Tag Archives: logos christology

From 2nd Person In The Trinity To 2nd Class Citizen: Christmas #fleshYGod

Toy Adams has had a month long event on Imagining Jesus and he invited me to contribute. After much deliberation, this is a sample of my reflection:

We sing “God Bless America:while we point our fingers to countries, across the ocean, over there in the 2/3rd’s world and talk about their “unfreedom.”

The Gospels and the Pauline Epistles present a disturbing picture that Christendom has yet to grapple with. Jesus was a man who from his miraculous conception to his birth, in his life, and death, a man in chains.

For the rest of the post, visit: Imagining Jesus: salvation looks like a fugitive slave child

Nestorianism Returns: Tea Party Politics vs. Hypostatic Unity

Cover of "Early Christian Doctrines"

Cover of Early Christian Doctrines

Last week I was doing some research on the theological resources of Tea Party politics, and I came across this quote from Dr. Gary North, a former research assistant for Congressman Ron Paul and now president of the Institute for Christian Economics.

“The ultimate boundary is the one separating God from man: the Creator/creature distinction. While man is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26), he is not God, nor does he participate in God’s being. Man is commanded to be holy, for God is holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2), but man is also warned not to seek divinity for himself (Gen. 11:6; Deut. 29:29; Job 38-41). Man is commanded to seek ethical unity with the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, but man cannot attain ontological unity with God. A permanent boundary is placed between God’s being and man’s being. The unity between God and man is to be ethical, never ontological or metaphysical.”- Leviticus: An Economic Commentary

The Christology confessed in this passage is very telling. Later on, North goes on to advocate the Dominionist IMPOSSIBLE position of having both a theocratic and libertarian society. However, it affirms one of my Catholic acquaintances suspicions that the modern North American Reformed (and I would add evangelicalism) movement may contain elements Nestorianism, the ancient 5th century heresy that postulated the “2 Sons” theory, that Christ remained divided in his self, between his Humanity and Divinity. In fact, in J.N.D. Kelly’s work, Early Christian Doctrines, Nestorians found it offensive to say that God was born or that God died as the school of Alexandria had a habit of doing. In fact, when I discuss atonement with some evangelicals, they still say it was only Jesus’ humanity that died on the cross–Nestorianism Resurrected. I also see Nestorius’ creative title given to Mary as “Christokos” as an early form of constructive theology gone bad. Really, if one thinks about it, how can Christ, pre-baptism be called the “Annointed One”?

Kelly notes that Cyril’s virulent campaign against Nestorius happened because he believed the Nestorians were promoting only an ETHICAL unity with Christ (page 311). Cyril advanced the one nature, unity without confusion language of the hypostatic union, or what I would simply call Reconciliation. God and Humanity are reconciled, all together at-one (atonement) and still human and divine.

Back to the Tea Party. If one postulates that the first Tea Party happened December 2007 with the Ron Paul campaign, and Paul’s politics influenced in part by North, then the theo-politics of Nestorianism, which rejects the possibility of partake in God’s nature in at-one-ment is one would promotes de-centralization and disunity, especially in the area of the free market. This is why the TPM’s view of economics is lop-sidely on the side of the producers of society.

According to this “Alexandrian,” I would say I reject both the dualism of the pro-labor movements/socialists and the free market/pro-business corporatists. The politics of Hypostatic Unity is the one of Reconciliation, where the producers, the laborers, the volunteers, and unpaid workers of society work toward the common good.

Christ Jesus reconciles labor and production, “for there is no longer slave or free” (Galatians 3:8).

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Sexual Ethics and Logos Christology: Neither Natural Law or Nihilism

UPDATE: ** After conversing with Chad via text message, I have concluded that this post affirms most of what Chad argued. There was just confusion with my reading of his conclusion.  But other than that, this is the approach I take. **

Below Chad posted on how Jesus as a rabbi loosed/bound some laws as weightier than others.  While we may disagree on the issue of marriage, I think it is suffice to say that neither Chad or I believe in Natural Law or Nihilism.  Natural law or the idea that there are ordinances that govern the material universe was appealed to by proponents of the recently overturned Proposition 8.  I believe personally that natural law ethics are problematic because of the refusal to deal with particularity; as one professor of mine puts it so succinctly: “Nothing is natural.”  I think that philosophically speaking, cultural conservatives are encapsulated by the logic of natural law, speaking in universals, and discussing what the “rights of man” are.  On the other hand, there is on the other side a proclivity towards what I consider a form of nihilism, that idea that “nothing has any meaning” because all is, in the end, socially constructed and it is the human right to continue to construct and re-construct a world for herself.  I think that purpose is a gift, and that humanity needs help in making the world a better place; in fact, humanity needs a word who continues to speak in a tradition that transcends human particularity but at the same time, invites humanity in its differences to participate in the life of the Creator.

I think distinctively for Christians, this word is the Logos, Christ Jesus, the Word of YHWH who embraced embodiment.  I make no apologies when I say this but Marcion remains wrong because Jesus IS the precedent in the “Old” Testament; Jesus’s story is the story first from the Hebrew people to everyone second.  So, whenever one says that Jesus did this or that as a rabbi, I would like to say, no, we do not know that really since we are unsure which Judaism Jesus practice.  What we do know is this: Christ Jesus is the Logos of the God of Israel, and therefore as special revelation Jesus interprets himself; Jesus of Nazareth in other words, is special revelation that is self-interpreting , the Word interpreting Scripture.  Therefore, he alone has the right to correctly reveal and continue to disclose the multiple meanings of the biblical text. The Logos is the end of the Scripture, and the Logos is the end of all of creation (Colossians 1).  Paul is unable to write Romans 1 (under the auspices of natural law language) without first knowing the revealed law, in this case Christ Jesus, the crucified and risen logos. This is where the theologies of the apostle Paul and Clement of Alexandria meet: Christ is the Logos Incarnate,  is at once, the Law (in the Hebrew Bible), the Law-Giving/Covenant making God Yahweh, as well as the covenant-bearing Son of  Humanity (for more on this from Clement, read his Stromata [I translate it as Carpets] Book 1, specifically his views on Moses receiving the Logos.

I find it difficult to agree with the thinking of natural law arguments or nihilism.  We are either trapped by the subjective whims of a free humanity without limits or bound by what an elite few consider to be “natural.”  Logos Christology frees us from the hopeless binary of either of the first two approaches.  Christ, as the Wisdom of God, corrects human foolish behavior by teaching us the right way.  In the context of the Hebrew Bible and human sexuality, I think that Chad’s analysis falls short. First of all, because something happens with God’s permission does not mean that God honors it, like polygamy.  Of course, I know, that is part of Reformed theology in some circles, but biblically, polygamy fails.  Polygamy happens AFTER the fall (whether it is the fall to violence with Cain and Abel or the fall to empire with Nimrod). David epically fails on his own because he breaks the Law given to Moses, you know, the parts about the king not having multiple wives or building large armies or having slaves; check Deuteronomy 17:14-20. The Deuteronomist is notorious for making a mockery of the monarchy; there is no endorsement. Only warning, disobedience, and tragedy.  The one true king who governs Israel is the Logos itself, or indirectly guiding the Israelites like Wisdom led them out of Egypt according to the Apocrypha.  God never honors or endorses polygamy, concubine, sex slaves, or anything like that; God however does work within those human bodies who practiced these acts because God governs in meekness, through us weak and ignorant human beings.

Outside the mystery of the Incarnation, humanity remains too stupid to know what right or wrong is.  Of course, there is God sends us hints (some call it common grace, others prevenient grace) of what is good and right (the logos with a small l that is carried by the Spirit of God throughout the world).  Jesus had to teach his followers how to pray. He had to teach them about marriage. Whenever I see the added subtitle “Jesus’s teaching on Divorce,” I want to split my hairs and scream! Jesus is disclosing knowledge on marriage and the nature of it; this is what Matthew 19 is about.  Our narrow focus on the two or three verses on divorce does the entire chapter a disservice.  Not everyone can accept Jesus’ words (revelation) precisely because it was NOT natural for humans to understand what marriage is all about.  Marriage does have a purpose, a purpose given to it by the Logos, for man and woman to become 1: 1+1=s 1.  A mystery and revelation simultaneously, much like the idea of the Trinity.

Both natural law social conservatives and nihilist social progressives rely on the idol of marriage, the notion that everyone needs to marry, and family is natural and so is being with another person is as natural as being human, but this notion of relationships is faulty because we never take into consideration Jesus’s words at the end of Matthew 19, about those who leave their households (families, relationships) inheriting the Kingdom of God. This is quite disturbing, the family values of Jesus, that is.

What does this all mean, in conclusion? Should Christians go around creating a theocracy by force? Of course not, but neither should secularists.  However, it is the free gift of God that the church teach what is the purpose of marriage, through living example as well as preaching of the Word.  One cannot conclude just because something appears in Scripture without commentary from God, does not mean God gave it approval.  Instead, we must first check to see how the Word interprets itself (Jesus understands the canon) and work our way out.  We must be taught by the Educator (another Clement reference, I know, I know) before we can teach the world what we have learned.