What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

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What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:12 am

In your reading of the Chalcedon Formula, is it "Jesus" who has two natures-- or "Christ"?

Is Jesus, the individual human being, "fully human and fully divine"?  Or is "Christ" fully human, fully divine?

It seems to me that to affirm "Jesus has two natures" and also to affirm "Jesus was 'truly human'--is a contradiction. A contradiction that perhaps is too easily papered-over with the catch-phrase, "It's a Mystery!"

But if we say, otherwise: "No, it is not Jesus who is fully human, and fully divine, but 'Christ'-- then 'what' is Christ if not a single human individual being?  How do we conceive Christ if not as a single human being?

Here is thought experiment that I hope sheds some light on this (its somewhat silly, but I hope it makes the point):
Imagine meeting a woman who says, "My mother is from earth and my father was from Mars"-- and then adds, "I am fully human. "  Let's say being Martian gives her omniscience, which is, decidedly, not a human capacity.  But she insists, I am fully human and fully Martian"

But how can she be "fully human" if she is omniscient?  Does not the other half of her heritage --"Martian"-- make her NOT fully human?  So her declaration, "I am fully human" does not ring true.

Likewise, doesn't affirming that Jesus, the individual human being, was "fully human, fully divine" involve us in the same contradiction?  I believe it does.

But if I say, "Christ has two natures," and then affirm "Christ is a Mystery"--  I may be on better grounds.  Because it IS a Mystery that 'something', let's just call it "X" is "fully human, fully divine"-- even if, to begin with, I don't know what "X" is  (with"X" representing this true Mystery.)  All I know is: whatever X is, it is NOT a single human being, because no single human being can can have two natures-- not even the historical Jesus, because he was a single human being.  
   
So what is Christ -- this mysterious Reality which IS truly human, truly divine.
So how is this resolved, in your view?


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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:29 pm

This is the first of a series of five posts that ask, "What is meant by "Christ"?", posts in which I will express a definition of Christ that rings true for me, and I believe is not only coherent with the sublime Christology of Chalcedon, but is in harmony with the Christian Tradition a whole, including, most centrally, the Church's heritage of mystical theology.

Up front, please note that I won’t be specifying the definition of Christ that most appeals to me in this post, but I will in the next.  Also, I am not a expert on Christology, but a Christian layman who is, at best, an 'amateur" at Christology.  (Happily, Peter Kreeft,  a professor of Philosophy at Boston College, points out that an amateur, at root, means "a lover ", and am at least that, a person who loves to reflect on the joyous Mystery of Christ).  

So this post has two aims:  
1. to suggest that a true definition of Christ will be in harmony with major sources of illumination in the Tradition we Christians share, and specify those sources

2. to show how the definition of Christ given at Chalcedon,
on the one hand, maintains the miraculous Oneness of Christ,
yet, on the other, equally emphasizes
that the “properties” of each nature are “preserved”--
meaning the divinity Christ doesn’t become the humanity, nor the humanity of Christ, become the divinity.

Your questions or comments on these thoughts?

To begin:
We share....

1. the Christian mystical tradition-- in particular, the literature “mystical ecstasy”  and stages of the spiritual journey culiminating in “union with God”

2. the mystical theology of the Church fathers-- especially their doctrine of the Trinity; the monotheism they presumed, given Christianity’s Judaic heritage; and their view of the Eucharist  

3. certain biblical testimony, especially Jesus’ prayer of mystical unity at the last supper, and his institution of the Eucharist; also Paul’s experience of risen Christ

4. The Eucharist

In addition to these, our search for a true definition of Christ must also include these factors:  

5. everyman's immediate ‘experience’ of consciousness

6. our spiritual experience as a contemplatives- especially our experience of...
the self-emptying (Greek, "kenotic") character of contemplative prayer, and
the progressively kenotic character of the whole spiritual journey.

We might think of the above five sources of illumination as  ‘five candles’ of understanding will be holding up to text of Council of Chalcedon (425 CE).  You see, we all know the formula --"truly divine, truly human"-- but clearly, this does not cut it for many contemplatives as a definition.
Rather, this familiar formula remains abstract, distant, not clearly relevant to our immediate spiritual life.  
Moreover, it doesn't clearly orient our spiritual journey.  To attain Christ, are we to become "truly divine, truly human"?
What does that even mean?  

So lets now take a look at the Chalcedon confession, taking it in two parts.

“We confess.... our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son,
the same perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in manhood,
truly God and truly man,
....consubstantial (of one essence) with the Father in Godhead,
and the same consubstantial (one in essence) with us in manhood,
like us in all things except sin...”    -Council of Chalcedon

Notice that the mysterious Oneness of Christ is the focus of the first.
Now, as we proceed to the second part of the Chalcedon confession,  we may notice that the emphasis shifts from the Oneness to the next part focuses on the mystery of the ‘twoness’, the dual natures of Christ, as “fully God and fully man.”  

In this vein, the Formula specifies that Christ is...

"known in two natures
without confusion,
without change,
without division,
without separation,
the difference of the natures being by no means removed because of the union, but the distinct property of each nature being preserved..."

I hope you are not yawning-- all this is quite abstract, sure, and we may feel lost even now.  
But wait-- don’t leave town!  
Things will get concrete quickly soon, as in the next posts, in which I will suggest why St. Hilary's outline of 'three states of Christ' is crucial to a definition of Christ...

What are your thoughts about this?  Please share them,
Joe


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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by rpw8 on Sun Jul 30, 2017 12:43 pm

I am certainly not a Contemplative, however, what I have read and from Bernadette's videos rings true for me.  Never thought of any of these questions you brought up till I discovered BR.  I have often gotten stuck on what the reflexive mind is actually and why eastern religions don't seem to recognize it.  At times I get some clarity on the non dual Christ and other times I lose it same as the reflexive mind.  Don't know if this helps at all.   I can say I find my self having great faith in what Bernadette says.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:57 pm

Hi R,
great to chat with you and to have you participate in this site, as you wish!
Do you care to offer a sketch, any length short or long, of what Christ means to you, at this point in your journey? And what Christ, as such, mean to you, in your daily experience?
Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by rpw8 on Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:33 pm

I don't have any meditative reflections on what Christ means to me. Wish I can formulate my own words w/o backing up BR. Never quite understood the journey or how God works with each individual soul. Again, BR had said this. I am trying to understand what a soul is ? It's not physical, not mental. I think it's beyond human intellect so I can't expand. It's a toughie for sure. I often think how can any of us know what journey we are on. I have had people from my past give me their opinion. The wounded healer, the sensitive artist, compassionate loving, intuitive etc. For a while I believe the wounded healer. I don't think any of us know our journey not counting what we do in our daily lives. Obviously beyond anything that is concrete. God knows our journey. I'll leave it up to him. It has been to easy to get stuck in my head about what is my purpose, what am I suppose to do with my life. Simple, just treat everyone
the way you want to be treated. We live w/ our decisions good or bad

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:04 pm

M,
Very interesting post, thanks!  I surely appreciate that you find in Bernadette's work views that resonate deeply with you.    

I'm no expert in the mystical theology as it pertains to soul, but I'll share what I have understood.  I need some time to collect my thoughts on the soul, M, so I will post a reply tomorrow.

The topic you raise is so important, as our very spiritual journey is God's transformation of the soul, in the course of which the self (the source of our 'experience") is dissolved by God (the end of the 'experiencer')-- yet the soul continues on to further transformation by God, including Resurrection, and Ascension, in which the soul and the 'spiritual body' is transfigured to reach its ultimate destiny as the Heavenly Christ, 'our' eternal place in the Trinity.

I will share more tomorrow, as I collect my thoughts on this.

M, would you care to share something of your spiritual journey, how it began and its various pathways? We have a section on this Forum for posting our on our individual journey.  Perhaps you will care to post in that.  I will post something of my journey there too.
 Just a thought, of course, no need to post in the 'spiritual journey's section if you that's not your cup of tea. I completely respect that too.

Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by rpw8 on Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:22 am

Not important but in other posts you have me as "R". As in the first letter of my user name. The "M" kind of threw me for a minute. I felt I understood you pretty well. I will have to get back with you. I believe God does work with each individual soul. Maybe the "how's are unimportant. What I think may not be accurate. Who knows ? Personally, me being a highly sensitive person enjoys more with people on a one on one basis. Safety issue. I said just the other day to myself. So be it, I can't change that. Just leave up to God. I had looked into changing it. Said, No. I tried nothing worked. So, it's a kind of surrender. To God ? Maybe ? I just needed to accept it. As God created my health condition at birth and I have had to deal w/ that and my sensitivity my whole life.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:33 am

R,
I do apologize for the mistaken in your online name! R it is! I am glad you felt understood, because I do get the significance of your posts. I am enjoying our one on one exchanges, too.

Will talk more tomorrow,
Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:07 pm


Hello R,

I have been thinking about your posts on the soul. They prompted me to think about it in a way that, I feel, made me understand certain things about the topic better than I had before my reflecting on today.
.

The following points have appealed to me as I have read on the soul in the writings of Christian contemplative authors-- one of the most notable, St. John of the Cross. I will list them out ,as these ideas tend to ‘run on into each other’, for me at least, if arranged in big paragraphs.

Our soul’s ground is our common human nature; that is, each soul is an expression of the common human nature we share by God’s creation.

God creates the soul one on One, each soul bearing the uniqueness of its Creator, God as the Absolute Unique. I am not clear of the implications of this, but it may be that each soul uniquely and significantly capacitated in some way.

The soul is created “theocentric”, with God as its true Center, a Center actively, even ‘magnetically’ drawing the soul to Itself, inclining it to God.

The ‘apex’ of soul (described in the writings on the soul by mystics such Meister Eckhart) is created by God for God alone, to know and love God. Many contemplatives experiene this in prayer or meditation as drawing away from self into a kind of expansive interior ‘silence’ which, intuitively, is experienced divine presence.

It also has been said this apex of the soul is what Paul meant by “the spirit.” Not God, the Holy Spirit, but a creation of God as the highest point of the soul, it’s apex.

R, this link will take you to a paper written by Bernadette on “the spirit” on her blogsite, which directly relates to this special capacity for God, an inclination to God, which God has given each soul.


The soul’s highest capacity and inclination is to know and love God ever-more expansively.

The self doesn’t ‘know’ God, nor has a capacity to be indelibly transformed by God.
rather it is something deeper in us, deeper than self, that can know God by grace, and is transformed by grace, our soul.

God increases the soul’s capacity for God, by the Holy Spirit’s progressively transforming it, unfolding its highest human potential: to be tranformed into very Christ of Heaven.

The changes that God makes in the depths of our soul show up the self (which is our mode of knowing as experiencing).

So should God create union with the soul in its depths, this radical change (God’s dissolving the ego, and then effecting full union) radically changes the self-experience, most notably the self’s experience of God.

It is the soul fundamentally, not self, that is tranformed by the Mysteries of Christ. As you said, this leads (whether in this life or post-mortem) eventually to God’s dissolving our very self (an accutely more radical change than God’s earlier dissolving the ego). This death is the death unitive state-- and the self is gone now, but the soul continues, again transformed by the Holy Spirit, with its new “form”, the “spiritual body”. Paul writes of this “spiritual body” as part-and-parcel of the Resurrection:

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable,
it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body,
it is raised a spiritual body” - 1 Corinthians 15

Best wishes, R,
Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by rpw8 on Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:24 pm

I had emailed Pat Masters and she said. The soul is the essence of you. She also said it's the spiritual or immaterial part of you, that part which God created, which will be transformed into Christ. Sometimes the less I think about some of these things the better. Easy to overthink or analyze. I have looked at bits and pieces of the mystics. Most of them and the way spoke, and/or written makes very hard for me to understand. Like some of St. Bernard and Brother Lawrence. Some of the quotes are truly beautiful. Enjoyed much of what you have said.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:16 am

R,
May I ask if you have any specific spiritual practices that support what you are learning of the Mystery of Christ? For example, receiving the Eucharist at the Catholic Mass has become central to my journey, as well as interior silence in prayer, open to God's Presence. What about you? Do you care to share on this?
Joe

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Follow up to your Question

Post by rpw8 on Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:41 pm

Looked into contemplation but didn't resonate with me. The Jesus Prayer I looked at and thought I can do that.  Got the book, The Way of the Pilgrim. Started it but didn't stick with the book.  Again, I don't have a normal practice.  Never had an easy time committing to anything. In some way it would be great.  I committed myself to 108  days short of my goal reciting the Japji Sahib from the Kundalini folks.  Half kidding, but I felt I ruined myself a little.  Kept questioning myself because I was feeling guilty about doing it.  I did stop.  Then the Hindu and Buddhist mantras.  The whole quick fix, nothing quick about it.  Never felt it had anything to do w/ God.  As I said BR woke me up to a degree.  If I never heard anything from her I could hardly voice an opinion.  Shame to say. Lastly, I saw back in the early 90's maybe, BR came to the Loveland, Ohio. I wasn't in the right state mentally. It's where a retreat center is for many things, such as women's groups, yoga etc. Have been listening to Pavarotti and some classical, lately. Really lifts one's heart up, and the eye tear up. Nothing more beautiful than the power of the human voice. So lately you can it's opera, some Gregorian and Byzantine styles

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follow up

Post by rpw8 on Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:54 pm

I certainly felt I have been searching my whole life.  I had sent you a private message about a week ago.  You might have never received yet or read it. It did shed a little light on myself

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:12 pm

R,
I apologize for not seeing the private message. I am really new to administering a site such as this, and don't know its many features well yet-- like private messages to me. I will ask my fellow admin Chad, a tech wiz and fellow contemplative, to help me find it, so I can read you note very soon. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:11 am

R,
I think I was at the Loveland presentation-- it was attended largely by TM practitioners, I think.
I see that opera and music invites you the divine Presence. I sure feel this way too.

What do you think it is about music that invites this experience for you?
Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by rpw8 on Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:51 am

That's interesting ! TM practitioners ?! I can see the appeal if that was the case. BR had an experience where people wanted to meet someone that had an experience so few have had. I have always loved the human voice. Really started w/ the Beach Boys with the harmonies and it had a positivity. Quite sophisticated really. It was pop but with doo wop and Chuck Berry in the mix. Then later w/ Pet Sounds and Smile. Which took everything to a higher place. I had even took a little singing lessons for a time. It really lifts up a person. I am so not a singer. It was a fun time. In all aspects the human voice is the highest inspiration, instrument. Just recently I had given it more 'listen' time. Though other Byzantine chanting, Gregorian and such that have more of a cathedral sound certainly as they sing praises to Mary, Jesus is more of that divine presence you speak. I do get that. I mean I can certainly listen to Pavarotti and be in awe or in the young woman, who's a teenager, Jackie Evancho. She is so young and then the voice of a older woman comes out of her is just so astounding.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:36 am

Good guess, R, given the many TM'ers in the area of Loveland. But I was never initiated into the practice of TM-- I was in Loveland and heard the presentations because I was teaching in the midwest at the time, and visited Loveland for her talks.
I can see you really love the sound of the human voice. I totally get your love of Beach Boys music! And they still have that sound! Do you like this more recent song by them, "That' s Why God Made the Radio"?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAmk-Wk2pNA

If you have a link to You Tube sacred chanting, feel free to send a link.
I like to sink into just the Flow of music, rock, pop, and sacred-- dancing around to it is fun to.
It's nice to hear that music gives you peace and joy, it sure does for me too.

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by wfobrien on Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:06 pm

Hi
I just wanted to say hi. Ive been away on vacation when the site started so am just catching up. I really enjoyed reading the posts here and hope to participate more in the days ahead. For now thanks for offering this chance at engaging in this great topic...

Bill

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:34 pm

Hi Bill,
so pleased to hear from you. I look forward to getting to know your point of view on these wonderful matters better!
Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by wfobrien on Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:38 am

Joe, R
Let me take a minute to describe how I wound up here. I have literally worked through almost everything. Born Catholic, wandered into meditation (TM, Zen, name it). Hindu, Buddhist, New Age. Tried every tool-Crystals, Alchemy, etc. Couple of years back realized I missed Catholicism/Christianity. Jumped back in like a old glove. Bringing with me all I had learned/experienced. Somehow found Bernadette and of course Patricia. Like R I resonated with BR. I remember a quote from Yogananda when he was at a Religious Conference dais. "Each person can only speak from experience". Kind of ended the conversation Smile . Thats why I like BR, St John, St Theresa....They speak of experience not theoreticals. So thats where I come from and so some of what I think/write will be heavily influence by BR. As I meld my molding of BRs writing into my intuition. If that makes sense.

I mused on consubstantiation this morning. What a great word that has been inserted into the Apostle's Creed. Obviously based on Chalcedon . The beautiful mystery of Trinity. Christ, God consubstantial. As a part of The Trinity Christ is all God. Ithink I always knew that Smile . The crazy part is Man being Christ. Elevating the nature of Man to Christ. Is that the awesome, crazy take away? How do we as man comprehend that? I believe at one point BR says: What God has in store for man is beyond any comprehension. Indeed......

I am very happy to be here. Thanks Joe

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:22 pm

Bill,
Nice to get your message! Welcome friend! I enjoyed your post much. I completely resonate with your following the lead of the "truth sensor" within. Also, your writing of the "the beautiful mystery of the Trinity"-- ever-beautiful Mystery, for sure.

It sure is "crazy", as in "crazy good" that human nature raised to God's Glory, Knowing, and Power! I sense to you it is a truly breath-taking idea! Me too.
May I ask. How has your reflecting on this and intuitively knowing its truth related to your conception of the biblical figure, Jesus? Not so much theoretically, but as in your experience?
Joe


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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by wfobrien on Wed Aug 09, 2017 4:34 am

Joe
Thanks so much for the response and question. Makes me pause and contemplate. As I stated my theories are based upon my digesting BRs tome Smile The Real Christ. The man Jesus and his relationship/evolution to the Christ. And of course mashed with a healthy dose of old Catechism. The challenge to answering your question is differentiating theory and real (experience). Where I am right now, theory lends to my experience. Intuitive faith in God/Christ/Spirit from a personal Father/Jesus/Spirit.
As I reread this I hope you can sense my struggle. In reality I have experienced very little Crying or Very sad which is why I use BR and Pat and many others to establish my intuitive/faith position. Does this even answer the question Smile?
But answring my intuitive understanding of the bibilical Jesus. It has become more interested after BRs book. His words become more interesting as I see them as a window into his relationship with God. Pointing towards our relationship. Im interested in his prayer Our Father...he doesnt say My Father...he is us. Man is man. Maybe that is the amazing part. Folks have fixated on him. Which may not have been his point....
I ramble...eager to hear your thoughts....Bill


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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:03 pm

Hi Bill,
I get what you are saying on Jesus. I have experienced a shift since reading Bernadette's The Real Christ over the years, in which the focus of my adoration of Christ is on the Eucharist --much more than before reading it. Also, my feeling toward Jesus is more a "brotherly" feeling, he is my older brother in the Mysteries, than a feeling he is God. As you say, his life clues us into our rapport with God. Have you had a similar change in your feeling toward Eucharist?

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Re: What is your understanding of this classic definition of Christ, from the Council of Chalcedon (451)?: Christ is "consubstantial with the Father in Godhead, and the same consubstantial with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin"?

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