Kenosis and Exinanition: A Study in Christology
Many people over the years have encouraged me to write this paper. The idea came while doing research some years ago, when the centrality of the terms 'kenosis' and 'exinanition' to the subject of Christology dawned on me. Pressures of time, however, kept the paper at the mere incubation stage until this opportunity arose to carry the project to fruition.
I believe that the "New" in "New Church" is a comparative adjective. It places the New Church into juxtaposition with the "Old." Newness can only be appreciated when seen in the light of old, and this is very true of the Heavenly Doctrine. There are frequent references to orthodox Christian theology in the pages of the Doctrine, but their import is often lost because they are not recognized. At times whole systems of thought stand in opposition to each other. There is no area where this is greater than in the doctrines about the Lord. On the one hand, simplicity of understanding of Christian teaching and doctrine about the Lord is often sufficient for faith. Yet on the other hand, the full force of doctrine is only clear when one views the two side by side, in the fullest depth one is capable of. Then it becomes clear how close and how far the human understanding is in approaching truth. Systems of thought that have been analyzed and elaborated on for centuries stand stark naked in the light of the Doctrine. The object of the exercise is not to find errors and fault with the Old, but to more fully appreciate the revolutionary newness of the New. This paper is an attempt to do this.
Scholarship is always a community effort. I would like to recognize the important encouragement I received when beginning exploration of this subject from the Professors of the Church History Department at the University of South Africa. Their interest in the doctrine of the Lord, as understood by the New Church helped me in the comparisons and analysis of the Old Church doctrine, and added to my appreciation of the New. Gathering information without the marvelous resources and services available at the UNISA library would have made this study much more difficult.
On the home front, however, I also want to acknowledge, with thanks, the Academy of the New Church which gave both moral and physical support, as well as the opportunity of writing this paper. Special thanks to Dr. Erland Brock for his continued support. Many thanks also to Rev. Geoffrey Childs for proofreading and offering valuable editorial and doctrinal insights. Final thanks to my wife, Cara, and children, who took an interest in what Dad was doing all summer.
The New Church and orthodox Christianity have little in common, particularly on the subjects of the Lord and redemption. Centuries of councils and scholarly work have set down a framework of belief which binds modern scholarship in the Christian world. Stepping beyond these boundaries is heresy, and while people are no longer burned at the stake for it, they are marginalized and ostracized. The Heavenly Doctrine breaks free from these imposed restrictions, offering a whole new expression of Christianity. In the process of redefining the understanding of the Lord, the Heavenly Doctrine examines and rejects many of the interpretations of Christian theology. The result is the impression that no bridges can ever be built between the two Churches. Trying to find common ground is difficult and fraught with mutual exclusivity.
There are, however, parallels between them. Just as the Christian Church developed within the matrix of the paganism of the Roman Empire, so the New Church exists within a predominantly Christian world. Early Christian Apologists examined the religious beliefs of their time and confronted them with the teachings of the Gospel. In the process they stripped away the trappings of pagan philosophy by denying and debunking them. At the same time they readdressed the issues from Christian teachings. In this way the Christian message was articulated, highlighting the errors of paganism and the truths of Christianity. Some of the best and clearest expressions of Christian doctrine come from this era.
This paper seeks to do a similar thing for the thorny issue of the incarnation and exaltation of the Lord. There are more similarities between Christianity and the New Church than ever existed between Christianity and paganism. No Christian could ever accept the pantheon of gods, for there was one God. Nor could they accept the worship and sacrifices to those gods. The entire moral and ethical culture derived from this worship was at variance with Christianity.
This is not so between Christianity and the New Church. Both recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, although there are fundamental differences in understanding how this relationship works. Worship, moral and ethical lives, however, are very similar, drawing from the Ten Commandments, and the teachings of the Lord in the Gospels. The untrained eye of a casual observer may find little difference between the two, and assume the New Church to be merely a sect of the Christian.
It is precisely this similarity between the churches that makes the work of describing their differences difficult, for apart from the external similarities, the differences are at times almost as great as those between Christian and pagan. The Heavenly Doctrine makes it clear that there can be no sharing between the two, asserting in clear language that,
The faith of the New Church cannot by any means be together with the faith of the former Church, and if they are together, such a collision and conflict will take place that every thing of the Church with man will perish. (BE 102)
Since the primary source of this dissociation of churches is the nature of the Lord, the aim of this study is to follow the example of the early Apologists by testing and comparing some of the essential elements of Christology as given in the Pauline Epistles with the teachings of the Heavenly Doctrine. The primary focus is on Paul's Christological Hymn given in Philippians 2:5-11 with the intention of discovering whether enough common ground exists between Pauline and New Church Christology that one could use this well known passage as a vehicle for expressing New Church doctrine. On the surface, the two sets of ideas of Christology are very different. The question arises whether they are reconcilable or not.
The narrow focus within this field of study is to examine two terms, 'kenosis', used by Paul in Philippians 2:7, and 'exinanition' used in the Heavenly Doctrine. 'Kenosis' has been a point of reference and debate in the subject of Christology for centuries and has become an essential part of the description of how the pre-existent Christ became human. 'Exinanition' is hardly known outside the circle of New Church readers, and describes how the Lord put off elements of His assumed human in order to become Divine. Understanding these terms requires a broader examination of the context in which they are used. They need to stand alone before being compared, contrasted, and perhaps reconciled.
In studying Christian doctrine, one begins with the recognition that Paul's Epistles form the foundation. It must also be recognized that they have been encrusted with centuries of interpretation. Modern scholarship, growing out of the search for the historical Jesus, is greatly concerned with clearing the interpretations away in order to understand what Paul himself may have meant, rather than what theologians assume he meant. This leads to the question of whether it is possible to abstract from the argument the usual interpretations "read into" Paul's Christology, especially those since the Council of Nicaea, and review the passages in the light of the Heavenly Doctrine? To do this, it is necessary to study Paul's overall Christology as it emerges in the Epistles as if the subsequent history of theology had not taken place. This then can be compared with the Christology of the Heavenly Doctrine. Finally it will be possible to compare the two.
This exercise poses its own problems. Reading theology, like reading history or any other interpretive subject, presupposes some position on the part of the reader. Trying to come to grips with what Paul may have meant by his words can be as subjectively skewed by a New Church person as by an orthodox Christian. One solution is to undergo a personal 'kenosis' and 'exinanition', to empty oneself of as many preconceived ideas and opinions as possible, and allow the material to speak for itself.
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The keywords in this study are 'kenosis' and 'Exinanition'. They have roughly the same meaning. Both play a pivotal role in these two seemingly different Christologies. Paul uses the term 'kenosis' to describe the descent of the Logos to the world and the subsequent assumption of a human through which He could redeem the human race.
Thayer's Dictionary1 defines 'kenosis' as "to empty" or "to make empty." Although the term is used in various ways, its Christological implications come when it is applied to the incarnation of the Lord. Paul uses the word four times in non-Christological contexts. The English translations of each of these extend the concept within the plain definition.
On two occasions 'kenosis' is translated "made void" in the King James, New King James and Revised Standard editions of the Bible:
For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void2 [kekenwtavi] and the promise made of no effect. (Rom 4:14)
But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void [kenwvsh]. (1 Cor 9:15)3
The English translation indicates the emptiness, the void, implied by the term 'kenosis'. The void is formed from the juxtaposition of antithetical propositions. Paul held that one could not hold to the "law" and have "faith" simultaneously. Holding to the "law" empties out the quality of faith. The void is caused by cancellation of one by the other. The case is similar in boasting. The act of claiming to have faith is "emptied out" if in fact one has not done the things of which one boasts. Here the 'kenosis', or making empty is a result of valid claims if they are not substantiated in fact. Faith and boasting, emptied of their quality are left with the gaping hole of nothingness.
The use of 'kenosis' on two other occasions highlights this emptiness:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect [kenwvqh]. (1 Cor 1:17)4
Preaching itself, if it is not from the Gospel, would empty out the efficacy of the death and resurrection of the Lord, for if the preaching was not from the Gospel it would not lead to love and faith. In that case, the giving of the Gospel of the Lord's life, death, and resurrection would have been emptied out of its power to save the human soul. It would have been an empty gesture, of no effect.
A similar idea is found in the next use of the term:
Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain [kenwvqh] in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready. (2 Cor 9:3)5
The implication of this use of 'kenosis' is that once something has been emptied of its quality it has no further use. While it is true of human boasting, it raises some questions about the application of the word in the Christological sense. It would seem that this is the furthest definition from Paul's application to the incarnation.
The range of English words used to translate 'kenosis' fills in the concept of the Greek and provides something of an indication of the concept Paul had in his mind when he used it. Simply speaking it means "to empty out," and by implication means to make void, of no effect and vain. The alternative readings from the New International Version are further from the central definition, yet they add conceptual color to the term. To be "emptied out" implies to be of no value, empty, deprived and hollow.
It is not easy to determine whether these were the concepts Paul had in mind when he used the term 'kenosis' in the Christological context. He does so in describing the process of incarnation in the Epistle to the Philippians:
Have this mind among yourselves, which of you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself [ekenwvse], taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11)
The question, then, is what did Paul mean when he said that Christ Jesus "emptied himself"? Linguistically he made himself of no value, empty, deprived and hollow. The question has been asked and answered a thousand times, but never before in the context of the 'exinanition' spoken of by the Heavenly Doctrine.
It is extremely unlikely that Paul, unlike the disciples, had any first-hand experience of the Lord. The elements of his relationship with the Lord were laid down during his spiritual conversion on the road to Damascus. The theology that emerged from this epiphany surfaces in various places in his letters. It has been examined and collated into the framework of the Christian Church and given the gloss of orthodoxy. Before analyzing the Christological formula in Philippians 2, therefore, it is important to gain some idea of Paul's overall Christology.
Although Paul was one of the first writers of Christian doctrine, there is no evidence that he had any direct contact with the pre-resurrected Jesus of Nazareth. His earliest dealing with Christians was his persecution of them. Traditionally it has been believed that "he held Jesus in the highest regard and tried to base his own life and teaching on what he knew of Jesus" (Wenham 1995, 1). This view has not gone unchallenged in the pursuit for the historical Jesus. It is frequently asserted that rather than being a follower of Jesus, Paul was an innovator who rewrote the Lord's teachings, becoming the "founder of Christianity."6 This view commands enough sympathy in theological circles that some spend a great deal of energy refuting it.7
However it is interpreted, Paul's conversion was "one of the most important events in the entire course of Christianity" (Latourette 1975:70). En route to Damascus, with persecution in his heart, he saw a vision of the risen Lord. The book of Acts describes how he saw a light from heaven and heard the Lord asking, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). In an instant his mission in life was changed. At the same time he also changed his name to "Paul" as a constant reminder of his experience.
Paul was convinced that his experience of the risen Lord was as authentic as that of the Disciples who had walked with Him (Latourette 1975:69). The impact of this vision cannot be measured it is so greatit is one of the "most important events in the entire course of Christianity" (Latourette 1975:70). Saul, the persecutor of Christians became Paul, one of Christianity's "greatest instruments" (Latourette 1975:70). As De Lacy (1979) writes:
The central factor of that encounter on the Damascus road, therefore, is not to be seen in the glory and splendor which accompanied the vision, so much as in the fact that Paul was forced to recognize that God had vindicated this man [Jesus] who had not only died on a charge of blasphemy, [as if] forsaken by God and a curse to God. (De Lacy 1979:9)
In the process of explaining this experience, and drawing from it the grist for his theological mill, Paul grappled with how he, a Pharisaic Jew who worshipped Jehovah God, could come to worship a man who recently had walked the earth and been ingloriously executed. While the bulk of his Christology focuses on the resurrection of the Lord, he could hardly overlook the facts of the incarnation if he was to establish the relationship between the Son of God and the historic Jesus (De Lacy 1979:4).
Paul wasted no time after his vision. Struck blind by the Lord, he is escorted to Damascus. The Lord sent a disciple, Ananais, to restore his sight, "and immediately [he] preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). When his listeners challenged him, "he proved that He is the Christ" (Acts 9:22).
There is a great deal of speculation about the source of Paul's doctrine at this and later stages of his ministry. What did, or could Paul know experientially about the Lord except the commission revealed during his vision? Acts describes how he spent time in Damascus amongst Christians, and, when it became dangerous for him to remain there, he fled to Jerusalem. At first the Disciples were reluctant to associate with him, but he was finally accepted "so that he was with them in Jerusalem, coming in and going out" (Acts 9:28). The substance of his education in the life and teachings of the Lord, therefore, is remarkably slim. From his discussions with the disciples it is more likely that he was "provided with the raw materials for his thinking, rather than with developed ideas" (De Lacy 1979, 7). Yet the ideas he developed became the essential doctrines of Christianity.
The question of what Paul knew about Jesus to some degree influences the approach one takes to his Christology. There are two sides to the argument, one faith based, and the other academic.8 The faith based argument, upon which Christianity is built, is that while Paul may not have personally known the Lord, the fact of his experience qualified him to formulate, under inspiration, the teachings of Christianity.9 Christians believe the Epistles are the Word of God. The other, an extension of the quest for the historical Jesus, is that subsequent to his conversion, Paul drew from his own knowledge of the Old Testament, plus what he knew from contact with Christians, and elaborated it into a structure of doctrine. Common to both these approaches is the fact that Paul makes few references to the Lord's life and teaching.
It is commonly held today that early Christologies pre-dated Paul which would have provided the basic data for his teaching. From the earliest times Christians recognized the Lord as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. On the strength of this, they baptized in His name and worshipped Him. Paul received these teachings, but filtering them through his own conversion experience, "altered what had been transmitted to him [so] that it became quite different from the teachings of Jesus" (Latourette 1975:70). In the process he "transformed Jesus from the Galilean teacher and martyr into the cosmic Christ" (Latourette 1975:70).
In addition to existing Christologies with which he rounded out his intuitive knowledge, Paul also had access to the Old Testament. There is some speculation whether the canon available to him would have been wider than the modern Old Testament (De Lacy 1976:7). As a Pharisee he would have been versed in them to some degree.
In any event, Paul's knowledge of the traditions was probably both broader and narrower than our own; broader in that he had access to material now hidden from us, and narrower in that he may not have known all the material which has come down to us in the canonical Gospels. (Drane 1994:283)
One thing that cannot be known for sure in studying Paul's sources was the state of Gospel traditions at the time. It is commonly held that the Q document predates the actual Gospels, forming the source from which information about the Lord's life was known. J.A. Loubser of the University of Zululand asserts that "until the year 5051 AD the Gospel was conveyed exclusively in the oral medium" (Loubser 1993: 26). Paul could not turn to the Gospels for inspiration as they had not yet been written, only to the oral tradition as and when he heard it. While oral tradition may be remarkably accurate, it is still subject to the vicissitudes of the human ear, and is more susceptible to change than the written word.
It is perhaps because of this that the Epistles hold so little information about the Lord. On the strength of this paucity it is asserted, by those who see a disconnection between the teaching of Jesus and Paul, that "Paul's Christology was certainly not formed in direct continuation of what Jesus himself preached" (Schweizer 1982:115).
This point, however, may not be entirely fair to Paul. Apart from his own visionary and a priori encounter with the Lord, he was in contact with certain early Christians. It is very difficult to clearly define the Jewish Christian community. Longenecker (1981) adopts two criteria for defining their status:
1. their frame of reference was rooted in Semitic thought generally and in Judaism in particular.
2. their focus was on Jerusalem, or looked to Jerusalem as the mother church and sought to continue its ministry (Longenecker 1981:3).
These criteria strained the relationship. Paul's conflict with the Jerusalem Christians is expressed in his conviction of the Cosmic Christ, redeemer of all people, in contrast to their more parochial Nazarene whose mission was to restore Judaism. This conflict is one of the primary ways he is considered to disconnect from the Gospel depictions of the Lord. The Jewish Christians did not interpret the Lord as commanding a complete break with Judaism. They continued to live in Jerusalem and practice ritual washings, circumcision and other Jewish customs. For them the Lord's power derived from his resurrection (Grillmeier 1975:10).
Of course, Paul himself was a Jew. Although he rejected the adherence to Jewish law, he still had certain Jewish "habits of thought in which he had been reared [which] assisted him to formulate and develop" his Christology (Thrall 1970:304). Primary amongst these was his steadfast adherence to monotheism (Reid 1990:31)although post-Nicene scholars found evidence of the Trinity in his Epistles when He speaks of "the Father" and of the Lord as "Son of God," and of the Holy Spirit. However, there are broad over-laps between Paul's Christology and that of the Jewish Christians. For both, monotheism was axiomatic (Longenecker 1981:25).
In harmony with the Jewish Christians, he understood the progression of the Lord's life to lead from pre-existence, through a process of humiliation on earth to exaltation in heaven. While the Jewish Christians saw the crucifixion as the Lord's humiliation, however, Paul considered the entire act of birth and life in this world as humiliation, for he held the flesh to be weak and a slave to sin (Rom 6:19, Rom 7:18 et al). Exaltation follows when the Lord is lifted up from the flesh and restored as the Son of God (Grillmeier 1975:19).
Paul's contact with Jewish Christians in the period immediately following his conversion experience provided him with the raw material of Christianity. Paying faint attention to the details of the Lord's life and teachings, he fashioned a concept of Christ that dominates Christian theology to the present day. In broad overview he translated the Galilean Prophet into the Cosmic Christ, whose power rests in His death and resurrection. None of this would be possible, however, without the foundational concept of 'kenosis', of how the Lord came into the world, in a state of humiliation, in order to save humanity through His resurrection.
Paul's Christology centers on several points. Study of his use of the term 'kenosis' rests on the overall structure of his theology for it is only by taking note of the conclusions he drew from the "raw material" of the oral Gospel that one can understand the process of incarnation, resurrection and salvation.
Jesus is God
Paul's experience on the Damascus Road convinced him that Jesus was God. As soon as his sight returned, he preached in the synagogues of Damascus "that He is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). Less than thirty years after the crucifixion and resurrection, Paul wrote the first surviving Christian work in which Jesus is termed "Theos" (Casey 1982:124): "Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God" (Romans 9:5). His difficulty in expressing this did not lie in the concept of the Lord's Divinity, but rather in explaining how and why He came into the world. Paul had no doubt that the appearance of Jesus on the way to Damascus was an appearance of God. But how did God become a man, and from a man become God again? He was aware of the problem of labeling a man "God," especially in the Jewish environment where such an assertion was deathly blasphemy (De Lacy 1976:4). This was a problem shared by the Apostles. Thomas in the locked room says, "my Lord and my God," but the Apostles could never convince the broad spectrum of Judaism that this was so. Under Paul's leadership Christianity broke the narrow bounds of Judaism and spread the Christian message into the Gentile world, giving him freedom to explore more fully how Jesus of Nazareth was also the "Son of God." He sums up this freedom in the description of Jesus as "Theos" (Casey 1982:130).
The Pre-Existent Christ
If Jesus was God, then in order for Paul's Christology to make sense, He had to pre-exist the incarnation, descend into the world and be raised up again in exaltation. Grillmeier (1975) warns that the central idea of pre-existence "is more pre-supposed than explicitly taught," frequently expressed in the word's Paul chose to describe the incarnation. The Lord is "sent" into the world, implying clearly a pre-existence (Grillmeier 1975:15).
The idea is intrinsic to the whole of Paul's Christology, and especially to the concept of 'kenosis', for it is by means of 'kenosis', as described in Philippians 2:7, that the Lord crossed the boundary from pre-existence to existence in the flesh. 'Kenosis', as such, has no meaning apart from the idea of pre-existence.
The idea of pre-existence, of course, did not begin with Paul (although it is important to remember that John's Prologue had not yet been written, but if it was indeed a Christological hymn as scholars assert, then it could have existed in oral tradition). The basic idea, however, was available to him. Those who fall into a more academic approach to Paul's inspiration assert that "he simply deepened the ideas and adapted them for preaching in Hellenistic communities, at the same time composing them into a universal vision of the history of salvation" (Grillmeier 1975:15).
The doctrine of pre-existence can be found in Judaism amongst the rabbis "only as an idea in the thought of God" (Grillmeier 1975:15). It can also be found in their speculations about wisdom which was held to exist before the world was created, and indeed was instrumental in its creation.10 One example of pre-existent wisdom is found in Proverbs:
The Lord possessed me [Wisdom] at the beginning of His way, before His works of Old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. (Proverbs 8:22,23)
If the Lord was the pre-existent wisdom spoken of in Proverbs, then He was also the wisdom imparted by God. For example, in the book of Exodus the various artisans who created the objects and garments to serve in the temple were "filled with wisdom" (see Exodus 28, 31, 35, 36) and consequently their skill came not from them, but was the activity of God within them. Thus the pre-existent wisdom of God found expression on earth. It follows, then, that if God can impart wisdom, He can also "make foolish the wisdom of this world" (1 Cor. 1:20). He has this power because He is "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24), the same wisdom that has been present in the world since creation. It is this wisdom that came down and was incarnated in the Lord.
In Paul's Christology this pre-existent wisdom is the beginning, as it is in the prologue of the Gospel of John. Jesus Christ became "for us wisdom from God" (1 Cor. 1:30). If those responsible for His crucifixion knew of this pre-existence, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8). Without realizing it, however, they put to death the creative wisdom of God, the very image of the invisible God on earth.
The Image of God
Before the incarnation the pre-existent wisdom of God was invisible, except to the degree that it was imparted to people and shown through their skill. At the incarnation, however, it became visible in human form. The two concepts of the Lord as wisdom and the Lord as the image of God are closely related. If the incarnate Lord was the pre-existent wisdom of God, then He was also the image of God. As Paul wrote,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible . . . All things were created through Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Col. 1:15-17)
Paul uses the Greek word eikon to describe this relationship between Christ and God. The Greek carries a fuller concept of meaning than the standard "image" of English. The word eikon means "an exact reproduction of the likeness of someone" (Reid 1990:34). In using this word Paul strongly suggests that in Jesus Christ the invisible Father is presented to view. This is very reminiscent of the Lord's words to Philip: "he who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). As the image of God, the Lord expresses the fullness of Divinity and makes it possible for the infinite and invisible Divine to be present in a way that mere humans can grasp. The Lord can do this, because even though He is in human form (by means of 'kenosis'), still He is equal with God (De Lacy 1976:25). The mere fact that He is the image and equal of God means that this presentation of the Divine does not lose any aspect of Divinity or restrict it in any way. On the basis of this, Paul can profoundly assert that "in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9). As an image of God, Jesus Christ is unique, even though He came down to earth and suffered at human hands (De Lacy 1976:22).
The Second Adam
As the Pre-existent image of God, the Lord is not only the creator of the world, but also its savior. For Paul, the point of the advent is the salvation of the human race, or soteriological. There is a direct connection between the Lord as eikon in the Epistles and the creation story in Genesis. God created the world, and in doing so formed human beings into His image and likeness. Initially humans were created representations of the Divinelimited in their creation in a way that the Lord was not, but perfect images nonetheless. Genesis describes the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden, bringing death and destruction with it. In the process, people were alienated from the Divine. They were no longer images of God, no longer capable of goodness. By sending the Lord into the world God set this to rights, and made possible the restoration of the human race. Dunn (1980) observes that
Adam plays a larger role in Paul's theology than is usually realizedand even when that role is taken into account it is often misunderstood. Adam is a key figure in Paul's attempt to express his understanding of both Christ and man. Since soteriology and Christology are closely connected in Paul's theology it is necessary to trace the extent of the Adam motif in Paul. . . (Dunn 1980:101)
Paul develops the connection between Adam and the Lord in several places in the Epistles. He writes that "through one man sin entered the world" (Romans 5:12). This sin brought death to all people, cutting them off from the "eternal life that God had intended him to enjoy" (Dunn 1980:102). The irony of this situation was not lost on Paul. God's gift, spurned by humanity, could only be restored by the soteriological actions of the Lord. Thus the Lord, as the pre-existent eikon of God, had to be sent into the world to restore humanity, becoming a second Adam, an ideal Adam who did not and would not fall. In this capacity, the Lord would change people from their adamitic state into truly spiritual people as He was Himself changed in the resurrection when He was exalted from a state of humiliation (Grillmeyer 1975:17).
For Paul, the point-counterpoint between death and resurrection contains the essence of what he understood the Lord's mission was in this world. The death of sin is lifted by the resurrection of the Lord. Destruction is reversed by a new creation, and the light of wisdom shines in the darkness of human evil.
It is argued by scholars that Paul's connection of the Lord and Adam is not completely new. Longemeyer (1981) speculates that the doctrine "was probably introduced in its explicit form by the Apostle himself" (Longemeyer 1981:91). On the other hand, Fuller (1974) claims that the idea crystallized in response to Gnostic ideas held by the people of Corinth (Fuller 1974:12). It is also possible that the idea was a hold-over from Jewish influences (Grillmeyer 1975:17). There are examples in Jewish messianic prophecy in which it is suggested that the Messiah, as a new Adam, would "reopen paradise" (Muddiman 1984:102).
The concept of the Second Adam provides the foundational explanation of why the Lord came into the world. It completes the line of reasoning beginning with the recognition that Jesus Christ is Theos, the pre-existent image of God who created, and after the fall re-created by coming into the world. It carries the discussion of Paul's Christology to the subject of 'kenosis', of how the Lord emptied Himself out in order to become man.
The task of the Lord, therefore, was to enter the world and save the human race by restoring to it the possibility of becoming an image or eikon of God. As the Second Adam He could take away penalty of death and reopen the gates of paradise. Almost immediately the question arises of how the pre-existent wisdom could cross into human flesh in order to do this work. The incarnation requires an explanation of how the Lord became truly human. Paul used the term 'kenosis' to explain this.
It has been noted that "Christ's role as second man, as last Adam, does not begin either in some pre-existent state, or at incarnation, but at his resurrection" (Dunn 1980:108). However, incarnation is necessary to salvation because without it there could have been no humiliation and therefore no resurrection. Paul was more interested in conveying the fact of the resurrection than explaining the incarnation, however, with the Christological hymn in Philippians 2:511 being the most important expression of how Paul perceived this event.11
The Christological hymn in Philippians 2:5-11 is central to the "explanation" of how Paul understood the Lord to have come into the world. In analyzing this passage, it is important to keep Paul's overall Christology in mind. Rather than standing alone, it describes how God descended in order to save the human race. Interestingly, the context is not part of any Christological discussion, but rather an example of the "supreme example of humility and self giving" (Reid 1990:56). For the sake of easy reference this portion of Philippians will be referred to as "the Hymn."12
The Structure of the Hymn
The following version of the Hymn is from the New King James Version of the Bible:
- Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
- who, being in the form [morfh] of God, did not consider it robbery [avrpagmon] to be equal [isa] with God [qewv],
- but made Himself of no reputation [ekenwvse], taking the form [morfhvn] of a bondservant [doulou], and coming in the likeness of men.
- And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled [evtapeinwvsen] Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
- Therefore God also has highly exalted [u?peruywvse] Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
- that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
- and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
For all its simplicity of outline, this Hymn reveals a three phase process of the Pre-existent Christ, the incarnation and final exaltation of the Lord. Each strophe or section deals with a distinct step along the path towards salvation.
The first strophe focuses on the pre-existence of the Lord "in the form of God."13 The second gives the incarnational information, that He "makes Himself of no reputation,"14 or more accurately "empties" Himself in order to take on the form of slavery that has become the lot of humanity since the fall of Adam. The work of salvation within this form, His "obedience to the point of death" sums up the Lord's soteriological work in this world. The result in the final strophe is the exaltation and restoration of the Lord to His former position. The final words refer less to the Christological message itself, but to the context of humility into which the Hymn is placed.
The rhythm of the Hymn is found in the contrasting of states between Pre-existence and the incarnation. Verses 6 and 7 particularly provide a balance of contrasts:
|· Form of God|
· Not robbery to be so
Form of a bondservant|
· Made Himself of no reputation to be so
The primary contrast, however, is that of action. He was in the form of God, but "made Himself of no reputation." Thus He moved from a state of being, which could be considered a state of relative inactivity in the lives of humanity, to making Himself of no reputation in order to change the circumstances of humanity. That change, that emptying out, is the process of 'kenosis'.
Analysis of the Hymn
Deeper analysis of the Hymn involves the two-fold process of examining the words Paul chose to express this teaching, and also its relationship to the Christological components of his other writings. A line by line exposition of meaning will help to make connections to his broader thought clearer.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form [morfh] of God. . .
The opening strophe of the Hymn describes the pre-existent state of Christ Jesus before incarnation. It lays before the reader the direct, causal relationship between Christ and God, without which the act of 'kenosis' is meaningless. The keyword in this passage is "form." The Pre-existent Christ was "in the form of God." The Greek word morfh is defined as: "the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision, [or the] external appearance" (Thayers #3444). According to Paul, therefore, Jesus was the visible, external appearance of God. This accords with the Lord's own words to Philip when He says, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). It is not certain whether Paul knew these words or not, but his statement that Jesus was in the form of God certainly gives a similar impression.
The importance of the Lord as the form of God is strengthened in the continuation of verse 6, that He "did not consider it robbery [avrpagmon] to be equal [isa] with God [qewv]." The three words here indicate that this visible appearance was not something separate from God, but was wholly and completely one with Him.
Thayers gives two definitions of avrpagmon, or the word translated as "robbery":
- the act of seizing, robbery
- a thing seized or to be seized
- a) booty to deem anything a prize
- b) a thing to be seized upon or to be held fast, retained
Thus Jesus Christ, as the visible appearance of God, did not have to seize as a prize, or long for the Divinity of God, for it was already intrinsic to His nature. He was "equal with God," or the same as God. This then speaks to the pre-existence of the Lord. It is, as has been pointed out, an indirect reference to be inferred rather than explicitly obvious. Yet the point is clear enough. What are not so clear in this passage, however, are the later interpretations that grew up in the wake of the Council of Nicaea. According to that creed, the Lord was the second person of a Trinity who existed from eternity and, in process of time, relinquished His Divinity to become a man. Emptied of this traditional interpretation, however, when viewed in its own right, this passage is much closer to the simple concept that before the incarnation God existed, and the visible form, existing with Him and equal to Him, took on a human form in this world. There is no mention or indication of a "Son from eternity."
Another angle of the term "robbery" that is also important to the incarnation is that the image of God in the Lord was His by right. Christ did not gain equality with God through any underhanded way, to be seized upon and held as a kind of prize. His equality with God came as part of His intrinsic nature, inalienably His, even though He was to lay it aside to save humanity. God was the very substance of which He was the manifestation. This infers, therefore, that the Lord had every right to lay aside the association of Divinity if He so chose, a concept contained in the Lord's words to Pilate: "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father" (John 10:18). By analogy, then, if the Lord had the power to lay down and take up the life revealed in this world, then He had the same power to lay down His pre-existent Divinity through the process of 'kenosis', and take it up again during exaltation.
Divinity was not something to be seized upon and held for its own sake, but something that could be laid asideat least in the case of the incarnationshould some high use require Him to do so.
The need comes in the next verses. This second section of the Hymn deals with the incarnation itself, and so carries the full force of Paul's Christology. Following from Strophe One, it says that Jesus Christ "made Himself of no reputation," by laying aside His Divinity in order to live and suffer as an ordinary person. This is the phrase containing the word 'kenosis' upon which Paul's Christology rests. The English phraseology in the King James, New King James and Revised Standard versions of the Bible do little justice to the Greek, obscuring the original Greek and therefore Paul's simple statement. Only the New International Version approaches the meaning of the word 'kenosis' in its description of the advent. He "made himself nothing."
'Kenosis' means to "empty out." Various English translations refer to this process as to make something to be in vain, of no value, empty, deprived and hollow. This was the process Paul is describing when he speaks of the form or image of God being deprived of its Divinity with all the worth and power that goes with it. The implication is that in taking on the human form the Lord set aside His Divinity. Just as being "made void" described in Romans 4:14 and 1 Cor. 9:15 result from the juxtaposition of two antithetical states (being in "law" and "faith" simultaneously, and boasting but not doing), so the transition from being in the form of God to being in the form of man emptied the former out of this visible appearance of God, leaving only the human behind.
When Christian scholars wrestle with 'kenosis', they interpret is as a complete emptying out of the Divine from the Lord. The term has been invested with Trinitarian overtones, that the Pre-existent Christ as the second person of the Trinity, laid His Divinity aside to become human. In terms of the Chalcedonian formula, there was never any mixing of the Divine and human natures in the Lord, so that while He was in the human in this world, the Divine was essentially non-present in the human. Seen from this point of view, there can be little agreement between the Hymn and the Heavenly Doctrine. Grillmeier (1975), however, points out that 'kenosis' is not the negation of the Divine, but rather an overlaying of the Divine qualities of Christ with the slave qualities of humanity. He writes,
[b]ecause this "kenosis" is a "taking" or better an "adding," the first kind of being is not done away with. He who is on an equality with God adds something to his divinity, the form of a servant. The being which he assumes serves more to conceal than to reveal him. (Grillmeier 1975:21)
The act of 'kenosis', therefore, may well be more a clothing of the Divine in order for it to be present in the form of a slave, for soteriological purposes.15 The image, then, is of a soul covered with a body, or, in terms of Paul's general Christology, an extension of the image of God to the very physical world itself. When the Hymn is seen from this vantage, the act of 'kenosis' does not sunder the relationship between the Lord and the Divine, but makes it possible for the Divine, through the presence of the Lord in the world, to affect salvation.
Paul describes the assumed humanity eloquently. By "emptying" Himself, the Lord now takes on "the form [morfh] of a bondservant [doulou] and coming in the likeness of men." The form of man was that of the fallen Adam, sinful and evil. In this respect the Lord could not be "equal with God," but became equal with man. Thus the clothing put on in the process of 'kenosis' was that of the fallen, sinful man.16 As in the case of 'kenosis' and "form" [morfh] the Greek word "bondservant" [doulou] is also difficult to render into English. It carries a variety of meanings, and again the common "servant" is the least accurate. Thayers gives two definitions for doulou:
- a slave, a bondman, a man of servile condition
- a) a slave
- b) metaphorically, one who gives himself up to another's will[;] those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men
- c) devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests
- a servant, an attendant (Thayers # 1401)
Paul, familiar with the institution of slavery from his own observation, expressed the human condition in terms of slavery. He makes several references to slavery in the Epistles, most of which refer to the freedom of slaves in the eyes of the Lord.17 However, through Adam's fall the human race had become a slave to sin, caught fast in the web of death and unable to extricate itself through its own power. In Romans Chapter Six Paul draws a parallel between human and Divine experiences. Human states of slavery to sin can only be overcome if people die in regard to their sins and are exalted as the Lord was, for "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). Just as one man had brought sin and death into the world, so only one man could remove it. The Lord therefore became a slave by laying aside the Divinity of which He was the visible form, and donning the form of a slave, identical to that of each person, in order to set people free.
Perhaps Paul had more in his mind the image of one who gave him or herself up to slavery voluntarily for the sake of debt when he considered the definition of doulou as bondsman. This was not an uncommon practice in the ancient world. The difficulty in this interpretation, however, lies in the point that according to Paul, humanity had no such choice once Adam had sinned, for that sin was written into the very structure of humanity. Only the Lord was freely able to choose this condition. From His love for people He did not prize Divinity so much that He was willing to hang onto it while humanity suffered, and so, voluntarily laying it aside, by emptying Himself out, He became a slave on earth.18
In this slave-form, the Lord, who had committed no sin, would have been faced with the same choices as Adam. Confronted with the choice, however, the Lord rejected the path Adam followed, "but nevertheless freely followed Adam's course, as fallen man, to the bitter end of death" (Dunn 1980:119). The rationale behind this is soteriological. The Hymn continues in the second strophe that "being found in appearance as a man, He humbled [evtapeinwvsen] Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." For Paul this is the point of the exercise, and ties in most closely with his theme of Christ as the Second Adam.
When Adam sinned he brought death into the world. The sin was his but the resulting death was inflicted on all his descendants. Christ, voluntarily vulnerable, did not chose to sin, but was sinned against. He was obedient to this condition in that while not committing sin, He accepted its consequences. In spite of the Divine power which was rightly His, He allowed the sins of humanity to be perpetrated against Him, "even the death of the cross." In Paul's theology it is the very acts of obedience, particularly death on the cross that freed humanity from death's grip, for as the Lord had the freedom to lay down His Divine life by 'kenosis', so He had the freedom to take it up again, and in doing so saved humanity.
In the kenotic descent, the Lord laid aside His Divinity. As an image of God, He had no need to be humble, yet that was the one Divine quality He brought into this world and which set Him apart from the rest of humanity. Adam believed he could be like God, and so introduced arrogance and pride into the world.19 That pride originated from the sense that people are in control of their lives and destiny. It is the source of all human evil. Yet in laying aside His Divinity to become human, Paul asserts that the Lord kept His humility, surrendering to the point of death that others may have life.
It is frequently asserted that Paul makes no reference to the life of Jesus Christ. This second strophe, however, contains in a few words the whole doctrine of the Lord entering and suffering in this world. The soteriological value of His life, however, only makes sense in the image of the risen Lord, restored to the glory of His Divinity.
It is at this point that Paul introduces the third and final phase of the Hymn. The Lord, obedient even to death, is raised up by God, and "the name which is above every name." In this strophe, the emptied out, humbled Lord is restored to His pre-existent state, only this time the people of earth, no longer ignorant nor left at the mercy of Adam's sin, are able to bow down to Him, and "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
In these few words Paul sums up the Christological and soteriological message of Christianity. From the context of Philippians 2 it is clear that his intention was not to outline his understanding of this subject for its own sake. The point was to challenge the people of Philippi to practice this humility in their own lives, that they too, in laying down their lives of sin, may be exalted. From a theological point of view, however, it is a gem of a description, the only one in the Epistles describing how the Lord "bowed the heavens . . . and came down with darkness under His feet" (Ps 18:9).
The exposition of this passage highlights some of the connections Paul makes between various ideas in other parts of his Epistles. The points made earlier on Paul's Christological assumptions are each present in the Hymn. By being in the image of God, indeed equal to God, Paul asserts his essential belief that Jesus is God. It also draws attention to His pre-existence, for without pre-existence, 'kenosis' is not possible. Yet when He takes the form of man, Jesus is equal to people, not in the fallen state of Adam, but as the New Adam, restoring to humanity the spiritual states lost at the fall.
How this Process has been Interpreted
One of the key elements of Paul's description of the kenotic process is its simplicity. It does not address, directly, the issues surrounding the Trinity. It is difficult to gain a clear picture of early Christian ideas of the Trinity as interpretation has so long been influenced by the subsequent questions and debates on the subject. By setting a Creed at Nicaea, Constantinople and Chalcedon, the Christian Church locked herself into a pattern of thought binding on all future generations. For over a thousand years strict adherence to the creeds was maintained, at least in the Western Church, by use of ostracism, exile, torture and death. The result has been a deeply ingrained predisposition to examine the teachings of the Bible in set ways.
On the basis of this, Paul's Christological Hymn, while describing the Pre-existent Christ, the descent and exaltation is interpreted to be evidence of a Tri-Personal Trinity at work. The Pre-existence is taken to be a "Son from Eternity," begotten by God, and the means by which He created. The "Son" is the Word, or Logos of God, a Second Person in the Trinity. In course of time, the "Father" sent "the Son" into the world. To make that descent possible, the Son curtailed or laid aside His Divinity by emptying it out, and so became human. In such a situation the Father was in heaven, the Son on earth. The suffering and death served to move the Father to compassion towards the human race, and so He lifted up the dead Son, exalting Him to His rightful place in heaven.
Few scholars in the modern Christian world dispute this process. Instead they concentrate on the meaning of the words. What did Paul mean by pre-existence, or 'kenosis', or exaltation? How had he used the words before and in what context? While that study indeed helps to reveal the process, it does not change the mechanics of what happened one bit. Theology has not moved to an improved idea of God, only to a deeper understanding of linguistics.
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The second key word in this study is 'exinanition' a term used in the Heavenly Doctrine to describe the process of "emptying out." Conceptually 'kenosis' and 'exinanition' mean the same thing, although they are speaking of different parts of the process by which the Lord came into the world and saved the human race. Paul's 'kenosis' is the process by which He put aside the Divine attributes within Himself in order to suffer humiliation and death. The Heavenly Doctrine uses the term 'exinanition' forty three times to describe the process of the Lord's life while He was in this world. In the Heavenly Doctrine 'exinanition' always stands in juxtaposition to "glorification," or the process by which the human was exalted to Divinity. At first glance the two terms, applied differently, may seem to have different implications with the final conclusion that the Christologies of Paul are incompatible. Deeper analysis shows the incompatibility lies more in the interpretation of the Hymn, rather than in the concept itself.
As in Paul's Epistles, the Christology of the Heavenly Doctrine describes how the pre-existent God took on a human form, suffered, died and was exalted. The fundamental difference is that while Paul describes this process in six verses, the Heavenly Doctrine elaborates it in detail across the pages of his thirty volumes of theological writings. Paul's brevity allowed for and suited the later developments of Christology, for its very brevity made it possible for later interpreters to read into the Hymn almost any meaning they wanted, especially the concept of the pre-existent "Son from Eternity" who came to earth. The challenge for the New Church is to ask what would happen if interpretations were set aside, if the Hymn itself was emptied, so to speak, of the interpretation of later generations, and analyzed in the light of the concept of 'exinanition' as taught in the Heavenly Doctrine?
Comparisons of Two Christologies
Before analyzing the Hymn in this way, it is useful to compare briefly the essential Pauline and New Church Christology, for just as Paul's Christology lies behind the Hymn, so that of the Heavenly Doctrine will lie behind any interpretation of the Hymn drawn from it. Paul's Christology rests on a series of basic premises: that Jesus is God, He pre-existed the incarnation. In this pre-existence He was the image of God, and by birth became the second Adam. It was in the role of Second Adam that the soteriological reasons for the incarnation were fulfilled. As these themes form the back-drop to the Hymn so it is important to begin the treatment of the Heavenly Doctrine with the same principles.
There is only One God
Paul is an uncompromising monotheist. When arguing the case for carrying Christianity to the Gentiles, he bases his premise on monotheism, saying, "there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith" (Rom 3:30). To the people of Corinth he writes: "for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live" (1 Cor 8:6). Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and people. It was this insistence in the Epistles that prevented the early Christian Church from lapsing into the Tri-theism of later centuries when the Persons of the Trinity were increasingly separated from each other. Except for the Hymn describing the process of 'kenosis', Paul does not elaborate on how this One God became man and dwelt among us.
The Heavenly Doctrine, too, is adamantly monotheist, stating that,
The recognition and acknowledgement that God is One is the highest and innermost, consequently the universal of all doctrinal things of the church. (Canons 4)
The Doctrine goes further in the assertion of monotheism. There is, it states, a conviction flowing from God into the souls of people that there is a God, and that "He is one" (TCR 8). The effort to divide God into a Trinity of Persons, or pantheon of idols, is a step away from the presence of God Himself in people's minds.
Where the Doctrine differs from Paul, however, is in the richness of the description of what God is in His pre-existent state, how He came into the world and how He was exalted. Paul speaks of God and the Lord without ever actually defining their relationship except to indicate that through His pre-existent state the Lord was Divine. This failure to clearly state the relationship initiated many of the disputes of the first thousand years of Christianity. It has also led to the failure of Christian thought to move beyond the creedal statements to a greater understanding of God, and indeed of people.
The treatment of the oneness of God is very different in the Heavenly Doctrine. The way in which God is one is dealt with at length in the Arcana Coelestia, the True Christian Religion and the Doctrine of the Lord. Shorter descriptions are common in many other volumes.
Jesus is God
For Paul the assertion that Jesus is God came from his Damascene experience. He is the first known author to label Jesus as "Theos"God. As a Pharisaic Jew it would have been inconceivable for him to acknowledge that the human Nazarene could have been anything but God, for that would have opened the doors to worshipping a person in much the same way as the Romans regarded their emperors as Divine. His experience of Christ on the Damascus Road proved to him that indeed Christ was the visible God, contrary to his earlier thought. The Person he had thought of as a mere man was indeed the Cosmic Christ. This assertion, believed by the early Christians and set forth in the Gospels when they were written was the foundation of Christianity, setting it apart from the Ebionites20 of the time and later Arians. The Lord's Divinity was the battle cry of Nicaea, and the problem in Christological thought for centuries to come.
Again, the Heavenly Doctrine is completely at one with Paul in this matter. Monotheism is apparent on every page culminating in the assertion that "the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages and ages" (TCR 791). The Doctrine goes further to note that the earliest Christians worshipped God as one in Jesus Christ but in time were lead astray by Arius (TCR 638). This means that the overlying doctrines of the Christian Church can be stripped away and the common cause revealed.
The Pre-existent Christ
The same is true with the subject of the Lord's pre-existence, although this is a much more complex subject. Christian doctrine from the post-Nicene era holds that Christ's pre-existence is as a "Son from Eternity" born before time directly from God. As the "Son of God," Christ shares the same substance with the Father but is presented as a different "Person" or manifestation of that substance. The distinction into Persons, it is believed, does not change or reduce the unity of God (see TCR 171). Paul's concept of the pre-existence of the Lord as stated in the Hymn, seems to fall into this general pattern, for by being equal to the Divine, the Lord is one with Him.
The Heavenly Doctrine accepts no such "Son from Eternity," calling it an error "incredible in the sight of reason" (TCR 82). The Christian teachings about a tri-personal Trinity are gathered into a series of teachings labeled "nonsense and rubbish" and "crazy notions" (TCR 90. See also TCR 171). As an answer to the nature of God it raises more questions than it answers.21 The Doctrine points out that it was an unthinkable doctrine right into the Apostolic age, deriving its origin from the Council of Nicaea and subsequent councils, and that it is only clearly observable in the Athanasian Creed (TCR 171).22 In the wake of Nicaea the question of how the flesh could be "Son of God" became pressingly urgent. The conclusion was drawn and codified at Chalcedon that the Divine Nature of the Lord pre-existed the incarnation and was Divine, but the flesh taken on from Mary was consubstantial with our own. Two natures, therefore, existed in the Lord, the pre-existent "Son of God" sharing properties with the assumed "Son of Man."23 The Heavenly Doctrine blames the continued existence of this teaching on the Christian Church preventing people from questioning it (Lord 19. See also BE 54).24 The result of this teaching was the introduction of "absurd, ridiculous and frivolous ideas" (TCR 183).
This does not mean that the Heavenly Doctrine dismisses the pre-existence of the Lord, only the traditional interpretation of it. The Lord is from eternity (Lord 19), not as a separate person, but as Jehovah who assumed the human in order to enter the world and save the human race (Lord 29). The pre-existent "Son" is not a "Son" in the usual interpretation of the term as a hypostasis, but is the presence and activity of the Father's love towards the human race (Ath Cr. 129). This pre-existence will be covered in more detail during the exploration of Strophe One of the Hymn.
As in the case of recognizing Jesus as God, the Heavenly Doctrine notes that the "the Apostolic church knew nothing about a Trinity of persons or three persons from eternity, as is perfectly plain from the Creed of that church which is known as the Apostles' Creed" (TCR 175).25 On the basis of passages like this, it is possible to set aside later interpretations of the Hymn and examine it in the light of the Doctrine.
The Image of God
The force of Paul's Christology lies in the eikon, or image of God presented in Jesus Christ. He is presented as the visible manifestation of God, with no distinction between them except that one is invisible the other visible. His monotheism rests on this point. Again there is resonance in the Christology of the Heavenly Doctrine. The Lord, both before, during and after the incarnation is the image of God. The Doctrine, however, carries this discussion onto a philosophical plane, explaining how the Lord is such an image.
It is couched in the idea in terms of "love" and "wisdom." Love is the very being of God which is expressed by means of wisdom, "love together with wisdom in its very essence is in God" (DLW 29). In the relationship between love and wisdom, wisdom is the "image" of love "since love shows itself in order to be seen and recognized in wisdom" (DLW 358). One can speak of them as two distinct things, yet they are really one (DLW 14, DLW 34). The distinction arises from love being invisible, and wisdom visible, and the unity from wisdom's origin as the face of love, the relationship being one of substance and form (DLW 40).
By describing the Lord as "wisdom," the Doctrine is describing the form, or presentation to view, of the essential love of God. As in Paul's description of the eikon, the Doctrine is not defining the Lord as a second, or separate person, but as completely one with the Divine. This point becomes important in discussing the first strophe of the Hymn.
The Second Adam
A point which might cause a pause in comparing Paul's and the Doctrine's Christology is the important doctrine of the Second Adam. For Paul this is the soteriological work achieved in this world. The Heavenly Doctrine only refers to the term three times,26 each time as part of a description of the teaching of justification in the Christian Church. It does not use the term in its own right as part of Christology.
The Heavenly Doctrine categorically rejects the idea that Adam, as the founding creature of the human race, passed an eternal stain on all his descendants. First, the Doctrine teaches that the Biblical "Adam" is not an individual, but describes the Most Ancient Church. Secondly, the Doctrine rejects the idea of original sin, or sin passed from Adam.27 In its place it teaches that hereditary evil is passed from parents to children, accumulating down the ages, but is removable through repentance and regeneration. Thirdly, the Doctrine teaches that the very nature of the human race changed after the fall, so that the Ancient Church entered into a radically different relationship with the Lord than its predecessor. The Lord, therefore, could not be a second Adam as such, for no first Adam existed.
As a consequence of these differences, the Doctrine traces a different path than that of Paul. It is true that Paul teaches obedience to the Lord and the necessity of rising above lives of sin to live pure in the sight of the Lord. The mechanism for doing so is contained in his strong teaching about the Lord's death and resurrection, for example, in Romans:
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. He who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom 6:57)
In later centuries, as Christian theology focused on a divided Trinity, belief alone in the death and resurrection of the Lord would be held to be sufficient for salvation. Paul himself may not have meant this, but his writings seemed to the Reformers to be stating this.
Pauline and New Church theology, therefore, vary widely on the subject of the Second Adam. However, this does not mean that parallels do not exist, although they are neither clear nor explicit. As the concept of "Second Adam" is intrinsically part of Paul's soteriology, it follows that a more detailed analysis is better deferred until after the Hymn has been examined in the light of the Heavenly Doctrine, and when the comparisons between the Christologies are perhaps clearer.
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The Hymn Translated
Assuming that it is possible to set aside two thousand years of interpretation and review Paul's Christological Hymn entirely in the light of the Heavenly Doctrine, what would the interpretation of the Hymn look like? Since Paul's Hymn speaks to the entire process of incarnation, 'exinanition' and glorification, it is not possible to bring every teaching from the Heavenly Doctrine to bear on the subject. This analysis, therefore, is driven by the words of the Hymn itself.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (Phil 2:56)
This opening strophe outlines the relationship of the pre-existent Christ to God. Christ is the "form of God," which even in the linguistic Greek means the visible manifestation of God, although it could be argued that He was not visible in the world until by the act of 'kenosis' He laid Divinity aside and took on the human form visible in Jesus Christ. If Paul was using "form of God" in this way, then Christ must have been the visible manifestation of God prior to the incarnation, visible perhaps to the angels, but not to people.
The keyword in this strophe, as noted above, is "form," or "morfh" in Greek. It is the fact that Christ was "in the form of God" that makes it possible for the assumed human to become Divine. Surely it is not to be understood to be a "form" in merely physical terms, for the pre-existent Lord is more than that.
In the Christology of the Doctrine, the term "form" is of no less importance, and for the same reasons. While Paul simply makes the assertion that the Lord is in the form of God, the Doctrine elaborates the idea at length. The very term "form" intimates a substance from which the form was produced, the two cannot be separated. The Doctrine notes that God has substance in the True Christian Religion:
God is Being, He is also substance, for unless being is substance it is only a figment of the mind . . . and . . . a substance is also a form, for unless substance is also a form, it is only a figment of the mind. (TCR 20)
To understand the Lord as the "form of God," it is imperative
to understand the "substance of God." Yet God's substance is a hard concept to
grasp. It "is the stuff of God, it is infinite, eternal and above human comprehension"
(Dibb 2001:237). Yet the concept of Divine substance can be grasped intellectually.
Divine substance is God's infinite love, from which He created, from which He
governs, and according to which He draws all things to Himself.
All Christian thought rests on the idea of the substance of God. The Nicene Creed speaks of the Lord as having the same substance (homoousia) as the Father. The Athanasian Creed speaks of God having one substance manifested in three Persons. If God did not have substance, He would be an imaginary entity (TCR 20). The difficult part is describing this substance, and it is seldom, if ever, attempted outside the New Church. Substance is generally thought of in materialistic terms, as the most essential building blocks of matter which cannot be the substance of God. Few connect substance and love, for "people commonly have an idea of love and wisdom as abstract entities flying about or floating in the subtler air or ether, or as exhalations emanating from something of that nature. Scarcely anyone thinks that they are really and actually substance and form" (DLW 40).
Setting aside materialistic concepts of substance, the Heavenly Doctrine begins its treatment of God's substance. There is only one substance from which all things were created (DP 157), and continue to be created (TCR 53) and that is the substance of God Himself. Because He is Divine substance, from which all other substance is derived, God "is the all in all things of the universe" (DLW 198), so that His substance is universally in all things. The reality of the natural world is derived solely from the substance of God (DP 46). It was not, as is usually believed, created from nothing (DLW 283). Although substance in both the spiritual and natural worlds is from God and contains His presence, it is limited, finited, inanimate and lifeless (DLW 53). Otherwise it would be an extension of God (pantheism is not possible in the theology of the Heavenly Doctrine).28 All things, therefore, were created from the Divine and bear God's mark in every detail (TCR 76). This is particularly true of angels and people, for each "angel is substance taking a form that is determined by his reception of Divine qualities flowing from the Lord" (AC 3741).
If all things come from the Divine substance, of which the Lord is the form, how does one define the Divine substance, for only by doing this will the meaning of the "form of God" become clear. The Heavenly Doctrine defines the substance of God as the Divine love (DP 157, see also CL 115). Immediately the distinction between Divine and material substance becomes clear, for love in the natural world is not a measurable substance, but a motivating factor. Yet love underlies all things for it is the basis of the purpose for which things exist. The Heavenly Doctrine describes the Lord's substantial love as having several identifiable characteristics:
- The essence of love is not to love self, but to love others and through love to be conjoined with them (DLW 47). The True Christian Religion sums this up by saying that the essence of love is to love others outside of oneself and to become one with them (TCR 43).
- It is also the essence of love to be loved by others, for thus is conjunction achieved. The essential ingredient in all love consists in conjunction; indeed conjunction is its life, its pleasure, gratification, delight, sweetness, bliss, happiness and felicity (DLW 47). Love, therefore, requires a reciprocal relationship with others, and this is the reason why God created and why creation took the form it did, for this allows for beings capable of responding to the Lord, from choice.
- Love consists in willing what one has to be another's, and in feeling the other's delight as delight within oneself. That is what it is to love. In contrast, to feel one's own delight in another, and not the other's delight within oneself, is not to love; for this is loving self, whereas the first is loving the neighbor (DLW 47).
It is difficult from a materialistic point of view to conceive of love as the substance of God. People tend to think of love as an emotion, or some other psychological state of mind. Yet the Heavenly Doctrine is clear that Divine love is the very substance of God. It is His whole being, a constant and undying outpouring of love.
In order for love to be received by others and bring about its end of creation and a reciprocal relationship with people, it must be expressed. The expression is the form. The "form of God" is not God's shape, but the practical outworking of the Divine substance. At this point the Greek term morfh coincides with the Doctrine's definition of form, for as the morfh is the "external appearance" of an object, allowing it to exist and function, so the "form of God" is the appearance of God in creation and redemption. Substance and form in God bear the same relationship as they do in natural objects.
Thus the principle arises that substance without form has no existence (DP 173. See also DLW 209, DLW 229 CL 66 et al). Since God has substance, which is His Divine love, so He also has form that is the orderly expression of the Divine love (TCR 53. See also TCR 20, DLW 43). In many places the Doctrine asserts that substance and form cannot be separated, but are interdependent upon each other, just as love is dependant upon its expression in order to bring about conjunction and happiness. Each substance takes a form, and there cannot be a form separate from its substance (see for example TCR 52).
The expression of Divine love takes its form in the Divine wisdom (DP 157), which is the means by which the Divine love is carried into act, through creation, presence and salvation. Substance, or love, can do nothing unless it is put into a form, or wisdom (DP 4. See also DLW 409, 410). The more perfectly the form expresses the substance from which it derives its existence, the more perfectly the two together are able to act. Since the Divine love is perfect, it follows that the Divine wisdom expressing it is also perfect, and this perfection is God above the heavens.
The Divine substance, expressed in the Divine form, is the origin of all things, and since all things tend back to the form of this origin, then the form of God is the original human form. The very things considered to be human originate in God,29 so that anthropomorphism is turned upside down. Humanity can consider the essence of God because being in the image of God, people can lift their eyes from the created form to its Creator. He writes, "if the minds of men did not form the idea that God is prime substance and form, and that His form is the very form of man, they would easily fall into fantastic, ghost-like, ideas about God Himself, the origin of man and the creation of the world" (TCR 20).
These two together, the substance and the form, or Divine love and wisdom, are the Lord from eternity (DP 173). They are not two "Persons" of the Trinity, but the two discrete degrees of One God, the invisible and visible, the source and the out-pouring from that source. Since together they are the Lord, they form one absolute being (DLW 284). Thus God's oneness can be expressed in the relationship of substance and form.
The Lord was the "form of God" even before the incarnation, for He presents the Divine to view. The Heavenly Doctrine speaks of this visibility prior to the incarnation as the Lord being present in the heavens by means of a transflux, or flowing "across" heaven in order to accommodate the Divine to the state of the angels. "This transflux was the Divine Human before the advent of the Lord, and was Jehovah Himself in the heavens or the Lord. The Divine which flowed through heaven was the Divine truth or the Divine law" (AC 6720). In this way the Lord filled willing angels with His presence, speaking through them to other angels and also to the prophets of the Old Testament. In doing so, He could communicate the fact of His love down to the most external levels of creation.
The transflux through heaven was not a direct presence; it was limited by both the angels and the prophets. While it served the Lord's purposes for the time, since the fall of the Most Ancient Church, it had always been His intention to take on a human and bring the form of God into this world (AC 2661. See also Gen 3:15). Making Himself visible to the prophets by in-filled angels would cease after the Lord's glorification (AC 6371).
Even in this pre-advent state He was equal to God, for if it is assumed that God cannot be divided, it follows that both invisible and visible must equally be God. The pre-existent Lord, therefore, did not seize equality as some highly prized attribute alien to His nature, for He was already Divine by nature. Paul's Hymn does not paint the picture in any greater detail than that. Shining the light of the Heavenly Doctrine on the matter, however, helps greatly.
When Paul describes the Lord as being in the "form of God" he may well have meant that Christ is the external manifestation of God. Yet his words embody a greater truth than shines through on the pages of his Epistle. Christ is indeed the "form" of God, for as the Logos, or Word, He is the Divine truth, giving form and expression to the invisible, ineffable Divine love.
In this state it could not have been "robbery" to be one with God, for the form does not steal, or seize its being from the substance, but takes its very being from it. Nor could the substance in any way withhold itself from coming forth into form. The equality then is not a matter of sameness, but of the interdependency of two aspects of God's nature. They can be spoken of as if they were two, yet in all things they are inseparably one.
Strophe One of the Hymn, then, fits very well with the Heavenly Doctrine, providing a general containant for it. However, the Doctrine also states that "it is futile to want to know God as He is in His Being or in His Substance; but it is enough to acknowledge Him by finite things, that is, His creation, in which He dwells infinitely" (TCR 28). The pre-existent Christ, in the form of God, was essentially unknown to people, revealed only imperfectly to the prophets through the medium of angels. It was to change this, and bring about salvation that the Lord clothed his invisible with flesh and "dwelt among us."
. . .but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:78)
The second strophe in the Pauline Hymn outlines the incarnation and presents the tension between 'kenosis' and 'exinanition'. On the surface, 'kenosis' is the process of making "Himself of no reputation," while 'exinanition' is the Lord humbling Himself even to the point of death on the cross. Both require some sort of "emptying out."
The traditional interpretation is that during the kenotic process the Lord emptied Himself of His Divinity, making it of no effect in the humanity. Thus He passed from being in the form of God into the likeness of men, a form characterized by slavery to evil and sin. It was held by nineteenth century Kenoticists that unless the Lord had completely laid aside His Divinity, He could not have become fully human, and this could lead to charges of Patripassianism.30 It would also undermine the foundation of faith that the Lord suffered for human sins, for if some aspect of Him was Divine, then how could He truly have suffered.
Grillmeier, however, offers an alternative view to this kenotic theory:
. . .the pre-existent Christ, who exists in a Divine mode of being, chooses a mode of existence which is a concealment of his proper being . . . 'kenosis' is a "taking," or better an "adding," the first kind of being not done away with. He who is on equality with God adds something to His divinity, the form of a servant. (Grillmeier 1975:21)
The two concepts in this alternative are "concealment" and "adding." When He concealed His Divine nature, the Lord effectively made it "void" or "of no effect" in the natural world. This is born out by the teaching of the Gospel that the Lord, conceived by the Holy Spirit, is Emmanuel, or God with us (Luke 2:35). Yet at the same time this Divinity was so covered over that it was not recognized by those amongst whom He had grown up (Luke 4). The covering of His Divinity made it possible for the hells to approach His human in the Spiritual World, and for humans to scourge and crucify Him in the natural. This could only happen because of the second part, the adding of "the form of a servant," mentally and physically.
It is on the foundation of this understanding that one can tie together the Pauline concept of 'kenosis' and the teachings of the Heavenly Doctrine about the incarnation. Grillmeier's interpretation of covering the Divine over, so that the form of God is not reduced to that of human slavery to sin, clearly implies that the connection between the Form of God and the Image of man are together in the Lord while He was in this world and during the time of His obedience to the traumas on earth. It equally implies that while the Lord was in this human form the Divine within was void, that is, it was unable, or better unwilling, to act directly in the world, relying on the human form it had taken on.
There is tremendous resonance between this and the Heavenly Doctrine's concept of the incarnation. The birth of the Lord was not a laying aside of the Divinity, for that is not possible. Covering it over with the limited things of human life was possible. Perhaps the clearest statement of this is the statement in the book, Divine Love and Wisdom:
I have been told from heaven that in the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, before He assumed a humanity in the world, the first two degrees existed actually, and the third degree potentially, as they do also in the case of angels, but that after assuming a humanity in the world, He put on in addition the third degree as well, which we call natural, so that He became in consequence a man like any other in the world, yet with the difference that this last degree, like the previous one, is infinite and uncreated, while the same degrees in an angel or person are finite and created. (DLW 233)
The pre-existent Lord, then, had within Himself celestial and spiritual degrees. In the Lord these are the degrees of love and wisdom that are His very substance and form. However, He did not as yet have the natural degree, or the degree enabling Him to act into the lowest things of nature without an intermediary. The only way He could add this natural degree was to take on a human form, and by a dual process of 'exinanition' and glorification, make it Divine. Putting on the natural degree, therefore, must be seen as a two part process of covering the Divine and adding the human, equivalent to 'kenosis' and exaltation, while exaltation itself is a dual process of 'exinanition' and glorification.
The kenotic part is the process by which the Lord clothed His Divinity to become human. The Heavenly Doctrine describes how the Lord prepared this as the incarnation by taking on all human qualities of life, beginning with those of the highest angels. Prior to this the presence of the Lord was mediated to the people of earth by means of celestial angels. Thus they had power to affect human lives with their presence of love. At the advent, the Lord clothed His Divinity with the power of this love, so that "He took to Himself what had rested with angels of the celestial kingdom, namely that power and control" (AC 6371). This meant that the Lord's internal human was celestial, as it is in all people, and from this His human had ability to receive the Divine love in a human way.
In addition to the celestial, the Lord in His descent clothed Himself also with the spiritual. The combination of celestial and spiritual is unique to the Lord:
Everyone else has been born a natural man with the ability or capacity to become, through regeneration by the Lord, either celestial or spiritual. The Lord was born a spiritual-celestial man to the end that He might make His Human Divine, doing so according to order from the lowest degree to the highest, and so would bring order to everything in the heavens and everything in the hells. (AC 4594)
During the descent from Divinity to humanity, the Lord took on the fullness of the human being. It is only possible for the Divine to be present in those things that are from the Divine, thus the things of love and wisdom. In human beings, these higher levels of the mind are closed during life in this world, but in the Lord they formed a connection between the Divine and the human taken on from Mary.
The final degree of the descent, then, was the lowest degree of life, equipping Him to live in this world as a human being. The Divine itself, being the source of all life, caused Mary to conceive without the usual masculine seed. The virgin birth is of special significance in the kenotic process. Human seed contains the soul, which is nothing else than the ability to receive life from God.31 The human soul, however, limits that life, transforming it from infinite and Divine life into the limited, finite expression of life that is human. In the Lord's case, the kenotic process was an overlaying of human life upon the Divine, so that the Divine was the soul within the body. As in the case of all people, the soul was invisible to the world, even though it is the life force of the body. In order for glorification to take place at a later date, and for the humanity itself to be made Divine, it was necessary for the Lord's soul to receive Divine life unencumbered, accommodated to the human by the celestial and spiritual degrees.
It is understandable that people could immediately respond that the Lord's human taken on at conception was not therefore completely human, that it was still in some way Divine because the soul was Divine. This too could lay open charges that the Heavenly Doctrine does not recognize the Lord as being in the image of man. It could even lead to the idea that somehow they espouse Patripassianism.
This would be a misunderstanding of the Doctrine's theology, however. The soul is not the person, it is simply a vehicle by which life, entering from God, can cause a person to live. The soul, clothing itself first with a body and then a mind, is the outplaying of a person's individuality. It could be argued that people are not human because of the life they have, for life is shared by all things. It is the reception and use of that life that determined humanity. The same was true of the Lord: His life was from the Divine, as is that of all people, but He was able to receive the Divine without the usual limitations people face. Certainly all people live because God's life is in them, but they are not God. The Lord was God clothed with a limited human form which through exinanition and glorification could become God.
Grillmeier asserts that in the process of 'kenosis', the Divine was overlaid with the form of a man, and this accords well with the teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine. It is important to recognize that even this is an appearance for the Divine cannot truly be overlaid because it is universal, and cannot be acted upon by material things. However, it can act into the material world, being, as was mentioned earlier, the source of all substance, and therefore the source of all life. In Jesus Christ, the life was Divine, the material substances by which he operated in this world were not.
The act of 'kenosis', of emptying himself out, gave the Lord a human form to work with in this natural world. The Hymn describes the result of this 'kenosis' as the Lord taking on the "form of a bondservant" or slave. This is a most descriptive definition of the human condition. For Paul that slavery began with the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. All humanity was tainted with that sin, and the only way out of it would be through the Lord, as the Second Adam, overcoming sin by dying and being exalted.
The Heavenly Doctrine teaches a similar concept. While it does not hold to a literal interpretation of the Genesis story,32 and therefore reject the idea that humanity is tainted with the sin of Adam, still it teaches that humans inherit an inclination towards evils from their parents and previous generations. The transmission of this inclination is two-fold. Together with the soul passed from father to child is a deeper, non-erasable form etched on the soul itself. It can be compared to the way in which the soul receives and transmits life from the Lord, and, because it is unique in each person, it explains the diversity of people.33 In the case of the Lord, this heredity was not present, for His "Father" was the Divine itself, and by definition is free from hereditary evil.
However, the heredity from the father is only a part of the human picture. The soul is the receptacle and transmitter of life from the Lord. It also makes it possible for the Lord to raise humans up so that they can believe in Him, act from love towards him, and become intelligent, wise and reasonable (HH 39. See also AC 1999:3). In humans, the soul is successively clothed with substances from the father. The first of these are spiritual, being the father's own heredity, his feelings and thoughts from most internal to most external, forming, as it were, a soul within the body. These spiritual substances are clothed with natural substances until finally the seed, in physical form, contains all the information possible about the father.
It is not a person yet, however, until it is clothed with substances from the mother, a process beginning at conception and finished at birth. The mother, too, provides complementary spiritual and natural substances to the developing embryo, so that her own inner loves and thoughts, together with the elements of her body are fused with those of the father, and the child grows accordingly. Science shows the coming together of the DNA molecules but cannot reveal the conjoining of spiritual substances. Yet the infant, formed with a body and a potential mind, has the predispositions of both parents. Because the parents are continually changing, both mentally and physically, the reproductions of their beings means a constantly changing set of information is passed on to their children, allowing for the perpetual creation of total individuals.
Into this mix of heredity one must add the inclination towards evil.34 Ever since the earliest people chose selfishness over obedience to the Lord, the inclination to do the same has been passed from generation to generation, increasing in each generation of those who do not control and overcome it. This is the slavery of the human race, for selfishness and all the evils attached to it hold people as slaves.
The Lord took on this form during His kenotic process. The soul from the Divine, being the source of His life, and the part of Himself that He would, at times, call "Father," was free from human taint. The body taken on from Mary, however, was the same as that passed on to each person by their own mothers. It was in every respect the same as our own. Thus the Lord took on the form of a slave and found Himself in the image of man. He was no different, except that His soul was Divine. Internally, like each person, he was the form of heaven, although He was truly a celestial-spiritual man. Externally, consciously, like each person, He inclined towards every kind of sin and evil.
The Doctrine's description of this process is quite different from that of traditional Christianity. Early Christians struggled to understand the relationship between Divine and human in the Lord. Their idea of humanity lacks a recognition of the internal man and the human internal. When they contemplated the Lord as a man, they could only see the external mind with its flesh and blood clothing. Without this knowledge it is not possible to reconcile the contradictory concept of a human and Divine nature in one person. Some, like Theodore of Mopseustia inclined towards a complete separation between the Divine and human natures in the Lord. Nestorius continued the idea until the first Council of Ephesus in 431. Twenty years later at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 the idea developed into the teaching that the Divine and human natures in the Lord are completely distinct from each other. It is held that there are two natures in Christ, perfect God and perfect man. It is believed that for the Lord to be perfect man, He needed to be born perfect and therefore never experienced any sin directly in Himself. His obedience even to death was, in a sense, passive, inflicted on Him from without by those who rejected Him.
Is this traditional image in keeping with Paul's Hymn, that after 'kenosis' He found Himself a slave, in the image of man (see AC 2159)? Perhaps if one kept to the most external meaning of Paul's words, it could be argued that He was a slave merely by being imprisoned in human flesh, and it was the flesh that made Him the image of man.35 Yet people are more than flesh. Even Paul's concept of Adam and the fallen nature of humanity mitigates against such an external interpretation. To become a slave, the image of a man, the Lord had to put on the whole of humanity, including its tendencies towards sin. It is in the fullness of this assumed humanity with all its imperfections that the teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine is most widely different from that of the Christian Church.
The process of putting on an infirm human is the true humiliation. To come into that state, He had to clothe Divinity with tendencies to the filth of human life. For the sake of salvation He did so. So once again, Paul's Hymn fits in the Heavenly Doctrine on the incarnation, for the Lord humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation, but found Himself in the form of a slave and the image of man.
Yet this is only the first half of the second strophe. Before moving on to the exaltation of the third strophe, Paul speaks of the consequences of this kenotic process:
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:8)
This verse continues the process of 'kenosis' into the activity of the Lord's life. It is at this point the term 'exinanition' applies. Like 'kenosis' it means an emptying out. Only in this context it is not emptying out the Divinity in order to become human, but emptying out the hereditary humanity, taken on from Mary, which the Lord had in common with all people.
Hereditary evil is only a part of the picture of human life. As a force in the make-up of life it inclines people towards certain evils. It does not, however, compel the person to act upon it. The decision to act is made by each individual in accordance with the freedom given by God. Without that counterbalancing freedom the force of hereditary evils would carry all people into lives of unremitting selfishness with a final destination in hell. Human freedom is the result of the presence of God within each person. The Heavenly Doctrine teaches that He constantly protects and regulates that freedom so that during life in this world every person is able to make choices. Successive choices, however, lead to habit, and habits lead either to heaven or hell.
In the process of 'kenosis', the Lord clothed His Divinity with the limitations of the human condition, yet the Divine remained as present in Him as it is in each of uswithin the celestial and spiritual degrees of the mind. This meant that while in this world the Lord had true spiritual freedom to either give in to hereditary evils from Mary, or to reject them. Acting in harmony with His internal love and wisdom He chose to reject them.
This process of rejecting evils is 'exinanition'. The Hymn says "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." The linked terminology is useful, for the Heavenly Doctrine links 'exinanition' with humbling Himself (see Lord 35, Lord 59, Canons 19). The way the Doctrine describes the state of humility helps to understand the presence and activity of the Divine soul into the celestial-spiritual nature within the human taken on from Mary. It also lays the ground for explaining the third strophe.
The Doctrine describes a state of humility as being one when people acknowledge themselves to be "nothing but filthiness, and at the same time the acknowledgment of the Lord's infinite mercy towards that which is such" (AC 1999). The human the Lord took on from Mary was entirely His own. While it shared the common frailties of humanity, it was the means by which the Lord faced and overcame them. The importance of this body should not be underplayed; it not only allowed the Lord to live in this world, but provided for the distinctive persona that was His own, just as human bodies add to human personae. It was not a borrowed garment discarded at resurrection, but the very external being of the Lord during His life in this world. Like all human life it was limited and polluted, and the Lord, from the perceptions arising in His Divine soul, was increasingly aware of its limitation. It was the Lord in the form of a man.
A primary use that this human provided was that it enabled the Lord to exist at the human level. For soteriological reasons it was necessary for the Lord to be in a state of humility, for people can be motivated to change only in a state of humility:
When man is in this acknowledgement from the heart he comes as it were out of himself, and thence falls upon his face, and when he is thus out of himself he also is removed from that which is his own, which in itself is wholly evil; when this is removed, the Divine fills him and raises him up. (AE 77)
In the case of ordinary people, the Lord does not require humility for His sake, but for our own (AC 5957, AC 4347, AC 8263 et al). Humility makes it possible for people to open their minds to the Lord so that He can flow in with power (AE 1210). Indeed, people cannot enter heaven apart from a humble recognition of their true condition (AC 5758).
The same process was true of the Lord. His Divine soul was pressing and urging to be received in His human as it is in all people. Like us, the Lord had to remove the impediments to that reception in His external, and like us He had to begin in a state of humility. By taking on the form of a slave, and becoming the image of a person, the Lord had a first hand look at the kinds of evils that come between the Divine and human beings. This would not have been possible without the kenotic process, for had He remained in the pre-existent state described in Strophe One, there would have been no mutual ground between the infinite God and the increasingly evil human race. By taking on this human as His own, the Lord could recognize human states and begin the process of correcting them to form the core of His soteriological work.
'Exinanition', or emptying out of inclinations from the human, took place in two stages. The first was the awareness in humility of the state of the Mary human. The second was the actual correction of it. Paul sums this up in the statement that "being found in the form of a slave, He was obedient even to death." The task of obedience here needs to be carefully defined.
In Christian thought the phrase "being obedient to death," means that the Lord was willing to be put to death on the cross. It is believed that this act of obedience, and the crucifixion itself was the saving act. However, in the light of the Heavenly Doctrine there is another way to consider this. Humiliation arises from the sight that one is nothing but evil and is coupled to the belief that any goodness must come from God Himself. In this state people are able to refocus their minds onto God's will, and drawing power from Him, resist the evils in themselves until they are recreated into God's image and likeness. Yet people could not have done this unless the Lord had already done it before them.
The Lord's state of humility required Him to become obedient to the presence of the Divine soul within Him. This is not a passive surrender to crucifixion, but recognition of it as the final act along the path towards both glorification and salvation. Obedience to the Divine soul, or Father, was an ongoing battle against the tendency towards evils inherited from Mary and the subsequent tempting by the hells attracted by those tendencies. The Doctrine describes how He was aware of the infirmities from Mary and strove to put them off through the battles of temptation (see Lord 35). This state was characterized by a sense of isolation from the Father, a state in which He "adored and prayed to Jehovah His Father . . . as if to one different from Himself" (AC 1999, see also AC 2159).
The Lord's life was in a constant state of temptation,36 from earliest childhood right up to the passion of the cross (AC 1690, see also AC 1812). In Paul's words, the Lord was obedient even to the death of the cross. Yet this final act of temptation was not the act of salvation itself, but the last of a series of temptations, beginning at birth and culminating at death (AE 778, AC 2776). In these states of temptation the Lord fought against evil spirits from hell who, attracted by the spiritual impurity of the humanity from Mary, continually attacked Him. Drawing power from His Divine soul, the Lord fought off these attacks one by one, until finally hell was brought into order.
This process is what the Doctrine calls 'exinanition'. In it the Lord "emptied out" the evils from the human until finally the human was completely cleansed and the power of hell broken. It could only be achieved by reception of the Divine in His celestial-spiritual state, and the willingness of the Lord in His human state to undergo temptations.
Most people have experienced temptations of one sort or another, and the experience of giving in to the pressure of some attraction shows how easily people succumb to their temptations. Yet the Lord never succumbed. It was not because His human was any stronger than that of the normal human being. It experienced the same tendencies, the same attractions to evils of every kind. The source of the Lord's power came from His Divine soul. This was the presence of a love for humanity, leading the Lord onward to face and overcome.
Being "obedient even to death" meant that the Lord was obedient to the Divine love of which He was the form. It is uncertain when the Lord would first have realized that this love was Divine, but He became aware of it in infancy (AC 1414). As He grew older, He came to rely on the perceptions from this love, and on the strength it gave Him to face up to the temptations which attempted to lead Him away from it.
His state in this world can be seen in two distinct but intimately connected phases:
- 'Exinanition', which
is the emptying out, through temptation, of the evils attracted to the Mary human.
- Glorification, or making Divine the cleansed human in the wake of victory in temptation.
The Heavenly Doctrine teaches that while in the world the Lord was always in one of these two alternating states (TCR 104, Lord 35, Canons 19, 20, 22 and other places). The Lord entered a state of temptation, when He was aware of the distance between His Divine love for humanity and the corrupt Mary humanity in Himself, a humanity which if left to itself would succumb to evil. He was aware that He needed to overcome this attraction, otherwise the Divine love would be thwarted. This awareness led to a temptation in which, feeling alienated from His inner loves, He fought and overcame the evil. In victory He experienced peace and unity with His Divine soul once again. These alternations are openly apparent in the Gospels but they can be seen in the Lord's references to "the Father," for when in temptation the Lord cries out to His Father as if He is a separate being. In glorification He sees that they are one.
The process of temptation was to pave the way by which the Lord could enter more and more fully into the His inner states of love. These states, because they came from His Divine soul, from the very being of God Himself, were Divine. Thus temptation allowed for the steady descent of Divinity into the Lord Himself. By being "obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:8) the Lord was making the final exaltation possible.
Paul's Hymn, therefore, serves as a very general vessel able to contain the doctrine of the Lord's life in this world. In many ways it fits better the description of the Lord's incarnation and 'exinanition'/glorification process than it does the formulas from the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. The Christian necessity of denying any infirmity in the Lord's humanity lessens the impact of the statement that the Lord was found in the form of a slave, and reduces His obedience to death to that of a miracle worker and obedient sacrifice. It does not capture the fullness of humanity, nor tie it in to the realities of human life.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:9-11)
The third strophe of Paul's Hymn is one of exaltation and adoration. The crucified Lord has risen again. Raised up by God who has "highly exalted Him." Christian doctrine interprets this exaltation as a return of the Son to His place at the right hand of the Father. The work done in the world was over and humanity saved. In terms of Christian theology, the addition of a human to His Divine did not cause any change either in the Lord or in the way He relates to humanity.37 It is true that since the incarnation the Lord had a human nature consubstantial with our own, in which He bore our sins and suffered on our behalf. But this is as far as doctrine can go.38
It is not so in the Christology set forth in the Heavenly Doctrine. The process of 'exinanition' and glorification did not change the Divinity of the Lord, for He was love and wisdom before, during and after the incarnation. What changed was the way these were communicated to the people of earth. During His life in the world, the Lord successively emptied out the evils in His assumed human and as a result brought it into a form which could, more and more perfectly, receive the Divine life that was His very soul. During 'exinanition' He made possible a
. . . most perfect, or infinitely perfect, correspondence, and from it there resulted a union of bodily things with Divine celestial things, and of sensory things with Divine spiritual things. Thus He became the Perfect Man, and the Only Man. (AC 1414)
This state of pure correspondence and thus perfect union between human and Divine is the exaltation of the Lord described in this strophe. While Paul writes of the exalted Lord, the Heavenly Doctrine describes the glorified Lord as "the Divine Human." The two ideas are closely related, for in the exaltation Divinity and humanity are perfectly united. This is now the only way people can see the Lord and the whole process of incarnation, 'exinanition' and glorification comes to fruition. This was the only way in which the Lord could reach people with love and truth in their fallen state and save them (see AC 2016).
The process of making the human Divine made it possible for Him to overcome the obstacles to that love so that it could be fully expressed even at the lowest levels of creation. With the obstacles removed, the Divine love could be fully present in the purified human, which became, as it were, the very form of God visible to, and active in the lives of people. God could now be conceived of and responded to as a Divine human being.
This is the exaltation of the third strophe of Paul's Hymn. By not taking literally the Biblical verse that the Lord "was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19), the Heavenly Doctrine is freed from the implications of separation between the Persons of the Trinity that have so dogged Christian theology. The exaltation, rather, is that of the Divine love and wisdom fully present in the human form on all levels, from highest to lowest.
Once again Paul's Hymn more accurately describes the teaching of the Heavenly Doctrine than of Christian theology which so often refers to it. The exaltation of the Lord completes a full circle, for the Lord, finding Himself in the form of God, equal to God, descends and returns back into a similar state. There is nothing added or missing, except an extension of the Divine itself into the natural human state. Comparatively, the teaching that Christ was the second Person in the Trinity, who took on a human form and was exalted back to heaven, leaves open the problem of how the Lord, in taking on the human form, did not take on the impurities and infirmities of humanity. Roman Catholic doctrine, in an effort to preserve the purity of the human, developed the teaching that Mary herself was conceived in absolute purity. There was no stain of the sin of Adam in the Lord. But was He in the form of a slave as described in the Hymn? The implication is that He was not, except to the degree that He was limited by material substance itself.
Yet this interpretation is short
sighted. It deprives the church of the real insight and understanding of the relationship
between God and the human being that comes from the belief that the Lord knows
people intimately. "He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust" (Ps 103:14),
not through the medium of a Second Person in the Trinity, but from His own experiences
of human life. He has, as it were, walked in human moccasins. His presence in
this world was not merely in a human body, but a human mind as well. This interpretation
also deprives people of the incentive to follow the very path of humility that
Paul is illustrating with this example. By sanitizing the human, the obedience
to death becomes the teaching that Christ died for people's sins, vicariously.
Paul calls his readers to follow in the footsteps of the Lord in humility and
obedience, and people can only do that when they are convinced that the Lord knows
and understands them from His own experiences in this world.
The third strophe ends with the call to acknowledge and worship the Lord in His exalted state: "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." This symbol of humility before the Lord is an important conclusion to the Hymn. In the Epistles to the Philippians this Hymn is not a Christological formula for its own sake, but part of a call to humility. Paul begins the section with a call to his readers to emulate the Lord by "being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Phil 2:2). He ends it with encouragement to model their lives on that of the Lord:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Phil 2:14-16)
The call is clear. People are to follow the footsteps of the Lord through the process of human 'exinanition' and glorification. In times of temptation the Lord makes it possible for people to recede from their evils and so be better able to receive and reflect the presence of the Lord. As glorification alternated with exinanition during the Lord's life, so it does in the lives of ordinary people. Between temptations the Lord gives peace, hope and encouragement, all the while lifting people up towards heaven. The Christological process outlined in this Hymn, and developed fully in the Heavenly Doctrine, has an immediate application to every person's life. Even in this application one finds great resonance with Paul's Hymn.
The Lord as the New Adam
It is possible to see the similarities between the Christologies described by Paul in the Hymn and that given in the Heavenly Doctrine. The bridge between the two can only be crossed, however, once the encrustation of centuries of Christian scholarship have been removed. Then the three-fold process of the Hymn fits well, in fact better at times, with New Church Christology than it does with Christian.
However, not all pieces of the puzzle fit together so easily. In some cases the match of doctrine is uncomfortable. Earlier in this study it was decided to delay the discussion of a key point of Paul's Christology until after the Christological formula of the Hymn had been reworked. That point concerns Paul's belief that the Lord was a New Adam, come to restore humanity to its pristine state.
The idea of the New Adam is central to Paul's theology, but how does it fit in when the Hymn is seen not as announcing the 'kenosis' of a second Person in the Trinity, but as the 'exinanition' and glorification of the Lord? Certainly Paul's assumption of Adam as a single individual responsible for the fallen condition of all humanity is not accepted in the Heavenly Doctrine. If, as Paul writes, Adam was responsible for sin and death, and the Lord responsible for removing it, then the paradigm works. On the other hand, if Adam was a group of people, the Most Ancient Church, the model fits less well.
The essential difference lies in the description of "Adam." For Paul the story of creation in Genesis 13 is literally true. Evil entered the world when Adam succumbed to temptation, desired to become like God and ate of the fruit of the tree. The consequence of his actions was original sin, death and the subsequent pollution of humanity rendering them incapable of breaking the hold of evil. Only the Lord, through 'kenosis' and exaltation, was able to break that hold. The Lord became the second Adam, making it possible for people to break the habit of sin and achieve everlasting life. The theology is simple, and as a statement of doctrine according to the literal sense of the Word, not without merit.
The Heavenly Doctrine, however, paints a different picture. Adam was not an individual, but the Most Ancient Church. Unknown to Paul, the essential quality of this church was different from the churches following it. The Most Ancient Church was a "celestial church," meaning that its primary love was love to the Lord. In the people of this church the structure and function of the brain and mind were different from those of modern humans. Love for the Lord governed all aspects of the lives of these people, not only in terms of mental processes, but also in physical structures that enabled them to take place. The brain itself was different.
The Doctrine describes how the people of the Most Ancient Church successively declined from a pure love for the Lord into a state of unmitigated selfishness and evil. Without a conscience or free intellectual capacity to guide them, they turned the focus of their love away from the Lord towards themselves. The promise of the serpent that if they should eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would become like God was fulfilled in a twisted way. By turning their attention to themselves, the people of the Most Ancient Church lost their innocence and put their confidence in themselves. They saw themselves as gods, and separated themselves from God. This is the true death, for hell is nothing but separation from God. In time, the mental separation expressed itself physically, and the people of the Most Ancient Church, unable to sustain their spiritual existence, eventually died in a flood of evil and falsity.
It is much more difficult to apply the doctrine of the advent as described in the Heavenly Doctrine to this scenario. Paul describes it as a clear one to one relationship in a way that is impossible to match in the Heavenly Doctrine. This does not mean, however, that no connection can be made.
The Heavenly Doctrine teaches that the Lord did not come into the world to save the celestial (those in love to the Lord) but the spiritual (those in love to the neighbor)39 (AC 6427, AC 3235. See also AC 2661, AC 2716, AC 2833, AC 2834). The quality of the spiritual church is described as follows:
This kingdom consists of those who, possessing the truth of faith, make this truth part of their life and thus convert it into good. When a person leads a life in accordance with the truth of faith it is made into good and is called the good of truth; yet essentially it is truth in action. (AC 6427)
The church that the Lord raised after the fall of the Most Ancient Church, therefore, was one led by truth, governed by conscience. It had no innate perception of the Lord, but had to learn first in the memory and then in life.
To say, therefore, as Paul does, that the Lord was a second Adam is a misunderstanding of the nature of Adam. The Lord had already restored the church at the fall of the Most Ancient Church. In a sense, however, the church after the flood was a secondary church. It could be obedient to the Lord by learning and doing His Word, but that obedience was not one of love for the Lord, but for the neighbor.
The reason for this lay in the way the people perceived the Lord. The Most Ancient Church saw the Lord in shadow (TCR 109), and worshipped a proceeding from the Divine rather than the Divine Itself. The Heavenly Doctrine points out that "they did know about the Divine Himself who dwells within the Lord, and whom the Lord calls His Father; but they could not engage in any thought about the Divine Himself who dwells within the Lord, only about His Divine Human, and consequently could not be joined to any other that is Divine" (AC 5663). They could only know about the Lord, and before the advent the Lord was present by means of the transflux through heaven and angels filled with His presence.
After the flood the Lord changed the way He communicated with people. At the time of the flood the Lord separated the will and understanding, leading to a new brain structure. More importantly, however, this separation led to a new way of receiving the Lord, through the understanding and conscience, rather than through the will by perception. The people of the Ancient Church were a whole new breed and the methods used to reach the Most Ancient Church would not work on them.
The Old Testament describes the sad story of how the Ancient Church turned from the Lord. In time they lapsed into idolatry and thence into progressively more external and more self-centered worship. Finally at the time of the advent the human race was almost completely cut off from the presence of the Lord. At the darkest hour He came, and through the process of 'kenosis', 'exinanition', glorification and exaltation restored spiritual light and freedom to the world.
Was He a second Adam? In the strict church history sense of the term He was not. He was born into a spiritual oriented world as each of us. Like us He had to learn by means of the senses, develop a rational mind and make choices. Thus He was no celestial Adam born to restore the human race, but rather the epitome of the spiritual itselfobedient even to death on the cross.
There is no real place for the doctrine of the Second Adam in New Church theology if the soteriological work of the Lord is only viewed from this perspective. But what if one took a different view?
The primary characteristic of the Most Ancient Church, of Adam in his pristine state, was love to the Lord. This is the celestial itself. The celestial in people is a reflection of the celestial in the Lord Himself, and this is His Divine love. Consider the teaching in the work Divine Love and Wisdom, that before the incarnation the celestial and spiritual degree of the Lord existed in actuality, it was only clothed over by a natural degree enabling Him to live in this world (DLW 233). The Doctrine also teaches that the Lord was born a "celestial-spiritual" man, meaning that His love and wisdom were present in Him, clothed with the natural degree taken on from Mary in this world. During the process the love and wisdom descended more and more into the human as it was glorified, until, when He put off the impure human completely at the passion of the cross, they were fully present in that perfect correspondence that is the Divine Human.
The Lord, therefore, has everything of the celestial within Him, and as such He is a new Adam, for He has made it possible for people to return once again to the love of God that is as full and as wonderful as it was with the first Adam. The difference is not the love, but the route by which the love is cultivated, for now instead of being planted in people by perception and direct revelation, its seeds are planted in truth, and human beings, making that truth their own and practicing it, can once more come to love the Lord. Through this love they are saved from spiritual death. The Lord shows the path people need to follow to come into that state, it is the same one He took, being obedient, even to death, in order that He might be exalted.
Although there is no exact parallel between Paul's doctrine of the second Adam and the teachings of the Heavenly Doctrine, connections can be made, showing once more how, if the encrustations of the Christian doctrine are removed from the Pauline Epistles, they are in harmony, albeit broadly at times, with the Heavenly Doctrine.
This study has presented an exploration of a single area of Paul's overall doctrine. As the Heavenly Doctrine points out, Paul's Epistles were allowed to thrive to prevent the Christian Church from profaning the Word itself. The hand of Divine Providence is therefore present in the process of writing them, and so in the teachings themselves. Setting aside the comments made about Paul the man, the Doctrine gives some insight into Paul's inspiration:
Paul indeed spoke from inspiration,40 but not in the same way as the prophets, to whom every single word was dictated . . . his inspiration was that he received an influx, according to those things which were with him,41 which is quite a different inspiration, and has no conjunction with heaven by correspondences. (SE 6062)
The very process of writing his letters was overseen by the Lord. Foreseeing that the Christian Church would rely on Paul's teaching, rather than on the Word itself, the Lord did not permit Paul to take a parable, not even a doctrine from the Lord, but everything from himself (SE 4824). At the same time, it seems, the Lord inspired Paul to put the truth into general terms, sufficient for the needs of the Christian Church.
It should not be surprising, therefore, to find truths clearly and succinctly taught in the Epistles as is in the case of the Hymn. Although it may not contain correspondences, it is a general containant of doctrinal things and part of what Swedenborg called "good books for the church" (Letter 2). In a letter to Dr. Beyer, Swedenborg writes that the reason this inspiration was given was to enable "the new Christian Church [to] commence through these" (Letter 2). In course of time, Paul's writings came to be regarded as the Word, and were vested with holiness by the Church (TCR 701).
Not all Paul's works show evidence of inspiration from the Lord, and many of his teachings have been misinterpreted by the Christian Church "and so many fallacies too have crept into its teachings, as well as so many paradoxes which are repugnant to sound reason" (TCR 338). As the Christian Church marched steadily onwards towards its own consummation, the writings of Paul became increasingly important. The Moravians, for example, "disparage the Word of the Old Testament, and reject it as not useful. Neither do they care for the Gospels, but only for the Epistles of Paul" (LJ 47). The Reformer Zinzindorff thought Paul wiser than the Lord (LJ 43).
As the New Church develops within
the Christian world, so it will come into contact with Paul's works and theology
based upon it. There is a temptation to discard these works, but if it is born
in mind that the Lord never breaks but always bends belief, so it is important
to strip Paul's Epistles of the meanings laid over it by generations of Christian
scholarship, and examine it in the light of the Heavenly Doctrine. Sometimes the
result will be harmonious, as in the case of the Hymn. Not all teachings may yield
such happy results, yet the exercise could lead to a greater understanding of
both New Church doctrine and the Christian matrix in which it lives.
1 Thayers Dictionary word# 2758: kevnwv.
2 NIV: "faith has no value"a further nuance of the term.
3 NIV: I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast (1 Cor 9:15).
4 NIV: "lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Cor 1:17).
5 NIV: "our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow" (2 Cor 9:3).
6 The dichotomy between Paul and the Lord was first discussed by F.C. Bauer in 1845, and has become a central issue in any discussion about Paul (Drane 1994:281). For example, the Talmudic scholar, Hyam Maccoby (1986) paints a picture of Paul as a theological adventurer who essentially hijacks the Lord's message for his own sake. See also Wenham 1995, 2ff.
7 Wagner (1984) like Wenham (1995) explores in detail how Paul's concepts are in harmony with the Gospels, and shows line by line how they also equate to the Nicene Creed in an effort to dispel the idea that Paul is not Scriptural.
8 Put another way, study of Paul follows two paths: continuity or discontinuity with the person and work of the Lord (Longenecker 1981:1).
9 Thrall describes this inspiration as "intuition . . . that this was God's Son" (Thrall 1970:305), hinting at an a priori knowledge, rather than one drawn from direct knowledge of the Lord's life.
10 Note the similarity of ideas with the Logos in John 1, which was "in the beginning" and the means of creation.
11 It is interesting to note that Paul makes no mention of the events related in the Christmas story. Either he did not know them, or assumed that people were so familiar with them that there was no need to relate them again.
12 Many scholars believe this passage to be a pre-Pauline hymn (Grillmeier 1975:20) that reveals the convictions of the early Christians (Longemeyer 1981:58). Rudolph Bultman suggested that the hymn had Gnostic origins, although that is strenuously refuted by Dunn (1980:99 and Longemeyer 1981:60).
13 Dunn points out that the interpretation that this speaks of Pre-existence is an assumption (1980: 114). The majority of Christian scholars, however, assume that this is the case. The doctrine of a Son from Eternity, springing up in the wake of the Council of Nicaea lends credence to the supposition. Thus God who always existed and who always had a Son, sent Him into the world to atone for people's sins. If this interpretation is a supposition, as Dunn asserts, then it raises the question of how the Lord was "in the form of God" prior to the incarnation.
14 This translation of 'kenosis' appears ambiguous to the English reader. The concept of emptying Himself is lost to anyone unfamiliar with the Greek term and its concepts. Interestingly, the New International Version translates this passage as "made Himself nothing," a more accurate rendition of 'kenosis'.
15 The idea that 'kenosis' means a loss of Divinity is not supported by early Christian writers. Augustine writes that "He is said to have emptied himself in no other way than by taking the form of a servant, not by losing the form of God" (Oden 1999:242). Thus as Origen says, "in emptying himself he became a man and was incarnate while remaining truly God" (Oden 1999:243).
16 This concept would be highly heretical in Christian scholarship. The human that Christ took is held to be perfect, unpolluted with "original sin." The Lord was never tempted to sin during His life in this world. However, how does this sanitized human equate with Paul's description of the Lord taking on the "form of a slave," if by slave he means the fallen state of humanity?
17 For example: "our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" (Rom 6:6). See also Rom 6:17, 1 Cor 7:22, 1 Cor 12:13 and other places.
18 An echo of this is found in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
19 The idea that one can be like God was also the sin of Lucifer (see Isaiah 14).
20 The Ebionites, an early Jewish Christian sect, believed that Jesus Christ was a merely human messiah.
21 A partial list of questions raised on this issue: "What rational mind, when it hears that before the creation of the world there were three Divine Persons, called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, does not say within itself while thinking of them, 'What is meant by a Son born from God the Father from eternity? How could He be born? And what is the Holy Spirit proceeding from God the Father through the Son from eternity? And how could He proceed and become God by Himself? Or how could a person beget a person from eternity? and both produce a person? Is not a person a person? How can three Persons, of which each is God, be conjoined into one God, otherwise than into one person?'" (Canons 41).
22 "There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit; the Father is God and Lord; the Son is God and Lord; and the Holy Spirit is God and Lord; nevertheless there are not three Gods and Lords, but one God and Lord; for as we are compelled by the Christian verity to confess each person singly to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say three Gods or three Lords" (TCR 172).
23 The "sharing of properties" or "communicatio idiomatum" was defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and ratified at Chalcedon.
24 Michael Servetus is an example of the fate of those who did question the belief. He was burned at the stake in effigy by the Roman Catholic Church and in actuality by the Protestant, the only man to be so universally rejected up to that point in history.
25 "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; and in the Holy Spirit." There is no mention there of any Son from eternity, but of a Son conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary (TCR 175).
26 BE 4, Just 3, AR 0.
27 Defined in Heavenly Doctrine: "Original sin is not a crime which is perpetrated in action, but something intimately implanted and inherent in man's nature, substance and essence, acting as the spring from which well up all sins realized in action, such as wicked thoughts, conversations and evil deeds" (TCR 464, for further teachings see BE 7, TCR 498,).
28 Divine substance should not be thought of in terms of time and space, for this leads to a naturalism in which Divinity is denied. Divine substance is not in time or space, but these exist in created things, limiting the infinite and, so to speak, separating them from the Divine source (see Ath. Creed 68).
29 For example: DLW 360: Now because the Lord is Divine love and Divine wisdom, and these two in essence are Him, it must needs be, for Him to dwell in mankind and give mankind life, that He have created and fashioned in mankind recipient vessels and abodes for Himself, one for His love, and the other for His wisdom.
30 Patripassianismin Christological systems where the Father and Son are regarded as identical, or that the Son was the Father incarnate, it follows that it was the Father who suffered and died on the cross. This, however, is a theological impossibility, for Divinity cannot suffer, and therefore the Lord took on a human in order to live in this world.
31 For teachings on the seed containing the soul, see TCR 92, TCR 103, CL 172, CL 220, DP 277 and other places.
32 "Adam was not the first human being, but Adam and his wife are used as representatives to describe the first church in this world; the Garden of Eden describes its wisdom, the tree of life its looking to the Lord who was to come, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil its looking to itself instead of the Lord" (TCR 520).
33 This is the paternal heredity that cannot be erased.
34 As shown earlier, the Heavenly Doctrine rejects the dogma of original sin. Instead they teach a passing of hereditary inclinations towards evils of all kinds (see DP 277, AR 776).
35 This fits the Gnostic concept that matter by definition is evil.
36 The Doctrine defines temptation as "nothing else than battles and wars against evils" (AC 1659). The subject of temptations in general and the Lord's temptations in particular is too vast to be discussed fully here.
37 The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) made it mandatory for all Christians to believe that "Christ, Son, Lord, Only Begotten [is] recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division and with separation . . . the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person" (Bettenson 1981:51).
38 Consider: "The Christian Church, however, in external worship does indeed adore the Lord's Human as Divine, especially in the Holy Supper, because He said that the bread therein was His body, and the wine His blood; but in their doctrine they make His Human not Divine, for they make a distinction between the Divine nature and the human nature" (AC 4692).
39 As in several other places, the fullness of the doctrine surrounding this is too vast for the scope of this paper. However, the following references may help the reader understand the nature of celestial and spiritual: What the celestial is, and what the spiritual see AC 1155, AC 1577, AC 1824, AC 2048, AC 2184, AC 2227, AC 2507 and in many other places.
40 He also had some spiritual experiences. Apart from his vision of the Lord on the Damascus Road, he was also "caught up into the third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2-4) and at that time was "divested . . . of both body and earthly mind" (SE 288). In this experience he was in a state similar to that of the prophets (TCR 157).
Inspiration is received according to the intelligence of the receiver (TCR 154),
so one can conclude that Paul's nature added somewhat to his inspiration. The
Heavenly Doctrine points out that he "supposed that it was he who should introduce
all into heaven" (SEm 4561).
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