The Essence Of Catholic Christology
Category: MONOPHYSITISM PAST AND PRESENT
Catholic Christology has caught the spirit of Aristotle's teaching. It
is not primarily speculative. It is in close touch with fact. It is
the outcome of a deep-felt want. Redemption is the first demand of
religious experience; so it is the motive and theme of all Christology.
The soul views itself as a member of a world of souls estranged from
God, and for its own peace and welfare seeks to effect a union between
God and the world. Such a union, to be effective, must preserve the
being and value of the world. If there were no world or only a
valueless world, there would be nothing to redeem, or nothing worth
redeeming. Seeking that union in personality, and in the most
marvellous personality of history, the orthodox theologians by a true
instinct ascribed to Him both divine and human natures. He is the
cosmic unity of opposites. His person is the cosmic relation. In that
person the lower term of the relation has true being and full value.
Thus the Church steered a middle course between the Scylla of
co-existence and the Charybdis of identity.
These a priori deductions as to the being of Christ were verified by
a reference to fact. The life-story of the historic Christ comprises
two distinct groups of experience. There are thoughts, deeds, and
words attributed to Him that only God could have thought, done, and
said. There are as well thoughts, deeds and words of His that only a
man could have thought, done and said. Hence the diphysite doctrine
was verified a posteriori. Again, in both groups of experience there
is a never-failing connecting link. There is a unity lying deeper in
His consciousness than the duality. Christ, the Agent, is the same in
both parts. Whether as God or man, He is never out of character.
Hence the unity of the person also was established a posteriori.
Thus, to the orthodox Christologians, the expectation that the human
Ideal would be a unity, comprising divinity and humanity, was justified
by historical fact.
They found a further verification on applying the test of practice.
Orthodox Christology satisfies the requirements of the soul. Man's
chief spiritual need is access to God through "a daysman that might lay
his hand upon both." An exemplar, even though perfect, is not adequate
to his need. The unio mystica can only be experienced by the
leisured few. Man demands a religion of redemption, a redemption that
allows value to labour, to endeavour, to human thought, that recognises
the reality of pain and sorrow and sin, a redemption that redeems
humanity in all its phases and in the wealth of its experiences. An
Agent that has not shared to the full those experiences is useless for
the purpose. Redemption must be the work of One who knows God and
knows man, of One who has the touch of sympathy; for to such a touch
alone can humanity respond. The Christology that makes Christ Jesus
consubstantial with God and with man satisfies man's deep-felt need.
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