Wednesday, February 25, 2009
And it was good
Scott Clark brought attention to the accusation (utterly muddled) that Reformed theology is essentially Pelagian, simply because we believe that in the state of creation, man was able to fulfill God's commands. I was cogitating over this, and see a link to the question of the ancient heresy of Apollinarianism, thus:The Apollinarians taught that Christ had a human body and a human seat of emotions, but that his higher intellect and spirit were divine. In effect, they viewed Christ as a human marionette under the manipulation of a divine puppeteer. Apollinarianism is not dead, which is perhaps no surprise: it is, so I understand, a common misunderstanding among African and Asian Christians who wish to preserve Christ's deity and sinlessness.And it is this sinlessness point which is where the link to Pelagianism and the nature/grace debate kicks in. The reasoning for Apollinarians was that we can 'guarantee' Christ's sinlessness if his human body was animated by a divine soul. However, by so reasoning, the Apollinarian must assume that human nature is not, in its created state, capable of resisting evil and doing good: some form of sublimation of the human in the divine is necessary in order for humanity to rise above sin.Here, then, is the core of the problem: the Roman and Eastern desire for divinisation is tied inevitably to their view that human nature, in its created state, needs a special grace in order to avoid sin; denying that human nature can avoid sin requires that Christ's own sinlessness be according to his divine nature and not according to his human nature; requiring thus leads us to conclude that Christ's divine nature and will over-rode his human nature and will; and this is but a short step to Apollinarianism. From that staging post, the reasoning undermines the gospel in its application of Christ to us, since his obedience was not human obedience in the place of Adam's disobedience, his satisfaction was not human satisfaction in place of Adam's debt, and all the moral perfections of his life cannot be given to us, since we cannot become, as he is, incarnate deity.I do not claim that Roman and Eastern theologies lead inexorably to Apollinaris, since clearly that has not happened. But I cannot see how they can avoid the central charge: they, in error, say we are Pelagian, but how much more so must they be Apollinarian!