‘The Unassumed is the Unhealed’ in the Forsakenness of Christ in the Theology of Gregory Nazianzen

The cry of dereliction and Jesus’s assumption of our humanity go hand in hand; at least that’s what Gregory of Nazianzen maintained. Here in a commentary on the theo-logic and exegetical prowess of I Corinthians 15.24-28, Nazianzen opines on this in a rich way (h/t to my friend Jerome van Kuiken for referring to this quote in his published dissertation Christ’s Humanity In Current And Ancient Controversy: Fallen or Not?).

The one who releases me from the curse was called ‘curse’ because of me; ‘the one who takes away the world’s sin’ was called ‘sin’ and is made a new Adam to replace the old. In just this way too, as head of the whole body, he appropriates my want of submission. So long as I am an insubordinate rebel with passions . . . which deny God, my lack of submission will be referred to Christ. But when all things are put in submission under him, when transformed they obediently acknowledge him, then will Christ bring me forward, me who have been saved, and make his subjection complete. . . . Thus it is that he effects our submission, makes it his own and presents it to God. ‘My God, my God, look upon me, why have you forsaken me?’ seems to me to have the same kind of meaning. He is not forsaken either by the Father or, as some think, by his own Godhead. . . . No, in himself, as I have said, he expresses our condition. We had once been the forsaken and disregarded then we were accepted and now are saved by the suffering of the impassible. . . . He made our thoughtlessness and waywardness his own, just as psalm [Ps. 22], in its subsequent course, says.[1]

The doctrine of the vicarious humanity of Christ features greatly in this Nazianzenian quote; not to mention the eschatological suspension between now and the consummate day. We see Nazianzen placing our status in Christ’s [pro nobis – for us], and Christ’s status in ours as our Great High Priest; holding us up and over in the grace of His life until the eschatological now of God’s life for us becomes the realized now for us—that we only currently experience by faith (which doesn’t make it any less real, just unrealized until its fully realized reality in beatific form).

As Jerome [van Kuiken] is developing (in the context I take this from), the above quote is in reference to and in development of the famous Nazianzus dictum ‘the unassumed is the unhealed’; a dictum that figures largely in TF Torrance’s theology as well!

We will have to visit the ‘forsakenness’ aspect of this later.

 

[1] Gregory Nazianzen, Or. 30.5 cited by Jerome Van Kuiken, Christ’s Humanity In Current And Ancient Controversy: Fallen or Not? (London/New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 115.

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What Does Thomas Torrance Mean by ‘The Latin Heresy’? Jerome van Kuiken Explains

Thomas Torrance refers to what he calls The Latin Heresy in Western theology; primarily derived from Augustine and his influence upon the development of Western theology. I think some people hear this language, and aren’t exactly sure what Torrance is referring to. To help remedy that I thought I would refer to Jerome van Kuiken’s brief explanation of what Torrance means by ‘The Latin Heresy’:

The ‘Latin heresy’ is Torrance’s term for Western Christianity’s historic tendency to think only in terms of external relations, one manifestation of which is to attribute to Christ an unfallen humanity. Leo’s Tome is a prime example, although Tertullian and Augustine share the blame for the West’s bifurcation of Christ’s humanity from ours. Torrance also faults the Chalcedonian Definition failure clearly to indicate that Christ’s humanity was fallen, not neutral. The ‘Latin heresy’ has infected most Western theology from the fifth century forward. Among those who have escaped its influence, Torrance lists Peter Lombard, Martin Luther, John McLeod Campbell, H.R. Macintosh, and Karl Barth.[1]

Jerome’s is a certain application of the way Torrance deploys his thinking in terms of the Latin heresy, but its explanation is present in the way that van Kuiken articulates it. What can be observed is that for Torrance, when it comes to anthropological concerns, the Latin heresy entails an abstraction of humanity from the humanity of Christ such that humanity can be thought of in terms of a Christ-independent self; exactly what Torrance (and Barth for that matter) believes Scripture and the Chalcedon Christological pattern will not allow for.

At base, the Latin heresy, for Torrance is the idea that we can think reality apart from Christ (i.e. dualistically) only to then, when confronted with God’s Self-revelation in Christ, think ourselves and reality back into Christ. According to Torrance (and I agree!) this is precisely the wrong way, a ‘non-Christ[ian]’ way, to think; in regard to both ontology and epistemology, and “metaphysical/physical” reality in general.

[1] E. Jerome van Kuiken, Christ’s Humanity In Current And Ancient Controversy: Fallen Or Not? (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 43.