Thursday, April 20, 2017


A while back, William Lane Craig said:

It seems you’re not familiar with my proposed neo-Apollinarian Christology in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. It was crafted precisely because I think the usual model tends to Nestorianism for the reasons you mention. On the traditional model the human soul of Christ is not a person, which I find baffling. On my model the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the soul of Jesus Christ. By taking on a human body the Logos completed the human nature of Christ, making him a body/soul composite. So Christ has two complete natures, divine and human.

i) Craig's priorities are strange. Why does he suppose Nestorianism is worse than Apollinarianism? I think Apollinarianism is just as bad as Arianism (or Tuggy's "humanitarian unitarianism"). Nestorianism at least has the merit of preserving the two essential ingredients of the Incarnation. A Christological model that preserves both relata (divine nature, human nature) that comprise the relation, but has a deficient view of how they are interrelated, is significantly better than a Christological model that denies one relatum or the other relatum that jointly comprise the relation. Arianism and Apollinarianism represent opposing extremes. Both deny the Incarnation in opposite ways. One denies the true humanity while the other denies the true divinity.

Many Christians, including theologians, have a muddled view of the hypostatic union. That's because there's a mysterious element to the Incarnation. The real problem is when people deny the raw ingredients which feed into a biblical Christology. 

ii) In addition, I think that just as an orthodox Triadology will have a somewhat tritheistic appearance, an orthodox Christology will have a somewhat Nestorian appearance.

iii) In a sense, a Christian physicalist could make Apollinarianism orthodox since, on that view, the brain produces the mind, so that would combine a full divine nature with a divine human nature. A human body includes a brain that produces a human mind. And that would be in combination with the divine Son.

Of course, that simply relocates and parallels the complications of a substance dualistic Christology: 

human body+human (incorporeal) soul+divine Son


  1. I've commented on this issue before here (Apollinairianism Redux was the title, I believe). I like your comments on the relative merits of the two Christological heresies, but regarding:

    "Arianism and Apollinarianism represent opposing extremes. Both deny the Incarnation in opposite ways. One denies the true humanity while the other denies the true divinity."

    Couldn't one deny the Incarnation in other ways? If someone was convinced that the models that tend toward Nestorianism were not qualitatively distinct from indwellings (which still constitute two distinct persons), would that entail a denial of Incarnation? It would (on this person's understanding) be a mere indwelling with a difference in degree from what others experience but not different in kind.

    Stated differently, wouldn't the nature of the relationship also be an essential ingredient in the Incarnation that could be viewed by Craig as being undermined implicitly by a more Nestorian-ish view?

  2. Steve, in a recent post titled Chucking the OT you wrote:

    i) Isn't this explanation nonsensical given Craig's admittedly Apollinarian Christology? On Craig's view, Christ's consciousness was nothing more or less than pure divine consciousness.

    I think Craig holds to the two minds view of Christ. That's what it seems he's describing in the following videos here:

    He says he would divide the consciousness of Christ into layers. A conscious one, and a subliminal one.

    1. He can't have a two-minds view of the mind of Christ simply is the mind of the divine Son. There is no human mind. Just an embodied divine mind.

      How do you subdivide a divine mind into a conscious layer and an unconscious layer? So God (or the divine Son, in particular) is unaware of how much he knows? Does God forget?

      In any case, that's still one mind. A compartmentalized divine mind.

    2. J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig near the end of chapter 30 of their book The Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview state:

      Some Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Morris, have postulated an independent conscious life for the incarnate Logos in addition to the conscious life of Jesus of Nazareth, what Morris calls a “two minds” view of the Incarnation. He provides a number of intriguing analogies in which asymmetrical accessing relations exist between a subsystem and an encompassing system, such that the overarching system can access information acquired through the subsystem but not vice versa. He gives a psychological analogy of dreams in which the sleeper is himself a person in the dream, and yet the sleeper has an awareness that everything that he is experiencing as reality is in fact merely a dream.
      Morris proposes that the conscious mind of Jesus of Nazareth be conceived as a subsystem of a wider mind which is the mind of the Logos. Such an understanding of the consciousness of the Logos stands in the tradition of Reformed theologians like Zwingli, who held that the Logos continued to operate outside the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The main difficulty of this view is that it threatens to lapse into Nestorianism, since it is very difficult to see why two self-conscious minds would not constitute two persons.
      If the model here proposed makes sense, then it serves to show that the classic doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ is coherent and plausible. It also serves religiously to elicit praise to God for his self-emptying act of humiliation in taking on our human condition with all its struggles and limitations for our sakes and for our salvation.....

      Then at the end of the chapter give this summary:

      In response to the biblical data affirming both Christ’s true humanity and true deity, the church fathers came to confess that in Christ there is one person who possesses two natures. They insisted that one must neither confuse the natures nor divide the person of Christ. This traditional doctrine is coherent if we differentiate between kind natures or essences and individual essences and affirm that Christ contingently exemplified two kind natures. Kenotic theology represents an unnecessary and, in the end, unsuccessful alternative to the classical view that Christ retained in his divine nature the traditional attributes of God. A plausible model of the Incarnation affirms that the mind of the incarnate Christ was the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity. The individual human nature of Christ would be incomplete apart from its possession by the Logos, so that the individual Jesus of Nazareth could not have existed apart from the Incarnation. The Logos’s acquisition of a hominid body brings the human nature of Christ to completion, since the Logos already possesses in his preexistent form the properties of personhood. Thus Christ’s human nature is enhypostatic, finding its subsistence in the person of the Logos. Such a Christology implies monotheletism. If we conceive of the superhuman facets of Christ’s person as largely subliminal, we achieve a plausible portrait of the historical Jesus that is faithful to the biblical record.

      If they don't hold to a two minds view, then they at least appeal to it as one possible and plausible solution to some of the Christological problems they see.

      Also, maybe they locate the the 2nd mind in the human nature of Christ; and as being made up of the faculties of Christ's human brain. If so, then that would imply that every human has two minds. Namely, 1. the faculties of the brain and 2. the rational mind/spirit of man. For myself, I'm not dogmatic on any of these deeper Christological issues.

    3. You're attributing to them a position that don't take. In the passage you quote, they don't say Jesus had two minds: a divine mind and human mind produced by the brain. And where to they appeal to the "spirit of man"? You seem to be inventing a harmonized based on claim they don't make, then using that to salvage their position, as if that's their stated position.

    4. I'm not defending their position (if it's even a position to begin with). Nor am I taking such a position. I'm just trying to understand what they're saying. Clearly, Craig thinks his view is coherent and consistent. You pointed to a possible inconsistency. So, I proposed a possible resolution.

    5. Yes, you are defending their position. You said "Evangelicals should allow for differences of opinion regarding these deeper Trinitarian issues."

      In addition, you propose a "possible resolution" that has no textual basis in the statements you quote.

    6. I defended their prerogative to propose alternative Christologies [so long as they don't compromise Biblical teaching]. That's different than defending the position they were proposing. I would defend you against Trinitarians who might condemn you for rejecting eternal generation, eternal procession, and advocating Calvin's notion of Christ being autotheos. Theological novum as it might be, if it's Biblical or Biblically permissible, why not?

      You seem to be claiming that their Neo-Apollinarian position does compromise Biblical teaching. If it does, then I'll reject it along with you. But currently I'm not sure it does compromise the true humanity of Christ.

    7. The fact that you're unsure is not my standard of comparison.

  3. Our Lord was 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 (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 [i]persons[/i]) (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, 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.

  4. If anyone is interested, I've collected William Lane Craig's latest Defenders Class series on the doctrine of the Trinity here:

    There are 11 parts to the Trinity in general. Then 6 parts regarding the Holy Spirit. Then a still on going series on Christology (currently at part 13). The first 7 lectures on Christology is on the incarnation, and so is closely related to the doctrine of the Trinity. By lecture 8 on Christology Craig moves into the Work of Christ (so farther related to the doctrine of the Trinity).

    Among Craig's seeming deviations from traditional Trinitarianism include a personal rejection of the eternal sonship of Christ, rejection of the eternal generation of the Son and procession of the Holy Spirit. A Neo-Apollinarian Christology. etc. I think Evangelicals should allow for differences of opinion regarding these deeper Trinitarian issues.

    1. I don't objection to deviations from traditional Trinitarianism, per se. That depends on the Biblical support, or lack thereof. But an Apollinarian Christology denies the Incarnation. It removes a necessary ingredient of the Incarnation. The Incarnation isn't reducible to God in a body.