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Author Topic: impecability of christ  (Read 1503 times) Average Rating: 0
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nathan
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« on: February 21, 2008, 02:33:45 AM »

I am new to the Orthodox faith, but on the road to becoming a catechumen, and I have a question on the question of whether or not Jesus Christ was capable of sinning. Of course not whether he did or not, but having taken on human flesh and human nature, was he possibility of sinning present? The obvious example in the temptations of Christ.

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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2008, 02:36:12 AM »

Needless speculation.  Fuggidaboudit.
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nathan
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2008, 02:40:06 AM »

It's not by any means a make or break spiritual issue, I was just wondering if there was position taken on the issue.
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Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2008, 04:53:18 AM »

I don't have my notes ready but I believe we were taught in seminary that it was impossible that Christ could have sinned. However, the temptations he suffered were real.

I am not quite sure how that syncs up but it makes sense to me: he suffered as man and his suffering were real, but as God, he could not allow the human nature to give in. Plus, the human nature of Christ was qualitatively different from ours as he was born "in theosis" obviously and never fell from grace.
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2008, 08:10:05 AM »

I would like an answer too. Because until now, I have understood that He was perfectly capable of sinning - being perfect Man  (as well as perfect God) - but He would not sin and there lies the merit of His free will to die for us. Had He sinned as  a man, He would not have risen from the Dead, but He became fully Man and therefore capable of sinning and still He did not. Is my understanding way off? Please correct me, I do not wish to have such a mistaken view on such an important matter.
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2008, 09:00:47 AM »

I would like an answer too. Because until now, I have understood that He was perfectly capable of sinning - being perfect Man  (as well as perfect God) - but He would not sin and there lies the merit of His free will to die for us. Had He sinned as  a man, He would not have risen from the Dead, but He became fully Man and therefore capable of sinning and still He did not. Is my understanding way off? Please correct me, I do not wish to have such a mistaken view on such an important matter.

Like Anastasios said, Christ did not have a gnomic will and was in theosis from his very conception, due to his being God. There was never a possibility that he could sin.
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2008, 09:22:02 AM »

Dear Anastasios,

I agree that Christ was not capable of sin; this doctrine was in fact explicitly discussed at length in our (OO) tradition. .

I'd just like to ask for some clarification regarding your claim that Christ was born "in theosis": Do you mean that in such a way so as to imply that Christ's Humanity was incorruptible since His inception (and hence, in a sense, identical to His post-Resurrection Humanity)?
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2008, 10:44:16 AM »

Dear Anastasios,

I agree that Christ was not capable of sin; this doctrine was in fact explicitly discussed at length in our (OO) tradition. .

I'd just like to ask for some clarification regarding your claim that Christ was born "in theosis": Do you mean that in such a way so as to imply that Christ's Humanity was incorruptible since His inception (and hence, in a sense, identical to His post-Resurrection Humanity)?

EA,

I think this point has been argued before. The case of the corruptibility or otherwise of the body of Christ was a controversy that plagued the non-Chalcedonian Church and which had supporters in both the non-Chalcedonian as well as the Chalcedonian camps, although there has been no official council to provide a definitive conclusion to the controversy on either side. While affirming the reality of Christ's incarnation, suffering and death on both sides of the argument, the question is really merely asking whether this was the result of necessity or performed voluntarily. What a mind-boggling debate? Today it would seem that the Chalcedonian side, represented mainly by St John of Damascus, would seem to lean more towards the side of the latter whereas the non-Chalcedonian side, while there is not really an abundance of literature on the issue, would only have I believe a single father, St Severus of Antioch, who championed the former opinion. Is this really a question of dogma or theologoumenon? Definitely a complex one and I don't think one that would be resolved here. 


Interestingly enough here's a quote from St Athanasius' Incarnation of the Word which seems to lean more towards the idea of incorruptibility:

21. ...He was not subject to natural death, but had to die at the hands of others...

...the death which befalls men comes to them agreeably to the weakness of their nature; for, unable to continue in one stay, they are dissolved with time. Hence, too, diseases befall them, and they fall sick and die. But the Lord is not weak, but is the Power of God and Word of God and Very Life. 5. If, then, He had laid aside His body somewhere in private, and upon a bed, after the manner of men, it would have been thought that He also did this agreeably to the weakness of His nature, and because there was nothing in him more than in other men. But since He was, firstly, the Life and the Word of God, and it was necessary, secondly, for the death on behalf of all to be accomplished, for this cause, on the one hand, because He was life and power, the body gained strength in Him; 6. while on the other, as death must needs come to pass, He did not Himself take, but received at others' hands; the occasion of perfecting His sacrifice. Since it was not fit, either, that the Lord should fall sick, who healed the diseases of others; nor again was it right for that body to lose its strength, in which He gives strength to the weaknesses of others also. 7. Why, then, did He not prevent death, as He did sickness? Because it was for this that He had the body, and it was unfitting to prevent it, lest the Resurrection also should be hindered, while yet it was equally unfitting for sickness to precede His death, lest it should be thought weakness on the part of Him that was in the body. Did He not then hunger? Yes; He hungered, agreeably to the properties of His body. But He did not perish of hunger, because of the Lord that wore it. Hence, even if He died to ransom all, yet He saw not corruption. For [His body] rose again in perfect soundness, since the body belonged to none other, but to the very Life.

22. But why did He not withdraw His body from the Jews, and so guard its immortality? (1) It became Him not to inflict death on Himself, and yet not to shun it. (2) He came to receive death as the due of others, therefore it should come to Him from without...
(St Athanasius, Incarnation of the Word, 21 & 22)
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 11:11:29 AM by falafel333 » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2008, 11:26:19 AM »

My simple-minded understanding is that He could not sin because we sin only when we do not subordinate our will to God's. In Christ, from the very moment of His incarnation, there was a human will and the divine (God's) will, but He was the perfect example of a complete subordination of the first to the second.
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2008, 11:43:33 AM »

My understanding is that the Word chose to take on humanity's corrupt, post-fall nature, although he was not in strict justice liable to it. He became "the sin that I caused," in the words of St. Maximus.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 11:46:25 AM by Symeon » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2008, 12:09:07 PM »

I thought the 5th or 6th council said His human will freely submited to his Divine will.


The council made it seem as if it was "voluntary".





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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2008, 12:59:56 PM »

This very question was posed on a website run by a sect called "The Christadelphians," which is one of the sects that influenced the theology of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

I think that the whole question tends to separate Christ into two persons.  If He were only human, sure, He could have sinned.  If He were only God, His temptations would not have been real.  However, He is God AND Man.  His humanity was in complete communion with God.  If any of us had that perfect union with God, we would not sin.  Yet, not even the saints attained to that level in this life.  The entire person of Christ experienced and overcame these temptations.  Just as all mankind was baptized with Him in His baptism (and our baptisms today are extensions of the one Baptism of Christ), just as when He cried on the Cross "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," He cried this out on behalf of all humanity - so was He tempted.  In Him, humanity overcomes the temptations of the evil one.

To be sure, it is a difficult question to answer.  I believe too much speculation can lead us down the wrong road.  I think the appropriate thing is not really to ask "Could He have sinned?"  Rather, we should see that He did not sin, and overcame temptations for us, and we can do the same because we have put Him on through baptism
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 01:01:12 PM by SakranMM » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2008, 08:07:13 PM »

I think this point has been argued before.

Yes, I know. And I never thought your arguments to be cogent enough to change my position on the matter. I was not looking to debate the issue with you again. I don't think there would be any point to that. I was simply curious as to what Anastasios meant. Simple as that.

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The case of the corruptibility or otherwise of the body of Christ was a controversy that plagued the non-Chalcedonian Church and which had supporters in both the non-Chalcedonian as well as the Chalcedonian camps, although there has been no official council to provide a definitive conclusion to the controversy on either side.


I'm sorry, but I have to question how much you actually know about OO history since in actual fact a number of local Synods ratified St Severus' position--that Christ assumed post-fall corrupt humanity.

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While affirming the reality of Christ's incarnation, suffering and death on both sides of the argument, the question is really merely asking whether this was the result of necessity or performed voluntarily.


Wrong. Again I question how far you've researched the issue. St Severus was quite intent on arguing that Christ's submission to suffering and death were voluntary.

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while there is not really an abundance of literature on the issue, would only have I believe a single father, St Severus of Antioch, who championed the former opinion.


As I said, St Severus' position was supported by a number of local Synods. It was also specifically supported by a number of formidable figures, including the Coptic Pope at the time, and his successor, to name a couple.

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Is this really a question of dogma or theologoumenon?


Well since there are, for us, official canons against Julianism, I don't think it can be said to be less than dogma.

Quote
Interestingly enough here's a quote from St Athanasius' Incarnation of the Word which seems to lean more towards the idea of incorruptibility:

Like you said, we have already argued this issue, and St Athanasius' position was, as far as I remember, quite adequately dealt with in our exchange. I have no intent on getting into another debate on the matter; I simply sought to know what Anastasius meant by his statement.
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