Get thee behind me Satan, I think.

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Back in the early 2000s, Greg Boyd and some friends (myself included) discussed the peccability/impeccability of Jesus, that is, whether Jesus was genuinely capable of sin (peccable = vulnerable to or capable of choosing sinfully; impeccable = not capable of choosing sinfully). It’s a question all Christians get around to eventually. Greg argued for the impeccability of the God-Man. His reasons were pretty straightforward:

Jesus is God.
God can’t sin.
Therefore Jesus can’t sin.

Years later in response to Dwayne and me, Greg clarified his Christology regarding Chalcedon (ReKnew, Jan/2014) and said that in becoming flesh, God sets aside the exercise of any divine attribute that contradicts what it means to be ‘human’ (‘omnipresence’, ‘omniscience’, and ‘omnipotence’ didn’t make the cut). But Greg argued passionately that God cannot set aside his perfect, loving, character; thus the impeccability of Jesus. Indeed, for Greg the one thing (actually the only thing) that makes Jesus divine is his perfectly loving character. For Greg, there’s no divinity apart from this essential benevolence and full divinity wherever you have it (whatever else you might not have).

However, to take the human journey does entail, Greg agreed, being capable of experiencing temptation. Greg leaned on the familiar passages in Hebrews which make it clear that Jesus suffered temptation. So in the end Greg’s position was the Jesus was not peccable, i.e., he could not sin, but he could and did genuinely suffer temptation to sin. To clarify, I’m just narrating the flow of an old conversation here. I’m not engaging Greg’s Christology at this point. Maybe I’ll weigh in on the question later. But for now I just want to reflect on Greg’s logic.

Greg was pressed to explain his commitment to Jesus’ impeccable character and goodness, and thus his inability to choose sinfully, on the one hand, and the reality of his temptations, on the other. After all, James 1 makes it clear that God’s impeccability precludes the capacity to be tempted. And if God cannot be tempted to do evil, he cannot do evil. And yet Hebrews makes it clear that the God-Man was tempted.

Greg eventually offered the following solution: Jesus was in fact incapable of choosing sin (impeccable), but he didn’t know this. Jesus was ignorant of his impeccability. He mistakenly believed himself capable of sinning. And being unaware of his impeccability was enough, Greg argued, to produce the required feeling of being drawn toward sin or, as temptationwe say, tempted. Even if Jesus could not in fact have followed through in choosing to sin, his ignorance of this fact permitted in him all the psychological aspects of temptation required to (a) fulfill an essential aspect of human being, and so (b) provide us the comfort, encouragement and inspiration we require as Hebrews 4 describes.

I’m not interested in agreeing or disagreeing at this point. I only want to show how Greg’s Christological move here is inconsistent with his kenotic view of the Incarnation and, more specifically, his objection to Chalcedonian Christology on the basis that it essentially makes Jesus’ suffering on the Cross a charade.

First, if it’s true that Jesus only thinks he’s capable of sinning when he’s not, as Greg holds, then clearly Greg doesn’t think Jesus’ false belief in his own peccability disqualifies his experience as genuine temptation. His temptations are no charade given his impeccability. This is similar to how an Orthodox person might make sense of a Chalcedonian view of Jesus’ sufferings on the Cross.

With respect to Christ’s suffering on the Cross as the God-Man, Greg argues that it is not enough for Jesus’ human subjectivity to suffer while the divine nature suffers not. With respect to Christ’s suffering temptations as the God-Man, however, Greg holds to the imperturbability of the divine nature with respect to its essential goodness. Jesus is impeccable and cannot sin, so his experience of temptation is grounded in his ignorance regarding his divine nature.

So in relating Christ’s humanity and divinity to each other relative to his genuine temptations, on the one hand, and his actual impeccability, on the other, Greg stands in the same challenging place that an Orthodox believer stands in relating Christ’s humanity and divinity to each other relative to God’s essential, unbroken triune beatitude, on the one hand, and the integrity of his being tempted, on the other.

Second, if a human nature can be created impeccable, incapable of sinning (as was Jesus on Greg’s account) without sacrificing the reality of temptation required to qualify Jesus as a true and representative champion of the human journey, then why wouldn’t God have created us all like that? If God can give a human nature perfect benevolence without jeopardizing the genuineness of those struggles and temptations necessary to human spiritual development and personal becoming, why would a benevolent God not give us all this immunity? If one can be truly tempted and develop as a human being without risking sinful choosing, why aren’t we all impeccable from the get-go? (I have my own answers to these questions. I’m asking them of Greg’s position.)

Third, if Greg’s argument against Chalcedon stands, namely, if it’s not enough for Jesus to suffer in his human nature on the Cross but not in his divine nature since that would make his suffering a charade, then the same logic should apply to Greg’s construal of Jesus’ suffering temptation while being impeccable. Jesus’ temptations then would be a charade if in fact he was incapable of sin given his divine nature (to say nothing of the fact that James 1 not only makes ‘willing sinfully’ an impossibility for the divine nature, but also ‘being tempted’ at all). And if the charade Greg thinks is involved in Chalcedonian Christology empties Jesus’ life of its existential import for us, then so would his account of Jesus’ temptations fail for the same reason. If Greg’s claim is true that the integrity of Jesus’ temptations is not jeopardized by Jesus’ being nevertheless incapable of sin, then why cannot other types of human suffering (not just suffering temptation) be attributed to the God-Man without effecting change in the divine nature?

Rowan Williams: Hulsean Lectures 2016

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Gotta love the plenitude of those eyebrows!

In Lecture 3 of his 2016 Hulsean Lectures (from 03:45-04:25), Rowan Williams disputes the Christological appropriateness of speaking of “two consciousnesses” (or two minds), claiming such terminology is foreign to Patristic thought. He especially rules out the possibility of understanding Maximus in this way.

I was surprised to hear this. Maximus advocated two ‘wills’, of course, on the basis of the union of two natures (divine and human) in the one person of the Logos. So the question is, in addition to the “two wills” of the Incarnate Logos, is there any indication that “two minds” is an equally appropriate claim to make? Does such talk appear in the Greek Fathers? Well, yes and no. I asked Fr John McGuckin if he knew of any “two minds” talk up to, say, Maximus. He admitted he didn’t, though it didn’t explicitly contradict Orthodox Christology. They just didn’t carry on the conversation about two natures in terms of “minds,” though they did in terms of “wills” and “energies.”

I kept poking around and ran into a reference to Maximus’ work in the Syriac version of Maximus’ Life (Syriac Life, trans. by Sebastian Brock). The author of the Life, not a fan of Maximus, writes:

And he [Maximus] wrote four books, acknowledging in them two wills, and two activities, and two minds. (emphasis mine)

However one might want to dispute this interpretation of Maximus seems irrelevant. The point is we have here an ancient example of “two minds” talk re: Christ. However one chooses to situate the mind/consciousness of Jesus (in its human limitations, ignorance, developmental states, etc.) relative to the divine mind/consciousness, the same logic that requires two “wills” would require two “minds.” One does not reduce the Logos without remainder to the constraints of Jesus’ embodied conscious states. That’s just Kenoticism. As one listens to Williams’ lectures, it doesn’t seem he does this. My only interest here was to question the idea that “two minds” talk is foreign to the Fathers.

Prayer

Fully God and fully man,
Two natures in the Logos can
Bring human mind and will within
And in the union heal from sin
All who freely choose to see
In Christ their true identity.

The art of divine napping—Part 1

1033There he is — God incarnate. That zygote right there. And the Logos became flesh. We’ve discussed the whole zygote thing before. While debates about divine incarnation in the womb might appear fantastic or as uselessly speculative as arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, whether or not God really took the human journey in its entirety certainly bears on the integrity of the incarnation and with it the salvation Christians suppose is therein provided.

One possible line of inquiry which might shed light on recent discussions regarding kenoticism was suggested to me by Dwayne. It asks us to consider what it means for the Son to “have life in himself just as the Father has life in himself” (Jn 5.26; cf. Jn 1.4; 1Jn 1.1-2) and explore what the consequences of this would be for the kenotic claim that this same Son relinquished all attributes not compatible with the natural constraints of a created, embodied human nature. A couple of obvious questions might include:

(a) What would “possessing life in one’s self as the Father possesses life in himself” entail?

(b) Is the answer to (a) instantiable exclusively in terms of the constraints of embodied human nature?

Additionally, an important methodological question might be:

(c) What ought to be the proper order in answering (a) and (b)?

This last question (c) is unavoidably important. We recently finished up discussing Bruce McCormack’s Ch. 10 on Barth & open theism, and we noted McCormack’s complaint that open theists fail to make Christology the proper starting point for their doctrine of God. We are to start, he argues, with Christ and, not stepping outside the event of God’s own self-revelation in Christ, determine our understanding of God from there. Greg Boyd, not a Barthain by any means, is nevertheless equally passionate in advocating for a Christ-centered understanding of divine being. Jesus is God incarnate, and that should provide us a straightforward strategy for knowing just what being God really/essentially amounts to. Whatever supposedly essential divine attributes fail to be instantiated by Christ within the constraints of his embodied human experience can summarily be dismissed as not necessary or definitive of what it means to be God. Greg argues the point:

“If we allow the incarnate and crucified Christ to define God for us while embracing the Kenotic understanding of how the Son became a human, it becomes clear that the only attribute that defines God’s divinity is his love. That is, if Jesus was ‘fully God’ without exercising his omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, then clearly God need not exercise omnipotence, omniscience and/or omnipresence to be God. One might of course argue that God must at least have the potential to exercise these attributes to be God. But it nevertheless remains true that….”

Thus kenoticism follows from a Christ-centered methodology for determining truth about God. If God’s essential attributes are to be understood as instantiated exclusively in terms of the boundaries of Jesus’ human experience, then what you see in Christ is all God is essentially and necessarily, “all that it takes” to be God. And, so the logic goes, since Jesus isn’t omnipresent and omniscient (among other things), these attributes aren’t essential to being divine. What is the only essential, God-defining attribute that can be gleaned from Christ’s life? What nevertheless remains true? Greg explains:

“…it nevertheless remains true that Jesus’ self-emptying entails that the only thing God cannot stop exercising and yet be considered God is his essence-defining love.”

Unfailing love. That and that alone is God’s self-defining essence and necessary actuality. Jesus loves without fail, therefore Jesus is God (never mind for the moment that we also shall one day love without fail without being God). And certainly no Christian wants to say God isn’t personally present in Christ or that God isn’t personally and authoritatively revealed in Christ, or that God doesn’t love without fail, so non-kenoticists like Dwayne and me are in the apparently disadvantaged position of having either to:

Answer (a) (i.e., what “possessing life in one’s self as the Father possesses life in himself”) prior to answering (b) (and thus be guilty of constructing our doctrine of God independently of Christology)

    or

Somehow argue on biblical/Christological grounds that there’s more to the Son’s being divine than there is to the embodied experience of Jesus.

Sleepy God

We take the latter route, in view of which let us offer three suggestions for this Part 1 which have to do with the scope of the Christology at play in (b) and also with the nature of the apostolic testimony regarding God.

First, we’d like to suggest that the ‘Christ’ who ought to occupy the place of pre-eminence in shaping our understanding of God is not simply any single event in Christ’s life described in the gospels (as is the case, for example, with Greg Boyd who via a ‘cruciform hermeneutic’ argues that it is not the entirety of Christ’s incarnate career which finally and authoritatively determines our understanding of God but only the cross), nor Christ’s life as reconstructed on the basis of the gospel accounts only, but rather the entirety of Christ’s life as interpreted and applied apostolically. It is theologically illegitimate to pretend to have access to Christ independent of the whole range of apostolic authority and voice. The voice of the entire New Testament is equally authoritative for Christians in understanding Christ — who he was, what he accomplished, what his life means, in what sense he is God and in what sense he is human.

Second, it seems equally misguided to suppose that a description of Jesus’s life and career by Luke or Matthew is more definitive of our understanding of God than a description of God by, say, Paul which is not explicitly a reflection upon any aspect of Christ’s life. For example, Paul affirms (1Tm 6:16) that God is “immortal and lives in unapproachable light.” Where did Paul get this idea? Certainly not from any observation of the events of Jesus’ actual life. It doesn’t obviously follow from Jesus’ life, or his pre-eminent role in defining our understanding of God, that God should be thought of as immortal. It would seem Paul’s belief in God’s immortality was not derived Christologically but from the wider witness of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is not to say Christ’s life does not in fact render much of Israel’s understanding of God false. But it certainly means our doctrine of God is not simply the end product of looking at Jesus, writing down what we see and calling it ‘all that it takes to be God’.

If we have grounds on statements made by the apostles outside the gospel texts (Eph 2.20) for thinking God to be of a certain nature, then it would seem to follow that the Son, being divine, exemplifies this same nature though incarnate. Point is, statements made in the NT about God which are not obviously Christologically derived nevertheless have implications for what it means for us to say that the “fullness of deity” indwells Christ bodily (Col 2.9).

Third, unless one wishes to advocate an adoptionist Christology in which the Son descends upon or personally assumes an already existing human individual at some point (childhood, adulthood), we must understand incarnation to begin with Jesus’ conception. This means that whatever one wishes to believe God is on the basis of Christology, the scope of that Christology should embrace Jesus not just as a mature adult in responsible relationship with his Father or suffering in love on the cross, but also as a newly conceived zygote. The womb, not the Cross, is the least common denominator which kenoticists are obliged to reduce divinity to.

Problem is zygotes are neither personally consciousness nor self-aware, neither volitional nor relational nor subjects of a benevolent disposition or character — nothing that might fulfill that unfailing choice to love which Boyd supposes is the only necessary self-defining feature of God’s actuality. At this point we don’t wish to argue there are other self-defining features of God’s necessary actuality (although we believe there must be). We simply want to insist that whatever one supposes constitutes God’s self-defining necessary actuality, one must equally hold that the person of the Son instantiates this through the entirety of his incarnate career beginning with being a zygote. If the self-defining essence of divine being is unfailing love, then the Son must instantiate this unfailing love and do so exclusively in terms of a zygote’s created, embodied natural capacities (not just as a mature and responsible adult rationally exercising his freedom). It’s one thing to limit your Christology to the adult Jesus choosing the cross in the garden, or to his mature identity as the Father’s Son asking the Father to forgive them for they know not what they do and so conclude that “full divinity” is just the unfailing disposition to love at cost to one’s self. It is an entirely different thing to account for a zygote’s being divine exclusively in such terms.

Teaser sleepingWhere is the Son qua zygote doing what any of us thinks is necessarily involved in “being God”? Some kenotic answers we’ve met in conversation include, “Well, you’re still a person when you sleep, so the Logos is just sleeping in the womb,” or “You still love your wife when you’re asleep, right?” or “The Father and Spirit just agree to cover for the Logos during his absence.” I guess that must be what’s going on in that zygote there — the eternal Logos, the Father’s own Image, the author of life who possesses life in himself “just as the Father possesses life in himself” is taking a nap while the Father and Spirit cover for him.

In Part 2 we’d like to explore what it means for “the Father to possess life in himself” and then ask what it means to do Christology from this point of view on the assumption that the Son possesses life in himself “just as the father does.”

(Pictures here, here, and here.)

Human Self-Presencing an Image of the Trinity

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I’m coming up on finishing Kaled Anatolios’ Retrieving Nicaea. It’s a wonderful book with a helpful thesis around which he organizes the 4th and 5th century Christological debates. The chapters on Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine are great. I thought I’d share a portion of his chapter of Augustine. Enjoy!

This is where Augustine’s project of “looking inward” achieves its full existential and social resonances. As it turns out, the question for the trinitarian image in humanity coincides entirely with Augustine’s moral schema of the ordering of love. Charges that Augustine’s project is solipsistic can only be sustained if we omit the connections that he himself is at pains to draw between authentic self-knowledge and self-love, and being in right relation with the whole order of reality. The mind’s proper self-knowledge is bound up with its correctly placing itself within the hierarchy of being…If the mind’s self-awareness is to correctly imagine its own existence, so as to safeguard the perfect mutuality whereby it knows itself exactly to the extent that it is, then this self-knowledge must take the exact measure of the mind’s creaturely mode of existence.

It is the same with an authentic and true self-love. In both cases, the perfect mutuality and equality between the mind’s existence, its self-knowledge, and its self-love is not simply manifest in the human condition. This equality and mutuality, which [are] integral to the divine image in humanity, is a moral task susceptible to moral failure: “The mind therefore and its love and knowledge are three somethings, and these three are one thing and when they are complete they are equal (cum perfecta sunt aequalia sun). If the mind loves itself less than [as] it is—for example, if the mind of a person loves itself only as much as a person’s body should be loved, though it is itself something more than body—then its sins and its love is not complete. Again if it loves itself more than [as] it is, for example if it loves itself as much as God is to be loved, though it is itself incomparably less than God, here too it sins by excess and does not have a complete love of itself.” The motif of the ordering of loves explains the discrepancy between the mind’s ineluctable self-presencing and its habitual self-forgetting. The self-forgetting through which the mind appears to fail to know itself is not due to the real absence of self-knowledge that constitutes the self-presence that is identical with the very being of mind. Rather, this self-forgetting happens when the mind’s act of self-presencing is overlaid by an excessive and inordinate attachment to what is external to it. By improperly identifying itself with what it is not, the mind loses sight of its own act of self-presencing. This fate is unavoidable unless the mind attends to God according to its proper creaturely mode of being and thereby knows itself and loves itself in subordinate relation to its knowing of God and loving of God. The human person most properly knows herself and loves herself through knowing and loving God. When this happens, the human person also knows and loves other creatures in proper subordinate relation to knowing God. But the mind that does not attach itself to God will become attached to other lesser realities, precisely because the mind is so innately transitive. In that case, the mind will not authentically know God or itself or other creatures, nor will its self-knowledge and self-love be equal and identical to its real existence, or even transparent to itself. The trinitarian image imprinted in human consciousness will thereby become obfuscated, and the mind’s capacity for certainty will be radically compromised. That is the situation of the human person in exile from the enjoyment of knowing and loving God.

Augustine wasn’t the first to imagine the divine relations in such (psychological) terms or to see human self-relationality (human self-presencing by which we perceive our own image of ourselves in conversation with ourselves) as an analogy of the triune relations. Anatolios provides passages in Gregory of Nyssa which are similar and a few in Athanasius which at the very least anticipate such conceptions.

(Picture here.)

ReKnewing Christology—Part 1

kay-eneim-permissionReaders here know how fond we are of Greg Boyd. We appreciate his insight and passion, his conviction to make Christ the center and goal of faith, and his heart for marginalized people. And of course we, like Greg, are open theists. We have a lot in common.

Readers might remember that last spring we challenged claims Greg made about the Cross constituting an essential break in the triune relations between the Father, Son and Spirit. Greg’s Christology had become not only not Orthodox or Chalcedonian (which is hardly by itself an immediate concern to Protestants today) but more interestingly in Greg’s case a definite departure from positions and conclusions he argued for in his doctoral work Trinity & Process about which we’ve shared.

Presently Greg is sharing a series of posts (three posts thus far: 1 here, 2 here, and 3 here) that explore his and ReKnew’s theological commitments regarding the Incarnation. Greg’s renewed interest in the Incarnation, his kenoticism, his departure from core commitments made in Trinity & Process, his widespread influence upon readers and — well — the fact that we’re such fans all are reasons why we wanted to engage his recent posts and, hopefully, convince folks to think long and hard about his views on the Incarnation before climbing aboard.

Chalcedonian Christology
In this post Dwayne and I would like to clarify what is involved in the “two minds” view of the Incarnation. A cup of coffee with Fr Rick at St. George’s in St. Paul might have saved Greg the embarrassment of having published so badly misunderstood an account of what the two minds view is. In this post we wanted to set the record straight. Folks ought to know that Greg’s description of the two minds view is inaccurate — too inaccurate to overlook.

In his third post Greg differentiates between the Chalcedonian Creed (451 AD) and ways theologians have understood and applied this Creed. The Council of Chalcedon was the fourth ecumenical council called primarily to address debates over the nature of Christ’s humanity and the relationship between the humanity and divinity of the Son. Their conclusion? The well-known phrase: One person, two natures (divine and human) “unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, and inseparably” united in one person “without the distinction of natures being taken away by the union but rather the property of each nature being preserved….”

Here we’d like to point out that Greg simply misunderstands the two minds view. How’s he understand it? He explains:

“This view holds that Jesus walked the earth with both the all-knowing mind of God and the limited knowledge of a human being…[T]his tradition concludes, Jesus somehow simultaneously possessed ‘two minds’: a divine omniscient mind and a human finite mind.”

And also:

“It requires us to imagine that Jesus was aware of what was happening with every molecule on every planet in the universe even while he was a zygote in the womb of Mary. And it requires that we imagine this while also affirming that, as a fully human zygote, Jesus was completely devoid of any awareness.”

id-10096389This isn’t the two minds view at all. But for the moment notice that for Greg, Jesus is all there is to the Logos. Incarnation just means the eternal Son, the Father’s personal Logos, is reduced without remainder to the constraints of a human, embodied context. And this embodied space — and only this space — constitutes the sum total of the Divine Logos during his earthly career. The logic is simple: Jesus is God. Jesus isn’t omniscient or universally present. Therefore being omniscient and universally present isn’t necessary to being God. Simple. But there’s more. Since Jesus as a zygote in Mary’s womb is also the sum total of the Divine Logos post-Incarnation, we can also dismiss (along with omniscience and omnipresence) something Greg doesn’t explicitly mention, namely, that personal consciousness  is essential to divine being. We know this (following Greg’s logic) because zygotes aren’t remotely conscious or personally related subjects and because the zygote in Mary’s womb is the Incarnate Logos (and thus divine), and because this zygote is all there is to the Logos. Therefore, being divine can’t necessarily involve being or doing anything a zygote is not being or doing. As Greg explains:

“I would rather argue that the Son of God set aside the exercise of his omniscience in order to become a human, for, I would argue, being non-omniscient is part of what it means to be human. I would argue the same for any other divine attributes that contradict the meaning of ‘human’.” (emphasis ours)

There you have it. Whatever is essential to being divine must be realizable within and as the limits of finite, created human being. Greg thus holds that the human and divine experiences of the Logos are exhaustively coterminous with the experience of Jesus (from his being a zygote onward). Divine uncreated being is therefore neither necessarily all-knowing, nor all-present, nor need it be a subject of a personally related experience at all (as zygotes are not instances of personal consciousness).

What of the two minds view? Well, Greg explains it in terms of his own view of the Incarnation. If there are two minds (divine and human), they have to be minds coterminous with the state of Jesus’ human consciousness. But the human consciousness of Jesus was clearly not omniscient. Hence, Jesus doesn’t have two minds, one finite and limited and one divine and infinite. (Actually, as a zygote, on Greg’s view, the Incarnate Logos doesn’t even have one mind, but never mind that.)

None of this is Chalcedonian two minds Christology. The two minds view does not hold that the human consciousness of Jesus (or Jesus as a zygote) was both omniscient and not omniscient. The two minds view in fact agrees that Jesus’ finite embodied human nature was neither everywhere present nor omniscient. But it doesn’t follow from this that the personal experience of the Logos was reduced to his human experience as Jesus. Rather, there is more to the Logos than the human experience we call Jesus, and it is this Logos who is the personal subject of both a fully divine and a fully human experience. Thus the two minds view is that the personal experience of the Logos is not coterminous with or reducible to his human experience. True, the Logos is truly present as incarnate human being. But “truly” present here need not mean “merely” present. There is more to the Logos post-Incarnation than Jesus.

Don’t believe us without checking things out for yourself. There are several Orthodox we could call upon, but space limits us to one. Athanasius (in On the Incarnation) will do:

“The Word was not hedged in by his body, nor did his presence in the body prevent his being present elsewhere as well. When he moved his body he did not cease also to direct the universe by his mind and might. No. The marvelous truth is, that being the Word, so far from being himself contained by anything, he actually contained all things himself…

“As with the whole, so also is it with the part. Existing in a human body, to which he himself gives life, he is still source of life to all the universe, present in every part of it, yet outside the whole; and he is revealed both through the works of his body and through his activity in the world. It is, indeed, the function of soul to behold things that are outside the body, but it cannot energize or move them. A man cannot transport things from one place to another, for instance, merely by thinking about them; nor can you or I move the sun and the stars just by sitting at home and looking at them. With the Word of God in his human nature, however, it was otherwise. His body was for him not a limitation, but an instrument, so that he was both in it and in all things, and outside all things, resting in the Father alone. At one and the same time—this is the wonder—as man he was living a human life, and as Word he was sustaining the life of the universe, and as Son he was in constant union with the Father…”

imagesThis, friends, is Chalcedonian two minds Christology. It is not the human which possesses two minds. It is the contingent human as finite mind which is possessed by the Logos in addition to his ever-abiding and essential divine experience. God’s eternal Logos thus possesses two minds, one divine (with its divine experience as the infinite, abiding image and creative Word/Logos of the Father sustaining the cosmos including Jesus’ own embodied experience) and one human (with its human experience as the finite Jesus). One person — two natures.

Greg misunderstands the historical position because he equates “mind” with “person” (one mind = one person; two minds = two persons, etc.) and takes Jesus to constitute the sum total of the person of the Logos. But the Orthodox relate “mind” with “nature.” So naturally for the Orthodox the Logos is one person with two natures, one divine and one human, each nature possessing its respective mind and will, irrevocably united in the one person of the Logos without confusion, etc. But confusing the two is precisely what Greg does.

We can’t think of an issue that commits one to take a stand on divine transcendence more than the issue of the Incarnation of God’s Son. Greg’s view, like all kenotic views, has no room for transcendence. For Greg there cannot be more to the Logos than there is to the embodied, finite Jesus. There can be no transcendent experience of a divine nature belonging to the person of the Logos outside the four walls of Jesus’ human experience. This is evident in Greg wondering how Jesus can run the universe from Mary’s womb. We wouldn’t have the slightest idea how that could be. But that’s not the two minds view. Rather, as Athanasius explains, it is the Logos who runs Mary’s womb from the universe, not the other way around.

More to come.

(Picture of Mary and Child.)