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Doctrinal differences are important to the Lutherans because at the root of every false doctrine is the devil, seeking to destroy the Gospel.

Monday, February 27, 2006 AD

It's Either Today or Tomorrow...

...but it doesn't matter because it's a timeless piece of Christology.

Lutheran Tidbit of the Day says:

...in 1540, Luther published Disputation on the Divinity and Humanity of Christ.

Here's some of it - 1 thru 6 and of course 42:

1. This is the catholic faith, that we confess one Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man.

2. From this truth of the double substance and the unity of the person follows the communication of attributes [communicatio idiomatum], as it is called.

3. So that those things which pertain to man are rightly said of God, and, on the other hand, those things which pertain to God are said of man.

4. It is true to say: This man created the world, and this God suffered, died, was buried, etc.

5. But these are not correct in the abstract (as it is said) of human nature [in abstractis humanae naturae].

6. For it cannot be said, Christ is thirsty, a servant, dead; therefore he is thirst, servitude, death.


42. Others on the other hand [who think that] the union [habitudinem] is similar to [the union of] matter to form, speak much more ineptly, if they are strictly judged.

I posted all 64 theses here.

And the Preface in it's entirety (I wanted to reduce it but it so good):

The reason for this disputation is this, that I desired you should be supplied and fortified against the future snares of the devil, for a certain man has put forth a mockery against the Church. I am not so much troubled that an unlearned, unskilled, and altogether ignorant man seeks praise and a name for himself, as that the men of Lower Germany are troubled by his inept, foolish, ignorant, unlearned, and ridiculous mocking. May you preserve this article in its simplicity, that in Christ there is a divine and a human nature, and these two natures in one person, so that they are joined together like no other thing, and yet so that the humanity is not divinity, nor the divinity humanity, because that distinction in no way hinders but rather confirms the union! That article of faith shall remain, that Christ is true God and true man, and thus you shall be safe from all heretics, and even from Schwenkfeld, who says that Christ is [not] a creature, and that others teach falsely, though he does not name those who teach wrongly. This is the malice of the devil: he implicates us as well as the papists, but he names no one. If he were to say such things to me, I would answer: You are lying, [when you imply that] we say that Christ is not the Lord God. For our writings cry out in answer [to your charge]. That wicked man perceives that he cannot survive if he comes into the light, therefore he works secretly among women under secret names [tectis nominibus]. But I am not troubled that he thus seeks to make a name for himself and works secretly, but more by the fact that better theologians are not moved by these frivolous calumnies to say to him: "You, wicked man, are a liar! We do not say that Christ is merely a creature, but that he is God and man in one person. The natures are joined personally in the unity of the person. There are not two sons, not two judges, not two persons, not two Jesuses, but because of the undivided union [unitam coniunctionem] and the unity of the two natures there is a communication of attributes, so that, what is attributed to one nature is attributed to the other as well, because they are one person." If these [articles] are held fast, Arius falls along with all heretics, but Schwenkfeld works secretly like the tooth of the serpent, who bites secretly so that he cannot be accused. Therefore we are now holding this disputation so that you may learn the substance and manner of speaking [res et phrases] of Scripture and the Fathers. It is an incomprehensible thing, such as not even the angels can grasp and comprehend, that two natures should be united in one person. Therefore, so that we may grasp this in some small measure, God has given us patterns of speech [formulas loquendi]: that Christ is God and man in one person, and there are not two persons, but two natures are united in one person, so that what is done by the human nature is said also to be done by the divine nature, and vice versa. Thus the Son of God died and was buried in the dust like everyone else, and the son of Mary ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, etc. We are content with these models [formulis].

Finally, we must observe the manner of speaking [phrases] of the holy Fathers. But if they have sometimes spoken ineptly [incommode], it is to be rightly interpreted, not abused, as the papists do, who, having twisted the words of the Fathers, abuse and allege them in defense of their idolatries, purgatory, and good works, whereas [the Fathers] thought correctly concerning these things, as many of their sayings testify with clearer and more apt expression. St. Augustine indeed teaches much concerning good works in many places and praises both good works and those who perform them. But in his Commentary on the Psalms, he says, "Have mercy on me; that is, 'I shall be troubled, but not troubled greatly, for I have trusted in the Lord.'" Here he pleads none of those good works before God. And again in another place he says, "Woe to man, however praiseworthy he may be, etc." Such is the sinful and sacrilegious man who twists the correct sayings of the Fathers. But we learn to agree with the sayings of the Fathers; or if we cannot agree with them, we forgive them, for no man can be so wise that he does not sometimes stumble and fall, especially in speaking, where it is easy to slip. Schwenkfeld does not see this, and so when he hears the Fathers say that Christ according to his humanity is a creature, at once he seizes on the saying and twists it and abuses it for his own purposes. Even if the Fathers say that Christ according to his humanity is a creature, this could in any event be tolerated; but Schwenkfeld wickedly twists it: "Therefore Christ is simply a creature." Why, wicked man, do you not add that Christ according to his divinity is the Creator? Therefore he was created! But he does not add this, because he says, "I can let my conscience be deluded in this way. Therefore I have omitted it"—that is, I have done wickedly! He employs a fallacy of composition and division. This is the hidden tooth of the serpent and the true sacrifice of the devil among the papists as well. For they too work secretly, twist the words of the Fathers, and omit those things which seem to weaken their own cause, as Schwenkfeld also does. Before the learned he deals deceitfully and seeks glory, but among his own he says: "Oh, what wickedness of the papists, what blasphemies of the Lutherans! They say that Christ is a creature, even though he was not created." This is [sheer] wickedness rather than force or power [of argument]. He should have added, that we say that Christ is a creature according to his humanity, and the creator according to his divinity.

Schwenkfeld is to be refuted thus: Humanity is a creature. Therefore Christ is a man and a creature. And then he says that the redeemer of the human race cannot be a creature, sit at the right hand of the Father, etc., be the seed of Abraham; but the consequence is to be denied.

I listed all the Disputations here.

The 9th (the number nine) Disputation:


Argument: No creature ought to be worshipped [adoranda]. Christ ought to be worshipped. Therefore Christ is not a creature.

Response: Thus Schwenkfeld argues. This is indeed one of his absurdities, and he errs with respect to the communication of attributes. The humanity joined with the divinity is worshipped; the humanity of Christ is worshipped, and not falsely, for it is inseparable from the divinity and the addition of this posessive, "of Christ," answers the objection. Thus Christ speaks in John 14. Philip asks Christ to show him the Father, because with the eyes of the flesh he sees nothing but flesh, and Christ then responds: "Have I been with you so long, etc.? He who sees me, sees the Father." Christ says that [Philip] sees the Father, when he sees [Christ], because he sees the humanity and the divinity united in one person. Therefore he says, "Do you not know, that the Father is in me and I in the Father?" Therefore it is said that he who touches the Son of God, touches the divine nature itself. The old theologians went to astounding lengths [mirabiliter se cruciarunt] in answering this question of whether the humanity is to be worshipped, and they established three ways [species] in which the humanity may be adored: Dulia, when Peter and Paul and all the other saints are adored; hyperdulia, when the Virgin Mary is adored, and here they included the humanity of Christ, and called [this worship] hyperdulia as well; and latria, when Christ is worshipped with regard to his divinity [cum relatione et divinitate]. Christ clearly dissolves [the distinction, for] whoever worships the humanity of Christ here no longer adores a creature (for this is what is meant by the union of natures), but the Creator himself, for the unity is what is fundamental [quia fundamentum est in unitate].

I posted the whole thing at Swedish Coffee. I encourage you to read the whole thing - it's a sweet part of our Lutheran theology-history. I see echos of this in our Confessions as well. I wonder why?

HT: This text was translated from the Latin for Project Wittenberg by Christopher B. Brown and is in the public domain (no copyright).



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