Christological Confusion & China's Reforming Churches (part 9)

This is the ninth post in a twelve-part series on the current Christological confusion taking root in China's emerging Reformed community (see parts 123456, 7 and 8)

Fifth Statement: Merely Functional Likeness

Ironically, holding a univocal view of God's image (see part 8) leads our speaker to insist that Christ's human nature "is fundamentally different from us who have been created."[1] This is a startling departure from the Chalcedonian tradition's confession that the incarnate Son is "consubstantial with us according to the manhood [and] in all things like unto us, without sin" (see part 3)

If there is only one kind of divine image and that image is the eternal Son and is also the essence of humanity then it follows that the eternal Son must be eternally human in some sense--the sense of his eternal humanness. As he puts it,
Jesus Christ possesses God's image, [while] we were created after God's image. Therefore, Christ himself is the image, which is the gene of human nature. Well, within Christ is the original form of human nature, or original human nature. This is something that is not created. This is what I mean. So, I believe that Christ's human nature is uncreated and pre-existent within God.[2]
And again,
Since humankind was created in this image, humankind is said to have been created in the image of God, that is, created in Christ's likeness. Now, since humankind was created in Christ's likeness, Christ must have pre-existed before the creation of all human beings. The "humanness in Christ" has always pre-existed within Christ. This is what I mean to express.[3]
So, Christ is the original human, we are the copies created in the likeness of his humanness: "we reflect Him, he is the prototype."[4]

Because his human nature is uncreated and pre-existent we cannot say he is like us in every way except sin--or conversely, that we are just like him. We must instead conclude that his "humanness is not very similar to what is traditionally referred to as humanity or human nature" and that, even as incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, he is only "like unto us in many things."[5] Even "his body is entirely different from ours."[6]

Directly addressing the Chalcedonian claim Christ is like us in every way except sin, he asks,
Is he like unto us in all these things? He is a human being, so, just like us, he could grow hungry, thirsty, and physically weary; he would sleep; he experienced many of the things that we experience.[7]
But the many ways he is like us may relate only to a range of bodily functions and corresponding experiences:
His body is entirely different from ours, because our bodies have been created. . . . Jesus Christ's body was neither created from dust, nor from the union of a man and a woman, . . . so his body is certainly different from ours. Different, yet, he truly became human, and he had to possess all the functions of the kind of bodies that we have, so he would sleep, he would be tired, he would grow hungry, he would be thirsty, etc. The functions of his body were "like unto us in all things."[8]
Although Jesus is necessarily like us in his bodily functions, embodied experience alone falls short of being consubstantial with the rest of humanity. Functional somatic similarity, if you will, is not enough to secure the kind of identification with humanity the Chalcedonian tradition, not to mention author of Hebrews, maintains is necessary "for our salvation." As the maxim laid down by Gregory of Nazianzus declares, "that which was not assumed is not healed."[9]


[1] First Recording

[2] Third Recording

[3] First Recording

[4] First Recording

[5] First Recording

[6] Third Recording

[7] Second Recording

[8] Third Recording

[9] Letter to Cledonius (Ep. 101), p. 5