“THE SAME TRULY GOD AND TRULY MAN”: AQUINAS, REDUPLICATION AND THE PROBLEMS OF THE INCARNATION
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AbstractSince the Nativity of Jesus of Nazareth, sages, scholars and ordinary men and women wondered, and continue to wonder, at how the Word, the Son of God, could become man. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Church Fathers set out the formula that defines orthodoxy even today: Following therefore the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of a rational soul and body, the same in being with the father as to the divinity and one in being with us as to the humanity, like unto us in all things but sin.... We confess that one and the same Lord Jesus Christ [...] must be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion or change, without division or separation.... He is not split or divided into two persons, but he is one and the same Only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ… (The Christian Faith, 2001: 227-8) At first glance, the doctrine makes a very simple claim: Jesus of Nazareth, who is called the Christ, is both fully God and fully Man, “like unto us in all things but sin” (The Christian Faith, 2001: 227). Yet, on further examination we find a doctrine apparently riddled with problems logical, metaphysical and psychological. We will consider the specific guidelines this statement sets forth for any orthodox Christology in the next section. Before we do so, however, we must consider the ramifications of this doctrine. As we will discuss in a moment, the Chalcedonian definition contains a number of difficulties. These difficulties generally fall into one of three categories: the logical, the metaphysical and the psychological. Most theologians since Chalcedon readily admit to these difficulties and attempt philosophical explanations that move toward alleviating some, or all, of these problems. These philosophical accounts fall under one of two basic strategies. The goal of both is the same: to arrive at a unified Christ. But their methods differ drastically: the first strategy works by “thinning out” the semantic content of the Chalcedonian definition, the second by “thinning out” the traditional properties of Christ’s divine or human nature. The reduplicative strategy of St. Thomas Aquinas exemplifies the first strategy, and deals explicitly with the logical and metaphysical problems presented in the next section. Robert Feenstra’s kenotic account and Thomas Morris's “two-minds” theory exemplify the second strategy. Like Aquinas, these theories deal with the logical and metaphysical problems; unlike Aquinas, they also deal with the psychological problem. My goal in this paper is to show that Aquinas’s strategy, which does not deal with the psychological problem explicitly, has the tools to deal more effectively with the psychological problem than either the kenotic or two minds accounts. In section I, I outline the three major Christological problems I allude to above. Section II outlines the basic argument of Aquinas’s reduplicative strategy. Section III gives the accounts of Feenstra, and Morris, with a specific eye toward their solution to the psychological problem. From the successes and failures of these accounts I hope to develop a set of guidelines for Aquinas’s treatment of the psychological problem and his subsequent solution, which I present in section IV.
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