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April 15, 2011

So, as I was leaving my reformed church back in the day, I decided to post some arguments on their website, since they were avoiding me at all costs. I sent them emails, and tried meeting with them in person, but their main goal was trying to figure out how to excommunicate me, rather than me leave because I disagreed, which you can read in their reply below.

So, I submitted my question here, and of course they tried responded.  If anything, their response just proved that they are completely Nestorian, and that they have no clue as to what Nestorianism is.  Please disregard my Roman Catholic arguments at the beginning of my remarks. Mainly the Christological issues are the main problems they cannot answer.

Well, I tried responding to their arguments, and I they never posted my response.  I even wrote them, and asked for them to at least note that I replied, so that it didn’t look as though I couldn’t even attempt an answer..I never got a response. This is because they wanted to use it for their benefit, knowing that my arguments were scaring the crap out of everyone, including them, and since nobody at my previous church knows the issues well enough, my “lack” of response looks like a white flag.

Anyways, my well  friend Perry Robinson of Energetic Procession asked to see the site, and after reading it, he decided to give his own breakdown of their arguments.  Perry nails it!


It is pretty clear he doesn’t know what Nestorianism is. Notice the following.

“Orthodox Christianity CANNOT confess that the deity of Christ suffered and died on the cross as you suggest in the second option you propose in the latter half of point 2, because then it would confess something which is inconsistent with the very nature of God, namely, that the deity could suffer and that it could die; neither is possible, because if the Logos, the Son of God, could suffer and could die, HE IS NOT GOD. AT THE SAME TIME, we insist with orthodox Christianity, the suffering of Christ according to his HUMANITY was INSEPARABLE from His divine nature, so that by the power of his GODHEAD, He might bear the wrath of God in his human nature.”

On the one hand, saying a divine person suffers is not the same as saying that the divine nature suffers. You can see he is confusing person and nature in just the way the Arians (and Nestorians did) The Arians argued that everything that is predicated of the Son is said with respect to his nature, and so differences there would imply a different nature. Your friends comments betray that very same assumption.

On the other hand he turns around and contradicts himself, for then he speaks of a “he” that suffers divine wrath. Is the “he” the same “he” he previously said of which it was impossible for the “Logos, the Son of God” to suffer and die? If the Son didn’t suffer then some other “he” suffered, who wasn’t divine. Hence a man suffered for their sins. That doesn’t inspire great confidence as to their claim that Jesus’ accomplishes salvation.

So its pretty clear he is confusing person and nature in his thinking. Consequently he doesn’t understand Chalcedon, for Chalcedon says that Mary is Theotokos relative to the divine Person, the one Son who is consubstantial with our humanity.

Here is some more sloppiness.

“The fact of the matter is, that the Reformed, along with orthodox Christianity and the scriptures, say that Christ according to his humanity represents man in the covenant of works, and through his obedience and suffering, IN OUR PLACE, secures salvation by earning righteousness by his active obedience to the law and by his suffering God’s wrath in our place.”

Well the rest of “orthodox” Christianity doesn’t affirm the Covenant of Works. That is a Reformed distinctive. Christ according to his humanity means, the divine person who is the subject who is incarnate, not a human subject. So he’s unclear again. And no one else other than the Reformation traditions affirm a Pelagian view of Christ earning salvation by created righteousness and merit, so it is hardly universal Christian teaching.

“This is not a novel view, it is the very thing the apostle Paul teaches in Romans 5:18-19 which says, “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (v18) and “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (v19). Paul could not be more clear that our redemption is in the BODY OF CHRIST (that is the humanity of Christ). It was in the body of Christ that obedience to the law was performed and it was in the body of Christ that satisfaction for sin was made. That means then, that the humanity of Christ is the medium through which the blessings of salvation come to us.”

Yes, it is a novel view. Romans 5 could mean that or it could mean that Christ makes all men exist eternnally, which would nicely match the extent of death wrought and also the universality of the resurrection. If Christ didn’t win life for the wicked, why do they persist and why are they resurrected?

Second, he doesn’t seem to know the difference between the medieval notion of satisfaction and the later penal view.

Third, the question is not whether the salvation was accomplished in the humanity of Christ, but by whom the salvation was accomplished, a divine or human subject or some smacking together of the two as WCF 8.2 has it. So here he skirts the issue. 

To say that the humanity of Christ is the medium through which our salvation is accomplished is at best ambiguous. At worst it implies a Nestorian view of the divinity using the humanity as a tool.

“ALL THIS MEANS that salvation does not consist in Christ mediating to us the divine nature by means of the hypostatic union, it means that salvation consists in having the actual obedience and satisfaction of Christ, performed by the humanity of Christ, imputed to us by God. Let me hasten to add, that the Reformed do not envision that this representative work of Christ was performed apart from the divine nature, because it is impossible for the divine and human natures to be separated from one another, for they were inseparably joined in the holy conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of the virgin Mary.”

No one says that the divine essence is mediated to us, but something divine had better come to us via Christ, for we receive his glory, the glory he had with the father prior to creation. (Jn 17:3), which then isn’t a created thing. Or is there something else that is eternal that isn’t divinity? Second, 2 Pet 1:4 makes it clear we become partakers of the divine nature, not a created substitute. Moral qualities won’t wash because they are not the “divine nature.” The problem is that most assume nature here refers to essence, rather than the something else that is natural relative to God that is not the essence, namely the energies.

“This inseparable connection of the natures in performing the work of redemption is taught by Paul in Acts 20:28 when he says God “purchased the church with his own blood.” Paul does not mean that God actually bled at the cross, it is a rhetorical way of speaking. Classically, theologians have called this the “communicatio idiomatum” meaning that, what is true of one nature, can be LINGUISTICALLY applied to the other nature. It does not mean that there is an actual confusion of the attributes of each nature, it means that what can be properly said of one nature in the person of Christ can be applied rhetorically of the other. To my point though, this manner of speaking UNDERSCORES the fact that the divine nature of Christ was inseparably connected to the human nature of Christ in performing the acts of our redemption which are in turn imputed to sinners for salvation.”

Oh so the natures perform actions? I thought the persons did.

Here he gives the standard Reformed (and nestorian) view of the communciatio idiomatum as an exchange of names. You can see this in Clayton’s work on the Christology of Theodoret of Cyrrus. The Cyrillian and Chalcedonian view of the communicatio was a transfer of energies, which deified the human nature in its operation. That is the humanity of Christ operates by divine power, rendering it glorified and immortal. His gloss of the communicatio is exactly how the Nestorians argued. Just read the exchanges back and forth between Cyril and Nestorius. You can see this teased out in McGuckin’s work Cyril and the Christological Controversy. In any case, natures don’t perform actions. If they did, there’d be no need for there to be three persons in the Trinity. One nature could do all that was required.


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  1. sermonwriter permalink

    Thank you both for this clarification. The truth is so simple, and yet trying to maintain its simplicity amongst years of reading Reformed material and listening to Reformed sermons I find, is an extremely exhausting task.. I am thankful for presentations like this where I can once again check my thoughts against stubborn errors.

  2. Eric Castleman permalink

    It is very true that it is very hard to switch paradigms. One of the reasons is that reformed theology is cemented in Western thought, since it was created by Western thought. This is why Christians in the West can hear some manipulated Augustine, or Anselm, and think it is correct…and why Calvinists have no problem converting to Rome.

    However, understanding the things like the apophatic theology of the Cappadocians almost sounds like some Buddhist writings. Essence and energies is so far from the West it is funny, yet, the original Greek scriptures speak this way. Energia has just been translated to mean different things in English. Reformed theology is victim to this.

    “In speaking of God, when there is question of His essence, then is the time to keep silence. When however, it is a question of His operation, a knowledge of which can come down even to us, that is the time to speak of His omnipotence by telling of His works and explaining His deeds, and to use words to this extent. In matters which go beyond this, however, the creature must not exceed the bounds of his nature, but must be content to know itself. For, indeed, in my view, if the creature never comes to know itself, never understands the essence of the soul or the nature of the body, the cause of being…, if the creature does not know itself, how can it ever explain things which are beyond it? Of such things it is the time to keep silence; here silence is surely better. There is, however, a time to speak of those things by which we can in our lives make progress in virtue.”

    St. Gregory the theologian is here giving us the distinctions between essence and you really think reformers are even equipped enough to understand such distinctions? Hell, reformers accept the Filioque which is not able to be defended by scriptures, because they know little on the trinity, and Christology….so much for Christ centered worship eh? If you cannot figure the doctrine of Christ, then what is the point?

  3. Your Jesus iconophilia make you either a Nestorian or an idolater.

  4. Eric Castleman permalink

    Really? How do Icons make one Nestorian..on the contrary, images were used to argue against Nestorius. Read St. Cryil of Alexandria against Nestorius, and his use of the bread and wine as an argument for the hypostatic union.

    Interestingly enough, the denial of icons is the denial of Christ, since God, who in the OT could not be named, or even looked upon, took on our likeness..What were we created in? Oh yea, an image..makes the Incarnation sound like idolatry in your use of the term. This is also the same line of argumentation Muslims and Gnostics all took. Why must you side with the major heretics?

    Jesus was called “Ikon” by the Jewish converts in the NT times..Icons have always been a part of Christian practice. Nowhere in the NT does it deny images, and in the OT images covered everything, that were commanded to be made by God..see the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple etc. However, your use of God’s Law is inconsistent in your daily life. Are the 10 commandments only for worship, or general morality, in practice throughout common man? The law is common, as your church believes, so why are you not applying your view of images, to all things, not just “worship”?

    Secondly, Idolatry is another subject all together. Calvin’s understanding of Icon veneration was lifted from Charlemagne’s Latin translation of the 7th ecumenical council, which he was completely ignorant of. Calvin had no clue about the early church, because he relied on bad Latin translations for everything, and is why he wrote:

    “If the authority of the ancient church moves us in any way, we will recall that for about five hundred years, during which religion was still flourishing, and a pure doctrine thriving, Christian Churches were commonly empty of images. Thus, it was when the purity of the ministry had somewhat degenerated that they were first introduced for the adornment of churches (Institutes 1.11.13).”

    Eusebius, who lived in the 3rd century talks about images in the church. Read his works entitled “history of the church”.

    With all of that said, can you give me one argument that proves this article false, or can you provide a layout, starting with your premise that icons are Nestorius or idolatry, and walk me through to your conclusion? This is how arguments are made, and dismantled

  5. Eric Castleman permalink

    Bryan let me rephrase the above comment a little bit better.

    Can you provide for me an argument as to why icons are Nestorian? I know that some protestants argue such a thing, but it is a very bad argument. If you can provide me a breakdown, and show me how you go from Icons-Nestorianism, I would like to see how you see these two things fall into relation

    Just plainly stating that icons are Nestorian is not an argument, it is just an assertion.

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