Monday, May 13, 2013

The Relationship Between Work and Person in Christ

The Self-Donation of God, pg. 92:

"We will first discuss the person of Christ and then move his work. This way of proceeding is in accordance with the practice of traditional dogmatics and represents a convenient means of organizing the theological task. Nevertheless, much like the two natures, the person and work of Christ can be considered from two distinct perspectives: in the concrete (i.e., as they stand in their actual relationship to one another) or in the abstract (i.e., merely considered in themselves). Considered in the abstract, Christ's person and work may indeed be separated as two distinct things. Christ is a person with certain ontic properties, regardless of his actions. Considered in the concrete though, the person and work of Christ constitute a singular phenomenon. As we will see, created being is narratively constituted. My being derives its reality from my individual story as it subsists within the larger narratives of the old and new creations. In the same manner, Christ's timeless and transcendent divine person incorporates into itself (enhypostasis) the reality of his humanity. Because of the preceding history of Adam and Israel, the humanity of Christ from the moment of its conception stands in solidarity with human nature in general. This human nature has been previously determined by the narratives of creation and the Fall, and therefore Christ, as true man and true God must deal with these realities. Conversely, because Christ’s human is at his conception also free of sin and contains within it God’s infinite and creative divine life (genus majestaticum), it also possesses within its reality the pattern of a new redemptive narrative. This new narrative will be actualized in Jesus’ Incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. Hence, viewed in their totality, the two natures are constituted by the dynamic event of the coming of the Son of God into creation and assuming the total fallen narrative of human existence. In doing this, Jesus overcomes this mangled narrative by the counter-narrative of his death and resurrection. This narrative constitutes Christ’s redemptive work. Therefore, viewed in their concrete totality, one could say in a sense that the person is the work and the work is the person. Oswald Bayer characterizes Luther's understanding of the person and work of Christ in accordance with this: "Christ nature is his work- Christ work is his nature." Similarly, as Regin Prenter notes the Greek patristic theologians (notably Athanasius) in discussing the person of Christ never developed a separate treatise on his work."

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