The Creed of Chalcedon
and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us
So we are today confronted with the same question we discussed concerning the prophets the day before yesterday: What have subsistences and natures to do with the teaching of Jesus? And again we answer that just because the precise terminology is not in Scripture does not mean that the terminology is incorrect. The question is: Does the Creed of Chalcedon rightly reflect the teaching of Scripture? And I think it does.
So let us examine just a few passages of Scripture. In John’s Gospel, we are confronted with these words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” And just a few verses later, we meet, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:1-3, 14). What are we to make of these words? Is not our Lord’s divine nature clearly taught by them? And his Incarnation? And how are we to understand the words spoken by the angel when he answered the Virgin’s reasonable request for information concerning how such a girl as she should conceive: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (1:35)? What nonsense is this if the angel is not speaking of one who is coming down from heaven such that a virginal conception is required by the fact that no other “begetter” is needed? And what is it that the Holy Spirit is preparing from the Virgin’s womb such that this one is born of woman as any other man if it be not the fashioning of a man-child?
These are just a few passages of Scripture which require answers—answers which move far beyond that the biblical writers were speaking in metaphor, for they plainly believed what they spoke; or, that they mean that Jesus was a son of God like any of the rest of us only a bit holier, for it is quite obvious that the biblical writers place Jesus in a completely different category than the rest of humanity—a human being, yes, but more than that, a divine human being—the Son of God. And I for one cannot see how Chalcedon’s use of “subsistence” to define the unity of the Person (the Son) who is comprised of two natures (divine and human) is in any way contradictory to the passages listed above. Indeed, I find them wholly fitting and true to the apostolic teaching. Furthermore, no one has improved on them in seventeen centuries. I look forward to meeting those men someday, if I am worthy.