Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation V

Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation V

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Week 5 refuting arguments claiming Jesus was not the Word Incarnated. We meet Arius at last.


1 It is, however, not only about the body of Christ but also about His soul that one finds some bad opinions.

2 For Arius held that in Christ there was no soul, but that He assumed only flesh, and that divinity stood to this as soul. And he seems to have been led to this position by a certain necessity. For he wanted to maintain that the Son of God was a creature and less than the Father, and so for his proof he picked up those Scriptural passages which show human infirmity in Christ.

And to keep anyone from refuting him by saying that the passages he picked referred to Christ not in His divine, but in His human, nature, he evilly removed the soul from Christ to this purpose: since some things are not harmonious with a human body, that He wondered, for example, that He feared, that He prayed—all such must necessarily imply the inferiority of the Son of God Himself. Of course, he picked up for the assertion of his position the words of John just mentioned, “The Word was made flesh,” and from this he wanted to gather that the Word only assumed flesh, not a soul. And in this position even Apollinaris followed him.

Notes The origin of “Jesus was just a good man” fallacy, which is still with us.

3 But it is clear from what has been said that this position is impossible. For it was shown Ames that God cannot be the form of a body. Since, therefore, the Word of God is God, as was shown, it is impossible that the Word of God be the form of a body, so as to be able to stand as a soul to flesh.

4 This argument, of course, is useful against Apollinaris, who confessed the Word of God to be true God; and granted Arius would deny this last, the argument just given goes against him, also. For it is not God alone who cannot be the form of a body, neither can any of the supercelestial spirits among whom Arius held the Son of God supreme. Exception might be made for the position of Origen, who held that human souls were of the very same species and nature as the supercelestial spirits. The falsity of this opinion was explained above.

5 Take away, moreover, what is of the essence of man, and no true man can be. Clearly, of course, the soul is chiefly of the essence of man, since it is his form. Therefore, if Christ had no soul He was not true man, whereas the Apostle does call Him man: “There is one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

6 It is on the soul, furthermore, that not only man’s essence, but that of his single parts, depends; and so, with the soul gone, the eye, the flesh, and the bone of a dead man are equivocally named, “like a painted or a stone eye.” Therefore, if in Christ there was no soul, of necessity there was neither true flesh in Him nor any of the other parts of man, whereas our Lord says that He has these in Himself: “A spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have (Luke 24:39).

7 Further, what is generated from another cannot be called his son unless he comes forth in the same species; the maggot is not called the son of the animal from which it is generated. But, if Christ had no soul, He was not of the same species as other men, for things which differ in form cannot be identical in species. Therefore, one will not be able to say that Christ is the Son of the Virgin Mary or that she is His Mother. Nonetheless, Scripture asserts this in the Gospels (Mat. 1:18; Luke 7:7).

8 There is more. The Gospel expressly says that Christ had a soul; Matthew (26:38) for instance: “My soul is sorrowful even unto death,” and John (17:2.7): “Now is My soul troubled.”

9 And lest they say perhaps that the very Son of God is called soul because in their position He stands to the flesh as soul, one must take our Lord’s own saying: “I have power to lay My soul down: and I have power to take it up again” (John 10:18).

From this one understands that there is another than the soul in Christ, which had the power of laying the soul down and taking it up again. It was, of course, not in the power of the body to be united to the Son of God or be separated from Him, since this, too, exceeds the power of nature. One must, then, understand that in Christ the soul was one thing and the divinity of the Son of God another, to whom such power justly is attributed.

10 Another reason: Sorrow, anger and the like are passions of the sensitive soul; the Philosopher makes this plain. Therefore Christ must have had a sensitive soul: This is plainly different from the divine nature of the Son of God.

11 But, since one can say that the human things in the Gospels are said of Christ metaphorically, just as the sacred Scriptures speak of God in many places, one must take something which is understood properly of necessity. For, just as other bodily things which the Evangelists relate of Christ are understood properly and not metaphorically, so it must not be understood of Christ metaphorically that He ate and that He hungered. Only he who has a sensitive soul hungers, since hunger is the appetite for food. Necessarily, then, Christ had a sensitive soul.


  1. C-Marie

    Right away there appears to be an error in the quoting of John 10: 18, for my familiarity with the quote means that it ought to read Jesus speaking of His Life and not His Soul.

    Today’s Bibles read life and not soul.

    Aquinas used the Latin Vulgate “animam”, and translated it as soul instead of Life, as follows:

    “17 Propterea me diligit Pater: quia ego pono animam meam, ut iterum sumam eam.
    18 Nemo tollit eam a me: sed ego pono eam a meipso, et potestatem habeo ponendi eam, et potestatem habeo iterum sumendi eam. Hoc mandatum accepi a Patre meo.”

    Whereas today, “animam” in this context is translated Life and not Soul.
    “17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. ” John 10: 17-18.

    Translations must needs take into consideration the context, as the context determines meaning, and therefore in this context, all appear in agreement that Jesus was speaking of His Life.

    Also, we are spirit, soul and body as St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 23, and as Jesus said when saying, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” in Matthew 26: 41.

    God bless, C-Marie

  2. Oldavid

    It seems to me, C-Marie, that you’re trying to split a hair for no obvious reason.

    As far as I know, anima is that metaphysical (spiritual) thing or “stuff” that, at its most basic, orders physics and chemistry to do what is never done outside a live body or organism. In a vegetative soul that’s about all it does, i.e. there’s a difference between a dead microbe or blade of grass and a live one. It seems reasonable to me to say that that’s the whole purpose of the “thing” and once job done it no longer exists because it has no function or purpose; it’s not eternal.

    Skipping a couple of orders of “anima” we come to a sentient soul that in addition to the “life” function it has also intellect and will which are integral and with a higher and endless purpose; as in to animate a body relieved of the imperfections resulting from The Rebellion. You seem to be suggesting that the “life” function of a soul (in Christ, at least) is a separate entity to the functions of intellect and will. It’s an idea that makes me cringe.

    Seems to be heading toward a similar idea that the God and Man in Christ are also separate. I don’t think that good ole Tom would give you an elephant sticker for that.

  3. C-Marie

    No heresies here. Paul did write that we are spirit, soul, and body. Jesus did say that He was laying down His life, and Jesus did say to His Apostles, that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. God knows all about us. We do not have to figure anything out. No problems. No worries. No heresies.
    God bless, C-Marie

  4. Oldavid

    I thought I was being careful not to implicitly accuse you of heresy, just to say that your interpretation of some things is questionable or requires explanation.

    I don’t really know the Pauline passage you invoke but we might say that a complete Man is a spirit (as in soul) animating a physical body. It kind of presupposes a “general resurrection” as the end of an immortal soul in “a new Heaven and Earth”.

    A Man without a soul is a corpse on the way to returning to the elements of which it is composed “remember Man that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return”. A disembodied soul is the “essence” of a Man lacking a tangible, physical presence. I think that “doubting Thomas'” insistence on touching Christ’s wounds is a good foretaste of the necessity of a physical body in a resurrected Man. Does anyone doubt that the Great Mother was assumed to the next life, in soul and glorified body?

  5. Michael 2

    “For it was shown Ames that God cannot be the form of a body.”

    Seems to me God can be any form he wishes.

  6. Joy

    Churchill was also quoted today, by Boris to have said in his last speech to his members/cabinet!
    “Man is spirit”
    I’d say it’s another statement of the obvious.
    *(If you’re not being obtuse and your’e prepared to see the poetry and the metaphor of what is being said)

  7. Joy

    The top comment is from “Nicotavo Nick”
    That’s More like it!

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