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Question and Answer

Divine Logic – Human Logic

Question:

While I have always been Reformed, I have recently been posed some challenging questions from some Eastern Orthodox friends, that I have struggled with. Chief among them, how can God’s once-for-all monergistic salvation of his elect be compatible with the idea that Jesus Christ’s two natures both perfectly served God in unity without his divine nature forcing his human nature to submit to him? In other words, how is Monergism compatible with correct Chalcedonian Christology? The Reformed position, so my friends argue, seems to fall into the heresy of Monothelitism, that Jesus’ divine nature subordinated his human nature.

Answer:

Dear brother,

We must begin our inquiry with the realization that divine logic (displayed in Scripture) is not always the same in human logic, particularly when we tend to impose human terms. In Isaiah 55:8 we read, “ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.” The OPC holds to the Westminster Standards as summarily expressing what the Scripture teaches and addressing the issues raised in former days and many of the issue raised today. As to monothelitism the Westminster Confession states:

WCF 8.2. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature,(1) with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin;(2) being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance.(3) So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion.(4) Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.(5)

(1) John 1:1, 14; 1 John 5:20; Phil. 2:6; Gal. 4:4.
(2) Heb. 2:14, 16, 17; Heb. 4:15.
(3) Luke 1:27, 31, 35; Gal. 4:4.
(4) Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 3:16.
(5) Rom. 1:3, 4; 1 Tim. 2:5

The Scripture itself, and only the Scripture, is our primary standard. There are many other antinomies set forth in the Scripture. One such antinomy is expressed in the Scripture’s teaching, on the one hand, that human beings have a free will, morally speaking, and yet all that they think and do is predestined (and thus controlled) by God. Moreover, the Scripture calls human beings to repent and believe in Christ as their Savior. How can their will be free to repent and believe when God predestinates everything? Also, how can there be only one God and at the same time there are three divine persons, each of whom is God? Again, how can God hold a human being responsible for, and consequently justly punished by God for his sin, when God has predestined that sin? How can both be true? We believe these things because we believe what God says in the Scripture.

Beyond this, we risk going into the folly of demanding that God be explained to us, so that we can comprehend him and his plans. Isaiah (cited by Paul in Romans 11) argues: “Who has measured (directed) the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand?” (Isa. 40:12). And, for our comfort, we should note that both Isaiah and Paul cite the incomprehensibility of God in the context of our marvelous salvation!

Thus, our challenge is that we believe what the Lord teaches us in the Scripture.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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