Which of these figures is Christ?

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Which of these figures is Christ?

Post by Admin on Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:58 pm



“Truly Human, Truly Divine”


Which of the figures in the now-famous poster, ‘Walking Each Other Home,‘ is  “Christ”?

In today’s ecumenical dialogue, it is common for non-Christians to offer views of “Christ”.  Their authors often suggest parallels to “Christ” in their own religion or spiritual outlook.  

Some of these books have helped me clarify my own understanding on Christology-- sometimes by asking thoughtful questions about “Christ” that have never occurred to me.  Such questions invite me to seek clarity in my own considerations.

Let me sharpen the question, “Which figure is ‘Christ’ in the poster?” a bit more, by reminding of the classic Christological formula of the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE):

According to Chalcedon, Christ is ‘truly human, truly divine”, absolutely One-- but the two disparate natures never "confused" "divided" "separated" or "changed" (neither nature becoming the other.)

So: In the poster, which figure is ‘truly human, truly divine’, the One Christ-- without "confusion" of natures?  

Hope to see your posts on this! (Yes it is a trick question!)  

I will offer my view (just one view among many) after I hearing and reflecting on yours.  
My hope is that this 'does the trick' of stimulating enlightening discussion on the Mystery of Christ.


Last edited by Admin on Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:20 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Part II On a poster that invites Christological reflection....

Post by Admin on Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:02 pm



Part II “Fully Human, Fully Divine”

In a previous post, I asked the question regarding this poster, “Walking Each Other Home”:

“Which figure in the poster is Christ, according to the formula of the Council of Chalecedon (451 CE), that Christ is ‘fully human, fully divine’?”

Before giving my answer to that question (I will give it in the next post), my add two points.

First, I want to suggest how I might have answered in an earlier season of my life. I am doing this because I find that many of you, like me, began our practice of the Presence of God through Eastern approaches such as meditative yoga. So I wonder if you can identify somewhat with the approach to the question I would have taken.

So, in the poster, we have the figures of Jesus, a Bodhisattva (or perhaps Gautama Buddha), and Krishna.

Like perhaps many of you, in my teen years in the ‘70‘s, I was delighted to discover that meditative yoga affirmed that God could be intuited through meditation-- that God could be known directly! So I embraced meditative yoga as the Path-- surely inspired by Ram Das’s Be Here Now!

From then until about age thirty, I sought, with many of you, the Presence of God through various approaches to Hindu meditation and metaphysics.

How would I (maybe you?) have answered this question, then: “Which figure is in the poster is ‘Christ’?” You might enjoy giving thought to that, if the question interests you.

I think I would have said something like, “Because ALL the figures depicted in the poster know Reality as ONE, and find that ONE to be their deepest experience of Life, we might say there is just One Figure here and that Figure is “the Christ”-- or, if you like, the “Buddha,” the “Avatar.”

The answer to the question I would give today is quite different from the above. But before I suggest an answer (I will do so in the next post), as I am hoping to hear your thoughts... or perhaps comments on my little detour above.

Now back to the question: I want to develop further, here, a qualifications in the Chalcedon formula, briefly mentioned in the first post on this-- really, the question is not complete without it. So here is it is:

We noted that the Council of Chalcedon affirmed that Christ is “truly human, truly divine...” but then the document qualifies that further.

It affirms, on the one hand, that Christ is absolutely One-- and yet the two natures of Christ are absolutely not mixed or “confused”! That is, the two natures of Christ remain ever-distinct, neither nature becoming the other, or merging in the other, as in a some anomaly, hybrid. Each nature remains “separate”-- and yet Christ is ONE.

Specifically, the two natures of the One Christ are, affirms Chalcedon, are

one and the same Chris...
recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation;
the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union,
but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved...”

Here, then, is the question: “Which figure in the poster is ‘Christ’, as defined by Chalcedon as ‘truly human, truly divine’, absolutely ONE, yet natures never “confused” or “changed” (one into the other), but remaining ever “separate” and “undivided”?

What is your view?

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Re: Which of these figures is Christ?

Post by Admin on Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:15 pm



Part III
The question we have been reflecting on is this:

“Which figure in the above poster is ‘Christ’, according to Chalcedon’s formula that Christ is ‘fully human, fully Divine’?

My answer, is “none.”

None of the figures in the poster depicts “Christ” because the Eternal Christ, the Heavenly Christ (of the Chalcedon formula), cannot be seen with the eyes.  To point to the man Jesus (in a poster, or in his lifetime in Judea) is not to point to the Eternal Christ, but to the one through whom the Mysteries of Christ were revealed.  

How is this so?

Christ, according to the Council of Chalcedon, is absolutely One.

Yet Christ is of two natures, his human nature being “consubstantial with us in all ways but sin”.  Notice that the human nature referred to here is our COMMON HUMAN NATURE-- it is “with us all”... a common human nature which Jesus, you, and I equally share.  

Jesus didn’t have any more human nature (some kind of “uber” human nature) than you or me because, as the Counsel affirms, Christ’s human nature is “like us in all things but sin.”  

So in Chalcedon’s formula of Christ as “fully human”-- the fully human dimension is not a single “person” but a universal “nature”....  not a single individual, but the human nature of everyman.  

Perhaps to bring this together, the Council appears to be affirming: The Eternal Christ, the Heavenly Christ, is the mysterious Oneness of the Essence of COMMONLY SHARED Humanity, one with the Essence of Divinity.  

It’s important to note that Chalcedon explicitly affirms that God’s Divine nature is united to human nature, not to a particular individual being. We share human nature; in contrast, individual personhood, or self, makes us “particular’ not universal.  As well, you are an individual created being, as am I.  The human nature of the Eternal Christ is not a visible-- common human nature is not a single “being”, but is our deepest, even ‘hidden’ human reality-- universal human nature.  

So to bring the question back to the figures in the poster, “Walking Each Other Home”...

Because the Eternal Christ is the eternal oneness of Divinity and common human nature, no figure in the poster is the Eternal Christ.  

According to Chalcedon....

-the Eternal Christ is fully God, and as God is Uncreated Being and not “a being”, the Divinity of Christ cannot be seen.  

That is because Monotheism (the ontological millieu of the Incarnation) affirms that everything that God creates is less than God, so nothing in the created order of being IS the Uncreated Divine. Since nothing in creation is God (though God is omnipresent in creation and is the immeditate Source of all creation), no individual thing or individual being is God.  

-Likewise, according to Chalcedon, the humanity of the Eternal Christ cannot be empirically seen, but rather, is common human nature, universal and non-particular.

Though Jesus is not the Eternal Christ per se, Jesus is the specific exemplar of the Mysteries of Christ. In the life of the historical Jesus, with its successive spiritual seasons of kenosis (self-emptying), we see the Way, or the full transformative contemplative journey of theosis, to the Eternal Christ.  The Mysteries of Christ are recapitulated in everyman's journey as the journey to God.  

Cyril of Alexander wrote :  “The Logos did not assume some particular human being, but man’s common human nature, yet a nature that appeared (was seen) in one individual.”  The Mysteries of Christ were revealed through the historical figure, Jesus ,  miraculously conceived by God and Mary to demonstrate our common journey of transformation to God.    

“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son...” (Mt. 11:27.)

“Perfectly to know the Father we must be the Son” (Meister Eckhart.)

"The purpose of the Incarnation was to reveal what man is to become, to know the way this works as the nature of man’s eternal oneness with God – no different from Christ." (Bernadette Roberts, The Real Christ (2017)

“The life of grace in making us children of the Father, makes us also brethren of Christ, who must become like Him in all things to deserve the name” (Jean Danielou, S.J.)

“The mystery of Christ is ours also. What was accomplished by the Head must be accomplished also in the members: Incarnation, death, and Resurrection” (Henri de Lubac, S.J.)

I believe the above view of the Chalcedon formula is coherent with the mystical theology of the Church Fathers, and with the whole vector of Christian mysticism up to the present day.  

What of the figures of Buddha and Krishna in the poster?  

Some Buddhists and Hindus have proposed re-envisioning Christ along the lines of their respective ontologies. My view is that sublime, precious truth has been revealed distinctively through Hinduism and Buddhism, but not the "Mystery of Christ".  Looked at from another angle:  whatever the interior spiritual Life of the historical Buddha or of Krishna, neither “figure” in the poster, insofar as they are depicted as individual beings, is the “Eternal Christ"-- the figure of Jesus too, is not the Eternal Christ, which is not a being, or Being, but the mysterious Oneness of the two natures.  

Perhaps in a certain way the Zen Buddhist saying, “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him!”  is relevant. The true Buddha cannot be seen, I believe Buddhists affirm, but only Known through recognition that Buddha Nature cannot be pointed to; similarly, the Christian affirms, the Eternal Christ cannot be seen, but only Known by transformation into the Eternal Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, though the Eternal Christ cannot be seen in a human figure or being, the Eternal Christ can be seen by the "eye of the soul" in the Eucharist which IS the Eternal Christ with us NOW. And, indeed, relative to the poster, "Walking Each Other Home"--Eucharist is, finally, Everyman's eternal "Home", transformed into the One Heavenly Christ.

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Re: Which of these figures is Christ?

Post by lukefromdenver on Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:48 pm

I'd like to briefly discus this portion of the very long topic description: "Some Buddhists and Hindus have proposed re-envisioning Christ along the lines of their respective ontologies. My view is that sublime, precious truth has been revealed distinctively through Hinduism and Buddhism, but not the "Mystery of Christ"."

The rason for this is that, from the Vedic perspective, Christ either represents the Guru or a Divine Incarnation (Avatar), depending on the interpretation; and also the interpretation that the Guru Is God.

Breaking them down separately, if Jesus represents the Guru (Rabbi), then his actions and teachings are for his specific flock of devotees. In Hinduism, as with Rabbinical Judaism, the teacher imparts the 'interpretation' of scripture and recommends a process to attain the prescribed Goal.

If Jesus represents an Avatar of the Supreme God, then all his actions are unique to that specific form; where Buddha and Krishna and Jesus (Kurma, Narasimha, Sesa, Rishibhadeva, etc) incarnate for different purposes and enjoy different pastimes and activities, and are different from one another intentionally.

In the final conclusion, there is the common saying in Hinduism, "Guru is God," because God must come to us in forms that we can accept and understand and grow a lo ing relationship with, and thus to teach the fish the Lors assumes the form of a fish (Matsya), to teach the demigods, he assumes the form of the demigods (Brahman, or formless functionality), etc; to teach humans, he takes a near-human form. Finally, the Lord assumes the holy form of the Guru when there is a onesuch who is ready to recieve salvation; of course in the Vedic model, there is the doctrine of reincarnation. Prior to the time that a soul is ready to recieve this Mukti (liberation), she is essentially in a process of dealing with Samskara (strong mental impressions giving rise to the material impetus) Karma (the result of previous actions, good and bad) and Punya (accumulating qualifying merit).

Because in the Vedic system the Guru is the one who grants mukti, He is considered God for his disciples, and it is He alone who can bestow this final benediction. Thus if one considers Jesus their Guru, one must wait for this form of God to manifest before the disciple's very eyes, which is not a metaphorical thing; to win freedom from material embondagement, the Guru must become material (materialize; flesh and blood, non-symbolically).

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Re: Which of these figures is Christ?

Post by Admin on Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:40 pm

Hi Luke, welcome! Nice to hear from you.
I wish I had time tonight to give proper thought to your rich post. So I will read it carefully tomorrow.
Please create topics here that are Christological if you see a need--for example, you might have in mind a study of Christology from Buddhist insights.
Just a thought,
Joe

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Re: Which of these figures is Christ?

Post by Admin on Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:42 pm

Also, Luke, we have a section of personal accounts of contemplative spiritual journey's. Of course all contemplative journey's, of every metaphysical stripe, welcome on Board.
Joe

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