The Christological And The Cosmic Problems

The essence of the Christological problem is the question as to the

union of natures in Christ. Are there two natures divine and human in

Him? Is each distinct from the other and from the person? Is the

distinction conceptual or actual? The incarnation is a union. Is it a

real union? If so, what did it unite? We have seen that such

questions cannot be approached without presuppositions. What these

s shall be is decided in the sphere of a wider problem.

This wider problem is known as the cosmic problem. The solution given

to it prescribes the presuppositions of any attempt to solve the

specialised problem. We shall proceed to sketch the cosmic problem,

and to indicate the three main types of answers given to it. It will

then be evident that these three answers find their respective

counterparts in the Nestorian, monophysite and the catholic solutions

of the Christological problem.

As man's intellectual powers mature, two supreme generalisations force

themselves on his consciousness. He conceives his experience as a

whole and calls it the world; he conceives the basis of his experience

as a whole and calls it God. To some minds the world, to some minds

God, is the greater reality; but both concepts are present in varying

proportions wherever thought becomes self-conscious. Here we have in

its lowest terms the material for the ontological question, the first

and the last problem of philosophy. God and the world, at first dimly

conceived and scarcely differentiated, gradually separate and take

shape in the mind as distinct entities. The concepts become

principles, fixed by language and mental imagery. The gulf between

them widens until they stand at opposite poles of thought. In their

isolation they constitute a standing challenge to the mind of man. If

he thinks the world in terms of time, he must postulate a creator. If

he thinks the world out of time, he is forced to conceive a ground of

the world's being. The world cannot be thought without God nor God

without the world. The one necessitates the other. Yet when the

thinker tries to define the terms, he can at first only do so by

negatives. The world is what God is not, and God is what the world is

not. The two primary concepts thus attract and repel each other. The

mind's first task is to grasp them in their difference. It cannot rest

there, but must proceed to attempt to reunite them and grasp them in

their unity. Thus the main problem of philosophy is to conceive and

find expression for the relation between God and the world.

Christology attacks essentially the same problem. Christology is an

attempt to define the relation between God and the world in terms of


This relation has been conceived in three modes. According to the

level of thought reached, or, as led by their disposition and

education, men have made their choice between three mediating concepts.

Hence derive three divergent types of thought and three outlooks on

life fundamentally opposed. We shall take them in their logical

sequence for convenience of treatment. The historical connection is of

no importance for our present purpose, but it is noteworthy that the

time order both of the schools of philosophy and of the corresponding

Christological systems follows approximately the logical order.