Did the Incarnation change the Nature of God?


#1

OK, how about a nice, juicy metaphysical question:

PREDICATE: God is eternal and unchanging. The Nature of God can never change in any way; change requires potential (ie, might be one thing, or might be another), but God has no potentiality, only actuality (ie, what IS). He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

PREDICATE: The Incarnation occurred at a specific point in time and space. In this event, “human nature was assumed, not absorbed” (CCC 470), and “what [Jesus] was, he remained, and what he was not, he assumed.” (CCC 469).

These two predicates appear to be mutually self-exclusive. The Divine Nature cannot change, but it absorbed a human nature in a space/time event. To me, this seems to suggest a change in the Divine Nature.

POSSIBLE ANSWER: God exists outside of space/time, and sees all existence in an eternal “now.” Thus, although we perceive the Incarnation as occurring in a specific point in space and time, to God, it is an eternal event.ANSWER DISPROVED: If the human aspect of God’s nature is eternal (like God) then it means the Divine Nature is dependent on human nature. This makes the existence of God contingent upon the existence of mankind. But, since God is a necessary existence, that would also require that mankind be a necessary existence. But there cannot be more than one necessary existence (I’m skipping a lot of sub-proofs; logicians will follow this). Thus, it is not possible that the human aspect of the Divine Nature is eternal.
So how do we logically explain the absorption of a human nature into the Divine Nature without also predicating a change in the Divine Nature? I have a feeling it has something to do with this distinction between “absorption” and “assumption,” but I cannot develop a proposition that I think will stand up.

Any Thomists (etc) out there wanna give this a shot?


#2

I think you’ve scared everyone off! Ask me one on sport.


#3

[quote=DavidFilmer]So how do we logically explain the absorption of a human nature into the Divine Nature without also predicating a change in the Divine Nature? I have a feeling it has something to do with this distinction between “absorption” and “assumption,” but I cannot develop a proposition that I think will stand up.
[/quote]

I think you’ve got it right. When we consider the Hypostatic Union (Christ being fully human and fully Divine), we see that Christ assumed His human nature. His divinity was united with humanity, but in such a way that neither underwent a fundamental change. In other words, Christ took everything that it is to be human, and added it to His nature. But His underlying divinity was not altered.


#4

[quote=DavidFilmer]If the human aspect of God’s nature is eternal (like God) then it means the Divine Nature is dependent on human nature…
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Not necessarily. It could also mean that our human nature is dependant on Christ’s Human Nature.

It seems to me that this is more in line with Church teaching, us being made in His image and all.


#5

#6

Not be be a killjoy or conversation stopper, but it it is good to keep in mind that theology is primarily concerned with transmitting and expounding truth, but not necessarily concerned with the HOW. In cases dealing with the miraculous generally and the nature of God especially, the HOW may not even be within our intellectual grasp. For example, when speaking of the the Eucharist, it is revealed truth that the consecrated bread becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord. HOW that can be is not known. Even the term transubstantiation is a description of the reality that exists, rather than an explanation of how this happens.


#7

The Divine Nature cannot change, but it absorbed a human nature in a space/time event. To me, this seems to suggest a change in the Divine Nature.

I disagree. I absorb many physical things, but my human nature does not change in its essence. Furthermore, I can assume something, such as an identity, but my nature remains unchanged. I’ve never assumed another nature, so I can speak to this reality. However, I can absorb supernatural things (grace), which better equips my nature, intrinsically elevating it, but not essentially changing it.

I suggest your premise is doubtful. Absorbtion/assumption does not necessitate change in essence, in nature, as you presume.


#8

[quote=DavidFilmer] The Divine Nature cannot change, but it absorbed a human nature in a space/time event. To me, this seems to suggest a change in the Divine Nature.
[/quote]

No. The Divine Nature did not absorb a human nature. The Second Person of the Trinity assumed a human nature.

The Son is always in possession of the Divine Nature. It was the person of the Son alone–not the Father or the Holy Spirit–who assumed a human nature. The Divine Nature is unchanged.


#9

[quote=Dr. Colossus]I think you’ve got it right. When we consider the Hypostatic Union (Christ being fully human and fully Divine), we see that Christ assumed His human nature. His divinity was united with humanity, but in such a way that neither underwent a fundamental change. In other words, Christ took everything that it is to be human, and added it to His nature. But His underlying divinity was not altered.
[/quote]

Should that be more of took everything that is to be human and added it to his PERSON, since nothing was added to Jesus’ divine nature, but rather he assumed a human one?


#10

[quote=porthos11]Should that be more of took everything that is to be human and added it to his PERSON, since nothing was added to Jesus’ divine nature, but rather he assumed a human one?
[/quote]

Yes. I can see that wasn’t clear.


#11

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