Question on Jesus’ impeccability

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Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
The communicatio idiomatum says that the properties of both, the human and divine natures are now the properties of each person, and are therefore ascribed to the person. The one person can exhibit attributes of divinity and humanity but nothing particular to the divine nature was communicated to the human nature.

Now some proponents of Jesus’ impeccability say that since both nature’s attributes were ascribed to the one person of Jesus, that because the divine nature cannot sin and the human nature was united to the divine nature, that means Jesus could not sin. This seems to be some sort of communication of divine attributes to human attributes.

But, here’s my question, how can this work? By this logic can we not say then that the human can then be omniscient since it’s united to the divine. Or is this line of reasoning only postulating that, as Shedd says, the actions,that proceed from a nature become responsible to the whole person?

Or because the divine nature couldn’t sin, the person of Christ can’t sin? But, because the divine nature is omniscient, the person of Christ is omniscient, but his human nature isn’t?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding the communicatio idiomatum.


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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
The communicatio idiomatum says that the properties of both, the human and divine natures are now the properties of each person, and are therefore ascribed to the person. The one person can exhibit attributes of divinity and humanity but nothing particular to the divine nature was communicated to the human nature.

Now some proponents of Jesus’ impeccability say that since both nature’s attributes were ascribed to the one person of Jesus, that because the divine nature cannot sin and the human nature was united to the divine nature, that means Jesus could not sin. This seems to be some sort of communication of divine attributes to human attributes.

But, here’s my question, how can this work? By this logic can we not say then that the human can then be omniscient since it’s united to the divine. Or is this line of reasoning only postulating that, as Shedd says, the actions,that proceed from a nature become responsible to the whole person?

Or because the divine nature couldn’t sin, the person of Christ can’t sin? But, because the divine nature is omniscient, the person of Christ is omniscient, but his human nature isn’t?

Perhaps I am misunderstanding the communicatio idiomatum.


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Timothy,
A few thoughts:
First, the Reformed churches reject the communicatio idiomati insofar as it is defined as a metaphysical reality consisting in the communication of the properties of each of the two natures one to another. They maintain the term, however, as descriptive of a figure of speech by which the properties of each of the two natures are improperly attributed to one another (which is important for hermeneutical reasons).

Second, you said in your first paragraph, "The communicatio idiomatum says that the properties of both, the human and divine natures are now the properties of each person..." This implies that Christ is two persons, a human person and a divine person. It may have just been a slip-up. The orthodox doctrine, as you probably know, is that Christ is one person with two natures.

Last, your statement, "Or because the divine natures couldn't sin, the person of Christ can't sin," nails it.

As to your questions about omniscience, I don't feel qualified or prepared to answer.
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Timothy,
A few thoughts:
First, the Reformed churches reject the communicatio idiomati insofar as it is defined as a metaphysical reality consisting in the communication of the properties of each of the two natures one to another. They maintain the term, however, as descriptive of a figure of speech by which the properties of each of the two natures are improperly attributed to one another (which is important for hermeneutical reasons).

Yes that is how I understand it. I don’t agree that attributes are communicated.

Second, you said in your first paragraph, "The communicatio idiomatum says that the properties of both, the human and divine natures are now the properties of each person..." This implies that Christ is two persons, a human person and a divine person. It may have just been a slip-up. The orthodox doctrine, as you probably know, is that Christ is one person with two natures.

Last, your statement, "Or because the divine natures couldn't sin, the person of Christ can't sin," nails it.

As to your questions about omniscience, I don't feel qualified or prepared to answer.

Yes this was a slip up. Christ is two natures in one person.





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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
There are threads here about the incarnation that will help- I know because I started one. So confusing!

The second person of the Godhead, the Logos, took on humanity. It wasn't like a new human inside Mary merged with the divine, it was the divine that took on humanity. The sinless and perfect eternal Word became a man. You could say that if he wasn't able to sin was he really human, but he was fully, and you can't impose your concept of what it is to be human on the incarnation.

Probably Ask Mr Religion will get on and explain it better :)
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
The Reformed maintain, contrary to the Lutherans, that the communicatio idiomatum is but a mutual interchange or reciprocation of names, rather than a transfer or communication of properties (idiomata); or a communion of proper qualities by synecdoche. Since synecdoche is a figure by which the whole is named for one of its parts, this communication is not merely a human invention but a true predication of attributes, but of the person only and not between the natures.

For more see:
Richard Muller. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (p. 74).

Draw a distinction between nature and person. For example, see:
https://www.puritanboard.com/thread...ty-peccable-or-impeccable.94258/#post-1150280
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
But how does it follow that because the divine can’t sin, that means the human can’t sin? That seems to me like a communication of attributes between the natures.


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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
But how does it follow that because the divine can’t sin, that means the human can’t sin? That seems to me like a communication of attributes between the natures.


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Because the property "being able to sin" is not an essential property of humanity. We will be humans in heaven, but we won't be able to sin. All that the Incarnation requires is that Jesus take our essential human properties. It doesn't mean he has to take on every property.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
But how does it follow that because the divine can’t sin, that means the human can’t sin? That seems to me like a communication of attributes between the natures.
Timothy,

Did you review the thread I linked above?

Natures do not "do" anything. They merely are. It is the person that acts and does. The human nature of Our Lord was not some individualized person, rather it was personalized by the Second Person of the Trinity.

See:
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/...did-Jesus-take
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/...he-word-become
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Because the property "being able to sin" is not an essential property of humanity. We will be humans in heaven, but we won't be able to sin. All that the Incarnation requires is that Jesus take our essential human properties. It doesn't mean he has to take on every property.

So therefore we can’t say because the divine is omniscient the human is omniscient because non-omniscience is essential to human nature?


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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Timothy,

Our Lord was fully God and fully man in an indissoluble union whereby the second subsistence of the Trinity assumed a human nature that cannot be separated, divided, mixed, or confused.

One can best understand this mystical union (together united in one distinguishable subsistence) by examining what it is not, thus from the process of elimination determine what it must be.

The mystical union, hypostatic union, of the divine and human natures of Our Lord is not:

1. a denial that our Lord was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
3. a denial that our Lord had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
4. a denial of a distinct subsistence in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
7. two distinct subsistences (often called persons) (Nestorianism);
8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
11. a view that our Lord existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

See also:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/gill/doctrinal.vi.i.html
https://goo.gl/Sc47bZ
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
I get the boundaries laid out about the incarnation. I suppose I’m struggling with how those boundaries work out.

From the thread you linked the following question is what I haven’t seen an answer explicitly laid out. Perhaps you’ve already answered it, but I haven’t made the connection yet. Forgive my ignorance. I’m asking for handholding help at the moment.

“can we not say without contradiction-- due to Christ's two natures (though in many ways inseparable)-- that Christ was both finite and infinite, limitless and limited, all knowing and needing to learn, everywhere present and confined, unable to die and able to taste death? Is it completely unreasonable to say that Christ's person is both impeccable and peccable?”

You would say no he can’t be both impeccable and peccable because the divine person can’t sin.

But in the Gospels, the person of Christ is all knowing, since he’s divine, but yet displays ignorance of some things. Why is this, if the person of Christ is all knowing?


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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
From the thread you linked the following question is what I haven’t seen an answer explicitly laid out. Perhaps you’ve already answered it, but I haven’t made the connection yet. Forgive my ignorance. I’m asking for handholding help at the moment.

“can we not say without contradiction-- due to Christ's two natures (though in many ways inseparable)-- that Christ was both finite and infinite, limitless and limited, all knowing and needing to learn, everywhere present and confined, unable to die and able to taste death? Is it completely unreasonable to say that Christ's person is both impeccable and peccable?”
The answer you have not seen explicitly laid out in that thread actually appears here, quoting Shedd:
https://www.puritanboard.com/thread...ty-peccable-or-impeccable.94258/#post-1150290

As to Our Lord's ignorance, see:
https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/matthew-24-36.88720/#post-1096094
 

Jeff Low

Puritan Board Freshman
We might want to distinguish between the communicable and incommunicable attributes, since I notice that you have raised the attribute of omniscience, which is an incommunicable attribute of God. As such, while omniscience is predicated exclusively of God, and thus of the divine nature of Christ, it does not belong to his human nature, which did not know the day of judgment (Mark 13:32) and progressed in wisdom (Luke 2:40; 52).

As for impeccability, perhaps we could subsume it under the proper attribute of holiness. Holiness is a communicable attribute. As such, it can properly belong to both the divine and human natures of Christ. But as Turretin would say, the communicable attributes are not predicated of both God and creatures univocally, but analogically. And thus, the attribute of holiness is not what we would here consider communicated from the divine to the human nature.
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes that was very helpful. One more question. From Shedd, he says “the omnipotence from the Logos preserves the finite human nature from falling.......”

I thought Jesus’ dependance upon the Holy Spirit did that?


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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I get the boundaries laid out about the incarnation. I suppose I’m struggling with how those boundaries work out.

From the thread you linked the following question is what I haven’t seen an answer explicitly laid out. Perhaps you’ve already answered it, but I haven’t made the connection yet. Forgive my ignorance. I’m asking for handholding help at the moment.

“can we not say without contradiction-- due to Christ's two natures (though in many ways inseparable)-- that Christ was both finite and infinite, limitless and limited, all knowing and needing to learn, everywhere present and confined, unable to die and able to taste death? Is it completely unreasonable to say that Christ's person is both impeccable and peccable?”

You would say no he can’t be both impeccable and peccable because the divine person can’t sin.
Timothy,

Think of it this way: natures do not sin. Persons sin. Christ, the person, cannot sin.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So therefore we can’t say because the divine is omniscient the human is omniscient because non-omniscience is essential to human nature?


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Partly, but the properties of each nature aren't predicated to the other nature, but to the Person.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Yes that was very helpful. One more question. From Shedd, he says “the omnipotence from the Logos preserves the finite human nature from falling.......”

I thought Jesus’ dependance upon the Holy Spirit did that?
The power of vivification of the human nature comes from God's omnipotence.

More from Shedd:

And, in like manner, Christ the God-man was temptable, though impeccable. But his impeccability, unlike that of the elect angels and redeemed men, is due not to grace but to the omnipotent and immutable holiness of the Logos in his person. One of the reasons mentioned in Scripture (Heb. 2:14-18) for the assumption of a human nature into union with the second person of the Trinity is, that this person might be tempted. The Logos previous to the incarnation could not be tempted.

The human nature was the avenue to temptation; but the divine nature so empowered and actuated the human, the divine will so strengthened the human will, that no conceivable stress of temptation could overcome Jesus Christ, and bring about the apostasy of the second Adam.
....
The temptability of Christ through his human nature may be illustrated by the temptability of a man through his sensuous nature. A man’s body is the avenue of sensual solicitation to his soul. A certain class of human temptations are wholly physical. They could not present themselves through the mental, or immaterial part of man. Take away the body, and the man could not be assailed by this class of temptations. These, it is true, do not constitute the whole of human temptations. Fallen man is tempted through his soul, as well as through his body. But we can distinguish between the two inlets of temptation. Now, as the mind of man, which may be called his higher nature, is approached by temptation through the body, which is his lower nature, so the divinity of Christ, which is his higher nature, was approached by temptation through his humanity, which is his lower nature. The God-man was temptable through his human nature, not though his divine; and he was impeccable because of his divine nature, not because of his human.​
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Yes that was very helpful. One more question. From Shedd, he says “the omnipotence from the Logos preserves the finite human nature from falling.......”

I thought Jesus’ dependance upon the Holy Spirit did that?


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Jesus is God in human flesh, and God Himself is not able to sin.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Jesus is God in human flesh, and God Himself is not able to sin.

Yes, but it is much more complex than this. God also cannot die, and yet Jesus indeed died. There are very good reasons for confessing the impeccability of Jesus, but it is by no means a simple issue.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Because the property "being able to sin" is not an essential property of humanity. We will be humans in heaven, but we won't be able to sin. All that the Incarnation requires is that Jesus take our essential human properties. It doesn't mean he has to take on every property.

This seems to make good sense to me, but allow me to play devil’s advocate. Since we also won’t die in heaven, would it not also follow on your logic that being able to die is not an essential property of humanity? And wouldn’t it follow from this, again on your logic, that Jesus should not have been able to die either?

I’m certainly not denying the impeccability of Christ, just trying to see how the logic fits together.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
This seems to make good sense to me, but allow me to play devil’s advocate. Since we also won’t die in heaven, would it not also follow on your logic that being able to die is not an essential property of humanity? And wouldn’t it follow from this, again on your logic, that Jesus should not have been able to die either?

I’m certainly not denying the impeccability of Christ, just trying to see how the logic fits together.

Sure. Being able to die might not be an essential property of humanness, but it is a common property. There is no reason why Jesus couldn't have assumed a few common properties.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Sure. Being able to die might not be an essential property of humanness, but it is a common property. There is no reason why Jesus couldn't have assumed a few common properties.

So, Jesus took on the common human property of being able to die because this was a necessary component of his work, but he did not take on the common human property of being able to sin because that would have in fact been detrimental to his work. This seems to make sense to me. Thank you for your input. I just received Oliver Crisp's book on the incarnation that you reviewed and there is an entire chapter on this subject. Looking forward to reading it.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
What is interesting is that the four fold state of man is in view here. In other words, if Jesus was impeccable (I believe He was and is) he was not like us, post fall, in that He was not able to sin. Never have read about this connection so far as the four fold state of man.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So, Jesus took on the common human property of being able to die because this was a necessary component of his work, but he did not take on the common human property of being able to sin because that would have in fact been detrimental to his work. This seems to make sense to me. Thank you for your input. I just received Oliver Crisp's book on the incarnation that you reviewed and there is an entire chapter on this subject. Looking forward to reading it.

In short, yes. Crisp is summarizing Thomas Morris's The Logic of God Incarnate, which is a somewhat difficult book. Thomas McCall makes similar arguments in Invitation to Analytic Theology, which I highly recommend.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
This seems to make good sense to me, but allow me to play devil’s advocate. Since we also won’t die in heaven, would it not also follow on your logic that being able to die is not an essential property of humanity? And wouldn’t it follow from this, again on your logic, that Jesus should not have been able to die either?

I’m certainly not denying the impeccability of Christ, just trying to see how the logic fits together.
Until he sinned, Adam would have lived forever, correct?
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
And we will be even better off than Adam was, for while he had a sinless state for a time, we will be glorified and sinless state, as he was still flesh and blood?
Now quite sure what this means.

If you assume Adam was not a regenerated believer, then yes, we will be better off as believers.

I assume Adam was regenerated, hence he (and we) will be the same when we come into our glory at the Lord's second coming.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Now quite sure what this means.

If you assume Adam was not a regenerated believer, then yes, we will be better off as believers.

I assume Adam was regenerated, hence he (and we) will be the same when we come into our glory at the Lord's second coming.
Adam did not have a glorified state body though, as we will have one for all eternity.
 
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