A friend commented that Jesus laid down His divinity during His passion and death. I disagree with her but would like to know what the church teaches on this position.
Maybe you could say He laid it down in the sense He voluntarily accepted circumscription and limitation, “emptying Himself, taking the form of a servant.” There is no time that He ceased being God.
If by “laying down His divinity” your friend means that the Divinity left either the body or soul of Christ’s human nature, then that is heresy (I’m not saying he’s necessarily culpable, but still). But if he means, that a Divine Person died for us, and this person had the dignity of God, then that is perfectly acceptable as Seraphim73 pointed out.
In his epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul quoted a hymn that preceded his own conversion to Christianity (c. 33-36 AD) , and may have emerged within eighteen months of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (c. 30-36 AD); this hymn represents the very earliest beliefs of the early Christian community. That hymn says the following (New English Translation):
“who though he existed in the form of God
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself
by taking on the form of a slave,
by looking like other men,
and by sharing in human nature.
He humbled himself,
by becoming obedient to the point of death”
Christ did not lay down his divinity, but instead God the Son accepted a human nature by entering into the womb of the Virgin Mary and dwelling among us for over three decades. The addition of a nature does not equate to the negation of another; i.e., the Monophysitic heresy.
Because an aspect of divinity involves eternity and deathlessness, it was necessary for Him to set aside the power of His divinity in order to die.
He did not however cease to be divine; one cannot set aside one’s nature.
Having died as a human being, the power of His divinity came through and raised Him.
God Bless and ICXC NIKA
Death is a property of biological organisms, and occurs when homeostasis can no longer be maintained; a rock is not “dead,” because it was never alive. God is not a biological organism, and therefore was never alive and could have never died; only the human form that God entered into died while he continued to exist.
Some churches believe that Jesus “put it all on the line” during his whole life. Had he sinned even once, he would have died and never been resurrected (based on the “wages of sin is death” reading). Of course, this would have been impossible: if God, even in human form, is capable of sin, then that changes everything (and I mean everything).
I see some merit in this reasoning.
There must be something in the way that he called to the Father from the cross. At that moment, he doubted, and thought he was finished. After all, if he knew fully that he was to be resurrected and his death was just temporary pain, then he had nothing at stake. He faced death, but knew the outcome all along. If he knew the wonderful outcome in advance, he would never have screamed about being abandoned.
But if he was really afraid, and genuinely did not know the outcome, and cried out in utter despair, then he’s just like all of us, and this makes his humanity shine through. That’s the Jesus for me: humble; throwing himself on the mercy of his father - just like we all have to do when the time comes.
My belief is that Jesus took a huge risk in becoming human. He had existed for all eternity, didn’t really have to take on flesh and be a sacrifice (salvation could have been achieved simply by divine will), and therefore placed himself at his father’s will. It makes the resurrection all the more powerful in my consciousness because Jesus seems to have placed great faith in his father.
Please don’t attack me over this. I know it doesn’t sit well with Catholic teachings. I’m just offering another perspective.
she should clarify her terms.
I think the best thing to understand is the communication of idioms. Simply meaning that you can apply the properties of the son of god to Christ and visa versa.
We say God died on the cross. God can’t die because he is God, but Jesus died on the cross. We believe that Jesus is God and Man, so because he died on the cross we can say God died on the cross.
My guess is that your friend is trying to make sense how God died on the cross so he said he laid down his divinity so he could die. Christ can’t do that if he were to let his divinity go and that means he no longer has that on the cross he would only be a man not God and Man.
Did you ask her where she may have heard that from?
I don’t know where I could find info on this in the catechism, however I agree with what other posters have said, that Jesus never stopped being God, so He never actually lost His divinity. He could never actually lose His divinity.
I think she may be referring to Jesus’ sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane, taking on the weight of all of our sins, past, present and future, with such despair (if thats the word I’m looking for), feeling as if He had lost His divinity. So I believe He never actually lost His divinity, I believe if anything He only felt as if He had because of the utter bitterness He experienced in the Garden when presenting Himself to the father covered with all of our sins and I believe this is what your friend may be referring to?
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Thank you everyone for your replies. I will clarify her comments next time I see her, however I understood her to mean that Jesus laid down his divinity and was fully human when He died on the cross. It didn’t sound right to me, but I wanted to be sure I understood correctly before I speak to her about it.
Well He is “fully human” but I think I know what you mean.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote:Repeating from the Cross the first words of Psalm 22 “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” — “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46); uttering the words of the Psalm, Jesus prays at the moment of his ultimate rejection by men, at the moment of abandonment; yet he prays, with the Psalm, in the awareness of God’s presence, even in that hour when he is feeling the human drama of death.
However a question arises within us: how is it possible that such a powerful God does not intervene to save his Son from this terrible trial? It is important to understand that Jesus’ prayer is not the cry of one who meets death with despair, nor is it the cry of one who knows he has been forsaken. At this moment Jesus makes his own the whole of Psalm 22, the Psalm of the suffering People of Israel. In this way he takes upon himself not only the sin of his people, but also that of all men and women who are suffering from the oppression of evil and, at the same time, he places all this before God’s own heart, in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the Resurrection: “The cry of extreme anguish is at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation — not only for Jesus himself, but for ‘many’” (Jesus of Nazareth, II, pp. 213-214 Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2011).
In this prayer of Jesus are contained his extreme trust and his abandonment into God’s hands, even when God seems absent, even when he seems to be silent, complying with a plan incomprehensible to us. In the * Catechism of the Catholic Church* we read: “in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (n. 603). His is a suffering in communion with us and for us, which derives from love and already bears within it redemption, the victory of love.
My guess is she meant from Christ dying words (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?). It is definitely an interesting passage. Not Father, but God.
I have heard a couple different stories on Christ laying down his Divinity:
I have heard some say that Christ was 100% man/0% God just before that, so Christ no longer being divine (which is something He would probably notice), realizes that and cries out, but is no longer worthy to say Father. I think that is a bit of a stretch.
Another thought I have heard is that Christ was separated from the Trinity, but was still divine. They take it as the cup that Christ was afraid of, this separation. Although that does make sense, and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like; Trinity is a hard concept to grasp, but having 1 part of it being torn out? Mind blown. But, the problem I have with this is they are basically saying, for some short period of time, there were 2 Gods (1. God the Father and Holy Spirit (Duality) and 2. God the Son). That doesn’t make sense with Scripture, so not too sure about this one either; Christ was (for lack of a better word) dreading something.
The human and divine natures always remain in the incarnation of the Son of God.
*]Jesus is a person with two natures.
*]At no time was Jesus separated from His divine nature.
*]Therefore, God died on the cross.
Let Bishop Fulton Sheen have the last word: to the Teaching Nuns of Ireland, gathered in annual conference in Dublin,
You ask, for instance, “Did God die on the Cross?” The answer, happily, is Yes — as I have said the first answer is usually right. But if you go on and ask “What happened to the universe while God was dead?” nearly all abandon the great truth to which they have just assented, and explain that it was not God who died on the Cross but the human nature God the Son had assumed: which roughly is the Nestorian heresy, condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, one year before St. Patrick landed for the conversion of your ancestors and mine. The true answer, you may say, sounds not so very different from the heresy: need we bother the young with technical distinctions of this sort? But upon this distinction our redemption depends and the young are quite capable of seeing the distinction, and of rejoicing in it. ewtn.com/libr…SCHL/TCHREL.HTM
The faithful Jews around the cross at the time knew the psalms and the simple act of Christ quoting the opening lines was the equivalent of quoting the opening line to a popular song today. Everyone around him would instantly know that to be the opening line of a psalm that decries the despair of the psalmist, who even so goes on to declare God’s undying loyalty and the promise of hope everlasting. It was signifying to those present what the true meaning of His passion was.
We often miss the fact that this is a psalm of hope eternal, not despair.
Read ALL the words…