Athanasius and the extra-calvinisticum

The guys at CalvinistInternational have done a decent job with the sources.

The Extra-Calvinisticum is the doctrine that Lutherans charged followers of Calvin for holding.  For the record, I still side with the Lutherans on this, but that’s not the point.   The point is that the extra-Calvinisticum is tied in with the Nestorian charge that people often throw at Calvinists.   The problem–of which I was aware when I was attacking Calvinist Christology–is that many Greek fathers held to the extra-Calvinisticum, if the anachronistic use of the term can be excused.  The quote by Athanasius is fairly common knowledge.   The rest is from the guys at CalvinInter.  Let’s keep in mind what the extra-calvinisticum is claiming.  It is claiming that there is a bit of the Logos’  divine nature not contained inside the incarnate Person.

The Word was not hedged in by being present elsewhere as well.  When He moved His body He did not cease also to direct the universe by His Mind and might.  No.  The marvellous truth is, that being the Word, so far from being Himself contained by anything, He actually contained all things Himself.

On the Incarnation 17

Now it is impossible for any creature to comprehend the Divine Essence, as was shown in the FP, Q12, AA1,4,7, seeing that the infinite is not comprehended by the finite. And hence it must be said that the soul of Christ nowise comprehends the Divine Essence.

John of Damascus, qtd in Thomas Aquinas, Third Part, Q10, A1.

To put this into perspective, let’s keep in mind the doctrine of en-hypostatization.   Natures are contained within an hypostasis.

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9 comments on “Athanasius and the extra-calvinisticum

  1. jnorm says:

    I thought the dispute was around the communication of the Natures. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t Calvinists limit this communication to the boundaries of the human Nature alone?

    If so then wouldn’t that mean:

    1.) A tendency to limit the Person/Hypostasis to the human Nature

    2.) That Christ’s humanity was never really glorified

    And so in order for me to see if Calvinists really believed in what saints Athanasius and Damascus said in those quotes I would first need to know if Calvinists believe in the doctrine of Theosis or not.

    I know when I spoke about this issue with Drake on facebook I focused on the Logos as being the Person/Hypostasis and how the Divine Logos was Omni-Present as a Person, and so the communication between the Natures should be based on the Person of Christ according to His Divinity (because as a Person He is Divine).

    And so if the Logos Sanctified and Glorified His humanity then that would mean (when in union with Him) our humanity can also be Sanctified and Glorified! And so what I want to know is, can Calvinists believe in the doctrine of Theosis?

    For this would tell me if they really believe those Patristic quotes or not.

  2. The Communication of Natures is included in the discussion.

    *** but don’t Calvinists limit this communication to the boundaries of the human Nature alone?

    If so then wouldn’t that mean:

    1.) A tendency to limit the Person/Hypostasis to the human Nature***

    I’m not sure I follow what you mean about “boundaries of human nature alone.” According to Muller, Calvinists predicate the communication of both natures to the *Person.* I haven’t seen in post-Reformation sources evidence for (1).

    ***2.) That Christ’s humanity was never really glorified***

    I haven’t seen this claim stated thus. Much of that discussion would hinge upon what one means by “theosis,” and its perils and promises.

    ***I know when I spoke about this issue with Drake on facebook I focused on the Logos as being the Person/Hypostasis and how the Divine Logos was Omni-Present as a Person, and so the communication between the Natures should be based on the Person of Christ according to His Divinity (because as a Person He is Divine).

    And so if the Logos Sanctified and Glorified His humanity then that would mean (when in union with Him) our humanity can also be Sanctified and Glorified! And so what I want to know is, can Calvinists believe in the doctrine of Theosis?

    For this would tell me if they really believe those Patristic quotes or not.***

    All of this might be so, but the problem still remains. As Perry has told me countless times, the extra-Calvinisticum is problematic because it posits something of the Logos outside the Person of the union, which is what we see in the above quotes.

  3. […] 15.  Did Athanasius affirm the extra-Calvinisticum? […]

  4. jnorm says:

    Quote:
    “the extra-Calvinisticum is problematic because it posits something of the Logos outside the Person of the union, which is what we see in the above quotes.”

    The quotes above make it seem as if the Person is the Word(The Logos). The extra-Calvinisticum (at least to me) is making it seem as if the Person is limited to the human nature. This is what I mean by it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communicatio_idiomatum
    quote:
    “”The doctrine has since the Protestant Reformation served as a bone of contention between Reformed and Lutheran Christians. In Reformed doctrine, the divine nature and the human nature are united strictly in the person of Christ. According to his humanity, Jesus Christ remains in heaven as the bodily high priest, even while in his divine nature he is omnipresent””

    They are making it seem as if that which is outside the Person is the Divine Nature. This is why I said that they seem to have a tendency to limit the Person to the boundaries of the human Nature (I didn’t want to say boundaries to the human Person).

    But if the Person is the Logos, then I don’t understand why the quotes are a problem. For that’s what I believe and like I said before, I was arguing with Drake about this on facebook.

  5. jnorm says:

    Well, the first quote is making it seem as if the Person is the Word. The second quote is ambiguous. I will need to re-read the word again to see if it’s talking about location or depth (Essence vs Energies distinction).

  6. Both Lutherans and Reformed were familiar with the formula, “Finiti non capax infiniti.” The Finite cannot contain the infinite. That was the Reformed position and according to Muller, that is what the EC means. Other issues concerning communicatio are directly related but not touching the essence (no pun intended) of the issue.

    I think you are making a fair criticism of an *implication* of Reformed Christology, by limiting the person to the human nature, but that’s not what the Reformed are actually getting at.

  7. […] true, though Athanasius believed in the […]

  8. […] Even the most hard-core Anchorite does not agree with even his favorite fathers on everything.  Even Athanasius taught the extra-calvinisticum (and this is extremely problematic if you believe what Leontius of Byzantium taught regarding […]

  9. […] raises a deeper problem for the patrum consensus:  Here and elsewhere Athanasius is saying things that sound a lot like what Anchorites charge Reformed theology with […]

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