May 16, 2017

The Christological Triad of Dale Tuggy II

What is the meaning of the Christian doctrine that says Jesus Christ is one person who is fully divine and fully human? For example, the 451 Chalcedonian Creed teaches this two-nature (divine-human) Christology.

My previous blogpost analyzed Dale Tuggy's challenge to this Chalcedonian doctrine from his "Podcast 180—Apologists on How God Can Die—Part 3." Tuggy's podcast elaborated on his following "inconsistent triad" of propositions:

1. Jesus died.
2. Jesus was fully divine.
3. No fully divine being has ever died
To my surprise, several respondents to Tuggy's triad say in one way or another that all three statements are true. This indicates a misunderstanding of propositional logic. For example, Tuggy is an analytical theologian who is focusing on the propositional logic of his triad. Also, if any part of a simple or complex propositional statement is false, then the statement is false.

One could try to modify the triad to make all three propositions true, but all three original propositions cannot be true. Any two of them are mutually exclusive of the remaining one.

For example, Docetists reject that Jesus had a real human body that could die, so they could say that proposition 1 is false while propositions 2 and 3 are true. Or Unitarians and Nestorians reject that Jesus was fully divine, so they could say that propositions 1 and 3 are true while proposition 2 is false.

In my case, I hold that Jesus Christ was a hypostatic union of a fully divine nature and a fully human nature who suffered biological death. Likewise, I hold that proposition 3 is false because a fully divine being has died.

After listening to "Podcast 180," I also concluded that Tuggy was ambiguous about his proposition 1 that says, "Jesus died." Tuggy then challenged me in his blogpost "Some More Replies to the Triad" to respond to the original presentation of his triad in his "Podcast 145—'Tis Mystery All: The Immortal Dies!"

In "Podcast 145," Tuggy defined that death is the cessation of most or all normal life processes. Part of his justification for that definition is a hypothetical analogy of God killing but not annihilating an angel that has no biological processes. Perhaps this analogy refers to imagery in Revelation where the devil is sent to the bottomless pit for a 1,000 years or when the devil is eventually sent to the lake of fire. In the case of Jesus death, I disagree with Tuggy's definition of death. I stick with my statement from my previous blogpost:
The Incarnation was a hypostatic union of an uncreated divine nature and a created human nature. The death of Christ was the biological death of Christ while his human spirit and divine nature continued to exist.
For proposition 2, Tuggy defines that fully divine equals "divine in the way the one God is divine." Then, he notes some Scripture that emphasize the "immortality" of the sole God.

As far as I can see, Tuggy's semantics for the definition of fully divine excludes the possibility of a fully divine and a fully human hypostatic union. However, the term fully divine in the context of two-nature (divine-human) Christology indicates that Jesus Christ has a complete divine nature. For example, Tertullian and the later Chalcedonian Creed state that Jesus Christ has a complete uncreated divine nature and a complete created human nature. This indicates that Jesus Christ was one person who is both a divine being and a human being.

Tuggy then raises objections and questions to this teaching of the Chalcedonian Creed. The primary objection is that the ontology of one person with two natures cannot cohere with his logic of numerical identity. Tuggy also asks if the natures are abstract or concrete.

I have responses to the above objection and question. For example, I plan on writing a lengthy academic paper that combines my Relative-Social Trinitarianism with my semiclassical theism derived from my respective 2016 papers "Identical Legal Entities and the Trinity: Relative-Social Trinitarianism" and "Semiclassical Theism and the Passage of Planck Times." The combination is what I call semiclassical Christianity. For the purpose of resolving Tuggy's objections to two-nature Christology, I will outline main points of what I will call semiclassical Trinitarian theology and semiclassical Christology.

I briefly cited my 2016 papers in my previous blogpost. But I need to go more in-depth in this response.

First of all, semiclassical theism is my natural theology of God and time, divine attributes, and creation. For example, semiclassical theism coheres with modern physics and proposes that God originally exists in a universe with infinite tenseless time. Additionally, God's primary attributes are inexhaustible love, inexhaustible perception, and inexhaustible force. Furthermore, God bridged from tenseless eternity to create the tensed physical universe from nothing. Also, God focuses of working through synergism with created agents such as believing humans.

Second of all, my Relative-Social Trinitarianism is based on biblical studies and my natural law theory of identity. My natural law theory of identity also includes my law of temporal identity and the formula logic of relative identity. For example, the law of temporal identity says:
Anything is absolutely identical to itself and nothing else at any given point of time.
Additionally, the formula logic of relative identity says:
(RI) x and y are the same F, but x and y are different Gs.
Furthermore, I define that a concrete entity is anything that is not a concept. Likewise, the concepts of intangible government and intangible property are abstract entities; while specific governments and intangible property are concrete entities. This indicates that the uncreated divine nature of Jesus is a concrete entity, despite its intangible nature. Some of my friends say that God is beyond a concrete entity, so that looks like its own article.

Moreover, my link contains revised examples of relative identity in the cases of math, natural law, and the Trinity. For an analogy of two-nature Christology, I will focus on the following example of the Roman Lepidus who was both triumvir and pontifex maximus from 44 BCE to 36 BCE:
1. The triumvir was relatively identical to Lepidus, but the triumvir was not absolutely identical to Lepidus.
2. The pontifex maximus was relatively identical to Lepidus, but pontifex maximus was not absolutely identical to Lepidus.
3. Natural person Lepidus who existed as the triumvir was absolutely identical to natural person Lepidus who existed as the pontifex maximus.
4. The triumvir was not identical to the pontifex maximus.
This model of identity is based on the ancient, international custom that indicates a holder of a political office is identical to their political office. I focused on describing this in the context of natural law theory, but the model of identity is the same for the other major schools of legal thought such as legal positivism and legal realism.

Here is another way of looking at the same case of Lepidus:
1. Lepidus was one undivided human person.
2. Lepidus was identical to the triumvir and the pontifex maximus.
3. Lepidus was not absolutely identical to the triumvir and the pontifex maximus.
4. The triumvir and the pontifex maximus were not identical to each other.
One might notice that the transitivity of classical numerical identity do not apply to this international custom. But the formula logic of relative identity does apply.

For the purpose of my analogy of two-nature Christology, the triumvir and the pontifex maximus each had their own complete official nature; while each nature was identical to the one person Lepidus.

Similarly, since the origin of the Incarnation, there was one complete divine nature and one complete human nature; while each nature was identical to the undivided person Jesus.

I clarify that all analogies have similarity and dissimilarity.

One might expect that fully divine means that every nature of a person is divine, which could exclude the possibility of a hypostatic union of a fully divine nature and a fully human nature. However, that was never a part of the Chalcedonian Creed. Regardless, the Christian doctrine of human divinization teaches that humans can develop by God's grace into a class of created divine nature. In this sense, the sinless human nature of Jesus was a created divine nature despite its mortality.

Tuggy also suggested that I support a "fully-creed-compliant christology." I have yet to address this in my academic publications or blog, but my Trinitarian theology and two-nature (divine-human) Christology rejects two points of creedal doctrines. The two points that I reject are (1) eternal generation and (2) eternal spiration/procession. I am not alone in this among contemporary Trinitarians, and I will eventually address this in detail.

This outline with references to my 2016 papers coherently describes basic points of my two-nature Christology. I also engaged Tuggy's inconsistent triad.

Minor Revisions 5/16/2017 10:30 PM EST
Copyright © 2017 James Edward Goetz