Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation VI

Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation VI

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Week 6 refuting arguments claiming Jesus was not the Word Incarnated. This is not a difficult week. We only need remember who we are.


1 Won over, however, by this Gospel testimony, Apollinaris confessed that there was a sensitive soul in Christ; nonetheless, it was without mind and intellect, so that the Word of God was in that soul in place of intellect and mind.

Notes Sensitive soul, i.e. a being who has sensations, eats, drinks, etc.

2 But even this is not sufficient to avoid the awkward consequences described, for man gets his human species from his having a human mind and reason. Therefore, if Christ did not have these, He was not true man, nor was He of the same species with us. For a soul which lacks reason belongs to a species other than that of the soul which has reason.

For, according to the Philosopher [Metaphysics VIII, 3], in definitions and species any essential difference which is added or subtracted varies the species, just as unity does in numbers. But rational is the specific difference. Therefore, if in Christ there was a sensitive soul without reason, it was not of the same species with our soul, which does have reason. Neither, then, was Christ Himself of the same species with us.

3 Again, among the sensible souls themselves which lack reason there exists diversity by reason of species. This appears from consideration of the irrational animals which differ from one another in species; nonetheless, each of them has its species according to its proper soul. Thus, then, the sensitive soul lacking reason is, so to say, one genus including within itself many species. But nothing is in a genus which is not in one of its species. If, then, the soul of Christ was in the genus of sensitive soul lacking reason, it must have been included in one of its species; for example, it was in the species of lion soul, or some other beast. And this is entirely absurd.

4 The body, moreover, is compared to the soul as matter to form, and as instrument to principal agent. But the matter must be proportionate to the form, and the instrument to the principal agent. Therefore, consequent on the diversity of souls, there must be a diversity of bodies. And this is sensibly evident, for in diverse animals one finds diverse dispositions of the members, in which they concord with the diverse dispositions of the souls. Therefore, if in Christ there was not a soul such as our soul is, neither would He have had members like the human members.

5 There is more. Since, according to Apollinaris, the Word of God is true God. wonder cannot be seemly in Him, for we wonder at those things whose cause we ignore. But, in the same way, wonder cannot be fitting for the sensitive soul, since solicitude for the knowledge of causes does not belong to the sensitive soul.

But there was wonder in Christ; so one proves from the Gospels. It says in Matthew (8:10) that Jesus heard the words of the centurion and “marveled.” One must, then, in addition to the divinity of the Word and His sensitive soul put in Christ that which can make wonder seemly in Him; namely, a human mind.

Notes “Solicitude for the knowledge of causes” is a lovely phrase, and describes us well.

6 Manifestly, therefore, from the aforesaid there was in Christ a human body and a true human soul. Thus, therefore, John’s saying (1:14), “The Word was made flesh,” is not thus to be understood, as though the Word has been converted into flesh; or as though the Word has assumed the flesh only; or with a sensitive soul without a mind; but after Scripture’s usual manner the part is put for the whole, so that one says: “The Word was made man.”

“Soul” is sometimes used in place of man in Scripture; Exodus (1:5) says: “And all the souls that came out of Jacob’s thigh were seventy”; in the same way, also, “flesh” is used for the whole man; Isaiah (40:5) says: “All flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Thus, then, “flesh” is here used for the whole man, also, to express the weakness of the human nature which the Word of God assumed.

7 But, if Christ had human flesh and a human soul, as was shown, it is plain that there was no soul of Christ before His body’s conception. For it was shown that human souls do not pre-exist their proper bodies. Hence is clear the falsity of that tenet of Origen, who said that in the beginning, before all bodily creatures, the soul of Christ was created with all other spiritual creatures and assumed by the Word of God, and that finally, toward the end of the ages, for men’s salvation it was endowed with flesh.


  1. C. P. Benischek

    20th Sunday After Pentecost
    Feast of St Francis Borgia
    10th October, MMXXI A. D.

    Adams today sends up models and data; and illustrates the difference between Thomism and Modernism.

    Seems to me as if Catholicism and Covidism are each a matter of faith.

    On which side lies Reason?

    Please, ya’ll have a fine Sunday!

  2. Oldavid

    I think it’s lovely; Faith and Reason are always coherent or, as one erudite commentator said (I think it was Robert Bellarmine): if there is an apparent conflict between Faith and Reason then our understanding of one or the other (or both) is wrong. It’s a beautifully perspicacious statement but it has been appropriated by Modernists to infer that their assumed “infallible scientism” can “reinterpret” Apostolic Christianity accordingly.

    Modernism! The error that might deceive even the elect if that were possible.

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