Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation III

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Week 3 refuting arguments claiming Jesus was not the Word Incarnated. This is a simple week.


1 The opinions of Valentine, of course, were close to these in regard to the mystery of the Incarnation. For he said that Christ did not have an earthly body, but brought one from heaven; that He received nothing from the Virgin Mother, but passed through her as through an aqueduct.

The occasion of his error he seems to have found in some words of sacred Scripture. For we read in John (3:13, 31): “No man has ascended into heaven, but He that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven… He that comes from above, is above all”; and in John (6:38) our Lord says: “I came down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him that sent Me.” And 1 Corinthians (15:47) has: “The first man was of the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven, heavenly.” All of these they want to have so understood that one believes that Christ came down from heaven even in the body.

2 But this position of Valentine and that of the Manicheans just mentioned proceed from one false root: they believed that all these earthly things were created by the devil. And so, since “the Son of God appeared that He might destroy the works of the devil,” as 1 John (3:8) says, it was unsuitable for Him to assume a body from a creature of the devil, since Paul also says: “What fellowship has light with darkness? What concord has Christ with Belial?” (Il Cor. 6:14-15).

3 And since things which come from the same root produce similar fruits, this position lapses into the same discordant falsity as the previous one. For in every single species there are determined essential principles (matter, I mean, and form) from which comes the essential constitution of the species in things composed of matter and form. But just as human flesh and bone and the like are the proper matter of man, so fire, air, earth, and water and the like, such as we sense, are the matter of flesh and bone and parts of this kind. Therefore, if the body of Christ was not earthly, it was not true flesh and true bone, but in appearance only. And thus, also, He was not a true, but an apparent man, whereas, as was noted, He Himself nonetheless says: “A spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have (Luke 24:39).

4 A heavenly body, moreover, is in its nature incorruptible and inalterable, and cannot be moved outside of its own place. Of course, it was not seemly that the Son of God should diminish the dignity of the nature He assumed, but that He exalt it. Therefore, He did not carry a celestial or incorruptible body below; rather, He assumed an earthly body, capable of suffering, and rendered it incorruptible and heavenly.

5 Again, the Apostle says about the Son of God that He “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3). But the body of David was earthly. Therefore, too, was the body of Christ.

6 The Apostle further says that “God sent His Son, made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). And Matthew (1:16) says: “Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” But He would not be called made of her, or born of her, if He had only passed through her as a channel, assuming nothing from her. Therefore, He assumed His body from her.

7 Furthermore, Mary could not be called the Mother of Jesus, which the Evangelist (Mat. 1:18) witnesses, unless He had received something from her.

8 Again, the Apostle says: “Both He that sanctifies,” namely, Christ, “and they who are sanctified,” namely, Christ’s faithful, “are all of one. For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren saying: I will declare your name to My brethren”; and farther on: “Therefore, because the children are partakers of the flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner has been partaker of the same” (Heb. 2:11-12, 14). But if Christ had a heavenly body only, clearly, since we have an earthly body, we are not one with Him, and, consequently, we cannot be called His brothers. Neither did He Himself partake of flesh and blood, for we know that flesh and blood are composed of the lower elements, and are not of the celestial nature. Plainly, therefore, the position aforesaid is contrary to the Apostolic teaching.

9 The points on which they rely are clearly frivolous. For Christ did not descend from heaven according to soul or to body, but inasmuch as He was God. And this can be gathered from the very words of our Lord. For, when He was saying: “No man has ascended into heaven, but He that descended from heaven,” he added: “the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13); in which He is pointing out that He has so descended from heaven that He has not, for all that, ceased to be in heaven.

But this is proper to deity: so to be on earth as to fill the heaven also, as Jeremiah (23:24) has it: “I fill heaven and earth.” Therefore, the Son of God does not have to descend from heaven by a local motion, for what is moved locally so approaches one place as to withdraw from another. Therefore, the Son of God is said to have descended in that He joined an earthly substance to Himself: just as the Apostle calls Him ‘emptied” in that He took the form of a servant, in such wise, nonetheless, that He did not lose the nature of divinity.

10 However, that which they assume for the root of this position the foregoing shows to be false, for it was made plain in Book II that bodily things are not from the devil, but are made by God.

Categories: SAMT

3 replies »

  1. It’s curious that Valentine as a Catholic would find it necessary to hold to the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary while also claiming that Jesus received nothing from her.

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