Learning Our Faith From the Greek Fathers of the Church — 20170820

Gregory lays down a crucial principle in his biblical analysis of Proverbs 8:22, “The Lord created me at the beginning of his ways with a view to his works.” Many early Christian exegetes (scholars who study the meaning of biblical texts) saw this text as pointing to the divine Word, “the true Wisdom.” If so, the text appears to text appears to teach that the Son was created, a problem for all who would affirm his timeless, eternal nature. Gregory solves the difficulty by teaching that when biblical texts such as Proverbs speak of the Son as caused or created, they are referring to the economy/dispensation of salvation. The Son, God’s Wisdom, is sent by the Father “with a view to his works,” that is, “our salvation.” Thus, those texts in which we find the Son described as caused or created “we are to refer to the humanity [assumed by the Son], but all that is absolute and unoriginate we are to reckon to the account of his Godhead.

So you see that when the Church, inspired and guided by God’s Spirit, came to the understanding that Jesus was God incarnate, they had many different issues to address. How can a timeless, eternal God come into time? So did Christ, the Word, always have a human nature?
What of those texts in which the Son is described as a servant? Can one who is truly God rightfully be described in such a fashion? Yes, Gregory replies, if the Son’s service is linked to his incarnation, “to birth and to the conditions of our life with a view to our liberation, and to that of all those whom he has saved, who were in bondage under sin.”

One by one Gregory leads his audience through the biblical verses that might pose a problem and, at first glance, appear to threaten Christ’s deity. The basic underlying principle remains the same. Some texts highlight “that nature which is truly unchangeable and above all capacity of suffering,” and others center on Christ’s “passible humanity…. This, then, is the argument concerning these objections, so far as to be a sort of foundation and memorandum for the use of those who are better able to conduct the inquiry to a more complete working out.”

All of this is intended to help you, my readers, focus on “Who You Think Jesus Christ is?”

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