Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Word became flesh

Prejean posted a comment on my blog, then deleted it. The PP summarized the comment in the form of a questionnaire for Prejean to answer. I’ll reproduce the questionnaire and the response before offering my own reply:


Pedantic Protestant said...

John 1:14 [my quick translation]:

And the word became flesh and tented among us, and we beheld His glory --- glory as of the-only-begotten-of the Father, full of grace and truth.

(1) Are you saying that Hays doesn't believe that God the Son became flesh?

(2) Are you claiming that Hays denies that the Word-who-became-flesh did not come from the Father?

(3) Are you asserting that Hays denies that the Word-who-became-flesh is not full of grace and truth?

II Peter 1:3-4 [my quick translation]:

As all [things of] His divine power which issue unto life and godliness have been bestowed upon you through the knowledge of the one who called you by his own glory and goodness, through which things the valuable and greatest promises have been bestowed upon you, so that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, fleeing the corrupted things of the world that are produced by evil desires.

(4) Are you claiming that Hays denies that God's agency has bestowed on Christians what is necessary for life and godliness?

(5) Are you claiming that Hays denies that Christians will be partakers of "the divine nature”?

Hopefully Hays can speak for himself here.

Friday, September 09, 2005 5:45:50 PM

Pedantic Protestant said...

Jonathan removed his comment, it seems [?].

Friday, September 09, 2005 5:46:50 PM
CrimsonCatholic said...

Hays and Svendsen are Nestorians, so they don't believe the premise in (1). Autotheos is an outright denial of the premise in (2), unless you accept Warfield's incoherent account of divine economy. Re: (3), I'm not sure how Hays could say anything meaningful about the Word-Who-became-flesh, because He doesn't believe the Word became flesh.

Re: (4), I don't know what "agency" means in this context; I do not believe that he thinks they were bestowed "by His glory and goodness." And yes, he denies (5).

So, yeah, pretty much, I think his Christology makes a mockery of Scripture. But I don't even see any benefit in wasting further time on it. That he's a sham artist who name-drops in lieu of argument has been exposed; that his Christology is anti-Nicene has been exposed; that Nicene Christology and the condemnation of Nestorianism is clearly taught in Scripture should be obvious to anyone who cares (and most Evangelicals who aren't in the nutbar anti-Catholic fringe agree).

Good victorious, evil punished, yada yada. No matter what they say at this point, their credibility is shot among anyone who accepts the Nicene creed as the standard of orthodoxy and who has the least bit of respect for historical theology. I was just going to say that y'all can have your "me and my Bible" fraternity, and good luck with all that.

Got nothing to do with intellectual superiority, BTW; it's got to do with basic scholastic honesty and me being able to read carefully enough to catch them when they're faking it. They are trying to appear as if they fit within "conservative Evangelicalism," as if they are somehow normal, and I'm just pointing out that they are an extreme fringe that is rejected by most of conservative Evangelicalism. Nestorianism and anti-Nicene Christology are not cool, even for Protestants. But hey, if you want to stick with it, fine by me. My work is done; the quacks are unveiled.

Friday, September 09, 2005 6:29:53 PM


i) Prejean’s allusion to Jn 1:14 is presumably to the clause, “and the word became flesh.” Sarx has a wide semantic domain in LXX and NT usage. In the context of Jn 1:14, it means, at a minimum, that the Logos became human—possibly with an added overtone of the infirmities of the flesh.

ii) However, Prejean’s contention is that unless you subscribe to his Cyrillene Christology, you deny Jn 1:14. But this isn’t exegesis. It is placing a far more specific construction on the text than the text itself will bear.

Even if his Christology were correct, it doesn’t follow that the Johannine clause means that the Logos became flesh in the Cyrillene sense.

The problem lies with Prejean’s childish insistence that if he can’t get everything he wants out of a verse of Scripture, then he will simply make it mean more than it actually says by extorting a surplus sense through semantic coercion.

Again, even if his Christology were correct, that doesn’t make his exegesis correct. His Cyrillene gloss goes well beyond what the verse either says or means or even implies.

This is a distinction which a Catholic commentator on John, such as Brown or Schnackenburg, would have no difficulty observing. It betrays the intellectual insecurity of his faith that Prejean cannot allow the text of Scripture speak for itself.

If I deny that Winnie the Pooh teaches quantum mechanics, I am not rendering a value-judgment on quantum mechanics.

iii) The image of the Son coming from the Father is a complex image in Johannine usage. It signifies his divinity, divine mission and commission, as well as his Incarnation.

Prejean fails to explain what is incoherent in Warfield’s analysis. As applied to the Godhead, “sonship” is a metaphor. After all, no one is contending that Christ is the physical progeny of God. So the question is what the metaphor signifies.

In Johannine usage, and NT usage generally, it is a divine title. Hence, it implies the divinity of Christ. As such, it further entails an eternal relationship, grounded in the intramundane Trinity.

Likewise, divine paternity is also a metaphor, and one correlative with the sonship of Christ. Fatherhood and sonship answer to each other.

But to turn these figures of speech into a causal model whereby the action of the Father is constitutive of the Son is crudely anthropomorphic and gets wholly carried away with the incidental connotations a mere metaphor.

And to take the further step of exchanging this image for the role of the Father as the fons deitatis or fons trinitatis is yet another wrong turn; metaphors are not interchangeable, and it is illicit to swap one theological metaphor for another.

iv) As to 2 Peter, I assume his allusion is to 1:4 (“partakers of the divine nature”), which is the classic prooftext for theosis.

It should be needless to point out that theosis is a classically Greek orthodox soteric category, not a Roman Catholic soteric category. So if Prejean’s position is that anyone who does not subscribe to the Greek Orthodox gloss on 2 Pet 1:4 is a heretic, then his fellow Roman Catholics are equally heretical.

I’d add that theosis makes use of Neoplatonic ontology to flesh out its soteriology. But Neoplatonism postdates 2 Peter. So even if it were a valid framework in its own right, it would still be anachronistic to reinterpret 2 Pet 1:4 in light of Neoplatonism—much less the late Medieval development of hesychasm.

For a philological analysis of 1 Pet 1:4, cf. J. Starr, Sharers in Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1:4 in Its Hellenistic Context (Stockholm 2000).

Starr arrives at the conclusion that what the verse in fact denotes is not deification, but participation in the moral character of Christ.

What Prejean subscribes to is not, in fact, a hypostatic union, but rather, an anhypostatic union. He charges anyone who disagrees with him with being a Nestorian, but by depersonalizing the human nature of Christ, one could, with equal logic, classify Mr. Prejean as a Monophysite.

As David Wells has put it, “it is not entirely clear how a human nature devoid of its ego is still human nature; without its prosopon, Jesus’ ousia would be merely homoiousion with ours and not homoousion,” The Person of Christ (Crossway Books 1984), 109.

In the same series is Gerald Bray’s book on The Doctrine of God, in which he raises the same sorts of objections to Nicene subordinationism that I do.

BTW, the series editor for this book was Peter Toon, an Evangelical Anglican and high churchman, as well as a diligent and devout student of historical theology. And Roger Nicole was one of the peer reviewers. So this is scarcely the “nutbar anti-Catholic fringe.”

Prejean has yet to explain how a “rational soul” can be impersonal. How does he square his own position with the Athanasian creed? What’s an anhypostatic union if not Docetism by another name?

The point here is not to either accept a Nestorian Christology or reject a Cyrillene Christology. The point, rather, is to resist the temptation to be more specific than Scripture and dogmatize beyond the bounds of revelation.


  1. I have known Toon, and he is not a high churchman. One doesn't describe oneself in Anglican circles as "evangelical" and then claim to be a high churchman since those are opposing categories.

    It is easy to see how human nature can stil be human without a human person, because persons are not natures but rather subsist with in natures. This is why the persons of the Trinity are sometimes denotes as subsistences. If we keep these categories distinct Bray and Co. worries vanish. See Myendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought.

    You can find theosis in western as well as eastern writers. Plenty of the scholastics taught theosis. What is at issue is whether they had the metaphysics to justify it.

    Augustine for example says, “By joining therefore to us the likeness of His humanity, He took away the unlikeness of our unrighteousness; and by being made partaker of our mortality, He made us partakers of His divinity.” De Trinitate 4, 2, 4.

    You can also find such language in Bernard and consequently in Calvin at times. There is plenty of it in Aquinas, Bonaventure, Anselm, Scotus, and Albert. See Azkoul, Ye Are Gods: Salvation according to the Latin Fathers for earlier Latin adherence to theosis.

    Moreover, intellect or soul are not persons as is evidenced in the Trinity in which there is one divine intellect and not three. So the fact that Christ has a human nous which is not a person can only consistently be rejected on pain of screwing up the Trinity. (You can also find this apporach of two minds in Christ in say Thomas Morris', The Logic of God Incarnate, who is hardly "neoplatonic.") Denying that nous is a person displays a consistent Trinitarianism.

    I can't see how Starr's analysis can be correct since it would seem to follow that the divine nature is merely a moral quality or character.

  2. Indeed, Starr is exactly Nestorian on that point (moral union of the wills by grace -> personal union). If he believes that the verse is Nestorian, that would hardly vindicate Nestorianism. And the fact that you think Scripture teaches Nestorianism does not make the view less Nestorian. I'm not arguing that Scripture is Cyrillene; I'm arguing that Chalcedon is Cyrillene and that anyone who takes a Cyrillene view of Scripture cannot abide yours.

    Regarding Bray being on the "nutbar" fringe, whatever claim of consistency he makes with Chalcedon is based on viewing the council as a "vindication" of Antiochene exegesis (as his work Biblical Interpretation Past and Present makes clear). He cites David Dockery's work in favor of this proposition, who cites Brown, who cites Harnack. In other words, it's a big circle of argumentation based on Harnack's discredited scholarship. The fact is that none of these people are Cyrillene scholars, and none of them has vetted their conclusions against the Cyrillene scholarship, which means that none of them is reliable based on the so-called coherence of their position. And theologically, it IS the nutbar anti-Catholic fringe as far as I am concerned to follow Warfield and Hodge on the denial of Nicene Christology. I have zero respect for anti-Nicene so-called "Christian" scholarship, and if that puts a whole lot of Evangelical "scholars" in the dump, so be it. By my lights, they have allowed some pretty sorry theological methodology to creep in, and I have no qualms dismissing Warfield, Hodge, Wells, Toon, Bray, Nicole, Helm, Frame, Murray, and anybody else who wants to put themselves in that position. Most conservative evangelical scholarship is trash with respect to patristics and history, and I have few qualms about saying so.

  3. To begin with, it was the Church of England which gave us the word “latitudinarian.” Anglicans mix and match their theological traditions all the time.

    If I’d said that he was both an Evangelical and an Anglo-Catholic, there might be something to your point. But, on the one hand, he’s clearly quite at home with the Evangelical wing given his sympathetic studies of Evangelicals and/or Puritans like Ryle and Owen.

    On the other hand, his work with the prayer book society and criticism of American Evangelicalism points him in a high church direction. He himself has described the Anglican way as both Evangelical and Catholic.

    As to theosis, you’re repeating your penchant for taking my comments out of context. According to Prejean, to deny the Greek Orthodox interpretation of 2 Pet 1:4 is to deny 2 Pet 2:4, period. But although you can find theosis in some Western writers, especially in the Augustinian tradition, it hardly enjoys the kind of official and distinct standing whose denial would represent a repudiation of either Catholic dogma generally or 2 Pet 1:4 in particular.

    As to Starr’s analysis, it doesn’t imply that the divine nature is thus limited, but only that what is imitable within the scope of v4 is limited the moral attributes.

    In addition, you seem to be defining “divine nature” in a comprehensive sense, and then inferring, on this interpretation, that the divine nature would be merely moral in character. But that begs the very question of how the phrase is being used in Peter.

    As to the relation between person and nature, you are at least offering an argument for your position, which is a cut above Prejean.

    As to the argument itself, we don’t find a divine nature apart from persons. Person and nature are inseparable in the Godhead. In the case of the Godhead, moreover, the relation is internal. There could no be fewer than three or more than three (persons). Furthermore, we don’t find human nature apart from persons.

    Now, there are a couple of directions in which one might possibly qualify that equation. The exemplary idea of human nature can exist in the mind of God, as an unexemplified universal.

    But the immediate point at issue is the hypostatic union, where we’re dealing with concrete particulars.

    In addition, depending on your anthropology, you might say that a newly conceived baby is not yet a person—even if he has a soul. Depends on whether you calibrate personhood according to a certain level of consciousness or cognitive development.

    Be that as it may, where the hypostatic union is concerned, we’re going to be crossing that threshold as the Christchild matures.

    As to the relation between nous and nature, the question for an Evangelical is how we integrate the testimony of Scripture and what categories we employ.

    There are now a number of terms in play: person, soul, intellect, and nous. Are these being used as synonyms?

    Taking a step back, in terms of theological method, we have various acts and attributes described and ascribed to God. We also have various acts and attributes described and ascribed to Christ.

    Scripture ordinarily leaves the operative concepts undefined because it leaves it to the reader to analogize from human experience and make the necessary allowances for the difference between God and man.

    In addition to his divinity, we are both shown and told that Christ is human in every respect except for sin.

    To deny to Christ a personal human nature would involve a radical discontinuity with human experience, which forms the common ground for how we construe these predications in the first place.

    So we would need some compelling exegetical reason to override this considerable presumption. Is there something either in the Scriptural description of the two natures or else the phenomenology of Christ to override that presumption?

    Berkhof uses the phrase “complex person,” while Warfield uses the phrase “dual consciousness.”

    As regards the Trinity, we use the term “person” and much of what we associate with that term to capture a recognizable concept on display in Scripture.

    On human analogy, this would suggest a collective consciousness along with a threefold self-consciousness.

    Again, we can debate the best way to model the Trinity and the hypostatic union, but any model must be under the thumb of divine revelation.

  4. Starr isn't attempting to gloss the verse in light of Patristic categories. Rather, he's conducting a comparative linguistic analysis of the terminology based on analogous usage or analogous concepts in the OT, Philo, Josephus, Plutarch, Stoicism, Pauline and non-Pauline theology.

    Prejean, by contrast, is trying to change a flat-tire with a corkscrew, or uncork a wine-bottle with a tire iron.

  5. "Prejean, by contrast, is trying to change a flat-tire with a corkscrew, or uncork a wine-bottle with a tire iron."

    Nope. You separate hermeneutics and Church in ascertaining divine meaning, but that's simply your own opinion. For someone who supposedly presents arguments, you have surely failed to offer one for separating hermeneutics from the interpretive community.

  6. CrimsonCatholic said:

    "You separate hermeneutics and Church in ascertaining divine meaning, but that's simply your own opinion. For someone who supposedly presents arguments, you have surely failed to offer one for separating hermeneutics from the interpretive community."

    Once again, Prejean makes assertions without evidence and demands that anybody who disagrees with him prove that he's wrong. Prejean makes references to the text of scripture, but when we see that his interpretations can't be supported if we interpret those documents as we would any other historical document, Prejean tells us that we need to let "the church" tell us what the texts mean. Does Prejean give us any argument that leads to his conclusions? No.

    Is the church relevant to scripture interpretation in some ways? Yes, the first century Corinthians, Galatians, etc. are part of the context in which we interpret the Biblical documents. But is Prejean defining "the church" correctly? No. And is the church relevant to scripture interpretation in all of the ways Prejean would suggest? No.

    When Papias and other early patristic sources advocate premillennialism, does Prejean let those church leaders interpret scripture for him? No. When one church father after another, century after century, denies that Mary was sinless throughout her life, does Prejean let them interpret scripture for him? No. When ecumenical councils contradict the doctrine of the papacy, does Prejean let them interpret scripture for him? No. What Prejean has in mind is a modern Roman Catholic concept of "the church" interpreting scripture for us. That view of church interpretation was unknown to the earliest Christians. There's no reason to think that Jesus and the apostles would want us to interpret scripture the way Prejean does.

    Maybe Prejean will tell us, again, that he isn't going to justify his Roman Catholic belief system for us, since such a justification would require book-length treatment. Yet, he's said elsewhere that men like Karl Keating and Phil Porvaznik have already sufficiently answered his Evangelical critics. But I've never seen a Catholic Answers tract that argues that we should interpret scripture allegorically because Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria did. Why wait for Prejean's book-length treatment when men like Keating and Porvaznik supposedly have given us the answers already?

    Jason Engwer
    New Testament Research Ministries

  7. Mr. Robinson said: "I have known Toon, and he is not a high churchman. One doesn't describe oneself in Anglican circles as 'evangelical' and then claim to be a high churchman since those are opposing categories."

    Perhaps you should inform Mr. Toon, for he wrote, "The term 'Evangelical High Churchmen' was coined to distinguish traditional High Churchmen from Tractarians and to emphasize their commitment to the Reformation principles of the sole authority of Holy Scripture and justification by grace through faith. To distinguish an Evangelical High Churchman from an Evangelical with a high doctrine of the visible, episcopally governed, national Church is not easy and between about 1838 and 1848 perhaps impossible in some cases. At the other end of the Evangelical spectrum were those who shared with Non-conformists and Scottish Presbyterians an admiration for the Puritans of the seventeenth century as well as fairly low views of the value of the historical episcopate. It was to this grouping that the term 'Low Churchmen' was attached in the 1830s and the term 'Recordite' later. So to include at one end the Evangelical with a high view of episcopacy at the other the Evangelical with a low view, the following definition of an Evangelical is proposed as a basis for including or excluding men and women from this study:" See pp. 4-5 from Peter Toon's Evangelical Theology 1833-1856, A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox press, 1979).

    In your usual "rush to crush" Mr. Robinson, the rock of correction has found you as its target again.

  8. Steve,

    Not that the issue with Toon is a big deal but generally he is a low churchman. The Prayer Book Society is by and large or rather was, low church. The finer nuance of Evangelical regarding the episcopate I don’t think touches the point. As a former cradle Anglican and someone who has talked with Toon personally on a few occasions, he is by and large a low churchman. Evangelical generally denotes someone of a more Protestant flavor while High Church usually denotes someone of a more Catholic flavor. There is certainly a spectrum and if the good doctor Toon wishes to draw finer lines, then that is fine. If you want the point, I will concede Toon’s more nuanced distinction and your correction.

    2 Pet 1:4. I don’t believe I took your comments out of context. If I did so, please point it out to me. Since I think the Orthodox reading of 2 Pet 1:4 captures the meaning of the passage to deny the former amounts to a denial of the latter. I don’t think the reading is generally limited to the Orthodox and it isn’t limited to “some” western writers. It is prevalent among Augustine, the Carolingians, Anselm and the Scholstics. It can also be found among the Anglicans, Lutherans, and many of the Reformers, Post Reformation Reformed Scholastics, some Princetonians, some Dutch and some contemporary Reformed exegetes. Historically the idea of theosis is an essential part of Athanasius’ defense of the deity of Christ such that a denial of the idea of union with Christ and becoming transformed into the image of Christ would be a repudiation of a long held Christian teaching. Salvation is union with Christ. While you may not take Athanasius’ views as absolutely normative it doesn’t follow that they lack any normative force or that your own views are on equal grounds.

    Starr’s Analysis. If Starr’s analysis is that we partake of something like the divine nature and not the divine nature itself, then I fail to see how he captures the apparently obvious meaning of the passage. It says we partake of the divine nature and not something like it or an imitation of it. The reason for thinking of the idea of union in terms of imitability was just this problem of explaining if God is a simple essence how could one partake of it or it being a real union with it. Thus, the notion of imitability is put forward not on exegetical grounds but in an attempt to save other philosophical beliefs.

    While the usage from Stoicism, Philo, Josephus, et al is important so is or so I would argue the patristic usage. I don’t know why non-Christian usage would have priority over Christian usage, especially considering that a number of the sources Starr employs are post Christian. I agree that a comparative analysis is helpful, but it isn’t sufficient to pick out the meaning of a given passage. What I think you need to give is a reference that employs methods that can and do in fact access the semantic content of the passage. For example, a comparative analysis of doxa or glory will yield little or any help in accessing the biblical meaning since the biblical meaning has greatly altered the non-Christian usage. (See Kittel vol. 2, NDNT, vol. 2, Exegetical Dictionary of the NT, vol. 1). Consequently, I don’t see how Starr’s work in fact gives us an exegetical basis for denying the traditional reading.

    Moreover, limiting it to the moral attributes isn’t a helpful analysis either. Even if one takes the more Scotistic line of Hodge, as opposed to the Thomistic line of Turretin, in seeing that the divine attributes are identical with the divine essence but not with each other, it will still be the case that one partakes of the divine essence. If the moral attributes are not identical with each other but identical with divine essence, to take them on is just to take on the divine essence or so it seems to me.

    If we don’t partake of God’s moral attributes but created imitations of them then I fail to see how we are partaking of anything divine. And it was on just these grounds that Athanasius argued that such a view implied Arianism. If we are united with God and deified by Christ, then Christ is God. If we are united to a creature and made like a creature similar to God, then Christ is similar to God. What appears worse to me, at least for your view is an implicit adherence to the medieval Catholic view of created grace, which is at root of the Reformer’s protest. We are not united to something like God’s righteousness but God’s righteousness. If it is said that this implies that the scholastics and the Catholic tradition, and consequently Protestantism as well, are built off of Arian or Sabellian assumptions, I am all too the happy to concede the point. From the Orthodox perspective, Catholics and Protestants are just two sides of the same coin-different theologies resulting from common mistaken assumptions. The Filioque itself is grounded in the Arian assumption that to be deity is to be a cause. The only way to save the deity of the Son for the Spanish was to make the Son an hypostatic cause of the Spirit. Lastly, if we partake of something created and not divine and uncreated one wonders what has become of salvation by grace. If we identify the moral qualities we are put into union with, with created objects, then we seem to identify nature with grace and either Manicheanism or Pelagianism results. Even if we then gloss union with Christ in terms of a nominal relation, this relation by a mental act, faith, is still a created effect indicating that we are still working well within the Catholic view, ironically enough, of created grace. For Rome the created grace that puts us into union with Christ are inhering moral qualities and for Protestants the created grace is a volitional and mental relation to God, neither of which are divine and eternal thereby failing to do justice to the Petrine corpus and Biblical revelation.

    As to inferences, I was working off of the schema proposed. If partaking of the divine nature amounts to partaking in moral qualities, then it seems obvious that the divine nature is, at the very least moral qualities. I don’t see though how we could make sense of the divine nature being moral qualities and something else (not moral qualities) given the doctrine of divine simplicity in any of its varied forms in the latin theological tradition. I was just trying to make sense of the proposal given by you and Starr.

    The Incarnation. I quite agree that we don’t find the divine nature apart from persons. From this I don’t know how it follows that we don’t find human nature apart from human persons. To insist on this would be at least question begging. I do agree that we don’t find instances of human nature apart from personal existence. And Christ is personally united to his humanity thereby humanizing his hypostatic existence (as well as enhypostacizing his human existence) which is the basis for thinking of his post incarnational hypostasis as composite. The humanity is taken up into the divine person. In this way generally I don’t think any personal existence in terms of Christ is lost and continuity with humanity is maintained. Christ’s humanity is enhypostacized in the divine person of the Son.

    Person and nature are inseparable in the Deity, but they are distinguishable. One could think of humanity in terms of the divine ideas, if one believed in the Neoplatonic notion of the divine ideas that are identical with the divine essence. Generally the Orthodox do not and as a consequence I don’t either. (The Neoplatonic idea was condemned by the Orthodox Church as heterodox.) Perhaps you have a Biblical basis for such a speculative notion, but I don’t see it here. It seems to me that you need to be consistent at this point. To complain that such notions of theosis, the divine energies, etc. are speculative and outrun divine revelation and then bring up Neoplatonic notions of the divine ideas or imitability (regardless of the motivation for bringing them up or their possible argumentative employment) is at least seemingly inconsistent.

    I am not convinced that the Platonic or Aristotelian notions, unmodified are capable of capturing the Biblical ideas of nature and person and consequently, I am not sure that the ideas of “concrete particulars” as opposed to abstract universals are helpful. I have my own doubts about glossing existence for example as just to be instantiated. It seems ill motivated and incoherent. (See McGinn, Logical Properties, Oxford.)

    I do not generally define personhood in terms of cognitive ability or in terms of qualia. I don’t think that either road leads us to the necessary and sufficient conditions for personhood much less conscioousness. Thus much of current philosophy of mind is going down rabbit holes, but that is a discussion for another time. I do view children as persons since Christ was a person as a child from conception forward. As to theology it is on this Christological ground (though not only this ground) that I oppose abortion and favor infant baptism. Personhood in my view is more than nous or mind. Jesus grew in wisdom even though he was a divine person all along. The divine persons of the Trinity are three in number but one in nous or mind, indicating that personhood is more than nous. I tend to think of it as a supervenience relation, if such a notion is coherent. In any case, to identify nous with personhood will either imply, or so it seems to me, and the overwhelmingly majority of Christians, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox, two persons in Christ conjoined by common objects of willing (Nestorianism) or one divine person without a human nous (Apollinarianism). Moreover to identify nous with personhood would imply in the Trinity Sabellianism since there is one intellect or nous in the Trinity, not three.

    I agree that for evangelicals the question is how we integrate the testimony of Scripture and the categories employed, but this is true generally for everyone. I think the Christological categories are Biblical, though not always apparent. But the perspicuity of the mind of the reader says little or nothing as to the semantic content of the text. Just because such categories we recognized later doesn’t imply by my thinking that they are non-Biblical. Formal refinements come later while the idea of an incarnate divine person is held all the way through.

    I don’t take nous, person, intellect, et al as synonyms. I do generally employ nous as synonymous with intellect or soul.

    Scripture leaves the concepts undefined because Scripture is not a textbook of formal theology. This does not imply that formal theology cannot be legitimately garnered from it. As to analogy, the problem is that our own self understanding seems only to make sense in light of God so that human person is to be understood as analogous to divine personhood and not the other way around. Moreover, there are lots of notions of analogy floating around the theological landscape. Did you have a particular one in mind?

    Affirming Christ’s “personal human nature” is different than affirming Christ’s human nature that is personalized. I think the latter is sufficient to ward of the kind of worries that you have concerning continuity with us. The union between the divine person and the humanity is personal or hypostatic thereby licensing the predication of human experience to a divine person. This secures the continuity between our experience and Christ’s. To maintain, as some might wish to, that Christ has to be a human person in order to have human experiences is both ill motivated and just to insist that God must cease to be deity in order to be truly incarnate. I am sympathetic to the worry but I can’t see any good reason to think that it amounts to a denial of continuity with human experience.

    Exegetically, Scripture consistently maintains the identity of the Second Person of the Trinity throughout the incarnation and the Second Person of the Trinity is a divine person. This I think alone justifies dispensing with the worries over discontinuity. On theological grounds, it is the idea that Jesus is a divine person, the person of the Logos that secures for the Reformed the impossibility of Christ sinning. To give up the idea would seem to attenuate that belief.

    Berkhof is quite right to use the phrase, following Turretin, Ursinius and others, complex person. I fully affirm that Christ’s hypostasis after the incarnation is composite in that the humanity of Christ is united to and taken up into his hypostasis. By complex or composite I do not mean that Christ’s hypostasis consists just in the volitional union of two nous or minds under a single appearance. Berkhof’s expression is better than Warfield’s since the latter while possibly orthodox is ambiguous. It could pick out either of the two notions I gave above. Picking out the term “complex person” or the fact that the post incarnational hypostasis of the Son is composite won’t on its face discriminate between the positions.

    It might be true that on Sola Scriptura that traditional creedal and confessional standards are subject to revision in light of our contemporary scriptural understanding. But it hardly follows from SS that they bear no normative or authoritative weight. It seems to me that the burden of proof is on the challenger to creeds and confessions and not equally borne by the defenders. The views of Cyril and later theologians have by and large been taken up into the Reformed confessional and theological tradition. It is on the basis of a common theological background and professed adherence to Ephesian and Chalcedonian Christology that I press the point. It is acceptable on Protestant grounds I suppose to reject those confessional and theological views and revise them, but it by no means follows that they are thereby on equal footing from the get go and one is permitted to reject them at will prior to any formal rejection by the bodies one is united to who maintain those very confessional standards.

    I for one can’t see on a Penal Substitutionary model how if the divine person doesn’t suffer and die, but only a human person, how such a death can be propitiatory and expiate sins. How can the suffering of divine wrath of a human person be of infinite value?

    BTW, I have, sometime ago, responded to your comments concering Free Will here ->