Sunday, January 15, 2006


Paul McCain said:


>>>But, as I'm sure you will agree, "resemble" is not "the same as" -- for there was no Incarnation, there was no Personal Union, the Son of God had not taken on human flesh. So, I'm left wondering why you believe citing Theophanies from the OT are helpful.


You originally asked me, “ was it possible for the Risen Lord to suddenly "appear in the midst of them" among His disciples on Easter?”

One way of answering the question is to ask our frame of reference. There is, I believe, a deliberate narrative parallel between this aspect of the Easter appearances and OT theophanies/Christophanies.

“In contrast [to Hellenistic translation stories], the appearance stories did correspond to the anthropomorphic theophany stories of the OT—a genre that continued to flourish in Jewish literature—not only linguistically, but also structurally and substantively. This correspondence existed, although, or precisely because, such theophanies did not report about the appearance of the departed, but about God or his angel. For both, the representation began with the “coming” and “seeing” of a stranger in human form. The appearing One made known who he was through an introductory conversation. The key moment of the drama was usually a promise or a commissioning. The account then would close with the disappearance of the appearing One. These elements of structure for this story form were found in the epiphanies of Yahweh before Abraham at Mamre (Gen 18:1-33), in the burning bush before Moses, which concluded with a commissioning (Exod 3:2-10), and before Samuel (1 Sam 3:1-14).

The comparison with this OT/Jewish genre indicates that the appearance stories of the Gospels, both the individual and the group appearance types, manifested the structural indices of a specific genre, and have appropriated this form from the tradition of those theophany stories,” L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans 1981), 1:242.

Since Goppelt is a modern German theologian, there are some liberal touches in the way he expresses himself, but the literary analysis is still sound, prescinding his low view of Scripture.

So assuming that OT theophanies/Christophanies supply the narrative standard of comparison, what we have here is on the order of a type/antitype relation.

Now, this is what Francis Pieper has to say about angelophanies (theophanies/Christophanies):

“The human bodies in which angels, incorporeal by nature, appeared on certain occasions (cf. Gen 18-19) were therefore only assumed forms (unio accidentalis), by which the invisible angels rendered themselves temporarily visible. The consumption of food (Gen 18:8 & Gen 19:3), by the way, was real eating…” (Christian Dogmatics, 1:500).

So, assuming that we agree with Pieper and Goppelt, it is possible for a human body to appear or disappear in the manner described in the Easter appearances. Yet, in the case of angelophanies (theophanies/Christophanies), this does not entail a divine incarnation or hypostatic union or a communication of attributes.

Hence, the phenomenon which you single out in the Easter appearances does not necessitate a communication of attributes. Yes, Christ is a theanthropic person. But theanthropinism is not a necessary precondition for the phenomenon to which you appeal. The disanalogy between Christ and a Christophany, while quite real, is quite irrelevant regarding the particular question at issue.


>>Such apparitions did not require a >>hypostatic union.

I'm not sure what you are referring to "apparitions" -- the post-Resurrection appearances or OT appearances? If OT, because there was no Personal Union, no Incarnation, no...they did not "require" a hypostatic union. If you are referring to post-Resurrection appearances then I would have to raise quite a concern. The fact is that once our Lord took on human flesh that human flesh was always united to the Divine Person of the Son of God, therefore, you can not mean to suggest that the Human Nature of Christ was not with the Divine Nature during the "apparitions" -- a word with which I'm mightily uncomfortable. These were true appearances of the Theanthropic Savior, the God-man, who made it a point to reveal to His disciples precisely His glorified and resurrected human nature.


Yes, the humanity of Christ continued to be united to the divinity of Christ. On that we all agree. Again, though, that is not necessary to account for the phenomenon in question.


>>Hence, the Easter appearances do >>not, in this respect, tell us >>anything about the nature of the >>glorified body.

Actually they tell us quite a lot and your argument here is not holding together, since you base it on OT theanthropic appearaces, which have nothing actually to do with this.


The Easter appearances tell us certain things about the nature of the glorified body. For example, the Lk 24 & Jn 20-21 go out of their way to establish the physicality of the Risen Lord.

However, with respect to the phenomenon of suddenly appearing and disappearing, which was your original question, to which I was responding, the Easter appearances do not differentiate between the nature of a glorified body and the nature of a theophanic body. Therefore, you cannot properly infer the communication of attributes from this particular phenomenon inasmuch as the phenomenon in question fails to implicate a communication of attributes.


>I deny that his human nature is >omnipresent. For that matter, I >deny that his divine nature is >literally omnipresent.

Therefore you are guilty of Christological heresy, Nestorianism to be precise. Thank you for illustrating my point about Calvinism.


I’m sorry, but this is an awfully sloppy piece of reasoning:

i) As Evan and Kyle have both pointed out, you are very selective in your implicit appeal to Chalcedonian Christology. In effect, you are only quoting about 1/3 of the creed.

ii) You are also assuming that anyone who is not an ubiquitarian is a Nestorian. To my knowledge, Lutheranism is the only theological tradition committed to ubiquitarianism. By that yardstick, not only Calvinists, but Catholics, Anglicans, and even the Greek Orthodox theologians who framed the Athanasian and Chalcedonian creeds, are Nestorian.

iii) You are also assuming, without benefit of argument, that divine omnipresence is to be construed as literal, physical extension throughout space. This, as I said before, is pantheistic.

iv) You are further assuming, without benefit of argument, that the communication takes place at the level of the natures rather than the person. Hence, a communication of attributes between the divine and human natures.

What makes you think that this is any truer to Chalcedonian Christology than the Reformed view in which the communication takes place at the level of the person rather than the natures? One person, two natures.

Therefore you are guilty of Christological heresy, Monophysitism to be precise. Thank you for illustrating my point about Lutheranism.


“4.How did His human nature ascend?”

>>His ascension resembles the >>translation of Elijah, which did >>not require a hypostatic union.

Again, you err by trying to explain the Personal Union and its consequencs on the basis of non-Incarnational events.Your response again illustrates how you are forced to separate the two natures in order to sustain your post-facto cosmology and philosophy and metaphysics for that matter.

Thank you for so clearly proving my point about Calvinism, and further allowing me now to make clear the chief error of Calvinism: Christological heresy.

# posted by ptmccain : 1/14/2006 6:24 PM


More muddled reasoning.

i) I was never trying to explain the hypostatic union. Rather, I was answering your question about the Ascension. My answers track your questions. It helps if you keep track of your own questions. If I can do so, it’s not asking too much for you to do so.

ii) Referring to the translation of Elijah, as a type of the Ascension, is hardly a post-facto cosmology or philosophy or metaphysics.

iii) Your problem throughout this exchange is that you reason backwards by assuming what you need to prove. You assume the communication of attributes, at the level of the two natures, which you then deploy to explain certain post-Resurrection phenomena such as the Ascension and the suddenly appearing and disappearing of Christ to the disciples.

Thank you for so clearly proving my point about Lutheranism, and further allowing me now to make clear the chief error of Lutheranism: Christological heresy.

1 comment:

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