FREE Catholic Classes
The Incarnation is the mystery and the dogma of the Word made Flesh. ln this technical sense the word incarnation was adopted, during the twelfth century, from the Norman-French, which in turn had taken the word over from the Latin incarnatio . The Latin Fathers, from the fourth century, make common use of the word; so Saints Jerome, Ambrose, Hilary, etc. The Latin incarnatio ( in : caro , flesh) corresponds to the Greek sarkosis , or ensarkosis , which words depend on John (i, 14) kai ho Logos sarx egeneto , "And the Word was made flesh". These two terms were in use by the Greek Fathers from the time of St. Irenæus --i.e. according to Harnack, A. D. 181-189 (cf. lren., "Adv. Haer." III, l9, n. i.; Migne, VII, 939). The verb sarkousthai , to be made flesh, occurs in the creed of the Council of Nicaea (cf. Denzinger, "Enchiridion", n. 86). In the language of Holy Writ , flesh means, by synecdoche, human nature or man (cf. Luke 3:6 ; Romans 3:20 ). Francisco Suárez deems the choice of the word incarnation to have been very apt. Man is called flesh to emphasize the weaker part of his nature. When the Word is said to have been incarnate, to have been made Flesh, the Divine goodness is better expressed whereby God "emptied Himself . . . and was found in outward bearing ( schemati ) like a man" (Phil. ii, 7); He took upon Himself not only the nature of man, a nature capable of suffering and sickness and death, He became like a man in all save only sin (cf. Francisco Suárez, "De Incarnatione", Praef. n. 5). The Fathers now and then use the word henanthropesis , the act of becoming man, to which correspond the terms inhumanatio , used by some Latin Fathers, and "Menschwerdung", current in German. The mystery of the Incarnation is expressed in Scripture by other terms: epilepsis , the act of taking on a nature ( Hebrews 2:16 ): epiphaneia , appearance ( 2 Timothy 1:10 ); phanerosis hen sarki , manifestation in the flesh ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ); somatos katartismos , the fitting of a body, what some Latin Fathers call incorporatio ( Hebrews 10:5 ); kenosis , the act of emptying one's self (Phil., ii, 7). In this article, we shall treat of the fact, nature and effects of the Incarnation.
I. THE FACT OF THE INCARNATION
The Incarnation implies three facts: (1) The Divine Person of Jesus Christ ; (2) The Human Nature of Jesus Christ ; (3) The Hypostatic Union of the Human with the Divine Nature in the Divine Person of Jesus Christ.(1) THE DIVINE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST
We presuppose the historicity, of Jesus Christ -- i.e. that He was a real person of history (cf. JESUS CHRIST ); the Messiahship of Jesus ; the historical worth and authenticity of the Gospels and Acts; the Divine ambassadorship of Jesus Christ established thereby; the establishment of an infallible and never failing teaching body to have and to keep the deposit of revealed truth entrusted to it by the Divine ambassador, Jesus Christ ; the handing down of all this deposit by tradition and of part thereof by Holy Writ ; the canon and inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures --all these questions will be found treated in their proper places. Moreover, we assume that the Divine nature and Divine personality are one and inseparable ( see TRINITY ). The aim of this article is to prove that the historical person, Jesus Christ, is really and truly God, --i.e. has the nature of God, and is a Divine person. The Divinity of Jesus Christ is established by the Old Testament, by the New Testament and by tradition.A. Old Testament Proofs
The Old Testament proofs of the Divinity of Jesus presuppose its testimony to Him as the Christ, the Messias (see MESSIAS). Assuming then, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messias promised in the Old Testament, from the terms of the promise it is certain that the One promised is God, is a Divine Person in the strictest sense of the word, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of the Father, One in nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit . Our argument is cumulative. The texts from the Old Testament have weight by themselves; taken together with their fulfilment in the New Testament, and with the testimony of Jesus and His apostles and His Church, they make up a cumulative argument in favour of the Divinity of Jesus Christ that is overwhelming in its force. The Old Testament proofs we draw from the Psalms, the Sapiential Books and the Prophets.
(a) TESTIMONY OF THE PSALMS
Psalm 2:7. "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee." Here Jahweh, i.e., God of Israel, speaks to the promised Messias. So St. Paul interprets the text ( Hebrews 1:5 ) while proving the Divinity of Jesus from the Psalms. The objection is raised that St. Paul is here not interpreting but only accommodating Scripture. He applies the very same words of Psalm 2:7 to the priesthood ( Hebrews 5:5 ) and to the resurrection ( Acts 13:33 ) of Jesus ; but only in a figurative sense did the Father beget the Messias in the priesthood and resurrection of Jesus ; hence only in a figurative sense did He beget Jesus as His Son. We answer that St. Paul speaks figuratively and accommodates Scripture in the matter of the priesthood and resurrection but not in the matter of the eternal generation of Jesus. The entire context of this chapter shows there is a question of real sonship and real Divinity of Jesus. In the same verse, St. Paul applies to Christ the words of Jahweh to David, the type of Christ: "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son". ( 2 Samuel 7:14 ) In the following verse, Christ is spoken of as the first-born of the Father, and as the object of the adoration of the angels ; but only God is adored : "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. . . Thy God, O God, hath anointed thee" (Ps. xliv, 7, 8). St. Paul refers these words to Christ as to the Son of God ( Hebrews 1:9 ). We follow the Massoretic reading, "Thy God, O God ". The Septuagint and New Testament reading, ho theos, ho theos sou , "O God, Thy God ", is capable of the same interpretation. Hence, the Christ is here called God twice; and his throne, or reign, is said to have been from eternity. Ps. cix, 1: "The Lord said to my Lord (Heb., Jahweh said to my Adonai ): Sit thou at my right hand". Christ cites this text to prove that He is Adonai (a Hebrew term used only for Deity ), seated at the right hand of Jahweh, who is invariably the great God of Israel ( Matthew 22:44 ). In the same psalm, Jahweh says to Christ: "Before the day-star, I begat thee". Hence Christ is the begotten of God ; was begotten before the world was, and sits at the right hand of the heavenly Father. Other Messianic psalms might be cited to show the clear testimony of these inspired poems to the Divinity of the promised Messias.
(b) TESTIMONY OF THE SAPIENTIAL BOOKS
So clearly do these Sapiential Books describe uncreated Wisdom as a Divine Person distinct from the First Person, that rationalists have resort to a subterfuge and claim that the doctrine of uncreated Wisdom was taken over by the authors of these books from the Neo-Platonic philosophy of the Alexandrian school. It is to be noted that in the pre-sapiential books of the Old Testament, the uncreated Logos, or hrema , is the active and creative principle of Jahweh (see Psalm 32:4 ; 32:6 ; 118:89 ; 102:20 ; Isaiah 40:8 ; 55:11 ). Later the logos became sophia , the uncreated Word became uncreated Wisdom. To Wisdom were attributed all the works of creation and Divine Providence (see Job 28:12 : Proverbs 8 and 9 ; Sirach 1:1 ; 24:5-12 ; Wisdom 6:21 ; 9:9 ). In Wis., ix, 1, 2, we have a remarkable instance of the attribution of God's activity to both the Logos and Wisdom. This identification of the pre-Mosaic Logos with the Sapiential Wisdom and the Johannine Logos (see LOGOS) is proof that the rationalistic subterfuge is not effective. The Sapiential Wisdom and the Johannine Logos are not an Alexandrian development of the PIatonic idea, but are a Hebraistic development of the pre-Mosaic uncreated and creating Logos or Word.
Now for the Sapiential proofs : In Ecclus., xxiv, 7, Wisdom is described as uncreated, the "first born of the Most High before all creatures", "from the beginning and before the World was I made" (ibid., 14). So universal was the identification of Wisdom with the Christ, that even the Arians concurred with the Fathers therein; and strove to prove by the word ektise , made or created , of verse 14, that incarnate Wisdom was created. The Fathers did not make answer that the word Wisdom was not to be understood of the Christ, but explained that the word ektise had here to be interpreted in keeping with other passages of Holy Writ and not according to its usual meaning,--that of the Septuagint version of Genesis 1:1 . We do not know the original Hebrew or Aramaic word; it may have been the same word that occurs in Prov. viii, 22: "The Lord possessed me (Hebrew gat me by generation; see Genesis 4:1 ) in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning, I was set up from eternity." Wisdom speaking of itself in the Book of Ecclesiasticus cannot contradict what Wisdom says of itself in Proverbs and elsewhere. Hence the Fathers were quite right in explaining ektise not to mean made or created in any strict sense of the terms (see St. Athanasius, "Sermo ii contra Arianos", n. 44; Migne, P. G., XXVI, 239). The Book of Wisdom , also, speaks clearly of Wisdom as "the worker of all things . . . a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God. . . the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God's majesty, and the image of his goodness." ( Wisdom 7:21-26 ) St. Paul paraphrases this beautiful passage and refers it to Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 1:3 ). It is clear, then, from the text-study of the books themselves, from the interpretation of these books by St. Paul , and especially, from the admitted interpretation of the Fathers and the liturgical uses of the Church, that the personified wisdom of the Sapiential Books is the uncreated Wisdom, the incarnate Logos of St. John, the Word hypostatically united with human nature, Jesus Christ , the Son of the Eternal Father. The Sapiential Books prove that Jesus was really and truly God.
(c) TESTIMONY OF THE PROPHETIC BOOKS
The prophets clearly state that the Messias is God. Isaias says: "God Himself will come and will save you" (xxxv, 4); "Make ready the way of Jahweh" (xl, 3); "Lo Adonai Jahweh will come with strength" (xl, 10). That Jahweh here is Jesus Christ is clear from the use of the passage by St. Mark (i 3). The great prophet of Israel gives the Christ a special and a new Divine name "His name will be called Emmanuel" ( Isaiah 7:14 ). This new Divine name St. Matthew refers to as fulfilled in Jesus, and interprets to mean the Divinity of Jesus. "They shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us." ( Matthew 1:23 ) Also in ix, 6, Isaias calls the Messias God : "A child is born to us . . . his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Strong One, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace." Catholics explain that the very same child is called God the Strong One (ix, 6) and Emmanuel (vii, 14); the conception of the child is prophesied in the latter verse, the birth of the very same child is prophesied in the former verse. The name Emmanuel (God with us) explains the name that we translate "God the Strong One." It is uncritical and prejudiced on the part of the rationalists to go outside of lsaias and to seek in Ezechiel (xxxii, 21) the meaning "mightiest among heroes" for a word that everywhere else in Isaias is the name of "God the Strong One" (see Isaiah 10:21 ). Theodotion translates literally theos ischyros ; the Septuagint has "messenger". Our interpretation is that commonly received by Catholics and by Protestants of the stamp of Delitzsch ("Messianic Prophecies ", p. 145). Isaias also calls the Messias the "sprout of Jahweh" (iv, 2), i.e. that which has sprung from Jahweh as the same in nature with Him. The Messias is "God our King" ( Isaiah 52:7 ), "the Saviour sent by our God " ( Isaiah 52:10 , where the word for Saviour is the abstract form of the word for Jesus ); "Jahweh the God of Israel" ( Isaiah 52:12 ): "He that hath made thee, Jahweh of the hosts His name" ( Isaiah 54:5 )".
The other prophets are as clear as Isaias, though not so detailed, in their foretelling of the Godship of the Messias. To Jeremias, He is "Jahweh our Just One" (xxiii, 6; also xxxiii, 16). Micheas speaks of the twofold coming of the Child, His birth in time at Bethlehem and His procession in eternity from the Father (v, 2). The Messianic value of this text is proved by its interpretation in Matthew (ii, 6). Zacharias makes Jahweh to speak of the Messias as "my Companion"; but a companion is on an equal footing with Jahweh (xiii, 7). Malachias says: "Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face, and presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple" (iii, 1). The messenger spoken of here is certainly St. John the Baptist. The words of Malachias are interpreted of the Precursor by Our Lord Himself ( Matthew 11:10 ). But the Baptist prepared the way before the face of Jesus Christ . Hence the Christ was the spokesman of the words of Malachias. But the words of Malachias are uttered by Jahweh the great God of Israel. Hence the Christ or Messias and Jahweh are one and the same Divine Person. The argument is rendered even more forcible by the fact that not only is the speaker, Jahweh the God of hosts, here one and the same with the Messias before Whose face the Baptist went: but the prophecy of the Lord's coming to the Temple applies to the Messias a name that is ever reserved for Jahweh alone. That name occurs seven times ( Exodus 23:17 ; 34:23 ; Isaiah 1:24 ; 3:1 ; 10:16 and 33 ; 19:4 ) outside of Malachias, and is clear in its reference to the God of Israel. The last of the prophets of Israel gives clear testimony that the Messias is the very God of Israel Himself. This argument from the prophets in favour of the Divinity of the Messias is most convincing if received in the light of Christian revelation, in which light we present it. The cumulative force of the argument is well worked out in "Christ in Type and Prophecy", by Maas.
We shall give the witness of the Four Evangelists and of St. Paul. The argument from the New Testament has a cumulative weight that is overwhelming in its effectiveness, once the inspiration of the New Testament and the Divine ambassadorship of Jesus are proved ( see INSPIRATION ; CHRISTIANITY ). The process of the Catholic apologetic and dogmatic upbuilding is logical and never-failing. The Catholic theologian first establishes the teaching body to which Christ gave His deposit of revealed truth, to have and to keep and to hand down that deposit without error or failure. This teaching body gives us the Bible ; and gives us the dogma of the Divinity of Christ in the unwritten and the written Word of God, i.e. in tradition and Scripture. When contrasted with the Protestant position upon "the Bible , the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible "--no, not even anything to tell us what is the Bible and what is not the Bible --the Catholic position upon the Christ-established, never-failing, never-erring teaching body is impregnable. The weakness of the Protestant position is evidenced in the matter of this very question of the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Bible is the one and only rule of faith of Unitarians, who deny the Divinity of Jesus ; of Modernistic Protestants, who make out His Divinity to be an evolution of His inner consciousness ; of all other Protestants, be their thoughts of Christ whatsoever they may. The strength of the Catholic position will be clear to any one who has followed the trend of Modernism outside the Church and the suppression thereof within the pale.
WITNESS OF THE EVANGELISTS
We here assume the Gospels to be authentic, historical documents given to us by the Church as the inspired Word of God. We waive the question of the dependence of Matthew upon the Logia, the origin of Mark from "Q", the literary or other dependence of Luke upon Mark; all these questions are treated in their proper places and do not belong here in the process of Catholic apologetic and dogmatic theology. We here argue from the Four Gospels as from the inspired Word of God. The witness of the Gospels to the Divinity of Christ is varied in kind.
According to the testimony of the Evangelists, Jesus Himself bore witness to His Divine Sonship. As Divine Ambassador He can not have borne false witness . Firstly, He asked the disciples, at Caesarea Philippi, "Whom do men say that the Son of man is?" ( Matthew 16:13 ). This name Son of man was commonly used by the Saviour in regard to Himself; it bore testimony to His human nature and oneness with us. The disciples made answer that others said He was one of the prophets. Christ pressed them. "But whom do you say that I am? "(ibid., 15). Peter, as spokesman, replied: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God " (ibid., 16). Jesus was satisfied with this answer; it set Him above all the prophets who were the adopted sons of God ; it made Him the natural Son of God. The adopted Divine sonship of all the prophets Peter had no need of special revelation to know. This natural Divine Sonship was made known to the leader of the Apostles only by a special revelation. "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven " (ibid., 17). Jesus clearly assumes this important title in the specially revealed and altogether new sense. He admits that He is the Son of God in the real sense of the word.
Secondly, we find that He allowed others to give Him this title and to show by the act of real adoration that they meant real Sonship. The possessed fell down and adored Him, and the unclean spirits cried out: "Thou art the Son of God " ( Mark 3:12 ). After the stilling of the storm at sea, His disciples adored Him and said: "Indeed thou art the Son of God "( Matthew 14:33 ). Nor did He suggest that they erred in that they gave Him the homage due to God alone. The centurion on Calvary ( Matthew 27:54 ; Mark 15:39 ), the Evangelist St. Mark (i, 1), the hypothetical testimony of Satan ( Matthew 4:3 ) and of the enemies of Christ ( Matthew 27:40 ) all go to show that Jesus was called and esteemed the Son of God. Jesus Himself clearly assumed the title. He constantly spoke of God as "My Father" ( Matthew 7:21 ; 10:32 ; 11:27 ; 15:13 ; 16:17 , etc.).
Thirdly, the witness of Jesus to His Divine Sonship is clear enough in the Synoptics, as we see from the foregoing argument and shall see by the exegesis of other texts; but is perhaps even more evident in John. Jesus indirectly but clearly assumes the title when He says: "Do you say of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ? . . . the Father is in me and I in the Father." ( John 10:36, 38 ) An even clearer witness is given in the narrative of the cure of the blind man in Jerusalem. Jesus said: "Dost thou believe in the Son of God ?" He answered, and said: "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? And Jesus said to him: Thou hast both seen him; and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said: I believe, Lord. And falling down, he adored him." ( John 9:35-38 ) Here as elsewhere, the act of adoration is allowed, and the implicit assent is in this wise given to the assertion of the Divine Sonship of Jesus.
Fourthly, likewise to His enemies, Jesus made undoubted profession of His Divine Sonship in the real and not the figurative sense of the word; and the Jews understood Him to say that He was really God. His way of speaking had been somewhat esoteric. He spoke often in parables. He willed then, as He wills now, that faith be "the evidence of things that appear not" ( Hebrews 11:1 ). The Jews tried to catch Him, to make Him speak openly. They met Him in the portico of Solomon and said: "How long dost thou hold our souls in suspense? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly" ( John 10:24 ). The answer of Jesus is typical. He puts them off for a while; and in the end tells them the tremendous truth : "I and the Father are one" ( John 10:30 ). They take up stones to kill Him. He asks why. He makes them admit that they have understood Him aright. They answer: "For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy ; and because that thou, being a man makest thyself God " (ibid., 33). These same enemies had clear statement of the claim of Jesus on the last night that He spent on earth. Twice He appeared before the Sanhedrim, the highest authority of the enslaved Jewish nation. The first times the high priest , Caiphas, stood up and demanded: "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ the Son of God " ( Matthew 26:63 ). Jesus had before held His peace. Now His mission calls for a reply. "Thou hast said it " (ibid., 64). The answer was likely--in Semitic fashion--a repetition of the question with a tone of affirmation rather than of interrogation. St. Matthew reports that answer in a way that might leave some doubt in our minds, had we not St. Mark's report of the very same answer. According to St. Mark, Jesus replies simply and clearly: "I am" ( Mark 14:62 ). The context of St. Matthew clears up the difficulty as to the meaning of the reply of Jesus. The Jews understood Him to make Himself the equal of God. They probably laughed and jeered at His claim. He went on: 'Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven " ( Matthew 26:64 ). Caiphas rent his garments and accused Jesus of blasphemy. All joined in condemning Him to death for the blasphemy whereof they accused Him. They clearly understood Him to make claim to be the real Son of God ; and He allowed them so to understand Him, and to put Him to death for this understanding and rejection of His claim. It were to blind one's self to evident truth to deny the force of this testimony in favour of the thesis that Jesus made claim to be the real Son of God. The second appearance of Jesus before the Sanhedrim was like to the first; a second time He was asked to say clearly: "Art thou then the Son of God ?" He made reply: "You say that I am." They understood Him to lay claim to Divinity. "What need we any further testimony? for we ourselves have heard it from his own mouth" ( Luke 22:70, 71 ). This twofold witness is especially important, in that it is made before the great Sanhedrim, and in that it is the cause of the sentence of death. Before Pilate, the Jews put forward a mere pretext at first. "We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, and saying that he is Christ the king" ( Luke 23:2 ). What was the result? Pilate found no cause of death in Him! The Jews seek another pretext. "He stirreth up the people . . . from Galilee to this place" (ibid., 5). This pretext fails. Pilate refers the case of sedition to Herod. Herod finds the charge of sedition not worth his serious consideration. Over and again the Jews come to the front with a new subterfuge. Over and again Pilate finds no cause in Him. At last the Jews give their real cause against Jesus. In that they said He made Himself a king and stirred up sedition and refused tribute to Caesar, they strove to make it out that he violated Roman law. Their real cause of complaint was not that Jesus violated Roman law ; but that they branded Him as a violator of the Jewish law. How? "We have a law ; and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God ( John 19:7 ). The charge was most serious; it caused even the Roman governor "to fear the more." What law is here referred to? There can be no doubt. It is the dread law of Leviticus : "He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die: all the multitude shall stone him, whether he be a native or a stranger. He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord dying let him die" ( Leviticus 24:17 ). By virtue of this law, the Jews were often on the very point of stoning Jesus ; by virtue of this law, they often took Him to task for blasphemy whensoever He made Himself the Son of God ; by virtue of this same law, they now call for His death. It is simply out of the question that these Jews had any intention of accusing Jesus of the assumption of that adopted sonship of God which every Jew had by blood and every prophet had had by special free gift of God's grace.
Fifthly, we may only give a summary of the other uses of thee title Son of God in regard to Jesus. The angel Gabriel proclaims to Mary that her son will "be called the Son of the most High" ( Luke 1:32 ); "the Son of God " ( Luke 1:35 ); St. John speaks of Him as "the only begotten of the Father" ( John 1:14 ); at the Baptism of Jesus and at His Transfiguration, a voice from heaven cries: "This is my beloved son" ( Matthew 3:17 ; Mark 1:11 ; Luke 3:22 ; Matthew 17:3 ); St. John gives it as his very set purpose, in his Gospel, "that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God " ( John 20:31 ).
Sixthly, in the testimony of John, Jesus identifies Himself absolutely with the Divine Father. According to John, Jesus says: "he that seeth me seeth the Father" (ibid., xiv, 9). St. Athanasius links this clear testimony to the other witness of John "I and the Father are one" (ibid., x, 30); and thereby establishes the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son. St. John Chrysostom interprets the text in the same sense. A last proof from John is in the words that bring his first Epistle to a close: "We know that the Son of God is come: and He hath given us understanding that we may know the true God, and may be in his true Son. This is the true God and life eternal " ( 1 John 5:20 ). No one denies that "the Son of God " who is come is Jesus Christ. This Son of God is the " true Son" of "the true God "; in fact, this true son of the True God, i.e. Jesus, is the true God and is life eternal. Such is the exegesis of this text given by all the Fathers that have interpreted it (see Corluy, "Spicilegium Dogmatico-Biblicum", ed. Gandavi, 1884, II, 48). All the Fathers that have either interpreted or cited this text, refer outos to Jesus, and interpret " Jesus is the true God and life eternal." The objection is raised that the phrase " true God " ( ho alethisnos theos ) always refers, in John, to the Father. Yes, the phrase is consecrated to the Father, and is here used precisely on that account, to show that the Father who is, in this very verse, first called "the true God ", is one with the Son Who is second called "the true God " in the very same verse. This interpretation is carried out by the grammatical analysis of the phrase; the pronoun this ( outos ) refers of necessity to the noun near by, i.e. His true Son Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Father is never called "life eternal " by John; whereas the term is often given by him to the Son ( John 11:25 ; 14:6 : 1 John 1:2 ; 5:11-12 ). These citations prove beyond a doubt that the Evangelists bear witness to the real and natural Divine Sonship of Jesus Christ.
Outside the Catholic Church, it is today the mode to try to explain away all these uses of the phrase Son of God, as if, forsooth, they meant not the Divine Sonship of Jesus, but presumably His sonship by adoption--a sonship due either to His belonging to the Jewish race or derived from His Messiahship. Against both explanations stand our arguments; against the latter explanation stands the fact that nowhere in the Old Testament is the term Son of God given as a name peculiar to the Messias. The advanced Protestants of this twentieth century are not satisfied with this latter and wornout attempt to explain away the assumed title Son of God. To them it means only that Jesus was a Jew (a fact that is now denied by Paul Haupt). We now have to face the strange anomaly of ministers of Christianity who deny that Jesus was Christ. Formerly it was considered bold in the Unitarian to call himself a Christian and to deny the Divinity of Jesus ; now "ministers of the Gospel" are found to deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Messias (see articles in the Hibbert Journal for 1909, by Reverend Mr. Roberts, also the articles collected under the title " Jesus or Christ?" Boston, 19m). Within the pale of the Church, too, there were not wanting some who followed the trend of Modernism to such an extent as to admit that in certain passages, the term "Son of God " in its application to Jesus, presumably meant only adopted sonship of God. Against these writers was issued the condemnation of the proposition: "In all the texts of the Gospels, the name Son of God is merely the equivalent of the name Messias, and does not in any wise mean that Christ is the true and natural Son of God " (see decree "Lamentabili", S. Off., 3-4 July, 1907, proposition xxxii). This decree does not affirm even implicitly that every use of the name "Son of God " in the Gospels means true and natural Sonship of God. Catholic theologians generally defend the proposition whenever, in the Gospels, the name "Son of God " is used in the singular number, absolutely and without any additional explanation, as a proper name of Jesus, it invariably means true and natural Divine Sonship of Jesus Christ (see Billot, "De Verbo Incarnato," 1904, p. 529). Corluy, a very careful student of the original texts and of the versions of the Bible , declared that, whenever the title Son of God is given to Jesus in the New Testament, this title has the inspired meaning of natural Divine Sonship; Jesus is by this title said to have the same nature and substance as the Heavenly Father (see "Spicilegium", II, p. 42).
St. John affirms in plain words that Jesus is God. The set purpose of the aged disciple was to teach the Divinity of Jesus in the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse that he has left us; he was aroused to action against the first heretics that bruised the Church. "They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us" ( 1 John 2:19 ). They did not confess Jesus Christ with that confession which they had obligation to make ( 1 John 4:3 ). John's Gospel gives us the clearest confession of the Divinity of Jesus. We may translate from the original text: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in relation to God and the Word was God " (John i, 1). The words ho theos (with the article) mean, in Johannine Greek, the Father. The expression pros ton theon reminds one forcibly of Aristotle's to pros ti einai . This Aristotelian way of expressing relation found its like in the Platonic, Neo-Platonic, and Alexandrian philosophy ; and it was the influence of this Alexandrian philosophy in Ephesus and elsewhere that John set himself to combat. It was, then, quite natural that John adopted some of the phraseology of his enemies, and by the expression ho logos en pros ton theon gave forth the mystery of the relation of Father with Son: "the Word stood in relation to the Father", i.e., even in the beginning. At any rate the clause theos en ho logos means "the Word was God ". This meaning is driven home, in the irresistible logic of St. John, by the following verse: "All things were made by him." The Word, then, is the Creator of all things and is true God. Who is the Word! It was made flesh and dwelt with us in the flesh (verse 14); and of this Word John the Baptist bore witness (verse 15). But certainly it was Jesus, according to John the Evangelist, Who dwelt with us in the flesh and to Whom the Baptist bore witness. Of Jesus the Baptist says: "This is he, of whom I said: After me there cometh a man, who is preferred before me: because he was before me" (verse 30). This testimony and other passages of St. John's Gospel are so clear that the modern rationalist takes refuge from their forcefulness in the assertion that the entire Gospel is a mystic contemplation and no fact-narrative at all (see JOHN, GOSPEL OF SAINT). Catholics may not hold this opinion denying the historicity of John. The Holy Office, in the Decree "Lamentabili", condemned the following proposition: "The narrations of John are not properly speaking history but a mystic contemplation of the Gospel: the discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations on the mystery of salvation and are destitute of historical truth." (See prop. xvi.)
(b) WITNESS OF ST. PAUL
It is not the set purpose of St. Paul , outside of the
More Volume: T 528
Click/Touch the sub-volume below to view encyclopedia articles within the sub-volume.
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.