Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Perry Robinson can't get "nature" and "person" straight

Perry Robinson followed up some of our conversation from this Beggars All post (here's his most recent comment, if I recall correctly) on his blog here.  The latter is fast becoming a very long and fairly involved conversation, with me against ~5 commenters, a couple of whom (Perry included) can be quite verbose.  But I wanted to bring out a string of Perry's interaction with me in which he consistently confuses the nature of Christ with the person of Christ, and several times obstinately refuses correction.
Source - Perry: As for the dead not hearing with their physical ears, I suppose Jesus couldn’t hear our prayers either since he has physical ears too.
Me:  ?? I was under the (obviously mistaken) assumption that Jesus ALSO has a divine nature and powers. Silly me.

Source - Perry:  So when Thomas falls down before Jesus and renders worship is worship of his body or is it passed on to his divine person?
Me:  Passed on…to His divine person? You who were ripping me for confusing the Gk words for nature vs person a month ago…might want to rethink this sentence.

Source - Perry:  Jesus is also deity, but it is also said of him that he “hears” prayers. Since your argument was that disembodied saints could not “hear” prayer, seemingly even by divine aid since they lacked lack physical ears, then it follows that either that Jesus hears them with physical ears or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t then the mere lack of physical ears has nothing to do with “hearing” prayers. And besides, natures don’t do anything, persons do so the “hearing” is said of the person and not the divine nature. When I remarked that the worship and honor that Thomas offers to Jesus is passed on to his divine person, in no way did I confuse person and nature. Jesus is a divine person and not a human person and this was the same point I made to you previously. What I corrected you on if you recall was that you confused person and nature by saying that the hypostatic union amounted to two hypostases coming together, which betrayed a complete lack of understanding or familiarity with the term and the doctrine.

Source - Perry: And besides, natures don’t do anything, persons do so 
Me:  Said the guy who earlier asked: “So when Thomas falls down before Jesus and renders worship is worship of his body or is it passed on to his divine person?
That’s rich.
Perry:  where is Thomas directing his worship but to the humanity of Jesus?
Me: That’s just the point – He isn’t directing his worship to a NATURE at all. How are you missing this?
Perry: Is this worship passed on to his divine person or not?
Me:  ???? As opposed to “His human ‘person’”? You’re not making any sense.
Perry: The fact that you don’t seem to know what an implication is, aren’t familiar with basic theological concepts like the soul or in our last exchange didn’t know what the term “hypostatic union” picked out I think shows that the confusion is on your part.
Me: Said the guy who just asked: “ Is this worship passed on to his divine person or not?” Yes, *I’m* the one who doesn’t understand the Hypostatic Union.
Perry:  Your position a la WCF 8.2 confuses person and nature by saying that since Jesus has a human nature, he is also a human person.
Me: Sorry, you can’t quote me making that confusion. Jesus is ONE PERSON. YOU’RE the one making Him into “a divine person”, as opposed to some other kind of ‘person’, “human” presumably. Go back, read it again, make sense this time.

Source - Perry:  I noted that natures perform no acts, but only persons do. To which you responded with noting that I posed the question about Thomas’ worship at the feet of Jesus and whether this worship was passed on through his humanity to the divine person or not and that this was “rich” implying some kind of inconsistency. First, your remark doesn’t answer my question. Please address it. Is Thomas’ worship passed on through the humanity of Christ or not? Second, that question doesn’t propose that natures are the locus of actions, so I am not being inconsistent. If you think so, you need to make an argument. Again, I’ll wait for the actual argument.
I agree that Thomas isn’t directly it ultimately to a nature, but he is directing it to the divine person through the nature before which is kneeling.

...The problem is that you see the preceding term, “divine” to refer exclusively to nature, but it doesn’t. There are divine persons, angelic persons and human persons and there is divine nature, angelic nature and human nature. To say that Jesus is a divine person picks out the kind of person or hypostasis as distinguished from the other two. It does not imply that the person is a nature.

Source - Perry:  I brought the point up to clear up your obvious lack of familiarity with the concepts and to correct your muddled thinking.
Me:  And yet YOU confused “nature” and “person”, TWICE. Is it so hard to humble yourself and say “oops, I’ve been falsely accusing you of the same crime of which I’m guilty”?

Perry:  whether the person is accessible and not whether the materials contain them or not.
Me:  Yes, the person is of course accessible. Now the question is HOW. And of course a person who IS THERE is accessible differently from a person who IS NOT THERE.

Perry:  Is Thomas’ worship passed on through the humanity of Christ or not?
Me:  The question makes no sense. One does not worship a NATURE. One worships a PERSON.
Perry:  Thomas and Scripture approvingly invoke implicitly the principle that the honor or worship rendered before one thing is passed on to the person. How are you missing this?
Me:  There was no THING present with Thomas. CHRIST was RIGHT THERE.
Perry:  Is Jesus always and only a divine person or not?
Me:  No, that statement is false. At the time of His incarnation, though He had from eternity past always been only a divine person, He took on human flesh and nature and is from that time forward forever the God-man.
Surprising, given all your much-ballyhooed qualifications and the way you rip me for one mistake one time, that you continue in these mistakes here.
Perry:  If Jesus is just one person, but not a divine person, then who is the Logos if not the one person of Jesus?
Me:  Hopefully, the explanation I just gave clarifies my reasoning. I stand behind it still, but you need to understand it in light of your equivocation of the words “divine person”.


  1. Perry visited my blog with the same error. He suggested I read Augustine, so I did. I found that Perry didn't understand Augustine any better than the difference between, nature and natural and what constitutes a person.

  2. JNorm888 said:


    Perry wasn't wrong. You all are looking at the issue with strong Nestorian tendencies, and that's why you think he's wrong. I stand with Perry and Lvka/Lucian on this one.

    Christ is Risen!

  3. JNorm,

    Please answer Perry's question: So when Thomas falls down before Jesus and renders worship is worship of his body or is it passed on to his divine person?

  4. "You all are looking at the issue with strong Nestorian tendencies, and that's why you think he's wrong."

    I am not sure who you are referring to as being Nestorian. I do know this, on my blog Perry denied the full humanity of Christ, confusing the divine with the human nature. His is a type of Monophysitism, to be sure, through a not quite full-blown monothelitism, something more akin to Apollinarianism. Perry denied a fully human righteousness in Christ supplanting it with the Eternal Word's righteousness and by that denying the active and passive aspects of Christ's obedience.

    Perry confuses the natural attributes of man with his nature. A subtlty that developes from the necessity to discuss righteousness or lack of it in the person, the language of natural versus nature becomes necessary. Perry for some reason is not able follow Augustine's reasoning nor his discursis on nature, natural, and person and so ends up making Augustine a Pelagian.

    Perry's definintion of the incarnation lacks a true humanity in that it denies that the human nature of the natural man who is Jesus, was fully human. He made the righteousness of the Eternal Son- the righteousness which belongs to deity- the righteousness of the Son of Man, rather than it being that kind of righteousness which was particular to the first Adam as created man. Consequently, Perry cannot tell the difference between what constitutes a person because he does not understand that what is natural to man, that is the mechanisms, are tempered by kind and that kind (nature) is not to be confused with the other attributes nor separated from the constitution of the person. That is to say, Perry cannot discern that there are trees and there are kinds of trees, and what determines the difference is not what is natural to them as trees, rooting, growing active and passive transport, leafing, fruit-bearing, but what they are according to nature, being either apples or oranges. For Perry, Christ never did in that sense incarnate, for he says that as the Eternal Word Christ always was working his righteousness eternally and as such the incarnate man never began to do so. But, the fact is Scripture tells us that Jesus began to have an existence and learned righteousness, i.e. obedience, by the things he suffered. Now God, doesn't suffer, but Christ being also man does. Beside, that he learned obedience rather than continuing in an Eternal obedience, tells us that Jesus did begin works at a time in history which were credited as righteousness which righteousness becomes ours in justification. Something Perry directly and indirectly denied on my blog.

    Now I think this goes to the point that Perry doesn't understand the full deity or the full manhood of Christ, nor does he understand what it means that Christ is both, yet one person. To be sure the incarnation is different in just how it is that man and God constitute one person. But, it is like man in that we are not simply attributes, i.e. the mechanisms, body, mind, et cetera, a kind. Kindred is necessary, but it can change unlike the attributes of deity. The diversity of what we are is expressed as the unity we are as a person. The incarnation is different, yet, what we know is that Christ is both man and God, fully both and both fully yet one person.

    So who does the worship go to? The person. But then we shouldn't have any problems with worshipping Christ the person who is both man and God, any more than we have problems worshipping the Son of God and his Father. When we speak of the eternal deity, we speak of Him as a person and worship him as one even though we recognize the plurality of persons of the trinity.

  5. I wrote my Patristics essay on St. Cyril's Scriptural Christology this semester and thought it pertinent to this discussion. I'll link to it HERE.

    Having done that, I'll simply say this: When Thomas renders worship to the one Christ, he is honoring the divine υποστασις of Christ, in which is included the human nature. The significant aspect of the one Christ being inseparably both ομοουσιους with the Father and with us is that we must now be able to say that the Virgin Mary gave fleshly birth to the Word of God made flesh as St. Cyril famously said. (γεγέννηκε γὰρ σαρκικῶς
    σάρκα γεγονότα τὸν ἐκ θεοῦ λόγον ~ 3rd Letter to Nestorius, 12.1) and that God died, and the Son of David was glorified with the glory which the Father had before the world was, and that the infant in the trough was the pre-eternal God, etc. But this is not a mere matter of identity of the one subject; rather this is a matter of communicatio idiomatum, the idea that divine, saving power could be communicated by the flesh of the one Christ simply because it is the flesh of God (cf his healing through touch, his flesh being given for life, etc). My paper goes into this more.