Friday, January 10, 2014

A Faith Worth Teaching

The manner in which Ursinus and Olevianus provide brief answers to various complex theological questions in the HC needs to be understood in light of basic theological axioms they held as Reformed orthodox theologians. In the Western church theologians from the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed traditions all affirm the distinction between the two natures of Christ, but they do not agree on the precise relation between the two natures. For Roman Catholic theologians, Christ possessed the beatific vision of God from the moment of His incarnation because the divine attributes completely permeated the human nature. On earth Christ was both a pilgrim and one who fully understood (comprehensor ac viator); in contrast to believers, He walked by sight, not faith. For these theologians, then, the gifts that Christ’s human nature could receive happened at once at His incarnation.16 Lutheran theologians went even further by positing not only a communication of graces (communicatio gratiarum) but also a communication of attributes to the human nature and thus elevated the human nature above the boundaries set for it according to Reformed theologians. A basic axiom of Reformed theology in the Reformation and post-Reformation period was the concept that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti). Thus the human nature possessed limitations; hence there was a real possibility for Christ to move from a state of humiliation to a state of exaltation (Phil. 2:5–11). Even in Christ’s exalted state His human nature remained distinct from His divine nature, and the principle that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite remained true of Christ in heaven. These are the principles that Ursinus and Olevianus are operating on in their questions and answers.

Payne, J. (editor). A Faith Worth Teaching.