Jesus' Limited Human Nature and Infinite Divine Wrath and Suffering

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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I guess this is where I'm confused because I don't see how Jesus' divine personhood solves this.

To explain what I mean, it's true that Jesus has both a divine and human nature and both do what are proper to it and that both natures are united in one person. However, we wouldn't say that the unity of these natures allows Jesus' human nature to be omnipresent (for only God can be omnipresent, not a creature) or that it allows Jesus' human nature to be omniscient in an archetypal sense. This is simply distinguishing the two natures.

While I understand that it's the divine person of Jesus who suffered, I also understand that he suffered according to the only nature he could suffer in. That's what leads to my question regarding how Jesus' human nature could have endured infinite suffering since it can't receive any divine properties from his divine nature, which would make the human nature able to do something that isn't human (ie be omnipresent, omniscient, or in this case: doing something infinite)

There's no doubt mystery to this, but I'm wondering if I'm misconceiving something christologically and seeing mystery where it's unnecessary
According to Heb.7:16, Christ has "the power of an endless life." Would it be possible for mere human nature to have an "endless" quality intrinsic to itself? Or would that be an attribute communicated to Christ's human nature from his divinity? We call this sharing "communication" (Latin technical term, communicatio idiomatum). We don't go as far as to say this sharing results in any of the Chalcedonian denials (without conversion, composition, or confusion), but it is a real sharing nonetheless. In contradiction to the Lutheran view, the Reformed deny that Christ's human nature becomes a genus maiestaticum, possessing the singular quality of all divinity (and therefore ubiquitous, and bodily present in the Lord's Supper, a presence according to both natures). That strikes us as just the sort of improper "conversion, composition, or confusion" Chalcedon prohibits, by making Christ's humanity a "+version, a 2.0" i.e. not-quite-the-same as the rest of ours (one inherent property of which is location, as opposed to omnipresence). Attributes of God that are not shared with his creatures are called "incommunicable attributes." If Christ's created humanity is granted that which is incommunicable, it's saying "he's just like us everywhere in humanity... except for how he isn't."

It is the communication of attributes that allows for the sustainment referred to in WLC 38. This "help" does not change the quality of the human nature which remains completely as it is (if a perfect/sinless specimen). Our present bodies are corruptible by nature. Our glorified bodies will be incorruptible by nature; however, that does not mean that those bodies will have intrinsic persistence, but will be forever upheld by the power of God in that estate of glorious perfection. We will not become divine beings, with "life in himself" as Christ has, Jn.5:26. Our life is forever tied to his life.

If we will continue in glory eternally (infinitely) by Christ's communication of his life to us; how much more is he able to sustain his own human nature by an even more wonderful communication of his own divine power, so that even in the endurance of infinite wrath in our place on the cross he maintains that humanity inviolate?
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
According to Heb.7:16, Christ has "the power of an endless life." Would it be possible for mere human nature to have an "endless" quality intrinsic to itself? Or would that be an attribute communicated to Christ's human nature from his divinity? We call this sharing "communication" (Latin technical term, communicatio idiomatum). We don't go as far as to say this sharing results in any of the Chalcedonian denials (without conversion, composition, or confusion), but it is a real sharing nonetheless. In contradiction to the Lutheran view, the Reformed deny that Christ's human nature becomes a genus maiestaticum, possessing the singular quality of all divinity (and therefore ubiquitous, and bodily present in the Lord's Supper, a presence according to both natures). That strikes us as just the sort of improper "conversion, composition, or confusion" Chalcedon prohibits, by making Christ's humanity a "+version, a 2.0" i.e. not-quite-the-same as the rest of ours (one inherent property of which is location, as opposed to omnipresence). Attributes of God that are not shared with his creatures are called "incommunicable attributes." If Christ's created humanity is granted that which is incommunicable, it's saying "he's just like us everywhere in humanity... except for how he isn't."

It is the communication of attributes that allows for the sustainment referred to in WLC 38. This "help" does not change the quality of the human nature which remains completely as it is (if a perfect/sinless specimen). Our present bodies are corruptible by nature. Our glorified bodies will be incorruptible by nature; however, that does not mean that those bodies will have intrinsic persistence, but will be forever upheld by the power of God in that estate of glorious perfection. We will not become divine beings, with "life in himself" as Christ has, Jn.5:26. Our life is forever tied to his life.

If we will continue in glory eternally (infinitely) by Christ's communication of his life to us; how much more is he able to sustain his own human nature by an even more wonderful communication of his own divine power, so that even in the endurance of infinite wrath in our place on the cross he maintains that humanity inviolate?

This is helpful, thank you!

Just to press a bit further, you say:

Attributes of God that are not shared with his creatures are called "incommunicable attributes." If Christ's created humanity is granted that which is incommunicable, it's saying "he's just like us everywhere in humanity... except for how he isn't."

This was the basis for my confusion, as I was assuming "infinity" would've been the attribute that would have to have been communicated to Christ in order for him to endure an infinite amount of wrath in a finite period of time, and this ("infinity") would certainly count as an incommunicable attribute.

Nevertheless, you do say that, "It is the communication of attributes that allows for the sustainment referred to in WLC 38". So, I guess my question is what attribute was communicated to Christ that allowed him to do this?

I don't know if my question even really makes sense as my thoughts on this aren't getting any clearer, so I apologize if there's clearly a mental block here. I just wish there was something that really expounded on WLC 38 in light of Chalcedon, but I've yet to find anything that engages too much with WLC 38 other than just some passing comments about how Jesus is an infinite person.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
This is helpful, thank you!

Just to press a bit further, you say:

Attributes of God that are not shared with his creatures are called "incommunicable attributes." If Christ's created humanity is granted that which is incommunicable, it's saying "he's just like us everywhere in humanity... except for how he isn't."

This was the basis for my confusion, as I was assuming "infinity" would've been the attribute that would have to have been communicated to Christ in order for him to endure an infinite amount of wrath in a finite period of time, and this ("infinity") would certainly count as an incommunicable attribute.

Nevertheless, you do say that, "It is the communication of attributes that allows for the sustainment referred to in WLC 38". So, I guess my question is what attribute was communicated to Christ that allowed him to do this?

I don't know if my question even really makes sense as my thoughts on this aren't getting any clearer, so I apologize if there's clearly a mental block here. I just wish there was something that really expounded on WLC 38 in light of Chalcedon, but I've yet to find anything that engages too much with WLC 38 other than just some passing comments about how Jesus is an infinite person.
I would say the "infinite" is not passed on to the human nature, but remains the exclusive quality of the divine nature of Christ. "Infinite" is not only a distinct attribute of God, but is also a quality imparted to his benefits, though not being the benefit itself. Again, will the fact that you remain united to Christ through all eternity, and have the benefit of everlasting life imply in the least that you are become divine? That you have life in yourself, as Christ has life in himself? No, the fact is he's sharing his life with us, and that life has the power of God within it, but we humans don't become God or obtain "infinity" because we enjoy those benefits, world without end Amen.

We're reminded that Christ upholds everything by the word of his power, Heb.1:3. He could uphold all that exists presently indefinitely, except we know that there is a great change coming; but then he's still going to continue upholding a new creation by the same almighty power, and that regeneration will continue indefinitely. Does the fact that the new heavens/earth where righteousness dwells (2Pet.3:13) is an immovable (Heb.12:27f), eternal-in-the-heavens (2Cor.5:1) kingdom testify that God these things participate in godhood? No, infinity is exclusive to God who infinitely preserves the kingdom. That which is within enjoys the benefit, without assuming infinite nature.

God raises the dead, 2Cor.1:9, Act.26:8. That Elijah and Elisha, Peter and Paul, raised people from the dead does not mean they in a finite period of time yet held the infinite life-giving power of God, an attribute of divinity. Christ raised the dead too, though as the Second Person did it by his own divine attribute, and did demonstrate his divinity thereby. The ordinary men who raised the dead were used by God, and protected by God from being overwhelmed by such power, but they did not pass along to another person a portion of life in their possession. Yet, such is a key aspect of Christ's identity.

The mystery of Christ's wrath-bearing sustainment is just one place of many you might find, for the purpose of wonder at the Incarnation. Christ had to be more than an ordinary man so that his dead-raising should be seen as something more than what others might accomplish with divine aid. How many aspects of Christ's ministry required him to be more than just human? We focus on the cross because it is the burning focus of the atonement, the central aspect of his first advent.

Lastly, consider that those parties in hell require a kind of sustainment there, for the purpose of eternally enduring torment belonging to rebels, persisting in their sin, adding to their sin, unable to repent. Being sustained in existence there "where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," will not imply that they come into possession of "infinity" while they are raised to dishonor, Dan.12:2; cf. Act.24:15; Jn 5:29; Mt.25:46. Still they are exposed to the wrath of God forever; therefore, we must conclude it is not the case that for them any more than for Christ their humanity must be infused with the essence of infinity to allow this judgment. It is enough that the power of God remains present for the purpose of sustaining them for the purpose.
 
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