“In Four Words” (Hooker’s Christology Intermezzo)

I will, as promised, be getting to the latter installments of the discussion of Hooker’s Christology very shortly; in the meantime, however, I thought I would put up this little gem, which didn’t seem to fit within the compass of any of the planned posts, but which it would’ve been a terrible shame to omit.  At the end of V.54, in one of his most famous little passages, Hooker encapsulates in a delightfully tidy little nutshell the entire structure of orthodox Christology, and the various heresies that have challenged it (I have modernized the spelling and punctuation this time, mindful that not everyone gets as much of a kick out of “four” being spelled “fower” as I do):

“To gather therefore into one sum all that hitherto hath been spoken touching this point, there are but four things which concur to make complete the whole state of our Lord Jesus Christ: his deity, his manhood, the conjunction of both, and the distinction of the one from the other being joined in one.  Four principal heresies there are which have in those things withstood the truth: Arians by bending themselves against the deity of Christ; Apollinarians by maiming and misinterpreting that which belongeth to his human nature; Nestorians by rending Christ asunder and dividing him into two persons; the followers of Eutyches by confounding in his person those natures which they should distinguish.  Against these there have been four most famous ancient general Councils: the Council of Nicaea to define against Arians; against Apollinarians the Council of Constantinople; the Council of Ephesus against Nestorians; against Eutychians the Chalcedon Council.

In four words alethos, teleos, adiairetos, asynchytos–truly, perfectly, indivisibly, distinctly; the first applied to his being God, and the second to his being man, the third to his being of both one, and fourth to his still continuing in that one both, we may fully by way of abridgement comprise whatsoever antiquity hath at large handled either in declaration of Christian belief or in refutation of the foresaid heresies.  Within the compass of which four heads, I may truly affirm that all heresies which touch but the person of Jesus Christ, whether they have risen in these later days, or in any age heretofore, may be with great facility brought to confine themselves.  We conclude therefore that to save the world it was of necessity the Son of God should be thus incarnate, and that God should so be in Christ as hath been declared.”


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