Tuesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

The Creed of Chalcedon

but rather the property of each nature being preserved

Granted, lines like, “the property of each nature,” is not the ordinary language of Scripture, nor even the way we moderns talk, but that does not disqualify such expressions.  The word, “Trinity,” is not in the Bible either, but no one of an orthodox persuasion would suggest getting rid of the term.

So the fathers at Chalcedon were once again trying to say that the union in no way harms the integrity of the natures.  You respond, “Yes, they’ve said that—over and over again.  Why must they repeat themselves?”  I answer, “So that no one will mistake their meaning, and they leave no stone unturned with their definitions—definitions they thought necessary to believe to be among the faithful.”  I agree with them.

I take, “property of each nature,” to refer to each nature in and of itself, what it is, what goes into its being.  This is easy with reference to the human nature.  The properties of the human nature are referred to the image of God in which we are created: rationality, self-awareness, a moral nature, freedom of will, relationality, and all in conjunction with a human body responsive to stimuli.  All of this our Lord shared with us, only without the effects of sin which have so shattered our lives.  As to the property of the divine nature, well, not even the bishops at Chalcedon were ready to define that.  God is God and no more need be said.  And whatever one might say God is (and only God could tell us that), that is what our Lord’s divine nature is. 

And what the fathers want us to understand is that the union of the divine with the human nature in the union of the one person of Christ changes nothing regarding those natures.  The divine nature is not changed because of that union nor the human changed as a result of being united with the divine.  Our Lord remains the God-man—the Spirit-filled human being working together with the divine nature, fulfilling the mission the Son was sent by the Father to accomplish—our salvation and God’s glory.

Some may see this as the wranglings of church leaders who need hobbies.  Not at all.  Heretics were teaching that Christ was not the God-man but something in between, or with a human nature so swallowed by the divine as to be irrelevant, or with two natures so divorced as to be schizophrenic or a mere man-God.  The fathers at Chalcedon answered these heresies with skill and intelligence and thereby left us better off all these centuries after.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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