Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A broadside across the Cyrillene bow

Some EO and RCC converts were attacking Protestantism's doctrine of man and the atonement on Facebook.  Granted, there are some difficulties and I am not fully satisified with Hodge's approach. but I noticed that both sides in the debate hold to an out-dated substance metaphysics.   This runs into problems when we apply it to Christology.   Take the great Father Cyril of Alexandria, whom they use to attack Protestantism.  Let's see what happens:

Dr Bruce McCormack illustrates some key gains with Cyril’s Christology. Like Apollinaris he understood that the Logos had to instrumentalize the human nature.  Unlike Apollinaris he avoided truncating that human nature.  The problem, though, as Lutherans were keen to pick up on, is locating the “acting agent.”  Normally Cyril locates the acting agent as the Logos asarkos.  However, when we get to the communicatio idiomata, it seems Cyril is locating the acting agent as the whole Christ, which is an entirely different term.  Anchorites are using a sliding scale.

Orthodox and Lutherans hold to a real communication of attributes.  Good.    There is a problem, though.  St Maximus said the relationship was tantum…quantum.   This means if there is a real communication, it’s a two-way street.  However, if we attribute human attributes to the divine (which is how John Milbank reads Andrew Louth’s reading of Maximus), how can we seriously maintain any doctrine of divine impassibility?

 Continuing McCormack’s argument.  We admit that the person of the Logos is the acting agent of the union, denying activity to the human nature; this is consistent with the principle that persons act, not natures.  However, when one communicates this to the modern world, using modern terminology, we find that we are equivocating on the term “human.”  In today’s language humanity means, among other things, a self-activating nature.  And that is Nestorianism.

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