How would you answer this monothelitist objection?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by SebastianClinciuJJ, Jan 12, 2019.

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  1. SebastianClinciuJJ

    SebastianClinciuJJ Puritan Board Freshman

    I know this is a topic that requires great precision, so if you know a theologian who responded to this, please give the reference.

    The objection is as follows:

    If the human will of Christ willed anything that is not conformed to His Divine will, wouldn’t that be a sin?

    After thinking of this possible objection (that came into my mind while reading Calvin’s Institues II.XVI.12), I went to see what Aquinas had to say about this topic in his S.T.: he does say that, in a way, Christ’s human will can will something different than His Divine will (III, Q. 18, Art. 5). I think he was right (If I am in error, please correct me). The testimonies of Matthew 26:39 and Augustine (Contra Maxim. II,20) are presented by him in support of his answer.

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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    The objection assumes facts not in evidence, especially concerning the doctrine of the sinlessness of Our Lord. Hypotheticals or nuanced thought experiments are abrogated by what is before us in Scripture...what was and is.

    Absent some example not in evidence, I suspect someone is looking at the prayer in the garden of Our Lord as an example of some presumed discordance between the human and the divine will. No discordance was in evidence. In Gethsemane we witness the submission and resignation of the service of the man, Jesus, to God, His Father. Nothing more than the natural process (not the moral process accompanying sinful acts) consistent with the hypostatic union.

    Our Lord was (is) fully God and fully man in an indissoluble union whereby the second subsistence of the Trinity assumed a human nature that cannot be separated, divided, mixed, or confused.

    One can best understand this mystical union (hypostatic union, together united in one distinguishable subsistence) by examining what it is not, thus from the process of elimination determine what it must be.

    The mystical union of the divine and human natures of Our Lord is not:

    1. a denial that our Lord was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
    2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
    3. a denial that our Lord had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
    4. a denial of a distinct subsistence in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
    5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
    6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
    7. two distinct subsistences (often called persons) (Nestorianism);
    8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
    9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
    10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism's genus maiestaticum, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
    11. a view that our Lord existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

    The Chalcedonian Definition is one of the few statements that all of orthodox Christendom recognizes as the most faithful summary of the teachings of the Scriptures on the matter of the Incarnate Christ. The Chalcedonian Definition was the answer to the many heterodoxies identified above during the third century.
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    What Patrick said; This mentality is in direct opposition to the impeccability of Christ. It is assuming 'peccability', which is error.
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  4. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I don't think it is wise to consult Aquinas to answer a question in Calvin.

    Also, in II.XVI.12, Calvin is not saying that Gethsemane proved Jesus to be of a different will than His Father. Calvin is refuting the objection "that although Christ feared death, yet he feared not the curse and wrath of God, from which he knew that he was safe."

    Calvin says Gethsemane proves that Christ suffered no ordinary death, but the wrath of God for mankind.

    "How shamefully effeminate would it have been (as I have observed) to be so excruciated by the fear of an ordinary death as to sweat drops of blood, and not even be revived by the presence of angels? What? Does not that prayer, thrice repeated, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me," (Mat 26: 39), a prayer dictated by incredible bitterness of soul, show that Christ had a fiercer and more arduous struggle than with ordinary death?"
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  5. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    The simple answer is that Christ, in fact, did not will anything that did not conform to the divine will of His Father, the key word being "conform." Christ's human will conformed to the will of His Father. And that's precisely how Augustine responded to Maximinus...

    Augustine (354-430) to Maximinus: We too admit an incomparable agreement of will and of undivided charity in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, because we say that this Trinity is one God. But, on account of one and the same nature and substance, we also say what you do not say, These three are one (1 Jn 5:7) [my note: Some think Augustine here cited a portion of the Johannine Comma]. If you make these distinctions and stop being so contentious, you will see that you made no answer here, and you will remain silent on this question. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies, Answer to Maximinus the Arian, Book II:XX.1, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 301.
    Latin text: Etiam nos quippe incomparabilem consensum voluntatis atque individuae charitatis Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti confitemur, propter quod dicimus, Haec Trinitas unus est Deus. Sed nos hoc etiam, quod vos non dicitis, dicimus, propter unam eamdemque naturam atque substantiam, Hi tres unum sunt. Haec si discreveris, et contentiosus esse nolueris, non te ad ea respondisse aliquid jam videbis, et de hac quaestione procul dubio jam tacebis. Contra Maximinum Haereticum Arianorum Episcopum, Liber II, Caput XX, §1, PL 42:788-789. In the Latin text, Migne offers no indication that “Hi tres unum sunt” is a scriptural citation as he does elsewhere with scriptural citations.

    Augustine (354-430) to Maximinus: The Son said to the Father, But not as I want, but as you want (Mk 14:36). Why does it help you to add your words and say, “He showed that his will was truly subject to his Father,” as if we denied that the human will ought to be subject to the will of God? One who looks a bit attentively at this passage of the holy gospel quickly sees that the Lord said this in his human nature. He said, My soul is sad even unto death (Mk 14:34). Could this have been said in the nature of the only Word? Why should you, who think that the nature of the Holy Spirit groans, not also say that the nature of the only-begotten Word of God could be sad? Still, lest someone should say something of the sort, he did not say, “I am sad,” although, even if he had said that, it ought to have been understood only of his human nature. He said, My soul is sad, and as a man he had a human soul. Nonetheless, in saying, Not as I want, he showed that he wanted something other than the Father wanted, something that he could only do with his human heart, when he changed our weakness, not into his divine, but into his human love. If he had not assumed human nature, the only-begotten Word would in no sense say to the Father, Not as I want. That immutable nature could never want something other than what the Father wanted. If you would draw these distinctions, you would not be Arian heretics. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies, Answer to Maximinus the Arian, Book II:XX.2, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J. (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 301.
    Latin text: Ubi autem dixit Filius Patri, Verum non quod ego volo, sed quod tu vis; quid te adjuvat quod tua verba subjungis et dicis, Ostendit vere voluntatem suam subjectam suo genitori: quasi nos negemus, hominis voluntatem voluntati Dei debere esse subjectam? Nam ex natura hominis hoc dixisse Dominum cito videt, qui locum ipsum sancti Evangelii paulo attentius intuetur. Ibi enim dixit: Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem (Matth. XXVI, 39, 38). Numquid ex natura unici Verbi posset hoc dici? Sed homo qui putas gemere naturam Spiritus sancti, cur non etiam naturam Verbi Dei unigeniti tristem dicas esse potuisse? Ille tamen, ne quid diceretur tale, non ait, Tristis sum; quamvis etiamsi hoc dixisset, non nisi ex natura hominis oportuisset intelligi: sed ait, Tristis est anima mea; quam sicut homo utique habebat humanam. Quanquam et in hoc quod ait, Non quod ego volo; aliud se ostendit voluisse quam Pater: quod nisi humano corde non potuisset, cum infirmitatem nostram in suum, non divinum, sed humanum transfiguraret affectum. Homine quippe non assumpto, nullo modo Patri diceret unicum Verbum, Non quod ego volo. Nunquam enim posset immutabilis illa natura quidquam aliud velle quam Pater. Haec si distingueretis, Ariani haeretici non essetis. Contra Maximinum Haereticum Arianorum Episcopum, Liber II, Caput XX, §2, PL 42:789.

    As an aside, I would affirm (contra Charles Hodge) that the Lord Jesus was impeccable or non posse peccare. I know that some folk often argue that if Christ was impeccable, then the 3-fold temptation of the διάβολος was less than real. But the purpose of the temptation was not to see IF it was possible for Christ to sin, but rather to prove that when confronted with temptation He would not sin.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  6. SebastianClinciuJJ

    SebastianClinciuJJ Puritan Board Freshman

    So the conclusion is that Christ's human will can't be in contradiction with his divine will?
  7. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The question fails to distinguish between the preceptive will of God (which is only called his will in a figurative sense) and his decretive will (which is his one will, in the proper sense of the term). Christ's human will is something utterly different than that great decretive will. I don't see how it could be wrong to say that Christ, after his human will, could desire something that he has not decreed according to his divine will.

    Of course, Christ, after his human will, cannot disagree with the preceptive will of God, because that's the definition of sin.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    They would have to always be in agreement.
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't see the problem. It seems like the person is glossing "not conformed to" as "not directly identical," and that doesn't logically follow.

    But it is almost like he is saying, "Anything that is a sin is a sin." Yeah, that's basically true.
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Right. But then it raises the question, "What is a contradiction?" It's not clear that the objector really understands what that is. Christ's divine will willed the creation of the world. His human will can't do that, but they aren't in contradiction.

    Another way to look at it is that Christ's human will can will a multitude of different goods. He willed that the cup pass from his hand, since willing to live, all things being equal, is a good thing. But there was another good, the Father's plan, that he also had to will.

    They are different goods, not contradictory issues.
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  11. SebastianClinciuJJ

    SebastianClinciuJJ Puritan Board Freshman

    What determined me to think of that objection is this statment of Calvin:

    (Institutio Christianae Religionis II.XVI.12)

    This statement of yours helped me:
    Thank you!
  12. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I've found this passage from Calvin's Institutes (quoting Augustine) to be helpful:

    "Man sometimes with a good will wishes something which God does not will, as when a good son wishes his father to live, while God wills him to die. Again, it may happen that man with a bad will wishes what God wills righteously, as when a bad son wishes his father to die, and God also wills it. The former wishes what God wills not, the latter wishes what God also wills. And yet the filial affection of the former is more consonant to the good will of God, though willing differently, than the unnatural affection of the latter, though willing the same thing; so much does approbation or condemnation depend on what it is befitting in man, and what in God to will, and to what end the will of each has respect. For the things which God rightly wills, he accomplishes by the evil wills of bad men," - (August. Enchirid. ad Laurent. cap. 101)

    It can also be said that any evil is against God's will, though He wills to decree it. Is this contradictory?

    Four of my children are adopted. They were all born out of wedlock. Although I don't wish that any child is born out of wedlock, I am thankful that they were born. Is this contradictory?
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  13. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I've been reading Turretin (up to Topic 5 now) and I think he has a great discussion on God's decree and the nature of secondary causes and especially the nature of our wills with respect to what He has given us in His precepts.

    The question in the OP from the monothelite actually presumes a form of Appolonarianism for the question to make sense. In other words, Christ would have to have the divine will in His human nature so that He could know the beginning from the ened in everything that came about in order for His will to line up precisely as God, in Himself, wills it.

    But, because Jesus was fully man then He had to depend not on archetypal knowledge (as God knows things) but ectypal (as the creature). He had to depend on the things revealed to Him. He had to rely upon God.

    He also had to be perfected by His suffereings. He had to be perfected in going to the Father in prayer and pleading for something but yet yielding to whatever the inscutable mind of God had decreed and revealed.

    In His willingness to suffer even in this time of agony and great temptation and not yield to sin, He actually *did* fulfill the revealed will of God. Hebrews states that He was perfected, made most fit, as our Mediator int the things that He suffered. As a man, He was most fit in going to the Father in prayer, not knowing the future as a man, and believing what the Scriptures revealed about Him. All under the power of the Spirit.

    And, because He fulfilled all righteousness (including this trial) as a man, the Second Adam, and offered Himself as a substitute in our place (a man) then He is most fitting as our substitute. That which He assumed (our humanity) He healed. And because He suffered such things and is now ascended, He is a Mediator who very much understands all our trials and temptations and we can come to Him. God's mercies have become human mercies in Christ. We can't relate to the inscrutable God but we can relate to Christ - the God-man.
  14. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    In "Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself" Rutherford addressed this. He states that Christ in his humanity may without sin desire that which was not in conformity to the secret will of God or a positive law/institutiob, but not anything against the natural law, as long as that contrary desire is submissive to the will of the Father. This can be seen in his prayer "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me", since though he desired something, not to die, contrary to the revealed positive command of the Father, that he die, yet his desire was a natural desire, and it was submissive to the Father's will.
    This discussion can be found around p. 160 in this copy of the book
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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