not admitting Jesus simultaneously had an omniscient and non-omniscient mind (and was omnipotent and non-omnipotent)?”

And he follows with,

“Not only this, but is it not true that in the classical Christology, the Logos IS Jesus and Jesus IS the Logos? If so, how can you avoid saying ‘Jesus’ simultaneously has an omniscient and non-omniscient mind? To deny this seems to entail either (a) that the Logos is not fully Jesus, and vice versa, and/or (b) that Jesus as Logos and Jesus as human is divided (a la Nestorianism)? So, in sum, could you please explain how you two DENY Jesus simultaneously had an omniscient and non-omniscient mind while avoiding both of these heretical implications?”

Greg is still misconstruing the two minds view. Yes, ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Logos’ are the same person. Chalcedonians do confess that Jesus has two minds so long as we mean the ‘person’ in question. The problem is that Greg’s understanding of the two minds view is ruled by his reduction of this ‘person’ to the constraints of an embodied, human context. In Greg’s view (as in all kenotic views) this ‘person’ is exhausted by his ‘his finite embodied context’ and ‘two natures’ just refers to this embodied context as the space into which the necessary divine attributes have to ‘fit’. So by “the Logos is Jesus and Jesus is the Logos” Greg just means the two are coterminous with respect to nature. His quotes are there in our previous post. He argues the Logos has to empty himself of all divine attributes that are incompatible with being human. That tells you Greg is reducing the ‘personal experience’ of the Logos to the constraints of created, embodied being. There is no more to the Logos than there is to his created, embodied experience.

If Greg agrees to an adjustment in his description of the two minds view, it’s to agree to “Logos” (rather than “Jesus”) as the more proper “name” of this embodied subject. But this doesn’t address the deeper issue. Even after the nominal change (calling Jesus ‘Logos’ instead of ‘Jesus’), he still sees the two minds as fulfilled in their function and in the scope their exercise coterminously within the constraints of the created, embodied context of Jesus. That’s why he thinks pushing things back to the womb with the zygote exposes the two minds view as unworkable.
lucid-dreaming-flickr-4257138221_2bd609efc4_o
Why would Greg think this exposes the two minds view as unworkable? Because he thinks the two minds view supposes the ‘Logos’ to be running the universe as a zygote (i.e., via the natural capacities of that embodied state), and that’s not possible for a zygote. So, he reasons, God must not be essentially omniscient, omnipresent, or even conscious since zygotes aren’t omniscient or omnipresent or conscious and this zygote is nevertheless the divine Logos. It doesn’t fix Greg’s misconstrual of the two minds view for him to agree just to ‘name’ this embodied state ‘Logos’ as opposed to ‘Jesus’. Even if he makes this nominal adjustment, he still understands the success or failure of the two minds view in terms of the constraints of being a zygote. He reasons that if this zygote can’t be running the universe through the use of its natural capacities as a zygote, then the two minds view can’t even get off the ground. But that is just to misunderstand the two minds view.

Our answers to these questions are in the previous Part 1 post. Greg asks how we deny Jesus simultaneously had an omniscient and non-omniscient mind while avoiding both Docetism and Nestorianism? The answer is by neither confusing nor dividing the two natures attributed to the one person of the Logos. As a zygote, you don’t even have a functioning human mind/consciousness. You just have a tiny several-celled zygote. What Orthodoxy says is that this human journey in all its stages of developmental becoming — from zygote to maturity — is personally embraced/adopted by the Word of God as his own without his having to abandon his own God-defining triune journey.

So the divine mind isn’t — as Greg supposes — reduced in its exercise to the embodied constraints of being a zygote (or an adult first-century Jewish male). It transcends these. But we don’t have Docetism because this one human journey belongs to none other than the subject of the Logos. Greg’s issue with this is that he senses that Docetism is only avoided if the Logos is ‘merely’ this embodied journey. He reasons that if there’s more to the personal experience of the Logos than there is to his experience as a zygote, or a developing child, or a suffering crucified man, then the Logos isn’t really taking this journey at all and we’re stuck with Docetism (God just pretending to be a human being). As for Nestorianism, that error is only encountered if it’s the case that “mind” = “person” and thus “two minds” = “two persons” which is the math of Greg’s own Christology, but not the math of Chalcedon. If ‘mind’ describes ‘nature’ and the Logos has two natures, then one is not a Nestorian to posit two minds to the person. It’s only problematic if you reduce the person to the constraints of one of the natures, (viz., the human).

What would an analogy of the two minds even look like? Is it even conceivable? We think so and we offered an expanded analogy introduced by Tom Morris.

One last thing. Greg writes,

“We’ve hashed most of this out before, so I won’t address your particular criticisms….”

We can’t force Greg to address particular criticisms of course, but we haven’t at all hashed most of this out. All we did was post quotes from Trinity & Process (T&P) to which Greg replied that he still believed all that. In our next post in this series we want to focus on just what it is we’re asking Greg to address, namely, how it is his present kenoticism isn’t an abandonment of his work in T&P. We’ll show he has essentially abandoned his previous view and that he’s got to let one of them go. And we don’t need Chalcedon to make our point either. Greg’s own work will do. And we think it a matter of academic integrity for Greg as a published scholar to give some account of how his present views are compatible with his published views in T&P.

(Dream picture.)

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3 comments on “ReKnewing Christology—Part 2

  1. […] Reknewing Christology Part 2 & Reknewing Christology Part 3 […]

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  2. If Divine BECAME human, then He is human. That does not mean He is “only” human.

    It is we who are abnormal, in our sin-cursed state.

    Trying to give “two minds” overlooks the fact that (the divine man) Christ’s human mind had no sin to prevent full access to whatever the Spirit wanted to reveal. (Not what He as a man may have speculated to “know.”) The problem is not with God’s nature or human nature. The problem is, and always was, sin, which is an independence from the Spirit. What is amazing is that God tolerates this. “I came to do the works of Him that sent me.” This is redemption; all other kinds of “knowledge” are distractions. This is a hard saying! But His will in heaven is done with delight, and reveals far more about God to those who are following the Spirit than could be revealed to any who could be wandering around asking questions. I don’t believe our minds should be idle, so don’t take me wrong.

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    • tgbelt says:

      LeRoy: If Divine BECAME human, then He is human. That does not mean He is “only” human. Trying to give “two minds” overlooks the fact that (the divine man) Christ’s human mind had no sin to prevent full access to whatever the Spirit wanted to reveal.

      Tom: Appreciate the comment, LeRoy. Thanks so much.

      The Orthodox two-minds view doesn’t overlook the sinless character of the human mind/experience of Christ. That’s taken into account. The question is — Is it merely Jesus’ sinlessness (or, more positively, perfect conformity to God’s will) that constitutes ‘divinity’? That’s Boyd’s take on it basically; i.e., Jesus is God because Jesus is unfailingly loving and free from sin. That’s all it essentially takes to “be God.” But that can’t be all that constitutes divine being/existence, for we too shall eventually be unfailingly/perfectly loving without becoming God. So there’s more to divine being/existience–essentially speaking–than sinlessness. The two-minds view is a way to describe how God’s essential/necessary experience (as Father, Son, & Spirit) is not interrupted and does not cease because of Incarnation.

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