Chapter IV--The Divine-Human
The opposite position to that which St. Athanasius defended, and from which St. Cyril made his advance, is marked by a tendency to postulate as the subject of the manhood in Christ a human individual, intimately associated with the divine Logos. Failing this, men were inclined to assume a composite nature or composite will, through which the Incarnate might manifest His dual activity. There is no attempt in the early centuries to predicate a real, continuous limiting of the divine prerogatives. To the early Christologians the unchangeableness of the divine nature and the remoteness of God from the level of His creatures were dogmas of the first rank. One mystery of the Incarnation lies for them in the condescension of the Most High to union with men: any further self-humiliation lay outside the field of their imagination. Thus all who might be dissatisfied with the Athanasian statement, or averse from the Cyrilline doctrine, naturally looked for relief to the discovery of some human, or partly human, subject of the Incarnate's manhood; a subject that could be so associated with the divine Logos Himself as to save any practical duality of persons in the one Christ; if that indeed were a possibility.
I. It will be best first to consider the most extreme theory on this side. It is that associated with the name of Nestorius, but it owes its leading ideas and their development to the teachers of the Antiochene school of thought; and chiefly to Theodore of Mopsuestia. [Bright, St. Leo on the Incarnation, pp. 159 ff. Ottley, Incarnation, Vol. II, pp. 68 ff. Dorner, Div. 2, Vol. I, pp. 25 ff.]
The Antiochene characteristics were a love of logic, a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and a reverence for humanity as such. In this they were opposed to the reverence for mystery, the mystic use of Scripture, and the Platonic indifference to the flesh that marked the Alexandrian school of Greek thought.
They approached the Incarnation from the human side and argued, as it were, upwards. Granted a humanity that is real and complete, they argued to a human individual, real and true; and thence they proceeded to study the phenomena of the Christ. He is truly human; He must in some way admit of the presence of a human person; how, then, can He be God? The answer was found in the theory of a moral union: the association of Jesus the son of Mary with the eternal Logos: an association the basis of which is the actual moral identity of the will of Jesus with the divine will of the Logos. This association was granted to Jesus from the first moment of His being, because of the great holiness that had been foreseen by God to be His; it carried with it the previous grace of a sinless birth, it was sealed and deepened at the baptism in Jordan, and it became perfected at the ascension into Heaven.
But Theodore would not admit that Christ was two persons. So close was the union, so identical were the wills, that the Logos and Jesus were not two but one; even as man and wife are one flesh.
As taught and popularized by Nestorius this doctrine was quickly condemned. For he did not so maintain the association of Jesus with the Logos as to confess that God came forth from Mary's womb. To that point he would not go: and in his refusal to make the advance he sheaved how far he had lost sight of the oneness of the Incarnate Son.
Catholic theologians were able to advance most powerful arguments against this position. They could prove that, on this theory, one man only was assumed and redeemed; that manhood at large still awaited a saviour. It became clear that between the positions of Theodore and Nestorius there was no real difference; that association and moral identity can never make two individualities one.
But what they failed to do was to find the true solution of the difficulty that had baffled the Antiochene teachers: they could not find a true subject of the manhood of Christ. [Dorner, Div. 2, Vol. I, pp. 52 ff. Ottley, Vol. II, pp. 70ff. Bruce, Humiliation of Christ, pp. 46 ff.]
II. Hence the thought that underlay the Antiochene tendency, though restrained from Nestorian channels, continued to make its way in the Church. We must notice one famous reappearance of it in the eighth century under the guise of what was called Adoptionism. [See Dorner, Div. 2, Vol. I, pp. 248 ff. Ottley, Vol. II, pp. 151 ff.]
This school of thought entirely disclaimed any connection with Nestorian dogma. It confessed the Catholic Creeds, it acknowledged in the one Christ two complete and perfect natures. But in its practical bearing it inclines to the Nestorian view. The position taken up is marked by two main propositions: (1) The manhood in the Christ is so real that it must possess an ego of its own; for since manhood differs from deity, the ego of manhood in Christ must be of different content from the ego of His divine nature. (2) Christ is one person only: one ego: the divine Son of God.
The reconciliation of these two opposite propositions led the Adoptionists, under Felix of Urgellis, to their peculiar doctrine. They held that the Son of God took manhood from Mary's womb, but that the Son assumed with the manhood a human individuality. This human individuality was at the moment of the conception in the womb so closely united with the eternal Son as to constitute, with Him and in Him, the Son of Man, who may be called divine. But this Son of Man is not to be regarded as by nature divine Son of God: rather it is by divine favour and adoption that He became Son at the Incarnation.
Thus the Incarnate Son may be contemplated either as Son of God by nature, for He is the divine Word of the Father; or as Son of God by adoption, for He is the true Son of Man, made man for our sakes: but in fact and ultimately He is one and the same divine Ego.
All this is of course most unsatisfactory, and the view of the personality of the assumed manhood is full of danger. Yet we can appreciate the insight that shewed men where to look for the subject of the human nature of the Christ. Felix saw that the Cyrilline position concerning the divinity of the Incarnate was impregnable, and on this he took his stand. He also saw that Nestorian views of the assumption of a human person by the Logos were untenable. He therefore sought to find within the being of the one divine person of the Incarnate some means of postulating of the manhood a divine ego that should be of a content commensurate with the humanity assumed. Not that he in any way foresaw the Kenotic view as held today, or foreshadowed it; but he did apparently see that it is to the Person of the Logos that we must look for some act of loving condescension that will bring Him to the level upon which He can be the real, permanent subject of a complete manhood.
It was of course an unthinkable distinction that he drew, within the divine Ego, between the Son of God who is divine by nature, and the Son of God who is Son of Man, divine only by adoption. Still more unthinkable is the conception of the union of the Son of God with individual manhood which goes to constitute the Son of Man.
With the many refinements of Adoptionism that were made we are in no way concerned.
III. Preceding the Adoptionists in time but vaguely allied with them on the side of emphasizing the completeness and reality of the manhood assumed by the Logos come certain sects of Monothelites. They are of course the children of the Monophysites proper; and their theories are many. But in this connection we are only interested in the theory of the composition of the will of the Incarnate.
This theory may merely mean the united activity of two wills, which being constituted in one person may be regarded as acting with one single operation in the power of the divine nature. But it may mean, and actually came to mean with the parties whose teaching we are considering, one single will composed of the divine will of the Logos and the human will assumed with manhood in Mary's womb. This composition of wills was not, of course, effected instantaneously at the Incarnation. It was due to the growing moral identity of the human will with the divine will; and was therefore a matter of time, the human will developing in power and sanctity, according to human laws but in the power of the Logos who had assumed it. Thus the Incarnate came to possess one divine-human will, more than human and not purely divine.
This theory affords, it is true, an instance of that Monophysitism to which we referred in our discussion of the Cyrilline position; but it is inserted here as marking the road along which men came to the conception of a divine-human person within the Incarnate sphere, a divine-human subject of the manhood of Christ. For men came to think of the Incarnate as if He were the product of a composition of the divine Logos and a human person in whom the manhood is constituted: a divine-human person produced by the act of the Son in becoming incarnate.
The postulates on which this theory is based are these. First, manhood must be personal if it is real. The manhood assumed by the eternal Son is real and complete, therefore it is personal. Little or no emphasis need be laid upon the person or subject of it: for in fact he is assumed by the Ego of the Logos in the very act by which he is conceived in the womb of the mother, Mary. He has no existence apart from the Logos.
Secondly, this human ego, although associated with the Logos, must develope on normal human lines, as befits one possessing a normal human soul and body. Thus primarily he will be conscious of himself as a babe; next as a child, though he will, no doubt, have a secret instinct of divinity in a small degree. As he grows in soul his consciousness developes, and he comes to know himself and the Logos as the determination of himself, as the complement of the full conception of himself. This consciousness becomes perfect so soon as his manhood has attained the full measure of its stature and wisdom.
Thirdly, the divine Logos must limit Himself in such a way as to leave the human consciousness free. He cannot, as Incarnate, be fully conscious until the day of the perfection of His manhood. Then it is that He first knows Himself and humanity as the determination of Himself. Then it is also that He can fully reveal Himself through manhood.
Upon these postulates we are given the theory of the Incarnate as a divine-human person. He is one person in two individual, personal natures; with one self-consciousness proper to neither nature by itself, but to both in composition. For as having assumed a human individuality He knows Himself as man in Godhood, and as the divine Logos incarnate He knows Himself as God in manhood; which is said ultimately to amount to knowing Himself as one divine-human person, whose being is constituted in the composition of the divine nature with an individual manhood.
This more or less is the theory developed by Dorner in his great work on Christology. [Div. 2, Vol. III, 248250, 253260, etc.] I say more or less: for his statement of his views is neither clear nor systematic. The striking doctrines of this theory are three. First, the divine-human personality, neither merely divine nor really human: secondly, the assumption of personal manhood by the Logos; and, thirdly, the gradual growth in consciousness, or the gradual increasing incarnation of the Word. For the Incarnation is not to be considered complete until the Incarnate has begun to express Himself before the Father in and through His manhood, however much that manhood may limit Him.
These doctrines will be found to mark certain of the extreme Kenotic theories. But as their exponents are important to us for their attempt to argue a self-abandonment by the eternal Son of some of His divine attributes, in order to allow Him to act as subject of the manhood, I think it better to defer my references to their teaching until the next chapter. Some of them might well be classed here with those who claim to have discovered a divine-human person in the Christ; but of greater moment is their Kenotic theory. Therefore, at the risk of spoiling the logical division of my subject, I venture to omit them here.
IV. A modern school of critics of the New Testament shews in its presentment of our Lord's life and consciousness far too much of the influence of these long-abandoned theories; and yet happily escapes personal subjection to their full logic in virtue of their deep devotion to God our Saviour.
(1) It is the fashion in some circles to speak of our Lord's Call to the messianic office as exactly parallel in manner to that of the Hebrew prophets. "The meaning of the crisis is determined by the quality of the personality itself, and by the sum of all the influences which it has assimilated to itself from its environment during a long course of years. The external stimulus which precipitates the crisis may be the least important factor in the final result. In the present instance the external stimulus is not far to seek. The wave of religious expectancy stirred up by the preaching of the Baptist would naturally induce a special susceptibility to a religious call. The moment of Baptism, the rite of mystic initiation into the Kingdom proclaimed so near at hand, would not unnaturally be to our Lord the moment of illumination as to His own position in the Kingdom. ... To One who looked at life like this it might not seem so great a paradox that the Christ of God should be chosen from the ranks of those whose lot it is to labour and to serve. ... Nevertheless, without some such an experience of voice or vision ... it would be difficult to understand His absolute conviction that He was indeed Lord of Lords and King of Kings." [Foundations: The Historic Christ, by Rev. B. H. Streeter ; pp. 98, 99. The italics are mine.]
The complaint that I have against the author of the essay from which these words are quoted is not only that he gives a reason for our Lord's baptism by St. John different from that which the Saviour Himself gave to the Baptist, and ascribes to St. John's baptism initiation into the Kingdom, which our Lord Himself ascribed to Christian Baptism; but that his whole treatment of the Christ before the Baptism is that which is applicable only to a person really and completely human.
I have italicized the words "sum of all the influences, etc." For among these influences the writer evidently does not count the essential Relation between the Father and the Son which is the ground of the Son's Nature and Person. Surely the Eternal Word possesses in that Relation, which is His very essence, something which, as "naturally inducing a special susceptibility to a religious call," deserves to be mentioned before the "wave of expectancy stirred up by the preaching of the Baptist." For the Incarnate is the very Cause of that wave, by whose preaching so ever men were led to yield to it; and to regard His Ministry as the chief result of it is to posit a completely human Christ, in whose soul the divine Light is but slowly acquiring lordship. And that this is not far from the writer's meaning we are certain as we read his description of the Christ as one "chosen from those whose lot it is to labour and to serve."
It is surely absolutely impossible to apply psychological tests that are valid for man to one who is the Eternal Word. For such tests are applied only to the actions manifest in human media of thought, will, and desire; and depend for their validity upon the assumption that the actors who use these media are human beings. How then are they valid when applied to the same human media when used by an actor who is not a human person at all?
We are then justified in charging the school represented by Mr. Streeter of having fallen into the error of positing, as Subject to the human nature of the Christ, one who is at best divine-human, a composite personality, a contradiction in terms.
If it be answered that the Incarnation requires as subject of manhood one who is at least equal with a human "ego," I agree. But while the Incarnate Word is so far equal with a human "ego" as to be a fit subject of manhood, He is not a human ego; He is a divine Ego who includes the essential content of a human Ego within Himself. And were He not so much greater than a human Ego as to invalidate our psychological tests in His case, He would have brought to our aid no personal powers that we cannot match from among ourselves.
(2) Another writer of the same school, whose personal belief in our Lord's Divinity is beyond question, does not fear to employ language that savours of Mr. Streeter's Christology.
He says: "Let us take first the Divinity of Christ and try to interpret it ... in terms of Will. ... Christ's Will, as a subjective function, is of course not the Father's Will; but the content of the wills--the Purpose--is the same. Christ is not the Father; but the Christ and the Father are one. What we see Christ doing and desiring, that we thereby know the Father does and desires. He is the Man whose will is united with God's. He is thus the firstfruits of the Creation--the first response from the Creation to the love of the Creator. But because He is this, He is the perfect expression of the Divine in terms of human life. There are not two Gods, but in Christ we see God. Christ is identically God; the whole content of His being--His thought, feeling, and purpose--is also that of God. ... Then, in the language of logicians, formally (as pure subjects), God and Christ are distinct; materially (that is in the content of the two consciousnesses) God and Christ are One and the same. ... When we say that Christ is distinct from God, we are speaking of something which, while distinguishable in thought, is not in fact a separate 'thing' from that 'content' which was said to be the whole 'substance' of Christ, and in which Christ and the Father are one." [Foundations: The Divinity of Christ, by Rev. W. Temple, pp. 247 ff.]
Recognizing as I do the personal orthodoxy of the writer of these words, I quote them only because of their danger to others less grounded in devotion to our Lord God, Jesus, than he is.
Mr. Temple declares that Christ, considered from the side of His Divinity, is one with the Father, and their oneness is in the whole "substance" of Christ, that is, in the "content of His being--His thought feeling, and purpose." This content, or substance, he has previously called "the Will," or "the man himself, as a moral being." So that Christ and the Father are one in "the Christ himself as a moral being"; or in His "Will," or in the "content of His being"; so one, that they are only "separable in thought."
It is on a basis such as this that Mr. Temple could pen these words: "We are all agreed that we cannot today regard the Divine and the Human as existing in Him side by side; the humanity is divine, and the divinity is human; the former is the Synoptist doctrine, the latter is St. John's." Yet in spite of this, he can make a very different suggestion that "the form of His consciousness is human, the content is Divine." [Nature of Personality, p. 116 note.]
I confess that I should not have arrived at the meaning of this passage, had I not remembered earlier passages in the essay, in which the author complains that the Greek fathers not only distinguished humanity from divinity on grounds that to him are false, but that they so distinguished them as to posit in the Incarnation a divine Person who is the subject of the Manhood. Mr. Temple seems to think that unless the subject of the manhood be truly and completely human, manhood is not really assumed.
Thus, instead of rejoicing in the extraordinary likeness between the divine and the human that makes God-in-manhood an adequate centre of the redeemed race, he sets out to enunciate a theory of a subject of the manhood who may be called indifferently divine or human, because He is both.
So that in the first passage of his quoted above, it would appear that for "Christ" we must sometimes read "The Eternal Logos," or God-in-Himself, and sometimes "The Logos incarnate," or "God-in-manhood." Each term suits several of the sentences; but they cannot both serve as subject to them all.
Again, the phrases "content of the Will," or "content of His Being" refer now to the "Eternal Logos," or God-in-Himself, and now to "God-in-manhood"; and thus the general teaching about the identity of the will of Christ with the will of the Father is confusing.
Yet all the while one is conscious of a beautiful, personal belief in the divinity of Jesus. What does it really mean? Later passages touching upon the consciousness of Christ as Messiah supply the explanation. We gather that the Christ is not a conscious manifestation of the divine purpose, equally, at each moment of His life, according to His human power of self-expression: rather He comes little by little to a sense of His "Mission," and changes from the joyful herald of a happy kingdom to the tragic hero, who finding all other means to have failed, goes out in solitude to die.
There can then be no constant equation, on Mr. Temple's own shewing, between the content of the Divine Will and Purpose that always included the Passion, and the content of His Will who knew not that He must die, until all other means failed. Since then the Passion viewed as a sacrifice is most surely part of the divine Purpose, for the fulfillment of which the Logos took flesh, the inference is that in Christ the Eternal Logos dwelt as Spirit in a human person, finally producing such identity of mind and will as gave to the Logos complete control and use of the manhood that was essentially that of a human Jesus.
(3) Nevertheless, it is clear that Mr. Temple did not set out to teach this that Mr. Streeter has so clearly stated. I think he desired to restate, in terms of psychology, the ancient dogma that Christ is True God and True Man. He is true God: He is one with the Father: He is the divine Will. And since manhood is His own Thought manifest in created form, manhood may be His second, added, nature. Nor need He hesitate to become the very true Subject of that Manhood, and as such, while Divine, be named Man; for what we mean by a human person is essentially the Eternal Word's own thought and idea and creation. So that the human nature that He took, constituted in Him, is entirely adequate to express just such thoughts, desires, purposes, and emotions as are entirely human in their content and form, issuing as they do through human media from Him Who is Creator of all man is and does and can be.
Thus a dual relation is revealed between God and mankind. The creative relation has as its subject God-in-Himself, acting in the Logos, through the Spirit; the object is the thought or plan of the Logos manifest in created forms, materialized; and the ground of the relationship is the divine self-expression as Love.
To this is added a second, a redemptive relation, in which the subject of the relation is God-in-manhood, God assuming to Himself the crown of His own creation, for a redemptive purpose; and the object is the society of human persons who shall surrender themselves to Him, in response to His influence exercised upon them through the manhood that He assumed; and the ground of this relation is the same divine self-expression as Love, now translated into human form.
This dual relation is unified, because God-in-manhood is essentially God-in-Himself; and all down the ages the Mystic Bride, the Spouse of God-in-manhood, will behold in and through Her Bridegroom the Beatific Vision of God-in-Himself. While from the Bridegroom she will ever receive all that divine Love can give to one who is less than Himself, she will through the Bridegroom offer to Eternal Love all that human love can ever bring. The human heart of God-in-manhood will be to her the temple of life-giving grace and the shrine of her own sacrifice and worship: just because it is the human heart of one who is not merely man, but man's Inventor, Creator, and Father.
(4) Once more, this attitude to the "divine-human" theory is taken up by a third writer, and from it he proceeds to infer the absence of final authority for Church and Episcopacy. Accepting Mr. Streeter's view of Christ's Messianic Consciousness, Mr. Rawlinson argues that the Lord was prophet rather than legislator, and that "His vision of the future (like that of the prophets generally) was preoccupied to the exclusion of other considerations, by the single dominant thought of the manifestation of the Kingdom in ultimate triumph, conceived as a thing ever upon the verge of immediate fulfillment." [Foundations: Principle of Authority, by Rev. A. E. J. Rawlinson, p. 385.] Here again the underlying assumption is that tests proper to ordinary human prophets are valid in the case of the Christ; that you can measure the self-expression of mere men by just the same standard that you apply to the self-expression of the Christ. Is Christ then personally divine at all? If He be, how is it that His mind manifests, primarily and prominently, as the dominant influence upon His career, a thought about mankind and its relation to God that never had any the least place in the divine Mind and Purpose?
It is certain that in strict logic Mr. Rawlinson must confess a Christ who at the highest was divine-human, if divine at all. That in practice he confesses and worships a divine Lord Jesus is not really to our point. For the conclusions that he and his school draw from their erroneous Christology are so far-reaching in their consequences to the Church and Christian life, that they must be surrendered as full of danger to souls.
It remains therefore for this new school of critics to restate, if they will, the old Catholic dogma of the Incarnation. But in doing so, let them first answer this question: Who is the Ego of the manhood of Christ? Is He God, or merely Man? For a composition of Both founded in moral identity is surely, in these days, out of the question.
It is probable that some of this school will answer, after the error of many modern psychologists, that there is no Ego of manhood beyond the sum of manhood's faculties. In saying which, they will in one breath explain the cause of their error and deny responsibility for the same.
For this reason I have emphasized the importance of their modern erroneous view of a "composite" Christ. Partly, it is the theologian's surrender to the psychologist, a surrender neither warranted by the facts of the case nor demanded by any just claim of science; and, partly, perhaps, it is his surrender to the modern historical critic, whose conception of the Son of Mary, based upon a one-sided reading of the evidence, necessitates the removal of the one dogma that carries within itself a necessity for reinterpretation, and restatement in terms of Catholic truth.
V. It remains to offer some general remarks in criticism of the views we have had under our notice.
(1) In the first place, I think the fundamental error of all who seek a human or divine-human subject of manhood lies in the false belief that the ego of manhood must, in some sense, be necessarily a man. The Antiochene teachers could not conceive of any one who was not a man exercising human functions humanly and completely; and in this failure they had many followers. Now it may be strongly argued that the ego of manhood in Christ may be superhuman. Provided that His personality possesses all the attributes of human personality as its minimum content, and provided that all His characteristic powers that exceed this human measure can, in some way, be limited, restrained, and controlled, there is no evident reason why such a superhuman person should not be the ego of manhood in the Incarnate. If man be God's image, may not the Son of God be presumed to possess, at least, all those characteristics that are essential to man's ego?
We know ourselves as made in God's image; we recognize the unity of divine and human life and action; we can see no necessary obstacle to the assumption by God of human nature. Man knows himself to be the centre of his own world; he interprets phenomena in the light of his own self-consciousness; judges events by his own experience; and is to himself an end. But the moment he finds God, or is found of Him, he gladly surrenders to Him the throne of his own little kingdom, realizing that God rules the universe and him on lines differing only in degree of power and goodness from his own; and he is content to hold his own realm as a tributary prince. In so surrendering himself to God, he perceives n break in the continuity of his life, and no essential divergence in method; he merely apprehends the ideal of which he sees himself and his own method to be an imperfect copy. The more he investigates the methods that obtain in the two kingdoms, the more is he aware of their real identity; an identity that he can explain in so far as he knows himself to be really and vitally in the image of God.
For this reason he does not feel hindered from applying to God the terms of the highest category known to himself and in which he would class himself: the category of personality. He by no means claims to speak adequately of God in such terms; but all that these terms connote is the least possible that he will postulate of his God.
Hence it becomes possible for him to conceive of the manhood of the Incarnate as sufficiently constituted in a Person who is divine, if so be he can also postulate of the divine Person some actual and continuous self-restraint or self-limitation, so as to allow for the full activities of the assumed humanity.
The difficulty of this view lies chiefly in the conception of such a self-limitation on the part of the eternal Son: a conception that will come before us as we investigate theories of the Kenotic school. It is enough to note here that it was probably owing to this difficulty that the earlier Christologians of whom we have been thinking, departed so far from the orthodox position.
(2) Secondly, with regard to the impersonal manhood assumed by our Lord Jesus Christ, it would seem to follow that if a divine Person may so limit His proper powers as to act adequately as the ego of manhood, there is no reason why the human nature taken of Mary, that is, the flesh with its proper human soul, should not have been constituted in Him as its proper self. Thus never for a moment was there any need for a self besides Him, nor was the manhood ever really impersonal. In the moment of its conception it found itself in the Incarnate, who is its true ego or subject.
We, indeed, are lamentably ignorant of the significance of self as distinct from the soul: but it does not seem improper to argue that whatever is the ego or subject in which soul and body constitute one individual, in the case of the Christ the ego is the eternal Son of God. Thus it becomes clear in what sense we may say that God became man. From the moment that it began to be, the manhood of Christ was personal, constituted in the person of the self-limited Logos, so as to be a very true, real, and complete manhood. And in the measure that the Logos did truly limit Himself so as to be the adequate subject of manhood, He did truly and really become man; not a man, but man.
Only let it be remembered that He is always true God, Son of God, Word of the Father.
This line of thought reminds us of the importance of emphasizing the fact that in the Incarnate the manhood is united with the divine Person, and not primarily with the divine nature. We may not think of the Son of God as distinct from His eternal substance, and therefore able to effect the union of His proper nature with the assumed nature, and to act upon either as He pleases. Rather must we say that He who is eternally the subject, or ego, of the nature of the divine Son willed to become, at the same time, the subject or ego of human nature. Thus the two natures meet in the one Person; the Person is not, as it were, outside the two natures, controlling them from without. The divine Son and His eternal nature are inseparable except in thought. The act of becoming incarnate is His personal, divine act mediated by His divine nature. So that in analysing the Incarnate it is better to see in Him only God the Son and the manhood that He took; it is a mistake, fraught with grave danger, to see in Him God the Son, and the divine nature, and the assumed manhood. God the Son is both the Son Himself in His divine nature and He is the divine Nature. It is legitimate to differentiate actions proper to His divine nature from actions that are proper only to human nature, but it is impossible to conceive the Incarnate performing any the least human action without the divine nature. Personal action is action based upon the functions of the nature which is at once the determination of our self and the medium of our self-expression. Christ conditioned the activity of His divine nature when He became incarnate, but He did not divorce Himself from it.
(3) In the third place, against all theories of composition of personality in the Christ very strong objections may be advanced.
First, they all require for their success the assumption of a period of development during which the human element of the unity grew to the state of perfection necessary to its true union with the divine. The perfect union does not date from the conception in Mary's womb. No teacher of this school would allow that the child at Mary's knee was really conscious of himself and of the Logos as the determination of himself. The growth was slow, it followed normal physical laws, and for all practical purposes the true divine-human consciousness dated from the baptism of Christ in the Jordan.
The Logos either restrained Himself or was self-abandoned during a period of years while the manhood developed towards its perfect stature: the consciousness of the human personality, as it were, ever advancing in apprehension of the Logos: until finally the Logos found manhood a fit medium of self-expression, and the human personality lost itself in the Logos. Thus there resulted the one divine-human person.
Such a theory breaks down, for it would follow from it that He who died upon the Cross had not the same Ego as He who was nursed by Mary. It cannot, then, be successfully maintained that it is merely a question of development, degree or measure: the question is, was the self-consciousness of the Child Jesus different in kind from the suggested divine-human self-consciousness of the Crucified and Risen Christ? This theory can only be accepted if we suppose that, during the days of childhood, there were two distinct centres of consciousness--the Logos who was waiting for the perfecting of the manhood that He might win to His divine-human personality, and the child Jesus who was waiting for his own perfecting that he might be fully conscious of himself as human-divine.
There is, I think, no escape from this duality. For however much the Logos hide His powers or lay them aside, He is still the Logos; and however close the union of the human child with the Logos, he is still a human child. It is only at the level marked by the attainment of perfection by His manhood that the Incarnate becomes the subject of a composite consciousness. Thus round these two centres we may assume the action of two distinct wills; the divine will of the Logos and the human will of the human Jesus; for the quiescence of the divine will is not its non-existence. It is there, however complete its inactivity.
Of what nature, then, is the composite, divine-human personality? Of what kind is the composite will? Is there no danger of confusing the idea of identity of essential being with the idea of identity of moral likeness? We cannot conceive the resultant, composite identity except as a third term, where only two are possible. It may be a new kind of personality, in which case it will be out of place in the doctrine of the union of God and man; or by a clever change of names we may speak of Christ as divine-human, when in fact He is still only human and divine.
Secondly, the logical issue of these theories is Nestorianism. It is not to the point that their authors condemn such a teaching: a theory is judged not by the professions of its author but by the logical direction of its doctrine. Any theory that aims at a composite personality as the subject of Christ's manhood has at its base the assumption by the Logos of a single human individuality. Thus, with Nestorianism, it provides for the redemption of one man, not for the redemption of the race.
An attempt is made to escape from the consequences of this position, and so from the old argument that killed Nestorianism. It is increasingly felt that the assumption by the Son of God of a human individual does not necessarily exclude the race from redemption. The modern world rightly refuses to accept any exclusive view of human personality, holding rather the corporate, social view of the individual man. The brotherhood of man, held as a scientific truth, seems to open the way to the belief that one individual might conceivably be exalted to the universal level, and become the centre of a redeemed race. Against such a view it seems almost enough to advance the experience of mankind. For apart from our theorizings, the exaltation of one or another has never carried with it any the least pledge of the exaltation of the family, the tribe, or the race. Nor has the inspiration of this genius or that necessarily brought with it any increase in general knowledge or culture. The Jewish people are a standing witness to the contrary. Had the selection and inspiration of the few been able to raise the mass, the Jews would have had small need of a saviour. But their holy ones passed away, leaving the race in its darkness: and that because the isolation, illumination, and empowering of any one member of the race has never so far produced on any large scale the advance of the whole race in insight and moral power. Though human personality is not exclusive, it most certainly is not universally inclusive.
And lastly, a very strong objection to these theories arises from the doctrine of the Atonement.
The eternal Son came to be the mediator between God and man; to be at once our High-Priest, our new Life, and our King. His purpose was to take our manhood, and in it to obey the divine law, by it to make atonement for sin with sacrifice, with it to enter the Holiest of Holies, and through it to raise us to the level of sonship. Upon this new level we were to learn how to perfect penitence and to accomplish obedience by virtue of our communion with His divine life brought to us in His manhood. Thus there was to come into being a new race, whose life is His life, and whose law is His divine will: a race of which He is at once a member and the Head, as He is both its creator and its re-creator.
It is, then, of the first importance that His divine personality should stand out, clear and certain, as the one subject of His manhood. For as man He is our Priest; but our Priest is divine. As man He is our sacrifice, but our sacrifice came down from heaven. That is to say, the "infinite worth" of the atoning sacrifice lies in the fact that He who became incarnate, who suffered, died, and rose again, is the eternal Son of God. We may postulate limitations of divine power, we may imagine restraint of divine prerogatives; but we are bound to maintain the simple divinity of the Crucified.
Again, since the atoning sacrifice lies not only in the Passion and Crucifixion, but in the whole act of obedience that was spread over a period of some thirty-three years, it seems necessary to demand that the person who offers obedience during all those years should be one and the same. It is impossible to suppose that the obedient child of Nazareth had a self-consciousness different in kind from that of the Crucified. To make such a supposition is to bring into the Gospel story a double personality of the Christ, if not two Christs; it is to draw a line between what happened before the baptism in Jordan and all that followed it.
Yet once again, the Scriptural doctrine of the Atonement knows only two terms to the union: as it were, two parties only to the new covenant. On the one side God: on the other side man; and the point of union is He who, being God, became man while abiding in His divine state. The mediator is He who can at one and the same moment act as subject or ego to the divine nature against which sin has been committed, and to the manhood which is guilty of the sin. He it is who is able to mediate: exhibiting, in His own single person, God to man arid man to God.
But if for the divine person of the mediator we substitute one who is divine-human, composite, neither merely God nor truly man, we rob the Atonement of its meaning. For such an one is not God to us: for every manifestation of Him is a manifestation not of the divine nor of the divine as conditioned in manhood, but of something that we can only call divine-human. So, too, He is not man to God: for before God He exhibits not the human, nor the human as aided by divinity, but something that we can only call human divine. An arbitrator from outside such an one might be: a mediator who is of both he could never be.