We begin first with the union of Jesus’ humanity and divinity. When we are describing the nature of Jesus Christ we are talking at the same time about Jesus the Nazarene. As much as we stress the term the importance of homoousios to Patri describing the union of beings between The Father and the Son (mia ousia), it is as equally important to describe the union of Jesus Christ with our humanity as mia ousia (one being). This must be held together at all costs regarding the incarnate Son ‘who for us men was made flesh from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate.’ Thus the doctrine of salvation must be worked out within the very being of who Christ is and what He has done and continues to do.
The truth about reconciliation is not a truth that is detached from the one Person but lies at His very heart and soul. Instead of having a separate category set aside for reconciliation we find the revelation of Jesus Christ is also the revelation of reconciliation. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, who is already working the atonement from the Incarnation, for His presence to His people is an atoning act. Jesus Christ is God’s atoning action where He Himself is the . . .One God and one mediator between God and man, the Man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all (1Tim. 2:5). God as Jesus Christ became what we are in our feeble, frail, dark and depraved humanity, in order that we can become like Him.
We have to be careful to avoid cutting off everything Jesus has accomplished in His activity of the incarnation, His ministry, His crucifixion and resurrection. If we do so, we have nothing to offer but a gospel empty of the action of God with us and for our sake. This is the biggest criticism of Western theology – that it has turned the gospel into something that is outside the person and work of Jesus Christ. The knowledge of God must not be determined outside of His being as disclosed in Jesus Christ, whose being is in union with the Father. The redemptive act of Jesus Christ must also be closely tied to the act of creation. God’s creative act is also doubled as a redemptive act. For the very first move of God towards creation is also a move of redemption and reconciliation with Jesus Christ ‘slain before the foundation of the world‘. In addition, the resurrection is a re-creative act which involves the whole of the creative order. The Latin Heresy would try and cut Jesus Christ from everything that is considered evil, which, in the philosophical context, is created matter, including our humanity. However, in the union of beings between fallen humanity and Jesus Christ, there is the union of God who is Judge and the One Man who is under judgment. At the same time Jesus acts in all His ways and works as the Nazarene. He is also the Judge whose decision in every respect throughout His whole life is deemed as the Godness of God doing what is eternally good and right. In this atoning union between God the Father and God the Son as well as God the Son and His humanity, and between the humanity of Jesus and the entire human race throughout history, the humanity of Jesus is circumcised and sanctified. Jesus knew who He was, who the Father was, and the mission He was sent to carry out. The resurrection and the ascension is the mission accomplished for our sake and on our behalf, where the grip God had on us is eternally sealed.
Now the heart of reconciliation lies in the very humanity of Jesus Christ, who is of the same being as the Father. Jesus Christ is reconciliation personified. He represents the one human being who is God and humanity reconciled. In Him is our justification, the place of mercy, and the very place where everything between humanity and God is put in the right. Therefore, reconciliation, revelation, justification and the place of mercy are all this living, breathing human being – Jesus – the image upon which every single human being is cast. Once we lose sight of this, we have lost sight of the true nature of God. This is where Western Christianity has gone so terribly wrong in defining the atonement as the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, where the penalty of our sin is paid and transferred to God to appease His righteous anger. It ignores the atoning work of the Incarnation as well as Jesus’ ministry.
The fact that God has assumed humanity is of the utmost importance and is the key to the unravelling of the gospel that is foreign to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and comes closer to the truth given to us by the Father. Every aspect of what we know about what it is to be fallen has been taken into the very person of God in Jesus Christ. God, as Jesus Christ, dived directly into and under the core of our darkness and depravity, and gathered it all into Himself. All our fears and insecurities that drive our depraved humanity to undignified acts, all leading to our ultimate end, are what Jesus humbled Himself to and took on. Our fallen mind, our fallen being and every corner of our dark existence, are what the early church took as granted as being assumed by Jesus Christ into Himself. He even let death take Him on. However, what drives us so way off the rails and highlights how broken, incomplete and faulty we all are, is tghat Jesus went to that centre of darkness that drives us, and replaced this centre with His powerful living centre that is overwhelmingly loved by the Father. His way, truth and life became our way, truth and life that lead straight to the Father’s heart.
If the Church at large is embroiled in this Latin Heresy, then everything it declares in its preaching and teaching is a gospel foreign to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Terms appropriated by the church – even the very Scriptures themselves and the manner in which we think – may have to be overhauled if we are to get to the very heart of what it is God as Jesus Christ is trying to show us. If any part of the person of Jesus Christ as a human being, as well as God of very God, Light from Light of the same being with the Father, is diminished in any way whatsoever, then everything that is built upon this is also diminished in its power to transform people to the very place of rest which is provided in Jesus Christ. We may have to revisit words such as faith, repent, believe, righteousness, judgment, sin, sanctification, justification, propitiation and so on, and review them in the light of the person and work of Jesus Christ. What we must have is the overpowering, beautiful aroma of union, filtering and infusing every corner of the created order. This may mean that we have to learn and speak a whole new language that is clearly understood by the laity, the ministry, and most importantly the wider, secular community. This is what Karl Barth endeavoured to do with his church dogmatics, where he showed a metanoeo – a new way of thinking. He encourages the church to take up the cause of the Nicene church’s fundamental principle of union, which was termed thehomoousios.
The language we choose must make crystal clear the implications of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God came as Human, in precisely the same way we are human, in our sorry state of affairs, as I have already outlined. He came in our place, on our behalf, and for our sake. We must take on Barth’s vision of Athanasius that, unless it was God Himself who was personally and directly active in Jesus, then nothing that He did was of any saving significance. Jesus Christ came to us as the one mediator between God and humanity. In Jesus Christ God acted from the side of humanity as the Human Being for all human beings, as well as on the side of God – in both aspects for all our sakes. There are two directions happening at the same time in the one person of Jesus Christ. In the reconciling life and passion there is a God-ward movement, as well as the human movement happening at the same time. As Jesus Christ is God in union with every aspect of our darkened being, He is far from being only instrumental in our salvation, but is internally essential and integral to it. Jesus Christ is as unique in integrity and character as the Father, but as a human being. Therefore the atoning act – the pressing and recasting of our being to be in line with the unique being of the Triune God, where we share in their nature and character – is the act of God as a human being, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ represented and substituted His humanity for ours, sanctifying it in the process. Every aspect of the whole life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ issues out of our humanity as it has issued out of His humanity, including our decision for God. At this point both the Liberal and Evangelical theologians withdraw from this line of thinking, as they believe Barth’s stress on this level of substitution goes way too far. They believe God cannot step in and make the so-called all-important decision of faith and repentance which they believe each person must make.
Evangelicalism and Liberalism object to Barth’s insistence on salvation totally by grace from beginning to end. Whereas Barth places both God and humanity in one place in Jesus Christ, they place God and humanity side by side, and try to logically deduce how God operates His salvation work. That is, if it is all God, then this must mean humanity is excluded. As God must be held at a distance, then a gospel has to be logically calculated to maintain this distance. In a nutshell, it is the old Arian interpretation of sin defined as separation from God that becomes the centrepiece of the gospel where it is ripped away from the very Being of God as the human being Jesus Christ. The gospel begins with Jesus Christ, God and humanity in union. This maintains the ancient church’s principle of the unassumed is the unhealed. At the heart of this, Jesus Christ assumed our alienated man in order to heal it so that it can be turned away from itself towards God.
One of the hallmarks of the Latin Heresy is the concept of autonomous individualism. That is, beings in division from other beings, especially the being of God in Jesus Christ. Liberalism and Evangelicalism will not allow this autonomous individual to come under the judgment of the Cross. It is the form of existence, that operates totally contrary to the nature of God, that had to be redeemed. Instead, by allowing self-centred human reason to have a say in theology, it lost its anchor in the safe haven of the very being, God in Christ, and drifted off with pride and arrogance into the stormy seas of philosophy and mythology. Placing this futile thinking aside will mean that we have to rethink everything we had previously thought regarding the gospel. By allowing the uncreated mind, intelligibility and the rationale of God to have its way in us, the transformation of our minds to a new way of thinking based on union, can be the beginning of a whole new and fresh conversation.
Jesus Christ must be the centre of it all – in the fullest sense of the word – taking in height, depth and breadth of the whole created order. Therefore, if Jesus is truly the One in whom everything lives, moves and has its being, as well as all creation being tied up in Him, then when Jesus lived, died and rose again, we can only conclude that all creation and everything and everyone in it is redeemed. We must rule out the Nestorian heresy that tried to divide divine and human natures, and maintain the reality of the Creator coming as a human being without ceasing to be the Creator. As a result, the essence of every human being, whether they believe it or not, is grounded in the very Being of God in Jesus Christ. As uncomfortable as this may be to many in the church, redemption has come to the whole world and involves every human being.
Of course, there is the usual objection that Karl Barth is endorsing Universalism. If this is the sole reason to reject the unifying work of Jesus Christ between God and humanity, then we are again pushing Jesus Christ away from God and replacing this confrontation with a foreign truth. Humanity is so desperate, so proud and so arrogant that it believes we have some say in what God can and cannot do, and what He must and must not be. If one is forced to conclude Universalism, it is pride that has led them to this conclusion. It is pride to allow any space to believe we can look into the inner workings of the atonement behind the human veil of Jesus Christ, and determine how it plays out on certain individuals. God will be kind to whomever He wants to be kind, and He will be compassionate to whomever He wants to be compassionate. God will decide, based purely on who He is in Himself, and much about Himself is not completely disclosed in regard to the outcome of the those who persistently refuse His love. It is foolish to refuse the loving kindness and goodwill He has so explicitly displayed in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, His mercies are new every morning. We cannot go the way of St Augustine, whereby He taught that Jesus’ death was sufficient for all but only efficient for some. Calvin rejected this point, but the Calvinists appropriated this into their theology based on the doctrine of Predestination.
If one is stuck either in the limited atonement camp or in the Universalism camp, then he is trapped in the thinking of the Latin Heresy, where both conclusions are logically deduced based on humanity as the measure of all things pertaining to God. Limited atonement cannot lay any claim to the ancient church’s principle of union of all things in Christ. It has the tendency to run in the opposite direction anyway. Neither can Universalism claim in any way to have foundation in Nicene Theology. Both are heresies and both are to be clearly rejected outright. Neither form of thinking is helpful in the translating process. The subject and the content of all the ways and works of God are grounded in God’s own being in Jesus Christ, in whom the being of every human person is also grounded. The ancient theologians were only witnessing to what God had displayed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Whatever we say as we attempt to translate the Greek to English must have Jesus Christ as God of God, Light from Light, of the same Being with the Father.
This invariably weighs heavily on certain terms and phrases within the Bible that have been built upon the foundation of heresy that attempts to maintain ambiguity surrounding the union of the divinity and humanity of the very person of Jesus Christ. In addition to this, while maintaining the union of the divinity and humanity of Jesus, we must maintain the union of Jesus’ humanity and divinity with the very being of the Father. If we come to God with a split view of who He is, then everything else that flows from our split thinking of God will result in a split theology. Once we lose the centerpiece of all the ways and works of God, then we are left with no gospel at all, and one that is so Gnosticized, that it has no earthly good whatsoever.