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The fathers on Christ's divine nature

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#21 Anna Stickles

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 04:21 PM

I am probably out of my depth here too, but I believe that in the Orthodox kenosis Christ takes on our passions and weakness, rather then losing anything of the Divine. And one certainly sees this in St Silouan and Fr Sophrony - humility,ie kenosis, is moving deeper into the suffering of the fall, bearing more of this burden on Himself. This is kenotic, not in the sense of losing the divine nature, but of Christ emptying Himself of His "rights" as God. He was impassible, but willingly took on our passibility, He was glorious but willingly took on our ignomity, He was Life but willingly took on our death.

However, both directly, but more often subtly, I have seen the vs in Philip 2 - "He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing." being interpreted as Fr Dcn Matthew says above - not as a humbling of Himself but as a substantial change.

I'd be interested in the footnote.

#22 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 04:40 PM

So far as I understand it (which isn't very far at all), thinking on Christ's kenosis needs to avoid any charge of mutability of the divine, which Fr Sophrony's theology does because it 'is perceived in the framework of the kenotic intratrinitarian love', that is, love which 'gives itself over' - the 'earthly kenosis is thus a manifestation of the heavenly' (Fr Nikolai, op cit p 95).

#23 Anna Stickles

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Posted 11 February 2010 - 09:12 PM

"love which gives itself over" I like this thanks. It sounds like Fr Nikolai is saying that Fr Sophrony sees Christ's kenosis in the framework of Trinitarian perichoresis.

#24 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 12:00 AM

Yes, that is right.

#25 Benjamin Martin

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:54 AM

I have been having a long discussion on another forum with someone who seems to be advocating a kind of kenotic Christology. In the course of this I quoted the seventeenth chapter of Athanasius on the Incarnation with which he strongly disagreed. I have been arguing that the later Fathers although affirming the full humanity of Christ never retreated from Athanasius's position that during his earthly life Christ did not fail to maintain such attributes as omnipotence and omniscience and that they held to this position even while arguing against Apolinarianism. What I am struggling to find is quotes from the Fathers to back up this claim. Any suggestions?

Anyone who wants to see how our discussion has been going should try: http://cslewis.drzeu...opic.php?t=8818


Hello Dave Ferguson,


I am well aware of the kenotic teachings. This is what the Bible teaches -


The Athanasian Creed specifically states: "Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ. He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity. He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures. For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man."


Immutability - The One Person and Divine Nature consist of his Deity. Which there is no actual metamorphose and transformation to the Deity itself that undergo genetic make-up of the human nature. Nor losing all the properties of what the Deity is consist of, and magically gain the human nature properties by becoming an entirely different mode of existence. The Deity is eternally in perfection, no change for the better, no increase or decrease of capacity and power, no addition to self-existence, and no reaching a climax or reducing within himself. His Deity is immutability and absolutely perfect with no possible variation (Hebrews 13:8, 1:11 & 12).


Logos emptied himself of his will


The Gospels message clearly teaches that the Person of Christ is omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent - during his pre-existence, incarnation, and exaltation. Now the Hypostatic Union views Jesus from the whole of Scriptures. For there is no dividing markers between "incarnation" and "exaltation" because the Divine Nature never changed and emptied itself of his attributes through the whole entire process in the incarnation. It is the same Divine Nature in pre-existence, same in incarnation, and same in exaltation. The human nature was assumed during the incarnation and remain with him forever


Emptied Himself - This doctrine is established on the basis that the Logos has kenosis (Greek κενόω - transliteration kenoō) which means "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7), was a voluntary act in the surrender of his independent excercise of his will. For the Divine Person of the Logos has made none effect of himself or made himself void of his own account in his will, (not emptying himself of Godhood, Divine Nature, and attributes, etc.) so he can carry out the Father's will and purpose for the determined eternal plan of salvation to mankind.

Philippians 2:7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

The Person of Christ will not act independently of the Father which is part of his submission (John 6:38, Hebrews 10:5-10) this implies the identity of the Divine Will of Christ with the Will of God the Father. Or in other words, the Logos emptied himself and took on the Father's Will as his own Will. Because the Father and the Son is equal in Divinity. This is resulting in the One Person of Christ to have a human will and a Divine Will. Since he surrender his will; he chooses not to operate from his own prerogative and inherent power unless it is granted from the Father's permission, like the Divine Will gives life willing (John 5:21). For he never work outside of the Father's will. Therefore, the Person of Christ speaks (John 8:28; 12:49-50; 14:31) and acts (John 10:18. Matthew 9:6, Luke 8:25, John 17:2) only as the Father has directed and instructed him in accordance to one Divine Will.


 Equal to the Father in Divinity and subordinate to the Father in humanity


The proof of Christ's Divine Nature is demonstrated through the equality with the Father (John 5:16-18, 10:22-33) which clearly revealed within Scriptures. The One Person of the Son is equal to the Father in Divinity and subordinate to the Father in humanity. For a good description of the One Person who is in possession of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4), and not like us human being who has a sinful carnal nature. For we cannot possess it, be inseparable to it, or unite with the Divine Nature. And that we can only participate in the Divine Nature. But the man Jesus Christ's holy sinless human nature is the one and only who possess it, be inseparable and subsisting to it, and united with his Divine Nature because he is God himself.


Jesus made equality with the Father


John 5:16-19 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working."

The Jew understood Jesus statement

For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus continues to make equality statement

Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Equality - The Father and the Son is in the One Indivisible Divine Nature. And the Eternally Begotten Logos derived his personal mode of subsistence from the Father without muliplying the Divine Nature. For the Divine Nature is underived because the Father and the Son is that One Undivided Divine Nature. They are distinctively God-of-himself or Lord-of-himself, and not with respect to their Persons, but of One Indivisible Divine Nature containing One Lord and One God - pertaining to their functions and offices in relation to mankind. For each Persons has the same One Indivisible Divine Nature and each Persons possesses the whole One Indivisible Divine Nature (Matthew 1:23, 'with' John 8:29 vs.16, 'not alone' 16:32, they always work together as one John 5:17, 9:4, 14:10 and the they are in each other John 10:38, 14:11, 17:21).


Subordination - This is a willingness submission to authority. Which the position of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit in the One Indivisible Divine Nature is still co-equal in essence. And there is a subordination given from the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit in office. The Father is greater only through the subordination, not of Essence or Divinity, which makes Father first, the Son second, and the Holy Spirit third of office in relation to mankind. Which has an humble order revealed by their Persons demonstrated through the operation. Here is another chain of command order found in scriptures God is head of Christ is head of man is head of woman (1 Corinthians 3:21, 22, 11:3, Greater than I - John 10:29, 14:28, Do nothing of himself - John 5:19, 30).

Philippians 2:7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness

John 13:16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

Authorization - When the Logos emptied himself of his will. He didn't cease his "Divine Power," during the incarnate state. His attributes like omnipotent for example is still there for operation. Because the Person of Christ has his own prerogative and inherent power. Through his subordination his will has never worked or performed outside the Father's will. Which he is able to performed by himself, only if its in accordance to the Father's will. There are certain instance when he chooses not to operate from his own power unless it is granted from the Father's permission, like the Father gives the commandment, and authority or power (ἐξουσία - transliteration exousia) which means "power to act, authorization" then the Son worked by himself in his own inherent power. Another fact to be acknowledged is before Jesus was resurrected and exalted. He knew that the Father has given him all authority or power (power he possessed when he come from God and power he possessed when returning to God), which he already possessed in his incarnate state.


Jesus has authority to forgive sins


Matthew 9:6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home."


Jesus has authority to judge


John 5:27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.


Jesus has authority to die and resurrect himself


John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.


Jesus has authority over all to give eternal life


John 17:2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.


Jesus has power over all things


John 13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his (Jesus's) power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

a). Jesus has everything placed in his hands

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands

b). Jesus has all things committed to him

Luke 10:22 All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

c). And the disciples know everything been given to him


John 17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.


Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth


 Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."

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