Wednesday, July 20, 2011
More Reformed Scholastic Christology: Incarnate Person but not Nature? Huh?
Moving on from our earlier discussion of Reformed scholastic Christology, there is the distinction which the Reformed make between the incarnation of the person vs. the incarnation of the nature. For the Lutherans, since the person and nature are inseparable, the divine nature is incarnate in Christ. Moreover, being that the divine nature and the divine attributes are inseparable, the divine essence communicates itself to the human nature and thereby deifies it (genus majestaticum). By contrast, the Reformed scholastics claimed that it is the divine person and not the divine nature which is incarnate. They argue that for the divine nature to become incarnate would constitute the incarnation of all three persons of the Trinity at once. Moreover, talk of the "nature" becoming incarnate leads the idea of a fusion of the two natures into a single hybrid essence (Eutychianism). Of course, this also means that in the hypostatic union there is no real communication of attributes (at least as Lutherans understand it), but merely a functional one (they accept Christ's redemptive mediatorship functions through a single theanthropic action of the God-man). The major difficulty with this is of course that traditional Trinitarian theology teaches that the whole of the divine essence is present in each hypostasis of the Trinity. Hence, the divine person of the Son and the whole of the divine essence are identical. Part of the problem here might be the influence of Nominalism. According to Nominalist Trinitarian theology, the divine essence is the "name" for what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are together. This is odd because although the Reformed scholastics were as electric with their use of earlier philosophical traditions as were the Lutherans, they leaned more heavily than Lutheran on Thomism as a source for their ontological thinking.