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contemplates Him as Man in that prior state. This opinion is based on their interpretation of 1 Cor. xv. 47,“the Second Adam is from heaven,” according to which Paul is supposed to teach that Christ existed before as the heavenly Pneumatic Man, clothed in a celestial body, to be revealed in due time as the Pattern Man in order to communicate to His people that spiritual body that is the appropriate organ of the higher manhood. The passage is confessedly one of the most difficult in Paul's writings. Holtzmann, who himself accepts the view taken by so many modern scholars, that Paul taught the doctrine of a Pre-existent Heavenly Man, and that it formed part of the inheritance he had brought with him from his Rabbinical training to the understanding of Christian truth, includes this in his list of several passages noted by him in Paul's writings, in regard to which he says we can never be sure that we understand him in the sense which the apostle intended. With commendable fairness that writer allows that it is to Christ as Exalted that Paul applies the term “the Second Adam," since it is only as Exalted that Christ can be spoken of as the New Spiritual Head whose glorified body is the pledge of a similar resurrection-life to His people. While this is so, Holtzmann still maintains that indirectly there is a reference to the Heavenly Pre-existent Man in the phrase "from Heaven," indicating the apostle's belief that Christ had a prior existence as the Primal Man. The difficulty in the way of our acceptance of this interpretation, and it is one that seems to me insuperable, is that in other passages quoted above His pre-existent life is described in terms that are incompatible with His being no more than human, or the created Model of other human intelligences. He is declared to be the instrument by whom creation itself was effected; 1 and when He is said to have existed in the “Form of God,” the “Form” whether held to be something essential to His Being
Col. i. 15.
and inseparable from it, or something He could divest Himself of, points in either case to a relationship with the very life of God that seems inconsistent at least with creaturehood. And therefore, although it is going in the face of what, up to recently at least, was almost an accepted result among modern students of Paul, I am unable to agree with the opinion that the apostle conceived of Christ as the Heavenly Man of Jewish Theology. The truth in this view, and it is one that must find a place in any theory that is to reflect his thought, is that Christ is a True Man ; and that inasmuch as He is the same through all the stages of His history, the reality of the human element must be recognised in Him as belonging to His essential nature, however difficult it may be for us to conceive the fact.
2. The second view by which Paul's statements have been interpreted, is that Christ pre-existed as a Divine Person, the second Person of the Godhead, who in His birth assumed human nature into personal union with His Divine nature, each maintaining its own distinctive attributes unchanged by the union. The co-existence of two natures essentially different from each other is regarded as having been effected by the Divine Omnipotence, and as constituting the mystery of the incarnation. The strength of this interpretation lies in the fact that it does full justice to the Divine Factor in the Person of our Lord, and to those passages that assign cosmological functions to the Pre-incarnate One; and further, that it finds a reason in the original constitution of His Person for His present supremacy over all as Lord. Its weakness is that it sacrifices the humanity of the historic Christ, and with that, His moral and religious significance for the life of man to what is conceived to be the interest of His essential or metaphysical Divinity. There is no question as to the basis of His Personality being truly Divine. The only question is whether His Original Godhead is to be conceived of under those attributes of Infinity that are incommunicable to human nature, or as having affinities with and relations to what is human that explain the Divinity of Man as “made in the image of God." The idea of His essential or Metaphysical Divinity is, to say the least, not actively present in our conception of Christ. For our belief in Him is not that God “in all His absoluteness, omniscience, omnipresence, took on the form of a Man and walked among men in Galilee," so that Jesus was everywhere present at the same time and knew all the occurrences on earth and all the secrets of science and philosophy; but it is the belief that God was in Christ in so far as He can be present in a human personality, revealing Himself under those features of moral character which we can understand and appreciate in virtue of our moral affinity with God. But if, as a certain class of theologians allege, there is all the difference between what Christ in His transcendent nature is and what we are, that there is between One who is possessed of the Infinite attributes of Divinity and those who are finite and exist under the limitations of creaturehood, then it is hard to see how there can be any real union between the Divine and the human in His Historical Personality, or how He could be in any true sense a Man, with a human consciousness and the subject of human experiences. Inevitably the entire worth of His Person for the life of faith is impaired by a doctrine that denies all affinity between the original constitution of the Person of Christ and our personal life, or that forces us to conceive of Him in His original pre-existent being as contrasted with and essentially separate from us; and were the latter supposition true, Paul's language would have no meaning in which he speaks of Him who had pre-existent relations with God and creation as essentially one and the same with Him whom he knew as a “man.”
1 It may, besides, be urged that if He was Pre-existent as Man, it could not be said that it was not till He appeared on earth that He was made in the “likeness of man,” and was found in “fashion as a man." Ritschl, indeed, thinks (Altkath. K’irche. p. 80) that if it had been the apostle's view that Christ was Man only in His earthly appearance, he must then have written μορφή ανθρώπου instead of δούλου as the proper contrast to reopon Osoữ (Phil. ii. 6). But we cannot isolate peop on doúrou in this way from what follows, where it is explained as meaning His Humanity.
2 Later commentators are opposed to this idea. Haupt, in his commentary on Philippians (1897), says he cannot “discover the Pre-existent Man Christ in Paul's writings” (p. 71). Klöpper has a long note in refutation of it in his Brief an die Philip. (1893), pp. 134-140. R. Schmidt also is opposed to it. See his Paulinische Christologie,
1 I refer to those theologians who, in conceiving of the union between the Divine and Human in Christ, start, not from the affinity of the one with the other, but from their essential unlikeness and disparity. The Divine is with them the Infinite, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent One, incapable of union in the real sense with the human or finite, inasmuch as a human consciousness possessed of omniscience and omnipresence would be no longer human. As a modern instance of this metaphysical treatment of the subject, I would refer to the elaborate work of Powell on the Principle of the Incarnation, 1896. Approaching the problem from this point of view, the author regards Jesus as the subject of a
This difficulty has of course always been felt, and the long controversy of the ancient Church that preceded the fixing of the dogma exhibits the wavering of theologians in their endeavour now to maintain the unity of His Person, involving the practical surrender of the Human factor, and now the duality of the Natures, with its consequent surrender of the unity of the Person. The decision of the Council of Chaldouble consciousness, a Divine and a human, in virtue of which He was, in one and the same moment, in the one sphere of consciousness, omniscient and in full possession and exercise of His Divine nature, and in the other, ignorant and subject to the limitation of His creatures. The union of the Divine and human in the Person of Christ is, on this view, however, a purely formal one. The human remains really dissociated and separate from the Divine. To speak of Christ as at once omniscient in the Divine sphere and ignorant in the human, as filling all space on earth while at the same time locally confined to one place, the subject of attributes that are disparate and naturally exclusive of one another, is to use language to which no real meaning can be attached, and which certainly does not describe the Christ of the Gospels. But we are landed in this when we attempt to construe to our thought the fact of the Incarnation starting with metaphysical postulateş,
cedon was no solution of the problem, but it brought the controversy to an end for the time; and the Church acquiesced in a judgment which, in exalting the Divine at the expense of the Human, gradually widened the breach between the dogmatic and the historic Christ, lessening very seriously the influence of His Humanity on the life of the Church, and obscuring it from the view of men, except in so far as it was brought home to their minds by His suffering and death. “The God-Man of the Catholic Church,” says a German historian, “is too prevailingly only God to be at the same time also Man. He is Man only to undergo the Passion. It is the holy Virgin that represents normal Humanity in its Spiritual Perfection.” 1
The Reformers accepted the Christology of the ancient Church. But with the revival of the evangelic faith there came a fresh realisation of the truth of our Lord's humanity and its supreme worth in the salvation He has procured for men; and new attempts were made on the old lines to formulate the doctrine of the Person of our Lord in a way that would rescue the human element from the Doketism that resulted from the old view. The two branches of the Protestant Church had each its own type of doctrine on this subject. Lutheranism, holding that the natural effect of the union of the Son of God with our nature was the communication to the latter of the Divine attributes of the former, saved itself from the charge of reducing the humanity to a mere semblance by maintaining that the exercise of these Divine attributes was in abeyance during! the earthly life of Jesus, that they existed in Him only in a concealed or hidden form. Abandoning this unsatisfactory position, the later representatives of the Lutheran
Schneckenburger, Vergleichende Darstellung des Luth. u. Reform. Lehrbegriffs, vol. ii. p. 229. His words are : “Der Katholische GottMensch ist zu præponderirend nur Gott um zugleich wahrer Mensch zu sein. Er ist Mensch nur um die Passion zu dulden. Die normal geistig vollendete Menschheit repræsentirt die Heilige Jungfrau.”