J A Dorner, History of the development of the doctrine of the person of Christ pp.271ff

Home / J A Dorner, History of the development of the doctrine of the person of Christ pp.271ff

Finally—and this he deemed of chief importance—a perfect union of the divine and human appeared to him indispensably necessary to the accomplishment of the redemptive work of Christ.^ Against the doctrine of the Church he brought the charge of having merely human sufferings in the sufferings of Christ ; remarking, that the death of a man could not be the death of death. Gregory saw clearly enough the importance of the objection, and sought to show that the Logos was truly humbled and truly took part in sufferings ; but all he really succeeded in doing, was to represent Christ as reckoning to Himself the sufferings which, strictly speaking, belonged solely to His humanity, on the ground of the humanity belonging to His person. Apollinarius, on the contrary, maintained that the unity of the Person of Christ was not secured, unless we can say,—Our God was crucified, and man is exalted to the right hand of God : the Son of Man was from heaven, and the Son of God was born of a woman And the work of uniting God and man is first accomplished when God puts Himself completely in the place of humanity, and man is exalted to God.

But how does he bring the two together ? We have already remarked, that whilst representing the humanity of Christ as imperfect apart from the incarnation, he refuses to allow that, on this ground, the humanity contained in the Person of Christ was imperfect ; for the Logos, so far from being foreign to, constitutes rather the proper perfection of, the humanity. This he expresses as follows,—The πνεῦμα in Christ was human πνεῦμα although divine. Nay more, he says also, the divine πνεῦμα or the Logos, which in Christ was human πνεῦμα, was eternal, and existed before the incarnation. The Logos must therefore have existed as man also, prior to the incarnation, and His deity was in itself man from the very beginning. Gregory took the words to mean, that Apollinarius held the flesh of Christ to be eternal; and inasmuch as he, notwithstanding, represented Mary as the mother of Christ, therefore, concludes Gregory, he must have conceived Mary also to be eternal. He posits coarse composite matter as eternal. But Apollinarius never taught this; nowhere did he assume an heavenly humanity in this sense. But he viewed the πνεῦμα or the Logos in Christ as the eternal humanity ; probably on the ground of His being the archetype of universal humanity. To him the Logos was both God and archetypal man ; and that in the sense of His having been eternally destined to become man, in an historical form. The Logos thus revealed that which had been latent in His nature from the very beginning. It is possible that, in his mind, he connected therewith the Platonic doctrine of a κόσμος νοητὸς, in which the archetypes (εἴδη) of all things are ideally or potentially contained, though as yet by no means possessed of phenomenal, external actuality; hence also the incarnation of the Logos. Of this tendency are undoubtedly the words attributed to him by Gregory, οὐράνιόν τι σαρκὸς εἶδος ἀναπλάττει περὶ τὸ θεῖον (c. 42, p. 234, compare c. 6) ; which, however, cannot by any means have been already the principle of the material element of the humanity of Christ, but merely the form or plastic power. At all events, regarding the Logos as he did, not as something foreign to, but as the truth of, the humanity itself, he was able to say,—The primal grounds of the incarnation lay, not in the Virgin,’ but in the eternal Logos Himself, who, by His essential nature, is the eternal archetype of humanity, and bears within Himself the potence of a real incarnation. The divine nature is humanity (ἡ θεία φύσις σὰρξ ἐστί, c. 18, p. 163) ; of the man in Christ, he says—He was the brightness of the Father’s glory, and in Him the essence of God acquired a form. His humanity was of one substance with God (ὁμοούσιος σύμφυτος) prior to the birth on earth, yea, prior to the universe, and was the companion of God. Now, although, fixing our eye on the latent potence of incarnation, humanity was far from being something merely accessory in relation to God (ἐπίκτητον, ἐπιγινόμενον), seeing that it belonged to the eternal idea of the Logos; and although, further, humanity, as realised in the unity of the Person of Christ, cannot be termed accessory, and is therefore ἐπιγινόμενον, συνουσιωμένε, σύμφυτος (c. 17, p. 160) with the deity; we may still say, the equality of Jesus Christ with the Father was eternal, and preceded the incarnation, but His resemblance to men is something superadded. For the rest, believing as he did the humanity of Christ to be essentially one with the Logos, Apollinarius was in a far different position from the Church teachers of his time for providing for the eternal continuance of the humanity ; and of his superior facilities in this respect, he was well aware. For him there was no necessity, indeed no reason, for allowing the humanity to disappear in the Logos, whether by conversion or absorption into the divine glory; for he deemed it to be a determination of the Logos coeternal with the Logos Himself. On the other hand, the more strongly the Church teachers were compelled to feel that they had not taken sufficient care to secure the unity of the Person of Christ prior to His exaltation, the greater prominence they gave it at the termination; so that, in fact, they frequently fell out of Dualism into a false identification (Note 69). They regarded Christ, indeed, as a man, but neither before nor subsequently to the time of His earthly sojourn: consequently, the incarnation was reduced, in their hands, to a theophany of a somewhat longer continuance. It is true, the God-manhood is represented as continuing in that glorifying consummation of humanity which took place at the end of the theophany ; but sufficient grounds are not assigned for the representation. Apollinarius, from his point of view, was far better able to assign an eternal place for the humanity, by the adoption, namely, of a reverse method;—in order to be able to conceive the humanity as eternally united with the Logos a parte post, he persists in asserting that, although in a latent state, it pertained to the essence of the Logos a parte ante.