I had fun teasing my wife a couple of nights ago during a bed time discussion, probing her position on Christ. Does Jesus have a single nature that is a mix of divine and human qualities? In Jesus, is there a divine personality coexisting with a human personality? Does Jesus have a human body, human soul, and a divine spirit? Did a divine Christ descend upon a human Jesus? Is it possible for a human Jesus to morph into a divine Jesus?
Christmas is a perfect time to examine Eutychian, Nestorian, Apollinarian, Arian, Ebion, and Gnostic heresies. I told my wife “one may describe the person of Christ incarnate as being full of Deity and perfect humanity united without mixture, change, division, or separation in one Person forever.” We can’t divide His Person or “confound” His two natures.
I asked my wife to try to explain this to me:
- Jesus has a full, divine nature . . . truly God.
- Jesus has a full, sinless human nature . . . truly man.
- Jesus is only one Person.
Our bedroom became very quiet.
Some would say, “Todd, this is only the teaching of ancient church councils and creeds.” Incidentally, the Council of Chalcedon did declare Christ as “Son, Lord, Only-Begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form One Person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two Persons, but one and the same Son and Only-Begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ” (modern translation). Yet the men of the council were not creating new revelation, but only acknowledging, submitting their hearts to the inspired, written revelation of Christ.
I carefully try to explain to my friends in Idaho Falls who think I have jumped into ancient mythology and have hit my head against something “internally self-contradictory” that Church creeds are not on the same par with Scripture. Philip Schaff wrote, “The person of Jesus Christ in the fullness of its theanthropic life cannot be exhaustively set forth by any formulas of human logic . . . The formulas of orthodoxy can neither beget true faith, nor nourish it; they are not the bread and water of life, but a standard for theological investigation and a rule for public teaching.” Yet nonetheless, I tell my friends, the Bible teaches all three points, numbered earlier, about Christ. And “the birth of Jesus” is not a human coming from God to mankind. It is God bridging the great chasm caused by men’s sin and becoming a man. God and man are united in One Person, the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philip Schaff wrote, “This incarnation is neither a conversion of God into a man, nor a conversion of a man into God; neither a humanizing of the divine, nor a deification or apotheosis of the human; nor on the other hand is it a mere outward, transitory connection of the two factors; but an actual and abiding union of the two in one personal life. . . The result of the incarnation, that infinite act of divine love, is the God-Man. Not a (Nestorian) double being, with two persons; nor a compound (Apollinarian or Monophysite) middle being, a tertium quid, neither divine nor human; but one person, who is both dvine and human.”
Men are sometimes in a quandary, trying to understand their wives’ personalities. But that Baby in the manger is the most marvelous, complex Person every introduced to me. Descriptions of Him in Scripture are proof enough against all man’s foolish, irrational ideas. And any contradictions in our minds are reconciled in Him. My wife does not need to explain Christ to me. For I cannot explain fully His composition to her. We need not analogies; we just worship in awe.
Glory be to God!