Tuesday, February 2, 2016

on the two natures of Christ

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."  

(John 1:14 ESV) 

Here are some highlights from Herman Bavinck on the two natures of Christ...

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 it stated that the one person of Christ consisted of two natures, unchanged and unmingled (against Eutyches), and not separated nor divided (against Nestorius), and that these natures existed alongside of each other, having their unity in the one person.

What difference does it really make, they begin by saying, whether we agree with this doctrine or not? What matters is that we ourselves possess the person of Christ, He who stands high and exalted above this awkward confession. But before long these same persons begin introducing words and terms themselves in order to describe the person of Christ whom they accept. Nobody can escape from this situation, for what we do not know we cannot claim to possess.

The Word did not later take a human being unto Himself, but became flesh (John 1:14). And therefore the Christian church in its confession said that the person of the Son did not assume a human person but a human nature, rather. Only in that way can the duality of the natures and the unity of the person be maintained. 

Still, in that Christ it always presents one person to us. It is always the same Self that speaks and acts in Christ. The child which is born bears the name of the mighty God, the everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6).

The same one who came down is the one who ascended up far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10). He who according to the flesh is from the fathers is according to His essence God over all, blessed forever (Rom.9:5).

The union which in His incarnation came to be effected was not a moral union between two persons, but a union of two natures in the same person.

A mingling or fusion [of natures]...impoverish the fullness which is in Christ. They subtract either from the Divine, or from the human, nature, or from both natures, and weaken the word of the Scripture that in Him, that is, in Christ, the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwells (Col. 2:9 and 1:19).

The same rich Christ who in His humiliation and exaltation commands the properties and powers of both natures and who precisely by that means can bring those works to pass, which, as the works of the Mediator, are distinguished on the one hand from the works of God and on the other hand from the works of man, and which take a unique place in the history of the world.

In short, to one and the same subject, one and the same person, Divine and human attributes and works, eternity and time, omnipresence and limitation, creative omnipotence and creaturely weakness are ascribed.

~ Herman Bavinck, "The Divine and Human Nature of Christ" in Our Reasonable Faith, pp 308-329. 

The painting above is "In the Beginning (Gospel of John)" by Makoto Fujimura



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