In celebration of this Easter, I am reposting several of my posts on Melito of Sardis. In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough attention in the early Christological debates of the 3rd and 4th centuries. The facts are collected, but the comments on Melito are mine.
Unsettled ChristianityOne blog to rule them all, One blog to find them, One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
The answer to the first question is decidedly yes: there is a difference between Christological and Trinitarian hermeneutics. The former, readings that explore the ramifications of scripture for the story of the crucified and risen Christ, points us to the ministry of Jesus, in particular his death, resurrection, and exalted Lordship. The latter points us to the divinity of Christ.
I didn’t want to save this for the weekend. I think he’s correct, and the more so because we constantly let outdated theologies – yes, I know – get in the way of Christ.
I’m wanting to ask a few questions about the pre-existence of Christ as I am preparing a sermon on Colossians. One of the areas is in how was Christ the Logo’s. How did he pre-exist. I have no doubt about his divinity and have no doubt about his humanity.
Yet, I have a question or should that be questions about Christ’s pre-existent nature. Could it be that Christ is referred by John as the WORD because Christ is the fulfilment of God’s words. God spoke and the world came into being. God spoke and things happened. God spoke about Christ and his coming. Therefore Jesus is fully God because he is God’s word. And he fully existed as God’s word in the fullness of God’s word. And because he was and is the word, God created all things through Christ, because Christ is the word of God.
Because Christ is the word of God, he therefore could clearly say – he and his father were / are one and could clearly say he could only do what he see’s the father doing. Within this framework of pre-existence; could it be argued that Christ existed as God, as God’s word – which is distinct to God – just like our words exist, are of us and yet are distinct to us. I’m speaking in human terms which are left wanting. Yet our words are still distinctly us.
Therefore because Christ is the fulfilment of God’s word – and is God’s word – He fully existed as God prior to the incarnation and because he is God’s word and the fulfilment of God’s word he was able to become incarnate as fully human and fully God…and totally fulfils God’s word to save humanity and is now interceding before the Father as the fulfilment of his word as the word.
Therefore Christ is the word of God – fully God, and totally was with God and was God and pre-existed as God’s word and so Christ was and is God and yet was and is distinct from the father who spoke the word, because the father isn’t the word and yet the word and the father are one.
How do you understand the pre-existence of Christ? Any thoughts?
While the Christology of Mark will not be my major focus in my upcoming thesis project, I will touch on it briefly. Does Mark have a high, low or otherwise Christology? I don’t really know.
Kevin is working through it at the moment:
I am going to begin a series of blog posts (not sure how many) taking a look at the Christology to be found in the gospel of Mark. As I have said before, I do not consider the gospel of Mark (or any of the Synoptic Gospels) to convey the notion that Jesus is God or that he even had a pre-existence. I think that one has to read Mark with that belief already in mind in order to arrive at that conclusion.
I do not think that we cannot take the wonder-working stories as appearances of the divine, actually, removing them out of the overall narrative. Anyone could perform wonders (in that day, context, literature, etc…) and represent the Yahweh and not be YHWH revealed.
Anyway, looking forward to the series.
- Where I Stand On Christology (diglotting.com)
Found this interesting – thought I might share -
….recently edited together with Einar Thomassen a parchment folio owned by the Norwegian collector Martin Schøyen. The Schøyen leaf (MS 1991) was immediately followed in the codex by another dismembered fragment which ended up in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. They seem to belong to an unknown apocryphal writing, although the echoes it contains of fifth century Christological debates should warn against regarding it as an early document.
As someone who is planted within the Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Methodist traditions, and eminently perhaps a bit fundamentalist in the eyes of some, I have been irked by some things concerning this time of year. Permit me to explain
I was driving on the south end bridge to perform in my church’s Xmas Cantata in a town in southern Massachusetts. The ranklings I have been dealing with, that I deal with every year around this time, have to do with many of the traditional trappings many of us ascribe to the life of Christ, markers of a perverted Christology.
For example, we are not told directly when Jesus was born, though we many have a strong case from evidence provided in the context of the birth narrative.
Then I got to thinking this, as posted on Dr. West’s blog:
I…think I have found a use for Bultmann, especially with the amount of myth with which many Xians have surrounded the birth narrative of Christ (that he was born on 12-25, that he was a carpenter, that his parents could not afford a room at the inn, that Caspar, Belthazar, and Melchoir brought the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, that the birth of the Messiah was anything other than a military invasion reminiscent of the eschaton of 1 Thess 4:13-16 and other passages that deal with trumpets, clouds, shouts, and angelic singing). We really need to demythologize the life of Christ that the pulpits present us ever December, and some of the irrelevant, unnecessary, and clutural baggage we append to the narrative.
I trust, Jim, this makes you somewhat proud of me.
If not, I hope I do not find myself on that list.
Either way, I should like to know what you think of my comment.
Who knows, I am still ignorant about Bultmann in many ways, and yet I think I am starting to get a bit of the gist of what he taught. At least from an application standpoint, there may be uses for the demythologyzation program (the program by which we remove the myth aspects from the birth traditions of our Savior). We need to know what really happened, and to be grounded in as much truth and revelation by the Holy Spirit as possible. We need to seen the fullness of the redemption that Jesus provided us, and we need desperately to know as much of his character as it really was and is, and not this papper cutout, flannelgraph, holes in palms, born-on-a-silent-Saturnalia-night-to-a-poor-carpentry-family-in-a-stable-because-his-parents-could-barely-afford-a-stable-on-their-meager-income-Savior.
If we take the information Paul gives us about the second coming in 1 Thessalonians, and cross that with Acts 1 (that He will return in the way he was lifted up, and cross that with the other places in the New Testament and Old Testament that associate the manifestation of the Lord (usually found with clouds, trumpets, loud voices, angelic armies, earthquakes)) then we might get an accurate picture of what his birth might have been like and what the narrative in Luke 2 really means to say by things like “a multitude of heavenly hosts.” This was not a meek and mild quiet and calm birth. This was a military invasion, the Kerygma, and it was that way because the kingdom of heaven forcefully advances, in offensive posture, standards raised against a dark and evil set of forces.
Consider this, and consider Revelation and Matthew 24 next time you read the birth narrative.
Just some thoughts, but I would say there is a use for Bultmann, and we should not be afraid to question the text when it does not make sense, trusting that God is big enough and capable enough of giving us an answer in our frail. humanity.
It would make sense to me to apply some apocalyptic to the narrative of the birth and not this meek and mild garbage given Bultmann’s work was extensive in the area of the Johannine corpus, which was highly apocalyptic, including some marratives related to Sukkot, which we may consider as a possible candidate for the time of Jesus’ birth, given some internal linguistic evidence in John’s Gospel, and the centrality of the feast itself in apocalyptic literature, most notably, Zechariah.
A bit of rambling, but maybe I am on to something.
Did you know that God is the most high but not alone on the cosmic stage? It so declares Timothy Gombis in his book, The Drama of Ephesians. What Gombis has done is to take his doctoral thesis and novelize it and in doing so brings to light some modern thoughts in monotheism studies which, at least for him sets the stage for a radically different interpretation of Ephesians which is cosmic in scope.
His second chapter calls us to remember that the Jewish worldview at the time included cosmic actors on the supernatural stage and asks not to forget them in the great drama which is Ephesians. After a brief tour through the thought world that Paul inhabits, Gombis moves into a discussion on a modern take on these powers. On 49-57, Gombis launches into a needless and seemingly out of place explanation of modern powers. I say needless because it seems out of place in a scholarly assessment of Ephesians and a better way to read it, however, he does remind us through this action that he is a Christian scholar and theologian, with the adjective of the two positions being the most important. He is careful to point out that we are not to directly engage these spiritual powers (pg49) although he does follow in Yoder’s footsteps and sees the Church as confronting the results of their influence. In this, he seeks to connect first, before he explains Ephesians in detail, the story to the modern reader. Do we still face unnamed powers and authorities? He contends yes, and cautions us not to go further than Paul (not to be adventurous, he writes) in confronting these powers but to simply recognize that the supernatural is still at play.
Gombis is low on Christology (although throughout the book, Christ is still Lord and still sent from the Father (p89), at least in content as his vision of Christ is somewhat muted (as it necessarily must be in a book such as this), but what he does for (Protestant) Ecclesiology is powerful (see his section on the Church as Divine Warrior, p157-158). He takes Ephesians and dramatizes it (p19), setting what would normally be a stiff commentary into an easily readable format. Gombis does what others should – he takes his doctoral thesis from his work at St. Andrews and shows that all of that time was not wasted and applies it to practical theology. He novelizes his doctoral work to make it available and useful to the Church at large. In other words, his first concern is for the church of Jesus Christ and her mission in the world. He simply wants to make use of his talents towards that goal. What’s more, is that he sees the Church as the single most important force in the world for God. As he reiterates several times, the Church serves as the source in which Christ liberates the world (p90). His cross was the start of the new age, and the Church is pushing the world towards that goal.
His central thesis, that of the supernatural being a cosmic battlefield, is one not foreign to either the Scripture or to modern biblical studies. We see it in Job, Genesis (especially the first Creation account which is explained further in Job and Psalms), and especially developed during the so-called intertestamental period (which fed Paul’s thought world, p36) where in the supernatural realm was a scene of battles between lower deities. He takes this and applies the divine warfare motif to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (he maintains Pauline authorship) and while not labeling the ‘powers’ notes how Paul instructs the Church to rescue the perishing. In this, a new community is built upon the victory won by Christ who was sent by the Most High God to finally free humanity from the bondage to these powers (p40). It is interesting, then, his take on these powers (who he insists that we simply do not fight against) and how they play into our Church. From the need to have larger than life images of pastors and churches (‘triumphalism, p119) to our (American) notion that we are a religious nation and that the Grace of God can be shed abroad not by the Spirit but by man-made laws (he calls us to resist these cultural challenges and fears, p125, and to give up all control in these issues to God). For him, political systems, financial systems, and even identifiable sociological preconceptions are ‘powers’ in the Pauline sense, and it is these powers which Christ is waging war against through the Church, a church which meets these challenges by being the dramatized community of believers that Paul called it to be.
Gombis has written a book with several facets which highlights the importance – the equal importance to such books as Romans – of Ephesians. There is the commentary feature which takes passages and shows their interconnectedness where he argues against modern thought that Ephesians is not merely a set of theological reflections, but a cohesive book with a central theological goal. Further, there is the running commentary on this commentary wherein he applies his theological exploration to practical theological application. In this, he tackles not only what the powers mean to us today in examples such as poverty and government bureaucracy (as a Government bureaucrat, I found this true) but what the passages in Ephesians teaches us about dealing with those powers. Further, there is the simmering call to be the Church of Jesus Christ as Paul saw it (p113), as Paul preached it, and as Paul lived it (p11). But, what I found the most interesting is that Dr. Gombis was able to transform what to many, most likely, would be a boring doctoral thesis into a readily applicable tool for the Church at large, even if you don’t accept that the ancient world and the modern world interact daily with the ‘powers.’
Be sure to check out Brian’s review as well!
It is therefore my opinion that the resurrection redefined the narrative worldview of the earliest Christians, both Jews and Gentiles. In the same way that resurrection changed Paul’s outlook, so to it changed the orientation of those who professed Jesus as Messiah or Lord (Witherington, 2009, p.182-183).
Therefore, Christology in the New Testament is essentially a shift from Jewish monotheism to what would be described today as Trinitarian thinking. The revealed nature of the God of Israel changed. Yahweh became Father. Jesus is referred to as the Son of God and the Spirit is the believer’s helper.
But is that really the case? Is the developed Christology of today, or rather, since the late 4th century, biblically accurate?
Mark goes on to write,
…it must be grounded in an understanding of who the New Testament writers believed Jesus to be.
But, the New Testament writers were not Trinitarian and might not fully appreciate the developed doctrines of the later Church. Are there Trinitarian seeds there? (And even in that, we might need to better define what Mark means by ‘Trinitarian’.) Or, rather, does the New Testament give allowance to the doctrine of the Trinity which developed along side Arianism (archaic use, but not sure what other term I might use here) and monarchianism? Sure, I believe so, but for instance, what about ideal pre-existence among the Jews? Did the Apostles have such a radical change in their Judaism to now understand pre-existence as something tangible rather than ideal, which was the Jewish mode of thought? If their radical understanding of Christ was not Jewish in origin, then do we have to step back and examine whether or not the Christian faith is really Jewish in origin? Is it a shift away from the monotheism of the Jews? If the Trinity is such a strong shift away from Judaism, then what is really the religious parent of modern Christianity?
For this, I would urge a reading of such books as James McGrath‘s The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context (especially, his chapter on John) matched with James Dunn. What might also examine, closely, how the Spirit came to be developed.
I believe that there are theological developments current which must be examined in light of biblical studies, regardless of the pain that they may cause us and our theologizing. There is no doubt in my mind that, as Mark writes, the Resurrection so changed the Apostles (and I do not believe that it was a dream or a political story) that it did shift them in their theology, but it didn’t completely destroy their Judaism(s) either. The Christian community was formed well within the bounds of the Judaism(s) of the day. We simply cannot explain away Pentecost to the confines of historical interpretation. Something happened to the early Messianic community because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, I believe that we shouldn’t use later developed theologies to further theologize the New Testament, but first gain an accurate, biblical view, and (re)build our theology from that.
I believe in… Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Of course, I could just be writing this to disagree with Mark. Or not. You decide.
- D.M. Baillie – The Need to Study the Historical Jesus
- D.M. Baillie – Theology of Christology
- D.M. Baillie – Personality, Modes or Social Trinity?
- Mondays with Moltmann (On the Virgin Birth) (diglot.wordpress.com)
- The Christology of Chalcedon (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- Do The Synoptics Really Have a High Christology? (diglot.wordpress.com)
- Scratchpad: Thoughts on Athanasius’ De Incarnatione Verbi Dei
- Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? — A Review (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- The Apostles were Methodists
Recently, I found Baillie’s monumental book on Christology and have only really flipped through it, but what I’ve found touches both biblical studies and theology.
On pages 138-140, Baillie is discussing the development of Anglican Trinitarian thought, and the more so by ignoring the historical divide between Person and persona (Latin), or personality, etc… In quoting a theologian before him (Webb), he writes of the thought which says that God is made up of Person(alitie)s which, as Baillie rightly insists, is more along the lines of the Cappadocians. This is not surprising from the Anglicans who are more East in some aspects rather than West. Further, our learned theologian is fair enough to note that Barth and others, historically speaking, did not see God as ‘three distinct individual men alongside each other’ (p139) as the Anglicans and the East do but as such things as ‘the root, the tree and the fruit’, or the sun, the ray and the light, or the source, the stream and the estuary.’ Here, I read Tertullian most of all.
It is interesting that he notes the (then) current development of the idea of a Social Trinity in which those along the lines of Webb and the Cappadocians saw love existing only within the Social Trinity as opposed to the ‘stark and lonely monotheism of Judaism.’ These who see the Godhead as such believe that they make God more social and more persona. Baillie, for himself, doesn’t seem to see one as less orthodox than the other. It is the ‘other’ interpretation of the Godhead (in Trinitarian thought) which interests me, for he writes,
In any case the contrast between this (i.e., the Social Trinity) and Barth’s interpretation is plain. The one prefers to speak of one Person in three modes of being: the other school prefers to speak quite frankly of three Persons in the highest kind of personal and social unity.
Earlier in this chapter, Baillie quotes Barth as saying,
The God who reveals Himself according to Scripture is One in three of His own modes of existence, which consist in their mutual relationships, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (The Doctrine of the Word of God) (p135)
Are these two understandings of the Christian revelation of the Godhead mutually exclusive? Does one tend to present a better understanding of the love of God than the other? Does one, then, show love (specifically, the love shown through Christ), more than the other? In other words is the Social Trinity, that of three distinct persons, the proper way to explain the love of God or is Barth’s and others, that God exists in three modes of beings?
Recently, I found Baillie’s monumental book on Christology and while flipping through it, I’ve found several interesting quotes that I thought I would share.
With all its emphasis on the incursion of the Divine into human life once for all in Jesus Christ, [neo-confessionalist theology] has no interest in studying the resultant life as an historical phenomenon; and this is not because it would put back the hands of the clock by rejecting modern historical criticism (far from it!) but because ‘the Jesus of history is not the same as the Christ of faith’ (Brunner). I do not believe that this can be a stable position for theology. It would ultimately stultify the whole doctrine of the Incarnation. ‘If righteousness is by the Law,’ said St. Paul to the first Christian generation, ‘then Christ died for nothing’; and we might now say, in this twentieth century: If revelation is by the Word alone, then Christ lived for nothing, and the Word was made flesh in vain. That is the ultimate answer to our question as to whether we can dispense with the Jesus of history. (pp. 53-4)
Thus, the reason for the study of the historical Jesus is equally important to Christology as the study of theology.
One of the disagreeable points that I have with Dr. McGrath’s book, The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, is his inclusion and allowance of development of doctrinal thought which may or may not be contrary to the study and realization of the Historical Jesus. (I guess you’ll have to read his book to find out what I mean). But if Baillie is correct that all Christology/Theology must begin with the Historical Jesus an indispensable part, what then if we find out that our doctrine is either too simplistic, and thus lacking, or too complicated, and thus over-developed? What if studies such as those done by McGrath, Dunn, Hurtado and the like which begin with the historical Jesus serves as call for us back to a better theology? Baillie, in this book published in 1948, was a contemporary of Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann, and thus theological-scholasticism, or the such. I try to keep that in mind as I read Baillie’s theological legacy.
I waiver on the study of the Historical Jesus myself. Timothy Luke Johnson wishes us to dispense with it, but the E.P. Sanders and his ilk demand that we pay attention to the Palestinian Jew 2000 years removed from us. Only those with an agenda either way (i.e., the Creationists, er Mythicists, and the Creationists, er, ‘Fundamentalists who believe that History and Current Thought must not be questioned because thus it is now and thus it has always been’) generally seek to do away with the Historical reality of Jesus Christ.
- Grounds for excluding historical Jesus studies from university research (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Do The Synoptics Really Have a High Christology? (diglot.wordpress.com)
- Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth: A Review (cruciality.wordpress.com)
- Putting the Christ in Christian:: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- The Christology of Chalcedon (inchristus.wordpress.com)
Payton made the note that John Calvin, during his discussion on Christology left out the 2nd Ecumenical Council (p155). Payton writes,
…in the 1559 edition he explicitly endorsed the Christiological declarations of the first (Nicaea), third and forth (Ephesus and Chalcedon ecumenical councils.)
Of course, Calvin later endorses the Second Council, but not so explicitly as he did with the first, third and fourth in relation to Christology.
I found it also interesting that Calvin would end writing career with the reorganization of his Institutes along the lines of the Apostles’ Creed, the most simplistic, and ancient, creedal statement. Granted, I am not a Calvinist nor a Calvin Scholar, but I acknowledge the value of him and his contributions to Christianity. In looking at his Christology in light of the Councils, his ‘essentials’ play into my picture of what he isn’t saying.
1.13.29. Assuredly, whosoever will compare the writings of the ancient fathers with each other, will not find any thing in Irenaeus different from what is taught by those who come after him. Justin is one of the most ancient, and he agrees with us out and out. Let them object that, by him and others, the Father of Christ is called the one God. The same thing is taught by Hilary, who uses the still harsher expression, that Eternity is in the Father. Is it that he may withhold divine essence from the Son? His whole work is a defence of the doctrine which we maintain; and yet these men are not ashamed to produce some kind of mutilated excerpts for the purpose of persuading us that Hilary is a patron of their heresy. With regard to what they pretend as to Ignatius, if they would have it to be of the least importance, let them prove that the apostles enacted laws concerning Lent, and other corruptions. Nothing can be more nauseating, than the absurdities which have been published under the name of Ignatius; and therefore, the conduct of those who provide themselves with such masks for deception is the less entitled to toleration.
Clearly speaking about the longer letters of Ignatius, Calvin notes the invention of the Middle Ages of expanding statements to build Tradition. What is interesting is Calvin’s use of Justin and allowance of what the Martyr’s theology, which I find different from that of Calvin.
Moreover, the consent of the ancient fathers clearly appears from this, that in the Council of Nice, no attempt was made by Arius to cloak his heresy by the authority of any approved author; and no Greek or Latin writer apologises as dissenting from his predecessors. It cannot be necessary to observe how carefully Augustine, to whom all these miscreants are most violently opposed, examined all ancient writings, and how reverently he embraced the doctrine taught by them (August. lib. de Trinit. &c). He is most scrupulous in stating the grounds on which he is forced to differ from them, even in the minutest point. On this subject, too, if he finds any thing ambiguous or obscure in other writers, he does not disguise it.11 [10 110 Athanasuis expresses himself thus learnedly and piously:—“On this subject, though you cannot explain yourself, you are not therefore to distrust the Holy Scriptures. It is better, while hesitating through ignorance, to be silent and believe, than not to believe because you hesitate”] And he assumes it as an acknowledged fact, that the doctrine opposed by the Arians was received without dispute from the earliest antiquity. At the same time, he was not ignorant of what some others had previously taught. This is obvious from a single expression. When he says (De Doct. Christ. lib. 1). that “unity is in the Father,” will they pretend that he then forgot himself? In another passage, he clears away every such charge, when he calls the Father the beginning of the Godhead, as being from none—thus wisely inferring that the name of God is specially ascribed to the Father, because, unless the beginning were from him, the simple unity of essence could not be maintained. I hope the pious reader will admit that I have now disposed of all the calumnies by which Satan has hitherto attempted to pervert or obscure the pure doctrine of faith. The whole substance of the doctrine has, I trust, been faithfully expounded, if my readers will set bounds to their curiosity, and not long more eagerly than they ought for perplexing disputation. I did not undertake to satisfy those who delight in speculate views, but I have not designedly omitted any thing which I thought adverse to me. At the same time, studying the edification of the Church, I have thought it better not to touch on various topics, which could have yielded little profit, while they must have needlessly burdened and fatigued the reader. For instance, what avails it to discuss, as Lombard does at length (lib. 1 dist. 9), Whether or not the Father always generates? This idea of continual generation becomes an absurd fiction from the moment it is seen, that from eternity there were three persons in one God.
In reading this chapter of the book, I notice this as well -
Where names have not been invented rashly, we must beware lest we become chargeable with arrogance and rashness in rejecting them. I wish, indeed, that such names were buried, provided all would concur in the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God, and yet that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that each has his peculiar subsistence. I am not so minutely precise as to fight furiously for mere words. For I observe, that the writers of the ancient Church, while they uniformly spoke with great reverence on these matters, neither agreed with each other, nor were always consistent with themselves. How strange the formula used by Councils, and defended by Hilary! How extravagant the view which Augustine sometimes takes! How unlike the Greeks are to the Latins! But let one example of variance suffice. The Latins, in translating ὁμοούσιος used consubstantialis (consubstantial), intimating that there was one substance of the Father and the Son, and thus using the word Substance for Essence. Hence Jerome, in his Letter to Damasus, says it is profane to affirm that there are three substances in God. But in Hilary you will find it said more than a hundred times that there are three substances in God. Then how greatly is Jerome perplexed with the word Hypostasis! He suspects some lurking poison, when it is said that there are three Hypostases in God. And he does not disguise his belief that the expression, though used in a pious sense, is improper; if, indeed, he was sincere in saying this, and did not rather designedly endeavour, by an unfounded calumny, to throw odium on the Eastern bishops whom he hated. He certainly shows little candour in asserting, that in all heathen schools οὐσία is equivalent to Hypostasis—an assertion completely refuted by trite and common use.
In 4.9, he writes,
Thus those ancient Councils of Nice, Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and the like, which were held for refuting errors, we willingly embrace, and reverence as sacred, in so far as relates to doctrines of faith, for they contain nothing but the pure and genuine interpretation of Scripture, which the holy Fathers with spiritual prudence adopted to crush the enemies of religion who had then arisen. In some later councils, also, we see displayed a true zeal for religion, and moreover unequivocal marks of genius, learning, and prudence.
2.14.4. This observation, if the readers apply it properly, will be of no small use in solving a vast number of difficulties. For it is strange how the ignorant, nay, some who are not altogether without learning, are perplexed by these modes of expression which they see applied to Christ, without being properly adapted either to his divinity or his humanity, not considering their accordance with the character in which he was manifested as God and man, and with his office of Mediator. It is very easy to see how beautifully they accord with each other, provided they have a sober interpreter, one who examines these great mysteries with the reverence which is meet. But there is nothing which furious and frantic spirits cannot throw into confusion.25 [51 251 See August. in Enchir. ad Laurent. c. 36.] They fasten on the attributes of humanity to destroy his divinity; and, on the other hand, on those of his divinity to destroy his humanity: while those which, spoken conjointly of the two natures, apply to neither, they employ to destroy both. But what else is this than to contend that Christ is not man because he is God, not God because he is man, and neither God nor man because he is both at once. Christ, therefore, as God and man, possessing natures which are united, but not confused, we conclude that he is our Lord and the true Son of God, even according to his humanity, though not by means of his humanity. For we must put far from us the heresy of Nestorius, who, presuming to dissect rather than distinguish between the two natures, devised a double Christ. But we see the Scripture loudly protesting against this, when the name of the Son of God is given to him who is born of a Virgin, and the Virgin herself is called the mother of our Lord ( [Luke 1:32, 43] ). We must beware also of the insane fancy of Eutyches, lest, when we would demonstrate the unity of person, we destroy the two natures. The many passages we have already quoted, in which the divinity is distinguished from the humanity, and the many other passages existing throughout Scripture, may well stop the mouth of the most contentious. I will shortly add a few observations, which will still better dispose of this fiction. For the present, one passage will suffice—Christ would not have called his body a temple ( [John 2:19] ), had not the Godhead distinctly dwelt in it. Wherefore, as Nestorius had been justly condemned in the Council of Ephesus, so afterwards was Eutyches in those of Constantinople and Chalcedony, it being not more lawful to confound the two natures of Christ than to divide them.
It will no doubt take a while for me to wade through Calvin’s view on the Councils, especially since he seems to note them not always by their names, but more so by their actions and verbiage.
But, what about some of the more learned Calvinists out there – what is his reaction to the Second Council? Does he really mean to exclude it, or is this a misunderstanding by Payton?