Monday, March 12, 2007

Divine Abandonment and the Hypostatic Union

Sometimes the suffering of Christ is described as the effect of God’s wrath pored out on the Savior who stands in the place of the sinner. The form which this divine wrath takes is the abandonment of the suffering Christ, not just in the sense of delivering him up to his enemies, but in the more profound sense of removing from the soul of Jesus God’s sanctifying presence. This is said to be the meaning of the words, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” Sometimes a further step is taken and the loss is attributed to the divinity of the Savior resulting in an intra-Trinitarian suffering.

It must be asked whether any of this comports with the Chalcedonian dogma of the unmixed and inseparable natures that subsist together in the Incarnate Word? Clearly the latter view is irreconcilable with the traditional notion of the simplicity and immutability of the divine essence as well as the consubstantiality of the divine persons. The former, however, is perhaps reconcilable. The pertinent question is to what extent “abandonment” means “separation” from the divine nature.


dmartin said...

It is about time!!!! Welcome back!!!!

I would think that the first can be reconciled if one does not mean that God left Christ in anyway. Looking away from Him, would count for me.

His words seems to mean that Christ wanted this "cup" taken from Him, but it was not possible. Christ, on the Cross, feeling the anguish, is, I think asking why in a rhetorical way.

There is deeper meaning to it than this and my answer is not in anyway exhaustive, but only a start.

Scott said...

This is truly one of the great mysteries of the Trinity.

Thomas, Eileen, Michael and William said...


How are you? How are your studies going? When will you complete the program? Do you get back to Nashville much? How is Jen?

With regard to the post, my question is whether it is a mystery or in fact an inconsistency. My initial intuition as a Catholic with a high Christology and a Thomist was that the notion of divine abandonment found in Calvin (I cannot say for certain in Luther) and often repeated by Evangelical theologians and preachers (Hodge, Murray) is problematic. I have since confirmed that intuition and developed more explicit reasons for rejecting the notion.

I will give my reasons in the next post.

It is good to hear from you.

Scott said...

Tommy (Thomas?),

Studies are going well. I am supposed to take exams in May...but we are in the midst of moving to a new apartment, and I'm completing an incomplete that I took from a previous semester. So...I will probably take exams in December, and hopefully start work on the dissertation immediately afterwards.

We haven't been back to Nashville since last year's spring break. Too long of a drive. I'm guessing you can identity with that??? It's about 13 hours or so for us to get to Nashville. If I remember right, you have about the same length of a drive from DC?

Jenn is doing fine. She's actually working for a company that just relocated from northern Virginia. She was just there back in December.

As for your discussion of the Trinity, I will have to come back to that this weekend. I am furiously completing a paper on the 5th century ecclesiastical historians and their teaching on apostolic succession. I bet you wouldn't have expected positive comments on apostolic succession coming from a Baylor theology paper???