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Author Topic: Question about Christ's suffering  (Read 2712 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: June 29, 2011, 08:51:49 AM »

In the Hapgood translation of the Service Book, I found the following, emphasis mine:

http://tinyurl.com/3c5wjvr
Quote
The Catechumen is then asked to renounce his errors and confess his belief.

The Jew renounceth: The blasphemies of the Jews against Jesus Christ our Saviour, his most holy Mother and his Saints; circumcision; the observance of Saturday, and all Jewish festivals and ceremonies; the Rabbinical interpretation of the Scriptures contained in the Talmud and ancient and modern writings; the doctrine that the Messiah is not yet come; and the vain expectation of his coming.

(The Jew accepteth the belief: That the Fatlwr, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, divided in three Persons, but in Essence undivided; that Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary for the sake of our salvation, and became very man, yet remaining very God, one in Essence, but in two Persons, divine and human; that our Lord Jesus Christ, of his own free will, in very truth, and not in appearance only, suffered for us in the flesh, but not in his divinity, and, having died and been buried as man, rose again by virtue of his divinity, and ascended into heaven in the flesh; that the Virgin Mary was and remained truly Virgin, and truly is worthy of reverence as the chief intercessor for us with God; and that the Cross of Christ was the instrument and emblem of our salvation.)

Is the bolded part really Orthodox belief? How was the Lord of Glory really crucified, then? I was under the impression that one of the differences with Nestorianism was that not just the Man, but also the Second Person of the Trinity suffered.
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 10:12:53 AM »

To say that the divine nature suffered is theopaschism, and heresy. God is incapable of suffering. Jesus Christ, the God-man, suffered in his humanity. He died in his humanity. But he remained and remains one person, known in two natures. This is not Nestorianism. Theopaschism makes the incarnation irrelevant to our salvation.
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 10:53:34 AM »

So the Lord of Glory is a mortal man and Mary is not the Mother of God? Why include everything else He did under both the Persons (as paradoxical as it winds up being) but then separate them at the Cross?
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 11:06:26 AM »

So the Lord of Glory is a mortal man and Mary is not the Mother of God? Why include everything else He did under both the Persons (as paradoxical as it winds up being) but then separate them at the Cross?

The quoted text says that God suffered in the flesh, but not in His divinity. This means WHO suffered was God, but this suffering was not in Christ's divine nature.

I think you misunderstand the formulation "God cannot suffer in His divinity" as "Who suffered was not God".

Nestorianism: God cannot be the subject of Jesus' passion.
Orthodox teaching: God is the subject of human Jesus' passion, but the suffering was through Jesus' human nature (via the incarnation) rather than the divine.
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Volnutt
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 11:15:18 AM »

So the Lord of Glory is a mortal man and Mary is not the Mother of God? Why include everything else He did under both the Persons (as paradoxical as it winds up being) but then separate them at the Cross?

The quoted text says that God suffered in the flesh, but not in His divinity. This means WHO suffered was God, but this suffering was not in Christ's divine nature.

I think you misunderstand the formulation "God cannot suffer in His divinity" as "Who suffered was not God".

Nestorianism: God cannot be the subject of Jesus' passion.
Orthodox teaching: God is the subject of human Jesus' passion, but the suffering was through Jesus' human nature (via the incarnation) rather than the divine.

So, God died on the Cross because Jesus is God but this doesn't mean His divinity actually died. Ok. I get it.
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 11:34:31 AM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 04:13:44 PM »


So, God died on the Cross because Jesus is God but this doesn't mean His divinity actually died. Ok. I get it.

Exactly. God died as a human. Had there been no incarnation, we would not be able to say that God died in flesh.
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 04:32:40 PM »

In the Hapgood translation of the Service Book, I found the following, emphasis mine:

http://tinyurl.com/3c5wjvr
Quote
The Catechumen is then asked to renounce his errors and confess his belief.

The Jew renounceth: The blasphemies of the Jews against Jesus Christ our Saviour, his most holy Mother and his Saints; circumcision; the observance of Saturday, and all Jewish festivals and ceremonies; the Rabbinical interpretation of the Scriptures contained in the Talmud and ancient and modern writings; the doctrine that the Messiah is not yet come; and the vain expectation of his coming.

(The Jew accepteth the belief: That the Fatlwr, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, divided in three Persons, but in Essence undivided; that Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary for the sake of our salvation, and became very man, yet remaining very God, one in Essence, but in two Persons, divine and human; that our Lord Jesus Christ, of his own free will, in very truth, and not in appearance only, suffered for us in the flesh, but not in his divinity, and, having died and been buried as man, rose again by virtue of his divinity, and ascended into heaven in the flesh; that the Virgin Mary was and remained truly Virgin, and truly is worthy of reverence as the chief intercessor for us with God; and that the Cross of Christ was the instrument and emblem of our salvation.)

Is the bolded part really Orthodox belief? How was the Lord of Glory really crucified, then? I was under the impression that one of the differences with Nestorianism was that not just the Man, but also the Second Person of the Trinity suffered.

Volnutt, I believe you have come to an interesting question that most EOs quickly explain away but requires a more subtle and has been treated more subtly.

EO gets mired in (neo)Platonism. When it comes to the impassibility of God, EOs and RCs and, to a less sophisticated extent, Protestants quickly reject the incredible witness of scripture to the changing and passionate relationship of God with humanity before even the birth of Christ.

The common apologies boil down to anthropomorphic language in the Scriptures, which I find very lacking, since nearly all the language of God with his people is one of relationship that changes and bold, so some Patristic exegesis is about getting rid of Scriptural witness in exchange for Platonic witness and especially those who quote mine the Church Fathers. To say it again, we are theomorphic, the God of Moses, Abraham, and Issac ain't anthropomorphic.

Christ's sufferings and emotions and like are not just in virtue of His humanity but also in virtue of His   divinity.

Ontologically within the relationship of the Persons of the Trinity there nothing by communion of love. But in the economy of God's relationship with humanity there is nothing but steadfast love of God, but that love is expressed by God in many ways. To discount nearly the entirety of Scripture which makes clear that the Christian God is a Living God and one who is passionately in love with humanity and thus becomes angry with them, sad, etc., I think is utter folly.

Thankfully, the Church Fathers work this out by adopting apophatic thought via neo-Platonism.

One cannot say: God is impassible.
Or rather you can, but you must also then say God is not impassible.

These are mysteries to be such, but I think if you look at the writings of some Church Fathers they are dealing with exactly these issues. The relationship of the Persons of the Trinity ontological and the relationship of God with humanity through the economy of salvation. Probably the height of the defense of this seemingly paradoxical course of thought finds itself in St. Gregory Palamas' writings.

For a podcast primer on this interesting and important issue:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_wrath_of_god
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_wrath_of_god_-_part_2

You will see that Fr. Thomas Hopko caused more than a little ire in his first podcast, as he addressed the subject again in the second.

If you are interested in the related problem of evil. Fr. Thomas Hopko also has a very sober and provocative take on it as well.

It seems to me that he and those writings he suggests to read are much more sophisticated and satisfying than the typical apology of worshiping the god of Plato incarnate.

FWIW.

BTW, I am just a Catechumen, so what do I know.

However this is probably my greatest sticking point with what seems to be the "majority" opinion in Orthodoxy. It is an issue my Priest and I have talk more than a little about.

Best of luck.

(As an interesting aside, which ties this thread into the one with the evolution thread is that God in his foreknowledge gave shape to man knowing that in that form He would become incarnate. I think that insight by the Church Fathers is something to think on.)
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 04:50:31 PM »

My big problem with that is once you travel this road is that God's foreknowledge and sometimes even His omniscience quickly tend to get chucked to preserve the perceived authenticity of His emotions.

My keyboard is having issues. I'll come back to this.
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2011, 07:52:35 PM »

I don't think impassibility need imply God has no emotions, just that He can't be surprised. We can't make God happy or sad or angry, rather He eternally knew we would do certain sorts of actions (the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world) and sovereignly decided to respond to them a certain way.

I don't know how Patristic that is, it's just the way I think of it.
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2011, 09:47:49 PM »

My big problem with that is once you travel this road is that God's foreknowledge and sometimes even His omniscience quickly tend to get chucked to preserve the perceived authenticity of His emotions.

My keyboard is having issues. I'll come back to this.

Forget about your keyboard, looking over my post I had tons of errors, my brain was having issues, or more my stomach, it was killing me. Sorry if it was unclear what I was going on about.
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2011, 09:55:13 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2011, 09:56:19 PM »

My big problem with that is once you travel this road is that God's foreknowledge and sometimes even His omniscience quickly tend to get chucked to preserve the perceived authenticity of His emotions.

My keyboard is having issues. I'll come back to this.

Forget about your keyboard, looking over my post I had tons of errors, my brain was having issues, or more my stomach, it was killing me. Sorry if it was unclear what I was going on about.
S'ok. I hope you're feeling better  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2011, 10:25:33 PM »

I found this thread enlightening, YIM. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10302.0.html
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 11:16:23 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.

I believe you are conflating physis/nature and hypostasis/person here?
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2011, 11:39:17 PM »

Yes, as was I.
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2011, 03:15:44 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Of course, I understand what you are saying, but the thing is it does not make sense entirely.

You said:
"His natures are united without being mixed".

If his natures are united that means that his Godly nature was on the cross suffering.  United of course means union.  Jesus is "man and God united".
If Jesus is God and God is Jesus, God was on the cross.

Of course the quote on the original post was from a book, that doesn't completely define Orthodoxy all together or anything.   But I do believe that in this case there was an error.   

Even in the Creed "We believe in one God... Who came down... Cruicified, SUFFERED, and was buried".
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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2011, 05:26:41 AM »

Sorry, didn't see this till now.

YIM, you are mixing the natures. Within the one Person in all that He went through, the divine nature experienced everything possible for divinity and the human nature experienced everything possible for humanity. Jesus slept-this doesn't mean God the Son was dormant for a few hours. Jesus was hungry-it doesn't mean God the Son craved food. He doesn't need anything.

Likewise, when the Creed says the Word become Flesh and suffered, the only subject of this suffering could be the humanity, God cannot suffer, the very idea is a contradiction.
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2011, 07:53:14 AM »

God cannot suffer, the very idea is a contradiction.

Much of the Scripture says otherwise.

God does suffer nor change ontologically but within relationship to His people He certainly does.

I recent baited a well known poster to say God loses His patience.

God is impassible. Go is not impassible.

That is Orthodoxy.

God is impassible.

Is (neo)Platonism.

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« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2011, 10:30:33 AM »

Here are some good patristics on the subject:

‎...though we cannot say that man is without beginning or that God is passible, yet in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ we can speak of man as eternal, and of God as dead. You see then that Christ means the whole Person, and that the name represents both natures, for both man and God are born, and so it takes in the whole Person so that when this name is used we see that no part is left out. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius 4:22

Emphasis mine.

And so following the guidance of the sacred word we may now say fearlessly and unhesitatingly that the Son of man came down from heaven, and that the Lord of Glory was crucified: because in virtue of the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God became Son of man, and the Lord of Glory was crucified in (the nature of) the Son of man. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius 4:7

Emphasis mine.

For, just as we confess that God became man without change or alteration, so we consider that the flesh became God without change. For because the Word became flesh, He did not overstep the limits of His own divinity nor abandon the divine glories that belong to Him: nor, on the other hand, was the flesh, when deified, changed in its own nature or in its natural properties. - St John Damascene

Wherefore, although He died as man and His Holy Spirit was severed from His immaculate body, yet His divinity remained inseparable from both, I mean, from His soul and His body, and so even thus His one hypostasis was not divided into two hypostases. - St John Damascene


As-Salamu alaykum!
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2011, 10:57:01 AM »

Here are some good patristics on the subject:

‎...though we cannot say that man is without beginning or that God is passible, yet in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ we can speak of man as eternal, and of God as dead. You see then that Christ means the whole Person, and that the name represents both natures, for both man and God are born, and so it takes in the whole Person so that when this name is used we see that no part is left out. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius 4:22

Emphasis mine.

Yes we can, extra emphasis mine. See above.
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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2011, 11:02:15 AM »

Here are some good patristics on the subject:

‎...though we cannot say that man is without beginning or that God is passible, yet in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ we can speak of man as eternal, and of God as dead. You see then that Christ means the whole Person, and that the name represents both natures, for both man and God are born, and so it takes in the whole Person so that when this name is used we see that no part is left out. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius 4:22

Emphasis mine.

Yes we can, extra emphasis mine. See above.

That's the truth. Smiley I love St John Cassian!
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« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2011, 11:08:34 AM »

Sorry, didn't see this till now.

YIM, you are mixing the natures. Within the one Person in all that He went through, the divine nature experienced everything possible for divinity and the human nature experienced everything possible for humanity. Jesus slept-this doesn't mean God the Son was dormant for a few hours. Jesus was hungry-it doesn't mean God the Son craved food. He doesn't need anything.

You seem to be confusing some terminology here. God the Son is not a nature, God the Son is one of the three Persons (hypostaseis) of the Trinity. In becoming incarnate, the fully divine nature was united with the fully human nature within the hypostasis of God the Son. We cannot separate the natures in such a manner because it violates the Chalcedonian definition which states:

Quote
...[Christ is] acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ...

When we see biblical references to Christ experiencing human things like birth, pain, sleep, hunger, thirst, death, etc., we must admit that the person (hypostasis) of God the Son was experiencing these things, not just his human nature. The entire point of the Incarnation is that God was borne into our world through the Holy Spirit and the Theotokos, became human and aged, ate, drank, walked, laughed, cried, suffered, died and was resurrected in our midst. If God the Son did not become fully human and experience human life, then the Incarnation has no meaning, since humanity was not sanctified through God's sacrifice of becoming one of his lowly creatures in order to redeem the whole of mankind. If, before the incarnation, the fully divine God was incapable of experiencing these very human traits because of the chasm between his transcendent hyper-existence and our existence, then through the Incarnation and the hypostatic union, the barrier between our two existences was shattered and God truly became fully human and experienced human life.

Quote
Likewise, when the Creed says the Word become Flesh and suffered, the only subject of this suffering could be the humanity, God cannot suffer, the very idea is a contradiction.

God is above contradiction owing to his transcendence. God is beyond what we see as dichotomous states like existence and non-existence, life and death, etc. Vladimir Lossky, for example, is usually cautious to refer to God's "existence" as a hyper-existence because his "existence" is completely beyond our conceptualization of existing. In the same way, when we try to debate whether or not God can experience pain, we must realize that impassibility and passibility are both human attributes and that because of His transcendence, God is manifest in such a manner that he is beyond the dichotomy of passibility and impassibility. Hence we should hesitate when we try to make statements like, "God is impassible," or, "God is passible," because these statements are necessarily limiting God to our form of existence. All we can say for sure is that when He did become Incarnate, He was passible because He became man and existed among us in full humanity.
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« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2011, 11:18:59 AM »

Here are some good patristics on the subject:

‎...though we cannot say that man is without beginning or that God is passible, yet in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ we can speak of man as eternal, and of God as dead. You see then that Christ means the whole Person, and that the name represents both natures, for both man and God are born, and so it takes in the whole Person so that when this name is used we see that no part is left out. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius 4:22

Emphasis mine.

Yes we can, extra emphasis mine. See above.

That's the truth. Smiley I love St John Cassian!

Maybe we are not understanding each other. I am saying he is incorrect. Or actually only saying half of the truth.

God does suffer. Or toss the OT into and the NT as well (although we see more of the changeability of God in the OT explicitly) the trash can and just stick with Plotinus and Plato.

Or if you need a Church Father to go through mazes of apologetics to make the Living God of the Israel not be the Monadic Modal Unmoved Mover, see the height St. Gregory of Palamas' writings.

Or you could just read Scripture.

Again for a concise presentation see the podcasts above. Fr. Thomas Hopko is sharp on this topic.

If you are going to use apophatic language, you ain't going to be able to simply say God impassible. Nor if you are going to read Scripture with diligence are you going to being able to say God is impassible. Nor if you understand the difference between the ontological relationship of the Persons of the Trinity versus God's relationship with His creation can you say God is impassible.

Unless you invoke (neo)Platonic thought and run through all sortsa mazes, you can reduce the Living God to a Static Causa Sui. The attempt of many of the Church Fathers to defend and make sensible Christianity to thinkers schooled in Greek philosophy is loaded with much baggage that doesn't ring relevant nowadays.

Or unless you worse yet you want your God to fit the sensibilities of Greek philosophy and modern (truly modern in this sense) piety, invoke the tired "anthropomorphic" argument.

As Liza said recently, God changes and suffers.
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« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2011, 11:27:50 AM »

I see now what you are saying. I disagree. "though we cannot say that man is without beginning or that God is passible, yet in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ we can speak of man as eternal, and of God as dead."

He is saying that, though we cannot say God is passible, by virtue of the hypostatic union of His natures we can speak of Him as passible. Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2011, 11:29:08 AM »

oops
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« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2011, 12:36:41 PM »

God is above contradiction owing to his transcendence. God is beyond what we see as dichotomous states like existence and non-existence, life and death, etc. Vladimir Lossky, for example, is usually cautious to refer to God's "existence" as a hyper-existence because his "existence" is completely beyond our conceptualization of existing. In the same way, when we try to debate whether or not God can experience pain, we must realize that impassibility and passibility are both human attributes and that because of His transcendence, God is manifest in such a manner that he is beyond the dichotomy of passibility and impassibility. Hence we should hesitate when we try to make statements like, "God is impassible," or, "God is passible," because these statements are necessarily limiting God to our form of existence. All we can say for sure is that when He did become Incarnate, He was passible because He became man and existed among us in full humanity.

This important and great stuff. You were posting as I was. However, my beef with the above is a "practical one". In EO, I notice the tendency to definitely emphasize one side of this non-coin as it were and that is the unchangeable, impassable, etc. and play down the Living and Fiery quality of God.

Which is odd because it is the very experience of the latter by the Hesychasts and their defense against those who said their experiences and thus teachings were heretical, although much of those apologies fell back upon apophatic theology that grew up through EO history, rather than emphasizing the over-whelming witness of the Action and Changing and Living God Scripture.

I mean to get to other side of the non-coin Scripturally the Fathers pry out a few verses and make much of them. I am not saying this is profitable, but just noting that I often notice the immediate apologies by EOs to explain away the actions of God in OT: genocide, infanticide, etc. and His changes in disposition: loving, angry, mourning, etc.

Thank God for certain EO Priests. I never could get with the "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" god nor the god of Plato nor Plotinus.

In EO, I found a wonderfully rich attempt to continue the struggle of a people to work out in imperfect knowledge their salvation with a God who while incapable of being fully known is known and while acting remains steadfast in His divinity and being.(I hate using the word "same").

FWIW.    
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« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2011, 01:16:53 PM »

God is above contradiction owing to his transcendence. God is beyond what we see as dichotomous states like existence and non-existence, life and death, etc. Vladimir Lossky, for example, is usually cautious to refer to God's "existence" as a hyper-existence because his "existence" is completely beyond our conceptualization of existing. In the same way, when we try to debate whether or not God can experience pain, we must realize that impassibility and passibility are both human attributes and that because of His transcendence, God is manifest in such a manner that he is beyond the dichotomy of passibility and impassibility. Hence we should hesitate when we try to make statements like, "God is impassible," or, "God is passible," because these statements are necessarily limiting God to our form of existence. All we can say for sure is that when He did become Incarnate, He was passible because He became man and existed among us in full humanity.

This important and great stuff. You were posting as I was. However, my beef with the above is a "practical one". In EO, I notice the tendency to definitely emphasize one side of this non-coin as it were and that is the unchangeable, impassable, etc. and play down the Living and Fiery quality of God.

Which is odd because it is the very experience of the latter by the Hesychasts and their defense against those who said their experiences and thus teachings were heretical, although much of those apologies fell back upon apophatic theology that grew up through EO history, rather than emphasizing the over-whelming witness of the Action and Changing and Living God Scripture.

I mean to get to other side of the non-coin Scripturally the Fathers pry out a few verses and make much of them. I am not saying this is profitable, but just noting that I often notice the immediate apologies by EOs to explain away the actions of God in OT: genocide, infanticide, etc. and His changes in disposition: loving, angry, mourning, etc.

Thank God for certain EO Priests. I never could get with the "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" god nor the god of Plato nor Plotinus.

In EO, I found a wonderfully rich attempt to continue the struggle of a people to work out in imperfect knowledge their salvation with a God who while incapable of being fully known is known and while acting remains steadfast in His divinity and being.(I hate using the word "same").

FWIW.    

I think we should be careful, however, to make a distinction between the apophaticism of Christianity and the apophaticism of Neo-Platonism. The problem with the apophatic contemplation of Neo-Platonism is that its primary goal is to shed all illusion of multiplicity in order to focus the nous on the transcendent "One". There is a subtle difference with true Christian apophaticism where instead of shedding multiplicity in order to focus on the simple One of Plotinus, the negative path instead is designed to open our minds up to receiving divine revelation. Revealed doctrines like the trinity and the hypostatic union are impossible to grasp unless we cleanse our minds of our existence-based limitations and recognize that what is contradictory for us is not contradictory for God. For Christians, at least, revelation and apophaticism should go hand in hand.
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« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2011, 01:39:27 PM »

The One Incarnate Person of the Son suffered on the Cross:

For who would think that His birth, passion, cross, and death were incredible or a difficulty? Or what would there have been novel or strange about the preaching of Paul, if he had said that a merely human Christ suffered that which human nature daily endures among men everywhere? But it was surely this that the foolishness of the Gentiles could not receive, and the unbelief of the Jews rejected; viz., that the Apostle declared that Christ whom they, like you, fancied to be a mere man, was God. This it certainly was which the thoughts of these wicked men rejected, which the ears of the faithless could not endure; viz., that the birth of God should be proclaimed in the man Jesus Christ, that the passion of God should be asserted, and the cross of God proclaimed. This it was which was a difficulty: this was what was incredible; for that was incredible to the hearing of men, which had never been heard of as happening to the Divine nature. - St John Cassian, Against Nestorius, Book 3, Ch. 9

Emphasis mine.
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« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2011, 06:39:46 PM »

I don't really have the knowledge or inclination to dogpile the Fathers on this issue right now. I'll just say, I know well where your line of thinking can end up, norm. It's called Open Theism and it's not pretty, I know lot's of it's adherents. Be careful.
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« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2011, 07:09:17 PM »

I don't really have the knowledge or inclination to dogpile the Fathers on this issue right now. I'll just say, I know well where your line of thinking can end up, norm. It's called Open Theism and it's not pretty, I know lot's of it's adherents. Be careful.

Amen and agreed.

Two books I might suggest to you. The first is On the Unity of Christ by St. Cyril of Alexandria (St. Vladamir's Press publishes this - their entire "Popular Patristics" series is fantastic). The second is An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus (published by Catholic University of America). The first is an "easy" read, as far as the Fathers can be when it comes to ease of reading. But it certainly spells out the dual natures of Christ, which may help.

St. John of Damascus, on the other hand, is a very difficult read, especially for the people in the laity. The reason I offered up the version I did (which is around $45 last time I checked) and not a free online version is that this copy comes with his book The Fountain if Knowledge. In there he explains philosophical terms better than any modern dictionary of philosophy could hope to achieve. But these terms also lay a foundation for the terms of the Church in explaining both the Trinity and the Incarnation. And of course his Exposition is still one of the greatest things ever composed on this planet. Not THE greatest, but one of the greatest.

As a side note, it is in St. John's work where you see why God must be impassible, but also why He appears to be passible in Scripture. When we interpret the Old Testament explanations of God as being passible, we often (and completely unintentionally do so) ignore how the Trinity operates in relation to us.
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« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2011, 07:14:13 PM »

I don't really have the knowledge or inclination to dogpile the Fathers on this issue right now. I'll just say, I know well where your line of thinking can end up, norm. It's called Open Theism and it's not pretty, I know lot's of it's adherents. Be careful.

Sorry, but really it has only a little in common with Open Theism. What I state above is Orthodox.

Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko, especially the second half of the first podcast and the second podcast where he takes to task people for criticizing him for basically telling the truth.

It is first of all overwhelmingly Scriptural and Patristic (if you know folks who are experts in the field and not just quote mining).

Open Theism is a sorta flip side of Process Theology.

Both schools of thought have nothing to do with the above and are contrary to it.

What is common to Open Theism is legitimate criticism of the over Hellenization of Christianity both East and West. The West is worse off frankly.

Again, if you want a general primer, listen to the above podcasts.

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« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2011, 07:15:34 PM »

I don't really have the knowledge or inclination to dogpile the Fathers on this issue right now. I'll just say, I know well where your line of thinking can end up, norm. It's called Open Theism and it's not pretty, I know lot's of it's adherents. Be careful.

Amen and agreed.

Two books I might suggest to you. The first is On the Unity of Christ by St. Cyril of Alexandria (St. Vladamir's Press publishes this - their entire "Popular Patristics" series is fantastic). The second is An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus (published by Catholic University of America). The first is an "easy" read, as far as the Fathers can be when it comes to ease of reading. But it certainly spells out the dual natures of Christ, which may help.

St. John of Damascus, on the other hand, is a very difficult read, especially for the people in the laity. The reason I offered up the version I did (which is around $45 last time I checked) and not a free online version is that this copy comes with his book The Fountain if Knowledge. In there he explains philosophical terms better than any modern dictionary of philosophy could hope to achieve. But these terms also lay a foundation for the terms of the Church in explaining both the Trinity and the Incarnation. And of course his Exposition is still one of the greatest things ever composed on this planet. Not THE greatest, but one of the greatest.

As a side note, it is in St. John's work where you see why God must be impassible, but also why He appears to be passible in Scripture. When we interpret the Old Testament explanations of God as being passible, we often (and completely unintentionally do so) ignore how the Trinity operates in relation to us.

This ain't new ground. Thanks.
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« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2011, 07:17:15 PM »

He suffered without suffering Who did not therefore humble Himself that He might only be like us, but because (as I said before) He had reserved to His Nature superiority to all these things. But if we should say that through conversion or mutation of His own Nature He had passed into the nature of the flesh, it would be in all ways necessary for us even against our will to confess that the Hidden and Divine Nature was passible. But if He have remained unchanged albeit He have been made man as we, and it be a property of the Heavenly Nature that It cannot suffer, and the passible body have become His own through the union:----He suffers when the Body suffers, in that it is said to be His own body. He remains Impassible in that it is truly His property to be unable to suffer. - St Cyril of Alexandria

But I will make use of examples which may shew us by way of shadow, that the Only-Begotten shared in the suffering as far as belongs to the ownness of His Body, yet remained free from suffering, as God. - St Cyril of Alexandria

The Word lived, even though His Flesh died, and He was participant in the Passion, through ownness and union with it. Therefore the Same was living, as God, but like as He made His Body His own, so did He receive into Himself in all ownness the sufferings too of His Body, Himself suffering nought in His own Nature. - St Cyril of Alexandria


EDIT: Emphasis mine.
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« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2011, 07:20:33 PM »

Again, if you want a general primer, listen to the above podcasts.
I will.
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« Reply #35 on: July 26, 2011, 07:26:27 PM »

For it was in the flesh and not in His divinity that He hung upon the Cross. Otherwise, let them answer us, when we ask if two natures died. No, we shall say. And so two natures were not crucified but Christ was begotten, that is to say, the divine Word having become man was begotten in the flesh, was crucified in the flesh, suffered in the flesh, while His divinity continued to be impassible.” - St John Damascene

Emphasis mine.
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« Reply #36 on: July 26, 2011, 07:27:25 PM »

I don't really have the knowledge or inclination to dogpile the Fathers on this issue right now. I'll just say, I know well where your line of thinking can end up, norm. It's called Open Theism and it's not pretty, I know lot's of it's adherents. Be careful.

Amen and agreed.

Two books I might suggest to you. The first is On the Unity of Christ by St. Cyril of Alexandria (St. Vladamir's Press publishes this - their entire "Popular Patristics" series is fantastic). The second is An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus (published by Catholic University of America). The first is an "easy" read, as far as the Fathers can be when it comes to ease of reading. But it certainly spells out the dual natures of Christ, which may help.

St. John of Damascus, on the other hand, is a very difficult read, especially for the people in the laity. The reason I offered up the version I did (which is around $45 last time I checked) and not a free online version is that this copy comes with his book The Fountain if Knowledge. In there he explains philosophical terms better than any modern dictionary of philosophy could hope to achieve. But these terms also lay a foundation for the terms of the Church in explaining both the Trinity and the Incarnation. And of course his Exposition is still one of the greatest things ever composed on this planet. Not THE greatest, but one of the greatest.

As a side note, it is in St. John's work where you see why God must be impassible, but also why He appears to be passible in Scripture. When we interpret the Old Testament explanations of God as being passible, we often (and completely unintentionally do so) ignore how the Trinity operates in relation to us.

This ain't new ground. Thanks.


Here is St John Damascene's An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.html
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« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2011, 07:42:07 PM »

I think we should be careful, however, to make a distinction between the apophaticism of Christianity and the apophaticism of Neo-Platonism. The problem with the apophatic contemplation of Neo-Platonism is that its primary goal is to shed all illusion of multiplicity in order to focus the nous on the transcendent "One". There is a subtle difference with true Christian apophaticism where instead of shedding multiplicity in order to focus on the simple One of Plotinus, the negative path instead is designed to open our minds up to receiving divine revelation. Revealed doctrines like the trinity and the hypostatic union are impossible to grasp unless we cleanse our minds of our existence-based limitations and recognize that what is contradictory for us is not contradictory for God. For Christians, at least, revelation and apophaticism should go hand in hand.

I think this is very insightful and I did not mean to say that apophatic language leads one necessarily to the goal of (neo)Platonism; however, it does seems to me that many get to exactly where Plotinus wanted to go.

Very well written and thoughtful. Thank you.
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« Reply #38 on: July 27, 2011, 03:42:36 AM »

More from St Cyril of Alexandria on Christ suffering in the flesh:

For "let us see (he says) herefrom whose is the death. Till He come. Who is He Who is coming? they shall look on Him Whom they pierced." He will come therefore Who suffered death humanly, has been raised Divinely, Who ascended too into the Heavens, Who with all state is on the Throne of the Ineffable Godhead and co-sitteth with the Father, the Seraphim standing around, and the Highest Powers, not unknowing of the measure of their subjection to Him; every Authority and Power and Lordship worshipping Him:

If therefore we have believed on a man like us and not rather on God, the thing is man-worship, and confessedly nothing else: but if we believe that He That suffered in the flesh is God, Who hath been made also our High Priest, we have no ways erred, but acknowledge the Word out of God made Man: and thus is required of us faith God-ward, Who putteth out of condemnation and freeth from sin those that are taken thereby.
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« Reply #39 on: July 27, 2011, 12:12:42 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Wait, but if we separate the divinity from the flesh, then God could not experience how it was to be a man.  His divinity had to suffer, or else God did not die on the cross.   Yeshua was man and God, not man and/or God is the way I think of it.
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« Reply #40 on: July 27, 2011, 12:28:02 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Wait, but if we separate the divinity from the flesh, then God could not experience how it was to be a man.  His divinity had to suffer, or else God did not die on the cross.   Yeshua was man and God, not man and/or God is the way I think of it.

The God-Man died in His humanity. The God-Man didn't die in His divinity. Divinity can't die. Man can die. The God-Man died on the Cross as a man. "He That suffered in the flesh is God." - St Cyril of Alexandria "The divine Word having become man was begotten in the flesh, was crucified in the flesh, suffered in the flesh, while His divinity continued to be impassible." - St John Damascene

[EDIT] I reiterate: "Wherefore, although He died as man and His Holy Spirit was severed from His immaculate body, yet His divinity remained inseparable from both, I mean, from His soul and His body, and so even thus His one hypostasis was not divided into two hypostases." - St John Damascene
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« Reply #41 on: July 27, 2011, 01:54:39 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Wait, but if we separate the divinity from the flesh, then God could not experience how it was to be a man.  His divinity had to suffer, or else God did not die on the cross.   Yeshua was man and God, not man and/or God is the way I think of it.

Sort of. It is probably best to insist that the Word suffered as a whole, on the level of a person. If we go too far in either direction, we'll either fall into a Nestorian statement along the lines of, "human Christ suffered, while the Word did not" or a monophysite (notice: not the miaphysitism professed by the Oriental Orthodox, but true monophysitism) statement like, "the Incarnation changed the nature of the Word's divinity, enabling the Word to feel pain." The Word felt pain, by virtue of being fully human, but the divinity's impassibility was not changed by the Incarnation.
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« Reply #42 on: July 27, 2011, 02:37:05 PM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Wait, but if we separate the divinity from the flesh, then God could not experience how it was to be a man.  His divinity had to suffer, or else God did not die on the cross.   Yeshua was man and God, not man and/or God is the way I think of it.

"Whosoever shall not recognize that the Word of God suffered in the flesh, that he was crucified in the flesh, and that likewise in that same flesh he tasted death and that he is become the first-begotten of the dead, for, as he is God, he is the life and it is he that giveth life: let him be anathema." - Anathematism 12, Anathematisms of St Cyril Against Nestorius, The Third Ecumenical Council

Emphasis mine.
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« Reply #43 on: July 27, 2011, 05:31:38 PM »

Sort of. It is probably best to insist that the Word suffered as a whole, on the level of a person. If we go too far in either direction, we'll either fall into a Nestorian statement along the lines of, "human Christ suffered, while the Word did not" or a monophysite (notice: not the miaphysitism professed by the Oriental Orthodox, but true monophysitism) statement like, "the Incarnation changed the nature of the Word's divinity, enabling the Word to feel pain." The Word felt pain, by virtue of being fully human, but the divinity's impassibility was not changed by the Incarnation.
Agreed Smiley

This is why I like to use the term "the Word participated with the Suffering and Death on the Cross" which does not pretend to explain how the Word actually felt or experienced this process but rather simply affirms that the Word was present in the Incarnation at that moment, without separation or distinction.  In this way we  do not embrace even a momentary separation and also do not teach a "confusion or mingling" of the Divine and Humanity.  We do not suppose we know exactly what the Divinity experienced at the Cross as the experiences of the Divine and beyond our comprehension, but due to the Union and the principle of communicatio Idiomatum we do know that the Divine was actually there and present within the Person of Jesus Christ.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 05:36:03 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: July 28, 2011, 11:23:31 AM »

One man's heresy is another man's logic.

If God did not suffer during the crucifixion, then you are basically claiming Jesus was not God.

Because Jesus is both God & man through the trinity.

Three parts of one God.  Not 4 parts.

Otherwise you'd have

1. Jesus is man - which suffered
2. Jesus is God - which did not suffer
3. The Father is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God

If you follow the teachings of the trinity

1. Jesus is man & God combined - which suffered
2. The Father is God
3. The Holy Spirit is God

I believe the Hapgood translation book has an error, unless you want to claim a qaudnity.
Actually, I think it's more like this. We can truly say that God the Son did everything the Man Jesus did because the two Natures. So Mary is the Mother of God, Jesus grew and ate and slept, etc. But this does not mean that His divine Nature experienced everything His human Nature did because the Natures are united without being mixed. So, Jesus in His humanity did not exist until Mary conceived but we cannot say this about the Son because it is not possible for the Divine Nature to come into being, though It can be in a womb. Likewise, the one Person Christ slept, but this does not mean the Son was somehow dormant or unconscious, because He can't be.

In the same way, God really was on that cross, but while the one Person of Jesus did suffer, His divinity did not experience this because it is not possible.

I hope that helps.

Wait, but if we separate the divinity from the flesh, then God could not experience how it was to be a man.  His divinity had to suffer, or else God did not die on the cross.   Yeshua was man and God, not man and/or God is the way I think of it.

You're confusing nature and person. The Divine Person, the Logos/Jesus Christ, suffered. Properly, persons, not natures, experience. This is a slight oversimplification I think, but still an important distinction.
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1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Tags: Christ  Atonement  Divinity theopaschism Christology nestorianism 
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