Not surprisingly, my post on “Enhypostatic Humanity” (17 April) has fomented more than one response. Sister N., you say, wants to know how “my” position differs from the Apollinarian heresy, which denied that Christ had a rational soul, picturing Him instead as God in a “body suit”. Another correspondent worries that I have been led to embrace “at least a more respectable form of monophysitism (respectable in the sense that it does not altogether do away with the humanity of Christ) if not Eutychianism”.

In the first place the post was not intended to represent “my” position—or not at least on this particular point—but that of the Chalcedonian Fathers. I admit I am inclined to give the language of their historic Definition a Cyrillian emphasis—after the fashion, that is, of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, who (not for nothing) has been called the “seal of all the Fathers”. But there are any number of honorable precedents for this reading of the Fourth Council, among both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox.

In any case, no: to say (as I did) that the human nature of Christ “was anhypostatic as such but enhypostasized in the Logos” is by no means to ignore His full humanity or to deny He was “like us in all things, sin only excepted”. Chalcedon is very clear in insisting that Christ had a fully human soul in addition to a physical body—a soul that included (like every soul) rational, volitive, and affective faculties, the last being much in evidence, to say the least, in Gethsemane!

But the point you and other critics seem to be missing is that the One who “had” both body and soul was precisely the Logos Himself. There was not some other “individual human being”—to use a phrase that recurs in several replies I received—named “Jesus” who had a body and soul and who was in turn somehow linked to this Logos. This way of envisioning the matter represents on the contrary a clear return to the Nestorian heresy, as I had said in my post.

I could cite any number of respected Orthodox authorities on this matter, but shall let a few words from John Meyendorff suffice for now. I am quoting from an essay of his entitled “Chalcedonians and Monophysites after Chalcedon”, published in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol. 10, No. 2:

If it is not God—”One of the Holy Trinity”—who made His own our very death, as the last expression of our entire fallen condition, which He came to repair and recuperate, if He is not Himself the subject of the redemptive act in its entirety, nothing is achieved and, even grammatically, the Nicene Creed is nothing but a misunderstanding, for it affirms that “the Son of God … was crucified”…. Jesus possessed a human nature, but not a human hypostasis, because the hypostasis is not an expression of natural existence but something that gives natural existence a conscious, autonomous, personal reality. This “something” in Jesus was God the Word, who assumed humanity. Here lies the inevitable and necessary truth of Chalcedon.

One of the criticisms I received said that “my” [sic] formulations concerning “enhypostatic humanity” would have the effect, if accepted as valid, of establishing a kind of hierarchy between the two natures of Christ, whereas (the critic opined) Orthodoxy insists on a “co-equal relationship”. But this is simply wrong! Think about it: How could there ever be a “co-equal relationship” between God and man, even in the God-Man? Here again Meyendorff is helpful:

There are in fact two different kinds of dyophysitism—I call them respectively: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Nestorianism is a symmetrical dyophysitism: there is a strict and complete parallelism of two natures, and this leads inevitably to the duality of the prosopa or subjects, which may be united only in the unity of function…. The dyophysitism of Chalcedon is on the contrary an asymmetrical dyophysitism: there is but one hypostasis, as the subject of all attributions, although the distinction of Divine and human natures is carefully safeguarded…. “Humanity” is included in the Divine hypostasis and exists as it were within this one hypostasis. There is no symmetry: two natures, but one hypostasis. The human nature is as it were sustained by the Divine hypostasis: enhypostatos.

Indeed this enhypostasia, as it has been explained in later Byzantine theology, indicates a different status of Christ’s humanity in comparison with the humanity of “ordinary men” (psiloi anthropoi). It is the humanity of the Logos. Yet in its character it is “consubstantial” with the humanity of all men. But Christ is not a man [my italics] even though kata ten anthropoteta [“according to humanity”] He is homoousios hemin [“consubstantial with us”]. The “status” of His humanity, however, is different from ours: choris hamartias [“except sin”]. This has a decisive soteriological significance.

Now admittedly, when I take the further step of asserting, as I did in the post in question, that “the Logos is fundamentally the Self of all men”, I am going further than Meyendorff (or most Orthodox) would have wished me to, for at this point I am deliberately passing beyond the frontiers of dogmatic theology and into the realm of pure metaphysics. Nevertheless—and this is extremely important to add—I am doing so in a way that is meant to do full justice to the essential Christological insight expressed by the dogma of the “two [asymmetrical] natures in one Person”.