Monday, December 31, 2012

The Seduction of Legalism

Last week I was at my parent's church for Christmas and we had a Bible study on Sunday.  The Bible study essentially consisted in watching the LCMS's "Intersection of Church and State" video and then reacting to it via some study questions.  I found the reactions of the people there to be very interesting.  One major question that caused a lot of discussion was whether people believed that the Church was doing enough to oppose secularism in the public square.  The response from most people was fairly predictable: No, obviously not.  As usual, people insisted that if the Church would just apply more pressure on the secular culture, then the culture would be reformed and be more amenable to Christian values.  One older gentlemen even suggested that we create a Christian political party with a national charismatic leader.

Of course, all of this ignores what's happened since the late 60s.  Does anyone remember how conservative Protestants and Catholic have organized themselves over the last 40 years?  And what's the result?  Christianity is even more unpopular than it was before.  My wife rightly pointed out that a similar process has ensued in Europe: The formation of Christian political parties (think the Christian Democrats in Germany) usually means the waning of Christian influence over culture.

Nevertheless, the fantasy of the Church as a power organization that if it just asserted itself a bit more continues.  The fantasy is hardwired into human nature since the Fall.  It is the belief that the legalistic fantasy that the law can really change people through superior pressure.  The problem is of course that the law can only direct and channel what already exists.  It can't actually create anything new-only God's power of grace can do that through the proclamation of the word of justification can do that.  Unfortunately for the legalistic fantasy, the gospel is a weak thing by the standards of the world.  It can only grant freedom to the elect.  It cannot force people to use their free will correctly, since its mere existence destroys the illusion of free will and the opionio legis. 

I've observed a similar response to the specific problem of the Lutheran Church in America in the objective justification debate.  The debate isn't really about justification at all, but rather about discovering a master explanation for why the Lutheran Church is tanking.  The same-old-same-old explanation getting brought out: The Church needs to pressure people more with the law.  In other words, what Rydecki and Jackson, and the rest of them, really think is that OJ makes grace too free and because it's too free people aren't understanding that they really, really need to have faith and really, really need to repent.  If, they claim, people were to understand the conditions of justification, then they would be better Lutherans and the Church would be revived in America.

And of course this is represents a basic misunderstanding of Lutheran doctrine.  Once one understands that we are elected by God through the promise of unilateral grace, a lot of other things get cleared up.  Despite is significant flaws, one thing that Gerhard Forde got right was that we must preach under the presupposition of bondage.  We are not preaching to free subjects that can, in their rationality and autonomy, take or leave our proclamation.  Rather, our word is the Word of God which kills and makes alive.  It creates and destroys.  We suffer such a word passively and therefore the only thing the occupant of the preaching office can do is proclaim the Word and allow the chips fall where they may.  Placing conditions on the Word does very little to save the Church, rather it destroys it and distorts its mission.  It turns it into a power organization whose goal to to become glorious, rather than weak and oppressed like it's Lord.  In its zeal for worldly influence, it losing sight of the omnipotent word of grace- a word that hides in weakness.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Works and Persons: The Trouble with Fallen Human Society

An insight: If we follow Luther's thinking on works and persons we must come to this interesting conclusion: Before God, who we are matters (i.e., a believing subject or an unbelieving subject), but  in civil society what we do should matter (good by our works or evil).  Fallen human nature has twisted and reversed this: Who we are matters (think racism or classism) before other humans.  On the other hand, what we do (i.e., works righteousness) is believed to matter before God.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Trouble with Romantic Orthodoxy

In recent centuries a series of movements have arise within Christendom which might be characterized as "Romantic Orthodoxy" (I believe Fr. Alexander Schememann coined the term, and applied it to certain persons whom he was critical of within EO).

  There are a number of examples of this phenomenon, but the first of note was Oxford movement in Britain beginning in the mid-Nineteenth century.  The movement was successful and ultimately gave rise to the phenomenon of "Anglo-Catholicism."  Like the Romantic movement before it on the Continent and Britain which had reacted to the Enlightenment, the Oxford movement was a constructor of imaginary pasts.  Finding post-Enlightenment Protestant Liberalism and Evangelicalism equally odious, and unwilling to convert to post-Tridentine Catholicism (which for them had its own problems!) the founders of the movement sought to reconnect with an earlier catholic Christianity.  In order to do this, they constructed an imaginary patristic-medieval Christianity (which never really existed!) from bits and pieces of actual patristic and medieval texts and liturgies.  Part of this drive to return to this invented past was the desire to return home to an original and pure organic community already present in Romanticism.  The Enlightenment and the industrial revolutions had constructed atomistic individuals by displacing people from their ancestral homes.  To counteract this, the Romantic movement sought to construct an ur-community, that connected disparate individual into an organic unity- hence the rise of make-believe national communities in the 19th century such as "German" or "Italian."  For the Oxford movement, the organic ur-community became the Church-catholic, with its three branches of EO, RCC, and COE.

Newer versions of Romantic orthodoxy have been invented in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The first would be the Nouvelle theologie of Henri de Lubac, which came about as a reaction to the Neo-Thomistic revival of the 1870s and the so-called "Manual Theologians."  Again, the proponents of this position sought to "retrieve"(their favorite term!) an older form of the Great Tradition through patristic and medieval scholarship.  More so than did the Oxford movement, the de Lubac constructed a narrative of the fall of Catholic Christianity: Cardinal Cajetan (the inventor of modern Thomism) had, in his commentary on the Summa, separated nature from grace.  By contrast, Thomas had only spoken about pure nature as an abstraction.  In the abstract, nature could be separated from grace.  Nevertheless, in the concrete it always existed in a form saturated by grace.  The separation of nature from grace in modern Catholic theology had led to individualism and created secular society (i.e., a realm in which nature, independent of grace moves toward purely natural ends!).  It goes without saying we here again see the ideal of organic community and the need to return to an earlier integrative vision (i.e., all things participating in God through the order of grace).

Radical Orthodoxy (which, as many of you know, is all the rage at the moment) is something of a synthesis of the two.  John Milbank (the school's founder) studied under Rowan Williams at Oxford.  Under William's influence Milbank became an Anglo-Catholic (before this he was a Methodist, interested in Liberation theology, and studying to become a minister rather than a theologian!).  Radical Orthodoxy combines the Nouvelle theologie's  belief in the omnipresence of grace with an insistence on "participatory metaphysics"- i.e. a reliance on the Thomistic doctrine of the analogy of being.  According to the narrative constructed by Milbank in his now classic Theology and Social Theory, the fall of western Christendom came with the separation of grace and nature, and the introduction of the hated Scotistic doctrine of the univocity of being.  The univocity of being claims that qualities can be predicated of God and creature not analogically (as the earlier tradition had claimed) but univocally.  According to Milbank, this both brought God down to the level of creatures, but also distanced him and turned him into a distant monarch who bullied around his creation.  Secular human beings could only be repealed by this and necessarily sought their autonomy from this tyrant.  Moreover, the distance of God and the removal of grace from nature opened up a space called the "secular" where purely natural ends and arbitrary violence ruled.  The Radical orthodox call Christians back (yet again!) to the organic community of the Church catholic and away from the inauthenticity of the secular.  Also, it calls for Christian theologians to adopt a participatory or Realist metaphysic as opposed to a Scotistic or Nominalist one.  As we can observed, the participatory metaphysic is preferred because it suggests that human beings (and indeed all creatures!) are most real when they participate a reality (i.e., universals) which is greater than themselves.  Milbank also understanding the Trinity in this fashion ("Unity and harmony in difference").  In other words, the metaphysics of participation parallels the Romantic quest for organic, integrative community.

These movements have been (for a variety of reasons) appealing to many different theologians.  I was recently asked to review a book by a Reformed theologian (Hans Boersma) who essentially accepts the narratives they offered as objective historical truth.  Some Lutherans have also expressed interest in this vision. The historian Brad Gregory has also recently written an indictment of the Reformation assuming the narrative offered by de Lubac and Milbank as well.

In response to this, I would like to suggest that there are at least two major difficulties with the vision offered by these disparate forms of Romantic orthodoxy.

First, though I cannot go into things in too much detail in this small space, their understanding of Church history and history of Western civilization is questionable at best.  For example, the claim about the Scotistic univocity of being are particularly odd since 1.) Even if they were correct about its dominance (which they are not!), how do they make a credible argument that secular rulers were somehow inspired to create the secular State in the 16th and 17th centuries by some abstract theory about universals?  This presupposes  a very unusual notion historical causation.  2.) The overwhelming majority of Catholic or Protestant Scholastics operating between the 14th and 18th centuries rejected the idea of the univocity of being.  I was having a conversation with Dr. Richard Muller recently and he's written an article that examines 20 different Protestant scholastic theologians and all of them accept the analogy of being and quite openly reject the univocity of being for the same reason as contemporary Thomists do.  Similarly, the claim about pre-14th century theologians (including Aquinas) adhering to a belief in "grace saturated nature" is equally questionable and there have been several recent monographs written debunking this view.  Overall, the vision of the ancient and Medieval Church present by the Romantic orthodox is (in varying degrees) a fantasy.  The real Church of this era was as messy a reality as our own is- this is indeed as it always will be!  I also find the idea of trashing Nominalism to be unfortunate: I enjoy modern science (particularly modern medicine!) and modern democracy (both byproducts of Nominalism!).  I prefer the emphasis of the Nominalists on God's covenants and his individual acts in history.  This led the Reformers away from mystical fantasies about ascending through the heavenly hierarchies and back to the concrete narrative of the Bible (theologia crucis, not theologia gloria!).  I could go on, but you generally get the point. 

Secondly, I would make a theological criticism.  Christianity is about the forgiveness of sins and about the promise of eternal life set forth in the gospel.  Unfortunately, for these folks that becomes secondary for the search for a make-believe mystical organic community.  One can see the problematic effects of this emphasis.  Instead of valuing the real Church (sinners gathered around altar and pulpit), they invent a Romantic Church that is not real, but satisfying as an idea because it fulfills their need for feeling of being integrated into something larger than themselves.  Their own historically bound desires for a particular kind of community dictate for them what real Christianity is, rather than God's Word and his promises in the sacraments.  Ultimately, such a problem and solution are more Neo-Platonic and Romantic than they are Christian.  Pastorally, this is a disaster.  It ignores real sinners and their need for real forgiveness in favor of a view of the Church not unlike the "Platonic Republic" that Melanchthon criticized in the Apology.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Michael Horton's Theological-Ontological Mess

Michael Horton (a Reformed theologian and frequent guest on Issues, etc.) has written a systematic theology a while back that received a lot of attention. I read it about a year ago and had some initial technical problems with it (for one thing, it was one of the worst edited books I've ever read. The first footnotes in one chapter read "Ibid."). Through my research into the history of Western and Eastern Christian theology, I've come to appreciate how Horton's basic way of construing human knowledge of God is a complete mess. What he attempts to do is combine Western scholastic approach to the knowledge of God with an Eastern distinction between "essence" and "energies." These are completely contradictory approaches to ontology and the knowledge of God. Below, I will flesh out some of my criticisms.

Going back to the fourth century, Greek and Latin Christian theologians developed fundamentally different ways of understanding how human beings were capable of knowing the divine. In the West, this culminated in the theology of Thomas Aquinas (the structure of which, if not the content, the Reformers and the Protestant scholastics followed) and with Gregory Palamas in the East.
In defending the Nicene Creed against Neo-Arianism, the Cappadocian Fathers were very keen on emphasizing the unknowability of the divine essence. For example, Eunomius (one the leaders of the Neo-Arians) defended his position on the grounds of Aristotelian logic chopping. Gregory of Nyssa emphasized that one couldn't treat the divine essence like this. It was mysterious and essentially unknowable. In his Life of Moses, Gregory described the Christian life metaphorically as being like the ascension of Moses up Mt. Sinai. One enters farther and farther into the darkness of the mountain of God, without ever reaching a knowledge of the divine being in itself. Of course, this certainly served the polemical situation, but the fact of the matter is that it simply created another problem: how do we know anything about God if he is incomprehensible?

Augustine did much better. Not only was he able to explain the human knowledge of God, but he was also able to explain the ontological relationship between God in his creatures. In his On the Trinity, Augustine explains that God is absolutely simple in his essence. By simple, Augustine does not mean that there are no distinction within the divine being. God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. God has a variety of divine attributes: his love is not his holiness, his power is not his wisdom. Nevertheless, the divine being is not compounded. There is no pre-existent love, holiness, and wisdom which come together and make up the divine being. Hence, God is not good, he is goodness. He is not wise, he is wisdom.

This has epistemological implications: Since God is these things properly and creatures are these things in a derivative manner by similitude to God, God is conceptually knowable by analogy. In other words, through in nature (reason) and revelation, human beings are given a copy of the divine attributes. For example, human wisdom is like divine wisdom, even if divine wisdom is infinitely greater. Likewise, things that we experience as good are good in a similar way in way to the manner in which God is good. God is therefore knowable because of his likeness to that which he has created. Creation can give us a preliminary knowledge of this and revelation through its language about God can fill in the holes. Ultimately, Thomas Aquinas would clearly explicate this approach to God in the Summa. There is an analogy of being between God and his creatures. Hence, humans can know things up to a certain point through revelation (God's existence, the law, etc.) and then more things through revelation (Trinity, original sin, etc.). As we can see, the structure that Augustine set up made scholasticism (which is marked by the coordination of reason and revelation) possible. Luther, Calvin, and everyone else in the West also worked from these assumptions, which ultimately began with Augustine.

Meanwhile, in the East things continued along the line that the Cappadocians had taken. In the High Middle Ages, Gregory Palamas entered into a debate with Barlaam, a convert to EO who had been trained in Western scholastic theology. Barlaam essentially argued a Augustinian-Aristotelian position that the knowledge of God came from propositional truth, mediated to the human intellect through created similitude between the divine essence and the image imprinted on the intellect. Not only did Palamas have to deal with Barlaam, but he was also dealing with a number of monastic communities which claimed to have had a vision of the divine essence in various mystical experiences. They claimed to have seen a divine light, not unlike that of Moses on Sinai.

Palamas didn't want to make a similar claim to that of Barlaam, because he believed that that approach would make reason and not faith a way of knowing God. Moreover, he wanted to validate the claim that those monks who said that they had had a mystical experience of God, without at the same time objectifying the divine essence as something human beings could comprehend. His solution was to say that human beings could directly experience God, in fact, even see God. Nevertheless, they could not see God's essence. God's essence was utterly unknowable. Instead, they could know God's energies. God's energies were in some sense God's being in the same way that foam coming off an ocean is part of the ocean. Nevertheless, when looking at an ocean, one can only see the foam and suffice of the ocean- not the ocean itself! In the same manner, Moses on Sinai and the Apostles on Tabor saw a divine light, (i.e., the divine energies), while they did not see the divine essence itself. Note that when dealing with these same scriptural passages, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin all agree that the light seen by Moses and the Apostles was simply a visionary, created light, and not the divine being itself- which of course cannot been seen!

Ultimately, Palamas' approach is both problematic for theology and conceptually incoherent. He makes odd statements. For example, he claims that the divine essence and energies are infinitely different from one another. Then he will say that the whole infinity of the divine essence is present in every human encounter with the divine energies. Neither does it help Christology much: God's essence wasn't incarnate in Christ, only the energies. Taken in a certain way, this calls into question the reality of the Incarnation, though he certainly didn't intend this. Lastly, this approach to the knowledge of God explains why Palamas pretty much represents the end of Eastern theology. Beyond its being hamstrung by its inability to acknowledge the doctrine of original sin or have any kind of critical distance from the secular state (that is, prior to 1917!), when you put all your epistemological eggs in the basket of mystical experience, it tends to destroy your ability talk about theology in a realist-propositional manner, beyond of course, the stuff that was already established in the first seven ecumenical councils.

Returning to Mike Horton, we can observe why his position is so incredibly problematic. As a child of Augustinianism and Protestant scholasticism, Horton is very big on the analogy of being and the Protestant scholastic distinction (stemming from Francis Junnius) of the Archetypal and Ectypal theology. Nevertheless, he also wants to assert the energy-essence distinction. Not only does the latter distinction deny all analogy (if the divine essence is unknowable, there can be no analogy for it!!!), it is simply a completely different and contradictory approach to the knowledge of God. In Western theology, analogy is intended to do what the divine energies are intended to do in the East. If you have one, you don't need the other. Hence, his approach confuses the ontological relationship of God and creatures, and results in epistemological claims that are ultimately contradictory.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ILT Theological Conference

For those you that I saw at the theological conference, it was nice meeting everyone in person.  There was wonderful fellowship and discussions.  Hopefully I was able to convince some of you of a few things, though if not I look forward to future dialogue.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Top Three (Bad) Arguments against Objective Justification

A few nights ago I received a comment from one Mr. Ron Smith on my post on the Rydecki situation.  Mr. Smith used three main arguments that are typically used by anti-OJ proponents.  And in my opinion, these arguments are not very good.  As a response to Mr. Smith, I would like to show how the arguments he offers are problematic.  In debating Rev. Rydecki in the future (among other people) I think this can be a helpful model for those who wish to uphold the biblical and confessional doctrine of objective justification.  It should be born in mind, that when dealing with Rev. Rydecki, he generally is only guilty of using aspects of the second and third arguments and I greatly respect him for not using the first argument.  Despite the fact that I disagree with his theology, he behaves in an honorable manner to his opponents.

1. Personal attacks, insults, and "poisoning the well.": 

Mr. Smith writes of my previous post: "Come on Kilcrease!! [Your] Defense of UOJ reads like a college freshman’s term paper."  A similar argument was made by another opponent, namely that I argue like a "high school student." Both opponents were unclear about what exactly in my writing resembles that of a high school or college student.

Generally this form of argumentation is referred to in logic text books as "ad homien arguments." They not only fallacious, but reveal how weak the counter-argument is.  If a person needs to attack his or her opponent's character, then they can't have much of an argument.  The another argument (identical with the fallacy "poisoning the well") that pops up against me is that because I work at institutions with Roman Catholics and former ELCA folks, that I must secretly be either Roman Catholic or ELCA, and consequently I'm not worthy of listening to.  Again, very fallacious.  A person's character or belief system tells us nothing about the quality of their argument.  Moreover, even if it was the case that I was secretly Catholic or ELCA (which I am quite clearly not), this does not mean that I cannot correctly explain Lutheran doctrine.  I explain different theological systems than my own all the time in my world religions course- I talk about Islam and Judaism and correctly explain their theology without believing in it myself.

2. Justification always means to communicate forgiveness and salvation.  Consequently, OJ is either universalism or, (if you also emphasize SJ) contradictory- i.e., if you're already justified through OJ, why do you need SJ?

Mr. Smith writes:

"What the pro-UOJ perspective forgets is that it is not possible for a guilty person to be in God’s presence for all eternity just as it is not possible for an innocent man to be separated from God for all eternity. So, the problem UOJ proponents run into is defending the notion that “all” have been absolved of sin, declared righteous, etc. and yet come up with a Scriptural reason for Hell’s existence."

Again, we've dealt with this before.  The argument only works if you assume that the word "justify" always means the same thing in every context.  Words don't function this way-that's simply a fact.  In theology, when we apply the word "person" to an human being and to the three persons of the Trinity, we don't exactly mean the same thing (independent center of identity vs. subsisting relation). Moreover, that these words are functioning differently is indicated by the adjective affixed to them (objective/subjective).  Everyone knows, that OJ simply means for God to give a verdict of grace.  SJ means for human beings to receive it by faith.  Very simple stuff and very easy to understand.

Some of the anti-OJ folks claim that this is simply arbitrarily making up the meanings of words as we go along.  But again, this makes little sense.  These words have historically been understood by German and then American Lutherans in roughly the same way for about 200 years.  And so, they themselves are the ones making up new meanings for words, since, in order for their argument to work, they have to claim that the word "justify" means to communicate salvation and forgiveness in every context, without exception.  In other words, to win, they must define terms in a way that their opponents do not and never have.

Of course, for many laypeople unfamiliar with how the terms were used historically, this comes off initially as a slam dunk argument.  I can't tell you how many times I've read in reaction to the theological phrase "objective justification": "Well that doesn't make sense.  If everyone is forgiven, why do you need to have faith?  How come people can be eternally lost?"  Again, this isn't a real argument.  It's merely a misunderstanding of words.  When you have to rely on your audience's unfamiliarity with theological terminology to win the argument, it means that you don't really have one.

3. Ron ended his diatribe against me by posting all of Romans 10.  I think his intention was to show that Scripture says that salvation comes through faith and that (as he put it) all my fancy "jargon" laden arguments couldn't stand up against the simple words of the Bible.

Indeed, the Scriptures and the Confessions (I would also mention an Ecumenical councils) are authoritative for theology.  I would never dispute that.  Nonetheless, I would make a number of points about how one appropriately uses Scripture and secondary creeds and confessions.

A. Doctrines are concepts.  Concepts are different than words.  Many different words can be used to express the same concepts.  Neither the Bible, nor the Confessions, nor the Ecumenical councils use language in a consistent and uniform manner.  If you want to see what I'm talking about, I've already provided many, many examples of this in earlier posts.  So, appealing to certain language as authoritative for all time is arbitrary and historically incoherent.

B.  Quoting passages about subjective justification does not exclude the reality of objective justification.  In fact, passages about SJ presuppose OJ.  Saying that one has been touched by sun light (SJ) presupposes that there is a sun (OJ).  Opponents of OJ frequently compile long lists of quotations from Scripture, the Confessions, or the Lutheran scholastics about SJ and think that this excludes OJ.  This is of course false- saying one reality exists does not exclude another.  Better yet: positing that one reality exists (SJ), when it is know to be dependent on another reality (OJ), proves the existence of that other reality (OJ).  Athanasius used a similar argument against the Arians: If the Father is eternally the Father, he must eternally have a Son.

Moreover, this argument assumes the earlier false premise- namely, that the word "justify" always means the same thing in every context.  So, anti-OJ folks assume if they show that justification is received by faith, then their opponents must be wrong that there is an OJ- which they identify with a kind of universal communication of justification apart from faith.  But of course no one teaches this and therefore the argument utterly falls apart when the terminology is understood correctly.

C.  The Scriptures and the Confessions are complex documents that need to be closely analyzed before making theological judgments.  Hence listing off Bible verses or passages from the Confessions isn't very helpful unless you explain their meaning in its historical context and the overall pattern of meaning found in the documents themselves.  For that reason, I personally tend to argue about the complexity of meaning in these sources of the faith and its implications.  I do not simply list off verses or passages.  I consider to be theologically inept and dishonest- it is an abuse of these documents, not their use!

Many opponents accuse me of Rationalism and then appeal to Luther's statements about "whore reason."  Again, I would encourage them to read the modern Luther scholarship to get a better perspective on what Luther meant by this.  Luther did not mean that you should not use your brain in analyzing biblical or church-historical texts.  Rather, his statements to this effect are usually against his Reformed opponents who opposed the sacraments on rationalisic grounds.  Luther says that human reason is meant for dealing with the law and the problems of this world.  God's grace and promises can't be limited by human reason since they are beyond the law and the kingdom of the world.  So, in effect, my opponents are misusing Luther in order to promote their own abuse of scriptural and confessional texts.

Hopefully this list will help others in the future cut through some of the more incoherent arguments against OJ.  In making this list, it is my utmost hope that I can in the future help as many people as possible appreciate the objectivity and unconditionality of God's grace in Christ.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Unfortunate Attacks on the CPH Apocrypha

I was reading a blog the other day and the person was complaining about CPH publishing the Apocrypha and saying that they were abandoning the true theology of the Lutheran Fathers. That's weird. If you read most of the older Lutheran scholastics, they quote the Apocrypha a ton and highly value it, in spite of the fact that they do not consider it to be Scripture or capable of establishing the articles of the faith.  In fact, anyone who has spent a significant amount of time reading the Lutheran Fathers (particularly Gerhard) knows that they cite the Apocrypha with other Scriptures without making any (explicit) of a distinction.  I would also note that Walther preached on the Apocrypha and that many of the classical Lutheran liturgies makes reference to the Apocrypha or even quotes it.  The "Song of the Three Young Men" (part of the additions to Daniel) is contained in several traditional Lutheran liturgies.  Hence, all attacks on the publication by CPH of the Apocrypha reveal themselves to be highly ignorant of the Lutheran Fathers and the historic Lutheran liturgy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gerhard on Romans 4:25

Interestingly enough, Rydecki has translated the full section from Gerhard's Romans commentary that I cited yesterday: http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/2012/10/johann-gerhard-on-romans-425.html

 In the first two paragraphs, Gerhard says that Christ died for everyone's sins, but we receive redemption individually by trusting in his death and its saving power. For some reason I think he thinks that this is somehow damning to the position of OJ.  It's not.  Redemption accomplish is different than redemption received.  Again, no one thinks that salvation is communicated apart from faith. 

Then he cites the last part, which I cited partly yesterday from a Hoenecke translation.  This is Rydecki's own translation and not mine:

With respect to the actual application from sin. Just as the heavenly Father, by delivering Christ into death for our sins, condemned sin in His flesh through sin (Rom. 8:3)—that is, condemned it because it had sinned against Christ by putting an innocent man to death, and so He withdrew from sin its legal right against believers so that it cannot condemn them any longer; or He also condemned it, that is, punished in Christ our sins that were imposed on Him and imputed to Him as a Substitute—so also, by raising Him from the dead, in that very deed absolved Him from our sins that were imputed to Him, and hence also absolves us in Him, so that the resurrection of Christ may be both the cause and the pledge and the complement of our justification.

Again, I think what Rydecki believes that he finds in this passage is his view that there is a universal atonement, but no universal justification.  In point of fact, the very opposite is the case:

1. First, Gerhard believes that all sins were imputed to Christ.  When the Father raises Christ, he reveals his reaction to this death of Christ, namely, that he absolves Christ from all the sins impute to him.  This means  word of universal forgiveness actualized in the resurrection and subsequently received by faith.  Notice that the absolution is a reality in Christ prior to it being received by us.  In other words, it is objectively real prior to the existence of our faith.  We of course do not participate in apart from faith (SJ), but it is already a reality before our faith (OJ).

2. Regarding the Trinitarian dimensions of atonement and justification, the passage largely exposes the incoherence of Rydecki's position (universal atonement yes, universal justification no).  If the Son atones for sin before the Father, then the Father has a reaction to it (absolution, as Gerhard says) and attaches a word to the Son's atonement.  He reveals this Word by raising the Son from the dead.  The Son in turn gives this Word to the Church.  Notice the first thing that Jesus does after the resurrection is give the disciples the Word and the Spirit he has received from his Father in reaction to his atonement: "receive the Holy Spirit, those sins you forgive are forgiven... etc."

If universal atonement was right, but universal justification were wrong, the Son would in a sense keep the satisfaction he renders to himself.  But that is not the case.  He offers it to the Father and the Father gives a Word of forgiveness to the Church through the Son in the power of the Spirit.  Therefore, for Rydecki to be correct, faith wouldn't have an object, because it wouldn't have a word to believe in, just the bare historical event of the atonement without any divine promises of forgiveness attached to it.  As Luther points out in one of his Easter sermons, historical events without a word to preach in relationship to them are meaningless.  Hence, it is difficult to see how his position can be viewed as coherent. 

Aquinas and Chemnitz Article to be Published.

Just received news that with some revisions my Chemnitz and Aquinas on the two natures in Christ article is going to be published in Lutheran Quarterly.  Thanks to all who help me edit it (namely, my wife Bethany) and gave me helpful responses (my friend Michael Cummings).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Calov Quote on Objective Justification.

A number of people have questioned my use of the Calov quote regarding the distinction between objective and subjective justification (well, actually just one!).  Rydecki apparently got wind of this and translated the passage himself on his Facebook page.  Again, this is the translation of the man himself and not mine.  So you need not question my motives in how the words are chosen.  Here it is:

"Therefore, we do not effect anything in God through faith. Instead, we merely receive that which God offers to us and to our faith, and as a result we are justified by God and absolved and made heirs of eternal salvation.


You say: If justification, that is, the remission of sins, is the object of faith, how can it be the effect of faith, inasmuch as faith is an instrument?

We reply: Justification is the object of faith in that it is offered by God in the Gospel. It is the effect of faith, so to speak, inasmuch as, once we have laid hold of grace by faith, the remission of sins happens to us by that very act. Faith lays hold of the grace by which God wishes to remit sins to us. Once faith lays hold of grace, it actually obtains the remission of sins."
I think for some reason that Rydecki believes this to be damning of the position of his opponents.  All I see is a clear articulation between SJ and OJ.  Justification is the object of faith.  Hence, it's already an objective reality (OJ) prior to us receiving it (SJ).  We receive it through faith and are saved by it.  No one claims that we get saved or receive God's objective grace apart from faith or the means of grace.  We take hold of something that's already there.

Again, Rydecki's position only works if you assume that the word "Justification" is being used exactly the same manner in both contexts (i.e., the communication of forgiveness and salvation)- opposed to a verdict given (OJ) and a verdict received (SJ).  That it is not, is clear from the modify adjective "objective" vs. "subjective."  Since everyone who advocates the OJ and SJ distinction says that it's the latter and not the former, then I don't really see how you could claim that the word "justify" does mean the same thing.  Much like Jackson and his followers, to win the argument Rydecki basically has to attribute a position to OJ people that they don't hold.  Again, this is strawman and not much of an argument.

For a bonus, here's how Johann Gerhard deals with Romans 4:25 and 5:18 provided by Pr. Shawn Stafford:

“By raising [Christ] from the dead, [God] absolved Him from our sins which had been imputed to Him, and therefore He also absolved us in Him, that Christ’s resurrection might thus be the case and the proof and the completion of our justification.”Johann Gerhard, Annotations in epist. Ad romanos, Jena ed. 1666, p. 156.
Notice Christ is absolved of all the sins imputed to him.  And it was the the sin of the whole world that was imputed to him.  Ergo, in Christ, all sin is absolved as well.
“Because in Christ’s resurrection we are acquitted of our sins, so that they can no longer condemn us before the judgment of God.” Johann Gerhard, Disputationes theologicae, Jena, 1655, XX, p. 1450

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Rydecki Situation

As many of you probably know, Rev. Paul Rydecki was suspended by the WELS for his rejection of objective justification this last week.  Generally I haven't commented on this because I thought that other people would do that for me.  The fact of the matter is that that hasn't happened and so I feel a need as a theologian within the Church to do this.

Why?  Specifically because I consider Rydecki to be dangerous theologically.  He's dangerous because unlike someone like Gregory Jackson, Rydecki has a lot of ecclesiastical support.  People who I know disagree with him theologically wouldn't say a word against him on Facebook or on other blogs.  Unlike Jackson, who is generally viewed as a dishonest, self-serving, and quasi-comical figure, Rydecki is a serious and honest person, who has earned a lot of capital by opposing Church-growth and contemporary worship in WELS.  Who could argue with that?  Also, unlike Jackson, Rydecki states his theological position in a calm and intelligent manner, rather than by lying about the position of his opponents or by making up falsehoods about them personally.  For this reason, he gives a greater credibility to the rejection OJ than a person who's idea of an argument is to cut-and-paste a million short and uncontextualized quotations from the Book of Concord onto a banner with the head of some synodical official or theologian photo-shopped onto the body of a baby, animal, clown, or character from Star Wars.

In order to respond to what Rydecki is specifically teaching, here is his own response to his suspension: http://www.intrepidlutherans.com/2012/10/suspended-from-wels-why.html

In response to his response, I have couple of observations:

1. Rydecki seems to be operating with the rather odd perspective that the language set down by the Formula of Concord is authoritative for all time.  He also says something similar in the intro he wrote the the Samuel Huber book.  The first question is: why?  Obviously the Lutheran Confessions themselves show terminological evolution (justification in the Apology can mean either justification proper or sanctification, "sacrament" is defined differently in different documents- so the question of how many sacraments is answer different in different contexts- 4, the Apology; 3 the Catechisms; 2 the FC!).  The Bible is the same way.  Paul thinks of faith primary as something directed to the past (what Jesus did on the cross for us)- Hebrews has that aspect, but then also includes eschatological expectation in this as well- what Paul would probably call this "hope."  Melanchthon and Calvin easily reconciled Paul with James by pointing out that what Paul means by "justification" is appearing righteous before God, whereas James is talking about appearing righteous (i.e. showing evidence of our faith) before other people!  The early Reformers understood what a lot of people (especially in the WELS, it would seem!) don't seem to get: Doctrines are concepts.  Concepts can be expressed in a lot of different ways.  Just because a word isn't present, doesn't mean that a concept isn't present.  Remember that Luther never uses the word "justification" in the Small Catechism.  Nevertheless, he teaches the doctrine on every page.

2. Nevertheless, why should we use different words in different situations?  Why doesn't the Church just decide on certain terms and keep with them forever?  The fact of the matter is that theological terminology develops over time in order to deal with issues at hand. Someone who didn't say homoousia in the 2nd century wasn't a heretic, but after 324 AD they were. The same goes for objective justification. The terminology of OJ and SJ is intended to deal with problems that developed in the mid-17th century and afterwards. Pleads to maintain a certain primitive terminology are problematic, in that language only functions appropriately in a particular context. Once new controversies arise, the Church must generate new language to deal with the problem either 1. To clarify certain points (think "nature" vs. "person" by the Cappadocians after 324). 2. Heretics take over certain language- for example, the Reformed use "this is my body"- hence in order to keep the true meaning, we must say "this is the true body of Christ" etc.  For this reason, what Rydecki fails to see is that innovation of theological terminology is necessary to maintain conceptual orthodoxy.  Old terms in new contexts will not function and therefore promote heresy.  If the Cappadocians had, for example, continued to insist that the anathema at the end of the original Nicene Creed had set down terminology for all time ("Let anyone who says that the Son is of a different hypostasis or ousia than the Father be anathema!") then in the new theological context of post-Nicene Christianity, they might have rightly been accused of Modalism.  Neither would they have been able to make the clear conceptual distinction between "person" and "nature" which ultimately made Nicene orthodoxy conceptually coherent in the minds of many people. 

3. What then was the situation that promoted the Church to use the terms OJ and SJ?  The terms seem to develop somewhat later.  Nevertheless, the sainted Kurt Marquart pointed out that the clear conceptual delineation of the terms came for the first time from Abraham Calov in response to the Catholic apologist Robert Bellarmine.  Bellarmine pointed out that justification by faith was contradictory because the person was supposed to believe that they were justified when they in fact weren't actually justified until they had faith. Abraham Calov responded to this in his commentary on the Augsburg Confession by pointing out that the word of God's grace is objectively true and pre-exists our faith. Actually, since it causes it, logically it must be objectively prior to our subjective appropriation of it. Moreover, if one did not accept that it was objectively true in this way, faith wouldn't be a receptive organ , but a condition that somehow makes justification real. Hence, as Bellarmine pointed out, we wouldn't preach "your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus" but rather "if" you believe, then they will be. The gospel becomes a law! 

4. Part of Rydecki's problem is that he does not understand that the word "justification" is being used differently when applied to OJ and SJ.  When applied to OJ, the word merely means for God to pronounce a particular verdict on the human race.  It does not mean for them to receive it.  In the context of SJ, "justification" means to have receive that verdict.  That is, to appropriate it.  Because a check is written (OJ) does not mean that it is necessarily cashed (SJ).  Because I have beer in my basement, doesn't make me drunk.  His argument that having two justification doesn't make any sense because if the world was already justified at the cross and empty tomb why does it need to be justified again by faith (an old Jackson favorite as well!) is incoherent because it assumes that the word is being used the same way in both contexts.  When one realizes that this argument rest on a very flat understanding of language (words mean the same things in every context) then the argument completely falls apart.

5. Lastly: Part of Rydecki's problem is that he tends to think about these issues in overly abstract terms.  In other words, he thinks of OJ as an abstract and general relationship that God somehow has with all human beings, rather than a description of what God does under his various masks within creation and through the means of grace.  For this reason, he finds it odd and incoherent to say that God in general and in some abstract sense is reconciled with the world when there's still wrath.   Much of this I suspect could be remedied by a good reading of 20th century Luther scholarship, which I don't believe many of the anti-OJ advocate have done (Jackson once admitted that he hadn't even read standard works like Paul Althaus' The Theology of Martin Luther- quite shocking!).  God doesn't interact with the world uniformly, but takes on different masks (larva Dei). In his mask of law and political order, he isn't a forgiving presence. When he wears the mask of the police officer and throws me against the hood of the car and hand cuffs me, that's not absolution. The point though is that when I come to the means of grace, God is a presence and a word that is already real and actual as forgiveness. God as he is present in the word of absolution that he gave the Church has already forgiven me objectively.  When I leave the sphere of the law and enter into the sphere of the gospel (i.e. the means of grace) then I merely enter into that sphere where God is already real as grace.  My faith doesn't actualize God as forgiving.  If it did, then it would be a requirement and not a gift.  Nevertheless, if I don't look for him in the means of grace, then I won't find his already forgiving presence.  Rather, I will find him as wrath, law, and hiddenness outside of them.  When it comes to grace and wrath, God in general, above the spheres of his dual activities (law and grace), cannot really be known.  Hence God is "hidden" above his masks, as Luther repeatedly states. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Post-Baptismal Sin and the Logic of the Lutheran Doctrine of Baptism

I'm reading over again a bunch of stuff on the North African Fathers for my history of Christian thought class at the Institute of Lutheran Theology- and it occurred to me how good it was that people in early Christianity eventually changed their minds about the idea that you couldn't be forgiven post-baptismal sins unless you died as a martyr.   Beyond that fact that this stands in contradiction of the Scriptures and the biblical gospel, it would have been an unsustainable in the post-Constantinian Church.  No one was dying as a martyr anymore and so, how would people ever get forgiven?

But I was also thinking of some sort of sci fi scenario (or alternative history- think Larry Turtledove!) where in modern American Christianity this was still the expectation. Would we have people buying tickets in their old age to go to countries hostile to Christianity just so they could figure out a way to get martyred?  Older southern Baptist ladies spending their last retirement funds to go to Pakistan perhaps?  That would be deeply odd.

The question still remains: How did they come up with this bizarre theology?  Perhaps that isolated passage in Hebrews that sort of sounds like you can't sin after baptism?  Personally, I doubt that that can entirely account for it.

For an alternative theory, here's what I've been thinking. I can sort of see how they came up with this idea based on how one views the function of baptism. If baptism is a definitive break with the power of sin (as doubtless Paul says it is in Romans 6!) how does one conceptualize this while allowing for post-baptismal repentance? It's hard. Why? Because if baptism forgives sins and regenerates, and subsequent repentance does the same thing, how are these things functionally different- and beyond that how is baptism special? It just seems one instance of forgiveness and sanctification among others. Ergo, if it's special and definitive, why not conclude that it's the only instance of forgiveness and regeneration! Again, all the language in the NT about baptism being the definitive break with sin could easily be seen as supporting this.

One can therefore see this logic worked out or modified in different traditions depending on what implications they historically drew from this.  The Roman Catholics and Evangelicals deal with this problem differently.  For RC's baptism is a definitive break with sin and this can't be repeated.  RC's then say that penance repairs the complete reality of baptism- this was the way they ultimately came up with of dealing with the fact that people did sin after baptism in the ancient Church. Of course, this then created the problem of the fact that it appeared that the work of the penitent was supplementing the work of Christ and also that people weren't getting all their penance done on earth before they died (hence purgatory!).  Subsequently the tried to solve the former difficulty by distinguishing between temporal and eternal punishment, and by saying that penance was an entry into the sufferings of Christ rather than supplementing them.   

Likewise, Evangelicals and most other low-church Protestants see baptism as symbolic of initiation into the Church.  If it were a break with sin, it would only be one instance among many.  Consequently, it must not be a real break with sin, but only a symbolic entry into the community and perhaps (if you're Baptist) the public pledge that you're really going to try to live the Christian life now.  The idea of a public pledge of really, really trying to work hard to avoid sin is how they reconcile the language of the NT about the break with sin with the fact that they actually don't believe that baptism does anything. 

In light of this, the Lutheran understanding of baptism and repentance takes on new significance. Baptism is the definitive break with sin.  It is the end and there is no moving beyond it- moving beyond it is moving away from it and is by definition sin.  Hence, repentance does not supplement baptism, but is a return to baptism.  This is all rooted in Christology.  Since baptism is dying and rising with Christ, and Christ is present in all of human history according to both natures (he is confined to neither time nor space- this being due to the genus majestaticum), this presence allows for our continual return to the ever present reality of his death and resurrection through divine word of promise. Other Christian groups who deny the genus majestaticum and therefore Christ's omnipresence according to both nature, don't have that possibility.  For this reason, baptism remains as something that happened in the past.  It can only be repaired in the present through some supplemental act (penance) or naturally degenerates into merely symbolic act of having joining the Church.  The only other alternative would be to return to the position of the ancient Church and deny post-baptismal sin.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Basic Ontic Flaw in the Rejection of Objective Justification

The Roman Catholic understanding of justification as the sinner's renewal through the reception of created and uncreated grace is essentially flawed because of its ontological assumptions.  In absorbing Platonism and other ancient philosophical systems (notably that of Aristotle after the 12th century), Catholicism assumes that righteousness is in fact a quality.  It is a quality that you can more of or less of- it is, rather like color.  The basic assumption of the Roman Catholic view is that God (who possesses this quality of righteousness archetypally) cannot in fact recognize humans as righteous without said quality becoming a predicate of their being (just as one cannot recognize a wall as blue unless it is in fact painted blue!).  Being the embodiment of this quality, he cannot pretend that a certain quality that is not there is in fact there.  God is willing to give this quality by his grace, but he must actually see it to count the person as righteous.  Hence they find the Lutheran view inexplicable.

What is implicit in the RC understanding of righteousness as a quality is a centered concept of being-which they of course also get from Greek metaphysics.  An entity is what is it is because of the qualities that make up its centered essence internal to it.  Losing those qualities, the entity loses its essence.  There is no sense (as in the Biblical tradition) that righteousness is a judgment of God, more properly, a right relationship with the God.

This scriptural concept of righteousness is true both of God and his relationship to creation.  Internally, God is righteous because he is true to his own love and holiness as lived out relationally within the Trinitarian life.  Externally, insofar as he enters into covenantal relationship with his creatures, God is righteous because what he does what he says he will do to them and for them (that is, he condemns with the law and redeems with the gospel!).

Because righteousness is not a quality, but a relationship, such a concept implies an ecstatic rather than centered concept of being.  Entities are what they are because of something outside of themselves.  The Father is the Father because he has the Son, and the Son is the Son because he has a Father.  Man is man because of woman- and the creature lives external to itself through God's constant speaking of his existence into being.

Therefore, when it comes to sin and righteousness, the creature is defined by what is external to the center of his or her being.  This is exemplified in Paul's discussion of Adam and Christ in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Adam is the person of every human person coram Deo.  Every person lives through Adam and his rejection of God's grace in favor of his ambitio divnitatis, and therefore all are subject to habitual sin and inevitable death.  In the same manner, all are in Christ and therefore suffer the judgment of their old person in him and are righteously resurrected him as well.  Coram Deo, Christ is the reality of every person and therefore a new Adam.  He defines humans before God and therefore righteousness is not something internal to humans, but something outside of them in Christ: "Though your body be dead, your life is hidden in God in Christ" (Col. 2).

With this, therefore, we observe the basic ontic flaw in the logic of those who rejection of objective justification.  Objective justification assumes that Christ is the real reality of humanity before God.  Our justification is not therefore a legal fiction because righteousness is not a predicate of our being, but something that exists outside of ourselves already actualized in Christ.  This is true irrespective of our faith.  What those reject objective justification assume is that being righteous means possessing a certain quality in our being.  The predicate "righteousness" cannot be recognized coram Deo unless faith is first present.  If faith is present, God can now predicate the quality of righteousness present in Christ to person who has now accepted and received this predicate into their being- though of course in this case by imputation  rather than by renewal (as in RC theology).  In other words, the two centered realities of Christ and the believer now converge being of the bridge of faith, which prompts God's imputation.  In this theology, I am an individual, centered entity, existing on my own.  Likewise, so is Christ.  The only thing that connects the various qualities present in our beings is faith which prompts God's imputation.

This criticism of the anti-OJ forces use of the concept of faith is of course not meant to say that having faith is not necessary to enjoy the benefits of Christ.  Faith does unite the sinner with Christ and bring about salvation through subjective justification.  The point is rather that the subjective justification brought about by faith is not a legal fiction or the convergence of two centered entities by an arbitrary judgment of God.  Rather, since Christ is the being of my being, having faith means to cease to be self-alienated from my true self which is to be found in the person of Christ.  The essence of sin is the be (as Augustine says) curved in on one's self.  One's true being is external to one's self in God's address.  Adam was "very good" because God continuously gave him the good by his sustaining Word and he passively received it.  We now passively receive the good every moment of every day and yet we are not good because he do not praise God and therefore reject his grace in creation.  In the same way, the person of my person is Christ and yet if I remain unbelieving, I am alienated from my true reality before God in Christ.  I am rejecting God's grace in creation and redemption, and consequently I will be judged.  Faith therefore simply means coming to my true self as God has actualized in a new narrative of creation in Christ.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Samuel Huber: The Red Herring in the Objective Justification Debate

Over the last few months those in the Lutheran blogsphere who reject the orthodox Lutheran teaching regarding objective justification have been going nuts over the publication of a translation of a series of theses by a third generation Lutheran theologian named Aegidius Hunnius against a Swiss heretic named Samuel Huber.  For a quick summary: Samuel Huber was a Reformed pastor who deeply disliked Theodore Beza's hardening of Calvin's doctrine of double predestination and therefore came to agree with the Lutherans regarding the objectivity and universality of God grace.  He was invited to come to Wittenberg, where he was supposed to help the faculty there fight Calvinism.  Unfortunately, trying to avoid the ditch of double predestination, he went in the other direction and claimed that election and justification were universal.  Being universal, election and justification were communicated to all human beings.  Huber never really went all the way though and said that all were going to be saved.  In fact, he taught that people could (using their own free will) reject this universal justification and election.

The anti-OJ forces on the Internet take early Lutheranism's rejection of his heresy has sign that they would have also rejected the later 19th century Lutheran distinction between objective and subjective justification.  There are a couple of problems with this claim: 1. Walther in the Baier compendium specifically rejects Huber's doctrine (in fact he has a whole section on it!).  2. Huber did talk about a universal justification, but his heresy was more about and a reaction to the doctrine of election.  Advocates of OJ such as Walther always taught particular election.  3. Moreover, since Huber claimed that justification was not merely pronounced to all (objective justification), but communicated to all (functional universalism), he has virtually no place for subjective justification.  This would pretty much destroy the entire point of the distinction between objective and subjective justification.

The main problem with Huber and the entire discussion as it has gone on the Internet up to now is this:  Huber was a speculative theologian, rather than a practical one.  As a number of Church historians have pointed out, he was a fairly bad one at that.  Therefore, when considering this debate the following is important to recognize: The objectivity of justification is not a speculative or abstract claim about the relationship of the Triune God to the world, but rather A. A recognition of redemption as an inter-Trinitarian event (In reaction to the universal atonement brought about by the Son, the Father has a reaction of the declaration of universal grace, wherein he send the Spirit to mediate such universal grace through the means of grace). B. A rule of preaching, whereby the Church is authorized to speak the words of grace as something already accomplished- “Your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus.” The difficulty with Huber’s position is not only did it claim a universal election (which Lutherans deny) and free will (which Lutherans also deny), but it created a situation wherein preaching the gospel as an unconditional word “your sins are forgiven, etc.” is not possible. In such an event the gospel becomes law. Logically one would have to say “you are redeemed, if you accept universal election, etc.” or perhaps "you are redeemed if you don't reject universal election." Again, what’s the irony here: As much as the anti-OJ folks rage against Huber, they logically must have the same position. They must say “your sins are forgiven, if you have faith and repent.” Why have they taken this position? Because they have not theologized from the perspective of a bound will. They think if faith is not emphasized, then people will some how not use their free will to have faith or perhaps they will forget to have faith.  This is absurd.  Once you understand the will is bound, the you’ll stop worrying about giving people too much grace. God is the one who causes faith, so you don’t have to worry that people won’t have faith unless you tell them to. In fact, there is a belief among many of the Anti-OJ folks that because there is too much grace in the ELS, WELS, and the LCMS there are higher rates of immoral behavior.  This is uber-Pietistic- which is ironic in light of fact that they accuse us of Pietism!  It was such impulses that led Spener to start Pietism. He thought there was too much grace being preached and so people were becoming immoral.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Christology Book to be Published.

BTW, though I announced it on Facebook, I'm happy to announce here on my blog that Wipf and Stock will be publishing my Christology book: The Self-Donation of God: A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Christ and His Benefits.  Dr. David Scaer has kindly agreed to write the introduction.  As I reach closer to the point when it will actually be in print, I will give updates on this blog and on Facebook.  I appreciate everyone's encouragement through the process of trying to find a publisher.

Gnostic Hermeneutics Yields Gnostic Theology

As we have previous explored on this blog, the hermeneutics of suspicion that underline the modern so-called historical-critical method, are rooted in the revival of Epicureanism in the early modern period by figures like Hobbes and Spinoza.  Epicureanism assumes that religion is based on the ignorance of human beings of the material causes of things.  Wicked priests exploit such ignorance by telling people that they have spoken with the gods or God.  This allows them to trick people into giving up their power and money so that the priests can exploit them.

Following from these assumptions about the nature of religion, the creators of the HCM argued that biblical texts should be read as power plays by people in ancient Israel and the early Church.  By discerning what power play by what person or group of people was being propounded, one could date the text and reconstruct the social setting of the text, even if one had no access to that social setting or direct evidence that it ever existed.  Since only individual texts appeared to support these power plays within large texts, the argument became (particularly among German scholars of the 19th and early 20th centuries) that biblical texts were the amalgamation of various earlier texts that contained other contradictory power plays in the different historical setting that they were written.  They were joined together by one or many later redactors, who hadn't done a very good job because elements of the earlier social settings and power plays (some of which contradicted their own present interests!) had gotten through.  Again, this was asserted (and continues to be asserted) without 1. Actually existing versions of these original smaller texts that make up the large ones (no one has ever found JED or P!)  2. Without any direct access or evidence of the reconstructed social settings of these texts  3. With the knowledge that authors can write in multiple styles, and therefore discovering multiple styles in a text does not automatically yield multiple authors.

This understanding of human beings as innocent victims of various power plays works remarkably well with the Gnostic theology opposed by the Church Fathers.  According to Gnosticism, human beings are divine children of a transcendent divine father.  They were at some point in cosmic history trapped in the material world by inferior god called the Demiurge, and are ruled over by wicked powers called Archons.  The Gnostic redeemer (in the Christian version, Jesus) comes and gives special knowledge to human beings about their divine identity and therefore helps them regain their godhood.  Therefore, much like the Epicurean worldview, the Gnostic assumes that humans are victims of powers greater than themselves and a knowledge of actual reality will help them unmask these powers and gain freedom.

The current state of theology within mainline Protestantism is well explained by the coming together of these two traditions.  On the one hand, there is the uncritical acceptance of the HCM as scientific.  On the other hand, the revival of the Gnostic theology.  The latter takes some explaining.  Many members of the bureaucracies of the mainline Protestant Churches and many members of their seminary and college faculties were followers of the New Left in the 1960s and its injection of Marxist philosophy into mainstream American politics.  Marxism assumes that human beings have limitless possibilities and are therefore quasi-divine (Feuerbach, who Marx took his philosophy of religion from, argued this quite explicitly).  In classical Marxism, the masses are held down from attaining full godhood by Capitalists.  The New Left add other marginalized groups beyond workers and therefore also adds other villains (white males, etc.).  Such powers represent new kind of Archon, but now no long spiritual powers, but now social and political ones.  Marx got his basic ideas from Hegel, who got many of his ideas from Jacob Boehme (a German Lutheran mystic) who took over Kaballah and Hermeticism, which were strongly influenced by Gnosticism.  So, Marxism and by proxy the politics of the New Left, are ultimately secularized versions of the ancient Gnostic myth.

With the combination of these two tradition, it's easy to see why the theology of the mainline Protestant denomination is the way it is.  According to this theology (taught in most sermons and seminary courses) Jesus taught social justice and unmasked inappropriate power relationships, i.e., gave special knowledge of the limitlessness of human possibilities and their blockage by sinister powers (whatever form they may take!).  The role of the contemporary Church then is also to see past these power relationships and decode them for the larger public.  Often times decoding the Bible is part of this, as for example in the case of Feminist biblical scholars like Phyllis Trible have argued that women had a role as prophets in ancient Israel which the biblical texts have suppressed.  She actually addressed the ELCA national assembly on this point in the 90s.  How she gained access to this knowledge is something no one can tell.

In all this, Christian orthodoxy falls by the wayside or is co-opted into the larger framework of this Gnostic myth.  Ultimately, Christian orthodoxy is not sustainable in these denominations because churchly hermeneutics, which assume that the Scripture really is from God and understood properly on the basis of the analogy of faith has been utterly abandoned.  Gnostic hermeneutics yields Gnostic theology.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thomas Hobbes as Theologian: Part II, Materialism and the Social Authority of Religion

The prolegomena of Leviathan begins by a lengthy materialist account of metaphysic, epistemology, and human nature.  Much like his confidant Gassendi, Hobbes holds that everything in reality is made up of atoms which follow strict laws of motion.  Humans, therefore are nothing by material machines.  Nature is mechanistic and works on the basis of immutable laws.  Moreover, contrary to Aristotle's view that the intellectual act of comprehension means the active intellect's identification of the inner formal reality of a thing, Hobbes insists that material from an object effective "pushes" against the sense and therefore causes the act of comprehension (this is why he is a strict empiricist!).  As one might expect, this leads inexorably to a re-narration of the Bible and its miracles on the basis of materialism.  In effect, Hobbes claims that miracles don't happen, and that when people are said to have been inspired by God's Spirit, it merely means that they were smart guys and had some good ideas that all reasonable human beings could have arrived at.

But, again, what's the point?  Isn't this supposed to be a book about government?  Why are we talking about theology, and or metaphysic still?  The answer is fairly simple.  As I noted in my earlier post, the emergence of the theory of the modern nation-state as an autonomous entity with no religious background is actually theological in and of itself.  The point of promoting a materialist metaphysic is that it creates a situation where all causes are causes that can be controlled by the state.  In other words, since material objects are tangible, they can be moved by asserting a certain level of force.  The state can do this.  If God intervenes in creation, and therefore gives authority to certain individual to do certain things, then there are social forces that cannot be controlled by the state.  The state in this case lacks absolute authority.

This puts what we call "Liberal" and "Conservative" Christianity in a new light.  Liberals are not those who have woken up and realized that modernity has give us a knockout argument (secularists don't even believe this anymore).  Rather one is a Liberal vs. Conservative (or better "Orthodox"!) to the extent that one accepts the modernist settlement- i.e., a private realm of value vs. a public realm of fact and material cause.  Liberals, irrespective of the evidence, have little desire for the Bible to be literally true.  In fact, without any Biblical archaeology they were basically making the same arguments back in the 17th and 18th centuries that they are now.  Rather, the question is about the social authority of religion.  If I believe that the patriarchs, prophets and apostles all existed, and did miracles in real historical time, then I am saying that there are real metaphysical causes that are non-material and therefore which the state and secularity cannot control.  Religion therefore has a social authority which cannot be subordinated to the state and secular societies values.  Religious Liberals want to say that religion is about subjective values or inner experiences- the external realm is fully governed by the state, social values, and material causes.  Consequently, in the public, external realm, these values when understood correctly cannot interfere with the absolute authority of the state or personal self-interest.  This can be observed in our present situation.  In America, the more historically true you consider the Bible to be, the more likely you are to think that its teaching should at least in part become public policy.

On a side  note, this put the whole Seminex debate into new perspective.  What's gospel-reductionism all about?  If one eliminates both the binding character of the law and the actual historical reality of Scripture from the realm of theological authority (i.e., talk about real stuff that happened in the real world or (with regard to the law) real stuff you should do, in the real world) what do you get?  Well, everything is reduced to the gospel, which without real history to anchor it, turns into an existential and interior experience of forgiveness.  Is it therefore any surprise that these same folks 30 or 40 years later are the ones who drove the ELCA to mimic secular values in its national assembly and bureaucracy?  Not really.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thomas Hobbes as Theologian: Part I

Recently I've reading Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan along with a number of other political philosophers.  Hobbes' treatment of the political is particularly interesting because it is intertwined with their discussions of the Bible.  To modern readers, the two subjects don't seem to have a lot in common.  In other words, why would you write a treatise that is simultaneously a critique of the authority and reliability of Scripture, and also about how you construct a social contract?  Reading some of the secondary literature, it never seems to occur to modern interpreters that the reason is that Hobbes is constructing in his political theory as an alternative theology to historic Christian orthodoxy.  The one person who seemed to get this was Carl Schmitt, who famously suggested that modern politics is simply a covert secularized theology.

The most interesting thing about Leviathan is how much time Hobbes spends talking about religion- that is, nearly half the book.  He also constructs an elaborate ontology and epistemology at the beginning of the book in order to put what he says in perspective.

At the heart of the Hobbes' theology is a veiled argument for the old Ancient Near Eastern idea of the Chaoschampf.  For those unfamiliar, the Chaoschampf was the standard narrative of origins in the ANE- though it also appears in Hesiod, who was influenced by similar sources in the Greek context.  The basic idea of the myth is that the origin of creation is chaos.  Such chaos is usually overcome by a god of order defeating a chaos monster and then organizing the universe.  One can see how different this is from Genesis 1-3, where the primal order is one of mutuality and grace (not force!) and where creation is not rooted in chaos, but in God's Word of grace.  Creation comes about not by the application of superior force, but by the gift of God's fiat.

Hobbes gives some credit to the idea of God, but generally states that God cannot be directly known.  Many interpreters have thought that he is secretly an atheist, though for various reasons I disagree.  That being said, Hobbes does make God almost completely irrelevant to his worldview.  Creation itself is mechanical.  This goes with a belief in atomism, which Hobbes took over from Epicureanism.  There are atoms, and atoms move in patterns that the autonomous laws of motion push them.  This results in the order of reality.  This again is the Epicurean idea that reality is constituted by atoms, motion, and the void.  Although Hobbes is slightly more convinced than Epicurus that the atoms move according to uniform laws of nature, he nevertheless believes that what is at the very heart of reality is chaos.  The atoms are necessarily fragmentary and chaotic.  They lack meaning or direction, unless pressed upon by a superior force, such as the laws of motion.

In the same manner, since human beings are nothing but living machines and as products of chaos, they are themselves chaotic.  There is no suggestion in Hobbes' vision of an original harmony descending into chaos.  Rather, Chaos is what is most primal and order only comes about by superior force.  So too, human beings in a mythical "state of nature" are naturally violent and competitive.  Again, it must again be stated that there is no suggestion here on Hobbes' part that there has been a Fall and that the primal order is one of grace and peace, with sin only entering later.  Rather humans are chaotic and violent, just as their bits and pieces are forged from are the chaotic stuff of the universe.

The solution to this problem of violence and chaos is the creation of the social contract.  Hobbes uses the term "covenant", which of course carries with a many biblical resonances.  Nevertheless, the covenant here is not with the biblical God, but between each atomistic individual in society with every other.  Humans agree with one another to create order out of chaos by contracting to obey the sovereign, that is, the state (whatever form that may take.  Hobbes says monarchy is best, but it doesn't necessarily have to be monarchy).  The sovereign is responsible for bringing order to the chaos of the social order.  The sovereign must be obeyed, since the alternative is the state of nature (the "war of all against all").  Almost any amount of oppression is better than the state of nature.

What I find interesting is how the sovereign for Hobbes here essentially plays the role of the god of order in the ANE creation myth.  He is the one who subdues chaos and brings about order through his use of violence and superior force.  Hobbes (though probably unaware of this similarity) states that the sovereign is a "mortal god."  It gets even better.  In the ANE, the king of the nation would often times participate in a yearly festival where he played the role of the deity of cosmic order subduing chaos.  In Babylon, for example, the king would play the role of Marduk.  Therefore, just as creation had been forged out of chaos by Marduk's victory over Tiamat, so the Babylonian social order and its empire were forge out of the application of superior force to its subdued peoples. 

Conceived in this manner, the theoretical basis for the modern secular state and secular society are actually the same as the ancient chaos myth.  Secularity is therefore not really "secular" (as the term is conventionally used) but thorough theological.  Actually, it's theological in a manner that is antithetical to the Christian understanding of God and creation.  

The Chaoschapf is ultimately a manifestation of the opinio legis.  It assumes that the realities of the present age are limitlessly recycled and reshaped by the pressure of superior force.  So too, the sinner may justify themselves with superior applications of the law.  The opinio legis does not recognize that God possesses infinite possibilities outside the law and therefore can, by an act of fiat bring about a new creation.  The law cannot create anything, it merely can apply larger and larger amounts of pressure to reshape reality.  It can subdue by death, but it cannot ultimately give life.  Creatio ex nillio goes hand-in-hand with the gospel, because it means that just as God unilaterally spoke creation into existence by his grace, so too in can again redemptively bring about a new creation through his omnipotent Word of the gospel and thereby fulfilling and transcend the limitations of the law..

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Law, Gospel, and the Liberal Tradition of Political Thought.

Some recent comments from a friend of mine on our current political situation in the west.  Makes a lot of sense I think:


The Anglo-american conception of liberty was a really good thing while
it lasted (in either country). Thing is, it doesn't just last under
its own momentum. Particular conditions and institutions are required
to sustain it, just as it didn't grow out of nothing. This means that
it requires quite a lot of work to maintain, work that not enough
people have been doing. Theologically, I could offer some reasons for
this--I have a theory that, while this conception of liberty does not
rest on any particular theological foundation in the sense of a noetic
or belief structure, it does rest on a kind of historical theological
foundation which lies hidden within other beliefs, but gets gradually
eroded. So it doesn't matter whether the politicians are atheists or
Mormons or whatever, but it does matter that certain theological
concepts are still embedded fairly deep in the tradition, that they
leave a trace. Particularly, I think some rudimentary distinction
between the law and the gospel is actually in play--that is, a sense,
however vague, that the law itself has a limit. Without that notion,
it's very hard to see why we wouldn't become ultimately perfectionist,
even messianic, about the law, and completely ruin any brake on
government power. Hence the tradition of "negative" liberty--it
knows, without quite being able to articulate it, that the law can
only provide so much.

What seems to have happened is this has eroded (or has been actively
eroded by certain intellectual efforts--particularly Marxism and other
Hegelian strands of mostly the left, but also even a triumphalistic
nationalism that was already in evidence among some of the founding
fathers) enough to where politics in this country really is mainly
messianic, where we expect a new government to generate all the law
(and so more or less perfect justice), to generate rights themselves,
and for this law to ensure all things. Obama gets a pass from so many
because he's still pretending this is doable, whereas Romney doesn't
seem to have that ambition, and so people can only interpret his
strange reticence as disinterest in helping them.

So no, nobody can "fix" it. People who claim to be able to already
have misunderstood the problem. The politicians are an expression of
what's happened among the people, not simply a cause.

Incidentally, this is why I appreciate David Brooks so much, even
though he's a muddled squish on the partisan, hand-to-hand politics
part of the problem. He gets that there's something much more
fundamental going on, and it has to do with anthropology. As a
secularized Jew, he doesn't quite get that at the root of it all is
the notion of the end of the law--the absolute horizon of all legal
thinking, the rupture of the ages that keeps our politics from
aspiring to eschatology--but he does know that the finitude and
sinfulness of the human being are at issue.

Who you vote for isn't really the issue, because people don't agree
anymore on what politics is for in the first place. Is it for
regulating human life and restraining evil, or for transcending human
life and generating the good?

So, of course many feel like their on the wrong side of history.
First, that's what the opposition wants you to think, because they've
claimed "history" as the ground on which they're building their
kingdom. Good luck with that. But second, in another way, you really
are on the wrong side of history, because you know very well that in
this age, nobody really wins.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Aquinas' Emphasis on the Duality of Christ's Person.


More from the article:
As can be observed thus far, Aquinas’ description of the moral and intellectual capacities of human nature suggests a division of agency within the person of Christ.  As we will argue below, Aquinas’ concern in this regard is specifically tied to his assertion that the human nature alone functions as salvific mediator between God and humans.  Ultimately, this description of Christ’s human agency nicely parallels the Angelic Doctor’s account of divine grace’s relationship to human agency.  For Aquinas, divine grace’s chief function is the activation of the human free will.  Such activation makes human agent capable of meriting salvation through his works.[1]  This relationship between free will and divine grace exists archetypally within the theandric person of Christ.  As the Jesuit theologian Paul Crowley comments regarding Aquinas treatment of the subject: “This relation between the two natures in Christ is paralleled in the patterns of nature and grace that can be predicated of all human beings.”[2]
Chief among the ways in which Aquinas’ view of the person of Christ parallels his view of grace and nature is his doctrine of Christ’s mediatorship.  In contrast to what we have previously seen in Chemnitz,[3] Aquinas rejects the notion that Christ is mediator according to both natures.  Aquinas asserts on the basis of his interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:5 (Vulgate: “unus enim Deus unus et mediator Dei et hominum homo Christus Iesus”) that Christ is mediator only according to his human nature.[4]  Such a position was by no means novel within the theological tradition of the High Middle Ages, but was in keeping with mainstream of the Latin Church as represented by earlier figures such as Augustine,[5] Peter Lombard,[6] and Anselm.[7]  Such an understanding of Christ’s redemptive agency continued to be promoted at the time of the Reformation by both Ulrich Zwingli (implicit in his concept of alloeosis)[8] and Francisco Stancarus.[9]  
This accent on the duality of the person and work of Christ is derived in the western Christological tradition primarily (though not exclusively) from the Tome of Leo (449 A.D.).  Leo (the bishop of Rome in the mid-fifth century and first real claimant to the Papal office) penned a letter regarding the Christological controversy that had erupted in the East (first between Nestorius and Cyril, and the later due to the heresy of Eutyches).[10] He took a different tack regarding Christ’s theanthropic agency than Cyril and the later Greek Fathers.  Instead of emphasizing the unity of Christ’s personal agency, the western patriarch strongly asserted the duality of his operations to the point of giving the impression that it was possible to divide them into distinctly human and divine acts in the concrete: "For each form does what is proper to it with the co-operation of the other; that is the Word performing what appertains to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what appertains to the flesh.  One of them sparkles with miracles, the other succumbs to injuries."[11]  Though it is perfectly correct to recognize a duality of activity within the person of Christ in the abstract, it is problematic to do so in the concrete.  As the first part of the statement makes clear (“For each form does what is proper to it with the co-operation of the other”), Leo does not intend to divide the person of Christ.  This being said, there is no sense for Leo that the two natures operate in and through one another in the concrete.  He describes them as two quasi-separate subjects cooperating with one another.[12]
In keeping with this general Latin outlook, for Aquinas Christ’s human nature alone must be designated as the sole mediator,[13] in that it dies in order to atone for sin and therefore acts as eternal high priest: “While it is true that Christ was a priest, not as God, but as man, it is also true that it was one and the same person who was priest and God. [14]  In this statement, it should be observed that even when Christ is spoken of in the concrete unity of his person, his role as priest and salvific mediator occur apart from his divine personhood.  It therefore may be inferred that Christ, even considered in the concrete, acted as priest and atoned primarily as man in union with God.[15]  This does not mean (as we shall see below) that Christ’s union with the divine person has no significance for Thomas.  Nevertheless, much like for theviator, Christ’s salvific work is primarily conceptualized as grace (i.e. the divine person and created gifts) activating nature (the humanity) in order to achieve its soteriological goal.
Aquinas sets up his discussion of the relationship between Christ’s human will and divine will by reviewing how various casual agents within the temporal world act upon one another.  He states that whereas the movement of inanimate objects and sub-rational creatures can be affected without the consent of the will, rational creatures (humans and angels) cannot.[16]  They must be given the capacity in themselves in order to cooperate with the movement of the mover who moves them.  For this reason, Christ’s human nature, asserts Aquinas, must be thought of as possessing a capacity for self-determination derived from its own nature.[17]  Of course, since Christ’s human nature was augmented with grace and subsisted in a divine person, its volition never came into conflict with the divine nature’s will.  Beyond this, due to direct vision of the divine essence, Christ’s human nature was confirmed in the good and consequently always freely moved itself toward the good ends to which the divine nature was prompting it.[18]  The divine nature may therefore be thought of as moving the will of the human nature indirectly through the means of the graced human nature’s active cooperation.[19]  As is clear from the above description, this volitional unity between the divine and human nature in many ways appears to represent more of a pre-established harmony than a description of the agency of a single theandric subject.[20]
Despite this tendency to divide the personal agency of Christ, Aquinas ultimately does agree that it is possible to attribute the meritorious death of Christ to the person of the Logos.[21]  The human nature’s salvific actions in atonement are amplified by its unity with the Second Person of the Trinity.[22] Because of his humanity’s unity with an infinite person, Christ’s satisfaction was infinite.[23] Elsewhere, Aquinas writes: “One who was merely a man could not make satisfaction for the entire human race, and how could God?  It was fitting then for Jesus Christ to be both God and man.”[24]  Nevertheless, although both Chemnitz and Aquinas assert the unity of Christ’s soteriological agency and the infinity of his satisfaction, the emphasis on who the agent of redemption is remains very different.  Despite the fact that Aquinas often describes the human nature as the salvific instrument of the divine agent (instrumentum divinitatis),[25] the accent of his teaching falls very heavily on the human nature’s work as a salvific mediator over against the divine person.  By contrast, Chemnitz conceptualizes redemption as the work of the divine person acting and present within the humanity.
In describing the subjective unity of the person of Christ, Aquinas’ tendency to assert a strong division between the two natures expresses itself in other ways.  For example, when discussing the worship of Christ, Aquinas claims that Christ's flesh can be worshiped in the concrete unity of the Incarnation much like a robe can be honored along with the king who is wearing it.[26]  The problem with this analogy is that whereas Christ's humanity subsists in the person of the Logos, a king's robe is an independent entity that does not.  Such an analogy suggests a very tenuous unity between the two natures at best.  That is to say, the unity between the king and his robe is, after all, merely notional or rhetorical (i.e., it is conceptually present in the mind and social gesture of one who pays obeisance), but not real and hypostatic. 
In further discussing the worship of Christ’s human nature, Aquinas goes a step further and asserts that when considered in the abstract, the human nature cannot really be worshiped (latria) at all, but can only be venerated (dualia).[27]  That is to say, Christ’s human nature possesses no more exalted status than that of the glorified saints, who also receive dualia.  Again, this seems to assume that the human nature possesses a status and reality in itself, semi-independent of the hypostatic union. 


[1] ST 1a2æ. q. 114, art. 2; BF, 30:204-7.
[2] Paul Crowley S.J., “Instrumentum Divinitatis in Thomas Aquinas: Recovering the Divinity of Christ,” Theological Studies 52 (1991): 454.  Aquinas makes this connection himself.  See ST 3a. q. 18, art. 1; BF, 50:66. 
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod quidquid fuit in humana natura Christi, movebatur nutu divinae voluntatis, non tamen sequitur quod in Christo non fuerit motus voluntatis proprius naturae humanae. Quia etiam aliorum sanctorum piae voluntates moventur secundum voluntatem Dei, quae operatur in eis et velle et perficere, ut dicitur Philipp. II.
[3] Chemnitz, 81; Preus, 215.
[4] ST, 3a. q. 26, art. 1; BF, 50:206.  See Pesch, 307, 313.
[5] Augustine, The City of God, 11.2; NPNF, 2:206.
[6] Lombard, 3:81-4.  Also see discussion in Philipp Roseman, Peter Lombard (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 118-43.
[7] Anselm, Cur Deus Homo? 2.28, in A Scholastic Miscellany: Anselm to Ockham, trans. and ed. Eugene Fairweather (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1966), 177.   Anselm writes:
No man besides him ever gave to God, by dying, what he was not necessarily going to lose at some time, or paid what he did not owe. But this man freely offered to the Father what he would never have lost by any necessity, and paid for sinners what he did not owe himself.”  As we can see, the accent here falls heavily on the activity of the human nature.
[8] See Zwingli’s own discussion of the concept in Zwingli, 2:319-22;  Also see August Baur, Zwinglis Theologie: Ihr Werden und Ihr System, 2 vols. (Zürich: Georg Olms Verlag, 1983-1984), 2:425, 460, 473, 484-510;  Hägglund, 243-44;  Gottfried Locher, Zwingli’s Thought: New Perspectives (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 173-6;  Potter, 43, 305, 312-3, 336; Otto Ritschl, Dogmengeschichte des Protestantismus, 4 vols. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1908-1927), 3:108-22;  Reinhold Seeberg, Text-Book of the History of Doctrines, 2 vols.  trans. Charles Hay (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), 2:321, 324;  Stephens, 112-17; 
[9] Bente, 159; Ritschl, 2:325, 475, 482; Seeberg, 2:374; Vainio, 107-9.
[10] Evans, "Eutyches, Nestorius, and Chalcedon," in Evans, 243-7;  Hägglund, 89-106; Kelly, 310-333;  John Anthony McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy : Its History, Theology, and Texts (Crestwood, Ny: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000);  Pelikan, 1:226-77; Cyril of Alexandria (New York: Routledge, 2000), 31-64; Seeberg, 1:261-5;  Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought: From its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism, ed. Carl Braaten (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968), 79-90.
[11] Leo the Great, Letter XXVIII, 4; NPNF, 12:41.  Emphasis added.  Leo goes in the same passage to strongly emphasize the duality of the two natures.
[12] See good Lutheran critique of Leo in Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997-1999), 1:130-3; Steven Paulson, Lutheran Theology (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2011), 94-6.
[13] ST. 3a. q. 26, art. 1-2; BF, 50:206-13. See discussion in Davies, 321-38;  Gratsch, 235-8.
[14] ST, 3a. q. 26, art. 2; BF, 50:212, 213. “Ad tertium dicendum quod, licet auctoritative peccatum auferre conveniat Christo secundum quod est Deus,tamen satisfacere pro peccato humani generis convenit ei secundum quod homo. Et secundum hoc dicitur Dei et hominum mediator.  Emphasis added.
[15] ST, 3a. q. 22, art. 3; BF, 50:144. “Ad primum ergo dicendum quod, licet Christus non fuerit sacerdos secundum quod Deus, sed secundum quod homo, unus tamen et idem fuit sacerdos et Deus.  
[16] ST, 3a. q. 18, art. 1; BF, 50:66.
Nam instrumentum inanimatum, sicut securis aut serra, movetur ab artifice per motum solum corporalem. Instrumentum vero animatum anima sensibili movetur per appetitum sensitivum, sicut equus a sessore. Instrumentum vero animatum anima rationali movetur per voluntatem eius, sicut per imperium domini movetur servus ad aliquid agendum, qui quidem servus est sicut instrumentum animatum, ut philosophus dicit, in I Politic. Sic ergo natura humana in Christo fuit instrumentum divinitatis ut moveretur per propriam voluntatem.
[17] ST, 3a. q. 18, art. 1; BF, 50:68.
[18] ST, 3a. q. 18, art. 4; BF, 50:76.  Ad tertium dicendum quod voluntas Christi, licet sit determinata ad bonum, non tamen est determinata ad hoc vel illud bonum. Et ideo pertinebat ad Christum eligere per liberum arbitrium confirmatum in bono, sicut ad beatos.
[19] David Coffey, “The Theandric Nature of Christ,” Theological Studies 60. no 3 (1999), 208. Coffey describes the situation thus: “He [Aquinas] says that the humanity of Christ, the "moved" in this case, became the "instrument" of the divinity through his obedience freely rendered to the sovereign will of God.” Emphasis added.
[20] Ibid., 409.  Coffey again puts it this way: “Hence what appears as a single, theandric operation of Christ is in reality two distinct operations working together in perfect communion.”  Emphasis added.   Also see discussion in Cross, 246-56;  Jean-Pierre Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, 2 vols., trans. Robert Royal (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 2:128-30.
[21] ST, 3a, q. 46, art. 12; BF, 54:50-3.
[22] ST, 3a, q. 22, art. 3; BF, 50:146.  “Et ideo, inquantum eius humanitas operabatur in virtute divinitatis, illud sacrificium erat efficacissimum ad delenda peccata.”  Emphasis added.
[23] ST, 3a. q. 1, art. 2; BF, 48:14.
Ad secundum dicendum quod aliqua satisfactio potest dici sufficiens dupliciter. Uno modo, perfecte, quia est condigna per quandam adaequationem ad recompensationem commissae culpae. Et sic hominis puri satisfactio sufficiens esse non potuit, quia tota natura humana erat per peccatum corrupta; nec bonum alicuius personae, vel etiam plurium, poterat per aequiparantiam totius naturae detrimentum recompensare. Tum etiam quia peccatum contra Deum commissum quandam infinitatem habet ex infinitate divinae maiestatis, tanto enim offensa est gravior, quanto maior est ille in quem delinquitur. Unde oportuit, ad condignam satisfactionem, ut actio satisfacientis haberet efficaciam infinitam, ut puta Dei et hominis existens.
[24] ST, 3a, q. 1, art. 2; BF, 48:13.   See a good summary of Aquinas’ atonement theology in Brian McDermott, Word Become Flesh: Dimension of Christology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993), 220-3; Albert Patfoort. “Le vrai visage de la satisfaction du Christ selon St Thomas : une étude de la Somme Théologique” in Ordo sapientiae et amoris (Fribourg: Universitätsverlag Freiburg Schweiz, 1993), 247-65;  Philip Quinn, “Aquinas on Atonement,” in Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement  (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 153-77; Stump, 427-54.
[25] ST 3a. q. 18, art. 1; BF, 50:64-6.   See Torrell, 2:128-30.
[26] ST, 3a. q. 25, art. 2; BF, 50:188-90:
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, honor adorationis debetur hypostasi subsistenti, tamen ratio honoris potest esse aliquid non subsistens, propter quod honoratur persona cui illud inest. Adoratio igitur humanitatis Christi dupliciter potest intelligi. Uno modo, ut sit eius sicut rei adoratae. Et sic adorare carnem Christi nihil est aliud quam adorare verbum Dei incarnatum, sicut adorare vestem regis nihil est aliud quam adorare regem vestitum. Et secundum hoc, adoratio humanitatis Christi est adoratio latriae.
[27] ST, 3a. q. 25, art. 2; BF, 50:191:
Alio modo potest intelligi adoratio humanitatis Christi quae fit ratione humanitatis Christi perfectae omni munere gratiarum. Et sic adoratio humanitatis Christi non est adoratio latriae, sed adoratio duliae. Ita scilicet quod una et eadem persona Christi adoretur adoratione latriae propter suam divinitatem et adoratione duliae propter perfectionem humanitatis.