Communal Nature

Jenson ( Systematic Theology: Volume 1: The Triune God (Systematic Theology (Oxford Hardcover)) (Vol 1) , 138-9) summarizes how “the christological concept of ‘nature’ has swung back and forth between unhelpful abstraction, as it denoted merely the list of attributes a god or human being must have, and disastrous concretion, as it has denoted ’ the Logos’ or ’ the man’ Jesus.” He suggests that what is needed is an understanding of nature that “does not achieve concretion by the definite article or generality by abstraction,” and thinks he finds one in the thought that “humanity” and “deity” are ” communal concepts.”

Jenson elaborates:

“That Christ has the divine nature means that he is one of the three whose mutuality is the divine life, who live the history that God is. That Christ has human nature means that he is one of the many whose mutuality is human life, who live the history that humanity is . . . . It is ‘one and the same’ who lives both of these communal stories. This one, the one that Christ is, is dogmatically specified to be the Logos : Christ’s identification as one of the Trinity and his identification as one of us are not ontologically symmetrical. Christ’s human history happens because his divine history happens, and not vice versa. This means that Christ as a participant in human history is definitive for all other participants.”

He supports this with a citation from John of Damascus: The hypostasis “carries the characteristic and distinguishing idioma of divine sonship . . . but which he is differentiated from the Father and the Spirit; and also the characteristic and distinguishing idiomata . . . by which he is distinguished from his mother and the rest of humanity.”

Jenson’s suggestion is usable even for those who have reservations, or more than reservations, about his notions of divine “history.” Skim that off, and you still have: Jesus is God in that He is one of the participants in the communion of divine persons; He is human as a participant in the community of human beings. One might harvest some fruit if this tree is cultivated.

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