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Tropical_Man 66M
6587 posts
11/25/2011 7:01 am
3 divine Onesses



Three divine onenesses serve to form the structure of all Christian theology. Trinitarian oneness explains the oneness of the three persons of Father, , and Holy Spirit in the same Being of the one God. Christological oneness is the explanation of deity and humanity being hypostatically united in the one God-man, Jesus Christ. Christian oneness is the union of Christ and the Christian in "one spirit." The unity of the three divine onenesses comprises the one gospel message of the Trinitarian God interacting with and in humanity.


Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). Based on Paul's sevenfold use of the word "one", we could legitimately refer to "seven onenesses." But in this article we will concern ourselves with "three onenesses" which do not necessarily have equivalence with the onenesses referred to by Paul's statement to the Ephesians, but are yet included within, and inclusive of, the seven onenesses mentioned by Paul. (This might give you a forewarning of the complexity of "onenesses".)

Throughout Christian history, in the literature of Christian spirituality, there have been a number of authors who have referred to "three divine unions" or "three heavenly unions".1 These "three divine unions" have usually been identified as (1) the union of Father, , and Holy Spirit in the one Godhead, (2) the union of deity and humanity in the one God-man mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and (3) the union of the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of a Christian individual, sometimes expanded to include the collective union of the "one Body," the Church, in union with Christ. Changing the phrase to "three divine onenesses" ­ (1) the Trinitarian oneness of Father, , and Holy Spirit in the one Godhead, (2) the Christological oneness of deity and humanity in the one Lord and mediator, Jesus Christ, and (3) the Christian oneness of the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of an individual or the collective church in the "one spirit" union with Christ ­ this study will seek to consider the distinction and relation of these onenesses.

Why have we referred to "three onenesses" instead of "three unions"? Because the word "union" implies the bringing together into one of multiple entities which were previously not conjoined. The dictionary definition indicates that "union" refers to "uniting or joining two or more things into one;" the formation of a single unit as separate, disparate or distinct entities are joined into one singular entity. Such a definition of "union" does not apply to the Trinitarian oneness of Father, , and Holy Spirit in the Godhead, for they are not, and have never been, separate and disparate entities which were then conjoined or united into one God. The eternality of the essential and relational oneness of the one God disallows the conjoining or uniting of separate parts or persons in such a "divine union." Rather, God is (and has always been) a unity, a triunity, which can, has, and does engage in unitive action to create unions that allow His unity and oneness to function therein.

The "three onenesses" which are addressed in this study all involve and include the divine Being of God, and can thus be legitimately identified as "divine onenesses", but the composition of the "onenesses" vary in terms of their essentiality, functionality, and relationality. They also vary in terms of their eternality and temporality, i.e. whether the "oneness" being referred to has always existed in unity (as has the oneness of the Triune God), or whether the "oneness" has a commencement of unitive expression in historical time (as the oneness of Christological incarnation and the oneness of spiritual regeneration do).

The divine unity of the Trinitarian oneness of God has engaged in the unitive action of creating a divine union of deity and humanity in the historical incarnation of the God-man, Jesus Christ. By this Christological action of the Trinitarian God and the subsequent redemptive and restorative action of God in Christ, He has taken the continued unitive action of creating spiritual Christian union as the Spirit of Christ and the spirit of man are conjoined in the union of "one spirit" (cf. I Cor. 6:17), and collectively in the union of "one Body" (I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:16,18; 4:4; Col. 1:1, wherein the living Lord Jesus becomes and functions as the life of the Christian and the church.

These clarifications of terminology should provide sufficient foundation for our continued study of the "three divine onenesses" ­ (1) the Trinitarian oneness of the one God, (2) the Christological oneness of the one Lord, Jesus Christ, and (3) the Christian spiritual oneness of Christ and the Christian in "one spirit." As these onenesses of Trinity, Christology, and union with Christ have traditionally been regarded as inexplicable mysteries of the Christian faith, we do not presume to be able to provide full and final definition and explanation of these onenesses in this brief study, but only to address some basic distinctives of each, and the necessity and interconnection of these onenesses in the larger framework of the Christian gospel.

Trinitarian Oneness

The mysteries of God's onenesses are such that they can only be known by revelation. God has chosen to reveal Himself and His unitive actions in the Self-revelation of Himself in His , Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, serves as the primary revealer of God, being the expressive Word of God (John 1:1,14). The unity and unions of God can only be known to the extent that God has revealed such in Christic revelation, so this study engages not in "natural theology" whereby man seeks to know God in the natural creation or by natural reason, but in "revelatory theology" whereby those receptive to the revelation of God in Christ seek to understand and interpret how God has revealed Himself and His active unions.

The oneness of God's own Being was revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai and shared with the Israelite people in the Shema statement, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God is one God!" (Deut. 6:4). This assertion of monotheism was carried over into Christian theology as the Christian faith was established in the Judaic context, and Jesus Himself reiterated the Shema statement (cf. Mark 12:29). The apostle Paul asserts the oneness of God, explaining to the Corinthians that "there is one God, the Father, from Whom are all things" (I Cor. 8:6), and to the Ephesians that there is "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:6). Later, Paul wrote Timothy, "There is one God..." (I Tim. 2:5). The Christian understanding of God is clearly monotheistic.

When God made the Self-revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ there was a unique revelation that His oneness was more complex than the monadic oneness of a singular and unextended unit of one as the Jewish people had understood God. In Christ, God revealed Himself as a plurality-in-oneness ­ as a "three-in-oneness." Jesus declared, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). Such a statement either had to be repudiated as a blasphemous denial of God as a monadic oneness (which was the response of the Jewish leaders - John 10:31,39), or the monotheistic oneness of God had to be reconsidered and reformulated in accord with God's revelation of Himself as being One with multiple personal distinction (which was the process in which the early Christians engaged theologically). It can definitely be noted that neither the first century Jews nor the subsequent Christians understood Jesus' comment to mean, "I and the Father have one purpose or objective," as later proponents of monadic monotheistic have disingenuously suggested. Jesus' revelation of God is clear: "I and the Father are one;" not "I and the Father have one purpose or goal." The oneness refers to essence and relation, rather than to functional or teleological intent.

There were possible previous hints of multiplicity in the oneness of God, as the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, used throughout the Old Testament, is a plural noun, and God used plural pronouns when He declared, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). But the clear Self-revelation of God as personal plurality within His oneness only becomes evident in the historic revelation of Jesus Christ. God had declared His oneness of Being when He identified Himself to Moses as "I AM that I AM" (Exod. 3:14), but then Jesus came identifying Himself as, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6); "I AM the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25); "I AM the light of the world" (John 8:12); "I AM the bread of life" (John 6:35,4; "I AM the Messiah" (John 4:26); "before Abraham came into being, I AM" (John 8:5; "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). To claim to be the "I AM" of God is either the ultimate presumption of deceived egocentricity, or it is God's Self-revelation of Himself in His . Christians believe the latter.

The earliest Christian affirmations and explanations of God recognize Jesus as the of God (Matt. 16:16), who was God (John 1:1) from the beginning, and is God and Savior (Titus 2:13; II Peter 1:1) forever (Heb. 1:. The Holy Spirit, identified as the "Spirit of God" and the "Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9), was also regarded as co-essential with the Lord Jesus Christ (II Cor. 3:17,1 and with God the Father (Acts 5:3,4). The three-in-oneness of this newly revealed Trinitarian monotheism was evident in the redemptive explanation of how "the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit, was Jesus' own self-offering without blemish to God" (Heb. 9:14). Regenerative salvation was explained by Paul as "God having sent forth the Spirit of His into our hearts" (Gal. 4:6). The earliest baptismal formula was that of "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the , and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). Peter regarded his commission as apostle to be "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you might obey Jesus Christ..." (I Peter 1:2). The early doxological statements also expressed this distinctively Christian understanding of God as three-in-one, asking that "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all" (II Cor. 13:14).

There can be no doubt that the early Christians accepted God's Self-revelation of Himself as Father, , and Holy Spirit, comprising one God. That, despite the difficulty of articulating and explaining this Trinitarian distinctive within monotheistic oneness. The distinctive of the plurality of persons within the singularity of God's essential oneness creates a dialectic of thought that must be held in balanced tension. (cf. Diagram #1). Some have referred to this dialectic as a paradoxical antinomy (against the law of reason), but this must not be construed to imply that Trinitarian monotheism is illogical, especially in the context of the divine logic of God's Self-revelation.

While clearly affirming the unique Christian understanding of God as three-in-one, the early Christians progressively attempted to rethink and express this reality of Trinitarian monotheism. Theophilus of Antioch (c. AD 175) referred to the "threesomeness" or "triad" of God, using the Greek word trias. Tertullian, of Carthage in North Africa (AD 160-230), was (as best we can ascertain) the first to use the Latin word trinitas (tri means "three"; unitas means "unity") to express God's Self-revelation as three, distinct persons in the singular unity of the Godhead, explaining that God is three persons (Latin personae) in one substance (Latin substantia).

Finding words in different languages to attempt to explain the content of the triple distinction and the singular oneness of God has always been difficult ­ especially since languages evolve and words change meaning or have numerous nuances of meaning. The earliest Christians used the Greek language, but by the second century there were Christian theologians (ex. Tertullian) using the Latin language. Equivalence of concepts and words proved difficult. Tertullian referred to three personae, which originally meant faces wearing masks as actors engaged in role-playing, but had evolved into the meaning of "individual distinction" or "distinct individuals". The Greek equivalent, prosopon, also referred to faces and masks worn by role-playing actors, but had not progressed into the meaning of "individual distinction" to the extent that the Latin word had. The Greek theologians preferred to speak of three hypostaseis, which originally had meant "beings", but had come to mean "distinct particularizations capable of interrelation," i.e. persons. If the Latin writers were then to refer to three distinctio or subsistentia, the personalism of the three divine beings tended to be diminished. Whereas Tertullian had used the Latin substantia, meaning "substance", to refer to the integral oneness of God, and others used the Latin essentia, meaning "essence," or verite, meaning "reality," or natura, meaning "nature", the Greek writers preferred ousia which was inclusive of some of the Latin concepts but carried a greater connotation of personal "being."

This gives us some semantic background for the word distinctions that came into play at the Council of Nicea in AD 325, when 318 bishops (all but one of them from the Eastern Greek-speaking churches) assembled, at the request of the Roman emperor, Constantine, to clarify the Christian understanding of God. Constantine had expediently accepted the Christian faith and wanted to quench any divisive dissension. Arius, of Alexandria in Egypt (AD 250-336), had amassed quite a following for his thesis that the threeness of the Godhead was not three co-equal and co-essential persons consubstantially united in one Being. Rather, he claimed that the was made by the Father, and the Spirit proceeded from the Father, so these two were ontologically inferior to the Father, as distinct second-class demi-gods who were not of the same essence as the Father. Arius could not maintain the dialectic in his own mind of the distinction of three equal personages in the essential unity of divine oneness. So, instead of Trinitarian monotheism, the unique Christian understanding of God, he had reverted to a monad monotheism that stressed the singular oneness of God while denying the three-in-oneness. The previously accepted Christian explanation of God's triunity had employed the Greek word homoousion (homo means "same"; ousia means "being"), implying that the three persons of Father, , and Holy Spirit comprised the same Being of the Godhead. This Greek term homoousion (as best we can determine) was first utilized by Origen, of Alexandria in Egypt (AD 185-255), despite the fact that he, too, could not maintain the dialectic tension of God's distinction and oneness, and had sacrificed the co-equal threeness by positing a hierarchical subordinationism that made the and the Spirit inferior to the Father. So even though Origen served as a preliminary ideologue for the thinking of Arius, it was he who seems to have provided the orthodox Greek term homoousion. Arius rejected Origen's term of orthodox explanation of the triunity of God, stating instead that the Father, , and Holy Spirit were anomoousion, "not of the same being," but rather heteroousion, "of different being."

Athanasius, of Alexandria in Egypt (AD 296-373), was the young defender of the distinctively Christian understanding of God who adamantly argued at the Council of Nicea that homoousion was the correct word that maintained the distinction of the three persons of Father, , and Holy Spirit in the "same Being" of the Godhead, allowing for the Christian theological understanding of Trinitarian monotheism. The arguments of Athanasius won the day at Nicea after much contention, and Arius and his monadic monotheism were denounced. Arius was slow to capitulate, however, and later some of his ideologues (commonly known as semi-Arians) proposed their willingness to accept the word homoiousion (homoios means "like" or "similar"; ousia means "being") instead of homoousion ("same being"). This variation of Arianism was also rejected by the church leaders of the day, but it is the basis of the age-old question: "Does it make an iota of difference?" (since the difference in the two words is simply the inclusion of the Greek letter iota). The answer of those who have held to an orthodox Christian understanding of the Trinitarian God is an unequivocal "Yes, it does make a difference!" The Nicene Creed, initially formulated at the Council of Nicea, states that Jesus, the of God, is homoousios to Patri, "of the same Being as the Father," and this has henceforth been the Christian explanation of the Trinitarian oneness of Father and .

Consideration of the oneness of God's Being requires the explanation that although ousia referred to an abstract sense of existence in general in some of the Greek philosophers, the Christian use of "oneness of Being" does not mean that God is all that exists. Such a monistic monotheism portrays God as a singular and universal God-reality that incorporates and includes all that exists in a pantheistic monism that fails to distinguish the Creator from the creation. Some have misused Scripture to attempt to justify such monistic monotheism, arguing that the KJV rendering of Isaiah 45:5,6 is God's declaration, "I am the Lord, and there is none else. ...There is none beside Me," implying that God is all that is. They also misuse I Cor. 15:28, Eph. 4:6, and Col. 3:11, claiming that these verses state "God is all in all." God's Being is not to be abstracted as a monistic universal existence that comprises or is intrinsic to everything in a pantheistic or panentheistic sense. The traditional Christian understanding of Trinitarian monotheism regards the three persons of the Father, , and Holy Spirit as constituting the personal divine Being of the Godhead.

When the oneness of God is emphasized to the denial or neglect of the tripersonal diversity and distinction of the co-equal and co-essential persons of the Trinity, then the extremisms that result cast God as a singular, mathematical oneness ­ either as a single, unextended authority figure, as in the monadic monotheism of Judaism and Islam, or as a single, comprehensive universal as in the monistic monotheism of unitarianism, modern "oneness" sects, and contemporary New Age religion. In either case, these inadequate explanations of the singularity of God's oneness disallow the interpersonal and relational oneness that provides the foundation and function of Trinitarian monotheism. The oneness of God must not be viewed merely as a single and static integer of one, but as a relational oneness wherein the three distinct persons of Father, , and Holy Spirit relate to one another in a unity of oneness. Though they are three distinct persons, they are indivisible and cannot be separated ontologically since they are essentially the same Being (homoousion) of the one Godhead. Their intimate interaction in the onto-relationalism of the divine Trinity is the basis for the Christian understanding of Trinitarian monotheism.

The Father, the , and the Holy Spirit are not three gods added together in the collectivity of simple addition (1+1+1=3) ­ this is polytheistic tritheism that preempts the oneness of monotheism. Neither are the three persons to be overly individualized as a triad of cooperative participants in a "social trinity" that is akin to a divine committee (Now there's an oxymoron!). Though the Latin phrase communicatio idiomatum has sometimes been used in Trinitarian discussion, referring to the intercommunication of the properties and/or substances of the three persons, the more adequate expression to refer to the onto-relationalism of the Trinity is that employed by Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 330-389) in the later clarification of Trinitarian monotheism at the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). The Greek word perichoresis (peri meaning "around"; chora means "space" or "room" and chorein means "to contain" or "to make room") was originally used to explain how the divine and human properties coinhered in the one Person of Jesus Christ without either being diminished thereby, but the word was then applied with an expanded meaning to the oneness of relations in the Trinity. In an attempt to explain Jesus' statement that "I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me" (John 14:10,11) the early Greek theologians used perichoresis or emperichoresis to indicate the mutual indwelling of the three persons as they coinhere and are completely contained within each other, and yet have the "space" to be themselves and express their distinct otherness. While maintaining a distinct otherness, the three persons inexist in an immanent in-each-otherness whereby they interpenetrate one another are mutually constitutive of the other in their relations. For example, the Father to be the Father requires the , and the to be requires the Father. The Father has always been Father God, and the eternal has never not been the of God, despite Arius' contention that the words "only begotten" implied that the was created and made by the Father out of nothing. To the contrary, the Father, , and Holy Spirit are all eternal and underived Deity. In the interanimation of their interrelations they are a community of Being, and Divine Being in communion. This ontological dynamic of divine Being in action ­ a triune oneness of Being and agency ­ is expressed in the loving (I John 4:8,16) fellowship of community in the mutual and reciprocal relationships of Trinity.

The development of the meaning and implications of the word perichoresis to the inner Being and interactions of the Trinity evidences the importance and necessity of differentiating between the ontological (Greek ontos derived from ousia meaning "being") considerations of the triune Being of God and the operational or functional (aka economic or ergonomic) considerations of the mutual interrelations and interactions of the Trinity. While the ontological Trinity was adequately expressed in the homoousion of "same Being," the operational Trinity found fuller expression in the word perichoresis, with its deeper implications of interactive dynamic and communion. Even within the operational consideration of the Trinity there remains the dialectic tension between distinction of operation and the coinherent oneness of the Being of God in action. There are operational distinctions of administration and function between the three persons of the Godhead. The Father sent the (John 3:16), not vice versa. The emptied Himself (Phil. 2, to be found in appearance as a man, not the Father or the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness (Rom. 8:16) by His presence in the spirit of man. These distinctions of diverse activity do not, however, diminish the co-constitutive unity of their shared Being and the interrelational dynamic of their mutual action. There is allowable distinction of function, but at the same time we have the balanced tension of recognizing that when the Father, and Holy Spirit function, they "dance together as one" with no space or room between them, each interpenetratively contained within the other. Regrettably, the Latin word circumcessio (circum meaning "around"; cessio meaning "to go") which was used as an equivalent to the Greek perichoresis did not prove broad enough to convey the same meaning of the perichoretic interpenetration of God's Being in action. The Western Church (Catholic and Protestant) has focused primarily on the static and rationalistic considerations of the ontological essentiality of Trinitarian oneness. The Eastern Church, in its various Orthodox forms, has placed more emphasis on the dynamic functionality of the operational interrelatedness and interactivity of Trinitarian oneness. Both emphases are needed for a balanced Trinitarian understanding.

In the consideration of Trinitarian oneness we must constantly reiterate the necessity of maintaining the dialectic tension of the distinction of Father, , and Holy Spirit in their three persons and activity, while at the same time noting their essential oneness of divine Being. Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, "I cannot think of the One, but I am immediately surrounded by the glory of the three; nor can I discover the three, but I am suddenly carried back to the One."2 Augustine likewise recognized that "God is greater and truer in our thoughts than in our words; He is greater and truer in reality than in our thoughts."3 Trinitarian oneness will always remain beyond full understanding, but it is incumbent on Christians in every age to articulate the mystery of the three-in-one God in accord with God's Self-revelation of Himself, and that without reducing God to mere formulation of thought, but allowing Him to continue to reveal Himself to all Christians as the Trinitarian God that He is.

Christological Oneness

Clarification of the Trinitarian oneness of God was made primarily at the Council of Nicea (AD 325), utilizing the Greek word homoousion for the three persons of the Godhead comprising the "same Being." Though additional discussion of Trinitarian oneness ensued at the Council of Constantinople (AD 381) and the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), the consideration of the Christological oneness of deity and humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ was the primary distinctive of the Chalcedonian Council. Shedd wrote, "It (Chalcedon) substantially completed the orthodox Christology of the ancient church."4

Whereas the door to the discussion of the Trinitarian oneness of God was through the recognized monotheistic oneness of God, which then had to be dialectically balanced with the tension of the distinction of Father, and Holy Spirit, the door to Christological consideration was (and is) entered through the distinction of the established deity of the of God and the enfleshment of the in human form, and how it is that deity and humanity can comprise one person. In other words, whereas the consideration of Trinitarian oneness moves from oneness to distinction, the consideration of Christological oneness moves from distinction towards oneness, attempting to explain the tension of the dialectic of the duality of God and man in the singularity of the person of Jesus Christ. Explaining this "two-in-oneness" both in essence and function is the task of Christological study. (cf. Diagram #2)

The Trinitarian discussions affirmed that the eternal of God, the Word (Logos) of God, the primary agency of God's Self-revelation, was the co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal second person of the Triune Godhead. Christological considerations then had (and have) to contend with the Biblical statements that while "the Word was in the beginning with God, and was God" (John 1:1), "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14). The historical incarnation of the of God "revealed" (I Tim. 3:16) and "manifested" (I John 1:2) "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:3), and partaking of "flesh and blood" (Heb. 2:14) or "flesh and bones" (Lk. 24:39) in connection with an historic lineage of Hebraic and Davidic heritage (Rom. 1:3) had to be addressed, and an explanation sought. How can deity and humanity, which seem to have mutually antithetical attributes, be combined in one person? How can the uncreated God and the created man be joined in such a manner that does not posit a monistic merge that impinges upon the necessary distinction of Creator and creature?

That the of God was the of Man (Mk. 8:31; 9:12; 10:33), and truly a human man (Acts 2:22; Rom. 5:15; I Cor. 15:21; I Tim. 2:5) is attested throughout Scripture by references to His descendancy (Matt. 1:1-17; Lk. 3:23-38; Rom. 1:3), his birth (Matt. 2:1; Lk. 2; Gal. 4:4), his development and growth (Lk. 2:40,46,51), his human senses (Matt. 4:2; Jn 4:6; 11:34; 19:2, his human emotions (Matt. 9:36; 26:37-40; Jn. 11:35; 12:27), his temptability (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-3; Heb. 2:18; 4:15; 5), and his mortality (Jn. 19:30; Phil. 2:. But how can God and man be united or unified in a union of oneness that constitutes one person, one Man (Rom. 5:5), one Lord (I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:5), and one Mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5)?

The difficulty of maintaining the balanced tension of the dialectic between the distinction of deity and humanity alongside the singular oneness of the person of Jesus Christ has led many Christian thinkers through the centuries to attempt to resolve the problem by explaining the oneness by denying a real union of the distinctions, and that by denying or diminishing the reality of either the deity or the humanity of Jesus.

One of the earliest attempts to resolve the dialectic was in the context of Gnostic thought that espoused the Greek philosophical dualism of identifying the immaterial or spiritual as "good" and the material or physical as "evil." To avoid the idea that Jesus partook of what they regarded as evil physicality, the Gnostics explained that Jesus only "appeared" to be human. This thought is referred to as "docetism," based on the Greek word dokein meaning "to appear." Marcion (second century) indicated, for example, that the humanity of Jesus was just a phantom or a hallucinatory mirage.

The Ebionites, on the other hand, diminished or denied the deity of Jesus Christ by indicating that Jesus was just a man, the of Joseph and Mary, whom God elected to be the of God and conferred such honor upon Him by the descent of the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Many such forms of adoptionism have been proposed by those who have emphasized the humanity of Jesus at the expense of His deity, suggesting that the man, Jesus, received a divine adoption to become the of God, or that the Christ-cloak or Messiah-mantle was placed on Jesus at a particular point in His life (usually at His baptism).

Since Arius (AD 250-336) did not believe that the of God was pre-existent or essentially the same as God the Father, but that the was a creature that God the Father had made, he necessarily regarded Jesus as but a man who was chosen, exalted and inspired by God to serve as His prophetic mouthpiece. Apollinarius (c. AD 310-391) suggested the rational human soul (or spirit) of the man Jesus was displaced by the divine Logos. Others explained that the man, Jesus, developed the consciousness of Godness by engaging in the volitional choices of sinlessness. Later forms of kenoticism suggested that the of God "emptied Himself" of deity in order to become a man.

All of these attempts to explain how Jesus could be the incarnate Savior sacrifice a real union by effectively denying either the deity or the humanity of Jesus. Other explanations of the incarnation sought to retain the dual distinction of deity and humanity, but arrived at various conceptions of the oneness, of how these categories might be united in a union.

Nestorius (c. AD 380-451), for example, could accept that Jesus was both God and man, but could not reconcile how these could be united in one person. So he denied any real union of the divine and human, indicating that there were two separate beings ­ a God being and a human being ­ within a single physical body having one face (Greek prosopon). Such a theory casts Jesus as a schizoid double-being.

Others offered an alternative explanation that the union was effected by humanity being subsumed into deity. Such theories of subsumption or subsumation are not far removed from the absorptionism theories that explain that either deity or humanity was absorbed into the other to effect a oneness of person in Jesus Christ.

The Christian theologians of the 4th and 5th centuries struggled to find words to explain the two-in-oneness of the distinctions of deity and humanity united in the oneness of the one Lord, Jesus Christ. Operating on the clear premise that the pre-existent and eternally generated of God, the Logos, had been incarnated, "made flesh," by supernatural conception allowing for physical expression in the virgin birth of Jesus, they were intent on explaining that Jesus was "true God" and "true man" ­ fully God and fully man. The two categories of deity and humanity were variously explained as "two natures" (Greek phusis), "two substances" (Latin substantia), "two essences" (Latin essentia), and "two beings" (Greek ousia). As with the explanation of Trinitarian oneness, the different languages and the various meanings of words made definition and description difficult. One could explain that "divine being" and "human being" were united in Jesus Christ, comprising an individual "human being," but this creates a logical absurdity (being + being = being), and besides, the Greek word ousia was already being utilized to explain the essential oneness of Being of the triune God. So the word chosen by the predominantly Greek-speaking theologians to refer to the two categories of deity and humanity was the Greek word phusis. This Greek word allowed for the broad understanding of the two "essential properties" of deity and humanity, but the word came freighted with many nuances of meaning in Greek philosophy. "Nature" was sometimes deified in Greek philosophy as the organizing entity of the universe, and "human nature" was subsequently regarded as an extension of the cosmic "nature of things." On the other hand, the usage of phusis by the New Testament writers seem to have reference to the spiritual condition of man: ex. "you were by nature (phusis) of wrath" (Eph. 2:3), but you have "become partakers of the divine nature (phusis)" (II Peter 1:4), leading some to question whether man has an independent "human nature." These variant usages combined to create an ambiguity of the explanation of "two natures" in Jesus from the earliest usage of this terminology.

Choosing words to explain the union of deity and humanity in the oneness of the theanthropos (from the Greek words theos meaning "God" and anthropos meaning "man"), the God-man, proved just as difficult. Was the resultant oneness of Jesus Christ to be identified as "one person"? The Latin word personae, though originally referring to impersonation of acting out a role in a stage persona, had evolved into the meaning of a "distinct individual." The Greek equivalent, prospon, which originally meant "face," and was used for acting out a role with a face-mask, had not evolved as clearly from impersonation to personation as had the Latin word personae. Besides, the Latin word personae was already being used to refer to the distinction of the "three persons" of the Godhead, Father, , and Holy Spirit. If the of God already was divine personae, would it not be redundant to explain that He became personae in the union of the God-man? So the word chosen by the Greek-speaking scholars at the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) was the Greek word hypostasis (Greek hypo means "under"; stasis, from histeme, means "to stand"), that had linguistically developed the meaning of a "distinct individual," somewhat equivalent to the Latin word personae. As noted earlier, the Greek theologians referred to "three hypostaseis" as the distinctions of the three persons of the Godhead. So the same logical bind of having the hypostasis of the of God becoming hypostasis in the individuation of Jesus Christ still remained. Despite the semantic and logical problems, the orthodox explanation of the union of deity and humanity in Jesus Christ has been identified as the "hypostatic union" ever since the Council of Chalcedon. Contemporary complications of using the language of hypostasis to explain the oneness of Jesus result from its primary meaning in English as the sediment of "that which settles to the bottom," and thus "stands under" other particulate matter. Christian theology certainly does not want to indicate that the singularity of Jesus is "that which settles to the bottom" which you mix deity and humanity in one person.

In the 6th century, Leontius of Damascus (AD 500-561) employed the Greek word enhypostasis in an attempt to emphasize that the hypostasis of the individuated person of Jesus was truly an incarnation (Greek ensarkos) of God in man. The point he sought to make was that humanity does not have an independent hypostasis or phusis existence, but it was the divine nature that was operative in the man, Jesus Christ. In making such a statement he had to be careful to avoid the implication that the humanity of Jesus was just an instrumental container of deity, which would deny real union, while at the same time avoiding the earlier mis-emphases of monophysitism (Greek mono means "only"; phusis means "nature") which posited a fused singularity of nature, making Jesus an homogenized God-man or a hybrid synthesis of a tertium quid (a third alternative of a "middle-being").

Suffice it to say that the semantics of trying to explain the ineffable and inexplicable reality of the union of deity and humanity in Christological oneness have often exhausted the tools of human language. When speaking and writing of such spiritual realities, every generation, using their respective languages, must consider the explanations of prior Christian expression and use the most precise word of their own language to explain the distinction of deity and humanity in the one Lord, Jesus Christ.

In the most Christologically explicit passage in the New Testament, Paul wrote that "Christ Jesus, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man..." (Phil. 2:5-. There has been much discussion throughout the history of Christian Biblical interpretation concerning how the self-emptying of Jesus relates to the distinctions o

Tropical_Man 66M
6389 posts
11/25/2011 1:16 pm

For my people perish for their lack of knowledge. Hmmn. Never hurts to understand who God is.The Mormons claim God was once a man, and Jesus was a creation between that God and a Goddess and is the brother of Lucifer.

Hmmm study to make yourself approved. Tidbits.

Exodus24 57M
750 posts
11/28/2011 3:07 pm

    Quoting  :

Great sense of humor brother Jody