Did Christ Have a Fallen Human Nature? – Part 2 of 8
by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis on June 29, 2013
View Part 1 HERE
When I placed the above question in Google one of the blog posts it took me to was http://www.becomingorthodox.com/2012/12/was-jesus-christ-born-with-sin-nature.html, dated Dec. 31, 2012. The title of the blog post was, “Was Jesus Christ Born With a Sin Nature and Original Sin?” The key paragraph in answer to the question posed is the following:
The Orthodox proclaim unequivocally that Jesus became like us in every way. No special exceptions are needed for Him–He was 100% human just like we are. He assumed every part of humanity as it is (post-fallen) in order to redeem it. This is the only answer you can give without making excuses for Christ’s exemption to some facet of our humanness. Jesus Christ, one person in two natures (everything it means to be human, Jesus became), 100% human and 100% God.
In a subsequent blog post the blogger stated: “Jesus by necessity assumed a post-fallen nature.” In this series of blog posts we will be addressing the subject of the human nature of Christ from the perspective of the Orthodox Church. In this second post we’ll address the following question:
In becoming human did the Logos assume a fallen nature?
I don’t know how can our blogger state so categorically that Christ “assumed every part of humanity as it is (post-fallen).” If he or anyone else were to search carefully for a single document supporting his position he would go away empty. Not only would he not find any such teaching in the tradition of the Church, but au contraire he would come up with a great number of statements “proclaiming unequivocally” that the Incarnate Son of God did not have a fallen human nature. Actually, the Church’s teaching is that Christ’s nature was as that of Adam before the fall. Check out these authorities:
1) An official pronouncement of the Church
Fourth Ecumenical Council, Tome of Leo:
Jesus Christ was born in the entire and perfect nature of man very God, whole in what was His, whole in what was ours. By “ours” we mean those things that the Creator formed in us at the beginning and which He once more received restored. For those things that the deceiver introduced, and the deceived man admitted, not a trace was in the Savior.
2) The witness of the Holy Scripture
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings.
1 Cor. 2:8:
None of the rulers of this age understood this [i.e. “redemption in Christ” (RSV)]; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
3) The witness of the Fathers of the Church
St. Cyril of Alexandria:
Christ has refashioned the nature of man into what it was in the beginning. “In Him all things are made new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
St. Maximos the Confessor:
In being formed as a human being, He condescended to what was by law the creaturely origin of Adam prior to his fall.
St. John Damascene:
You assumed, O Master, the entire Adam, before His transgression, free from sin.
4) The witness of the hymnology of the Church
Kontakion, First Sunday of Lent:
The uncircumscribed Word of the Father became circumscribed taking flesh from thee, O Theotokos, and He has restored the sullied image to its ancient glory, filling it with the divine beauty.
Vespers of Annunciation:
I will give birth to the Bodiless One who will take flesh from me, so that by His union with it, He may raise man, as the only mighty One, to the ancient dignity.
5) The confirmation by Orthodox Theologians
Since the Lord was sent by His Father to the world to raise the fallen human nature, reconstituting it as another ancestor and new Adam, it was natural for Him to assume the human nature, which “Adam received sinless at the first creation,” so that that nature which the first Adam threw to “corruption and death,” the Lord raised “sinless according to nature.” Therefore the Lord did not assume another human nature, different from the one that came out of the hands of the Creator, but the self same one carried by us, save healthy, and not one corrupted or rendered sick by sin, which reveals Him perfect man, precisely as the first Adam was in Paradise before falling into transgression.
Christ’s conception in the womb of the Theotokos took place creatively through the Holy Spirit and not by seed, because Christ had to assume the pure nature that Adam had before his transgression.
In the Orthodox Church we don’t bring fancy arguments or express personal opinions. We rely on the Church, “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
View Part 3 HERE
Some of this material was drawn from my book, Jesus: Fallen? The Human Nature of Christ Examined from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective (Orthodox Witness: Clearwater, FL, 2013).