Friday, January 05, 2007

The Humiliation of the Eternal Son - John Newman



This morning I was reading from Mark McIntosh's book, "Christology From Within” on the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, when I came across a footnote that had the below quote from John Henry Cardinal Newman.

We speak of Him in a vague way as God, which is true, but not the whole truth; and, in consequence when we proceed to consider His humiliation, we are unable to carry on the notion of His personality from heaven to earth. He who was but now spoken of as God, without mention of the Father from whom He is, is next described as if a creature; but how do these distinct notions of Him hold together in our minds? We are able indeed to continue the idea of a Son into that of a servant, though the descent was infinite, and, to our reason, incomprehensible; but when we merely speak first of God, then of man, we seem to change the Nature without preserving the Person. In truth, His Divine Sonship is that portion of the sacred doctrine on which the mind is providentially intended to rest throughout, and so to preserve for itself His identity unbroken.


In the 3 Massketeers’ study on conversion, I have been of late sidetracked to works that explore Trinitarian thought and personhood. I found Newman’s sermon another good reference to our puny efforts at trying to come to some kind of understanding of authentic personhood.

3 comments:

Athos said...

In his fine essay from Anthropoetics (in our sidebar),James Williams speaks to the problem of personhood:

'(Jesus says,) "Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:3).

'So freeing or release from mimetic rivalry has much to do with the freedom of being able to imitate like the child. The freedom, that is, to imitate the Son of Man or to imitate anyone who imitates God the father.'

Which I take to mean that the way to truest selfhood is by way of freely imitating the one, sole, worthy mediator: Jesus Christ, or, by extension, the saintly ones who are trying to imitate Him.

The most original life is the one lived closest to this Source of all selves and selfhood.

Athos said...

Aramis said, I found Newman’s sermon another good reference to our puny efforts at trying to come to some kind of understanding of authentic personhood.

Yet each of us must strive to live and realize with this life we are given "authentic personhood," without judging it as "puny". It is wonderful admiring the thoughts and words of Cardinal Newman, but to call my effort "puny" is a negative form of idolatry, isn't it?

Aramis said...

Dear Athos,

No judging. Our human ... anything is puny to what Christ is leading us toward.

Gil says it better in his post "Belated thoughts on the Epiphany" of 1/9/07:

The Epiphany is to continue with Christians themselves, with all our faults and failings, manifesting as best we can some clumsy Christological hint of the mystery of a God-centered life, the Life that is Trinitarian in heaven and Christological here on earth.

I don't think you would jump at seeing this as judging and so please see my use of puny as in reference to our less than perfect grasp at all this mystery of being an authentic person and not a judgment on you or anyone else.