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§ 147. The Relation of the Divine and the Human in Christ.


The doctrine of the Mutual Relation of the divine and the human in Christ did not come into special discussion nor reach a definite settlement until the Christological (Nestorian and Eutychian) controversies of the fifth century.

Yet Irenaeus, in several passages, throws out important hints. He teaches unequivocally a true and indissoluble union of divinity and humanity in Christ, and repels the Gnostic idea of a mere external and transient connection of the divine Soter with the human Jesus. The foundation for that union he perceives in the creation of the world by the Logos, and in man’s original likeness to God and destination for permanent fellowship with Him. In the act of union, that is, in the supernatural generation and birth, the divine is the active principle, and the seat of personality; the human, the passive or receptive; as, in general, man is absolutely dependent on God, and is the vessel to receive the revelations of his wisdom and love. The medium and bond of the union is the Holy Spirit, who took the place of the masculine agent in the generation, and overshadowed the virgin womb of Mary with the power of the highest. In this connection he calls Mary the counterpart of Eve the "mother of all living" in a higher sense; who, by her believing obedience, became the cause of salvation both to herself and the whole human race,10231023    "Et sibi et universo generi humano causa facta est salutis."Adv. Haer. III. 22, § 4.023 as Eve by her disobedience induced the apostasy and death of mankind;—a fruitful but questionable parallel, suggested but not warranted by Paul’s parallel between Adam and Christ, afterwards frequently pushed too far, and turned, no doubt, contrary to its original sense, to favor the idolatrous worship of the blessed Virgin. Irenaeus seems10241024    At least according to Dorner, I. 495.024 to conceive the incarnation as progressive, the two factors reaching absolute communion (but neither absorbing the other) in the ascension; though before this, at every stage of life, Christ was a perfect man, presenting the model of every age.

Origen, the author of the term "God-man," was also the first to employ the figure, since become so classical, of an iron warmed through by fire, to illustrate the pervasion of the human nature (primarily the soul) by the divine in the presence of Christ.



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