Hobby Horse

So we all have our hobby horse – that thing we find fascinating where we really enjoy talking about it and even writing about it. For some it might be an animal or travelling or food. For others it might be a little more theoretical – philosophy, religion, or ethics.

For me, it’s been on the theoretical side. Since 2006 my hobby horse has been a slight obsession in the general area of analytic Christology and in the specific arena of Christ’s impeccability. It goes that some believe that Christ was Posse Non Peccare (Christ was able not to sin) while others adhere to the Non Posse Peccare (Christ was not able to sin). For me this issue is only half resolved by choosing one side or the other. My hobby horse has landed me on the side of Non Posse Peccare.

But for me to hold to the theory that Christ was not able to sin, I also need to address whether or not Christ was able to be tempted. There are those who say that Christ could not sin but he could be tempted, even if it is just innocent temptation (cf. Moreland & Craig, Morris, Crisp). It seems to me though that I find these attempts to clarify Christ’s temptations to be wanting. If there is an “Impeccability” group, I would be considered an extreme adherent of Christ’s inability to be tempted. And this is why.

Christ was not two persons. Christ (the Word) was an eternal person before the incarnation and did NOT take on another person(ality) in the incarnation. Okay, well that’s basic conciliar Christology. As such, this promotes both the An– and En-hypostasis of the incarnation. There was no person acquired at the incarnation outside of the eternal Word (An) and the Word personified the human nature at the incarnation (En).

Ultimately what must be asked at this point is: what (or who) is tempted and thereby how is temptation animated? If you look in my “Academic” page you’ll see a major research project called “The Volition of Christ”. In there you will read about major historical figures and their point of view on Christ and His will(s). That notwithstanding, the crucial question that must be asked is: if Christ is composed of two natures but is only one (divine) person, then how can the human nature – which is personalized and animated by the divine – be tempted unless we are willing to say that divinity can be tempted? (Remember, a nature isn’t tempted but rather the person is tempted.) This of course is both scripturally and philosophically rejected.

Not to posit my 11yr old hobby horse here, this is just a glimpse into what really gets my blood racing when it comes to research and debates. Thankfully, though there is much written on this topic, it is still very much a marginalized theology when lumped together with issues of Aseity, Objective Morality, Eschatology, Ecclesiology, Pneumatology, and even more focal points of Christology.

That’s all. It’s just a fascinating topic that I’ll research for many, many more years.


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