Friday Theology.

I normally strip the glosses out of Brigg’s posts, but this time they are needed. Read the whole thing and the comments.

1 It is, however, not only about the body of Christ but also about His soul that one finds some bad opinions.

2 For Arius held that in Christ there was no soul, but that He assumed only flesh, and that divinity stood to this as soul. And he seems to have been led to this position by a certain necessity. For he wanted to maintain that the Son of God was a creature and less than the Father, and so for his proof he picked up those Scriptural passages which show human infirmity in Christ.

And to keep anyone from refuting him by saying that the passages he picked referred to Christ not in His divine, but in His human, nature, he evilly removed the soul from Christ to this purpose: since some things are not harmonious with a human body, that He wondered, for example, that He feared, that He prayed—all such must necessarily imply the inferiority of the Son of God Himself. Of course, he picked up for the assertion of his position the words of John just mentioned, “The Word was made flesh,” and from this he wanted to gather that the Word only assumed flesh, not a soul. And in this position even Apollinaris followed him.

Notes The origin of “Jesus was just a good man” fallacy, which is still with us.

3 But it is clear from what has been said that this position is impossible. For it was shown Ames that God cannot be the form of a body. Since, therefore, the Word of God is God, as was shown, it is impossible that the Word of God be the form of a body, so as to be able to stand as a soul to flesh.

4 This argument, of course, is useful against Apollinaris, who confessed the Word of God to be true God; and granted Arius would deny this last, the argument just given goes against him, also. For it is not God alone who cannot be the form of a body, neither can any of the supercelestial spirits among whom Arius held the Son of God supreme. Exception might be made for the position of Origen, who held that human souls were of the very same species and nature as the supercelestial spirits. The falsity of this opinion was explained above.

5 Take away, moreover, what is of the essence of man, and no true man can be. Clearly, of course, the soul is chiefly of the essence of man, since it is his form. Therefore, if Christ had no soul He was not true man, whereas the Apostle does call Him man: “There is one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).


1 Won over, however, by this Gospel testimony, Apollinaris confessed that there was a sensitive soul in Christ; nonetheless, it was without mind and intellect, so that the Word of God was in that soul in place of intellect and mind.

Notes Sensitive soul, i.e. a being who has sensations, eats, drinks, etc.

2 But even this is not sufficient to avoid the awkward consequences described, for man gets his human species from his having a human mind and reason. Therefore, if Christ did not have these, He was not true man, nor was He of the same species with us. For a soul which lacks reason belongs to a species other than that of the soul which has reason.

For, according to the Philosopher [Metaphysics VIII, 3], in definitions and species any essential difference which is added or subtracted varies the species, just as unity does in numbers. But rational is the specific difference. Therefore, if in Christ there was a sensitive soul without reason, it was not of the same species with our soul, which does have reason. Neither, then, was Christ Himself of the same species with us.

3 Again, among the sensible souls themselves which lack reason there exists diversity by reason of species. This appears from consideration of the irrational animals which differ from one another in species; nonetheless, each of them has its species according to its proper soul. Thus, then, the sensitive soul lacking reason is, so to say, one genus including within itself many species. But nothing is in a genus which is not in one of its species. If, then, the soul of Christ was in the genus of sensitive soul lacking reason, it must have been included in one of its species; for example, it was in the species of lion soul, or some other beast. And this is entirely absurd.

6 Manifestly, therefore, from the aforesaid there was in Christ a human body and a true human soul. Thus, therefore, John’s saying (1:14), “The Word was made flesh,” is not thus to be understood, as though the Word has been converted into flesh; or as though the Word has assumed the flesh only; or with a sensitive soul without a mind; but after Scripture’s usual manner the part is put for the whole, so that one says: “The Word was made man.”

“Soul” is sometimes used in place of man in Scripture; Exodus (1:5) says: “And all the souls that came out of Jacob’s thigh were seventy”; in the same way, also, “flesh” is used for the whole man; Isaiah (40:5) says: “All flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Thus, then, “flesh” is here used for the whole man, also, to express the weakness of the human nature which the Word of God assumed.

7 But, if Christ had human flesh and a human soul, as was shown, it is plain that there was no soul of Christ before His body’s conception. For it was shown that human souls do not pre-exist their proper bodies. Hence is clear the falsity of that tenet of Origen, who said that in the beginning, before all bodily creatures, the soul of Christ was created with all other spiritual creatures and assumed by the Word of God, and that finally, toward the end of the ages, for men’s salvation it was endowed with flesh.

That is two weeks extracts from the Summa, about the nature of Christ. Calvin is more interested in the nature of man, and continues along the same theme. We are seeing, in real life, at this time, that those who are not of Christ are indeed blinder than moles.

18. We must now explain what the power of human reason is, in regard to the kingdom of God, and spiritual discernments which consists chiefly of three things–the knowledge of God, the knowledge of his paternal favour towards us, which constitutes our salvation, and the method of regulating of our conduct in accordance with the Divine Law. With regard to the former two, but more properly the second, men otherwise the most ingenious are blinder than moles. I deny not, indeed, that in the writings of philosophers we meet occasionally with shrewd and apposite remarks on the nature of God, though they invariably savour somewhat of giddy imagination. As observed above, the Lord has bestowed on them some slight perception of his Godhead that they might not plead ignorance as an excuse for their impiety, and has, at times, instigated them to deliver some truths, the confession of which should be their own condemnation. Still, though seeing, they saw not. Their discernment was not such as to direct them to the truth, far less to enable them to attain it, but resembled that of the bewildered traveller, who sees the flash of lightning glance far and wide for a moment, and then vanish into the darkness of the night, before he can advance a single step. So far is such assistance from enabling him to find the right path. Besides, how many monstrous falsehoods intermingle with those minute particles of truth scattered up and down in their writings as if by chance. In short, not one of them even made the least approach to that assurance of the divine favour, without which the mind of man must ever remain a mere chaos of confusion. To the great truths, What God is in himself, and what he is in relation to us, human reason makes not the least approach. (See Book 3 c. 2 sec. 14, 15, 16).
19. But since we are intoxicated with a false opinion of our own discernment, and can scarcely be persuaded that in divine things it is altogether stupid and blind, I believe the best course will be to establish the fact, not by argument, but by Scripture. Most admirable to this effect is the passage which I lately quoted from John, when he says, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not,” (John 1:4, 5). He intimates that the human soul is indeed irradiated with a beam of divine light, so that it is never left utterly devoid of some small flame, or rather spark, though not such as to enable it to comprehend God. And why so? Because its acuteness is, in reference to the knowledge of God, mere blindness. When the Spirit describes men under the term darkness, he declares them void of all power of spiritual intelligence. For this reason, it is said that believers, in embracing Christ, are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:13); in other words, that the flesh has no capacity for such sublime wisdom as to apprehend God, and the things of God, unless illumined by His Spirit. In like manner our Saviour, when he was acknowledged by Peter, declared that it was by special revelation from the Father (Mt. 16:17).
20. If we were persuaded of a truth which ought to be beyond dispute–viz. that human nature possesses none of the gifts which the elect receive from their heavenly Father through the Spirit of regeneration, there would be no room here for hesitation. For thus speaks the congregation of the faithful, by the mouth of the prophet: “With thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light,” (Ps. 36:9). To the same effect is the testimony of the Apostle Paul, when he declares, that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” (1 Cor. 12:3). And John Baptist, on seeing the dullness of his disciples, exclaims, “A man can receive nothing, unless it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27). That the gift to which he here refers must be understood not of ordinary natural gifts, but of special illumination, appears from this–that he was complaining how little his disciples had profited by all that he had said to them in commendation of Christ. “I see,” says he, “that my words are of no effect in imbuing the minds of men with divine things, unless the Lord enlighten their understandings by His Spirit.” Nay, Moses also, while upbraiding the people for their forgetfulness, at the same time observes, that they could not become wise in the mysteries of God without his assistance. “Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; the great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and these great miracles: yet the Lord has not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this, day,” (Deut. 29:2, 3, 4). Would the expression have been stronger had he called us mere blocks in regard to the contemplation of divine things? Hence the Lord, by the mouth of the Prophet, promises to the Israelites as a singular favour, “I will give them an heart to know me,” (Jer. 24:7); intimating, that in spiritual things the human mind is wise only in so far as he enlightens it. This was also clearly confirmed by our Saviour when he said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him,” (John 6:44). Nay, is not he himself the living image of his Father, in which the full brightness of his glory is manifested to us? Therefore, how far our faculty of knowing God extends could not be better shown than when it is declared, that though his image is so plainly exhibited, we have not eyes to perceive it. What? Did not Christ descend into the world that he might make the will of his Father manifest to men, and did he not faithfully perform the office? True! He did; but nothing is accomplished by his preaching unless the inner teacher, the Spirit, open the way into our minds. Only those, therefore, come to him who have heard and learned of the Father. And in what is the method of this hearing and learning? It is when the Spirit, with a wondrous and special energy, forms the ear to hear and the mind to understand. Lest this should seem new, our Saviour refers to the prophecy of Isaiah, which contains a promise of the renovation of the Church. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee,” (Is. 54:7). If the Lord here predicts some special blessing to his elect, it is plain that the teaching to which he refers is not that which is common to them with the ungodly and profane.
It thus appears that none can enter the kingdom of God save those whose minds have been renewed by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. On this subject the clearest exposition is given by Paul, who, when expressly handling it, after condemning the whole wisdom of the world as foolishness and vanity, and thereby declaring man’s utter destitution, thus concludes, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned,” (1 Cor. 2:14). Whom does he mean by the “natural man”? The man who trusts to the light of nature. Such a man has no understanding in the spiritual mysteries of God. Why so? Is it because through sloth he neglects them? Nay, though he exert himself, it is of no avail; they are “spiritually discerned.” And what does this mean? That altogether hidden from human discernment, they are made known only by the revelation of the Spirit; so that they are accounted foolishness wherever the Spirit does not give light. The Apostle had previously declared, that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him;” nay, that the wisdom of the world is a kind of veil by which the mind is prevented from beholding God (1 Cor. 2:9). What would we more? The Apostle declares that God has “made foolish the wisdom of this world,” (1 Cor. 1:20); and shall we attribute to it an acuteness capable of penetrating to God, and the hidden mysteries of his kingdom? Far from us be such presumption!

There are some things that one cannot know unless the Spirit of God allows you to. This is nothing to do with being a good scholar, or credentials. There are indeed many bishops in hell. It is the work of God.