A.A. Luce And The Problem Of Definitions

One of the implications that can be gathered from reading Luce’s work on Monophysitism is that definitions are a big problem when one is looking at the nature of Christ.  While I do not wish to explore this topic in length, I think it is worthwhile for us to consider what happens when we box ourselves in when it comes to definitions and logic.  A great deal of the problems that result in this sort of study is that all too often we wish to define according to our own preferences rather than from the material at hand.  We wish to see ourselves as arguing out of a given text, but in reality we often do not see the text because of how we view it.  This is a problem we see all too readily when we are examining the way that others read something, but others are quick to point out when we read something differently than they do because we already have interpretation in the reading of the text.

It is not always so much that texts are read differently but that even what one says may not compute with what someone else is writing.  It is worthwhile to examine A.A. Luce’s critique of Monophysitism in particular because it demonstrates the perverseness by which he defines terms.  We can note at the outset that his writing about Monophysitisim is done without any sort of sympathy for the view that Jesus Christ has one nature, which as he defines nature means that he does not view them as believing in the humanity of Jesus Christ, because he like they affirms that Jesus Christ did not have any of the fallen human nature that would have led him into sin.  Likewise, he views Jesus Christ as having two wills, of which one is evident at one time and another at another time, although here too there are limits that prevent that human will from going too far.  By and large, though, Luce is content to judge Monophysitism with ad hominem attacks than with an honest attempt to know why the matter became so controversial and remains so when we examine questions of the nature of Christ in the present day even.

The problem of definitions [1] in Luce’s writing remains particularly problematic because there is no consistency in how they are viewed.  At one moment, Monophysitism involves a sort of monism by which all nature is conceived as one, with no separation between the creation and the Creator, while at another moment the author focuses on philosophy and different conceptions of Plato and Aristotle in terms of defining the nature of God, where they have no proper place.  Let us therefore examine some of the definitions of what makes nature such a conflicted area to examine and further point out some ways that it matters what sort of assumptions we have about the nature of Christ.  It should be recognized at the outset that Luce’s definitions spring from his assumption that Jesus Christ is a part of a Trinity.  Without having that assumption and without viewing either the Nicene or Chalcedonian settlements of Hellenistic Christian as something worth following, Luce’s definitions are simply not very interesting me personally because I do not accept them as authoritative.

Seeing then that Luce’s definitions are designed to defend a Trinitarian worldview, and that this worldview is not shared by myself or many of my readers, it is worthwhile to examine the implications of having a position on the nature of Jesus Christ on other doctrines as well.  In future discussions, we will note specifically some of the ways that our belief about the nature of God has repercussions on other areas of belief.  We will note the way that our beliefs on Jesus Christ as a second Adam depend to a great extent on our beliefs about Jesus Christ’s nature as a human being.  We will also note how belief in Jesus Christ’s nature presents challenges that are then addressed by other doctrines.  Specifically, we will note that Catholic assumptions about Jesus’ nature have resulted in part in other nonbiblical doctrines that seek to firm up their view of Christ’s nature, while we will look at how Calvinists struggle with the implications of their belief systems.

We will note, though, that just as one’s beliefs about Jesus Christ’s nature often spring from other beliefs first, such as the nature of God and the interaction of God and mankind and even the destiny of believers who enter into eternal life, so it is that one’s beliefs about Jesus Christ have implications on other doctrines.  For example, how does one view Jesus Christ as escaping the taint of original sin?  Catholics have a definite view of that, and it is certainly unbiblical, but it seems as if Calvinism as a whole has not answered that sort of issue in a systematic way.  Let us therefore untangle the implications of our views of Jesus’ nature, and see that the answers we give to some questions only prompt more questions that have to be addressed and answered.

[1] See, for example:




About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A.A. Luce And The Problem Of Definitions

  1. Pingback: Book Review: On The Unity Of Christ | Edge Induced Cohesion

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