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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Christological Controversies: Is Jesus Christ Omnipresent?

Someone over at Facebook posted a link to a new book, the title of which is, "The Omnipresence of Jesus."  The book is written by Theodore Zachariades.  I do not know Mr. Zachariades but I did read somewhere online that he is a calvinistic Baptist.

At any rate, I had a few words with Mr. Zachariades in Facebook over the controversial nature of his book title.  After that exchange he agreed to send me a copy of the book to review for the blog.  I will be reading and reviewing the book after I receive it in the mail.

Someone else asked me about how Hebrews 13:8 relates to the issue and this is the response I posted at Facebook after the thread was closed:


Alan, Hebrews 13:8?  I don't believe I mentioned that verse.  However, the Definition of Chalcedon 451 A.D. makes it clear that the monophysite or Eutychian error is a heresy.  Jesus Christ is one person according to Chalcedon.  The Apollonarian error was that the human soul was replaced by the second Person of the Godhead, the divine Logos.  The orthodox view and the Scriptural view is that Jesus Christ is fully human.  That means that in the incarnation the body and soul of Jesus is the same as ours with the exception that He committed no sins.  The doctrine of the hypostatic union rejects the idea that Jesus is a mixture of God and man in one nature.  Neither are the two natures separated but parallel in Jesus.  They are perfectly united in the one person of Jesus Christ such that He has a fully human soul and at the same time He is the fully divine person of the Logos, perfectly united, not mixed or confused together, nor separated.  

In short, the divine attributes are not communicated to the human nature.  We do not worship the physical image of Jesus Christ or His human nature.  We worship the person of Christ who is the divine Logos, the second person of the Godhead.  The Lutherans say that the divine nature is communicated to the human nature so that it is omnipresent and in that way the real body and blood of Christ is in the bread and wine at the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  The Reformed view disagrees because the body of Christ is not omnipresent but is locally present in heaven at the Father's right hand.

The Anglo-Catholics and the Roman Catholics go even further by asserting that the body and blood of Christ are to be worshipped.  That's why at their communion services you see them lifting up the wafer and bowing down to it as an idol.  It is blatantly idolatrous to worship the bread and wine as if they were God rather than creatures or created things.

So in answer to your question, Hebrews 13:8 does not say that Jesus in His human nature was omnipresent, omnipotent, or omniscient.  The context is in reference to the Lord and all the promises of the covenant of grace revealed in the Old Testament, Genesis 17.  The Lord never breaks His promises to His elect.  The man, Jesus Christ, is not eternally pre-existent.  The incarnation took place at a specific date and time in history.  Technically speaking then, the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) refers to God's decree of redemption prior to creation, not that Jesus was literally already slain.  The same exegetical principle applies to the incarnation and references to the divine nature or deity of Christ as in Hebrews 13:8.  That verse does not refer to the human nature as "immutable".  It is a reference to His divine nature, which is indeed immutable.  God's promises in the covenant of grace are trustworthy because of who the triune and personal God is and because of His immutability.  He can swear by no one and nothing greater than Himself.  (Hebrews 6:13; Luke 1:73; Luke 1:68-79).

There is an excellent sermon on these issues at Sermon Audio by Dr. Robert L. Reymond called, "Demolishing the Stronghold of a False Christology."

3 comments:

Rubin O. Wits said...

Charlie,

This is great stuff. I'm learning so much. Calvin's getting better everyday.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks, Rubin. I'm sure what I said here in brief could be nitpicked because I didn't fully explain everything. The Nestorian error, for example, denies the hypostatic union of the human soul and nature with the divine Logos, the 2nd Person of the Trinity and the divine nature. Gordon H. Clark's last book, The Incarnation comes close to committing the Nestorian error because he denies that Chalcedon's distinction between substance and subsistence is an adequate distinction between "nature" and "person". Clark's solution was to say that the human person and the divine Logos, a divine Person, are united in the man, Jesus Christ. The problem is that Clark never defined how the two "persons" can be united in one man without there being a sort of schizophrenia. Clark defined a person by the "propositions" that he thinks. So the distinctions between the three Persons of the Trinity are distinguished by their own personal thoughts that cannot be communicated to the other two persons. The same distinction is made to justify the human person from the divine person in Christ. Unfortunately, this view tends to so devalue the hypostatic union as to imply Nestorianism or even Arianism.

The doctrine of the Incarnation is a very technical doctrine and a slight deviation in any one aspect of it can lead to heresy if we are not careful. That's why I agree with Dr. Robert L. Reymond that we ought to stick with the Definition of Chalcedon unless and until further theological and philosophical investigation can clarify the issues better. I don't think Clark solved the problem. His view introduces other complications that could lead to heresy if not properly handled.

There must be a reasonable human soul or "mind" or "person" in Jesus because the divine Person of the Logos does not replace the human soul. The result of such replacement would be Apollinarianism. So there is truth to what Clark is saying. We just cannot push it too far or else the result is a sharp division between the human nature and the divine nature and that would be Nestorianism.

Rubin O. Wits said...

I will check out the Dr. Reymond link you listed.

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