The Duality Of Christ's Emotional Experience
Category: MONOPHYSITISM PAST AND PRESENT
We come now to the third element in the human spirit. It is only in
modern psychology that feeling has secured recognition as a distinct
constituent of man's nature; so it is not surprising that the question
as to its position in the incarnate Christ was not raised in former
days. Now, however, the psychology of feeling has come into its own,
and it has become important to consider whether in this particular,
too, Christ shared our human experience. Here, again, the argument for
maintaining the duality of Christ's emotional experience is twofold.
It follows, on the one hand, from the duality of the other parts of His
nature; and, on the other hand, it is proved by the facts of His life
as recorded in the gospels.
Human nature involves feeling, and two natures involve two universes of
feeling. Divine personality cannot be conceived as devoid of feeling.
With men feeling lies in the depths of being; it is the dynamic of
life. Feeling is the inner reflex of acts of thought and will. It
invariably accompanies cognition and volition. If thought and will be
attributed to the supreme being, the attribute of feeling cannot be
left out. When the God in Christ acted, divine feeling accompanied the
This surmise is proved correct on reference to the records of His life.
We find there two distinct emotional zones. Christ has all the
blameless feelings natural to man. There are in Him the feelings
accompanying sensation; physical pleasure and pain, hunger, thirst,
weariness, and, in addition, the higher grades of feeling, aesthetic,
sympathetic, and ethical. He experienced wonder, surprise, righteous
anger, the sublime, joy and love. A life rich in emotion was the life
of the Man Christ Jesus. When, however, we look more closely into His
experience, we catch glimpses of feeling such as no man could know. We
see there transcendent passion, great sorrow, great joy, so great that
they would break a human heart. We may instance the deep emotion
accompanying His resolve to go to meet His fate at Jerusalem, the
rejoicing in spirit at the success of the apostles' mission, His Agony
and His universal love.
The monophysites could not recognise this duality in Christ's emotional
nature. Hunger and thirst, and even the higher human feelings they
considered derogatory to the Son of God. Even when they admitted that
He suffered, they threw a veil of mystery over His sufferings. They
idealised the Passion. They made it seem as if His flesh was
privileged, as if His omnipotence excused Him from the emotional
experiences of humanity.
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