Christological Confusion & China's Reforming Churches (part 4)
September 15, 2015
Reformed Standards on the Human Nature of Christ
The Reformed confess the same orthodox Christology. Here, for example, are Q&As 36 and 37 of the Westminster Larger Catechism:
Q. 36. Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?
A. The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fullness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever.
Q. 37. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ the Son of God became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance, and born of her, yet without sin.
The Belgic Confession, written while the Anabaptist error of the supposed heavenly origin of Christ's flesh was still fresh, is even more assertive on the origin of Christ's humanity:
Article 18: Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
We confess, therefore, that God . . . sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the means of man; and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess . . . that Christ is become a partaker of the flesh and blood of the children . . . and became like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted, so that in truth he is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us.
Article 19: Of the Union and Distinction of the Two Natures in the Person of Christ
We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties. As then the divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also has the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body. And though he has by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he has not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while. Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.
Echoes of Nicea and Chalcedon are clear in these Reformed standards and their elaborations on the origin of Christ's humanity are explicit. The divine Son "became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul." His humanity originates with the supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb and is "of her substance." Christ's human nature is consubstantial with us, and though at the time of the conception in Mary's womb it was inseparably united to the divine nature in the person of the Word, it "remained a creature, having beginning of days [and] being a finite nature" just as he "remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth" in his divine nature.
So, the Reformed standards maintain, without deviation, the much-repeated formula of Gregory of Nazianzus: "What [the Son of God] was he continued to be; what he was not he took to himself."  Views that posit an eternal human nature united with the Son do not--at least not the sense Gregory intended.
 Orations, 29.19.