Cleaning out my feed reader, I remembered I wanted to link to this post by Greg Boyd: “Hellenistic Philosophy and the Problem of Chalcedon.” Boyd is happy to affirm the truths affirmed in the definition of Chalcedon, that in Christ the human and divine natures are combined “without confusion…change…division…[or] separation.” But he is wondering how much of that language was necessitated by certain prior philosophical decisions that tended to draw the church away from an incarnational basis for doing theology. Here’s his conclusion:
The question, then, is how a God whose very definition is anti-anthropomorphic can become a human? How does a God whose essence is above time and change become anything new? How does a God who is above emotion and suffering suffer and die on the cross? This is the God-world problem of the Xenophanes tradition, but with a vengeance! And, so far as I can see, there is no coherent answer to these questions. The most that can be said is that it happened Asunchutós, Atreptós, Adiairetós, Achoristós. But, as I’ve said, that hardly renders the concept coherent.
If we instead start and end all of our theological reflection on the person of Jesus Christ, I suggest we will not be inclined to define God in contrast to humanity and the world, and thus will have no philosophical problem affirming that God became a human in order to save the world. Had the early church fathers remained Christocentric in their theological reflection and shunned the excesses of the Xenophanes tradition, it might have been enough to simply affirm, with Scripture, that Jesus is fully God and fully human.
Connie gave me a GPS for my birthday. (Rebecca named it Athena because Athena told Telemachus where to go when he was searching for his father Odysseus.) You punch in the destination you want to get to and it plots how you can get there. If you miss a turn or take the wrong exit, it calculates an alternate route to get you back on track. If Boyd is right, perhaps we can think of Chalcedon as a kind of “alternate route” back to the simple biblical assertion that “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14) made necessary because the church—orthodox, Monophysite, and Nestorian—had previously taken a “wrong turn” into Greek metaphysics.