DID JESUS’ GODHEAD DIE ON THE CROSS?
By: Atty. Miguel L. Abas
CFD National President
Not few Christians believed and taught that Christ’s Godhead died on the cross. This belief may be attributed to their failure to grasp fully the doctrine on “Hypostatic Union.”
So what is “Hypostatic Union”? By Hypostatic Union, we mean the union of divine and human natures in the second person of the Holy Trinity, our Lord Jesus Christ. As such, Jesus possesses two natures, human and divine. He is both God and man. These two natures are joined but not mixed in one divine person of Christ. The fundamental teaching of the Church on the subject is clear. “The Latin Fathers, principally under the influence of Tertullian, came to a clear Trinitarian and Christological terminology as follows:
‘Videmus duplicem statum (=naturam), non confusum, sed conjunctum in una persona, Deum et hominem Jesum’, which means, “We hold a double state (nature), not mixed with one another but joined in the one person, the God and man Jesus (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Dr. Ludwig Ott, p. 144).
Jesus redeemed us through his sacrifice on the cross as Divine Person, not only as man, but His Divinity, as well. But while His Divinity concomitantly joined in the sacrifice as the essence for the mystery of salvation, the same was not subjected to death. The reason is simple. According to St. Paul, “That thou keep the commandment unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; WHO ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY (emphasis supplied), and inhabiteth light inaccessible…” (1 Tim. 4: 14-16). So there is a nature in Christ which is immortal and that is His Divinity.
Further, the Church teaching in regard to these two natures in Christ, is stated more clearly when it said, “It follows from the essence of the Hypostatic Union, that while on the one hand things pertaining to both the Divine and the human nature can be attributed to the person of Christ, on the other hand, things specifically belonging to one nature (as man) cannot be predicated to the other nature (as God). The rule is not valid if there be reduplication. By reduplication the concrete term is limited to one nature. Thus, it is false to say that ‘Christ has suffered as God.’ (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Dr. Ludwig Ott, p. 159).
Finally, “the 3rd General Council of Ephesus (year 431) confirmed the Twelve Anathematism of St. Cyril of Alexandria… They were later recognized by Popes and Councils as the expression of the Church doctrine of Faith. The main content is the following:
a) x x x
b) x x x
c) The human and Divine activities predicated of Christ… may not be divided between two persons or hypostases, the man-Christ and the God-Logos, but must be attributed to the one Christ, the Logos become Flesh. It is the Divine Logos, who suffered in the FLESH, was crucified, died, and rose again” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Dr. Ludwig Ott, p. 142).
To this, St. Peter has confirmed the above truth when he said, “Because Christ also died once for our sins: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
So, the official teaching of the Catholic Church is, that Christ through His flesh (human nature), suffered and died on the cross, not his Divinity. Thus as quoted above, if it is false and erroneous to say that Christ has suffered as God, more so, would it be false and erroneous to say that Christ has died as God.
Note: Scripture citations are quoted from the Douay & Rheims Version of 1935.
CHURCH AND STATE
Must be United, Not Separated
ATTY. MIGUEL L. ABAS
Catholic Faith Defenders, Inc.
The 1986 Philippine Constitution provides: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable” (Section 6, Article 2 of its Declaration of Principles and State Policies). Many people don’t understand and are confused with the expression, “separation of Church and State.” This may be attributed to the fact that there is an ambiguity of the term used for it may be a separation of concepts but a union of realities. In order to avoid aggravating the confusion, there is a need to define the terms involved. We should be able to distinguish in order to unite and to analyze in order to synthesize.
What do we understand by the term “Church” and by the term “State?” By Church we mean “the society of all those who, being baptized, profess the faith in Christ, and governed by their lawful pastors under one visible head” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1). The State on the other hand, is “a community of persons more or less numerous, permanently occupying a definite portion of territory, independent of external control, and possessing an organized government to which great body of inhabitants render habitual obedience” (The Revised 1973 Philippine Constitution, a Reviewer-Primer by Joaquin C. Bernas, S.J., p. 9). Under these cited definitions we can extract two realities which both cases have signified: a) A collectivity or society of the same individuals, usually called “faithful” in relation to the Church and “citizens” in relation to the State; and b) Its public official, usually called “clergy” in relation to the Church and “government” in relation to the State. As the members of the Church are members of the State too, the Church and the State have the same subjects.
Man Has a Two-fold End
Man, as a rational being, has two essential components, his physical body and his spiritual and immortal soul. As such, he has a two-fold end: natural and supernatural. It must be admitted that the State is a natural and perfect society. While it is supreme in purely secular and temporal affairs, is ever subject to the rule of right MORALITY and the requirements of the NATURAL LAW. The State must give its own proper worship to Almighty God. The State, along this line, recognizes this necessity as we find in the opening statement of the Preamble of our Constitution that it seeks the “aid of Almighty God” to attain its dreams and aspirations. Furthermore, the State acknowledges the need for the Church’s assistance as it pursue its mission in protecting and shaping the destiny of its inhabitants particularly in the molding of the youth when it “recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation building and shall promote and protect their physical, MORAL, SPIRITUAL well-being (Article II, Section 13, 1986 Philippine Constitution).
The purpose of the civil society is to help man in the attainment of his natural end; but the State cannot direct man to his supernatural end. For this purpose, God through Christ, has established His Church here on earth. It is the Church, as a divinely instituted society which can direct the State in these matters. The main function of the Church is to lead men to the final end of their existence, which consists in enjoying God for all eternity in heaven. It is the Church that teaches man of his obligation toward God, towards himself and towards the society which he belonged. The Church, therefore, must assist the State in promoting the spirit of JUSTICE and CHARITY among people and civil rulers, guiding the latter in their great duty of working always for peace and prosperity of their subjects. In its turn, the State has to protect and assist the Church in fulfilling her duties among men. This reciprocal duty is duly respected and properly complied with by the State towards the Church when it expressly provides in its Constitution that no law shall be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion and that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship… shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights” (Article III, Section 5, 1986 Constitution). The Church and State are not regarded as rival powers. Church and State can never conflict because of the following principles: a) The State exists to serve man’s temporal needs; the Church exists to serve man’s spiritual and eternal interests and b) Temporal affairs, not having direct connection with spiritual things are the concern of the State alone; spiritual and moral affairs, even involving things temporal, are the concern of the Church.
Guided by these principles, one can still remember of those recent and momentous events that had happened in the history of our country wherein the Church played her very vital role in restoring peace and spirit of justice and charity to all. Above all, she had consciously led the faithful on reviving into its splendid state the fast decaying morality among Filipinos and other nationalities and in rebuilding their dying faith in God which was brought about by the evils in the society. Those acts of the Church are not to be construed as meddling in the affairs of the State, instead, assisting the State and its subjects in their time of need which was a simple compliance of the Church mission for which she was purposely established by God. These are necessary entities for the common end of man.
Church and State, therefore, should not be separated in reality, but united in a common effort of collaboration for the wholesome development of man.