26 February 2009

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The divine nature of Christ could not have suffered on its own; therefore, God's Son assumed a human nature and personally united Himself with it so that through it He could suffer and thereby achieve a perfect sacrifice for all the sin of the world. -- Johann Gerhard, *An Explanation of the History of the Suffering and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ* p. 19


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Of course, a nature doesn't suffer anyway, does it? Doesn't even not suffer, either. A nature, be it human or divine, just sort of sits there, so to speak, and keeps on being whatever it is. Or, more precisely, its bearer keeps on being whatever his/her/its nature is.

Persons act, persons suffer. The Person, Jesus Christ, suffered, died and rose -- all along bearing both natures, unconfused in Him, uncompromised, inseparable, and not compartmentalized.

William Weedon said...

The PERSON, though, suffers only in the human nature; the divine nature being impassible. And it is through those sufferings that our salvation was wrought, and as St. Athanasius said, "a sufficient exchange for all" was offered to the Father.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

But the point is that divine nature is neither passible nor impassible; rather, the Bearer of the Divine Nature is impassible unless He also takes on human nature. Not a nature, but He who possesses a nature acts or doesn't act, is acted upon or isn't acted upon.

So of course Krauth is right in what he was trying to say; he just doesn't say it very well (uncharacteristically, I gather from other things of his you've posted).

Christ suffered in the flesh; that is, His body hurt, his emotions hurt, his mind hurt. His nature? Wellll ... how does one sufer in his nature, or how does a nature hurt?

It all sounds quite picayune and academic, but the huge importance of keeping the nature/person distinctions straight shows up, for example, in the filioque controversy. That's why we need to be careful how we put it.

William Weedon said...

It does impinge on many questions, but for us in the West we have a way of speaking that Gerhard is totally in line with. I think you'd find that many of the Western Fathers would say the same, and if I had time to hunt it down (but I don't!), you might find the Eastern fathers at times speaking the same way. It sounds to my ears as though you wished to drive a wedge between the three Divine Persons and His nature; I know you don't, but what's at play here is no doubt the accent on the Three Divine Persons of the East and the accent on the One Divine Nature of the West.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Latin speakers had different fights than Greek speakers. Latin speakers had to continually defend Christ's divinity against Germanic pagans - hence the West's language. Greek speakers had more struggles against those who philosophically would do violence to the Godhead - hence the East's language.

Terminology is always developed not in a vacuum but in opposition to heresy. Trinity - against heretics. Homoousias - against heretics. So on and so forth. Different heretics (speaking different languages about heresies that didn't necessarily cross cultures) means different ways of opposing them.