Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | September 4, 2009

Quotes from Concord — The Person of Christ

1 From the controversy about the Holy Supper a disagreement has arisen between the pure theologians of the Augsburg Confession and the Calvinists. The Calvinists have also confused some other theologians about the person of Christ and the two natures in Christ and their properties.

STATUS OF THE CONTROVERSY

THE CHIEF QUESTIONS IN THIS CONTROVERSY

2 The chief question, however, has been this: Because of the personal union, do the divine and human natures, and also their properties, really [realiter] have communion with each other? In other words (in deed and truth), do the divine and human natures commune with each other in the person of Christ, and how far does this communion extend?

3 The Sacramentarians have asserted that the divine and human natures in Christ are united personally in such a way that neither one has real communion. This means (in deed and truth) that they do not share with the other nature what is unique to either nature. They share nothing more than the name alone. For they plainly say, “The personal union does nothing more than make the names common.” In other words, God is called man, and man is called God. Yet this happens in such a way that the divine has no real communion (that is, in deed and truth) with humanity. And humanity has nothing in common with divinity, its majesty, and properties. Dr. Luther and those who agreed with him have contended against the Sacramentarians for the contrary teaching.

AFFIRMATIVE STATEMENTS

The Pure Teaching of the Christian Church about the Person of Christ

4 To explain this controversy and settle it according to the guidance ‹analogy› of our Christian faith, our doctrine, faith, and confession is as follows:

5 1. The divine and human natures in Christ are personally united. So there are not two Christs, one the Son of God and the other the Son of Man. But one and the same person is the Son of God and Son of Man (Luke 1:35; Romans 9:5).

6 2. We believe, teach, and confess that the divine and human natures are not mingled into one substance, nor is one changed into the other. Each keeps its own essential properties, which can never become the properties of the other nature.

7 3. The properties of the divine nature are these: to be almighty, eternal, infinite, and to be everywhere present (according to the property of its nature and its natural essence, of itself), to know everything, and so on. These never become properties of the human nature.

8 4. The properties of the human nature are to be a bodily creature, to be flesh and blood, to be finite and physically limited, to suffer, to die, to ascend and descend, to move from one place to another, to suffer hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and the like. These never become properties of the divine nature.

9 5. The two natures are united personally (i.e., in one person). Therefore, we believe, teach, and confess that this union is not the kind of joining together and connection that prevents either nature from having anything in common with the other personally (i.e., because of the personal union). It is not like when two boards are glued together, where neither gives anything to the other or takes anything from the other. But here is described the highest communion that God truly has with the man. From this personal union, the highest and indescribable communion results. There flows everything human that is said and believed about God, and everything divine that is said and believed about the man Christ. The ancient teachers of the Church explained this union and communion of the natures by the illustration of iron glowing with fire, and also by the union of body and soul in man.

10 6. We believe, teach, and confess that God is man and man is God. This could not be true if the divine and human natures had (in deed and truth) absolutely no communion with each other.

11 For how could the man, the Son of Mary, in truth be called or be God, or the Son of God the Most High, if His humanity were not personally united with the Son of God? How could He have no real communion (that is, in deed and truth) with the Most High, but only share God’s name?

12 7. So we believe, teach, and confess that Mary conceived and bore not merely a man and no more, but God’s true Son. Therefore, she also is rightly called and truly is “the mother of God.”

13 8. We also believe, teach, and confess that it was not a mere man who suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and was raised to God’s majesty and almighty power for us. But it was a man whose human nature has such a profound ‹close›, indescribable union and communion with God’s Son that it is one person with Him.

14 9. God’s Son truly suffered for us. However, He did so according to the attributes of the human nature, which He received into the unity of His divine person and made His own. He did this so that He might be able to suffer and be our High Priest for our reconciliation with God, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:8, They “crucified the Lord of glory.” And Acts 20:28 says, with God’s blood we have been redeemed.

15 10. We believe, teach, and confess that the Son of Man really is exalted. He is (in deed and truth) exalted according to His human nature to the right hand of God’s almighty majesty and power. For He was received into God when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in His mother’s womb, and His human nature was personally united with the Son of the Highest.

16 11. Christ always had this majesty according to the personal union. Yet He abstained from using it in the state of His humiliation, and because of this He truly increased in all wisdom and favor with God and men. Therefore, He did not always use this majesty, but only when it pleased Him. Then, after His resurrection, He entirely laid aside the form of a servant, but not the human nature, and was established in the full use, manifestation, and declaration of the divine majesty. In this way He entered into His glory [Philippians 2:6–11]. So now not just as God, but also as man He knows all things and can do all things. He is present with all creatures, and has under His feet and in His hands everything that is in heaven and on earth and under the earth, as He Himself testifies [in Matthew 28:18], “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” [see also John 13:3]. And St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:10, “He … ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Because He is present, He can exercise His power everywhere. To Him everything is possible and everything is known.

17 12. Christ may give His true body and blood in the Holy Supper, as one who is present—and it is very easy for Him to do so. He does not do this according to the mode or ability of the human nature, but according to the mode and ability of God’s right hand. Dr. Luther says this in accordance with our Christian faith [as we teach it to] children: this presence ‹of Christ in the Holy Supper› is not ‹physical or› earthly, nor Capernaitic; yet it is true and substantial, as the words of His testament read, “This is, is, is My body,” and so on.

18 Our doctrine, faith, and confession about the person of Christ is not divided, as it was by Nestorius. He denied the true communion of the properties of both natures in Christ (communicatio idiomatum). So he divided the person, as Luther has explained in his book Concerning Councils [LW 41:95–106]. The natures, together with their properties, are not mixed with each other into one essence (as Eutyches erred). The human nature in the person of Christ is not denied or annihilated. Nor is either nature changed into the other. Christ is and remains to all eternity God and man in one undivided person. Next to the Holy Trinity, this is the highest mystery, upon which our only consolation, life, and salvation depends, as the apostle testifies in 1 Timothy 3:16.

NEGATIVE STATEMENTS

Contrary False Doctrine about the Person of Christ

19 We reject and condemn as contrary to God’s Word and our simple ‹pure› Christian faith all the following erroneous articles, if they are taught:

20 1. God and man in Christ are not one person. But the Son of God is one, and the Son of Man another, as Nestorius raved.

21 2. The divine and human natures have been mingled with each other into one essence, and the human nature has been changed into the Deity, as Eutyches fanatically asserted.

22 3. Christ is not true, natural, and eternal God, as Arius held ‹blasphemed›.

23 4. Christ did not have a true human nature consisting of body and soul, as Marcion imagined.

24 5. The personal union only makes the names and titles common to both natures.

25 6. To say, “God is man, man is God” is only “a phrase and mode of speaking.” For Divinity, they say (in deed ‹and truth›), has nothing in common with the humanity, nor the humanity with the Deity.

26 7. It is nothing but words (communicatio verbalis) when it is said, “the Son of God died for the sins of the world” or “the Son of Man has become almighty.”

27 8. The human nature in Christ has become an infinite essence in the same way as the Divinity. It is present everywhere in the same way as the divine nature because of this essential power and property, communicated to, and poured out into, the human nature and separated from God.

28 9. The human nature has become equal to and like the divine nature in its substance and essence, or in its essential properties.

29 10. Christ’s human nature is locally extended to all places of heaven and earth, which should not even be said about the divine nature.

30 11. Because of the character of the human nature, it is impossible for Christ to be in more than one place at the same time, much less everywhere, with His body.

31 12. Only the mere humanity has suffered for us and redeemed us, and God’s Son in the suffering had actually no communion with the humanity, as though it did not concern Him.

32 13. Christ is present with us on earth in the Word, the Sacraments, and in all our troubles, only according to His divinity. This presence does not at all apply to His human nature. They also say that after having redeemed us by His suffering and death, Christ has nothing to do with us any longer on earth.

33 14. God’s Son assumed the human nature. After He laid aside the form of a servant, He does not perform all the works of His omnipotence in, through, and with His human nature. He only performs some, and only in the place where His human nature is located.

34 15. According to His human nature He is not at all capable of almighty power and other attributes of the divine nature, which goes against Christ’s clear declaration in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me,” and of St. Paul in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”

35 16. Greater and more power is given to Christ ‹according to His humanity› than to all angels and other creatures; but He has no communion with God’s almighty power, nor has this been given to Him. Therefore, they make up a “middle power,” a power between God’s almighty power and the power of other creatures, given to Christ according to His humanity by the exaltation. This would be less than God’s almighty power and greater than that of other creatures.

36 17. Christ, according to His human mind, has a certain limit as to how much He is to know. He knows only what is fitting and needful for Him to know for His office as Judge.

37 18. Christ does not yet have a perfect knowledge of God and all His works. Yet it is written about Him in Colossians 2:3, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

38 19. It is impossible for Christ, according to His human mind, to know what has been from eternity, what at present is occurring everywhere, and what will be in eternity.

39 20. Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me,” is wrongly taught, as are other such verses. This passage is interpreted and blasphemously perverted to say that all power in heaven and on earth was restored (i.e., delivered again to Christ according to the divine nature) at the resurrection and His ascension to heaven. This argues as though Christ had also (according to His divinity) laid this power aside and abandoned it in His state of humiliation. Not only the words of Christ’s testament are perverted by this teaching, but also the way is prepared for the accursed Arian heresy. Ultimately, Christ’s eternal deity is denied. And so Christ, and with Him our salvation, are entirely lost if this false doctrine is not firmly opposed from the permanent foundation of the divine Word and our simple Christian ‹catholic› faith.

— The Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VIII, “The Person of Christ” (Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Reader’s Edition).

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