Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Mystery of Christ (John 1)

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …" (John 1:14).

When you examine the language of the Chalcedonian Creed, you find that it is highly negative and conceptual. The council declared Christ “to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of the natures being in no wise taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons.” 

The goal of this creed is to set parameters and to guard the truth against heretical views. It in no way tries to delve into the mystery of the hypostatic union between the two natures of Christ or into the unipersonality of Christ. How the divine and the human natures come together is a mystery. Scripture does not enlighten us to the details of what’s involved in this union, and we should not try to go beyond Scripture. Chalcedon simply attempted to describe what Christ is and not try to explain how He came to be that way. Many heretical views assert that the man, Jesus, took on a divine nature, that He became divine sometime during His life, or at His death, or following His death. Whatever the heresy, all run contrary to the Bible, which says that God took on human nature and dwelt among us. We may not be able to explain how this happened, all we can say is that it did.

Even though the church has wrestled with this for centuries and provided abundant statements and creeds, many people still remain confused about who Christ is. 

In summary, let us remember that Christ is one person—one individual, endowed with reason and self-awareness. As one person, He possesses two natures. By nature, we mean the sum total of all the qualities that comprise something—its substance. According to His divine nature, Christ is spirit, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite, immutable, indivisible, eternal. According to His human nature, Christ has a soul, a body; He is finite, divisible, and changeable. You can see by looking at the essential qualities of each of these natures they cannot be mixed or confused. For the human nature to become infinite would be impossible. For the divine nature to become changeable would be equally impossible because to do so would be contrary to the divine nature. Christ is one person with two distinct natures: divine and human.

The law of contradiction says that A cannot be non-A at the same time in the same relationship. How is the union of the divine and human natures in Christ not a contradiction? A mystery is not the same thing as a contradiction. How would you explain to a critic that the incarnation is not a contradiction but a mystery?