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Was Jesus an “individual”?
The Prayer Book Society: News [1928 BCP] ^ | 6/14/2005 | The Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Posted on 06/14/2005 4:01:43 PM PDT by sionnsar

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1 posted on 06/14/2005 4:01:43 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; Hermann the Cherusker; wagglebee; St. Johann Tetzel; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-7 pings/day).
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Resource for Traditional Anglicans: http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 06/14/2005 4:02:10 PM PDT by sionnsar (†trad-anglican.faithweb.com† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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To: sionnsar

Interesting. However, he doesn't address the root word of "individual," which denote "something that cannot be divided." I think this is a useful concept in regard to human persons, whose humanity, while "composed of body and soul," does not allow for those qualities to be separated, and also for Jesus Christ, whose human and divine natures are individual parts of His Person. "Individual" might be sort of a shorthand for "hypostatic union." :-).


3 posted on 06/14/2005 4:08:32 PM PDT by Tax-chick (No! I don't want a socialist muffin in a boat!)
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To: Tax-chick
Jesus Christ, whose human and divine natures are individual parts of His Person.

Whoops, that was poorly phrased. I mean, the Person of Christ is one, indivisible Person, composed of two natures.

4 posted on 06/14/2005 4:11:40 PM PDT by Tax-chick (No! I don't want a socialist muffin in a boat!)
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To: sionnsar; Tax-chick

This is an interesting take on what Orthodoxy, in conformity with the teachings of the Fathers, has always taught, which is that for the vast run of humanity, monastics included, we work on our progress up the ladder of divine ascent, our journey hopefully towards theosis, within a Echaristic Community, The Church which +Ignatius of Antioch defined as a bishop (within the Apostolic Succession) surrounded by his priests and deacons and laity centered on the Eucharist and under the lordship of Christ. The totality of The Church is thus found in a single diocese, but the many dioceses of The Church are connected to each other through the common celebration of the Eucharist in conformity with orthodox Christian practice.


5 posted on 06/14/2005 5:54:19 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: sionnsar
Hyam Maccoby, Revolution In Judaea
6 posted on 06/14/2005 7:06:02 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: Kolokotronis

Good point.


7 posted on 06/15/2005 3:36:21 AM PDT by Tax-chick (No! I don't want a socialist muffin in a boat!)
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To: Kolokotronis; Tax-chick

Just FYI, the Rev. Dr. Toon is quite well-known and respected in the Continuing churches. Although he lives just a few miles from here, I see he is serving as an interim rector for a church in Texas.


8 posted on 06/15/2005 8:09:05 AM PDT by sionnsar (†trad-anglican.faithweb.com† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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To: sionnsar

I've found many of his articles to be well done ... although I always have a chortle over "Dr. Toon."


9 posted on 06/15/2005 8:49:36 AM PDT by Tax-chick (No! I don't want a socialist muffin in a boat!)
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To: sionnsar; Kolokotronis
I've been reading similar reflections right now in Joseph Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity. He argues against a certain sort of Aristotelianism where the relational is seen as an accidental, unnecessary add-on and not essential to human nature.

"But the confession of faith in God as a person necessarily includes the acknowledgement of God as relatedness, as communicability, as fruitfulness. The unrelated, unrelatable, absolutely one could not be a person. There is no such thing as a person in the categorical singular." He then delves into the etymological origin of the word "person," "prosopon," literally meaning towards the face.

That's the most relevant passage I found on a quick lookthrough of highlighted passages. As mentioned in this article, Personhood is a quality necessary for any communion at all, not to mention the Communion between the persons of the Holy Trinity. The logic of political individualism ends up having us treat every other man as an enemy, indeed an alien never to be reconciled with us, who can only be our alliy in a temporary marriages of convenience.

Wouldn't taking literally a description of Jesus as an "individual" recapitulate the old Christological heresies? Arianism comes to mind, immediately, or some other form of subordinationism.

10 posted on 06/15/2005 9:00:41 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Be not Afraid. "Perfect love drives out fear.")
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To: Dumb_Ox; sionnsar; Tax-chick

"The logic of political individualism ends up having us treat every other man as an enemy, indeed an alien never to be reconciled with us, who can only be our alliy in a temporary marriages of convenience."

Well, at least in theory and in the Western, post Reformation Enlightenment culture we live in. In the East, this mindset simply isn't there. This is not to say that in Greece, for example, people don't have any understanding of their existance as unique persons or of their God given personal freedom. But this said, in both cultural and spiritual matters, readily evident in village society and the Church, there is definitely a community mentality and a consciousness of interdependence which of course mirrors the Fathers' writings on the nature of the Trinity. Our Western society on the other hand with its "rugged individualism" fosters quite the opposite mindset with obvious effects on the way the West views the Church and lives out the Faith.

"Wouldn't taking literally a description of Jesus as an "individual" recapitulate the old Christological heresies? Arianism comes to mind, immediately, or some other form of subordinationism."

I suppose I never thought of Christ in that way, but now that I do, I think such a line of thinking may necessarily lead to any of a number of Christologic heresies


11 posted on 06/15/2005 9:12:52 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: sionnsar

I doubt "individual" has so much meaning in ordinary use. "We arrested three individuals" is merely a fancy way of saying "We took in three guys".


12 posted on 06/15/2005 9:17:48 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
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To: Kolokotronis
But this said, in both cultural and spiritual matters, readily evident in village society and the Church, there is definitely a community mentality and a consciousness of interdependence which of course mirrors the Fathers' writings on the nature of the Trinity. Our Western society on the other hand with its "rugged individualism" fosters quite the opposite mindset with obvious effects on the way the West views the Church and lives out the Faith.

I've seen people say Western Europeans are big on interdependence, too, often in connection with praising or deriding their social benefits programs. For what it's worth, I perceived such an interdependent culture during my two weeks in Ireland, most evident in the village parish and the village pub.

Not to downplay theological considerations, but it seems to me that contemporary city life encourages the more alienating tendencies of individualism. My experience of montane American life indicates such spirit is very much alive and well up there, where you can't count on the authorities to cope with great snowfall, a sudden injury, or a big dip in tourists.

13 posted on 06/15/2005 9:25:29 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Be not Afraid. "Perfect love drives out fear.")
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To: Dumb_Ox; sionnsar

"For what it's worth, I perceived such an interdependent culture during my two weeks in Ireland, most evident in the village parish and the village pub."

I've seen the same thing in Ireland (Kerry) and in Southern Poland. My observations have been that peasant society in the West, insulated from both the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation are at least socially very much like those in the East. Theologically, though, Roman Catholic peasant societies, perhaps I should say "ecclesiologically" rather than "theologically" are quite different from Eastern peasant scieties since in the East the laity play a much larger role in the Church than in the Roman Catholic West. The social similarities, though, I think are rooted by now, in ancient pre-Schism views of Christian society with traces of old pagan culture.

"Not to downplay theological considerations, but it seems to me that contemporary city life encourages the more alienating tendencies of individualism. My experience of montane American life indicates such spirit is very much alive and well up there, where you can't count on the authorities to cope with great snowfall, a sudden injury, or a big dip in tourists."

As far as your comment goes, I think you're right, but the roots of the individualism, and isolation, of modern city life here go back to the religious individualism of the post Protestant Reformation religions of Europe, like Puritanism which came over here. The pulling together of people in the face of natural hardships of which you speak (and which I like you have and do live with)I think is a harkening back to our early times here in America and the villages back in whatever old country our ancestors came from. It seems to me that one can have American or even Western European indvidualism and still pull together in the face of a common problem. This, however, is quite different from arguing that our theosis is somehow accomplished outside of the Eucharistic Community which is The Church, or that because we are each in some fashion unique that that fact allows us to pick and choose what from the Eucharistic Community we will take and what we will give, what we will accept and what we will reject.

"One who wants to be saved must remember, must never forget, the Apostolic commandment: 'Carry one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the Law of Christ.' This commandment is of great significance; one we must first and foremost strive to obey." Elder Amvrossy of Optina


14 posted on 06/15/2005 2:15:50 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: A.J.Armitage; Kolokotronis; sionnsar; Tax-chick; MarMema
A.J. -- good to see you around. Been awhile.

I agree with A.J. that most of the time, individual is just a short-hand for one person, and nothing theological need be read into it.

I also agree with K that Christianity is intrinsically tied up with community, and that the language of individualism is not perhaps a felicitous choice for those who want to fully express who a man is.

It has been said that at the root of nearly all the ancient heresies (most of which regularly pop up periodically in different forms) was the confusion of nature and person (hypostasis). Or put more simply, the confusion of "what" with "who."

The fathers wrote, as I recall, that the Divine essence and nature are uniquely enhypostasized as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Likewise, human nature is uniquely enhypostasized in each human being (and was also uniquely enhypostasized in the hypostasis/person of Jesus Christ.) Uniqueness and community are not in dialectical opposition with each other, although some of the pagan Greek philosophers felt otherwise -- A.J. knows more about those guys than I do.

This shared single human nature is what makes Christ the living bridge between God and man. This connectedness of the single human nature is why Christ's incarnation, life, death, and resurrection has transformed and healed human nature, making it possible for us to achieve salvation, and to be one day resurrected.

If by calling Christ an "individual," one fails to consider Christ's shared divine essence and nature, we end up with 3 gods at best, and with subordinationism and a "creaturely Christ" Arianism at worst. If by calling Christ an "individual," one fails to consider Christ's sharing of human nature with us, then we make Christ's work of no effect for us.

Of course, it is what it is -- what we believe doesn't change who God is and who we are. But what we believe does change how we think and act, and how we respond to God. And how we think and act affects our ability to change to become like Christ and to draw closer to him.

15 posted on 06/15/2005 3:37:56 PM PDT by Agrarian
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To: Agrarian
A.J. -- good to see you around. Been awhile.

It has, hasn't it? Good to talk again. From what I've seen you spend most of your FR time in the Religion forum, which is also where I spend most of mine, but you're on Orthodox threads and I'm on Protestant ones.

The fathers wrote, as I recall, that the Divine essence and nature are uniquely enhypostasized as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Likewise, human nature is uniquely enhypostasized in each human being (and was also uniquely enhypostasized in the hypostasis/person of Jesus Christ.)

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this. Not that I actually disagree, but I also don't see where a tritheist would disagree. Not that I'm calling you a tritheist, of course. (Incidentally, have there ever been any heresies that held to tritheism? The Mormons sometimes make tritheistic sounding noises, but they're polytheists, or maybe heno-tritheists. Was there ever real tritheism, or is it just a hypothetical error a person could fall into and a false accusation against orthodoxy from Jews, Modalists, Arians, Muslims, and other varieties of unitarian?)

I would also say that God is one Being enhypostasized (it's unfortunate "impersonated" already means something completely different and we have to resort to a word like enhypostasized) in three Persons, and each human is one being enhypostasized in one person, although in Christ that One Being is the Being Who created the universe and is also enhypostasized in two other Persons Who are not human. Or whatever the right way to put it is, the Persons of the Trinity are One in a way humans are not, or rather humans are isolated from each other in a way the Persons of the Trinity aren't. And not just, I think, because of the Fall. Eve evidently thought God forbade touching the forbidden fruit, which means there was some sort of miscommunication between her and Adam. But maybe this won't be the case in Heaven, because the saved are being taken up into the life of Christ.

But I completely agree that it's the interconnectedness of humanity that makes the Incarnation of benefit to us. He is, after all, our Kinsman.

Uniqueness and community are not in dialectical opposition with each other, although some of the pagan Greek philosophers felt otherwise -- A.J. knows more about those guys than I do.

Something in the friend's response reminded me of Plato. :-)

It said: The INDIVIDUAL is characterized and defined/ defines himself in terms of his differences from other individuals. Individualism is inherently and inevitably atomistic (hence profoundly contrary to human nature -- see below). Where it is the dominant functional philosophy, society is always in flux between the extremes of anarchy and collectivism (which is the revenge human nature takes on radical individualism), leaving man with a choice between the life of the solitary wasp or that of the hive. The human PERSON, though unique, is defined in terms of his relation to other human persons.

Plato said the city would only be united if all men said "mine" and "not mine" at the same time, in relation to goods and even -- especially -- to people. Which is why the ideal city abolished the family. Particular relations with particular people also sets people apart; a man has one particular woman as wife rather than some other woman, one set of relatives, some people rather than others as friends, and so on. So Plato's ideal city got to extreme collectivism through atomized individualism.

I think Plato's view of love is interesting to note here. Take romantic love. I like girls who, beside being beautiful (everyone likes that) are intelligent and can hold up their end of a good conversation. Plato would say what I really like are Beauty and Intelligence and Good Conversation, and particular humans are merely fungible instantiations. But I don't like Good Conversation, I like having good conversations, and you can't have a good conversation with Good Conversation, you can only have one with a person.

16 posted on 06/16/2005 6:58:27 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
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To: A.J.Armitage

Well, there aren't any Cicero or "Lives of the Caesars" threads like there were in the glory days, so the religion forum is what I find most interesting.

I'm not aware of any tri-theists actually existing, either. "On Not Three Gods" was written by St. Gregory of Nyssa precisely because it was what those who held Trinitarian belief were accused of.

The problemt that I would have with saying that "God is one Being enhypostasized" would be to ask "who is this 'one Being'?" The patristic "ordo theologiae" is to start with the Persons, which is how God is revealed to us -- personally. There seems, with your formulation, to be a danger of seeing in this "Being" a personal "it" beyond and above the three "he's" of the Holy Trinity -- a "God-in-general" as Lossky put it.

If it helps, St. Athanasius, as I recall, pointed out that the essence of God is not divided up between the Persons, but rather is, in its fullness, in each of the three Persons.

I don't think that the Fathers ever spoke of human beings as sharing a single essence ("ousia") -- but only a single nature ("physis.") Thus, as you say, there is a kind of unity of Persons in the Trinity that is not shared by humans who simply share a common nature. In Christ, this is of course transformed, and we can begin to approach it -- and will particularly do so in eschaton, but we Orthodox would believe that to the extent that we participate in the life of God (exemplified by the saints), we can taste of this closer unity while here on earth (although that unity will be most acutely experienced with those in heaven...)

Good thoughts on Plato -- I knew I could depend on you. We have been discussing various matters with RCs on other threads, and one of the things that strikes me is how deeply Platonized some forms of Augustinian theology can be. It really is not a healthy mix with Christianity. To take a very random jump, your words on "Intelligence" and "Good Conversation" reminded me of the Charles Williams novel "The Place of the Lion," with its artistic portrayals of Platonism. He was supposedly a Christian, but reading that novel (which I quite enjoyed), I really felt like I was encountering a foreign, paganized Christianity.

Regarding collectivism, the key is that Platonic philosophy seems to tend to lead one to simplicity and identification. Thus, one person is not similar to another, but *is* the same person as another -- (on the same line as "mine and not mine" being said simultaneously -- "me" and "not me" are one and the same.) This is not really "individualism" as we would generally think of it, but it is atomistic, I would suppose.


17 posted on 06/16/2005 11:24:33 PM PDT by Agrarian
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To: Agrarian
I meant to reply earlier, but real life has a way of getting in the way.

Well, there aren't any Cicero or "Lives of the Caesars" threads like there were in the glory days, so the religion forum is what I find most interesting.

Now you're making me feel guilty.

I'm not aware of any tri-theists actually existing, either. "On Not Three Gods" was written by St. Gregory of Nyssa precisely because it was what those who held Trinitarian belief were accused of.

I just remembered the Collyridians, who have the distinction of introducing one of the errors in the Koran, because Mohammed mistook them for ordinary Christians.

The problemt that I would have with saying that "God is one Being enhypostasized" would be to ask "who is this 'one Being'?" The patristic "ordo theologiae" is to start with the Persons, which is how God is revealed to us -- personally. There seems, with your formulation, to be a danger of seeing in this "Being" a personal "it" beyond and above the three "he's" of the Holy Trinity -- a "God-in-general" as Lossky put it.

I think if there were a personal "it" above and beyond the Trinity, then the Three in the Trinity would be less than persons; a person who did seriously hold that view would be a modalist and would have the problem all unitarians have of explaining how God can have lacked true interpersonal relations before creation and yet not be impersonal.

I looked up Lossky, and he says something interesting here (or I think this is the person you were quoting):

As we have already observed, in expounding the dogma of the Trinity, western thought most frequently took as its starting point the one nature, and thence passed to the consideration of the three persons, while the Greeks followed the opposite course— from the three persons to the one nature. St. Basil preferred this latter way, which in conformity to Holy Scripture and to the baptismal formula which names the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, starts from the concrete. Human thought does not run the risk of going astray if it passes from the consideration of the three persons to that of the common nature. Nevertheless, the two ways were both equally legitimate so long as the first did not attribute to the essence a supremacy over the three persons, nor the second to the three persons a supremacy over the common nature."

I don't think that the Fathers ever spoke of human beings as sharing a single essence ("ousia") -- but only a single nature ("physis.")

If I define a being as that which is alive and has a distinct or unique essence (which seems as good a definition as any), this is the same thing as what I was saying.

Regarding collectivism, the key is that Platonic philosophy seems to tend to lead one to simplicity and identification. Thus, one person is not similar to another, but *is* the same person as another -- (on the same line as "mine and not mine" being said simultaneously -- "me" and "not me" are one and the same.) This is not really "individualism" as we would generally think of it, but it is atomistic, I would suppose.

Of course, Plato was Greek rather than American. So his atomistic cogs were civic cogs, working or fighting or ruling for the sake of the polis. An American atomistic cog produces and consumes for sake of the economy.

18 posted on 06/22/2005 9:34:17 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
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To: sionnsar

Of course Jesus was an individual ... all historical evidence proves that he actually lived.

And besides how could he have married Mary Magdalene & produced children (whose descendants are now thought to be in France ... the Holy Grail), if he wasn't real?

My goodness.


19 posted on 06/22/2005 9:48:15 AM PDT by RedwineisJesus
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To: sionnsar; Tax-chick; Kolokotronis; onedoug; Dumb_Ox; A.J.Armitage; Agrarian

I guess I was a bit off topic in my above post.

I just find that Mary Magdalene & Jesus story quite fascinating.


20 posted on 06/22/2005 4:05:29 PM PDT by RedwineisJesus
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