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Ignorance in Christ's humanity


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#1 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

In listening to the latest episode of Ancient Faith Today, host Kevin Allen interviewed Fr Patrick Henry Reardon regarding his latest book, "The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ", which has been discussed here in a former thread. I have not read this work, so I am not certain as to if this particular issue was discussed in the book, but a particular moment of discussion in the interview struck me as very peculiar, and I'd love to get some perspective on it for those more familiar with the concept...

http://ancientfaith....or_jesus_christ

In the interview, Fr. Patrick makes an apparently bold statement regarding Christ's humanity and specifically His adoption of any sort of limited knowledge or ignorance. Fr. Patrick suggests we take Him for His word, and not assume he is merely 'putting on a show'. This struck me as infinitely odd, and I immediately thought of Christ's dealings with Adam & Eve after they transgressed His commandment. God was clearly not displaying ignorance in wondering where Adam might be, or if he had done something he wasn't supposed to, etc. This is archetypal pastoral care, and as St Symeon the New Theologian states, an opportunity for the first-created to come into repentance of his own free will.

Why would Christ's interactions as God-man be any different? If Christ is God-man, and not just God as man, then where is his knowledge being limited? Fr. Patrick brings up kenosis in the Incarnation, as well as St Gregory the Theologian's famed quote, "
For that which He has not assumed He has not healed", but if he assumed all except for sin, why would His knowledge not be perfect? The picture that Fr. Patrick was painting reminded me more of the Mormon temple rite discussing creation, and Archangel Michael being incarnate as Adam, forgetting his former celestial pre-existence. In humanizing Christ in such a manner, is that not forgetting Him as God? I know the purpose of Fr. Patrick's quest was to bring back the focus of Christ Incarnate, but does this view push it too far in the other direction? My poorly tuned equilibrium meter says yes, but what say you?

Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Anthony

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 07:15 PM

See this thread, especially post #2.

http://www.monachos....wo-co-operation

#3 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 07:20 PM

See this thread, especially post #2.

http://www.monachos....wo-co-operation


Most excellent, thank you!

#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 03:31 PM

For what St Gregory the Theologian said we can go to Fr John Behr in his The Nicene Faith- Part 2 (p. 357):

"'no one except the Father knows the last day or hour, not even the Son Himself.' (Mk. 13:32). Gregory asks how anything can be unknown to Wisdom [ie Christ the Word], the creator of the world, Who perfects and transforms all created things? The immediate answer given by Gregory is...along the lines of his general principle: 'he does know as God, but that, as man, he does not.' However, rather than remaining content with this, Gregory suggests that in this case the first explanation is not sufficient and so proposes a second solution. This time he bases himself on the Son's dependence on the Father as cause, which implies that 'even the Son's knowledge of the day or hour is none other than His knowledge that the Father knows them.' The Son's very being and life is that of the Father, and so any knowledge that He has is also that of the Father. Not that the Son then possesses these things separately from the Father, but that He is the Mind, Word, and Life of the Father, still dependent upon Him as cause."


This all refers to St Gregory's Oration 30.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#5 Lakis Papas

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 09:29 PM

Christ is God-man. When we talk about Him we are talking about "Who" is He.

When we talk about His natural identity we should not talk about it only as divine, or only as human. We must speak simultaneously, both as divine and as human. Doing what is right, then we create a verbal paradox - we are forced to speak in contradictory terms. Because there is nothing in common between divine and human. Logic dictates: if someone is divine, it is impossible to be human and if someone is human then, it is impossible to be divine.

But, we are forced to adapt our logic to reality. Christ is God-man beyond physical or logical boundaries.

He -Who is indescribable- is taking shape, He -Who is is eternal- acquires start, He -Who is immortal- is subjected to death, and He -Who is omniscient- wears ignorance.

The picture that Fr. Patrick was painting reminded me more of the Mormon temple rite discussing creation, and Archangel Michael being incarnate as Adam, forgetting his former celestial pre-existence. In humanizing Christ in such a manner, is that not forgetting Him as God? I know the purpose of Fr. Patrick's quest was to bring back the focus of Christ Incarnate, but does this view push it too far in the other direction?
Anthony


What Mormons say is something absolutely different from Fr Patrick's point of view. Mormons assume that a subject is taking roles by personating roles based on logical preconditions.

St Chrysostom says:

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the starts the singing of angelic voices; and in the place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of Justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God. This day He Who Is, is Born’ and He Who Is, becomes what He Was Not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word, He became Flesh, His nature because of impassibility, remaining unchanged....

This day, He Who was ineffably Begotten of the Father, was for me born of the Virgin: in a way no tongue can tell. Begotten according to His nature before all ages from the Father; in what manner He knows Who has begotten Him; born again this day from the Virgin, above the order of nature, in what manner knows the power of the Holy Spirit. And His heavenly generation is true, and His generation here on earth is true. As God He is truly begotten of God, so also as man is He truly born from the Virgin. In heaven He alone is the Only-Begotten of the unique Virgin.Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence, and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him Who Works...

He has come on earth, while being whole in heaven; and while complete in heaven, He is without diminution on earth. Though He was God, He became Man; not denying Himself to be God. Though being the impassable Word, He became flesh; that He might dwell among us, he became flesh, He did not become God, He was God. Wherefore He became flesh so that He Whom heaven did not contain a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger so that He, by Whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.



#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 05:56 AM

There is an enormous amount of material on Christology and the ancient Christological debates on Monachos. Much of which is over my head. However, if there is one constant in human history, it is the belief, via experience, of some comingling of the divine and human. It is not a universal absolute, but it is pervasive. The reason that we can recognize Jesus as God is that we all have the image and likeness of God in us in some degree -- and God is present in all of us -- that is, every human, in some degree, and therefore like recognizes like. So if anything, it is the most illogical to think that God and men have nothing to do with each other -- no contact, no sharing of qualities. This is perhaps why the Greeks were receptive to the Gospel while the Jews were, by and large, not. Because, based on my limited knowledge, Judaism is practically unique in its radical transcendence of God. The deification of man is anathema to Jews. Regarding the topic more directly, one has to deal with the New Testament passages that suggest a growing, maturing human intellect, will, and insight, and do so without lapsing into the heresy that He grew and developed or evolved in His divinity. I have no problem with this, because otherwise, what you would have would be some kind of freak. If Jesus was born with all Divine knowledge contained in his human intellect, than he would be spouting fractal equations by the age of 6, or other things we have not even dreamed of knowing. I have no problem, that is, assuming that being fully human imposed certain limitations on the God-man. Wouldn't it be most odd if we could identify only with His Divinity and not His humanity? I've not read the referenced work by Fr. Patrick, but we must never forget that Jesus Christ is our friend.

#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 09:06 AM

There is this, however:

they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. Luke 2:46-47



#8 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:33 AM

And this comment follows the paragraph stated by Rdr Andreas:

(Luke 2:52) And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.



#9 Olga

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:35 AM

A theme of the feast of Mid-Pentecost, which commemorates the teaching of the twelve-year-old Christ in the Temple, is His surpassing wisdom. Some selections from the feast:

At the mid-point of the feast, as You were teaching, O Saviour, the Jews said, ‘How does this man know letters, never having learned?’ They did not recognize that You are the Wisdom who ordered the world. Glory to You!

You, Lord, have become Wisdom, Justice and Redemption for us from God, as You pass over from earth to the height of heaven and bestow the divine Spirit.

About the mid-point of the feast He went up into the Temple and began to teach, and all were amazed at His teaching; but being envious of Him they said: How does this man know letters, never having learned? For being the New Adam He knew, being filled with all wisdom as the first one, and again because He was God.
(from the Synaxarion reading at Matins)

The Wisdom of God, so it is written, came to the temple at the mid-point of the feast and taught; for He was truly the Messiah, Christ, from whom is salvation.

The Wisdom and power and brightness of the Father, the eternal Word and Son of God came in the flesh to the Temple and taught the fierce, ungrateful peoples of the Jews; and they marvelled at His wealth of wisdom and cried out: Whence does He know letters, never having learned from anyone?

We must be careful not to interpret the scripture passage provided by Lakis as meaning that Christ was not eternally omniscient. He grew physically as any human child would, but His wisdom and knowledge was all-encompassing and complete from before His Incarnation.

#10 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:12 AM

The reason that we can recognize Jesus as God is that we all have the image and likeness of God in us in some degree -- and God is present in all of us -- that is, every human, in some degree, and therefore like recognizes like. So if anything, it is the most illogical to think that God and men have nothing to do with each other -- no contact, no sharing of qualities.


You are right, as we say in our own funeral service: “I am the image of thy glory ineffable, though I bear the brands of transgressions.”

At the same time, Saint Gregory the Theologian says in his Oration 38, "On the Theophany or the Birthday of Christ":

God always was, and always is, and always will be. Or rather, God always Is. For Was and Will be are fragments of our time, and of changeable nature, but He is Eternal Being. And this is the Name that He gives to Himself when giving the Oracle to Moses in the Mount. For in Himself He sums up and contains all Being, having neither beginning in the past nor end in the future; like some great Sea of Being, limitless and unbounded, transcending all conception of time and nature, only adumbrated by the mind, and that very dimly and scantily ... not by His Essentials, but by His Environment; one image being got from one source and another from another, and combined into some sort of presentation of the truth, which escapes us before we have caught it, and takes to flight before we have conceived it, blazing forth upon our Master-part, even when that is cleansed, as the lightning flash which will not stay its course, does upon our sight ... in order as I conceive by that part of it which we can comprehend to draw us to itself (for that which is altogether incomprehensible is outside the bounds of hope, and not within the compass of endeavour), and by that part of It which we cannot comprehend to move our wonder, and as an object of wonder to become more an object of desire, and being desired to purify, and by purifying to make us like God; so that when we have thus become like Himself, God may, to use a bold expression, hold converse with us as Gods, being united to us, and that perhaps to the same extent as He already knows those who are known to Him. The Divine Nature then is boundless and hard to understand; and all that we can comprehend of Him is His boundlessness; even though one may conceive that because He is of a simple nature He is therefore either wholly incomprehensible, or perfectly comprehensible. For let us further enquire what is implied by "is of a simple nature." For it is quite certain that this simplicity is not itself its nature, just as composition is not by itself the essence of compound beings
...
Mind, then, and sense, thus distinguished from each other, had remained within their own boundaries, and bore in themselves the magnificence of the Creator-Word, silent praisers and thrilling heralds of His mighty work. Not yet was there any mingling of both, nor any mixtures of these opposites, tokens of a greater Wisdom and Generosity in the creation of natures; nor as yet were the whole riches of Goodness made known. Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this, and to produce a single living being out of both--the visible and the invisible creations, I mean--fashions Man; and taking a body from already existing matter, and placing in it a Breath taken from Himself which the Word knew to be an intelligent soul and the Image of God, as a sort of second world. He placed him, great in littleness on the earth; a new Angel, a mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only partially into the intellectual; King of all upon earth, but subject to the King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and yet intellectual; half-way between greatness and lowliness; in one person combining spirit and flesh; spirit, because of the favour bestowed on him; flesh, because of the height to which he had been raised; the one that he might continue to live and praise his Benefactor, the other that he might suffer, and by suffering be put in remembrance, and corrected if he became proud of his greatness.A living creature trained here, and then moved elsewhere; and, to complete the mystery, deified by its inclination to God. For to this, I think, tends that Light of Truth which we here possess but in measure, that we should both see and experience the Splendour of God, which is worthy of Him Who made us, and will remake us again after a loftier fashion.

This being He placed in Paradise, whatever the Paradise may have been, having honoured him with the gift of Free Will (in order that God might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him who had implanted the seeds of it), to till the immortal plants, by which is meant perhaps the Divine Conceptions, both the simpler and the more perfect; naked in his simplicity and in-artificial life, and without any covering or screen; for it was fitting that he who was from the beginning should be such.
....



#11 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:11 PM

In saying that Christ "grew in wisdom and stature" is not to say that Christ actually lacked (at any time) either attribute. It is simply that His reputation among men as being wise grew, that is, people learned of His wisdom over time in as much as He allowed it to be "seen".

#12 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:57 PM

Just as during His transfiguration He allowed His disciples to see a glimpse of what He truly is; when He was 12 He allowed the elders to see a glimpse of who He truly is also. He could not manifest Himself in His fullness at sucha young age without appearing to be a freak of nature. So He had to allow His flesh to grow while at the same time allowing His divinity to show through somewhat filtered.

Paul

#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:41 PM

Just as during His transfiguration He allowed His disciples to see a glimpse of what He truly is;...l


Christ is truly who He has appeared to be before His transfiguration: a man; He is truly who He has appeared to be during His transfiguration: the glorified Son of God. He is both true God and true man.

Inefficiencies due to His perfect human nature, should not lead us to reject them. He did not pretend being human, He was (and still is) truly human - as well as truly God. If being a man sets limits, according to human nature, Christ accepted these limits and made ​​them Ηis own. At the same time, being the Son of God, He glorified these limits, by glorifying the weakness of human nature according to the will of His Father.

He exceeded human standards (as Son of God), but it was His finite presence (as Son of Man) that was revealing the excess.

#14 Anthony H.

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 05:38 AM

Hi Anthony,

 

Getting back to your concerns about Fr. Reardon's teachings in his book The Jesus We Missed...

 

In Unit 38 (“NO ONE KNOWS, NOT EVEN THE SON”) of his book Jesus: Fallen? The Human Nature of Christ Examined from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective (Orthodox Witness, 2013), Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis confutes many statements made by Fr. Reardon, in which he attributes ignorance to Christ. More than just "pushing the human nature into focus" Fr. Hatzidakis finds The Jesus We Missed to be full of problems.

 

Here are a couple of quotes from Jesus: Fallen? addressing just two of Fr. Reardon's statements:

 

“Reardon believes that he stands by the tradition of the Church when in unequivocal terms he states that 'there is no reason to suppose that the human mind of Jesus enjoyed access to the divine omniscience' and that 'if we accept the plain meaning of the biblical material, we are obliged to infer that Jesus did not know everything.' (note 145) One of those Christians who found the thought of an ignorant Christ uncomfortable, and 'fancied' that He was omniscient is St. Maximos the Confessor. Summarizing the patristic consensus on the subject, he perceived that attributing ignorance to Christ would reduce Him to a mere human being. He recapitulated the Orthodox faith on the subject as follows: 'If, then, among the holy prophets, things that were at a distance and beyond the scope of our power were recognized through the power of grace, how much more did the Son of God, and through him his humanity, know all things—not of the nature of that humanity, but through its union with the Word?' He then brings the familiar image of the iron in the fire to illustrate the communication of the properties of His divine nature to His human nature. 'So too,' he concludes, 'the humanity of the Lord, in so far as it was united with the Word, knew all things and displayed attributes proper to God.' (JF p. 366)

 

"It is unfortunate that Reardon used similar language [to Brown]: 'He was a village Jew and saw reality through the eyes of a village Jew.' (note 197) Reardon's reading of the biblical narrative reflects a 'Christology from below' approach. He deviates from Orthodox Christology by placing more emphasis in the scriptural record than in the living tradition of the Church. (JF p. 377-78)






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