Monthly Archives: May 2011

Summa III, Question 6

Question 6. The order of assumption

Here, Thomas’ teaching on potency and act, and more specifically, form and matter is key.  Matter is pure potency, but never exists without a form.  It is actualized by one form or another.  A human body, as matter, is not a human body without the form of the body, the soul.  This must be kept in mind throughout.

 

Article 1. Whether the Son of God assumed flesh through the medium of the soul?

Having established, in Question 5, Christ was true man, including all that that entails, he proceeds here to establish the same in the order of causality.  The soul is the form of the body.  It is what “makes the human body to be a human body.”  It is not prior in time, but it is prior in causality.  Therefore, the flesh is assumed through the medium of the soul.

Article 2. Whether the Son of God assumed a soul through the medium of the spirit or mind?

Again the objections are based on a false understanding of the human soul, and Thomas’ corrections likewise demonstrate the proper understanding.

The human soul, in earlier Christians, was often though to be three rather than one; the vegetative, the sensitive, and the rational.  In reality, the two lesser powers are powers of the one soul, the rational.  The rational soul, containing then also these “lesser” powers, is yet one, and it is the form of the body.

It is through the intellect, then, that Christ assumes the soul, because in a human soul, the intellect is prior, again, in causality, as it is the reason for the lesser powers of the same soul.

Article 3. Whether the soul was assumed before the flesh by the Son of God?

Thomas now makes clear that the distinction of cause does not cause a difference in time.  The priority in causality in assuming the body through the soul does not mean it happens prior in time to the same.  We can see a similar argument used by Thomas in his work “On the Eternity of the World,” a wonderful short document that demonstrates this difference, among many other wonderful gems of reasoned argument.

As I said earlier, we again see some residual Platonism appear, and Thomas responds to it.  He mentions specifically Origen, who held the Platonic belief in the creation of all souls from the beginning.  This would indeed make the soul prior in time to the body, and although the soul is a soul of “this body” and can exist apart from the body, it is not natural that it do so.  When a human is created, the body and the soul come together at once and man is created.  We also see the revealed truth of the resurrection of the body; body and soul belong together, and this is contrary to the Platonic theory of souls pre-created.   

Article 4. Whether the flesh of Christ was assumed by the Word before being united to the soul?

The answer is no, and the same principle is used once again.  Matter is pure potentiality, but never exists without being informed, that is, without having some form.  Now, the moment that matter that was potentially a human receives a soul, it becomes human; not before or after.

If the Son of God was united to the body before being united to the soul, He would not have assumed a human nature, but rather the “components” of a human body.  But our faith is that He, at one instant, assumed a human nature.  Christ therefore assumed a complete human nature, which must include both its matter and form: the body and soul.

Article 5. Whether the whole human nature was assumed through the medium of the parts?

Thomas here continues to show the order of causality and the order of time, and that they differ.  The soul is first in order of causality, for it is what makes “this matter” to be a human, although it is not human first before informing “this matter.” It is one substantial being, and it is thus not assumable in parts, but as the substance that it is.  It is a human nature that was assumed, not a body and some separate soul.  For if these were “parts” then parts were assumed, rather than a human nature. 

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

He did not assume “parts of man,” but became man. Man is at once the soul which informs it and the body that the soul informs.

Article 6. Whether the human nature was assumed through the medium of grace?

The Person of Jesus Christ is where the union took place, as was established earlier.  Created grace, which is an accident (metaphysically) cannot be the means by which the existence of the true God is united and really becomes man.  It is a substantial union, and the union is in the eternal and uncreated Person of the Son.  Therefore, if “through the medium of grace” we mean that same grace that adheres in the soul’s of the saved, then it cannot be this created grace.

If, however, we mean that grace that is the eternal love of God and likewise His eternal providence, then indeed this grace is the efficient cause of the union of the Son and the human nature.  Created grace would be a [temporal] means, and this we reject.  Eternal grace is the “mover” and reason of the union, and this we affirm.

Advertisements

Summa III, Question 5

Question 5. The parts of human nature which were assumed

 

 

Article 1. Whether the Son of God ought to have assumed a true body?

The objections raised here show that there is still doubt that the Son truly became man.  An appearance may be acceptable, but a real man is still questioned.

In response, St. Thomas notes that, for the redemption of man, and for all that Christ accomplished through His Passion and Resurrection, only a real and true body would suffice.  To truly redeem man, a true man must offer the sacrifice, and this was Jesus the Christ.

“Handle, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have.”

Article 2. Whether the Son of God ought to have assumed a carnal or earthly body?

In St. Thomas’ time, it was believed that, most likely, the heavenly bodies such as the stars were of a different substance, something incorruptible, and this must be kept in mind when reading this article.

Again, then, the answer comes down to the real and true humanity of the Son of God.  It is not an appearance, not a phantasm, but a real human nature that Christ took.  The Word was made flesh.  He was not made to appear as flesh, or merely in the “likeness”  of flesh, but receiving, from Mary, a real human body, indeed, a real human nature.

Article 3. Whether the Son of God assumed a soul?

This question especially concerns the heresy known as Apollinarianism.

A human nature is constituted of both soul and body.  The soul must be a human soul.  You would not have a human, say, if a human body were somehow ensouled by an angel, its spirit being the “form of the body.”  Likewise, the Divine Person being the soul, the principle of life, in the Body of Christ would mean He took on a human body, but not a human nature.  To be a man, you must “be” all that man is, which is the body soul composite.  Again, the reality of Christ taking on a human nature, being truly man therefore, is crucial, and all denials of this reality must be refuted to properly understand Christ and the salvation offered in, with, and through Him.

Article 4. Whether the Son of God assumed a human mind or intellect?

Once again, the objections try to replace the human mind, the intellect, with the Divine Person.  This is a continuation of the same heresy if properly understood, for the human intellect is the soul.  We have an intellectual soul.  Without the intellect, you can have a vegetative soul or a sensitive soul, but you will not have a human rational soul, and thus, you do not have a human nature, complete with human soul.

This teaching, likewise, is important for man’s true redemption.  Man can understand his purpose as purpose through his mind.  This is what makes him rational, and this is also what makes him responsible morally, what gives him the ability to merit or to sin. Without assuming a full human nature, with a human intellect, we say again that “man” would not be redeemed.

Summa III, Question 4

Question 4. The mode of union of the part of the human nature

 

 

It will be important to keep in mind throughout Aquinas’ understanding of the nature of man as universal, yet only existing in the particular men that actually exist.  Many of the platonic or neo-platonic ideas used or implicitly assumed in Christian thought lead to many of the errors and objections which St. Thomas responds to here.

 

Article 1. Whether human nature was more assumable by the Son of God than any other nature?

Objections: If Christ assumed any nature, to do so would be miraculous, and thus any material nature would be as good as another.  However, to become an Angel would be more fitting than to become a material creature.

On the contrary, “My delights were to be with the children of men.”

I answer that, a passive power, such as found in an animal, would not do, but man is made to know and love God, and so it is fitting.

Reply to objections:  Of course God could assume any nature, but we are asking what would be proper based on its created nature.  This applies to humans and not animals.  Man was created in the image and likeness of God, not just in His image.

As per angels, their nature is irredeemable (if fallen), and so there is not fittingness for a saving assumption of an angelic person.

Article 2. Whether the Son of God assumed a person?

Objections: It seems, knowing that human nature always appears in a human person, that the Son of God assumed a human person.  This is in accordance with realism, where there is no separate human nature apart from actually existing human persons.

I answer that, The thing assumed is only what is said to be assumed.  If it were a person, there would thereby be two persons, for the eternal Person of the Son of God would certainly remain and remain unchanged.

Reply to Objections: There is no assumption of a person by necessity, because the person as “might have been” never was.  Instead, the Son of God is the Person in this individual human nature.

Article 3. Whether the Divine Person assumed a man?

Objections: When we say someone became man, we say he became one with a human nature.  Thus, they seem interchangeable, and Christ became a man, and a man is a person.

I answer that, What has been assumed (aka as taken for granted), as answered already above, is that the human nature is merely presupposed of the assumption. There was then no particular individual existence of human nature that Christ assumed as if this instance existed before He assumed it.

Reply to Objections: We end up here with a case of equivocation, calling man an instance of human nature and later man as humanity or human nature separately.  Properly understood, there is no objection.

Article 4. Whether the Son of God ought to have assumed human nature abstracted from all individuals?

Objection. The Son of God, it seems, should have assumed human nature as such, because salvation is for all men.

I answer that, if the Son of God had assumed human nature as such, then He would have assumed nothing at all, for human nature as such only exists in the mind; in God’s mind as exemplar cause, and in our minds as recognized and extracted from reality.

Perhaps in Platonic thought, dealing with substantial forms as he understood them, this might make sense.  But in reality is not so. To have a human nature is to have it in a particular existence. Even if it (human nature) did exist really in this way, it would not be fitting then for a particular person to assume a universal. Likewise, if He had taken on universal human nature, He could not have ascended into Heaven as such. 

It seems also to me, human nature, as exemplar cause, is in the Divine Mind from eternity, and to assume this exemplar cause would affect all men, starting with Adam by participation.

Reply to Objection: At the heart of this objection can be seen the false platonic understanding of reality, and human nature therefore, as such.

Article 5. Whether the Son of God ought to have assumed human nature in all individuals?

Here, we have a similar problem to that of article 4.  The Son of God, to assume human nature as such, is reflective of an erroneous understanding of reality.  Here is where it becomes [even more] important to have a solid grasp of the errors of Plato’s metaphysic, and the correctives of Aristotle’s moderate realism.

It would also not fit either the dignity of men, nor especially of Christ (separate dignities, of course) for Christ to assume human nature as such.  All human nature would be the same if it was, as human nature, assumed by Christ. His love for us, moreover, was shown in His, as particular man, suffering for us.  Certainly we can unite our suffering to His, carry our cross and follow Him, but this is not our humanity and His as one.  He died for us “while we were yet sinners,” an impossibility if He assumed our nature as universal.

 

Article 6. Whether it was fitting for the Son of God to assume human nature of the stock of Adam?

Objection: It is unfitting for the sinless Son of God to come from the stock of Adam, a sinner.  He ought rather assume a human nature from a stock unstained with sin.

In answer, however, it is rather most fitting that God show forth His power by conquering Satan by assuming the very stock of him who was conquered by Satan.  Much more, to truly redeem the race of Adam, and therefore truly to redeem man, it is most fitting that He assume the stock of that same man that had fallen, in order to redeem him and all his offspring.

In short, Christ is separated from Adam as regards sin, but not as regards the nature, which includes the flesh.  The flesh assumed, yet without sin, is most appropriate as the way to save the flesh from sin.  The whole man, and true to man as man, is saved through the Incarnation of Christ, the son of David, the son of Adam.

Summa III, Question 3

Question 3. The mode of union on the part of the person assuming

 

 

Article 1. Whether it is befitting for a Divine Person to assume?

 

 

Objection 1. Now no addition can be made to what is perfect.

Objection 2. But it is of the nature of a person to be incommunicable.

Objection 3. A person is constituted by a nature, and should not take on “a nature.”

I answer that, We must remember that the assumed human nature is that which is perfected, not God Who is infinitely perfect.

Reply to Objection 1. No addition is being claimed in the manner of perfection.

Reply to Objection 2. The Person is not predicated of several things, but several things predicated of the Person.

Reply to Objection 3. A person is constituted by nature simply. The Divine Person is not assuming a Divine Nature, which it already has essentially,  but assuming a human nature.

Article 2. Whether it is befitting to the Divine Nature to assume?

The principle belongs to the Divine Nature, which is One in God, but the term of what is assumed does not belong to the Divine Nature as such, but to the Divine Person, the Second Person of the Trinity only.

Only inasmuch as the Divine Nature took human nature to the Second Person is it said that the Divine Nature took it “to itself.” The Nature of the Father and the Son are one, but not the Person of the Father and the Person of the Son.

Article 3. Whether the Nature abstracted from the Personality can assume?

Objection 1. It seems that if the Personality be mentally abstracted, the Nature cannot assume.

Objection 2. Also, then, if the Personality be abstracted, the Nature cannot assume.

I answer that, We can only know God to a certain extent, and what we know separately in our intellect is One and Simple in God, and cannot be separate in His Existence.

Reply to Objection 1,2,and 3. Essence and existence are one in God, and our ability to mentally separate them cannot lead to a real separation in existence. Understanding this answers all three objections.

Article 4. Whether one Person without another can assume a created nature?

Objection 1. “The works of the Trinity are inseparable” so how can one Person assume a created Nature without all Three?

Objection 2. The Nature and the Person being one, how could not all Three assume the human Nature if the Person did?

Objection 3. This assumption pertains to all the Persons; the human nature in Christ is assumed by God.

I answer that, Again, assumption implies two things, the act of assuming and the term of assumption. I here repeat what what said in article 2: The principle belongs to the Divine Nature, which is One in God, but the term of what is assumed does not belong to the Divine Nature as such, but to the Divine Person

Reply to Objection 1. “This reason regards the operation, and the conclusion would follow if it implied this operation only, without the term, which is a Person.” (Thomas quoted verbatim)

Reply to Objection 2. The Nature of God is said to be Incarnate only as nothing is imperfect in the Nature of the Son Who assumed the human nature, but not in that God in all three Persons assumed the human nature.

Reply to Objection 3. Reply to Objection 2, properly understood, also answers this.

Article 5. Whether each of the Divine Persons could have assumed human nature?

Whatever can be done by one Person of the Trinity can be done by the others, or by all Three. There is nothing owing in the Nature of the Second Person making Him capable of becoming Incarnate any different than the other two Persons, for they are of one and the same Nature.

Article 6. Whether several Divine Persons can assume one and the same individual nature?

Objection 1. If more than one Person of the Trinity is joined to one Divine Nature, then there would be one Person out of the two or three of them, destroying the Trinity of Persons.

Objection 2. The Father, Son, and Spirit, being not one Person, cannot assume one nature in the Person, as is said to be where the union of God and a human nature is in the Incarnation.

Objection 3. Whatever could be said of the man assumed would be said of each of the Persons, and this would destroy such differences as the Father begetting the Son, etc.

On the contrary, The three Persons already subsist in one Nature without destroying the distinct Persons, and so unity in One Nature clearly need not destroy distinction of Persons.

Such are the Divine Persons that one does not exclude another from communicating in the one Nature, as they clearly do in one Divine Nature as One God, but are only excluded as being the same Person.

Reply to Objection 1. If the three assumed the hypothesis in one human nature, it would be correct to say that the three Persons were one man, but not one Person.

Reply to Objection 2. The one human nature would have a unity with each Divine Person, the Persons distinct.

Basically, what would be understood in the “one man” as far as nature would be somewhat equivalent to what is understood in the One God and Three Persons.  The Nature being one, in this case human, would not destroy the Persons being three.

Article 7. Whether one Divine Person can assume two human natures?

The Incarnation has not lessened the power of God, in Nature nor in each Person thereof.  And we said above that, after the Incarnation (but not dependant upon this), the Father could assume a human nature.  Now whatever the Father can do, so can the Son. So the Son could assume a human nature, distinct from the human nature already assumed.

Article 8. Whether it was more fitting that the Person of the Son rather than any other

Divine Person should assume human nature?

Objection 1. Some, it seems, were led to confusion, seeing the Son as less than the Father, but this would not have happened if the Father had become Incarnate instead.

Objection 2. The power of creation seems more fitting to the Father, and thus more fitting that He be the one to make us a “new creation” by His Incarnation.

Objection 3. The Incarnation was for the purpose of remitting sin, and the Holy Ghost, says John, is given for this remission.  It was more fitting then, for the Holy Ghost to become Incarnate.

“Christ, [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

This is the true Wisdom that needed to be given to man.  Now the Son is the exemplar of man, and thus, most appropriate to be that by which we are healed and made “sons of God.” Our likeness is appropriate to the Son in a way it is not appropriate to the Father.

Secondly, if we are sons, we are also heirs.  It is adoption as sons that make us heirs of the eternal beatitude.

We fell in the first place by seeking a wisdom we should not seek, and thus we are healed by being given the true Wisdom of God, Who as Person is the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity.

Reply to Objection 1. There is no reason to believe, had the Father become Man, human ignorance and malice would not likewise fall into error about Him.

Reply to Objection 2. The first creation of things was made by the power of God the Father through the Word, and thus it is more fitting that it is though this same Word we are reconciled to God.

Reply to Objection 3. The Holy Ghost is given for the remission of sin, but “as gift,” and thus properly as gift of the Son, Who became Incarnate.

Summa III, Question 2

Question 2. The mode of union of the Word incarnate

 

Article 1. Whether the Union of Incarnate Word took place in the nature?

 

It seems that, from two natures, one has come.

 

To make this question clear we must consider what is “nature.”

 

“Nature is what informs a thing with its specific difference,” But we are now speaking of nature as it signifies the essence, or the “what-it-is,” or the quiddity of the species. It is not possible that God Incarnate happened in this way, because God’s eternal nature cannot change. God, “mixed” with human nature, would imply change to God’s eternal nature.

 

The Divine nature being infinite, it would consume the human nature; there could be no mixture, but the Divine Nature alone would remain.

Fr. LaGrange says, The argument of St. Thomas may be reduced to the following syllogism. There are only three possible ways for the union to take place in the nature, namely: 1. by the composition of things that are perfect in themselves and that remain perfect; 2. by the mixture of things perfect in themselves that have undergone a change; 3. by the union of things imperfect in themselves that have been neither mixed nor changed.

But these ways are incompatible. Therefore it is impossible for the union to take place in the nature.

 

Article 2. Whether the union of Incarnate Word took place in the Person?

 

Objections:

God is not distinct from His nature.

Since no individual is “human nature” but each is a person, Christ’s “human nature” would be attached to “personality” and thus the union cannot take place in the divine person.

 

On the contrary, We read in the Synod of Chalcedon “We confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-Begotten Son and Word of God.”

 

Thomas answers that, Person has a different meaning from “nature.” Therefore, whatever adheres to a person is united to it in person, whether it belongs to its nature or not. Hence, if the human nature is not united to God the Word in person, it is nowise united to Him; and thus belief in Incarnation is altogether done away with, and Christian faith wholly overturned.

Thomas will often show us that a distinction and a difference are not [always] the same thing. This is one doctrine where this understanding will appear again and again.

 

Although this human nature is a kind of individual in the genus of substance, it has not its own personality, because it does not exist separately, but in something more perfect, viz. in the Person of the Word. Therefore the union took place in the person.

 

Article 3. Whether the union of the Word Incarnate took place in the suppositum or hypostasis?

 

Christ’s human nature is an individual substance but not an individual subject.  Mary is Theotokos, the Mother of God.  She would merely be the mother of His human nature if the human nature was an individual subject.  “This subject” would be what was born of Mary, and this would destroy the entire basis for belief in the Word Incarnate and the entire Christian faith. The Person of Christ then MUST be of two natures but one subject, one Person, and this is the Person born of the Virgin.

 

Article 4. Whether after Incarnation the Person or Hypostasis of Christ is composite?

 

Here, again, what we are speaking of it and in what way we are speaking of it differ.  Christ is altogether simple as the One Divine Person.  There is but one subsisting Being in Christ, but, as Damascene says, “In the Lord Jesus Christ we acknowledge two natures, but one hypostasis composed from both.”

 

“He is said to be a composite person, insomuch as one being subsists in two.”

 

Article 5. Whether in Christ there is any union of soul and body?

 

It would seem that, if there is a union of soul and body in Christ, this creates a separate hypostasis, and this could not be.

 

However, unless there is a union of soul and body in Christ, He does not have a real human nature, because to human nature belongs the composite of body and soul. The soul is the form, the act, of the body, and both are required and required to exist in this way to call something human. Any other view destroys the truth of Christ’s humanity.

 

From the replies to objections, it is most important to note that the concern that this resulted in a human person, united to the Person of Christ, caused some to reject this understanding, not realizing that “from the union of the soul and body in Christ a new hypostasis or person does not result, but what is composed of them is united to the already existing hypostasis or Person.”

 

Article 6. Whether the human nature was united to the Word of God accidentally?

 

It would seem that the body of Christ was an instrument of Christ, and joined accidentally to Him.

 

But something predicated accidentally is not of the substance but a quality or quantity or such of that substance, and cannot stand on its own apart from it, such as whiteness with a “something that is white.”  But human nature is not like this.

 

Again, heresies professing either one nature in Christ or two persons in Christ have resulted of not correctly understanding this union.

 

The Catholic faith does not affirm that the union of God and man took place in the essence or nature, nor yet in something accidental, but midway, in a subsistence or hypostasis. “Since the unity may be understood in many ways…the Holy Church of God…confesses a union of the Word of God with flesh, by composition, which is in subsistence.”

 

The Second Person of the Trinity has existed from all eternity.  When a human nature became his, the nature remained unchanged, but was absorbed into the existence of His eternal Person.

 

I am adding here what has been very helpful to me in understanding this, from the pen of Fr. John Hardon, S.J.:

 

An individual nature receives the quality of incommunicability which describes a person from its own act of existence, something quite distinct from the kind of nature it has. Why, for example, is the human nature I possess not communicable to any other individual of the human family? Precisely because I exist as a complete, autonomous substance. Therefore, if a human nature lacked what is normally (except for a sublime miracle) its natural complement, namely actual existence, it would not be a human person.

This is Thomas’ explanation of what occurred at the Incarnation. The humanity of Christ had all that was required for the perfection of a human nature–body and soul, faculties and emotions–all that we have completely. Yet it came into existence and remains so for eternity not by its own natural act of existence (as happens with everyone else) but by the infinite subsistence of the Second Person of the Trinity. Christ is therefore a divine Person because His act of existence, which identifies personality, is not human but divine.

Article 7. Whether the union of the Divine nature and the human is anything created?

 

All relationships of God to creatures exist in the creature, and not in God per se.  This is something St. Thomas discusses extensively in Disputed Questions on the Power of God, Question 7, and it is relevant to understand his answer here.

 

The union of the Second Person to His human nature is not eternal, but began in time, and “Whatever has a beginning in time is created.” The union of Christ’s divinity and His humanity is a relation, which is a really existent thing, but not an eternally existent thing.  Therefore, it is created.

 

Article 8. Whether union is the same as assumption?

 

After laying forth the objections, Thomas says, On the contrary, The Divine Nature is said to be united, not assumed.

 

The union of the Divinity and humanity of Christ is permanent, but the assumption of a human nature by Christ is a completed action.  Therefore, they are not the same.  The union, we may say, occurred between the human and the divine, or between the divine and human.  We cannot, however, say that the human assumed the divine, but only that the divine assumed the human. Thomas states that “assumption means a taking to oneself from another.” This can only happen in one direction between what is human and what is divine.

 

Article 9. Whether the union of the two natures in Christ is the greatest of all unions?

 

It is objected that “what is united falls short of the unity of what is one, since what is united is by participation, but one is by essence.” And also that “from the union of soul and body in us there arises what is one in person and nature; whereas from the union of the Divine and human nature there results what is one in person only. Therefore the union of soul and body is greater than that of the Divine and human natures”

 

The reply is simply that we must view this in respect to “in what” these two are united, and they are united in the eternal Person of Christ.”  This gives it preeminence over all other unions.

 

In replying to the objections, this view is taken:

 

“For the unity of a Divine Person is an uncreated and self-subsisting unity,… And hence in this respect the union of Incarnation is higher than numerical unity by reason of the unity of the Divine Person”

 

“The unity of the Divine Person is greater than the unity of person and nature in us.”

 

It all comes down the where the union takes place, and that is in the Divine Person.

 

Article 10. Whether the union of Incarnation took place by grace?

 

Grace, as a free gift “accidentally” (in the metaphysical sense) joined to men belongs to all men that are given this grace.  But grace belonging to one as personal being belongs exclusively to Christ. There is not a habitual grace, a created grace, in the union of Christ to a human nature, but by uncreated grace.  This belongs not to anyone else, as created grace belongs to the saints and all those in a state of grace, but to Christ alone among those with a human nature, because He is a divine uncreated Person.

 

Article 11. Whether any merits preceded the union of Incarnation?

 

“Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the laver of regeneration.”

 

No merits could have preceded the union of Christ to His humanity, because the union, as stated above, is one of uncreated grace. Christ’s merits, as a Person with a human nature, all followed His Incarnation, and so no merits from Him could be said to happen leading to the Union.  The principle of grace cannot fall under merit, because grace is the cause of any possibility of merit. So it cannot even be the foreseen merits prior to the Incarnation, since those merits presuppose the Incarnation.

 

Article 12. Whether the grace of union was natural to the man Christ?

 

Grace is natural to the man Christ, since from the beginning of His conception the human nature was united to the Divine Person, but not owing to his human nature, but only to the Divine Person of Christ.

Summa Theologica, Part III, Question 1 Summarized

Question 1. The fitness of the Incarnation

Article 1. Whether it was fitting that God should become incarnate?

Objection 1. It would seem unfitting for God, perfect from all eternity, to not remain as He is, without flesh and not united with it

Objection 2. It is unfitting that things infinitely separate and unique in essence should be joined together, and God’s simplicity is infinitely different than created flesh.

Objection 3. Likewise, a body is as distant from the highest spirit as evil is from the highest good, and it would certainly be unfitting for God to assume evil.

Objection 4. Further, since God is above all things and provident over all things, it would seem unfitting that he become one of these things. As part of the “things” of creation, it would seem the governance of creation would be transferred to a mere part of itself.

On the contrary, It would seem most fitting that by visible things the invisible things of God should be made known; “For the invisible things of God . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

I answer that, To each things, that is befitting which belongs to it by reason of its very nature; thus, to reason befits man, since this belongs to him because he is of a rational nature. But the very nature of God is goodness, and it belongs to the essence of goodness to communicate itself to others. Hence it belongs to the essence of the highest good to communicate itself and it is manifest that it was fitting that God should become incarnate.

Reply to Objection 1. It was not that some change was brought about in God, but rather in the way He is united to creation, and more exactly, that the creature is changed, as is natural for mutable things, by being united to God.

Reply to Objection 2. It is not on the basis of humanities natural capacity, of upon God’s will to save man, that God unites Himself to man.

Reply to Objection 3. Creation is by nature good, as a participant in being. God, by assuming a human nature, in no way had to take on the faults of man, and assumed no evil in the incarnation.

Reply to Objection 4.  In no way, except by the dull wittedness of man in thinking naturally and not supernaturally, is it assumed that in becoming Incarnate, any limit to God’s omnipresence and governance of the entire order of creation took place.

Article 2. Whether it was necessary for the restoration of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate?

Objection 1. It seems unnecessary because to become incarnate adds no perfection to God, as savior, that was somehow lacking.

Objection 2. Man should satisfy for sin, and it seems God would require nothing from man beyond the power of man to do so, given God’s merciful nature.

Objection 3. God’s majesty, known by man, is necessary for man’s coming to salvation. But God’s becoming man would seem to lower Him and hurt man’s seeing Him as “above all things.”

On the contrary, What frees the human race from perdition is necessary for the salvation of man, and this was necessary in as much as it was the way our loving God has chosen.

I answer that, the incarnation cannot be deemed necessary in an absolute way, but in that it was most fitting for man.  God, of course, being omnipotent, could have chosen other ways.

God therefore chose to “meet us where we are” so to speak, and to save us in a way that let us cooperate with Him in our salvation.  The incarnation was most fitting to increase faith, hope, and love.

In becoming man, and letting it be through a man as well as through God that we are saved, He upheld the dignity of man. There are other reasons of course, in God’s wisdom and unknown to us, for God’s choosing this means.

Reply to Objection 1. This reason has to do with the first kind of necessity, without which we cannot attain to the end.

Reply to Objection 2. This objection forgets the difference between congruent and condign merit.  God does let man “work out his own salvation” in the congruent manner.

Reply to Objection 3. By taking flesh God did not lessen His dignity.  As above, it is us who were raised up to know Him.

Article 3. Whether, if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate?

Objection 1. Augustine says “Many other things are to be considered in Incarnation of Christ besides absolution from sin”

Objection 2. God naturally perfects His works, and so becoming man (and thus part of creation) would be to perfect it, regardless of sin.

Objection 3. God would have become man to give grace to man in a way man did not have it originally; otherwise it seems man would have attained less favor from God by NOT sinning.

Objection 4 It is said of Christ that He “was predestined the Son of God in power.” And predestination is from all eternity.

Objection 5. The Church seems to have been prefigured in the marriage of Adam and Eve before the fall, and thus its Head was to be Christ, as Man, regardless.

On the contrary, “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.” (1Tim 1:15)

I answer that, There are different valid opinions on this matter, but we must go with what the majority of evidence from Scripture (our only source of knowledge of such supernatural things) tells us, and this is that Christ came “to save sinful man.”

Reply to Objection 1. Everything that Augustine speaks of here has a proximate relation to the fact of sin, of some loss incurred by humanity from it, etc.

Reply to Objection 2. Natural things are perfect inasmuch as they reach their natural capacity, and need not be “supernaturalized.”

Reply to Objection 3. Man was already perfect in his natural capacity at creation, nothing needing to be added.  It is a mystery, but we say: “O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!”

Reply to Objection 4. God’s predestination and His foreknowledge are one.

Reply to Objection 5. Man need not know the purpose of something for its very existence to be revealed.

Article 4. Whether God became incarnate in order to take away actual sin, rather than to take away original sin?

Objection 1. Actual sin seems more contrary to man’s end, and so it would be the primary purpose of Christ.

Objection 2. Because Christ suffered sensual pain on the Cross, its intention must coincide with the cause of sensual pain, being actual sin.

Objection 3. Christ came to save each individual person as individual, and not just corporately, and so our individual sins must be His chief purpose of remedy.

On the contrary, “Behold the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the ‘sin’ of the world.”

I answer that, Christ certainly came into the world to take away both original sin and the particular sins of man.  The “greatness” of sin can be understood both intensively and extensively, and the whole human race is affected by original sin.  This is the primary sin that Christ came to take away inasmuch as “the good of the race is a more Divine thing than the good of an individual,” as the Philosopher says.

Reply to Objection 1. This reason looks to the intensive greatness of sin.

Reply to Objection 2. The reward of pains suffered in the future are not the original cause of pains suffered, which is original sin.  Therefore Christ came to wipe away the cause.

Reply to Objection 3. Although a man can account Christ’s gifts as given for him alone, he should not to consider them not to be given to others, and so Christ came to wipe away the sin of all which came first from original sin. He died to cure original sin and thus in each particular as a result.

Article 5. Whether it was fitting that God should become incarnate in the beginning of the human race?

Objection 1. It would seem that it was fitting that God should become incarnate in the beginning of the human race, because the merciful and charitable do not delay in giving aid to those in need.

Objection 2. It seems that more would have been saved if Christ had come earlier, and thus it would be more fitting of a loving God to come at the beginning.

Objection 3. The work of grace, more perfect in order than that of nature, should precede that of nature, and thus, Christ should come at the beginning.

On the contrary, It is written “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent His Son”

I answer that, Since the work of Incarnation is principally ordained to the restoration of the human race by blotting out sin, it would not be proper for Him to come before sin. Nor was it fitting that God should become incarnate immediately after sin, for sin was from pride, and so man must be humbled through time to see his need for redemption.

Reply to Objection 1. Charity does not delay, but does consider the circumstances.  Medicine, as other aids, must be given at the proper time if they are to cause healing.

Reply to Objection 2. God knew when and where, in His merciful omnipotence, the elect would be saved by their accepting Him. ”It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy(Rom 9).”

Reply to Objection 3. God’s perfection as cause proceeds, in time, that of the effect, which is the perfection of man in union with Him.

Article 6. Whether Incarnation ought to have been put off till the end of the world?

Objection 1. It would seem so, for according to the Psalm, “My old age in plentiful mercy”–i.e. “in the last days. “Therefore the Incarnation ought to have been put off till the end of the world.

Objection 2. Perfection comes after imperfection in time. Therefore, what is most perfect ought to be the very last in time, the Incarnation being most perfect.

Objection 3. It makes little sense for Christ’s Incarnation to come separate from His coming at the end of time in judgement, rather than all together as one event.

On the contrary, “In the midst of the years Thou shalt make it known.”

I answer that, As it was not fitting that God should become incarnate at the beginning of the world, so also it was not fitting that the Incarnation should be put off till the end of the world.

Perfection proceeds imperfection in one way and the reverse is true in another.  The work of the Incarnation shows both, as, by the Incarnation, human nature is raised to perfection, but will be manifest in each of the elect at the end of time when each is raised to glory.

Secondly, God at various points throughout time, in His wisdom has acted through various men that we may know our need for salvation and have the law and then grace so as to obtain it. His timing in each prophet is by His wisdom, and even more so His Incarnation.

Thirdly, God shows his diversity of power, saving some by the hope of a future redeemer and others by faith in One already come.

Reply to Objection 1. We should not confuse the youth of the body and the “youth” of soul, and thus the error of the first objection.

Reply to Objection 2. The work of Incarnation is both final cause and efficient cause of the perfection of man.

Reply to Objection 3. As Chrysostom says, “There are two comings of Christ: the first, for the remission of sins; the second, to judge the world. For if He had not done so, all would have perished together, since all have sinned and need the glory of God.”