The Word, The Son, and Jesus Christ -- Eternity, Incarnation, and Temporality


#1

I’d like to hear some apologetic approaches to the following argument:

If God does not change (Mal 3:6), and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), then that means God never changes in Who He is. Therefore, the Incarnation (an therefore, the Conception in Mary’s womb) is an impossibility. Jesus grew (which is a change), and furthermore, the Incarnation denotes a moment in time when God took on humanity (which is a change). Since the human being Jesus has not always existed (if he was truly conceived and born), then the Word of God, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, has not always been the human being Jesus.

I have my own line of reasoning to combat the argument, but I’d like to hear other approaches (especially since I don’t have a “background” in apologetics).


#2

We need to understand what a person is and what a nature is.

A person is a subject, a “who” not a “what.”

A nature is the thing that makes something what it is, a “what” not a “who.”

Who is Christ? He is himself, the Second Person of the Trinity.

What is Christ? He is God and man.

Jesus has not always had a human nature. The Incarnation was the moment when the Second Person took on a human nature, but he remained the same person. His divine nature is unchanging, but he took on a human nature in time, was born, died, and rose.

God does not change. The divine nature does not change, but the Second Person now has a human nature (including a human body, soul, intellect, and will). Christ could change in his human nature but not in his divine nature.

Be careful with names, too. It is true to say that Jesus exists from all eternity because the name refers to the person. It is true that he was not given the name Jesus until the Incarnation, but he was the same person before and after.


#3

Pretty much sums that up…:thumbsup:


#4

Of course, we can say certain things of God after the Incarnation, keeping in mind that Christ’s two natures are united in his one person.

Mary is the Mother of God.
God died on the cross.
God was born in time.

So, it is not incorrect to say that God can change, as long as this is understood properly. The Second Person can change because he is a human being. Divinity itself, that is, the divine nature of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot change. But since Christ is one divine Person, everything done by him is done by God the Son.


#5

Indeed, St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, demonstrates the veracity of the following statements:

  1. God is man.
  2. Man is God.
  3. The properties of Christ’s human nature can be predicated of God.
  4. The properties of Christ’s human nature cannot be predicated of His divine nature.
  5. God was made man.
  6. Man was not made God.
  7. Jesus Christ is not a creature.
  8. Jesus Christ did not begin to exist.
  9. Christ as Man is a creature.
  10. It is incorrect to say “Christ as Man is God.”
  11. It is incorrect to say “Christ as Man is an hypostasis or person.”
  12. The union of the Word incarnate took place in the person, not the nature.
  13. The human nature was not united to the Word of God accidentally.
  14. The union is something created.
  15. The union of the two natures in Christ is the greatest of all unions.
  16. After the Incarnation the person of Christ is composite.
  17. The Son of God assumed flesh through the medium of the soul.
  18. Christ is one.
  19. There is only one being in Christ.
  20. In Christ there are two distinct wills: divine and human.
  21. There is no contrariety of wills in Christ.
  22. The soul of Christ is not omnipotent.
  23. The flesh of Christ was derived from Adam (and thus David).
  24. The Godhead was not separated from the flesh when Christ died.
  25. Christ’s Passion is not to be attributed to His Godhead.
  26. Christ’s Godhead and humanity are to be adored with one and the same adoration.

#6

Well, that’s an excellent answer, and it makes more sense than my attempt. :wink:

As for the name “Jesus”, what I meant was that the child born of Mary started to exist at a certain point in time, so Jesus – that is, Yeshua ben-Yosef (or however it would be spelled) – the human began to exist at a certain point in time. But yes, the name given was the name given from all eternity.


#7

Thank you!

The child born of Mary does exist from eternity, though, because he is the Second Person. He became human and was born at a point in time, but he has always been, is, and always will be. Jesus has always existed, but he has not always been human. He is not two persons but one Person.


#8

Again, I’ve misspoken and you’ve corrected me to what I actually thought I was saying. :wink: It was the physical human body and human nature which only began to exist at a point in time, correct? I keep misusing “Jesus” to refer to the human body, when (of course) it refers to the complete Person.

The way I tried explaining it to myself was thus: since God is outside of time and humanity is not, the Incarnation is the intersection of eternity and temporality, the realization of a Divine and Eternal Truth in a mortal and temporal world. Since before the conception, the second Person was eternally the Word, then at the very moment of conception, when the Word took on human nature, that complete Person remains eternally the Word.

(Fire away!)


#9

It’s hard to talk about the mystery of the hypostatic union accurately.

You’re right. He is consubstantial with the Father and consubstantial with us. In his divine nature he is eternally born of the Father. In his human nature he is born in time of the Virgin Mary.

How wonderful!


#10

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