A term derived from the discussion as to the real meaning of Phil. 2:6 sqq.: "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God : But emptied [ ekenosen ] himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as man."
The early Reformers, not satisfied with the teaching of Catholic theology on this point, professed to a deeper meaning in St. Paul's words, but Luther and a Melanchton failed in their speculations. John Brenz (d. 10 September, 1570), of Tübingen, maintained that as the Word assumed Christ's human nature, so His human nature not only possessed the Divinity, but also had the power to make use of the Divinity, though it freely abstained from such a use. Chemnitz differed from this view. He denied that Jesus Christ possessed the Divinity in such a way as to have a right to its use. The kenosis, or the exinanition, of His Divine attributes was, therefore, a free act of Christ, according to Brenz; it was the connatural consequence of the Incarnation, according to Chemnitz.
Among modern Protestants the following opinons have been the most prevalent:
According to Catholic theology, the abasement of the Word consists in the assumption of humanity and the simultaneous occultation of the Divinity. Christ's abasement is seen first in His subjecting Himself to the laws of human birth and growth and to the lowliness of fallen human nature. His likeness, in His abasement, to the fallen nature does not compromise the actual loss of justice and sanctity, but only the pains and penalties attached to the loss. These fall partly on the body, partly on the soul, and consist in liability to suffering from internal and external causes.
As to the body, Christ's dignity excludes some bodily pains and states. God's all-preserving power inhabiting the body of Jesus did not allow any corruption; it also prevented disease or the beginning of corruption. Christ's holiness was not compatible with decomposition after death, which is the image of the destroying power of sin. In fact, Christ had the right to be free from all bodily pain, and His human will had the power to remove or suspend the action of the causes of pain. But He freely subjected Himself to most of the pains resulting from bodily exertion and adverse external influences, e.g. fatigue, hunger, wounds, etc. As these pains had their sufficient reason in the nature of Christ's body, they were natural to Him.
Christ retained in Him also the weaknesses of the soul, the passions of His rational and sensitive appetites, but with the following restrictions: (a) Inordinate and sinful motions are incompatible with Christ's holiness. Only morally blameless passions and affections, e.g. fear, sadness, the share of the soul in the sufferings of the body, were compatible with His Divinity and His spiritual perfection. (b) The origin, intensity, and duration of even these emotions were subject to Christ's free choice. Besides, He could prevent their disturbing the actions of His soul and His peace of mind.
To complete His abasement, Christ was subject to His Mother and St. Joseph, to the laws of the State and the positive laws of God ; He shared the hardships and privations of the poor and the lowly. ( See COMMUNICATO IDIOMATUM.)
Biography Of St Martha
Biography Of St Peregrine
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online