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Was/Is Christ a human being?


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 02:36 PM

Yes - there can obviously be nothing created in God.

#22 IoanC

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 02:54 PM

Yes - there can obviously be nothing created in God.


Then being made in the imagine and likeness of God makes no sense.
God does not have freedom, will and rationality, which is essentially what a soul is. The human body has nothing to do with this; it's only the support for man's soul, man's distinction from God and the Angels.

God's soul is the same as man's soul, as in, a soul is always a soul. That's not to say that God is the same person as me, or you, etc. And, personal attributes have nothing to do with this.

And, I still find the word "soul" in connection to God in every single translation of Isaiah 1:14 that I can find.

Edited by Ioan, 27 August 2012 - 03:27 PM.


#23 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 03:27 PM

I agree completely with Fr. Stephanos and Rdr. Andreas on the matter of the soul. I don't want to get into what the soul is, but I'm glad Mr. Ioan mentioned the soul because it does help to clarify what it means to be human. Being human means having a human soul and a human body. All persons having a human soul and a human body have human being and may therefore be said to be "human beings."

It happens that one Person has both divine being and human being and may therefore be said to be both God and a man, an anthropos, a human being. We do not say He was "a God" because there is only one God, one divine being, one divine essence shared by all three Persons of the Trinity. We may, however, say that He was "a man" because there are many men, each sharing the human nature but with his own being, i.e., his own soul and his own body.

Thus, whereas distinction within God is strictly personal, distinction within man is not only personal but also material. Christ is distinguished from us not only as another Person but also as another human being — another soul and another body. We do not share this other human being simply by sharing human nature; we share it only by partaking of its Body and Blood through the Mystery of Holy Communion. This partaking is what unites us as one. Without it, we remain divided as individual human beings.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 27 August 2012 - 04:05 PM.


#24 IoanC

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 03:40 PM

I agree completely with Fr. Stephanos and Rdr. Andreas on the matter of the soul. I don't want to get into what the soul is, but I'm glad Mr. Ioan mentioned the soul because it does help to clarify what it means to be human. Being human means having a human soul and a human body. All persons having a human soul and a human body have human being and may therefore be said to be "human beings."

It happens that one Person has both divine being and human being and may therefore be said to be both God and a man, an anthropos, a human being. We do not say He was "a God" because there is only one God, one divine being, one divine essence shared by all three Persons of the Trinity. We may, however, say that He was "a man" because there are many men, each sharing the human nature but with his own being, i.e., his own soul and his own body.

Thus, whereas distinction within God is strictly personal, distinction within man is not only personal but also material. Christ is distinguished from us not only as another Person but also as another human being — another soul and another body. We do not share this other human being simply by sharing human nature; we share it only by partaking of its Body and Blood through the Mystery of Holy Communion. This partaking is what unites us as one. Without it, we remain divided.


I am still having difficulty understanding what you mean. I've simply been trying to explain a point of view.
As long as we are not implying that Christ has a human soul that makes him both a Divine Person and a Human Person (two distinct Persons), then I agree with you. Christ has two Natures, but He is not two persons.

#25 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 04:30 PM

I think Fr Dcn Patrick is trying to emphasize Christ's human 'side' though to avoid problems, we need to follow what the Church tells us. Christ is indeed one Person with two natures: He is theanthropos - totally God and totally man. It is, however, a step too far to think of Christ as a human person (or indeed as a divine person). He is one Person period. As St Gregory Palamas says (in Homily 5), "For He did not receive from us a human person, but assumed our human nature and renewed it by uniting it with His own Person." Christ assumed human nature in its entirety. The hymnology of the Church confines itself to saying this:

I have learned from the prophet who foretold in ancient times of the coming of Emmanuel, that a certain holy Virgin should bear a Child. But I long to know how the nature of mortal men shall undergo union with the Godhead.
From the Vigil for the Feast of the Annunciation.

The captain of the angelic hosts was sent by almighty God to the pure Virgin to announce the good tidings of a strange and secret wonder: That God as man would be born a Child of her without seed, fashioning again the whole human race. Proclaim, O people, the good tidings of the re-creation of the world. (Exaposteilarion of the feast)


Human nature is, of course, that which is common to all humankind, male and female.

#26 Phoebe K.

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 04:38 PM

This discussion is begging to become circular, the fathers defined this clearly in the Chalcedon deffinition.

"The Council of Chalcedon's "Definition of the Faith" (451 AD)

In agreement, therefore, with the holy fathers, we all unanimously teach that we
should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son, the same
perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the
same of a rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and
the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin;
begotten from the Father before the ages as regards his Godhead, and in the last
days, the same, because of us and because of our salvation begotten from the
Virgin Mary the Theotokos, as regards his manhood; one and the same Christ, Son,
Lord, only-begotten, made known in two natures without confusion, without
change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by
no means removed because of the union, but the property of each nature being
preserved and coalescing in one prosopon and one hupostasis - not parted or
divided into two prosopa, but one and the same Son, only-begotten, divine Word,
the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets of old and Jesus Christ Himself have taught
us about Him and the creed of our fathers has handed down.

Taken from J.N.D Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (London: Continuum, 19775), pp.339-40"

This along with the creed I quoted in my first post express the Church's desition on this mater, we as humans cannot know the divine mystery of the Trinity within the Godself or the unexpressable mystery of the incarnation. This is an area we just have to believe and pray for the revelation of understanding.

Or so it seems to this cattacumin

Phoebe

#27 IoanC

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 04:58 PM

I was just making sure that Fr. Patrick is not implying that Christ is something to the effect of two Persons. If that was not the case, then I agree with all that's been said here. (one of those -- it's not what you say but how you say it, and I haven't yet picked up the "how" in Fr. Patrick's opening post of this thread.)

#28 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 05:16 PM

Most emphatically, one Person, eternally divine yet Who became a man who walked among us in a particular time and place, as we affirm in the Creed.

#29 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 07:05 PM

I think Phoebe makes an important point, namely that the Incarnation is a mystery. What we need to know has been revealed to us.

One can say, 'Christ is man', though this is incomplete and is better 'Christ is God-man' (theanthropos); but one cannot say 'Christ is a human person', for the personhood of the incarnate Christ is always and ever that person who is of fully human and fully divine natures -- thus He is is a human-divine person. - Archimandrite Irenee.


A fortiori we should not say that Christ is a man since this tends to asserting that He has a human hypostasis. This we cannot do. Can it be found anywhere in the conciliar, patristic or hymnographic deposit of our Church that Christ was a man? No. Only that He assumed human nature.

To go beyond the terminology of the councils, our hymnography, and the writings of the Holy Fathers is surely fraught with danger, and confusing to those who are trying to adhere to our faith.

#30 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 08:40 PM

We're dealing here with two definitions of the English word person. In common parlance, person is often synonymous with man and human being (e.g., chairman = chairperson). In Christian theology, person is equivalent to hypostasis, meaning individual reality, in contrast to ousia, meaning being or essence — thus the accepted formula of "three Hypostases in one Ousia" to explain the Trinity as three divine Persons, one divine essence.

The problem with the objection to speaking of Christ as "a man" or "a human being" is that it uses both definitions of person simultaneously: It accepts the theological definition of person to insist that there is but one Person of Christ; at the same time, it assumes the common use of person as "a human being" to object that calling Christ "a human being" is tantamount to calling Him a "human person" (i.e., a human hypostasis).

Now, it is fair to warn that certain uses of certain words are liable to misunderstanding and therefore should be avoided. But when we speak dogmatically about the use of words, we must be precise and consistent about our use of words so that we don't confuse people with an uncertain mix of technical terms and common speech.

In this case, we cannot maintain the difference between person and being in the Trinity while denying the difference between person and being in man. We must apply the same definitions to both. If we accept that person and being are not the same thing, then saying Christ was "a human being" does not mean that He was "a human person."

I should also point out that in the statement that started this argument I didn't just say Christ was a "human being," I said He was a "divine human being," which is just another way of saying he was a God-man, a theanthropos.

#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 08:59 PM

'Divine-human being' might work. But would it not be better to stay with the expression 'theanthropos' which is what the Church uses and which admits of no confusion?

#32 Father Stephanos

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 09:28 PM

'Divine-human being' might work. But would it not be better to stay with the expression 'theanthropos' which is what the Church uses and which admits of no confusion?

'Divine-human being' probably should not be used as it could cause misinterpretations of what is meant. 'Theanthropos' more properly means God-human or God-man. Though perhaps, 'God-human Being' might be able to be used in reference to our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#33 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 09:57 PM

'Divine-human being' probably should not be used as it could cause misinterpretations of what is meant. 'Theanthropos' more properly means God-human or God-man. Though perhaps, 'God-human Being' might be able to be used in reference to our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos


Indeed. 'Theanthropos' is known and is the expression the Church uses. We are safe if we stick with it. There is no need to go beyond it.

#34 Anna Stickles

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 09:59 PM

Mr. Ioan,

You are consistently confusing person with soul, and your definition of soul is not consistent with Patristic theology. God does not have a soul, He is "spirit", or beyond being in any created or human sense. A soul is something created and while more immaterial then our body yet, still "material" in a relative sense of the word.

"Then being made in the imagine and likeness of God makes no sense.
God does not have freedom, will and rationality, which is essentially what a soul is."


This is not at all the definition of a soul. Maybe we can say these are operations that a soul is capable of since it is made in God's image, but that is very different then saying these things in themselves constitute a soul.

#35 Father David Moser

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:11 PM

Indeed. 'Theanthropos' is known and is the expression the Church uses. We are safe if we stick with it. There is no need to go beyond it.


This is probably the same term that the Serbian theological writer St Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) uses which is consistently translated "God/man" I find that tend to use that term in English quite a bit.

Fr David

#36 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 12:31 AM

This is probably the same term that the Serbian theological writer St Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) uses which is consistently translated "God/man" I find that tend to use that term in English quite a bit.

Fr David


This is certainly so:

PERFECT GOD AND PERFECT MAN

CHRIST IS BORN! - HRISTOS SE RODI!

A Nativity Epistle from Archimandrite Justin Popovich

God is born on earth, and moreover He is born as man: perfect God and perfect man--the unique God-man. And He has forever remained as the God-man both on earth and in heaven. Indeed, the God-man is the first perfect man on earth. Perfect man? Yes, because only in the God-man is man without sin, without evil, without death, totally filled with God, and thereby with all divine perfections.

The God-man has demonstrated and proved this most convincingly: man is only a true man when he is completely united with God, and in everything and every way completely lives in God, thinks in God, feels in God, acts in God, is virtuous in God, is immortal in God, is eternal in God. Only and solely in God is man a man, a true man, a perfect man, a man in whom all the fullness of the Godhead lives.

We can analyze this fundamental, evangelic, Divine-human truth about man.

The soul of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Soul in the God-man does it become and forever remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect eternal.

The mind of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Mind in the God-man does it become and forever remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

The heart of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Heart in the God-man does it become and remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

The conscience of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Conscience in the God-man does it become and remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

The will of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Will in the God-man does our will become and forever remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

The body of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Body in the God-man does the body become and forever remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

The life of man?--Only and solely as the Divine Life in the God-man does our life become and forever remain sinless, immortal, God-like, holy, perfect, eternal.

Everything that man is, and everything that is of man perfectly lives, works, thinks, feels, is human, immortal, divine, and eternal only and solely in the God-man and through the God-man. Only through the God-man Christ is man divine majesty and the highest value next to God in all worlds. For this reason God became man, and has remained the God-man for all eternity. With the God-man Christ, all that is God's has become man's, human, ours, so that each of us individually and all of us assembled together in the Divine-human body of Christ, the Church, might become god-men, having at*tained "to the perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12-13).

Therefore Christmas, the day of the birth of the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the greatest and most important day in the history of all the worlds in which man moves and lives. Truly this is "great joy"--truly the only true joy, the only eternal joy of a human being in all worlds.

The God-man?--This is the most important Event of all the worlds of man: the Ultimate Event.

The God-man?--This is the most important Justice of all the worlds of man: the Ultimate Justice.

The God-man?--This is the most important Love of all the worlds of man: the Ultimate Love.

The God-man?--This is the most important Good of all the worlds of man: the Ultimate Good.

The God-man?--This is the most important Man of all the worlds of man: the Ultimate Man.

The God-man?--This is the most important God of all the gods of man: the Ultimate God.


On account of all this, the Nativity is our only eternal Joy:

the Ultimate Joy. The Joy of all joys, the Joy above all joys. Therefore, again and again: Hristos se rodi! Christ is born! The God-man is born! Our deification is born! Our divine*human transformation is born!


And this:

A theologian, St. Justin saw no dichotomy between the Lives of the Saints and the theological writings of the Church. For him, as for the Church, theology and the Lives of the Saints form one whole. He called the Lives of the Saints "experiential theology" or "applied dogmatic theology," and he viewed them and wrote about them in a theological manner. Likewise, he viewed theological writings as an expression of the experience of the life of Grace in the Church, and not just an intellectual, abstract or polemical exercise.

How does St. Justin view the Lives of the Saints theologically? At the center of all of St. Justin's thought is the Theanthropic vision: the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ, uniting human nature with Divine Nature. The fact of the God-man, the Theanthropos, is the axis of the universe: it is the reality according to which everything else must be viewed, whether it be the nature of the Church or the problems and issues of everyday life.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 28 August 2012 - 01:27 AM.


#37 IoanC

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:49 AM

Mr. Ioan,

You are consistently confusing person with soul, and your definition of soul is not consistent with Patristic theology. God does not have a soul, He is "spirit", or beyond being in any created or human sense. A soul is something created and while more immaterial then our body yet, still "material" in a relative sense of the word.



This is not at all the definition of a soul. Maybe we can say these are operations that a soul is capable of since it is made in God's image, but that is very different then saying these things in themselves constitute a soul.


Then what is the exact definition of a soul? Just based on the fact that our souls are created, doesn't necessarily mean that God doesn't have an uncreated soul.
And, I did find the word "soul" in connection to God in Isaiah 1:14 as I've been mentioning, and another place in Isaiah for now. Some here argue that it really should be taken differently; while I agree to some extent, I also believe that the same should be said about the human soul, too. The soul is not really an object or a concept created by God that is only found in men, but who one is, not so much what one is, though it is tied in with it. God's soul would not be the same as man's soul, for certain, but God made man to be equal to Him in potential, so really, just because we are human doesn't mean that we are less god. I try to avoid to create this huge gap between God and man. God see man as a His child and wants to lift him up to the very height of His uncreated Son (through Grace); our humanity could not be a limitation then, unless we view ourselves as being disconnected from God.

#38 Father Stephanos

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 04:57 AM

Then what is the exact definition of a soul? Just based on the fact that our souls are created, doesn't necessarily mean that God doesn't have an uncreated soul.
And, I did find the word "soul" in connection to God in Isaiah 1:14 as I've been mentioning, and another place in Isaiah for now. Some here argue that it really should be taken differently; while I agree to some extent, I also believe that the same should be said about the human soul, too. The soul is not really an object or a concept created by God that is only found in men, but who one is, not so much what one is, though it is tied in with it. God's soul would not be the same as man's soul, for certain, but God made man to be equal to Him in potential, so really, just because we are human doesn't mean that we are less god. I try to avoid to create this huge gap between God and man. God see man as a His child and wants to lift him up to the very height of His uncreated Son (through Grace); our humanity could not be a limitation then, unless we view ourselves as being disconnected from God.

Dear Mr. Ioan,

For some reason, I missed the word soul when I looked at Isaiah 1.14 before, but καὶ τὰς ἑορτὰς ὑμῶν μισεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου· which is often literally translated as "and your feasts my soul hates" is not as precise as it needs to be as ἡ ψυχή has other meanings besides 'soul;' it can mean life, breath of life, being, etc. Unfortunately, 'soul' in English does not have all the meanings that ψυχή does in Greek, so we sometimes can encounter problems when our Holy Scripture is not translated properly.

As we all know, we are always to read and understand our Holy Scripture as our Holy Fathers do and not to interpret Holy Scripture in a way that would be contrary to the Teaching of our Holy Orthodox Church. Our Holy Church and our Holy Fathers definitely teach that our Lord Jesus Christ had a human soul. (I hope to provide some quotations after the Feast of the Holy Domination of our All-Holy Lady Theotokos Maria.)


I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Father Stephanos



#39 IoanC

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 05:15 AM

Dear Mr. Ioan,

For some reason, I missed the word soul when I looked at Isaiah 1.14 before, but καὶ τὰς ἑορτὰς ὑμῶν μισεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου· which is often literally translated as "and your feasts my soul hates" is not as precise as it needs to be as ἡ ψυχή has other meanings besides 'soul;' it can mean life, breath of life, being, etc. Unfortunately, 'soul' in English does not have all the meanings that ψυχή does in Greek, so we sometimes can encounter problems when our Holy Scripture is not translated properly.

As we all know, we are always to read and understand our Holy Scripture as our Holy Fathers do and not to interpret Holy Scripture in a way that would be contrary to the Teaching of our Holy Orthodox Church. Our Holy Church and our Holy Fathers definitely teach that our Lord Jesus Christ had a human soul. (I hope to provide some quotations after the Feast of the Holy Domination of our All-Holy Lady Theotokos Maria.)


I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Father Stephanos


Please, do provide quotes, if you are able. I am interested of both in favor that Christ had a human soul, and in favor that His human soul was different that His Divine soul, or, if not the case, that He didn't have a Divine soul. And I am waiting for definitions of the word "soul", as well, from whomever can offer them. Thank you!

#40 IoanC

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:44 AM

And, again, it seems to me that this understanding of Christ having a human soul leads to Christology problems; so, not so much regarding us, our souls, but Him.
If you say that His human soul was limited, then it implies that He was both Divine and a creature, that His Human Nature was really a limitation for Him. That there was no perfect union between His Divine and Human Natures. In turn, it leads to theosis not really being a possibility for humans because if our souls are limited then we can not literally and truly be lifted to being god (small "g", but nonetheless exactly like God). So, we really need to investigate what we are saying here. If it's only a problem of hazy terminology it doesn't really matter, otherwise it does.

And by the way, man is not at all exactly human the way we perceive it in our fallen state. In his natural state, man is like the Angels, like God even. Saints were able to be in multiple locations, to know what was happening elsewhere, to see The Kingdom of God, to perform miracles, to see the future. This is what human nature is in its full potential. But if you take The Grace of God away, then yes, man appears to be some sort limited thing that is a slave to a mechanical world (which the world actually is by being separated from God in this age). That's why I am saying. It would be blasphemous to say that God intended man to be limited to Him, and regards man as so. That would make God unloving to His children and a liar that man can truly attain theosis. So by contemplating the soul of man as being separate from God, then yes, man will be next to nothing, but that's not the full Truth about man, just as Christ is able to be both God and Man. Well, man is able to be both man and god, in the opposite order, yet, nonetheless, the effect is the same.




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