Thursday, June 22, 2006

Questions on the Relationship between Christology and Anthropology


(1) Can an anthropology, such as is found in the Lutheran notion than man, on account of the condition of human nature, cannot, even with the aid of grace, actively participate in his own justification coexist with a Christology in which Christ's engraced human nature is the efficient cause of justification?

(2) If the former anthropological principle is combined with the notion that Christ as man is the author of justification, will the result not be some weakening of the Chalcedonian definition of the union of natures by an elicit supplementing of the human nature by an inordinate emphasis on the divinity?

(3) If the notion of fallenness is used to justify, on the one hand, total depravity with respect to humanity, in spite of sanctifying grace, and, on the other hand, Chalcedonian orthodoxy, with respect to the immaculate character of Christ's sanctified human nature, is this not an inconsistent use of the concept of infused grace? In other words, is the sufficiency of infused grace in Christ not contradicted by a denial of the sufficiency of infused grace in the sinner?

5 comments:

AH said...

This question you bring up has been critical in my own questioning of my 'Reformed' convictions. The disparity between the humanity of Christ and our humanity seems to drive a wedge between his co-substantiality with us as the second Adam. The term becomes vacuous, with no *real* attachment but nominally only. It seems to be further complicated by the continued commitment of reformed anthropology. For Luther he does not appear to envisage a liberation of the will (even) after justification and in the words of McGrath attributes this (anthropological bondage) simply to 'creatureliness' rather than sinfulness...which smells of Docetism or something close. The humanity of Christ then is significantly different...or is determined by the Divine nature, which both lead us away from Chalcedonian orthodoxy.

Luther seems to start off on the wrong foot completely and unfortunately for myself this has led to big problems when I have had to self consciously examine my presuppositions and how they ultimately effect Chalcedonian Christology. BTW, how would you relate your same question to the area of say the eucharist? Specifically children and the eucharist? Do you think Chalcedonian CHristology speaks to that issue?

AH

Thomas said...

AH,

I think you are right about Luther and Reformed anthropology. The fundamental problem (and I am sure "some" would like to trace this back to Augustine) it seems to me is that the Incarnation is the ultimate testament to created, specifically human, agency. God essentially acted as a man to save men. Can one maintain such a high anthropology - as it is anthropology - and at the same time have such a poor anthropology - even within the context of the doctrine of grace - as exists in the Reformed Churches? In other words, what does God’s humanity say about our humanity if they are formally identical?


I am not sure of the exact nature of your question regarding Chalcedonian Christology and the Eucharist and children. Are you referring to pedo-communion?

AH said...

Thomas,

Great insights. The curious thing for me is I am currently reformed, and going to RTS and am in the throws of a huge change (if you know what I mean) so these questions are existentially troubling or freeing...depending how you look at it.

Paedocommunion is exactly what I was talking about in my discussion. It pertains to the union of natures in Christ not being dependent upon a certain cognitive ability and wondering if in like manner that may be the case for baptized infants? I have my thoughts on the issue but would like to get your take...

I appreciate your blog.

ah

Thomas said...

AH,

To be honest, I have not given a great deal of thought to the issue of pedo-communion, since as a Roman Catholic it is not an option for my family. However, I understand that the practice is ancient and possibly apostolic. It also illustrates the sacramental principle (enshrined in a scholastic manner in the formula ‘Ex opere operato’) of grace. Just as in infant baptism, the effect of sacramental grace does not depend upon the understanding or the intention of the child. However, that has to be balanced by the personal character of grace which - as we have observed in the earlier discussion - does not enslave the will but rather renews it. Even in the Church’s administration of the Sacrament of Baptism the intentions of the Church herself and the child’s guardians are vital to the fruitfulness of this grace.

AH said...

Interesting points,

I am not sure how much discontinuity between the role of the church and the guardians would be incipinet in the consideration of paedocommunion, in light of the 'renewal' character of the supper in my own tradition, and in light of the catholic view of baptism. The main thrust of my question was to consider the sacrament Christologically and from which it seems that the same thinking which you state, "Just as in infant baptism, the effect of sacramental grace does not depend upon the understanding or the intention of the child." seems to equally applicable to either sacrament and thus (from my own perspective) equally participatable. But again I appreciate your comments and insights and will consider them.

AH