A difficulty with ancient Christologies

One of the initial charms of reading guys like Maximus the Confessor, Cyril, and others is that they offered a fairly neat way of tying in human nature, Christology, and soteriology.  It runs something like this, “Christ assumed all of human nature (because he is consubstantial with humanity) and the rejection of which entails something like Nestorianism.”  Four years ago I liked the argument, but even then I suspected some tensions.  I’ll list them:

  1. Where exactly does the Bible say Christ assumed the universal of humanity?  Yes, it says he took the form of a servant, but that’s a far cry from the standard Alexandrian line.  I know they’ll respond, “You have to read the Bible in light of the Fathers et al.”  Fair enough, but the Bible also counts for tradition and the absence of any such line of reasoning is fairly telling.
  2. If Christ assumed all of human nature (which includes a human will along with a divine will), and recapitulated it in his death and and raised it in his resurrection (Farrell, 223), then why isn’t all human nature saved?  Keep in mind that human nature is continually united to the Logos:  when Christ, on their gloss, locally descended into hell were the united-to-him-human-natures also in hell?
  3. It’s not surprising that Origen opted for the universalist route.
  4. Maximus rejected the universalist route, but posited yet another type of will.  He called this the gnomic will, or a mode of a mode. So practically speaking, we have 3 wills of Christ:  human, divine, and gnomie.
  5. This distinction, incoherent as it may be, allowed Maximus to keep the point in (2) above, yet also ascribe a personal willing to the human subjects which would avoid the trap in (3) above.

2 comments on “A difficulty with ancient Christologies

  1. […] We agree.  The problem is that a lot of the theology and argumentation under girding this claim doesn’t hold water for more than five minutes, and historic Reformed theologians were very wise not to put all their eggs in this basket.  The […]

  2. […] try to address.  We agree that Jesus has a real human will.  We agree with P1-P3, but note that extreme interpretations of P3 are flawed.  But do the Reformed deny free will?  Not only do the Reformed not deny the real use of the […]

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