Paul Helm on the Two Natures of Christ

Did Jesus act at one time in His human nature and at another in His Divine? Is this the way we can reconcile the words of and about our Lord in the Gospels when they seem to contradict one or the other essential attributes of the human or Divine nature? Paul Helm seeks to give (or you might say ‘not to give’) an answer to this all important question. You can read his thoughts here.

7 Responses

  1. Tommy Keene

    I especially like this line:

    “Nevertheless there is a strong emphasis on the unity of that consciousness; there is no intimation of a divine-human split-mindedness, nor any evidence of an oscillation between the two natures or the two wills, except in the Passion. Not even in the wilderness temptation. Reading the Gospels with this in mind there is a strong tendency to think that this unity of consciousness reflects a seamless unity of the divine and human in the person of Jesus. Unity of person, unity of consciousness.”

    And of course this one, his main point:

    “But there’s a place for silence, for reserve, for active meditation, for ‘the pious contemplation of our minds’. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak, as the Preacher said. What better time for keeping silence than when we are confronted by the Incarnation?”

  2. Nicholas T. Batzig

    Yes Tommy, I think that Helm makes some very good points in this article. My only hesitation in rejecting the first solution he sets out (i.e. that Jesus sometimes acted in His Divine, sometimes in His human nature) is that it solves the difficulty of how it was that Jesus could say, “No one knows the day nor the hour, not even the Son…but only the Father.” How is it that One who is fully God could not have known everything perfectly? Wouldn’t the only solution be, that in His role as Mediator Jesus laid aside the knowledge that He possessed in His Divine nature?

    What thoughts do you have?

  3. Tommy Keene

    I didn’t read Helm’s remarks as offering two solutions, but as one solution, with a heavy qualification: the two natures of Christ are united in a single consciousness, a single person (two natures, one will, one personality), which is classic Reformed Orthodoxy.

    Hodge: “As a man is one person, and because he is one person all his acts are the acts of that person, so all the acts of Christ are the acts of his whole person…. Here also, as in the case of the attributes of Christ, his person may be denominated from one nature when the act ascribed to Him belongs to the other nature…. The obedience of Christ was the righteousness of God, and the bloog of Christ was the blood of God.” Systematic Theology, Vol 2., 395-6.

    Explanations of how this might be end in the mystery of the incomprehensibility of God. We end in the same mystery here as with the Trinity, and are left affirming both the dual nature and the single person-hood of Jesus. This is in contrast to Nestorianism and Apollinarianism, both of which maintain the true humanity and deity of Christ, but fail to take into account the unity of the person in one way or another.

  4. Ian Hall

    Generally I adopt the ‘as man….as God’ strategy in preaching but I’m aware it has its limitations. As Helm says it is just a little bit too neat to explain what is one of the great mysteries.
    Helm is spot on when he argues for reserve in light of the Incarnation. We don’t know it all and there are some things God for his own reasons hasn’t fully revealed to us.

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