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August 16, 2005

Ch. XVII. Q. 104. The Manhood of Christ

CATHOLIC doctrine requires us to believe that the eternal Son took a real and complete manhood, one in all respects like ours, although wholly free from sin; and that although His Manhood was endowed with grace to a unique degree, He submitted in it to the limitations which necessarily pertain to truly human life and experience.1

2. The human birth, characteristics and deeds of the Messiah were prophesied beforehand,2 and clearly appear in the Gospels.3 He was regarded as human by His closest observers,4 and so regarded Himself.5 The genuineness of His Manhood is asserted or implied throughout the New Testament,6 as is also His freedom from sin.7

3. The ancient docetists, thinking flesh to be intrinsically evil, regarded the flesh of Christ as apparent only;8 and the Apollinarians, believing that a human will is necessarily sinful, thought that the Person of the Logos took the place in Him of a rational human spirit.9 Both errors were condemned by the ancient Church. And the recurring tendency to ignore our Lord's human limitations, in particular those of His human consciousness, is also inconsistent with full acceptance of the Catholic doctrine concerning the real Manhood of the Incarnate.

4. The Incarnation caused Godhead and manhood to meet and interact in one inner self—that of the eternal Word10—but it neither did nor could cause an infusion of Godhead with its infinite properties into manhood. The infinite and non-psychological modes of divine functioning preclude their emergence within a human consciousness. Therefore, to mention a peculiarly significant consequence, our Lord's divine omniscience could not openly emerge within a human consciousness—not even His own. Accordingly, it neither did nor could interrupt and nullify the natural conditions of His increase in human knowledge and wisdom; and it could not alter the thoroughly human quality of all the apostles were able to observe in Him, and to record in the Gospels. The laws of the human held their own in His case.11

5. According to Catholic doctrine our Lord's human nature (a) came into existence at the moment of His taking it;12 (b) derives its personality from Him, having no other than His eternal Self,13 (c) is ideally perfect after its kind and catholic, not being reduced in representative value while He was on earth by His acceptance of the conditions of His age and race;14 (d) was neither handicapped by "original sin" nor defiled by actual sin, but was morally and spiritually perfect according to the requirements of each stage of its growth;15 (e) was uniquely endowed with grace, by virtue of the hypostatic union, so as to exhibit a moral invincibility and an incorruptibiIity in death which have no historical parallels;16 (f) by being raised from death and glorified is fitted to become the medium of union between Christ and His redeemed and the source of grace and glory to the baptized;17 (g) has not ceased to be really human in glory, and therefore retains its finitude.18.

6. The following precious truths are involved;19 (a) The eternal Son became passible, and has been touched with the feeling of our infirmities, so as to be qualified as our representative;20 (b) The revelation of God in Christ has been made in the terms of human experience, alone intelligible to us; 21 (c) His example, which is determinative for us because divine, has also been made humanly significant and helpful;22 (d) We are assured that our great High Priest and Judge understands our difficulties, and can unite human sympathy with divine judgment;23 (e) The assumption of flesh by very God vindicates the essential goodness and sacred purpose of material things, justifies their use in the sacramental dispensation of grace, and fortifies our faith in the resurrection of our bodies.24

1 Incarnation, ch. v; Archd. Wilberforce, Incarnation, chh. i-iv, xv; H.R. Mackintosh, Doctr. of the Person of Jesus Christ, Bk. III. ch. vi; D. Stone, Outlines of Christ. Dogma, pp. 67-73, 292-293; St. Thomas, III. iv-v.

2 Gen. iii. 15; xxii. IS; xxvi. 4; xxviii. 14; Deut. xviii. 15, 18; 2 Sam. vii. 12, 16; lsa. vii. 14; xi. 10; Iii. 13-liii; Jerem. xxxi. 22; etc.

3 St. John i. 14; St. Luke ii. 52.

4 St. Matt. ix. 27; xii. 23; St. John x. 33.

5 St. Matt. xvi. 13; St. John iii. 13; vi. 53; viii. 40.

6 Acts ii. 30; Rom. i. 3; 1 Cor. xv. 21-22; Gal. iii. 16, 29; Phil. ii. 7-8: 1 Tim. ii. 5; Heb. ii. 14-18; 1 St. Pet. iv. 1; 1 St. John iv. 2-3.

7 St. Matt. iv. 1-10; xxvii. 4; St. Luke i. 35; St. John iv. 34; viii. 46; Acts iv. 27; 2 Cor. v. 21; 1 St. Pet. i. 19; ii. 22; Revel, iii. 7. Cf. Rom. viii. 29.

8 J.F. Bethune-Baker, Early Hist. of Christ. Doctr., pp. 75, 79-81; Dic. of Christ. Biog. and Cath. Encyc., s. v. "Docetae"; Hastings, Encyc. of Relig., s. v. "Docetism."

9 Incarnation, ch. ii. 6; J.F. Bethune-Baker, ch. xiv; Hastings, s. v. "Apollinarianiim."

10 Q. 105.3, below.

11 Incarnation, ch. vi. 2, 6; K. Theory, chh. xi-xii; H.C. Powell, Principle of the Incarn., Bk. i. chh. i, iv-v.

12 St. Thomas, III. xxxiii. 3.

13 Incarnation, ch. v. 2; St. Thomas, III. iv. 2-6; A.J. Mason, Faith of the Gospel, ch. v. 6; W. Bright, Sermons of St. Leo, n. 26; J.F. Bethune-Baker, p. 294; R.L. Ottley, Incarnation, vol. II. pp. 123-125, 139, 269.

14 St. Thomas. III. iv. 3-5; A.J. Mason, ch. vi. 1; H.P. Liddon, Christmastide in St. Paul's, pp. 110-114; H.R. Mackintosh, pp. 391-394.

15 Incarnation, ch. v. 7; St. Thomas, III. xxxi. 7; xxxiv. 1; H.R. Mackintosh, pp. 400-404; A.P. Forbes, Nicene Creed, pp. 190-191.

16 Incarnation, viii. 4, 7; St. Thomas, III. vii.

17 Incarnation, chh. iii. 3; v. 10; ix. 8; W. Milligan, Ascension, Lec. iv;Archd. Wilberforce, pp. 63-65.

18 Incarnation, ch. v. 4; Church Qly. Review, July, 1897, pp. 354-355 (with patristic refs.); Rich. Hooker, Eccles. Polity, V. liii. 1.

19 Incarnation, ch. v. 9-12.

20 Heb. ii. 18; iv. 15; v. 8; 1 Tim. ii. 5. Archd. Wilberforce, ch. vii.

21 Incarnation, ch. v. 9; H.P. Liddon, Christmastide in St. Paul's, pp. 115-120.

22 Incarnation, v. 11; W. Bright, nn. 15, 74.

23 Q. 165.2, in vol. III.

24 Qq. 141.7 and 164.3-5, in vol. III; Incarnation, ch. v. 12. Cf. Phil. iii. 21.

Posted by AKMA at August 16, 2005 02:55 PM