Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Paradox, not Contradiction, of the Hypostatic Union

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Now and forever. Amen.

A number of years ago, I had a realization about the Hypostatic Union that I'd like to share today. I haven't shared this with more than, oh I'd say... two, maybe three people before. It's not so much an explanation of the Union, as such, but rather it's more like a recognition of a precedent that we already see in nature, which allows us to accept the possibility of this awesome reality. That precedent is us. Please let me explain.


First, we should give a word about what I'm referring to, and what it means. The Hypostatic Union refers to the union of the Divine Nature with the Human Nature in the person of Jesus Christ. The philosophical definition of hypostasis is an underlying reality or substance, as opposed to attributes or that which lacks substance. This should not be confused with the medical definition of hypostasis (the accumulation of fluid or blood in the lower parts of the body or organs under the influence of gravity, as occurs in cases of poor circulation or after death).

The underlying realities or substances that we're talking about as being in union here are the Divine Substance and the human substance. On the face of it, this union appears to be a contradiction. The Divine Substance is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite, omnibenevolent, etc., whereas the human substance is temporal, localized, ignorant, impotent, finite, fallen, imperfect, and so forth. So, in the person of Jesus Christ, we have what looks like a contradiction. I contend, however, that this is not a contradiction, but rather a paradox.

The Human Paradox

A paradox is that which appears to be a contradiction, but is not actually so. So, how can Jesus be only a paradox? That is to say, how can it be possible that He is both eternal and temporal, omnipresent and localized, omniscient and ignorant, omnipotent and impotent, infinite and finite, etc.? On the face of it, every one of these propositions is a self-contradiction. Well, the simple fact is, I can't explain that. But that doesn't mean we don't have good reason to think that it's at least possible. And if it's at least possible, then there's nothing stopping God from accomplishing this. So, why should we think it's even possible?

To answer this, I look to humanity as a precedent. When we study the natural world, we come to understand one thing, it is entirely material. Nevertheless, logic demonstrates the existence of an immaterial reality. A simple demonstration of this is the existence of mathematical principles, by which everything in the universe operates, but which, itself, has not material existence.

We are thereby capable of exploring and studying this immaterial world through the use of reason. What we learn about it is that it is different that the natural world in almost every way. It is, first of all, immaterial, whereas the natural world is material. It is also rational, while the material world is irrational. It is changeless, while the material world is in constant change. The material world is mortal, but the immaterial world is immortal. You get the idea.

Yet, in humanity, we see something strange. We see a union of these two, opposite realities, or substances. Human nature is, itself, a union of two natures: the material and immaterial. So, I ask the same questions: how is it possible for humans to be both material and immaterial, rational and irrational, changeless and changing, mortal and immortal, etc.? On the face of it, humanity is a self-contradiction.

And yet, here we are. We are therefore a multitude of walking paradoxes. Jesus is simply an additional paradox. In Him, we see the paradoxical union of the material and the immaterial, and also the paradoxical union of the human and Divine. Huh. Fancy that.

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment