"I Will" or "We Will": How Many Wills Does Jesus Have?
We understand from Scripture that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man simultaneously in one existence. As set forth in the Definition of Chalcedon, Christ is one person subsisting in two natures (divine, human), and thus shares in all the attributes peculiar to both deity and humanity. While the two natures are in union, they remain distinct and unchanged, the properties of each being wholly preserved. The question we are faced with is If the capacity to will is inherent to a nature how are we to understand the will(s) of Christ? If He possesses both the divine and human natures, does it follow that He has two wills?
While at first glance this conclusion seems to be as logical as simple arithmetic, we must ask ourselves if it truly depicts the Jesus we find in Scripture. Does the confession of two wills for Christ reflect an incarnational theology? Does it make Christ a schizophrenic who wills one way one second, and another way the next, or wills in two ways simultaneously? How many wills does Christ possess? The answer to these questions ultimately depends on the manner in which we understand the incarnation, and the functions of a "nature."
As it pertains to volitional capacity, we must confess that Christ possesses the capacity to will in both a divine and human way because of the reality and completeness of His two natures. As it pertains to the function of His person, however, we must confess that Christ's will is a single will: a human will. This article will seek to set forth the theological underpinnings for such a conclusion.
The Reality of Christ's Human Will
Scripture is clear that Jesus has a will that is human in nature, and distinct from the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). Jesus could even will something contrary to the Father's will (at least hypothetically). For example, Jesus desired that the cup of wrath He was to face would pass from Him, but then declared "nevertheless, not my will but yours be done" (Matthew 26:39-42; Luke 22:42). To make sense out of such phenomenon we must confess that Christ's will is distinct from the will of the Father.
If the Father to whom Jesus spoke possesses a will, and Jesus' divine personal identity is that of the Father, does it follow that both a divine will and a human will are resident and operative within Christ simultaneously? If Christ has two wills internal to His being, the human will working with and submitting to the divine will, does this not divide Christ in two?
Theologians throughout church history have offered five basic solutions to resolve this dilemma:
1. Christ possesses two wills. The divine will overshadows or subsumes the human will, rendering it basically inoperable. (Monophysitism)
2. The human will was replaced by the divine will (Apollinarianism; Kenoticism).1
3. The human and divine wills have been united into one new theanthropic (divine-human) will. (Eutychianism)
4. Christ possesses two distinct wills working in conjunction with one another. (incipient Nestorianism)
5. In Christ God wills exclusively as man through His assumed human nature (Cyrilian).
The first solution errs in that even if Christ is acknowledged to possess a human will on an ontological level, functionally and epistemologically the humanness of that will was made inoperable by the dominance of the divine person. In the end, this picture of Christ comes close to the error of the second solution; i.e. Christ is deprived of a human will altogether. If Christ's will is not human, but rather divine, the incarnation becomes a charade in which God only pretends to be a genuine man, but is not. The Biblical portrait of Christ as struggling with fulfilling the will of God is made into a sham. (For further reasoning as to the error of this view see my article titled A Oneness Understanding of Jesus' Prayers)
The third solution errs in that the divine and human natures of Christ are joined together compositionally, forming a new substance that is neither fully God or fully man (and hence a will that is neither that of God or of man), but a hybrid of the two. If so Jesus could not identify with the sons of Adam, nor could He identify with Deity. He would be in a class of His own, not fit to be the mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:15).
The fourth solution errs in that it suggests two centers of consciousness in Christ, each working together simultaneously with one another. To say Jesus possesses two wills mistakenly views Jesus as a conglomeration of parts. Jesus' "divine side" is perceived as willing one thing while His "human side" wills another. It is always God willing as God, man willing as man, or God and man willing in conjunction, but never Jesus as Jesus willing.
Christ's two natures are not two parts, one divine and one human, simply joined together in locale and external appearance, each willing independently of the other. Jesus is one person who wills in one way through His human mode2 of existence. When we reduce Christ's will(s) to His natures rather than His person we lose the unity of His person and end up with a Nestorian Christ.
Orthodox Christendom is agreed that Jesus Christ is one person subsisting in two natures. Furthermore, it is recognized that the capacity to will is inherent to a nature. Desiring to affirm the reality of Christ's dual nature, then, some have felt it necessary to affirm that Christ has two wills. Any denial of the "two wills" teaching is interpreted as a denial of the reality and completeness of Christ's two natures. This was the heart of the monothelite controversy in the seventh century. (See the appendix for a brief discussion of this debate.)
The "two wills" theory is attractive because it affirms the complete humanity and deity of Christ, and avoids any Monophysite interpretation of the hypostatic union wherein the deity of Christ subsumes His humanity. In the end, however, this view tends toward a Nestorian view of Christ, wherein He wills both as God and as man, each will working simultaneously and in conjunction with the another. The problem with such an explanation is threefold:
1. It separates Christ into two "parts," where one of His parts is doing one thing while the other is doing something else (or nothing at all). It is no longer the person, Jesus, willing, but each of His two parts.
2. It gives Christ's humanity independent personhood from God. Jesus' human nature is mistaken for a distinct human person. Jesus, rather than being God existing as man is reduced to God existing as God and a man existing as man in one body, both willing in conjunction with one another.
3. It grounds the operation of the will in the nature rather than the person, affirming that each of Christ's natures executed their own peculiar will. It mistakes the capacity to will with the actualization of the will. Only persons have the capability to actualize the will inherent to a nature. Jesus' two natures do not will, but God, the person, utilizes the will inherent to the nature to will in the manner peculiar to that nature.
Any confession that Christ has two wills must be able to adequately explain how Jesus could possess two wills without being two persons.
As shall be demonstrated throughout the remainder of this article, only the fifth option can uphold the unity of Christ's person and be faithful to a real incarnation of God in human existence. Jesus does not will as man at times, and will as God at other times. Because Jesus is God existing as man, in Christ God always wills as a human being.
While we recognize the existence of a divine and a human will, the duality of wills are not internal to Christ between His two natures, but external to Christ between God's two modes of existence. In God's divine manner of existence as the Father God wills exclusively in a divine manner, while in God's human manner of existence as the Son God wills exclusively in a human manner. Christ has a single will-a human will-because Christ is God's human mode of existence, and in that mode of existence God wills exclusively according to what He is; i.e. man.
Jesus is not conscious of the divine will because in His human existence God chose to exist as man, and thus be conscious of Himself as man. The will of God was something revealed to Christ (See John 3:32; 5:19-20; 7:16; 8:26, 28, 38, 40; 12:48-50; 17:8), not intuitively known by Him. There was some information in the mind and will of God that Jesus was not aware of (Mark 13:32). Jesus intuitively knew His own human will, but only knew the will of the Father by revelation. Knowledge of the Father's will is external to Christ, not internal. This is not to say that Jesus had imperfect knowledge of God's will, but rather that He had incomplete knowledge of God's will. He was unaware of the Father's will apart from divine revelation.
The Nature of the Incarnation: There is Only One Person in Christ
The number of wills in Christ becomes clear when we understand the nature of the incarnation. The incarnation is not a mere indwelling of God in a man, but God coming to be man.3 The incarnation did not bring into being a separate human person, but rather it was God Himself taking on a new manner of existence as man.4 (See my article titled Avoiding the Achilles Heel of Trinitarianism, Modalistic Monarchianism, and Nestorianism: The Acknowledgment and Proper Placement of the Distinction Between Father and Son) The difference between Jesus and all other men lies in the fact that we are man existing as man, while Jesus is God existing as man, not God existing as God and man existing as man together in union. To say Jesus is God existing as man and man existing as man together in union creates two personal subjects, and two centers of consciousness in Christ. Such a confession falls into the same error inherent to Nestorianism and Adoptionism; i.e. it confesses the existence of a distinct human person from the divine person in Christ. God became man; God did not become a man. God's humanity was not that of a distinct human person, but was genuine human nature (made personal) by God Himself. There is only one personal subject in Christ-God-not two.
To say Jesus as Jesus has two wills suggests that there are two persons in Christ, one who is God and one who is man. This is impossible in light of a true incarnation of God. Jesus is God existing as man, not God and a man existing together in one geographical locale; not a divine person and a human person coexisting side-by-side. Because Jesus is God existing as man, of necessity there can only be one personal subject in Christ, not two. God is that personal subject. Just as we are the subject of all our acts, likewise God is the subject of all Christ's acts. Yet in Christ God is not acting5 as God, but as man. Everything Christ does He does as man because in Christ God has come to be man. Jesus is not God willing as God, and man willing as man in conjunction with one another, but God willing as man through His human mode of existence.
A Nature is not a Person
Orthodox Christology confesses that Christ is both fully God and fully man, recognizing a genuine divine/human distinction within the unity of His person. How we understand the origin for this divine/human distinction, however, is the difference between heresy and orthodoxy. The divine/human distinction is a distinction of natures, not a distinction of persons. The only way we could conceive Christ to have two wills is if we adopt the latter, misunderstanding the incarnation to be God's assumption of a human person rather than God's assumption of human nature.
God came to exist as man by uniting human nature to His divine person, acquiring a human existence complete with all the properties inherent to human nature (human soul, spirit, mind, consciousness, etc.), not by assuming a human person. Because He assumed a human nature and not a human person Jesus' humanity is not an individual person in itself, but is a human nature individualized (hypostasized) by the divine person.
To say Christ has two wills falsely assumes that His human nature is a separate human person. There can be no equivocation of a nature and a person, however.6 A nature is the essential properties or attributes that mark off what sort of thing an individual is.7 Human nature (physis) is abstract, generic substance common to all mankind. A person, however, is concrete, immaterial conscious substance, a personality; an individual who consists of a certain nature; the particularization of a generic substance. A person is the concrete conscious self, the ego, defining who it is who is of a particular substance.8 It takes a concrete person (hypostasis) to actualize the generic nature.9 In the case of Christ, the person who actualizes the human nature is God, not a separate human person.
It should be obvious enough that natures cannot will--persons will. The capability to will in a human way is inherent to the human nature, but the ability to actualize that will is the function of the person. It requires a personal subject to will something. The only personal subject in Christ is God. It would be impossible for Christ to have two wills for such assumes that Christ's human nature has individual personhood apart from God, able to perform the functions of a person. When we are able to grasp the fact that there is only one personal subject in Christ, God, and that the humanity God assumed is not a person but a nature, we will understand why it is impossible for Christ10 to have two wills, willing as God at times, as man at other times, or as God and man simultaneously.
Two Means, One Causer
While an act (such as the exercising of the will) is the work of a person, not a nature, the nature is the action's cause/means of actualization, execution, or implementation. Normally there is one hypostasis for each physis. In the case of Christ, however, there are two physeis (natures) for one hypostasis (person). There are two distinct means of implementation for all of Christ's acts, yet only one person to actualize them. Since the natures remain distinct, the means to God's acts remain distinct, and yet because of the union of the natures in the one person all of Christ's acts are actualized by that one person, and should be considered theandric11 acts.12 All of Christ's activities must be "ascribed to the self that commits them."13 Christ's actions, thoughts, and will have God as their subject, because in Christ God Himself is existing as man.
The acts of Christ do not flow from His natures, but from His person.14 God brought human nature into union with Himself, actualizing the nature as its personal subject (hypostasis), and utilizing the attributes inherent to the nature to personally exist as man, and personally will as man. The divine person utilizes each nature to perform the functions peculiar to each, but ultimately we must confess that both natures are motivated by the one and selfsame person.15 The natures do not act; the person acts, carrying out His activities in, through, and with both natures.16 The one divine person "does by means of each nature the acts that are appropriate to it,"17 deciding the actions made possible by the natures.18
We must confess that Christ's experiences have a duality of origin because of His duality of natures, but His experiences all exude forth from a single person. He could not sleep, for example, if it were not for His human nature giving Him the capacity to experience fatigue and rest. Likewise, Christ could not will as man if it were not for His human nature giving Him the capacity to will in a human manner. The human will of Christ pertains properly to the humanity "according to its nature, but to God according to the person,"19 for in Christ the one person has become man in a personal way. God willed as man in and through His human existence, via the human properties that were His by virtue of the hypostatic union of His divine person with human nature.20 Jesus may be able to experience certain experiences because of His divine identity, and others because of His human identity, "but ultimately it is He Himself and not either of His natures, who has the experience and is the subject of them."21 All of Christ's human actions are to be predicated of the personal subject in Christ: God. Since there is only one personal subject in Christ, God is the subject of all divine and human acts and attributes.
Nestorius erred in that he posited a human subject who performed human actions and a divine subject who performed divine actions in conjunction with one another. Christ's human experiences were not predicated of God, but the assumed human person. This is a denial of a true incarnation and akin to Adoptionism. Cyril rightly understood that God became man, not that God and a man were united in one "common person," as Nestorius called it. Jesus is one person subsisting in two natures, not two persons subsisting in two natures united in one external appearance and functional conjunction. Because God brought human nature into union with Himself, utilizing the attributes inherent to the nature to personally exist as man, God Himself can will as man in Christ without Christ being a separate human person.
Can There Be a Human Will Without a Human Person?
Christ's will is truly human, but is not the will of a human person. The humanness of Christ's will does not necessitate that He be a separate human person, but only that He possess a genuine human nature. Seeing that God acquired a genuine human nature/identity in the incarnation He also acquired a human will, because the capacity to will as man is inherent to human nature.
When God assumed a human existence He assumed all that pertained to human existence. He came to exist as man, and therefore came to think as man, know as man, be limited as man, and yes, even will as man. But who was willing in Christ? Was it a separate human person? No. It was God Himself willing in a human manner. In Christ God was willing as man through His assumed human nature, not through a human person.
Always a Human Will
One's acts will always be in accordance with their manner of existence. Human persons, for instance, exist in a human manner, and thus their acts are necessarily human. When we refer to Jesus Christ we are referring to God's human manner of existence. Seeing that God finds Himself existing as a human being in Christ, Christ's acts are necessarily human...always. This includes the act of willing.
While we find the Father willing and the Son willing, and recognize that these wills are distinct, it would be improper to say that Christ as Christ has two wills. Because the Father and Son are not two distinct persons, but the same person in two distinct modes of existence, it is more accurate to say that the one divine person is willing in two distinct ways: as God (Father), as man (Son, Jesus). The two ways in which God has come to will are not internal to Christ, however, but external between God's two modes of existence: as God (Father), as man (Son, Jesus). (See my article titled Avoiding the Achilles Heel of Trinitarianism, Modalistic Monarchianism, and Nestorianism: The Acknowledgment and Proper Placement of the Distinction Between Father and Son) The one divine person is actualizing the will of Christ and the will of God from His two distinct modes of existence. In His divine manner of existence the one divine person wills exclusively in a divine manner; in His human manner of existence the same divine person wills exclusively in human manner (actualizing the human will inherit to the human nature), because in Christ God is man. Christ does not have two wills, one of God, and one of a man, operating in Him simultaneously, but one will because Christ is one person.
Because Christ is God's human manner of existence, in Christ God wills exclusively in a human way. Jesus' acts are God's acts, but done in a human way through the attributes of the human nature. Jesus' will is God's human manner of willing. Jesus does not have two wills operating within Him. He has one will, and is only conscious of one will; i.e. His own human will.22 God's personal acts were worked out exclusively through His human nature, voluntarily choosing not to act through His divine nature so that He could truly exist and function as man in Christ. In no way is this a denial of the natural ability of Christ's human nature to will in a human way, but rather an affirmation that the human will inherent to the human nature could never be actualized apart from the divine person.23 To say that Christ wills exclusively in a human manner is not to deny the existence of a divine will; it is only to locate it within God's divine mode of existence (Father), rather than His human mode of existence (Son). The divine person in Christ continues to exist beyond the incarnation in the same divine manner He always has, and in that mode of existence He continues to will exclusively as God.
When we can understand that in Christ God always wills in a human manner, it becomes completely unnecessary to ask whether or not Jesus spoke according to His divine will or His human will when examining Jesus' statements. For example, when Jesus asked the Father, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39), we know He spoke such from His human will because He could speak from no other. His will was always human. Seeing that there was no divine will side-by-side His human will (as a Nestorian conception would envision it), He had no option when it came to willing. Because He was God existing as man, all of Christ's willing was human in nature.
Not Akin to Apollinarianism
If God is the lone personal subject in Christ, and only persons will, does this deny Christ a human will? No. Because God assumed human nature, He necessarily possesses all the attributes of human existence. Because God came to exist and be conscious as man in the incarnation, the will of Christ is necessarily human. God is willing as man through His human mode of existence. As God came to exist as a genuine man, complete with a genuine human consciousness/mind, He had the ability to will in a human manner. God's human will is rooted exclusively in His human mode of existence, while God's divine will is rooted exclusively in His divine mode of existence beyond the incarnation.
The affirmation that Christ possesses a human nature but is not a human person may sound Apollinarian to some because Jesus appears to lack something essentially human. As stated earlier, however, human nature is the totality of what it means to be human, only lacking the ego (person) to actualize it. Because God brought human nature into union with Himself Christ necessarily possesses all the attributes of humanity (a human mind, will, soul, spirit, psyche, consciousness, etc.), but does not have a distinct human ego (hypostasis) to actualize the attributes of the nature. The human nature is hypostasized (made personal) by God Himself. In Christ God actualized the human attributes inherent to the human nature as the personal subject of them, rather than having a separate human ego (person) to actualize them.24
In no way is this a deification of Christ's human attributes (as did the Monophysites), a truncating of Christ's divine attributes to the level of humanity (as did the Kenoticists), or a replacement of Christ's human attributes with divine attributes (as did Apollinarius). Rather, this a recognition that God came to exist as man by uniting to Himself in a hypostatic and metaphysical way, human nature, and utilizing that nature to personally exist as man. God entered a human existence by taking to Himself all that it means to be human, uniting those essential attributes (nature) to Himself, and existing through them as a genuine human being.
The charge of Apollinarianism is only fitting when the existence of a genuine human psychology is denied of Christ. No such affirmation is being made here, however. Inherent to the human nature God assumed is a human will. God did not replace the human will with a divine will, only pretending to have a human will, but utilized the human will inherent to the assumed human nature so that He Himself came to will in a human way, with a genuine human will. God was not pretending to will in a human manner, but was willing in a human manner because in the incarnation God came to be man.
Because Christ is a single person, Christ necessarily has one will according to the functions of His person. This affirmation is not a denial of the reality and completeness of Christ's two natures, but rather a confession that the actualization of the will resides in the person, not the natures of Christ. Only persons have the capability to actualize the volitional capacity inherent to a nature. In Christ God Himself actualized the human attributes inherent to the human nature as the personal subject of them, rather than a distinct human ego (person). Jesus' two natures do not will, but God, the person, utilizes the will inherent to the human nature to will in the manner peculiar to that nature. God willed as man in and through His human existence, via the human properties that were His by virtue of the hypostatic union.25 The divine person wills in accordance with a human will, made possible by the fact that He brought human nature into union with His divine person in the incarnation.
To answer our original question, then, even though the capacity to will is inherent within human and divine nature, it does not follow that Christ has two operative wills. Christ has two volitional capacities because of the duality of His natures, but one operative will because of the singleness of His person. While it takes a person to actualize the will inherent to a nature, it does not require a human person to actualize a human will. The divine person, having assumed a human nature, is able to be the personal subject of the humanity, willing in a human manner through the nature. In Christ God was willing as man through His assumed human nature, not through a human person. Jesus is not God willing as God, and man willing as man in conjunction with one another, but God willing as man through His human mode of existence.
While we recognize the existence of a divine and a human will, the duality of wills are not internal to Christ between His two natures, but external to Christ between God's two modes of existence: as God (Father), as man (Son, Jesus). There is only one divine person, but that one divine person is willing in both a divine manner (as Father) and in a human manner (as Son). In God's divine manner of existence as the Father God wills exclusively in a divine manner, while in God's human manner of existence as the Son God wills exclusively in a human manner. Christ is God's human manner of existence, and in that mode of existence God wills exclusively according to what He is; i.e. man.
The Monothelite Controversy
The controversy over the number of Christ's wills stems back to ancient times. The controversy became most heated in the seventh century in what came to be called the monothelite controversy. The Monothelites maintained that Christ had only one will. The Dyothelites maintained that Christ had two wills. The former group tended toward Monophysitism while the latter group tended toward Nestorianism. Much of the debate was simply a public reemergence of the long and ongoing battle that existed between the Alexandrian (Monophysite) and Antiochene (Nestorian) schools of Christology clear back to the late fourth and early fifth centuries. (For a detailed discussion of the tenets of these Christological positions see my article titled The Dual Nature of Christ)
The prelude to the monothelite controversy did not concern the number of Christ's wills, but rather the locus of His actions (energeia). Were His actions performed by His natures (physeis), or by the person (hypostasis)? There was also confusion as to what was meant by energeia. If it referred to the volitional capacity behind Christ's actions, then a duality was preferred in order to safeguard against Monophysitism wherein Christ has only one volitional capacity; i.e. a divine volitional capacity. If energeia referred to the acts ensuing from the volitional capacity inherent to the natures, however, a unitary model, or theanthropic model was to be preferred.26
All were in basic agreement that Christ only had one will according to the function of His person, including the Nestorians. "The matter looks entirely different, however, when one considers the voluntary capacity as a capability to act inherent in an intelligent being as a function of its nature. In this light it is clear that doubleness of nature requires doubleness of will."27 Such was the conclusion of the Third Council of Constantinople in 681 AD. The Monothelites, however, not only maintained one will for Christ according to the functions of His person, but also maintained one source of volitional capacity in Christ; i.e. that of the divine person. Essentially this was a denial of any real humanness to Christ's will. To the Monophysites/Monothelites Christ was willing as God, only appearing to will as man. The Monothelites erred, not in that they confessed one operative will for Christ according to the functions of His person, but that they confessed His one will as a divine will, to the exclusion of genuinely human will.
Looking back in retrospect some are persuaded that the Council of Third Constantinople erred in that it rooted operation of the mind/will in the nature rather than in the person.28 When the mind/will is rooted in the nature it becomes difficult to maintain the other capacities of a person which directly follow on the heels of the mind/will (such as rationality, cognition, affect, desire, perception, morality), making the concept of "person" vacuous. In their attempt to maintain the duality of Christ's natures as set forth in Definition of Chalcedon in 451 AD, those at Third Constantinople felt it was necessary to maintain two operative wills in Christ, one for each of His natures. While it is true that the nature contains the volitional capacity to will, the nature does not have the ability to actualize the will inherent to it. It takes a person, or ego to actualize the will inherent to the nature. Because God is the lone personal subject of Christ, God alone has the ability to actualize the human will inherent to the human nature.
Furthermore, because Christ is God's human manner of existence, God only wills as man in Christ, because in Christ God is existing as man. Does this mean that God does not will as God as well? No. God continues to exist beyond the incarnation in the same divine manner He always has, and in that mode of existence He wills as God. While the one divine person wills both as God and as man, these two manners of willing are not internal to Christ, but between God's two modes of existence. As He exists as God He wills exclusively in a divine manner, but as He exists as man He wills exclusively as man, because in Christ God is man.
1. Within the Kenotic framework Christ's will is a truncated divine will, tailored to a human level, not a genuine human will.
2. I use "mode" hesitantly because of its negative associations. It is often perceived to mean a fictitious role God plays in the incarnation that He will one day stop playing after the purpose of the incarnation has been accomplished. The Son is not a temporary role God played to be discarded in the future. The Son is a genuine human being, a real ontological being, and like all other genuine human beings will live for eternity as a human being. Jesus' humanity is no mask that is discardable when the drama of human redemption has been accomplished. I use "mode" to mean "an ontological manner of existence-the manner in which an underlying substance is manifested," not a role or nominal device with no real ontological reference.
3. God's "coming to be man" does not imply a transmutation of God into a man. God remained who He was both in and after the incarnation. If God had changed into a man He would cease being God, or at least cease being the same God He was prior to the incarnation. This would take away any meaning to the notion that "Jesus is God" because the God who became man ceased being God when He became that man, and thus the man He became is no longer God, but man. Even Jesus' humanity could not be considered to be completely human, because it would have experienced changed through its association with deity. Any transmutation of God into man would demand that Jesus is a third something (tertium quid) that is neither fully God nor fully man, but some hybrid of the two.
4. Thomas G. Weinandy, Does God Change?: The Word's Becoming in the Incarnation, Studies in Historical Theology, Vol. IV (Still River, MA: St. Bede's Publications, 1985).
5. I do not use "acting" to mean "pretending," but rather "the performing of acts."
6. Nestorius could not understand this distinction between a nature and a person, thinking that the existence of two natures meant the existence of two persons. The reason for this was his false understanding of nature. He understood nature as "concrete reality" rather than "abstract, essential properties common to all mankind, defining what man is." When nature is conceived in such a manner it is impossible to escape the conclusion that Christ has two personal subjects.
7. Melinda Penner, "Are Jesus' Natures Compatible?"; available from http://www.str.org/free/studies/jesusnat.pdf; Internet; accessed 06 November 2002.
8. The nature/person distinction might be compared to a cookie cutter and a cookie. A nature is a cookie cutter before it has cut anything out (generic substance), while a person is the cookie that has been cut out of the dough by the cookie cutter (particular self).
9. Hypostasis and physis together express both the essential nature of something and who it is that is of such an essence or nature, namely the person. When Chalcedon said Christ is one hypostasis in two physeis they were saying Christ is one person who has the essential attributes of both deity and humanity.
10. I emphasize Christ, referring specifically to God's human manner of existence. While it is true that God wills as both God and as man, He does not do so in His human manner of existence. In His human manner of existence God wills as man, and in His divine manner of existence beyond the incarnation God wills as God. When we refer to Christ we are only referencing God's human manner of existence, and in that mode of existence God wills exclusively in a human manner way.
11. Coming from theos = God; anthropos = man, meaning "divine-human" or "God-man."
12. Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures in Christ. Translated by J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), 237.
13. Brian O. McDermott, Word Become Flesh: Dimensions of Christology. New Theology Studies, ed. Peter C. Phan, no. 9 (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 215.
14. Chemnitz, 163.
15. Athanasius Oratio 3 Contra Arianos.
16. Chemnitz, 217.
17. Millard J. Erickson, The Word Became Flesh: A Contemporary Incarnational Christology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1991), 72-3.
18. John Macquarrie, Christology Revisited (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1998), 55.
19. Chemnitz, 186.
20. Origen On the Principle of Things, 2.6.3.
21. John McIntyre, The Shape of Christology: Studies in the Doctrine of the Person of Christ. 2nd ed. (Edinburg, England: T & T Clark, 1998), 103.
22. The only time Jesus would be conscious of the Father's will is when the Father would specifically reveal that will. This is no different than the way in which we are only aware of our own will, and do not know the divine will apart from divine revelation.
23. Harold O.J. Brown, Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988), 189,
24. The only other option is to affirm that Christ has both a human ego and a divine ego, but no matter how unified we may try to make them, we are always left with a Christ who is two persons co-existing together in one geographical locale. Such a picture of Christ fails to ground His deity in reality, leaving us with a mere man who was really really close to God, but not God Himself in any ontological way.
25. Origen, 2.6.3.
26. Erickson, 73.
27. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus--God and Man. Translated by Lewis L. Wilkins and Duane (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1968),293.
28. Melinda Penner, for example, argues that the council did err in this manner in her article, "Are Jesus' Natures Compatible?"; available from http://www.str.org/free/studies/jesusnat.pdf; Internet; accessed 06 November 2002. J. Oliver Buswell also questioned the validity of the conclusions of Third Constantinople. In A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion Buswell is clear that he could only accept the decisions of the council if "will" was qualified to mean behavioral complex, rather than substantive reality. He argued that if will is conceived of in the latter sense it would be impossible to escape a Nestorian conception of Christ wherein Jesus has two consciousnesses. It is for this reason that he would like to believe the council used "will" metaphorically, although he admits that they seemed to have conceived of "will" as substantive reality. For Buswell, saying Christ has two behavior complexes is to focus on the ways in which the one divine person in Christ behaves/acts. It is an affirmation that the one divine person behaves in two distinct ways (a divine way, a human way), and a denial of two personal centers of consciousness within Christ. While Buswell failed to understand that Christ always behaves/acts as man because Christ is God's human manner of existence, he did recognize the error of Third Chalcedon in rooting the will in the nature rather than the person.
IBS | Statement of Faith | Home
| Browse by Author | Q
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search