Thursday, January 19, 2006


Its clear to me now that this blog needs some more heresy on it. Let me take a crack at some ideas that have been wobbling around in my head. It deals with the person and nature of Jesus Christ. These are very mysterious waters in which to wade. But I don't mind, at least for just a few moments, diving into the mystery of Christ.

Nestorius took beating for condemning the phrase "theotokos." This was the claim that Mary, the mother of Jesus was the "God-bearer." He preferred "christotokos." He wanted his fellow Constantinopleans to see Mary as the Christ-bearer rather than the God-bearer. His reasoning makes sense. Who wants a God who is "born?" Afterall, God is eternal, omnipotent and Creator. How is possible for him to be born?

Now there is a lot of mumbo-jumbo about Jesus having two persons and two natures that Nestorius spewed out that I don't agree with. Orthodoxy didn't agree with him either. But what if he was right about this one point? What if Mary really wasn't the God-bearer but the Christ-bearer?

In my admittedly limited understanding of the incarnation, it seems that the all-powerful God of creation "self-limited" in order to enter time, history and humanity. Now while I agree that that incarnation was full and complete, I am not so sure the incarnate Logos (A.K.A. Jesus Christ) was "fully" God.

Before you bust out the timber and burn me at the stake, let me explain. I believe the necessary language for Jesus Christ is that he was "truly" human and "truly" divine. But I believe that the incarnation necessitated a self-limitation on behalf of God. And only God in all his power could limit Himself. And yet I believe he did do that in the second person of the Trinity in the incarnation.

Since humanity in its original form was created in the image of God, it makes sense that the Logos could become human by way of self-limitation. I don't, however, think God retained his transcendent powers as the person Jesus. I believe his abilities to seemingly read minds, heal sicknesses, walk on water and the like are not so much a product of Him enacting His Godly powers as much as the result of "perfected humanity in perfect relationship to the Father." The miracles Jesus did on earth we too could do in a state of perfection and in perfect relationship to the Father. The only problem being that we will have neither until we are in eternity.

So in the Father we have fullness of the powers of God, yet in Jesus we have the fullness of God in his self-limiting form. For me, the language that communicates this the best is to say that Jesus was "truly" God rather then saying he was "fully" God. This is why I am comfortable with "christotokos" as the best definition of Mary the mother of Jesus. To say that Mary gave birth to God could be misconstrued to mean that Mary gave birth to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The fullness of God is expressed in all three persons of the Trinity simultaneously. When we speak of the birth of Christ, we are really only dealing with the birth of the second person of the trinity, the Son, the Logos.

And further, when the Logos became Jesus Christ in history, he entered humanity through self-limitation. Thus, it seems more correct for me to claim that Mary was the bearer of Christ than it does for me to claim that she was the bearer of God. At most I could say that Mary is the bearer of the self-limited, second person of the Triune God. But to say that she was the God-bearer seems irresponsible. IMO, Mary did not bear the "fullness" of God but the "trueness" of God by giving birth to Jesus Christ. I would like to hear your thoughts on it. I know what I just wrote is jumbled so please clear up or correct my arguement where it is necessary.