18 July 2007

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Whatever Christ has in the one nature by essence, He partakes of in the other nature by grace - and this is the doctrine of our Church. -- Krauth, *Conservative Reformation* p. 503


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

HUH? What does this mean?

I know Lutherans believe with us that Christ had both humanity and divinity *by nature*, not by grace, so....???


William Weedon said...

Read it again and think about it:

Of course our Lord has two natures. The point is that what belongs essentially to His divine nature (omnipotence, say) is by grace shared with the other nature. He's almighty with the whole of Him, as one person, the human nature sharing by grace in what is an essential property of the divine nature (i.e., omnipotence never becomes an essential characteristic of the human nature).

And so we can sing at Christmas time:

Ah, Lord, Thou hast created all!
How didst Thou come to be so small,
To sweetly sleep on manger bed
Where lowing cattle lately fed?

Chris Jones said...


On this point I think Krauth has it wrong. The communicatio idiomatum is not by grace, but by virtue of the hypostatic union. That is, Christ possesses the fulness of each nature personally. All that He is and all that He has, He has in His own right.

To follow your example: omnipotence never becomes a characteristic of the human nature, but it is always and throughout a characteristic that belongs to the hypostasis of the Word.

In Western language, we think of grace as a "free gift". But the characteristics of the divine nature are not Christ's as a gift, they are His own, personally and hypostatically. Similarly, in Eastern language we think of grace as our participation in the energies of God, again not ours by right but by His condescension. But the divine nature is not Christ's by participation, but (again) personally and hypostatically.

So whether we speak of grace in Eastern or Western language, it remains something that refers to what we as creatures receive as gift. But both natures in Christ are His own, hypostatically. Not by grace.

I do not believe the Fathers would ever have spoken as Krauth does.

William Weedon said...


Perhaps the whole paragraph would help:

In these words of John (John 3:35) is implied that Christ, ACCORDING TO HIS HUMAN NATURE, has all things. The name JESUS is not a name drawn from His divine nature, but was given to Him in His individuality after His incarnation. The text says, morever, that the Father had GIVEN all things into His hand. Now, according to the divine nature of Christ, God can give Him nothing, for that divine nature in its own essence has all things absolutely. Hence, here, and everywhere that God is said to give Christ anything, or Christ is said to receive anything, it is according to His human nature, and received by Him according to His human nature. Christ, then, has received according to the one nature, to wit, the human, what He intrinsically possessed in the other, to wit, in the divine, or, as it has been expressed, Whatever Christ has in the one nature by essence, He partakes of in the other by grace - and this is the doctrine of our Church. p. 503

Thus, when he says "by grace" here I think his force is simply "given to." As in "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Or as in "The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand." This "giving to" pertains to the human nature, which thus by this gracing partakes of what is essentially the divine nature's - and of course, this happens in the united person, that is, hypostatically:

"As thet Godhead, therefore, retains its essential omnipotence, and yet the human receives omnipotence as a gift, the result is inevitable. The one omnipotence pertains to the whole person - the divine possessing it essentially and of necessity, and in itself; the human having a communion or participation in it, in virtue of its personal union with the divine." p. 504

Hope that clarifies a bit - the danger of snippets is the loss of context!!!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

As Chris said, Krauth has muffed this one.

I don't think the context helps. Well, it clarifies what the dickens he's trying to say, and I sympathize with the point. Any Muslim or Jew can tell you God's Nature doesn't mix with anything else at all (which is their theoretical objection to Christ). It's very Chalcedonian: Christ had the two natures "without confusion."

But also without "division" or compartmentalization. Krauth seems to compartmentalize in an effort to avoid mingling. Neither will do.

Moreover, natures don't give or receive anything. Natures don't do anything; they just, as it were, sit there. Natures are just the essence of whatever or whoever is being them. *Hypostases* of natures receive things. Christ the PERSON received whatever He had. And the communion between His two natures was by hypostatic union.

It is WE who have/are by grace whatever He has/is by nature.