Did Christ have a fallen human nature?

November 4, 2015

Light of Faith - Aquinas

I came across a fascinating passage in Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae wherein he discusses the “defects” in the humanity of Christ’s flesh, prior to his resurrection and glorification. Yes, defects. De defectibus assumptis a Christo. Immediately this had me thinking about T. F. Torrance’s emphasis on the “fallen” humanity assumed by the Son in becoming flesh. Is there common ground here between Thomas and Thomas?

Let us look at the Scotsman first and then the Italian.

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Torrance on the Fallen Human Nature of Christ

Thomas F. Torrance is well-known for advocating that the Son assumed the flesh of fallen humanity, that is, a “fallen flesh.” For example, he writes in his Edinburgh lectures:

But are we to think of this flesh which he became as our flesh? Are we to think of it as describing some neutral human nature and existence, or as describing our actual human nature and existence in the bondage and estrangement of humanity fallen from God and under the divine judgment? [Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ, p. 61]

For Torrance, if the humanity assumed by the Son is not our fallen humanity, then our fallen humanity is “untouched” by the work of Christ (ibid., 62). He then quotes Gregory Nazianzen’s formula, “the unassumed is the unredeemed.” The flesh which Christ healed was a corrupted flesh, and this is the wondrous “great exchange” where he took our infirmities and we take his regal health. This is a basic pattern in the theology of the early fathers, according to Torrance:

Patristic theology, especially as we see it expounded in the great Athanasius, makes a great deal of the fact that he who knew no sin became sin for us, exchanging his riches for our poverty, his eternal life for our mortality. Thus Christ took from Mary a corruptible and mortal body in order that he might take our sin, judge and condemn it in the flesh, and so assume our human nature as we have it in the fallen world that he might heal, sanctify and redeem it. [Ibid.]

In a powerful way, Torrance connects this with the obedience of the Son in his earthly devotion to the Father. This obedience in the flesh “was not light or sham obedience.” He continues, “It was agonisingly real in our flesh of sin: ‘he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,’ [Phil 2.8] and ‘he learned obedience through what he suffered’ [Heb 5.8]. …His obedience was a battle. The temptations make that abundantly clear” (Ibid., 64).

I do not see a problem with any of this, though I am aware of others who have criticized Torrance (and Barth) on this matter. Torrance is, of course, firm in his belief that Christ’s humanity is not sinful, albeit fallen. Christ’s humanity is necessarily not sinful or else the condemnation of sin in his flesh could not have been achieved. Torrance writes, “His taking of our flesh of sin was a sinless action, which means that Jesus does not do in the flesh of sin what we do, namely, sin, but it also means that by remaining holy and sinless in our flesh, he condemned sin in the flesh he assumed and judged it by his very sinlessness” (Ibid., 63). His holiness triumphs over the falleness from within — by condemning sin in the flesh.

Does it make sense to say “fallen but not sinful”? That is an obvious objection to Torrance’s usage of the term,”fallen,” for Christ’s human nature. But Torrance is making distinctions in the type of defects in Christ’s fallen humanity versus our fallen humanity.

The defects which the Son assumed in our humanity needs to be parsed carefully. Precisely what defects did the Son assume in his becoming flesh? The Son did not assume the defects of a sinful will, but he did assume the defects of a cursed, suffering, and dying flesh, which invariably presses upon a fully human will (e.g., temptations of Christ). It is this latter sense in which Christ bore a “fallen” human nature. And this is what I see Thomas Aquinas saying in his Compendium Theologiae.

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Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Caro of the Incarnatio

I am perhaps venturing too far here, without adequate gear. I have not compared this section in the Compendium to any corresponding material in his two Summas, nor have I consulted any secondary sources on the issue. But let’s go ahead anyway.

In chapter 226, Thomas is discussing the satisfaction necessarily rendered by humanity in order to be redeemed. “No punishment undergone by any man could suffice to liberate the whole human race. …God alone is of infinite dignity and so He alone, in the flesh assumed by Him could adequately satisfy for man, as has already been noted [Cf. chap. 200]” (Light of Faith: The Compendium of Theology, trans. Cyril Vollert, S.J., 284). This is all very Anselmic, and we need not detain ourselves with a comparison of the different set-up here to that of Torrance.

For our purposes, the following material is relevant to our question of whether — or, in what way — the Son assumed a fallen humanity. This excerpt is kinda lengthy but necessarily so:

…Christ ought not to have assumed those defects which separate man from God, such as privation of grace, ignorance, and the like, although they are punishment for sin. Defects of this kind would but render Him less apt for offering satisfaction. Indeed, to be the author of man’s salvation, He had to possess fullness of grace and wisdom, as we pointed out above [Cf. chap. 213]. Yet, since man by sinning was placed under the necessity of dying and of being subjected to suffering in body and soul, Christ wished to assume the same kind of defects, so that by undergoing death for men He might redeem the human race.

Defects of this kind are common to Christ and to us. Nevertheless they are found in Christ otherwise than in us. For, as we have remarked, such defects are the punishment of the first sin [Cf. chap. 193]. Since we contract Original Sin through our vitiated origin, we are in consequence said to have contracted these defects. But Christ did not contract any stain in virtue of His origin. He accepted the defects in question of His own free will. Hence we should not say that He contracted these defects, but rather that he assumed them for that is contracted (contrahitur) which is necessarily drawn along with (cum trahitur) some other things. …Therefore in Him they were not contracted but were voluntarily assumed.

Yet, since our bodies are subject to the aforesaid defects in punishment for sin — for prior to sin we were immune from them — Christ, so far as He assumed such defects in His flesh is rightly deemed to have borne the likeness of sin, as the Apostle says in Romans 8:3: “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Hence Christ’s very passibility or suffering is called sin by the Apostle, when he adds that God “hath condemned sin in the flesh,” and observes in Romans 6:10: “In that He died to sin, He died once.” For the same reason the Apostle uses an even more astonishing expression in Galatians 3:13, saying that Christ was “made a curse for us.” This is also why Christ is said to have assumed one of our obligations (that of punishment) in order to relieve us of our double burden, namely, sin and punishment.

…Again, since He came chiefly to restore human nature, He fittingly assumed those defects that are found universally in nature.

[Ibid., 285-287. I am using Vollert’s translation. Also see Richard Regan’s translation in Compendium of Theology.]

So, to answer our question in the title of this post: yes, Christ assumed our fallen human nature. Aquinas does not use the term, “fallen,” and he may have objected to doing so. But he does make clear that the Son assumed our “defects,” his preferred term. These defects are common with the defects of general fallen humanity, though Christ does not assume every defect. The Son does not assume those defects that would render his sacrifice unacceptable. He does not sin. He is not separated from God through any privation of grace. He remains holy. Likewise for Torrance, Christ remains holy and pure, thereby overcoming the power of sin.

This is not to say that Torrance and Aquinas are identical in how they are framing this. As I already alluded, Aquinas favors “satisfaction” for how Christ undoes the curse, whereas Torrance favors an ontological undoing of fallen nature in Christ, in which we partake by the Spirit in union with Christ glorified. These are probably not mutually exclusive, however, especially if we take-in the whole scope of these two theologians’ writings.

Differences aside, I think there is some interesting common ground here.

25 Responses to “Did Christ have a fallen human nature?”

  1. Cal said

    I guess the difference might be in the defining nature of the Original (vs. Ancestral) sin. If the first sin opened up the maw of Death, which by fear and bondage, man was made to sin, then Jesus truly assumes a Fallen flesh. However, via Thomas and the Augustinian tradition, there is an emphasis on the punishment due to sin inherited. Then he is not ‘fallen’ because Christ, by His own will, was not ‘pulled into’ the sin. He is free from its contraction.

    I’m myself intrigued by the East’s articulation of ‘Ancestral Sin’. I think Freud really touched on something terrifying in the psyche when he spoke of death-drive. I’ll muse on this elsewhere!

    One other thing:

    The above is one reason I’ve always appreciated ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’. For all it’s faults, I always liked how Human Christ was in the film. The fact that you could really see anger or sorrow. For once in a Jesus movie, you began to see why people might want to kill Him or nail Him to a cross. The Temptations were real, yet He conquered.

    • Kevin Davis said

      However, via Thomas and the Augustinian tradition, there is an emphasis on the punishment due to sin inherited. Then he is not ‘fallen’ because Christ, by His own will, was not ‘pulled into’ the sin.

      Yes, exactly. That is what I was (obliquely) indicating with Thomas’ framing through “satisfaction” and “punishment” categories. But, I am not entirely sure that this is incompatible, in some carefully prescribed way, with the “maw of Death” (as you rightly say) approach of the early fathers. I prefer Torrance’s framing over that of Thomas, if I had to choose…but maybe we don’t have to choose. However, I think that Torrance could have benefited from Thomas’ distinction between “contraction” and “assumption,” as a way to further clarify why he agrees that Christ did not sin. Implicitly, I think that Torrance does this anyway — probably explicit in his doctrine of the en/an hypostasis elsewhere.

      I need to study more of the East’s view on ancestral sin. I have never accepted the federal Calvinist view of “original guilt,” as Hodge articulates it, so I am probably inclined to benefit from the Eastern Orthodox on this matter.

      I have never seen The Last Temptation of Christ. I will have to do so.

  2. The short answer is: no, Christ did not assume a fallen nature – a friend of mine said this on the subject:

    ‘True human nature is not separate from God, but in union with God. Fallen human nature is in disunion with God. Christ’s human nature was not fallen for this reason, because Christ was God and in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit at all times.

    But the important point is that true human nature is not fallen; true human nature is Christ. True human nature is created. Whereas the early fathers held evil was privation, not an ontological nature… I would deny Barth/Torrance where they speak of Christ taking upon himself a fallen nature. He was incarnate as true human, as God intended, and by union or theosis true human nature becomes ours as we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1).

    • Kevin Davis said

      That’s the quandary. Can Christ be said to have a true human nature if it is a human nature that is “privated” or diminished by evil? I do not see the problem so long as the privation does not touch upon the holiness and purity of Christ’s obedience. We have to say that the Son assumed a “defective” human nature, in order to secure a perfected human nature. In that way, yes, the Son assumes the privations of evil. But isn’t that the point? Besides, does privation negate the nature upon which it is parasitic, which appears to be your friend’s presupposition?

      • My answer may end up being a rephrase of my comment, but I think that if true human nature is Christ, which I don’t think is an outlandish suggestion, and that we humans are fallen not by virtue of an ontological nature but by virtue of disunion from God, then we have ample ground for saying that Christ didn’t assume fallen human nature, because he assumed true human nature.

      • Kevin Davis said

        If that is the case, then Christ didn’t assume our human nature..because, in your account, we don’t have true human nature. As such, Christ assumed a human nature which we don’t possess.

      • Ah, but there’s the key thing – we did have a true human nature, because we were in union with God, and now, we do have a fallen human nature, because we have ‘fallen’ away from God into disunion. Christ assumed our true human nature – human nature before the fall is our true human nature – and so did not assume our fallen human nature, IE, disunion with God. As Florovsky notes, in the Incarnation, Christ assumed the first formed human nature. As per Torrance, the bond between Father and Son held together even in and through the death of Christ. Christ’s human nature was not fallen because he was never in disunion – and by union with Christ, our true human nature becomes ours again.

        My Eastern corruption may be showing…

      • Kevin Davis said

        Sure, but I don’t see how any of that is substantially compromised in my presentation in this post — which is why I was clearly trying to distinguish between the precise aspects of “fallenness” (Torrance) and “defectiveness” (Aquinas). Once this is done, as it must be done, then we cannot simply say that Christ assumed “the first formed human nature” without qualification. He did not enter into Eden but, rather, into “the far country” (Barth).

      • Cal said

        Fallenness is more, biblically and traditionally, than loss of communion. And loss of communion is not definitive of sin, but resulting from its presence.

        Let’s say that Christ, by nature Son of God and thus God, when assuming our Fallen nature burned up its sinfulness without doing away with its Fallenness. Thus He was tempted but unable to sin, He had perfect union with the Father but subject to Death, He was under the Law (and thus its curse) though He wrote the Law.

        Unless He assumed fallen flesh, our flesh is not healed. Even if we posit a fallen nature, and think about this in line of Maximus, even so, our nature is suffering privation, otherwise ancestral sin makes little sense.

        How does your view offer more than Schliermacher’s salvation-by-God-consciousness?

      • Well, ‘fallen nature’ itself isn’t really a strictly ‘biblical’ concept in itself, eh

      • Kevin Davis said

        Cal, I’m not sure about your question. If you are asking why we, here and now, are not glorified, then I am not sure how any other model has a better answer. Yes, our nature is suffering privation, even as we are united with the ascended Lord through the Spirit. That is our reality on this side of the eschaton. Old-school Thomists agree. I am probably missing something in your question, but I am tired after watching the CMA awards tonight!

      • Since this thread has already taken a sharp turn to the east…

        As I think everyone here knows, the majority of the Greek fathers read Romans 5:12 such that eph ho —> thanatos, not hemarton. And thanatos was taken to mean, not clinical death, but the condition of not being a carefree immortal. Pursued by death for all your days, you must strive continually to sustain your life, and in that striving, for which your nature was never intended, you are liable to the eight evil thoughts (Evagrius Ponticus, John Cassian; cf Gregory the Great’s seven deadly sins) that harden into the passions that cause you to sin. For example, were you not fleeing death, you would not want to live on through a child; were you not determined to produce a child, you might avoid sex; because you do not avoid sex, lust infects your soul; as lust hardens into an inordinate passion, you sin. Hence the majority taught a chiasm that seems strange to us but was straightforwardly logical to them: Adam’s sin caused human mortality, and this mortality causes us to sin.

        In their teaching, the iron necessity that links Adam’s bite to our state is not a legal one extrinsic to our nature but a psychological one intrinsic to it. And that teaching supposes a tripartite anthropology since it posits a mind that can be occupied by evil thoughts at the same time that one’s spirit or gnomic will is rejecting or succumbing to them. In a way, the eastern view of the Fall continues the already long tradition of philosophical investigation of akrasia, a concept common to Plato, Aristotle, and the New Testament.

        In the context of the dyothelite controversy, St Maximus the Confessor consolidates all of this: since the Fall, the gnomic will has been submerged in the inescapable liability to temptation of mortal flesh. Which Jesus did not escape. As St Maximus pointed out, Jesus’s temptation, both in the wilderness and in Gethsemane, shows that he was capable of the inner division known to us all. Because Jesus did physically experience the temptations of mortal flesh, he fully assumed human nature and fully redeemed it. Yet because Jesus’s gnomic will was the Logos, he was also able to turn away evil thoughts, passions, and sins.

        In late Byzantium, such theologians as SS Nicholas Cabasilas and Gregory Palamas tried to account for the part of the Theotokos in transmitting a human nature to Jesus. Their conclusion is surprising, but their reasoning is similar: the Virgin was born with a mortal’s usual liability to temptation, but by her persevering gnomic will, she consistently rejected evil thoughts, passions, and sin, so that the human nature that she gave to the new Adam was the same as that of the old Adam in the morning of the world. In this soteriology, it was the Theotokos who overcame the Fall, but we participate in her victory only through our participation in her son’s death and resurrection. And so, returning to the thoughts of others on the thread, the later Byzantines taught that the human nature that Jesus assumed was in a sense both fallen as received from his grandparents and pristine as received from his mother.

        For another view of this, see Kallistos Ware–

        http://ecumenicalmarianpilgrimage.faithweb.com/07Kallistos%20Beyond%20All%20Holiness.pdf

  3. Cal said

    Kevin:

    My question was for Whitefrozen, primarily.

    What I was proposing is again restating how Christ assumed fallen Humanity without necessitating Christ’s sinfulness, though He did bear the sin of others. I was responding to any possibility otherwise, as was laid out above. In short, I was backing up your post.

    Whitefrozen:

    And yes, “fallen Human nature” isn’t a biblical phrase, but neither is Trinity, yet few would dispute whether it is biblically derived and informed. I presume you are just being cheeky.

    • Hm, I can’t reply into my own thread, so this is directed towards Cal/Kevin

      If evil is privative, which I believe we agree on, then the fall is not about what we are (‘fallen nature’) but about what we are not. Yes, fallenness can’t be reduced to *only* disunion, but fallen human nature in disunion from God, whereas true human nature is in union with God. Christ assumes human nature – not fallen, though he was flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. As a sidenote, I would also invoke Maximos as was done above – Christ didn’t have a gnomic will and so hence no deliberation, but since the gnomic will isn’t essential to being human, Christ can lack it and still be one of us, as it were.

      The unassumed is thus indeed the unhealed – Christ, by assuming human nature, reestablishes the image of God in man,healing us by virtue of our union with Christ, yet without assuming our ‘fallen’ human nature:

      “This does not violate the fullness of nature, nor does it affect the Savior’s likeness to us sinful people. For sin does not belong to human nature, but is a parasitic and abnormal growth… In the Incarnation the Word assumes the first-formed human nature, created in the image of God, and thereby the image of God is again reestablished in man” ( Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, pp. 97-98).

      He did indeed enter the far country – but, as Cyril said, he suffered impassibly.

      • Cal said

        What would happen if God would assume Fallen flesh?

        I’d say it’s the same effect as a fork covered in dung being placed into scalding hot water. It is sanitized, yet still left with residue.

        I’m contending that Christ, in His mortal flesh, would still have died if not killed, and still suffered temptation, an internal battle, yet resisted. He still was born under the curse. This is what I intend (and I think Kevin through Torrance and Aquinas) by talking about ‘fallen’, though not sinful.

        In glory, we no longer suffer death nor do we suffer temptation. What was good will be made perfect. So in this way Christ assumes Adam’s fallen-flesh (subject to death), and leads us into, by virtue of the Resurrection, incorruptible flesh (no longer susceptible to temptation).

        I think we might be running in circles.

        Bowman:

        If we follow that logic, then is it possible that Mary was perhaps sinless, and yet immaculate? In other-words, just because she remained free from sin in the years leading to her birth, her fallen-nature still passed to Christ, and she was not immaculate.

        Thus, Mary was held by grace, though not conceived by grace (i.e. the meaning of Gabriel’s announcement). This doesn’t excise her choice in all this either. But I wonder if this might be able to intermingle with some Church fathers who contended that Mary did commit sins in the Gospel narratives (e.g. her trying to fetch, and thus detour, Jesus before a crowd).

        cal

      • Kevin, may we hope for a review of the CMA?

      • Hi Cal. First, a question, then a provisional reply.

        When you think of “fallen-nature,” what scripture do you have in mind? It looks to me as though two positions are being confused: (a) Adam’s disobedience changed human *nature*, and the Incarnation etc changed it back; (b) Adam’s disobedience changed the human *condition*, the Theotokos reversed the change for her son, and his Incarnation etc inaugurates a like reversal for all of us, as well as beginning his mediation of heaven and earth and his ongoing conquest of the powers still in rebellion.

        In the later Byzantine view, the Theotokos did not sin, and therefore, unlike Adam, she was taken into heaven at the end of her lifespan. Icons of the *Dormition of the Theotokos* show her in two places at once– her first body is asleep on a bier; her resurrection body is in the arms of Jesus standing nearby. Living as though she were not mortal, she never sinned, and so was not punished with mortality.

        So in that view, the flesh she gave her son was not mortal. However, he chose to experience both temptation and death in the flesh.

      • Cal said

        Bowman:

        When I think Fallen-Nature, I think through the casting out of Eden and the curse-laid upon mankind. In Adam all sinned, and thus all died. Christ comes as a Second Adam, yet still lives in a Fallen context, namely flesh that is subject to the curse.

        I struggle to argue for original guilt. That’s one reason I reject the Roman argument for Immaculate conception, though I am on a path to warming up to a deeper mariology. In some sense, This Age is a kind of Hell, a cursed world-order. Being subject to Death is the curse for some kind of deep ontological corruption in Adam and Eve’s sin. Hence why the Lord cast our parents from the Garden, lest they partake of the Tree of Life.

        What I was pondering was taking higher mariological claims without all that comes in later Byzantine theology. Truly, I want to speak of Mary, full of grace, queen, and mother of God, without white-washing the reality that Mary ignorantly chastised Jesus as a boy and at the Wedding of Cana, and that He attributed insanity to Him before the crowds.

        In a similar vein, one ought to rebuke St. Jerome for foolishly attributing deception to Peter and Paul in their dispute over the Gentiles. Instead of allowing the plain-reading, namely that Peter too was capable of cowardice, even as an Apostle, it was reconfigured as a play-act where Peter and Paul reveal the inclusion of the Gentiles. We discredit ourselves when we won’t allow the Scripture to speak, for our good, as St. Augustine would respond.

        cal

      • Cal said

        The last comment on St. Jerome was not directed at you Bowman. Just to make clear. But I want to proceed deeply into the great magnificence and beauty that was/is Mary, heavenly queen, without resorting to a kind of piety that is unable to cope with the patient work of the Holy Spirit.

      • Cal, I missed Kevin’s mariology thread, and so will refrain for the moment from saying much about marian piety. A few thoughts–

        (1) For some, it is a matter of temperament– they can more easily venerate a maternal figure, and so venerate the mother of the Lord in his honor.

        (2) For others, this is a plausible expression of the communion of saints, especially those of the apostolic generation.

        (3) Obviously, marian devotions can focus meditation on the mystery of the incarnation.

        (4) In the same way, they can focus meditation on the crucifixion.

        (5) The relationship between the Beloved Disciple and the Theotokos has been seen as suggesting something perrennial about private devotion, or even about theosis. Richard Bauckham is surely right to complain that we expect individualism from the very incorporative St Paul, and an incorporative theology from a Johannine corpus that is in most ways centered in the individual.

        (6) Scotism makes the Theotokos a focus of celebration of Christ’s mediation of heaven and earth.

        (7) Considerations such as (5) and (6) have led to the modern devotion to the Theotokos as the mother of the Church.

        (8) Devotion to her from as early as the C2 is a basis for ruling some sort of practice in bounds, but I am not sure what.

        (9) I like the processions with the *panagia* (= all holy = Theotokos) that I have seen in Greek monasteries. In the Sabaite typikon, the circular loaf baked for the eucharist is not all used in the communion. Rather, in a rite at the altar before the liturgy, the whole of it blessed, but a wedge of it– the Christ child– is cut from the rest– the panagia. The wedge is used in communion; the panagia is reserved for distribution to the people. In a Byzantine variation seen mainly on the Holy Mountain, the panagia is carried in solemn procession from the church to the refectory after the liturgy. There, it is distributed to those present as a sign that the communion among the brothers at the chalice should continue in the world.

        Interestingly, this rite, although now rare, was commonplace in Byzantine palaces and parishes of the C13-14. That is the era in which SS Nicholas Cabasilas and Gregory Palamas are speculating on the Theotokos and Jesus’s assumed humanity.

        (10) These are mostly dogmatic considerations. Personally, I am reluctant to read the several references to the mother of Jesus in the NT as comments on her spiritual state, whether she looks good in them or bad, unless I have motivation from other passages to do so. After all, if we take any version of kenosis christology seriously, then a fortiori it seems inconsistent to demand all that much understanding from St Mary. And narrative cannot be prooftexted. For example, since the messianic secret has not yet been revealed in St Mark 3 and even Jesus’s disciples are not understanding much that he says, it is not too odd for even a transcendently saintly mother to wonder that he claims the powers of YHWH himself over the forces of evil. She was a daughter of Israel living our redemption in real time, not a father of the Church looking back on her life with the benefit of hindsight.

        That is all that I can say. It may be enough.

  4. My comment is mostly about Aquinas than your actually synthesis, (which I really enjoyed reading). I think is interesting that Aquinas considers “ignorance” as byproduct of sin or at least a punishment for it, when the creation narrative seems to clearly point out the inherent lack of knowldege within the essence of humanity, hence the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, (Gen 2:17). I’m not a fundamentalist by no means, but I would think Aquinas would pick on that aspect of the creation narrative. He probably does somewhere else…. but I am just going by the following statement:

    “…Christ ought not to have assumed those defects which separate man from God, such as privation of grace, [ignorance], and the like, although they are punishment for sin.”

    Just to name my bias, I am coming from a Disability Theology framework where there is a deep interest in debating whether Christ had indeed a fallen nature. If that is so, some of us came make the case that afflictions of the flesh or the intellect are inherent aspects of humanity even prior to the “fall” rather than repercussions of sin. In other words, if Christ suffered afflictions of the flesh and yet sin did not tarnished his essence, they what’s not say that “infirmities” are unavoidable aspects of being a creature and not repercussions of our sinful nature? Anyways, those our my thoughts…

    Thanks for tackling the issues from Torrance and Aquinas’ perspectives.

      • Sorry for the repetition by I needed to clarify my point, hence the revisions….

        My comment is mostly about Aquinas than your actually synthesis, (which I really enjoyed reading). I think is interesting that Aquinas considers “ignorance” as byproduct of sin or at least a punishment for it, when the creation narrative seems to clearly point out the inherent lack of knowledge within the essence of humanity, hence the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, (Gen 2:17). I’m not a fundamentalist by no means, but I would think Aquinas would pick on that aspect of the creation narrative. He probably does somewhere else…. but I am just going by the following statement:

        “…Christ ought not to have assumed those defects which separate man from God, such as privation of grace, [ignorance], and the like, although they are punishment for sin.”

        Just to name my bias, I am coming from a Disability Theology framework where there is a deep interest in debating whether Christ had indeed a fallen nature or whether what we call “fallen nature is the “only nature in which humanity can exist? If that is so, some of us can make the case that afflictions of the flesh or the intellect are inherent aspects of humanity even prior to the “fall” rather than repercussions of sin. In other words, if Christ suffered afflictions of the flesh and yet sin did not tarnished his essence, then what’s not say that “infirmities” are unavoidable aspects of being a creature and not just repercussions of our sinful nature? Anyways, those our my thoughts…

        Thanks for tackling these issues from Torrance and Aquinas’ perspectives.

  5. Kevin Davis said

    Thanks for the great comments, guys. When I have time I will get to them. I should have posted this closer to the weekend!

  6. Kevin Davis said

    Cal, Bowman, Josh, Samuel, and unknown passerby’s —

    I finally read the comments and enjoyed them immensely. There is nothing I have to add for now. My knowledge of EO on the human will is too limited for me to offer any substantial queries, though I did recently acquire Andrew Louth’s book on Maximus with selections — so maybe I can finally get to that.

    My current project/research is on German mediating theology, though I have not blogged much about it. It is enormously time-consuming, but I think it will bear some fruitful results. Needless to say, to go from 19th century Berlin to 7th century Byzantine is quite a difference!

    Yep, I plan to write something about the CMA awards. So epic!

    Samuel, I highly encourage you to pursue those questions related to disability theology, especially as it pertains to these difficult questions of human nature, what is original/good, what is fallen, etc.

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