Monday, October 18, 2010

Dr. Witt Responds on "Development"

Following up on my previous post, Newman's Doctrine of Development Rests on a Logical Fallacy, I cited Dr. William Witt's blog entry, which, I thought gave a very clear explanation of Newman's theory on the Development of Doctrine [and it is just a theory].

In the process, one commenter, Matt, wrote to clarify the type of logical fallacy that Newman's theory rested upon.

Dr. Witt has kindly responded via email, and his response is reproduced here.
Dear John Bugay,

Thanks for linking to my post on the incoherence of Newman's account of development. Readers might find it helpful to know that this is part of a lengthy discussion I have been having with Roman Catholic disciples of Newman, and one in particular.
Thank also for pointing out that "fallacy of amphiboly" is not correct, and that I was careless in the spelling. I plead that the quoted portion here is from a transcript of a letter I had written rather quickly. I did not bother to check whether or not the fallacy was named correctly, since I was giving practical advice, not writing for publication.

Amphiboly is an amibiguity of language, not terms. So, Groucho Marx's "I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What was he doing in my pajamas, you ask?"

At the same time, I am not quite happy with "equivocation." Terms like "river bank" and "First Savings Bank" are equivocal, as are the "bark of a tree" and the "bark of a dog." The fallacy here seems to deal with terms that have almost the same meaning, but are different enough as to not be univocal. Both Development 1 and Development 2 are developments, but they differ in a way that invalidates Newman's argument. If someone knows of another fallacy besides equivocation that covers this category, I would be grateful. Meanwhile, I have corrected my blog.

You might find it amusing that my primary interlocutors in this discussion have been Roman Catholic philosophers (not theologians), some of whom I find referenced on your blog, none of whom picked up on careless fallacy identification. The response has rather been to embrace Development 2 wholeheartedly--to insist that both homoousious and papal infallibility are equally developments for which only the authority of the magisterium can suffice. That is, if it had not been for Nicea, the Arian view would be equally plausible as orthodoxy.

While conceding the force of my argument, I find this a desparate concession. It necessarily would imply that the doctrine of the incarnation is just as lacking in biblical or theological warrant as are the marian dogmas or papal infallibility.

I hope I was clear about what I meant when I wrote: "She gives birth, however, to Jesus’ humanity, not his eternal person, which has always existed and is generated eternally by the Father." I addressing the fairly obvious objection that inevitably arises to the claim that Mary is the Mother of God: God is eternal; Mary is not eternal. If Mary is the Mother of God, then God came to exist in time, and Mary's existence predates God. But Mary is not eternal, ergo . . .

I would say that mothers give birth neither to persons nor to natures, but to human beings. A human being is a single substance in which one can distinguish between person and nature. The person is the subject of the predicate "who," while nature is the subject of the predicate "what." Both persons and natures are created by God.

The orthodox doctrine is that the incarnate Word is a single divine person with two natures, one human, one divine. The doctrine of anhypostasia means that Christ has no human person; the doctrine of enhypostasia means that Christ is a single divine person who is the subject of unity in the incarnation. The doctrine of communicatio idiomatum means that properties of either nature can be predicated of the single divine person, which can result in some paradoxical statements: "My God died" is true, although God is eternal and cannot die, because the incarnate Word of God (the second person of the Trinity) died in his human (not his divine) nature. Jesus' humanity comes to exist in time, both created by God, and the progeny of his mother Mary. His divine person, however, is eternally begotten of his Father, and never comes into existence.

In stating that Mary is the theotokos or Mother of God, there is an ambiguity. Mary gives birth to Jesus. Who is Jesus? Jesus is God. Mary is then the Mother of God. What is Jesus? Jesus is completely human and completely divine. Is Mary the "bearer" or Mother of Jesus' humanity? Absolutely. Although created by God, everything of Jesus that is human (body, intellect, will, soul) are received from Mary his mother. Is Mary the "bearer" or Mother of Jesus' divinity? No. Insofar as it is eternal, Jesus' divinity (his divine nature) can have no "mother."

Is Mary bearer or the mother of Jesus' divine person? A tricky question. If by "mother," one means that Mary gives birth to Jesus who is a single divine/human identity, and whose person is fully God, then the answer is "yes."

If, however, by "mother," one means that Mary is the human source of Jesus' divine personhood in the same sense that she is the source of his humanity, or the same sense that other mothers are the source of their offspring's human personhood (although also created by God), the answer must be "no" because Jesus has no human person. His divine person is eternally generated by the Father and does not come to be in time. It is "begotten, not made."

Grace and Peace,
William G. Witt
Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology
Trinity School for Ministry

28 comments:

steelikat said...

There is still an error here. Mary is the mother of Christ's person (yes, his divine Person) in precisely the same sense that Shirley is the mother of my human person--precisely by being the source of his humanity as Shirley is the source of my humanity. It is the same "way of being a mother."

Most of you won't believe me but I hope you will believe Dr. Witt when he says anhypostasia is orthodox doctrine. These Christological doctrines are not "nitpicking." Our doctrine of salvation depends on them.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat: Most of you won't believe me but I hope you will believe Dr. Witt when he says anhypostasia is orthodox doctrine.

Little typo here? (Should be *not* orthodox doctrine). As it stands, you seem to be advocating for the error of Apollinarius (d. 390, just following the council of Constantinople in 381). He was an opponent of Arianism, but he erred by going too far in the opposite direction: "Apollinaris' eagerness to emphasize the deity of Jesus and the unity of his person led him so far as to deny the existence of a rational human soul (νους, nous) in Christ's human nature, this being replaced in him by the logos, so that his body was a glorified and spiritualized form of humanity."

The "Christological controversies" in this respect became another issue where clarification was needed. Whereas the two councils. Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381) came up with terminology to ("homoousious" or "of the same substance") to describe the way in which Jesus was God, the question that this opened, then, was, "how precisely do God and man relate within the one person of Jesus Christ?"

The "Christological controversies" which then followed (starting with Nestorius, who was a follower of Theodore of Mopsuestia) and Cyril of Alexandria (northern Egypt) became quite contentious and led to the Council of Ephesus (431) and first major schisms in church history -- schisms which we rarely hear about and which should greatly embarrass Rome and Constantinople and all their talk of "infallibility".

Just for everyone's reference, here is the Definition of Chalcedon (Council of Chalcedon, 451, which convened to try and settle these controversies):

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

Note that the word "God-bearer" is used here. "Theotokos" means "God-bearer"; "Mother of God" is again an ambiguous translation, and it is the ambiguity here that has enabled all of the confusion surrounding Mary.

steelikat said...

John,

"Little typo here?"

I meant what I said. I agree with Dr. Witt that ahypostasia is orthodox doctrine.

"The orthodox doctrine is that the incarnate Word is a single divine person with two natures, one human, one divine. The doctrine of anhypostasia means that Christ has no human person; the doctrine of enhypostasia means that Christ is a single divine person who is the subject of unity in the incarnation."

If you skim that sentence rather than reading it carefully, it may seem to you that Dr. Witt is contrasting ahypostasia and enhypostasia and saying one is orthodox while the other is heterodox, but that is not the case. As Dr. Witt said, they are both orthodox doctrines, emphasizing different aspects of the incarnation. I am sure that if you ask Dr. Witt he will confirm my reading of what he said.

"As it stands, you seem to be advocating for the error of Apollinarius"

In fact that does not seem to be the case, as the error of Appolinarius consisted precisely, as you say, in denying that Christ has a human soul. As you know, I have made no such denial nor implied such a thing.

If you are reasoning this way: "Steve believes that ahypostasia is orthodox doctrine, therefore he must be Appolinarian," will you be consistent and say that Dr. Witt is appolinarian? Will you also flesh out the argument for us, since on the surface it seems to be a non-sequitur?

Again, please just ask him to clarify whether he thinks ahypostasia and enhypostasia are both orthodox doctrines. Please tell us what you learn and what you conclude by that.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat: This is from PuritanBoard's "Confessions" section:

The anhypostasia, impersonality, or, to speak more accurately, the enhypostasia, of the human nature of Christ; for anhypostasia is a purely negative term, and presupposes a fictitious abstraction, since the human nature of Christ did not exist at all before the act of the incarnation, and could therefore be neither personal nor impersonal. The meaning of this doctrine is that Christ's human nature had no independent personality of its own, besides the divine, and that the divine nature is the root and basis of his personality.

There is, no doubt, a serious difficulty in the old orthodox Christology, if we view it in the light of our modern psychology. We can conceive of a human nature without sin (for sin is a corruption, not an essential quality, of man), but we can not conceive of a human nature without personality, or a self-conscious and free Ego; for this distinguishes it from the mere animal nature, and is man's crowning excellency and glory. To an unbiased reader of the Gospel history, moreover, Christ appears as a full human personality, thinking, speaking, acting, suffering like a man (only without sin), distinguishing himself from other men and from his heavenly Father, addressing him in prayer, submitting to him his own will, and commending to him his spirit in the hour of death. Yet, on the other hand, be appears just as clearly in the Gospels as a personality in the most intimate, unbroken, mysterious life-union with his heavenly Father, in the full consciousness of a personal pre-existence before the creation, of having been sent by the Father from heaven into this world, of living in heaven even during this earthly abode, and of being ever one with him in will and in essence. In one word, he makes the impression of a theanthropic, divine-human person. His human personality was completed and perfected by being so incorporated with the pre-existent Logos-personality as to find in it alone its full self-consciousness, and to be permeated and controlled by it in every stage of its development.


http://www.puritanboard.com/confessions/chalcedon.htm

So I imagine there is opportunity for some further discussion on this matter.

steelikat said...
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steelikat said...

Oh, my bad. That was a typo. Sorry.

I typed "ahypostasia" whereas I meant "anhypostasia."

I bet you know of a heterodox teaching called 'ahypostasia' which implies appolinarianism. If so, I surely do not agree with that heterodox teaching. What a difference one little letter can make!

"The doctrine of anhypostasia means that Christ has no human person; the doctrine of enhypostasia means that Christ is a single divine person who is the subject of unity in the incarnation."

John Bugay said...

Steelikat, you typed in "anhypostasia" correctly. I was responding to this: The doctrine of anhypostasia means that Christ has no human person -- and I was not familiar with the terminology, so I mistakenly attributed it to Apollinarianism.

I am more familiar with the term "theanthropic" applied to Christ, describing that he is a divine-human person (as was noted in the Puritanboard selection I provided).

So I would imagine that there was some discussion on this topic in the post-Reformation era that I am not familiar with.

William Witt said...

I am saying that both anhypostasia and enhpostasia are orthodox doctrine.

It is, however, important to distinguish the patristic and Medieval notion of person (hypostasis) from the nineteenth century understanding of personality. Personality includes not only ontological subject (who), but also intellect and will, which, on the orthodox understanding belong to nature (quiddity, whatness), not person.

steelikat says that Mary is the mother of Christ's person in precisely the same sense as one's own mother is the mother of one's human person, by being the source of one's humanity.

I have affirmed this, not denied this.

What I have denied is that Mary's being the source of Christ's humanity should be understood to mean that she is also the source of his person, which would be either the Nestorian heresy, or else would imply that Mary gave birth to the divine nature, which would be absurd.

If there is an error here, you're going to have to help me out, and be very clear as to where my error lies, because I am not seeing the point of your criticism.

John Bugay said...

Dr. Witt, welcome to Beggars All.

I have to admit my own culpability in the confusion, in my not understanding "anhypostasia" and attributing it to Apollinarianism.

steelikat said...

"There is, no doubt, a serious difficulty in the old orthodox Christology, if we view it in the light of our modern psychology"

We had better leave our modern psychology out of it.

Here's the problem. One could say "the person is the who and the nature is the what" and that would be true, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go very far and in Christology is not helpful. Let me step back one order of existence:

What of a non-personal, created thing? Can we say that its being, its primary substance, is its "who," and its nature is its "what?" Well, no we cannot because it is not a "who!" It is not a person. Yet there is that same distinction between the thing itself, that particular being, and that being's particular nature.

A person is the being, primary substance, that has a personal nature. "Human being" can be and often is construed "Human person." That is why it is better to say Christ is a "man" rather than "a human being."

If one says, as it seems to me your PuritanBoard quote is saying, that the traditional distinction between hypostasis (as primary substance) and nature is no real distinction at all, and one takes the word "hypostasis" to mean simply psychological ego, then when one is agreeing with Chalcedon that Christ is a divine person with a divine nature and a human nature one doesn't mean the same thing that mainstream Christianity has meant, and in the language and using the definitions mainstream Christianity has, one is saying:

"Christ has a single personality, a single psychological ego, but is composed of two persons (as mainstream Christianity has traditionally defined the word) and two natures."

I don't mean that one would put it that way, since one is making no distinction between "person" (as it is traditinally understood, primary substance) and "nature," but that would be how someone who makes that traditional distinction would have to understand what one means.

I won't use the "n" word, because it is rude and impertinent to accuse someone who explicitly and honestly intends to accept chalcedonian doctrine of being intentionally heretical, but there is a reason that many people honestly and non-hatefully suspect that many Calvinists have a non-orthodox understanding but don't realize it they have a non-orthodox understanding.

steelikat said...
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steelikat said...

I hope nobody read and responded to my previous deleted comment, since it really ought to have been two comments.

Dr. Witt,

I believe the error (or perhaps it would be better to say, a source of misunderstanding) involves saying that mothers are mothers of one's nature. Mothers are always and essentially the mothers of persons.

To be the source of your humanity in the way that your mother is, does not imply being the source of your person in that same way. Rather, it implies being the mother of your person or less awkwardly, the mother of you.

steelikat said...

John Bugay,

Read this quote from Dr. Witt again:

"It is, however, important to distinguish the patristic and Medieval notion of person (hypostasis) from the nineteenth century understanding of personality. Personality includes not only ontological subject (who), but also intellect and will, which, on the orthodox understanding belong to nature (quiddity, whatness), not person."

What the article in PuritanBoard seems to be doing is conflating the traditional distinction between hypostasis and nature and defining "person" to mean simply psychological personality.

By doing that, and affirming that "God is a person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature," it seems to (again probably unintentionally) be crypto-nestorian. Do you see why I say that?

John Bugay said...

Steelikat, the Puritanboard selection seems to have been brought in from an online version of Schaff's "Creeds of Christendom."

While I'm not up on all the Christological discussions that took place in the post-Reformation period, I will say that I'm more inclined to give Reformed writers (like Schaff) the benefit of the doubt on this topic than you may be willing to do.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for this follow-up.

Neither equivocation, nor grammatical ambiguity properly accounts for the conflation of "Development 1" with "Development 2".

William Witt said...

I believe the error (or perhaps it would be better to say, a source of misunderstanding) involves saying that mothers are mothers of one's nature. Mothers are always and essentially the mothers of persons.

I don't think there is confusion. If one defines mother as, by definition, mother of one's person because one's mother is the source of one's humanity, then, by definition, a mother is the mother of one's person, and Mary is the mother of Christ's person because she is the source of his humanity. However, it cannot be the case, as you indicate concerning yourself, that Mary can be the mother of "Christ's human person" in the same sense as "Shirley is the mother of [your] human person" because Christ has no human person. If Mary is the mother of Christ's person, she is the mother of Christ's divine person.

Fair enough. My only point is that Mary is the source of Christ's humanity, but she is not the source of his divine person. If to be the mother of a person is understood to be the source of that person--and that is how people use the term in ordinary language, because human mothers give birth to human persons--then we must necessarily qualify in reference to the incarnation.

On another issue, I do think the distinction between who and what to be helpful in distinguishing between person and nature. The Cappadocian distinction between the individual/hypostasis (primary substance) and the universal/ousia(secondary substance) does not go far enough in making the necessary distinction between personal and impersonal. A rock or a duck can be a primary substance, but neither is a person because neither is a rational relation. (I think Boethius's definition of person makes a real advance here.) A proper definition of person would have to be something like an individual rational relation.

I also would not be happy either to identify human person with human being, nor to say that a person is a primary substance that has a personal nature. A human being is rather a primary substance that includes both person and nature, to be distinguished not identified. In every human being but Christ there is a single human person with a single human nature. In the Trinity, there is a single divine nature with three divine persons. In Christ, there is a single divine person, with two natures, one divine and one human. Jesus Christ is an individual human being, but not an individual human person.

steelikat said...

"If Mary is the mother of Christ's person, she is the mother of Christ's divine person"

Yes. I say that is true and harmless, as she is his mother precisely by being nothing more nor less than the source of his human nature in the same sense that mothers generally are the source of their childrens' natures. I say that to deny that she is the mother of Christ's divine person is fallacious and dangerous.

"If to be the mother of a person is understood to be the source of that person--and that is how people use the term in ordinary language..."

I suspect that you are wrong about that, but I don't know.

Thank you for taking the time to give your thoughtful response. You've inspired me to read more on this subject.

Matt said...

At the same time, I am not quite happy with "equivocation." Terms like "river bank" and "First Savings Bank" are equivocal, as are the "bark of a tree" and the "bark of a dog." The fallacy here seems to deal with terms that have almost the same meaning, but are different enough as to not be univocal. Both Development 1 and Development 2 are developments, but they differ in a way that invalidates Newman's argument. If someone knows of another fallacy besides equivocation that covers this category, I would be grateful. Meanwhile, I have corrected my blog.

I would argue that the "degree of difference" of meaning is irrelevant to the issue of equivocation, as long as the senses of the two terms are different. For instance, Wikipedia defines equivocation as "the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)." Development-1 and Development-2 are two different terms, and are separated by a significant difference - Development-1 pertains to doctrines that are exegetically derived from Scripture, while Development-2 pertains to doctrines that are not. Thus, even if Development-1 and Development-2 are very similar semantically, they are still different in a significant way. Both Development-1 and Development-2 can be referenced by the term "development." Thus, in this context, the word "development" admits of two different possible senses or meanings, and to use it in both, without identifying which sense is meant (as is done by Newman), is equivocation. I know of no definition of "equivocation" that restricts its scope to homonyms, as opposed to polysemes, as the above quote seems to imply. Equivocation pertains to semantic ambiguity, be it homonymy or polysemy, larger differences of meaning or smaller differences of meaning.

These relatively minor issues aside, the original post still makes a good point that needs to be dealt with by Roman Catholic apologists.

steelikat said...

To me the equivocation argument seems persuasive, at the same time the distinction is one of degree rather than kind, and I can see that from a certain perspective and way of thinking it does not seem persuasive.

To a certain kind of "black and white" thinker what is of utmost importance is differences of kind such that even what you and I see as very substantial differences of degree seem trivial.

So it's a good and helpful response to Newman's argument, best seen as one plank in a larger extended argument that has been the combined effort of many Newman critics.

John Bugay said...

Steelikat: the distinction is one of degree rather than kind

This depends on whether you think "articulated in Scripture" and "not articulated in Scripture" are two different things.

steelikat said...

Every party produces what it takes to be scriptural support for its beliefs and practices. Sometimes these seem pretty far-fetched, but presumably the partisans see things differently.

Anyway I was just commenting on the article you posted as I understood it. As I said, I found it persuasive.

John Bugay said...

Every party produces what it takes to be scriptural support for its beliefs and practices.

Some "scriptural support" is better than others. Some things that are said to be "scriptural support" are, in the light of exegesis, just wishful thinking.

FWIW, I agree with you that there are other deficiencies in Newman's theory, and that the "fallacy" is just one of those weaknesses.

Peter Toon has also critiqued Newman and has put him into some historical perspective; Paul Helm has also critiqued certain elements.

I would like to see a knowledgeable Protestant theologian write a comprehensive treatment of Newman some day.

But in the meanwhile, I would hate to base my faith on such a theory, even in the light of the shifting sand, so to speak, that Dr. Witt has written about just in this little selection.

Acolyte4236 said...

I appreciate Dr. Witt's clear and and careful exposition of Chalcedonian doctrine.

As he rightly noted the modern notion of personality is inadequate. It is largely grounded in the Lockian view that the person is consciousness. It is only on this non-Chalcedonian assumption that the charge of Apollinarianism can go through. If the person is the mind, then either Christ is two persons, a composite product of the union of two into one human-divine person or Apollinarianism. Chalcedonianism simply denies the assumption.

The problem here is that in Reformed theology, Christ is a human and divine person and this is because the persona mediatoris is a product of the union. This is documented in Muller's Christ and the Decree on every major Reformed theologian from Calvin up through Perkins.

This view was in large measure due to corrupt Latin texts that Calvin and others used of John of Damascus', On the Orthodox Faith. Calvin is explicit at Inst 2.14.5 that Christ is *out of* two natures. And this is why the WCF speaks of Christ as a human and divine person.

This is why Mary cannot be said on such a model to be Theotokos since she did not produce the whole end product.

Here is a significant point of difference between traditional Chalcedonian Christology, which takes Christ as only a divine person as Dr. Dewitt rightly glossed and the Reformed view.

John Bugay said...

Perry said: It is only on this non-Chalcedonian assumption that the charge of Apollinarianism can go through.

You must not have read very carefully. I'm the one who brought up Apollinarianism, and I did it because I had not ever seen "anhypostasia" before. I admitted this.

But Turretin goes into great detail, and outlines this very thing:

V. By this union, therefore, nothing else is designated than that the intimate and perpetual conjunction of the two natures--the divine and human--in the unity of person. By this, the human nature (which was destitute of proper personality and was without subsistence [anypostasos] because otherwise it would have been and was a person) was assumed into the person of the Logos (Logou), and either conjoined with or adjoined to him in unity of person, so that now it is substantial with the Logos (enypostatos Logo). For it is sustained by him, not by a general sustentation (by which all creatures are sustained by God), but by a special and personal sustentation, inasmuch as it is united into one person with the Word. Now although the human nature may rightly be said to be substantial with the Logos (enypostas Logo)(because it was assumed into the unity of the person and is sustained by it), yet less accurately is it said to subsist with the subsistence of the Logos (Logou) because then the human nature would be a divine person.

The lesson I take from this: read more Turretin.

The problem here is that in Reformed theology, Christ is a human and divine person and this is because the persona mediatoris is a product of the union. This is documented in Muller's Christ and the Decree on every major Reformed theologian from Calvin up through Perkins.

I haven't read this book, but I have a hard time believing that Muller began by saying "the problem with Reformed theology is..." I'm more inclined to believe that you're misrepresenting what Muller said and why he said it.

This view was in large measure due to corrupt Latin texts that Calvin and others used of John of Damascus', On the Orthodox Faith. Calvin is explicit at Inst 2.14.5 that Christ is *out of* two natures. And this is why the WCF speaks of Christ as a human and divine person.

I'm sure Calvin did not base his entire analysis on "corrupt Latin texts," given that he is citing Hebrew text in the same passage. And further, the words "out of" hardly do any harm to the point he is making. Again, you are misrepresenting.

Turretin refers to Christ as "truly God-man (theanthropos)" anyway. He is a "human and divine person". And after a thorough look at the relevant Scriptures, he notes "The Son of God did not assume man as one entire, incommunicable subsistence, but a human nature (i.e.man specifically so called). And as often as Christ is called a man or the Son of Man in the Scripture, it is a name not of the nature, but of the person denominated from the other nature.... Although it may properly be said that the man is God, improperly, however, would it be said-the humanity is divinity. Now although such disparates cannot be one in number ordinarily and physically, nothing hinders this from being held theologically and in that extra-ordinary God-man (theanthropou)."

In truth, Cavlin's Christology is entirely orthodox and entirely Chalcedonian. In the selection you're quoting, he's interacting with contemporary challenges to Christology such as Servetus. Derek Thomas notes this and also notes that "Calvin's defense is thoroughy patristic and is aimed at discrediting the Roman charge of the novelty of the Protestant religion" ("A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes" 218).

Your little innuendo-filled drive-by attack is quite uncalled for.

Acolyte4236 said...

John,
I read carefully. I was indirectly responding to your charge of Apollinarianism in a way to explicate the faulty reasoning behind such thinking.

The material from Turretin really doesn’t help your position. Here is why. First, a good number of Christological positions use the term of theanthropos. It was a favorite term of certain monophysites for example. It is also capable of Nestorian reading as well. Hence it does not provide any exculpatory value in showing your views to be in line with Chalcedon.

Second, that the humanity of Christ is anhypostatic apart from the person of Christ is not in dispute between us either so what you bring forth from Turretin is irrelevant.

Third, the issue is the identity of the person of Christ. Is the person of Christ all and only the divine person of the Logos or is there more to the person of Christ than the person of the Logos? That is, is the person of Christ the eternal Logos or is it a product of the union and hence at the level of hypostasis or person a divine and human person? The material you bring forward leaves that question in place and so that material is irrelevant. So my point remains untouched and in place.

This is why your answer at this point is dismissive, since it fails to engage the point in question. The question is pertinent since you cite Dr. Witt as an expert and someone who supports your views and yet it seems that you and he do not agree on a crucial point on Christology. Do you accept his expertise and judgment there or no? Why or why not?

If you wish to charge me with misrepresenting Muller, then you need to actually support that claim rather than assert it. I would think the appropriate response would be to challenge me to document my claims rather than merely assert the contrary with an admission that you haven’t accessed the facts as yet.

Consequently, the appropriate response would have been to read the book first and the make a judgment or claim about my alleged misrepresentation, not the other way around.

Secondly, I didn’t make the claim that Muller sees the view as problematic for Reformed theology. I made the claim that the view that is problematic is documented by Muller. Muller in fact sees the Reformed dissent from Chalcedon as an advance and an improvement. On that point we disagree, but we both agree as to what the Reformed view is and that it is not Chalcedonian.

As for Calvin’s views, I didn’t claim that his entire view is grounded in corrupt Latin texts. Rather the claim was that it was so “in large measure.”

Specifically, it was so in terms of what he thought and understood to be the councilor theological model which he took himself to be advocating. Your comments then reflect a straw man and so do not engage what I claimed.

Second, since the original texts of John of Damascus’ works were in Greek and not Hebrew, it is quite irrelevant. Nor is Calvin’s ability to read Byzantine Greek. What is germane, is what manuscripts Calvin had access to, whether to Greek or Latin or both. Consequently, your remarks here leave my claim firmly in place. Can you prove he had read it in Greek or had access to the Greek text?

Acolyte4236 said...

John, (cont.)

Third, as to whether his gloss is “harmless” or not, your assertion that it is harmless is an assertion in need of a demonstration. In fact, it does great harm, since the point he is making depends on what the ancient and counciliar view was since he claims to be reporting it and adhering to it. Directly to the point, given that the use of “out of” or “in” was a crucial matter at the council, the words do plenty of harm since the former terms picked out the monophysite view. This is why the term was changed to “in” such that the divine person was in two natures, implying the distinction of natures remained after the union and not merely prior to it. Any serious assessment and historical account of Chalcedon, its theology and proceedings will have this information. Check for yourself or I can provide you with the bibliographical references.

In any case, it is very much liking that the difference between homoousios and homoiousios does no harm.

If Jesus is a human and divine person, then there is more to the person of Jesus than the person of the Logos. Who is this person that is not the person of the Logos? Further, it posits a change at the level of hypostasis, that is, that the union changed the divine person of the Son.

Christ’s assumption of human nature into his divine person wouldn’t imply a change in the divine person, since person and nature are not the same thing. A divine-human person would result only if Christ assumed a human person in his assumption of human nature. The relation is person/nature, not nature/nature.

Theanthropos refers to the two natures being in the one divine person, not to the idea that the person is a human and divine person. There is no hypostatic change per se in the assumption of humanity. The divine hypostasis of the Son doesn’t become something (or someone) it (he) wasn’t before.

As for your assertion that Calvin’s Christology is entirely Chalcedonian, you provide no proof that it is so, either in general or in relation to my specific claims. You appeal to authority, but with no specific data from said authority, so your claim is a naked assertion and not a demonstration.

Further, Derek Thomas has no special competence in Christology, patristic or Reformed. He says so to his students in his courses at RTS. Whereas Muller’s text has been the standard work for more than two decades.

I grant that Calvin was dealing with specific charges from Servetus, but how do we get from the fact that he was dealing with specific charges to his position is in fact in line with Chalcedon? You’d need a premise of something like, Calvin can be dealing with specific charges only if his position is Chalcedonian. But dealing with specific charges isn’t a necessary condition (and certainly not a sufficient one) for one’s views to be Chalcedonian. Lots of non-Chalcedonians deal with specific charges without being Chalcedonian. So your implicit argument is either a very bad argument or it is naked assertion in need of some demonstrative clothing.


My remarks aren’t innuendo, but direct claims. Your charge that they are is not only a category mistake, but an implicit ad hominem. I figured that since you took Dr. Witt to be an authority that I would point out the significant Christological differences between the two of you, in particular in hopes that you’d take what he has to say seriously and consider revising your views. Why not ask him if he thinks Jesus is a divine and human person/hypostasis or not see what he says?

Acolyte4236 said...
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Sam Entile said...
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