The Christological Confusion of Chalcedon

The Christological Confusion of Chalcedon October 6, 2015

The Bible tells us Jesus of Nazareth was a man who was tempted by Satan, suffered persecution, and died. But the church of later generations said Jesus was and is also God. Thus, Jesus is a God man, 100 percent God and 100 percent human.

Yet the Bible says, “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1.13). And it also says God is “immortal” (1 Timothy 1.17; 6.16), so that he cannot die. How can Jesus be God when he was really tempted by Satan and Jesus literally died?

In 451, the Catholic Church held an important gathering of bishops, called the Council of Chalcedon, to try to unravel this christological complexity and thus answer this question about Jesus being both God and man. To do so it drafted another creed, called the Creed of Chalcedon, to add to its earlier two creeds (Nicea in 325 and Constantinople in 381) wherein it declared that Jesus was and is God. Part of the Chalcedonian creed says Jesus must be “acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.” This teaching came to be called “the hypostatic union of Christ,” meaning that Jesus had both a human nature and a divine nature that were united together in him.

Yet the church has thereafter always been guilty of applying its doctrine of the hypostatic union of Christ in a way that seems to violate the above statement from the Creed of Chalcedon. For example, I changed from being a Trinitarian Christian who believed in the hypostatic union to being a One God Christian who is denies Trinitarianism and the hypostatic union due to a saying of Jesus in his Olivet Discourse.

Jesus said of his future return, “But about/of that day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels of/in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24.36; Mark 13.32). How can Jesus not know the time of his return if he is fully God, thus equal to the Father, and thus knows when he will return? The church has often claimed that Jesus knew in his divine nature the time of his return but that he did not know it in his human nature.

But does that not separate the supposed divine and human natures of Jesus and thereby violate the Creed of Chalcedon saying these two natures must be “acknowledged … inseparably”? I think this application, and many more concerning the deeds of Jesus recorded in the NT gospels, does separate the two natures. When I was reading Jesus Olivet Discourse one day and saw that, it disturbed me.

But the most disturbing thing to me that day was that I realized for the first time that Jesus saying he didn’t know something when he really did made him look like a liar. That’s what afterwards drove me to undertake a very deep study of this subject and eventually decide that the proclamation that Jesus is God is not founded upon the Bible. I concluded that Jesus never claimed to be God; rather, he acknowledged “the Father” as “the only true God” (John 17.3), whom he also called “my God” (John 20.17).

I also concluded that the simple message of the Bible is that Jesus came into existence when he was born to Mary, God sent him on a mission to proclaim the kingdom of God and to die for the sins of the world as Savior. God then proved this was his plan for Jesus by raising him from the dead and lifting him up to heaven where Jesus sits with God on God’s throne. Someday, Jesus will return in great glory, raise the righteous dead, and establish his worldwide kingdom of peace for ever more. This is the simple gospel of Jesus, and there is no christological confusion to it.

…………….

To see a list of titles of 130+ posts (2-3 pages) that are about Jesus not being God in the Bible, with a few about God not being a Trinity, at Kermit Zarley Blog click “Chistology” in the header bar. Most are condensations of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. See my website servetustheevangelical.com, which is all about this book,  with reviews, etc. Learn about my books and purchase them at kermitzarley.com. I was a Trinitarian for 22 years before reading myself out of it in the Bible.

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  • David Kemball-Cook

    Great post, thanks.
    Trinitarians say that Christ has/had two natures, but they don’t generally answer when one asks them how many minds he has/had.
    I find that they usually avoid answering, perhaps because they know it would open up to more questions, about how Jesus switches between the two minds (if he has two), or about whether it is human or divine (if he has one), and they know that they cannot answer these questions.

    • kzarley

      The Sixth Ecumenical Council, in 680-81, proclaimed that Jesus has two wills, and some would add that this requires that he also has two minds. But this teaching never resonated with most Christians in subsequent history and thus never became established among them.

      • David Kemball-Cook

        Thanks. I wonder if trinitarian theologians have tried to work this out? Do you know any literature?
        Maybe I could ask on the Trinities FB group

        • kzarley

          I don’t know about it. But I feel sure they have.

  • Tom Torbeyns

    Author of this article, how do you see Thomas calling Jesus his God? 🙂

    • kzarley

      Click on Archive Index and see post on 11/7/2013 entitled “Jesus Said to Thomas, ‘My Lord and My God” etc. Also, see post on 10/4/2015 for a list of about thirty posts on the Bible not saying Jesus is God.

  • Jeff Grant

    Why would Satan need to mention that God would send angels to save Jesus if he threw himself down? It seems that at this point and many others, both Jesus and Satan knew that apart from God’s help, he could die.

    • kzarley

      I think you’re quite right.