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Orthodox Position of the Person of Christ
Jesus Christ is at the center of the Christian doctrine as every theological thought in Christianity revolves around his personality as one of the Holy Trinity. Christ's divine and human nature on one side and his mission of savior of the world, on the other, have provided endless sources for discussion and debates over the decades. Theologians, historians and philosophers have tried to reconcile their thesis when it came to Jesus, but in spite of the apparent similarities, they often reached very different conclusions. During the early Christian centuries, there were various theories that promoted the image of Christ. They covered a large specter of positions starting from him being considered a prophet (Ebionitism) or, at the other end of the spectrum, him being completely divine (Docetism) (McGrath, 2011). These theological theories were soon to be dismissed, although the latter bore more influence on some level.
In spite of the fact that Jesus never called himself God, the New Testament has numerous testimonies of those who witnessed his work appointing him as God. In the fourth Gospel, John 1:14 Jesus is confirmed as of the same source as God: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us"(Bible Gateway, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1 ). McGrath points out that a possible starting point in identifying the source of the person of Jesus as coming from God, in light of with his Resurrection, is among the first forms of Christian confession: "9 If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"(Romans, 10:9)
From the orthodox position, the person of Christ is of dual nature. Jesus's distinct, unblended and unity forming human and divine natures are explicit throughout the four Gospels of the New Testament. The orthodox position considers his human nature as complete, with body and soul and his divine nature, complete as well, as being of the same source as God. McGrath underlies the fact that, in the Jewish doctrine, the Old Testament presented God and only God as the only possible source for humanity's salvation. The author of "Christian Theology: An Introduction" places a huge importance on this very fact to sustain the doctrine of Jesus's dual nature. The first Christians, Jesus' followers were coming from the Judaic tradition therefore acknowledging Jesus as Savior testified for their belief that he was God.
The apologist Justin Martyr was among the first who attempted to reconcile Greek philosophy with the Old Testament in the light of the historical person of Jesus. Justin Martyr places the whole importance of the religious doctrine on the "Logos." According to such theories, before the Christian era, various thinkers have come to embrace the potential of "Logos" without actually coming to fruition since, according to Justin, only the person of Jesus came to represent the "Logos" in its entirety.
Another current in considering the nature of Jesus Christ came to light in Alexandria, during the fourth century, the priest Arius. Arius' theories saw Christ as both Creator, like God, as well as God "created." Thus, he considered God and Christ of different essences (McGrath,2011).
In considering how the theories concerned with the nature of Christ evolved along the centuries, McGrath comes to the Alexandrian school as a turning point in coming to terms with the final orthodox position in Christology. The Alexandrian school acknowledges the incarnation as the testimony of the unity between the divine God and the human form of existence, thus revealing God to Humanity for the sole purpose of saving humanity. Considering the incarnation as the source of salvation, the Alexandrian school places the emphasis in the two-way relationship God - Humanity. In order for humanity to know God, God needed to fully assume human identity, in order for God to save humanity, he needed to become human.
By means of the Incarnation, the Alexandrian school sees the two natures (divine and human) as intermixed, losing one into the other. It is thus differing from the orthodox view of Christ as having two entirely separate, complete natures, human and divine, the human one being different only thorough its lack of sin.
During the first centuries of Christianity, known as the Patristic Period, Christianity evolved and spread around the Mediterranean basin. It gave way to theological debates and schools of thought which, as above mentioned, mainly revolved around the nature of Jesus Christ as well as the significance of the Incarnation. Alister E. McGrath considers this period as "one of the most exciting and creative periods in the history of the Christian thought" (Mcgrath, 2011).
The three most important theological centers of Christian thought that appeared and developed during the patristic Period were: the one in and around the city of Alexandria (modern Egypt) (a school heavily influenced by the Platonic philosophy), another one in the City of Antioch and its surroundings (in the region of modern Turkey) and a third one, in the region of Cartage, in Northern Africa (McGrath, 2011). McGrath further notices that the Patristic Period was essential in the further development of the Christian doctrine within the main Christian churches.
Theologians consider the foundation for the orthodox view of the person of Christ for the Christian doctrine as having been laid by the Council of Chalcedon. The council, held in October, 451 AD, in Chalcedon, considered the Fourth Ecumenical Council, "is recognized as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (then one church). Most Protestants also consider the concept of the Trinity as defined by these councils to be orthodox doctrine to which they adhere"( http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Council_of_Chalcedon.html)
The issue of the Resurrection stands in direct relationship with the dual nature of Christ and is bound to be the source of as many debates as those related to his nature(s). One aspect of the question of the meaning of resurrection is that of its relationship to history. The element of mystery related to the incarnation and person of Christ, although always considered in the context of reason, as God is above all, perfection, brings the purpose of resurrection into metaphysics. McGrath stresses that the Enlightenment brought a new controversy on the table of the discussions around Christ's mission: that of the historicity of his resurrection. The author considers two contradicting theories, one bing Pannenberg's consideration of Jesus' resurrection as an "objective historical event, witnessed by all who had witnessed the evidence"(McGrath, 2011), the other one, Bultmann's treatment of the resurrection, as an "event within the experiential world of the disciples"(idem). McGrath further underlines that from an orthodox Christian point-of-view, any consideration of the historical evidence should start without "the prior dogmatic presupposition that such a resurrection could not have happened"(Mcgrath, 2011). The orthodox Christian doctrine holds the idea of resurrection as completely linked, inseparable and impossible to consider outside the idea of incarnation, Christ's dual nature and the mission of Salvation of humanity.
In spite of the fact that the orthodox Christian position towards the nature of Christ should be clear and without equivocation, as the Orthodox view of the Person of Christ is understood by the main Christian Churches, there are debates among theologians around this topic still today. Starting with the controversies around the subject among American Evangelicals, Bill Grover goes through two millennia of history, considering the main schools of thought that treated the Person of Christ from the point-of-view of the Incarnation. As the author seems to point out himself, most of the discussions revolve around the questions related to the degree of humanity vs. The degree of divinity in Christ and the relationship between these natures in one Person.
Along the centuries and millennia, theologians have gone back to the New as well as the Old Testament trying to find the best support for their reasoning related to the presence of lack of presence of the two natures of the Person of Christ. Briefly reviewing their work, Grover comes to the conclusion that "up to a point, the more we distinguish Christ's deity from His humanity, the more we affirm the integrity of both"(Grover, 2009). In his considerations of the body of work dedicated to the Person of Christ, at one point Grover goes over Pieper's Dogmatics and reaches a similar conclusion as McGrath has in his book: it is wrong to declare the human nature of Christ as "impersonal" simply because if such were the case, Christ would be "a body moved around like a robot by the Logos"(Grover, 2009). Further considering the imperfections in Pieper's arguments for the impersonality of Christ, Grover mentions the Reformed Theologian Hodge and his counterarguments on the matter: "one nature does not participate in the attributes of the other. But the attributes of both natures belong to the Person"(Grover, 2009).
In his second section dedicated to reviewing and critiquing the various authors who dealt with Christology, Grover takes into consideration authors like Leo, John of Damascus, Theodoret of Cyprus, Gregory of Nyssa, those who…[continue]
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