Discussing the “Antiochene” orientation of Western Christology ( America’s Theologian: A Recommendation of Jonathan Edwards ), Jenson remarks: “Western thinking perhaps moved more simple-mindedly in the Antiochene track than had the Antiochenes themselves. Thus the brilliant analytic christologies of medieval Western scholasticism had meager matter to analyze.”

While he acknowledges that the there was no single “scholastic Christology,” he says that “the following positions are common and suffice” to make his point: According to a common scholastic view, “the ‘personal being’ of any real thing is understood as so different a metaphysical factor from the ‘nature’ of which it is the person, that the person of the Logos an be said to become the person of Jesus without positing any direct consequences for either the Logos or Jesus.”

The hypostatic union becomes a purely logical assertion; it is true that “Jesus rules” and “God died” but the way these statements are true is worked out according to a nominal understanding of the communication of attributes. “Jesus rules” does not straightforwardly “reflect the reality that verifies” the statement; the straightforwardly true statement is of this sort: “Jesus (who is hypostatically one with the Logos) dies” or “The Logos (who is hypostatically one with Jesus) rules.” When Lutherans tried to bridge this gap they ended, Jenson says, just where the Alexandrians ended: “they purchased their profundity by unintelligibility” (114).

Jenson has a theory about why Western Christians were satisfied with a view that “after all the maneuvering is over leaves God himself quite uninterpreted by what happens with Jesus” (113). He think that the “West could get along without position a ‘real’ mutual interpretation of God and the human Christ because the Western church’s own mighty reality substituted for the missing Christological reality”(113). Because of “the church’s reality as a natural and political administration – of inner communion, as an impassible impersonal institution – of suffering love, as an empire beyond empires – to subject us to the Crucified, the church mediated the christologically unmediated polarities of Western Christianity’s vision of God” (114).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

Loading...