The Reign of the Son of Man

This post, again, contains much material from last year, but considerably reorganized, and much more developed (particularly in the latter section)

For Hooker, the royal supremacy, and indeed, the whole identity of a Christian commonwealth, cannot be explained without reference to Christology.  In this, he responds directly to Cartwright, but also, as we shall see, to VanDrunen, for both have advanced the same argument.   

In Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, VanDrunen lays great weight on what he calls the Reformed doctrine of the “two mediatorships,” which he summarizes, 

“As mediator, the divine Logos is not limited to his incarnate form even after the incarnation.  He was mediator of creation prior to his incarnation and as mediator continues to sustain creation independent of his mediatorial work as reconciler of creation in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth.” 

The function of this doctrine is to emphasize two distinct offices of the Son of God, that of creator and governor over the order creation, on the one hand, and that of redeemer and governor over the order of redemption on the other.  These are not to be characterized as a temporal sequence, for, by virtue of the doctrine of the extra Calvinisticum, VanDrunen sees both offices being executed simultaneously and separately—while Christ was on earth, and indeed, after his ascension as well.  We need not look far to find the function of this doctrine for VanDrunen, for if Christ exercises two separate kingships, this authorizes the two kingdoms distinction.  VanDrunen, we will recall, correlates the civil kingdom to creation, encompassing phenomena such as politics, economics, and culture, and the spiritual kingdom to redemption, encompassing the Church and its work.  

Thus far, the distinction is fairly unobjectionable.  Having once made such a distinction, however, we must be careful not to allow it to become a dichotomy.  The personal unity of the Incarnate Word ensures that, as Hooker emphasized, creation and redemption hold together as two works of the same agent; moreover, these are not two unrelated works, but the latter, as we have seen repeatedly in Hooker’s exposition, renews the former and brings it to perfection.  A mere distinction of this sort, therefore, will not necessarily underwrite the strict separation of Church and state, of the norms of redemption from the norms of creation, that VanDrunen seeks to offer.  VanDrunen must therefore seek to resist the communicatio idiomatum whereby the human acts of the work of redemption can be predicated of the eternal Word and the divine acts of creation and governing creation can be predicated of the Son of man.  VanDrunen thus asks us to separate out these two “capacities”: “The Son of God rules the temporal kingdom as an eternal member of the Divine Trinity but does not rule it in his capacity as the incarnate mediator/redeemer.”  VanDrunen will even go so far as to say that this means we cannot rightly speak of “Christ” as creator:  “To distinguish between the Son as creator and the Son as redeemer entails that the title of ‘Christ’ belongs only to the latter . . . in his special mission of becoming incarnate for the particular work of saving his people.  The Son redeemed the world, but did not create the world, as the Messiah, the Christ.”  On this basis, VanDrunen argues, it is wrong to try to make the creation order (and thus the state) “Christian.”    

Distant as these Christological concerns may seem from politics, a glance at the 16th-century reveals that VanDrunen is not barking up the wrong tree.  In his debate with Whitgift over the relationship of the two kingdoms, Cartwright developed a similar line of argument, which he pursues at some length in his Second Replie.  In attacking Whitgift’s account of the civil and spiritual kingdoms, Cartwright argues that  

“yt confoundeth and shuffleth together the autoritie of our Saviour Christ as he is the sonne off God onely before all worldes coequall with his father: with that which he hath gyven off his father and which he exerciseth in respecte he is mediator betwene God and us.  For in the governement off the church and superiorytie over the officers off it, our Saviour Christ himselfe hath a superior, which is his father: but in the governement off kingdomes, and other commonwealthes, and in the superiority which he hath over kinges and judges, he hath no superior, but immediate autoritie with his father.”  

Further on, he explains, 

“let yt be consydered fyrst that our Saviour Christ ys in one respecte creator, and preserver of mankinde, in another redeemer, and upholder of his church.  For he created once and preserveth daily as God coequal with his Father, and holy spirite, but he both redemed once, and daily gathereth his church, as mediatour of god and man, in which respect even yet in his infynite glory he enjoyeth, he is, and shall be under his father, and holy ghost, untill having put downe all rule and power, he shall render the kingdom to his father.  Secondly yt ys to be donsidered, that as our Saviour Christe doth these in dyvers respectes: so he doth them by divers meanss.  To wyt that as God symply he hath ordeined certein means to serve his providence in the prservation of mankynde; so as God and man, he hath ordeined other certein, for the gathering, and keping off his church.  Thes groundes laied, yt is to be considered, whether the exercise off the sworde by the magistrate, come from our Saviour Christe preserver off mankinde, wherein he is coequal to his father, or as mediatour off his church, wherin he is inferiour.”

In these passages, Cartwright is attempting to assert a Christological basis for a separate government of church and state.  These institutions, says Cartwright, serve to provide for the ongoing work of redemption, and the ongoing government of creation, respectively.  Accordingly, they are not simply under the government of Jesus Christ in the same way, and cannot be mixed together.  In particular, Cartwright’s point here is to insist that we cannot speak of a human head of the Church, because the Church already has a human head, Christ Jesus, who answers to God.  As governor of the Church, “our Saviour Christ himselfe hath a superior, which is his father.”  However, Cartwright does want to allow for human heads of state, and thus argues that these are subordinated to Christ only as he is God: “in the governement off kingdomes . . . he hath no superior, but immediate autoritie with his father.”  Torrance Kirby explains: “According to Cartwright’s position, then, Christ has a double role or function as the ‘God-man’.  On the one hand, he is the source of all authority in the secular political order by virtue of his being the Son of God; on the other hand, he exercises ultimate power as head of his body, the Church, through his Manhood.”  With two distinct heads, then, the civil and spiritual kingdoms function in Cartwright’s account as two distinct, personally separated bodies.  

VanDrunen approvingly cites Samuel Rutherford advancing a similar, though perhaps even more starkly stated account: 

“Rutherford put the temporal kingdom under ‘God the creator’ and spiritual kingdom under ‘Christ the Redeemer and Head of the Church.’  In speaking further about the former, he writes that it is ‘not a part’ of Christ’s spiritual kingdom and thus states bluntly that the civil magistrate ‘is not subordinate to Christ as mediator and head of the Church.’  Along similar lines, he says later that ‘magistrates as magistrates’ are not ‘the ambassadors of Christ’ but ‘the deputy of God as the God of order, and as the creator.”

 

Behind this sort of account lurks the spectre of Nestorianism, the implication that we must treat the Incarnate God-Man as a separate agent from the eternal Word, and must strictly avoid predicating of the one functions carried out by the other.  Hooker is alive to this danger, and also to its larger consequences, recognizing that “such a separation within the source of authority, and its consequent ‘personal’ separation of the civil from the ecclesiastical community implies an inevitable de-Christianising of the secular political order.”  Accordingly, he responds to Cartwright’s claims from the Second Replie in a masterful stretch of argument in VIII.4.6, drawing on the Christological principles laid down already in Book V.

He begins, “As Christ being Lord or Head over all doth by vertue of that Soveraigntie rule all, so he hath no more a superiour in governing his Church then in exercising soveraigne Dominion upon the rest of the world besides.”  On this basis, he will argue “that all authoritie as well civill as Ecclesiasticall is subordinate unto his.”  One cannot, as Cartwright does, separate Christ’s kingship over the Church as man his divine kingship.  Hooker constructs his argument carefully, beginning with the eternal Son’s sharing in the rule of God the Father:

“That which the Father doth work as Lord and King over all he worketh not without but by the sonne who through coeternall generation receiveth of the Father that power which the Father hath of himself.  And for that cause our Savioures wordes concerning his own Dominion are, To me all power both in heaven and earth is given.  The Father by the sonne both did create and doth guide all.”

So far, VanDrunen and Cartwright would probably concur—the second person of the Trinity, by virtue of his divinity derived from the Father, is creator and ruler of all things.  However, Hooker insists at this point on the communicatio idiomatum: “there is no necessitie that all things spoken of Christ should agree unto him either as God or else as man, but some things as he is the consubstantiall word of God, some thinges as he is that word incarnate.  The workes of supreme Dominion which have been since the first begining wrought by the power of the Sonne of God are now most truly and properly the workes of the Sonne of man.  The word made flesh doth sitt for ever and raigne as Soveraigne Lord over all.”  Indeed, at stake here is not merely the doctrine of the incarnation—by virtue of which divine agency can be predicated of Jesus of Nazareth—but the doctrine of the ascension, by virtue of which the man Jesus Christ has been elevated, in his human nature, to kingship at the right hand of God over all his works.  Whereas VanDrunen asserts, and Cartwright implies, a version of the extra Calvinisticum which permanently sunders the human being Jesus Christ from the lordship exercised by the divine Son, Hooker insists that all that the Son worked as God he works now also as man, and what the Son works as man, he now does by divine power: “And yet the dominion wherunto he was in his humane nature lifted up is not without divine power exercised.  It is by divine power that the Sonne of man, who sitteth in heaven doth work as King and Lord upon us which are on earth.”  The two natures, in short, are united in one agency, one dominion, a dominion over not only the Church, but all creation.  

It is thus as both God and man that Christ rules over his Church, and as both God and man that he rules over the kingdoms of this world.  The foundation for all earthly government, then, is not merely from God the Creator, but now also through the God-man, the redeemer, who as man sits on the throne at the right hand of God, as redeemer of the world exercises his rule over creation.  All that the Son has and does by virtue of divinity, his humanity is made sharer in, and all that Jesus Christ has and does by virtue of his humanity, the divinity is made sharer in.  This, Hooker has argued, is simply the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation.  One cannot say then that as divine Son, the Word exercises a dominion in which the man Christ Jesus has no part, or that as redeeming man, Christ exercises an office in which the divine Son has no part.  Rather, all things on heaven and earth are made subject to the Word made flesh.  For that reason, there is no part of the natural order that has not been united to, and perfected in, the order of grace.

 

Just as the implications of Cartwright’s semi-Nestorian move for political theology are profound, so the implications of Hooker’s response supply him with a strong foundation not merely for his defence of the royal supremacy, but more generally, for his account of the Christian commonwealth.  Civil magistrates hold their authority derivatively from God through Christ, and thus are accountable to Christ for the outward protection of his kingdom.  Because we cannot sever Christ’s redemptive work from his work of creating and governing, it follows that magistrates are responsible not merely for preserving the created order of human society, and witnessing to God’s rule over it, but also for encouraging the redemption of society, and witnessing to the kingship of Christ the redeemer.  For Hooker, this is not a denial of his clear insistence on the integrity of the natural order, and of natural law as a means for governing this order.  Rather, as we have seen, he has maintained throughout that human nature seeks its proper fulfillment in union with God.  Now that this natural end has been achieved by virtue of supernatural grace in the Incarnation of Christ, one cannot speak of the natural order without reference to its rightful king, Christ the Redeemer.  In him, human nature has not been destroyed, nor transformed into something else; rather, it has been restored from its fallen condition, and advanced to a higher perfection, a perfection not beyond nature but proper to it.  Accordingly, the political order, while falling within the realm of nature, is not unaffected by the work of Christ; it cannot carry on as though it existed only under the banner of a generic deity.  By the same token, nor does natural law have no need of the revelation of Christ and his Word, despite having its roots in creation rather than redemption.


“No Where Severed”: The Problem of Ubiquity (Hooker’s Christology, Pt. 4)

Having established the personal identity between the eternal Word and the man Christ Jesus, the complete distinction and unimpaired integrity of the two natures, and the sense in which Christ’s humanity is glorified by its union with the Word, Hooker turns in chapter 55 of Book V to expound much more carefully the hotly-disputed question of ubiquity, which had driven a rift between the Lutheran and Reformed churches, a very serious rift indeed, touching as it did the crucial mystery of the Christian faith.  

Hooker, while operating within a basically Reformed Christology, seeks to articulate the question of ubiquity in a way that does as much justice as possible to the things the Lutherans wanted to emphasize.  This is quite a delicate theological operation, and it’s worth looking closely at how Hooker conducts it. 

 

He begins by affirming the tremendous importance of the question, since our salvation depends on union with Christ, and union with Christ requires an account of how Christ could be personally present to us.  He then lays down a key foundational principle, that he touched on already in ch. 53–that no nature can be both finite and infinite, and all created natures are finite: “Out of which premises wee can conclude not only that nothinge created can possiblie be unlimited or can receave any such accident qualitie or propertie as may reallie make it infinite (for then should it cease to be a creature) but also that everie creaturs limitation is accordinge to his own kinde, and therefore as oft as wee note in them any thinge above theire kinde it argueth that the same is not properly theires but groweth in them from a cause more powerfull then they are” (V.55.2).

This principle tells us that when inquiring of the omnipresence of Christ, we must be dealing with a property of his divinity: “Wherefore Christ is essentiallie present with all thinges in that he is verie God, but not present with all thinges as man, because manhood and the partes thereof can neither be the cause nor the true subject of such presence” (V.55.4). So far so good–standard Reformed stuff.  

Hooker then turns to ask what the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity would require: “if Christ in that he is man be everie where present, seinge this commeth not by the nature of manhood it selfe, there is no other waie how it should grow but either by the grace of union with deitie, or by the grace of unction received from deitie” (V.55.6)  You may recall that Hooker has spelled out in the previous chapter what is involved in each of these two “graces.”  Regarding the former, the grace of union, he established that the attributes of each nature are not communicated to the other nature, but the natures continue each the same nature that they were before, in unimpaired integrity–standard Chalcedonian stuff.  What about the grace of unction?

“And concerninge the grace of unction, wherein are conteined the guifes and vertues which Christ as man hath above men, they make him reallie and habituallie a man more excellent then we are, they take not from him the nature and substance that wee have, they cause not his soul nor bodie to be of an other kinde then oures is.  Supernaturall endowments are an advancement, they are no extinguishment of that nature whereto they are given” (V.55.6). 

We have already seen in the previous post how this logic works–an advancement of the human nature within the perfections proper to it, not a transcendence of that nature to another nature entirely.  Could ubiquity then be a perfection proper to the advancement of human nature?  Hooker answers a firm no:

“If his majesticall bodiie have now anie such nue propertie by force whereof it may everie where reallie even in substance present it selfe, or may at once be in many places, then hath the majesty of his estate extinguisht the veritie of his nature….To conclude, wee hold it in regard of the forealleaged proofes a most infallible truth that Christ as man is not everie where present as man” (V.55.6, 7).

 

Things aren’t looking very good for the Lutherans.  But then comes a crucial word–“Yeat”:

“Yeat because this [human] substance is inseparablie joyned to that personall worde which by his verie divine essence is present with all thinges, the nature which cannot have in it selfe universall presence hath it after a sorte by beinge no where severed from that which everie where is present.  For in as much as that infinite word is not divisible into partes, it could not in parte but must needes be whollie incarnate, and consequentlie wheresoever the word is it hath with it manhood.  Els should the worde be in parte or somewhere God only and not man which is impossible.  For the person of Christ is whole, perfect God and perfect man” (V.55.7).  

Now this is interesting stuff.  

Premise 1: The Word is fully and inseparably joined to human substance.  
Premise 2: The Word is indivisible.
First conclusion: Human substance must be everywhere the Word is.
Premise 3: The Word is everywhere.
Conclusion: Human substance must be everywhere.

 

Now, how is this going to work?  Well, in view of the limitations previously sketched,

“wee cannot say that the whole of Christ is simplie everie where, as wee may that his deitie is and that his person is by force of deitie.  For somewhat of the person of Christ is not everie where in that sorte namelie his manhood, the only conjunction whereof with deitie is extended as farre as deitie, the actual position restrained and tied to a certaine place.  Yeat preasence by waie of conjunction is in some sorte presence” (V.55.7).

So, the human nature can not be present everywhere by way of position…but it can be present by way of conjunction–it is always united to that which is present everywhere.  One has a feeling that modern quantum mechanics might be rather helpful in helping us sort out some of these metaphysical quandaries.  But although we might have difficulties articulating exactly how presence by way of conjunction works, Hooker’s next category may seem to us more fruitful, employing as it does more “actualistic” language that will please the Barthian in all of us.  

 

For we may also speak of the humanity’s presence by way of “cooperation with deitie”:

“that deitie of Christ which before our Lordes incarnation wrought all thinges without man doth now worke nothinge wherein the nature which it hath assumed is either absent from it or idle.  Christ as man hath all power both in heaven and earth given him.  He hath as man not as God only supreme dominion over quicke and dead.  For so much his ascension into heaven and his session at the right hand of God doe importe.  The Sonne of God which did first humble him selfe by takinge our flesh upon him, descended afterwardes much lower and became accordinge to the flesh obedient so farre as to suffer death even the death of the crosse for all men because such was his fathers will” (V.55.8).  

This humiliation of the manhood is followed by its exaltation:

“as accordinge to his manhood he had glorified God on earth, so God hath glorified in heaven that nature which yealded him obedience and hath given unto Chirst even in that he is man such fullness of power over the whole world that he which before fulfilled in the state of humilitie and patience whatsoever God did require, doth now raigne in glorie till the time that all thinges be restored” (V.55.8).  

We saw some of this already in the last section–the very exciting notion that the Incarnation means that humanity is now made a participant in all that God does, a co-worker of deity–God works nothing now that he does not work through and with a human being, Jesus Christ.  Thus, wherever the Word is at work–indwelling human souls, in the Eucharist, etc.–there is the human nature at work.  This is what we confess in the doctrine of the ascension–that the human nature has now been glorified to participate in the Son’s reigning over all things–formerly as God, now as God and man.

In short, “This government [over all creation] therefore he exerciseth both as God and as man, as God by essentiall presence with all thinges, as man by cooperation with that which essentiallie is present.”  How does this cooperation work?  “By knowledge and assent the soule of Chirst is present with all thinges which the deitie of Christ worketh” (V.55.8)


This much, though, applies only to the human soul of Christ, not his human body, which is what the Lutherans are after–after all, this is at root a dispute over his body and blood in the Eucharistic elements.  For this, Hooker returns to the earlier category of conjunction:   “For his bodie being a parte of that nature which whole nature is presentlie joyned unto deitie wheresoever deitie is, it followeth that his bodilie substance hath everie where a presence of true conjunction with deitie” (V.55.9).  

Finally, Hooker introduces, though very briefly, a third category: “And for as much as it is by vertue of that conjunction made the bodie of the Sonne of God by whome also it was made a sacrifice for the synnes of the whole world, this giveth it a presence of force and efficacie throughout all generations of men” (V.55.9).  The sacrificed body of Christ, which is a human body, is of infinite value and saving efficacy by virtue of its conjunction with deity, and therefore, it is “it selfe infinite in possibilitie of application”–the power of Christ’s body, then, even if not its actual physical substance, can be present everywhere in the Eucharist.  This last is very Calvinian language, and, one might add, closer perhaps to the original intention of “substance” language in the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which substance was to be understood as the dynamic power of something rather than its physical properties.  

Hooker thus concludes, hoping in all this to have so far extended a bridge to the Lutherans that they should have nothing more to complain about: “Which thinges indifferently everie way considered, that gratious promise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ concerninge presence with his to the verie ende of the world, I see no cause but that wee may well and safely interpret he doth performe both as God by essentiall presence of deitie, and as man in that order sense and meaninge which hath bene shown” (V.55.9).   

 

All of this material, I need scarcely add, is pregnant with significance not merely for Eucharistic theology, but also for ecclesiology and political theology.  I have little doubt that as I spend the next couple years with Hooker, I shall have ample occasion to reflect on these latter connections and implications.  Suffice for now to mention just one, because it is one that Hooker makes explicit in Book VIII of the Lawes, contra Cartwright, in an argument which proves devastating not only to the Puritan political theology/ecclesiology, but also to our familiar whipping-boy VanDrunen, who shares the same Christological paradigm.  The short version is this: if it is true that by virtue of the incarnation and ascension, human nature is made a sharer in all the operations proper to the eternal Word,  that in reigning at the right hand of God over all creation the Son of God rules now as Son of Man, then the whole “two mediatorship” paradigm collapses as heterodox.  Christ does not rule over creation as Son of God and over redemption as Son of Man, because Christ is Son of God and Son of Man inseparably now, and as redeeming Son of Man, he cannot but be a co-agent with God in all of the divine reign over every aspect of creation, political life included.  

(If this last bit intrigues you, don’t worry; you can bet on my posting much more along these lines over the coming months and years.)


The Threefold Gift (Hooker’s Christology, Pt. 3)

Having established in V.52 the personal identity of the Logos with the incarnate Jesus Christ, and in V.53 the unaltered integrity of the two natures in the person, communicating their attributes to the person but not to each other, Hooker turns in V.54 to offer an important qualification to the doctrine of V.53, explaining how it is that the human nature of Christ is perfected by its union with the divine.  We might say that V.52 represents the asymmetrical side of the hypostatic union, V.53 the symmetrical side, and V.54 a move back toward asymmetry.  The chapter is entitled “What Christ hath obteined accordinge to the flesh, by the union of his flesh with deitie.”

Before addressing this particular question, Hooker outlines three senses in which Christ is “a receyver”:

“first in that he is the Sonne of God; secondlie in that his humane nature hath had the honor of union with deitie bestowed upon it; thirdlie in that by meanes thereof sundrie eminent graces have flowed as effectes from deitie in to that nature which is coupled with it.  On Christ therefore there is bestowed the guift of eternal generation, the guift of union, and the guift of unction” (V.54.1)  

In other words, one might say, receptivity is not alien to the Son, but proper to him (as McCormack might put it, though arguing in a rather different direction than Hooker is here); Christ first receives eternal generation as a gift from the Father, before he receives anything in the incarnation.  Hooker has no qualms about asserting that the Father is autotheos: “Seinge therefore the father alone is originallie that deitie which Christ originallie is not (for Christ is God by being of God, light by issuinge out of light) it followeth hereupon that whatsoever Christ hath common unto him with his heavenly father the same of necessitie must be given him, but naturallie and eternallie given, not bestowed by waie of benevolence and favor, as the other guiftes both are” (V.54.2)

Now, before going on, we may note that there is a bit of an oddity here.  For when we speak of the first gift, the receiver is the Logos, clearly.  But in the second two cases, the receiver is the human nature, and the Logos, it would seem, is the giver.  But the human nature is not a hypostasis capable of receiving a gift, not, at any rate, until it is coupled with the Logos, which act is the second gift described above.  So in the first gift, the Logos is given to, in the second gift, the Logos gives himself, and in the third, the Logos gives from himself (in his divinity) to himself (in his humanity).  There would thus seem to be some logical problems in treating the three gifts as parallel.  

Of course, Hooker does recognize some distinctions–let’s pay careful attention, and see whether he resolves this tension.  The first gift is distinct from the latter two, in that it is given naturally, the latter two by grace.  “Touching Union of Deitie with manhood it is by grace, because there can be no greater grace showed towardes man then that God should voutchafe to unite to mans nature the person of his only begotten Sonne.”  Here then this appears to be a gift not to Christ per se, but from God to man.  Hooker proceeds to make it somewhat more precise: “As the father hath life in himselfe, the Sonne in him selfe hath life also by the guift of the father [i.e., the gift of eternal generation].  The guift whereby God hath made Christ a fountaine of life is that conjunction of the nature of God with the nature of man in the person of Christ [i.e., the gift of union]….The union therefore of the flesh with deitie is to that flesh a guift of principall grace and favor.  For by vertue of this grace man is reallie made God, a creature is exalted above the dignitie of all creatures and hath all creatures els under it” (V. 54.3).  It is then clearly the flesh assumed that is the beneficiary of this second gift, and as Hooker has already showed (in V.52) that the flesh (that is, human nature) assumed is not a particular human nature, but “that nature which is common unto all,” then the “guift of union” is a grace that is showed to human nature as such, that nature which we all share, which has been graced with the personal presence of God in it.  So the union is not a gift to the person Christ, but a reception on the part of that person of a gifted flesh, the giftedness of which consists in that very act of reception.  Is what sense is this a gift to the Logos?

 

After all, Hooker goes on, “This admirable union of God with man can inforce in that higher nature no alteration, because unto God there is nothinge more naturall then not to be subject to any chaunge.  Neither is it a thinge impossible that the word beinge made flesh should be that which it was not before as touching the manner of subsistence, and yeat continue in all qualities or properties of nature the same it was, because the incarnation of the Sonne of God consisteth meerlie in the union of natures, which union doth add perfection to the weaker, to the nobler no alteration at all” (V.54.4).  In other words, the divine nature of the Word cannot receive any change from the union, even if the human nature can perhaps receive “perfection” from it (here, we have asymmetry manifesting itself once again). 

“If therefore it be demaunded what the person of the Sonne of God hath attained by assuminge manhood, surelie the whole summe of all is this, to be as wee are trulie reallie and naturalle man, by means whereof he is made capable of meaner offices then otherwise his person could have admitted, the only gaine he thereby purchased for him selfe was to be capable of losse and detriment for the good of others” (V.54.4).

Now that’s some pretty sweet stuff.  The Son of God is not merely a giver in the union, but the receiver of a gift–he receives a new capacity–the capacity to be made lowly, to be capable of loss, to give himself up.  This is the grace of union which accrues to the Logos.  This is not a change to his nature, but it is a new property of His person.  

But Hooker does not dwell on this, much as we might like him to.  His main interest is in the change that takes place in the human nature assumed, since this was, Hooker believes, at the heart of his mission in the incarnation: “The verie cause of his takinge upon him our nature was to change it, to better the qualitie and to advance the condition thereof, although in no sorte to abolish the substance which he tooke, nor to infuse into it the naturall forces and properties of his deitie.”  He thus qualifies himself right away–it changes it, but not abolishing its substance or mixing it with the substance of deity.  He states the dialectical no change/change relation again, even more carefully:

“neither are the properties of mans nature in the person of Christ by force and vertue of the same conjunction so much altered, as not to staie within those limites which our substance is bordered withall; nor the state and qualitie of our substance so unaltered, but that there are in it many glorious effectes proceeding from so neer copulation with deitie….For albeit the naturall properties of deitie be not communicable to mans nature, the supernatural guiftes graces and effectes thereof are” (V.54.5.)

Now, this looks pretty shifty.  The human nature is in fact altered, but not so as to exceed the bounds of human nature?  The natural properties are not communicated, but the “guiftes, graces, and effectes thereofe” are?  Hmmmm…  Perhaps Hooker could be helped here by a bit of “actualism”–perhaps it’s not a matter of natural substance, but of offices and operations.  In fact, that seems to be just what Hooker has in mind–human nature is taken up into the history of God, and made to be sharers in all the honors and activities pertaining properly to the Logos:

“to be the way, the truth and the life; to be the wisedom, righteousness, sanctification, resurrection; to be the peace of the whole world, the hope of the righteous, the heire of all thinges; to be that supreme head whereunto all power both in heaven and in earth is given; these are not honors common unto Christ with other men, they are titles above the dignitie and worth of aniie which were but a meere man, yeat true of Christ even in that he is man, but man with whome it hath added those excellencies which make him more then worthie thereof.  Finally sith God hath deified our nature, though not by turning it into him selfe, yeat by makinge it his owne inseparable habitation, wee cannot now conceive how God should without man either exercise divine power or receive the glorie of divine praise.  For man is in both an associate of Deitie” (V.54.5).

Once again, this is some pretty sweet stuff.  Many Protestants (including McCormack) are quite hostile to deification language–it would seem to depend on a substance metaphysics and a substance soteriology that are alien (at least many would say) to the Protestant tradition.  But that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case here.  Here, man is “deified” by being made “an associate of Deitie”–a co-worker of God in all that he does, a co-receiver with God in all the honors that God receives.  The change that takes place is not a transformation of nature, but a making that nature a sharer in the life, the history, of God.  Sounds pretty good to me.

 

Finally, though, we come to the grace of unction, which might be more troubling to those leery of substance metaphysics: “did the partes of our nature the soule and boddie of Christ receive by the influence of Deitie wherewith they were matcht no abilitie of operation, no vertue or qualitie above nature?”  No, says Hooker–just as a heated sword cuts both by its own sharpness and by the virtue added to it by the heat, so

“the deitie of Christ hath inabled that nature which it tooke of man to doe more then man in this world hath power to comprehend, for as much as (the bare essentiall properties of deitie excepted) he hath imparted unto it all thinges, he hath replenisht it with all such perfections as the same is anie waie apt to receive, at the least accordinge to the exigence of that economie or service for which it pleased him in love and mercie to be made man.  For as the partes degrees and offices of that mysticall administration did require which he voluntarelie undertooke, the beames of deitie did in operation allwaies accordinglie either restraine or enlarge themselves” (V.54.6)

In other words, the nature of man, without ceasing to be human nature, was made capable of operations beyond the ordinary power of human nature–this is how Hooker accounts for the superhuman knowledge of the human Christ, for the incorruptibility of his human flesh, etc.  How does this understanding not violate his qualifications, about how the human nature is not changed, does not receive the natural properties of the other nature, is not stretched beyond what it means to be a human nature, etc.?  Hooker’s qualification here is “with all such perfections as the same is anie waie apt to receive” (V.54.6)–that is to say, with the elevated perfections that human nature is somehow predisposed to receive, that human nature can receive without going beyond what it means to be human.  This qualification means that Hooker is not willing to include ubiquity as part of the gift of unction.  “Wee nothing doubt but God hath manie wayes above the reach of our capacities exalted that bodie which it hath pleased him to make his own….Notwithstanding a bodie still it continueth, a bodie consubstantiall with our bodies, a bodie of the same both nature and measure which it had on earth” (V.54.9).  So this qualification does have some real force–there is a difference between human and superhuman–even if we might wonder if it should have more force, precluding, for instance, the super-human knowledge that Hooker attributes to the human mind of Christ.  

The notion upon which Hooker is relying here is a fascinating one, and one that has always remained a subtle undercurrent in Western theology, though never properly developed here as it was in the East: human nature is not static, but dynamic; human nature is destined for, capable of, a greater perfection than that which it had at the beginning.  For human nature to transcend itself is thus not to become super-human, not to abolish human nature, but to advance into the perfection proper to it, to become in fact more human.  In Eastern Christology and soteriology, Christ is understood to have proleptically advanced our human nature to this perfection destined for it, to be the true human, more human than we are, showing us what we are to become.  Soteriology is then about us treading that pathway into fuller humanity, becoming like God but not therefore becoming less human.  There is I think a significant hint of this in Hooker, and this is why he thinks he can say that the human nature receives added perfection from the divine, but not so that it becomes any less a human nature, however, I think it remains only a hint, since there is nowhere in the Lawes anything in the way of a systematically-developed anthropology that would provide the necessary grounding for this understanding.  (That would have to wait for Nevin. 😉 )

 

In ch. 55, Hooker turns to elaborate much more fully on the question of ubiquity, in light of the categories laid out in this chapter, since the question of ubiquity was at that time still quite a hot-button controversy with the Lutherans.  Because of the length of this discussion, I will reserve it for a separate post a few days from now.



“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.”



“No person but the Sonne of God” (Richard Hooker’s Christology, Pt. 1)

As something of a transition (albeit a bit belated) between filling much of my blogspace with reflections on McCormack’s Christology and filling much of it with reflections on Richard Hooker (as I shall be wont to do for the next couple years, most likely), I thought it might be good to write up a few posts on Richard Hooker’s Christology, which although quite rich and thoughtfully developed, is rarely if ever mentioned in surveys of Protestant Christology (at least, I have never heard it mentioned).  This is a sad oversight, for though certainly not startlingly original, Hooker articulates a Reformed Christology that is deeply rooted in, and consciously harmonized with, Patristic orthodoxy, and that goes a fair way toward bridging the deep rift that had opened up between Reformed and Lutheran Christologies by the end of the sixteenth-century.  At any rate, that is how I read it, though I invite those more expert in Christology and historical theology to correct or nuance this judgment.

Hooker’s Christology is also well-worth attending to for my own purposes, since Torrance Kirby argues in his recent monograph Richard Hooker’s Doctrine of the Royal Supremacy that it is integral to his political theology, in particular his account of the relationship of the two kingdoms, and of Church and State.  Indeed, Kirby claims that Hooker constructed his doctrine this way in direct response to Cartwright’s appeal to Christology to undergird the Puritan political ecclesiology, arguing that Cartwright’s Christ was heterodox.  If so, this is very intriguing indeed, since none other than our old friend VanDrunen has summoned forth Christology as an integral foundation for his version of the Reformed two kingdoms doctrine, and to my mind has fallen into heterodoxy in the process.  My hunch is that Cartwright’s correlation of Christology and political theology will have the same structure as VanDrunen’s, and Hooker’s response will be equally telling against both, thus providing another means of tying in Hooker’s political thought with modern debates.  

 

Hooker’s Christology proper spans twenty-five densely-packed pages in the middle of Book V of the Lawes, comprising chapters 51-55.  Although the immediate question before Hooker at this point in Book V is the efficacy of the sacraments, he opts, as usual, to build this more particular discussion on as general and systematic a foundation as possible, and that means explaining who Christ is and how we can have communion with him in his divine and human natures.  And if Kirby is correct, Hooker penned this discussion also with an eye toward his account of church and state and the royal supremacy in Book VIII, which would draw on the Chalcedonian language of two natures in personal union.  Although spanning five chapters, Hooker’s discussion can be divided into three movements: first, a thoroughly orthodox and Alexandrian statement of the received Chalcedonian doctrine, emphasizing the personal identity of Christ with the eternal Logos; second, a typically Reformed statement of the communicatio idiomatum, emphasizing the separation between the two natures; third, a series of qualifications to the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, constituting as it were concessions to the Lutheran understanding of the divinization of the human nature and its resultant ubiquity, yet without abandoning firm Reformed ground.  I shall allot one post to each of these movements.

 

First, then, Hooker undertakes to establish in ch. 51 “That God is in Christ by the personall incaranation of the Sonne who is verie God.”  He begins by making a traditional Trinitarian distinction of the three persons and the one nature, and uses this distinction to show that the second person, the Word, becomes incarnate, but the other two persons do not.  However, while being careful to deny the incarnation of the other two persons, we must not deny the incarnation of the divine nature: “Notwithstandinge for as much as the worde and deitie are one subject, wee must beware wee exclude not the nature of God from incarnation and so make the Sonne of God incarnate not to be verie God.  For undoubtedly even the nature of God it selfe in the only person of the Sonne is incarnate and hath taken to itself flesh.”  We must not imagine any kind of gap between the person of the Word and his nature.  “Wherefore incarnation may neither be graunted to any person but only one, nor yeat denied to that nature which is common unto all three”–so the orthodox doctrine requires, but Hooker confesses this “an incomprehensible mysterie” (51.2)  

Why should this incarnation happen?  Because “it seemeth a thinge unconsonant that the world should honor any other as the Savior but him whome it honoreth as the creator of the world, and in the wisdom of God it hath not bene thought convenient to admitt anie way of savinge man but by man him selfe.”  Using language reminiscent of Athanasius, then, Hooker says “It became therefore him by whome all thinges are, to be the waie of salvation to all, that the institution and restitution of the world might be both wrought by one hand.”  Moreover, inasmuch as God willed that the world could only be saved by the death of his Son, “Christ tooke manhood that by it he might be capable of death whereunto hee humbled him selfe” (51.3)

He moves on then in ch. 52 to define the hypostatic union.  He begins with due humility, warning that “It is not in mans habilitie either to expresse perfectlie or conceyve the maner how this was brought to passe….Howbeit because this divine mysterie is more true than plaine, divers havinge framed the same to theire owne conceiptes and phancies are found in theire expositions thereof more plain than true” (52.1).  In other words, orthodoxy and logical clarity are likely to be inversely proportional in this matter; heresies have erred more often than not by trying to make the matter perfectly clear, thus undermining the delicately-balanced tension of the orthodox paradox.

He then runs through a quick and dizzying catalogue of the heresies that arose on this point between Nicaea and Chalcedon, culminating with Nestorius, in response to most of the rest of this chapter is arranged.  By Nestorius’s time all had come to agreement that Christ was both truly God and truly man, “But that the selfe same person which verelie is man should properlie be God also, and that, by reason not of two persons linked in amitie but of two natures humaine and divine conjoyned in one and the same person, the God of glorie may be said as well to have suffered death, as to have raised the the dead from theire graves, the Sonne of man as well to have made as to have redeemed the world, Nestorius in no case would admitt” (52.2).

His error here, says Hooker, steemed from inattention to John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt in us”; the plural number signifies that Christ became incarnate in the manhood common to us all, not in one particular man.  This distinction is absolutely essential, as Hooker expounds so well that it is worth quoting him at length:

“If the Sonne of God had taken to him selfe a man now made and already perfected, it would of necessitie follow that there are in Christ two persons, the one assuminge and the other assumed, whereas the Sonne of God did not assume a mans person unto his own, but a mans nature to his owne person, and therefore tooke semen the seed of Abraham, the verie first originall element of our nature before it was come to have anie personall humaine subsistence.”  

This means that there was never anything human preexisting the union of the Word with the human: “The flesh and the conjunction of the flesh with God began both at one instant, his makinge and takinge to him selfe our flesh was but one act.  So that in Christ there is no personall subsistence but one, and that from everlastinge.”

The person of Christ is completely identical with the eternal person of the Godhead: “By taking only the nature of man he still continueth one person, and changeth but the maner of his subsisting, which was before in the meere glorie of the Sonne of God, and is now in the habit also of our flesh.”  This personal unity must be so unqualified that we can speak comfortably of the human history of Christ as God’s history; indeed, we must do so, because it is the history of a person, not of a nature: “For as much therefore as Christ hath no personal subsistence but one whereby wee acknowledge him to have bene eternallie the Sonne of God, wee must of necessitie applie to the person of the Sonne of God even that which is spoken of Christ accordinge to his humane nature.  For example, accordinge to the flesh he was borne of the Virgin Marie, baptised of John in the river Jordan, by Pilate adjudged to die and executed by the Jewes.  Wee cannot saie properlie that the Virgin bore, or John did baptise, or Pilate condemn or the Jewes crucifie the nature of man, because these are all personall attributes, his person is the subject which receaveth them, his nature that which maketh his person capable or apt to receive.”

To say otherwise (e.g., to deny “Theotokos”) is simply Nestorianism: “If wee should saie that the person of a man in our savior Christ was the subject of these thinges, this were plainelie to intrap our selves in the verie snare of the Nestorians heresie between whome and the Church of God there was no difference savinge onlie that Nestorius imagined in Christ as well a personall humane subsistence as a divine, the Church acknowleging a substance both divine and human but no other personall subsistence then divine, because the Sonne of God tooke not to him sele a mans person but only the nature of a man.”  

In sum, then, we must affirm that “Christ is a person both divine and humaine, howbeit not therefore two persons in one, neither both these in one sense, but a person divine because he is personallie the Sonne of God, humane because he hath reallie the nature of the children of men.”

“Whereupon it followeth against Nestorius,” Hooker emphatically and unapologetically asserts, “that no person was born of the virgin but the Sonne of God, no person but the Sonne of God baptised, the sonne of God condemned, the sonne of God and no other person crucified, which one onlie point of Christian beliefe–the infinite worth of the Sonne of God–is the verie ground of all thinges beleived concerninge life and salvation by that which Christ either did or suffered as man in our behalfe” (52.3)

Here we can see, as starkly and clearly as possible, how forcefully the orthodox tradition asserted that God really did suffer and die; I am still not convinced by McCormack’s arguments that this confession was weak, half-hearted, and hedged in with qualifications that deprived it of real force–merely a linguistic and not a real confession.  No, it is emphatic and uncompromising. 

 

Hooker concludes this chapter by finishing the story up through Chalcedon–Cyril’s forceful confession against Nestorius is misinterpreted by some (due to some imprecise language on Cyril’s part) as a confession of only one mixed nature in Christ (Eutychianism) which Chalcedon undertook to deny.  “For as Nestorius teaching righlie that God and man are distinct natures did thereupon misinferre that in Christ those natures can by no conjunction make one person; so Eutyches of sound beliefe as touching theire true personall copulation became unsound by denyinge the difference which still continueth between the one and the other nature.  Wee must therefore keepe warilie a middle corse shunninge both that distraction of persons wherein Nestorius went awrie, and also this later confusion of natures which deceived Eutyches” (52.4).

Finally, we must confess this union to be perpetual, so that it applied even when Christ was dead in the grave.  Even at this point, the person of the Son remained inseparably joined to his human body and soul, existing with them in a state of death.

 

Up to this point, we have a doctrine that is robustly Alexandrian, willing to affirm much more than most modern Reformed are regarding the fullness of the union.  In fact, we may wonder whether Hooker is going to be Reformed at all with this kind of emphasis.  In the following chapter, which I will explore next week, he undertakes to balance out this discussion with an explanation of the complete distinction of the two natures.