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Hypostatic Union of Scripture

Athanasius came up with a clear-cut formulary about the divine and human natures of Christ. He stated: 'He is truly, perfectly, indivisibly and unconfusedly both divine and human.' This answered respectively the Apollinarians, Aryans, Nestorians and Eutychians. These, in their own turn, had either denied or belittled, the full nature of either His divine or human side, or they had torn them apart, or confused them.

I propose that we employ the same formulary to explain the divine and human sides of Scripture. This way we can account for the various characteristics of Scripture and perhaps lay to rest the endless debates, at least among faithful Christians.

From the Bible one can and must conclude to the concept of the trinity, that is one divinity consisting of 3 Persons, or Personalities co-equal in omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, all-holiness, and so forth; even though the term trinity nowhere occurs in Holy Writ. We might compare the three dimensions of height, length and breadth to the 3 Persons of the Trinity. So we can and must infer from Scripture that Christ is one Person consisting of two natures, divine and human. That is why we call Him the God-Man.

In the Latin West and Greek East of Christendom many heresies developed. On both sides pseudo Christian doctrines ensued. It was claimed that Christ consisted of two persons instead of one. Or He had only the divine will and not a human one. Docetism taught falsely that (some aspect of) Christ's humanity only appeared (fully) human. Many different heresies were thought up.

Unfortunately church leaders concluded that the mother of Christ was to be called the mother of God (theotokos) and later it would be concluded that she herself was born immaculate and still later the Roman church introduced the dogma of her assumption. Of course this is Mariolatry.

About the Bible it has been concluded that it is a sort of dictation by the Holy Spirit. Others have claimed that it is solely the work of failing humans that did not know better. In between these extremes many other ideas have been formed in the minds of thinkers. The Bible says of itself, by the mouth of the Apostle Paul, that 'every scripture has been inspired by God (theopneustos).' [Take note that it does not say 'every scripture that has been inspired by God(!)']. To understand the Bible the advice must be concluded that one must compare as many scriptures as possible with as many other scriptures as possible, for it says that 'no prophecy is of its own interpretation.' Many false teachings have been based on a limited view of Scripture.

To bow down to rationalism modern theology has thought up all kinds of ideas and theories that belittle the divine inspiration of Scripture. The first eleven chapters of Genesis are robbed of their historic reality, thus making God the author of both sin and death. Christ teaches us that if somebody both holds to and acts on His teachings, then he will be called great. But if one were to deny only one little precept, one would be called smallest.

Others are afraid to take away from the divine side of the Bible and so belittle its human side. Therefore we must state according to the example of Athanasius' formulary that the Bible is truly, perfectly, undividedly and unconfusedly both divine and human. Scripture has two natures, but is the One Word. When you read something, believe it also and then hold to it and act on it. Study not only with your mind, but with your heart and do not turn off your emotions and intuition either.

About Christ's Person also the mistaken idea has been proposed that one could compare Him with an alloy made up of two different substances. The Bible is not an alloy either. Both sides are distinct and have not been fused into a new thing. Both sides are very rich in characteristics, styles, genres, expressions, knowledge and wisdom. The Lord and His faithful writers have done everything necessary to reach us, to correct us, to educate us, to satisfy us and so to lead us eventually to the full stature of a worshipping whole.

To stay with the metaphor of metals and substances. To state that the Lord's two natures are a homogeneous mixture like brass (consisting of the elements of copper and zinc) would be something like Miaphysism, the belief of the oriental orthodox churches. Of course it is a form of monophysism, the denial of two natures. These churches believe that Christ's human and divine sides have become one nature, one god-human nature, without distinction, without confusion and unchangeable. Like in brass, the two elements here have been fused into something new; a homogeneous mixture. To preach that Christ's human side disappeared like a drop of honey into the sea, or to stay with metals, like a drop of silver into a bath of gold, is a form of monophysite Eutychianism. To argue that Christ's two sides are a heterogeneous mixture, such as sand and gold dust, would be a form of Nestorianism, a mix-up in which the two natures are not coherent enough and too distinct. It would be something like claiming that He is two persons. [To preach that Christ was only a mortal man is a form of Ebionism, as if He were a breakable vessel of clay. Claiming that He is only divine and that His human form was but an illusion and that He never could nor did die, is docetism. This would be like stating that He never really became human and so only remained gold. The Gnostics preached that. They had their own canon and twisted, says Peter, the words of the Bible. In Timothy Paul calls their doctrines 'a falsely called knowledge,' or perhaps we should simply translate 'so-called knowledge,' with so-called having the meaning of 'so-called by them, but so much nonsense.' {There actually have been people that claimed He never existed and that He was the name of a plant}]. To believe that He was more God than man, not truly human and that He subsisted in a single form (denying that He has two distinct natures), is a form of Apollinarianism. This is to argue that Christ was basically divine and that His human nature was but a coat put over. To use a metaphor; He was or is basically gold in a box of glass. Arianism claims that Christ is a created being, the first being, though highest. Like the Apollinarians, they thought that His 'angelic' intellect was put in an incomplete humanity. This is to say that He was or is something like beautiful marble in a box of glass.

Many are the shades and nuances of heresy, such as those above and it is tiring to study them. I have summed them up for you. Why is it so important to believe in Christ coming(!) in the flesh (2 John 7)? The Bible in one of John's letters even states that one must not even greet somebody that denies Christ coming in the flesh (God the Son with also a fully human nature). For then you have spiritual communion with them. (It is of course alright to converse with a heretic if he is your neighbour or colleague, but do not accept a heretic when coming as such). It is because being only truly, perfectly, undividedly and unconfusedly both God and man, could Christ accomplish the work on Calvary. An imperfect sacrifice would not do.

And so an imperfect Bible will not do. The theory of demythologizing the Bible, of finding God behind the imperfection, is to deny the human side. It implies that humans are incapable of writing faithfully about God's will for us. But studying the Bible with your whole heart, soul, might and understanding, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, produces 'water.' Now water, to stay with the above metaphors, is not a mix-up, whether homogeneous or heterogeneous; it is a compound subsisting in both hydrogen and oxygen. Now we all know that we cannot live without water. This is also true spiritually. Christ is the bread of life, the manna from heaven, the bread of angels. He is the rock of ages on which we are to be built up a spiritual temple. Many, again, are the shades and nuances of heterodoxy about Scripture. However God used human instruments, who faithfully co-operated with Him, to produce a perfect Bible; about which the Lord Himself states that no jot or tittle will go lost. That we are imperfect and yet God could produce a perfect work, is the same with the virgin birth. Job asked how a clean thing can come out of an impure thing. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. And so He breathed into the writers of the Bible to set forth for humanity the many colored Wisdom of God.

Christ Himself says that a 'disciple learned in the kingdom produces from his treasure things both new and old.' This tells us that we must not lend in a rut of traditionalism, nor become sort of revolutionaries. It also, blessedly, imbues us with the awareness that the Lord wants to inspire also our beings and behaviors. Hallelujah!



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