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Nestorianising Nativity Scenes

nativity

Around this time, there will be many debates happening *ad nauseam* as they do every year ( eg Christmas is just a pagan holiday), I’ll just put up a quick post one of them; Nativities Scenes and representations of Christ’s life. Bundles of Beauty or Mighty Misrepresentations?

One popular argument against having Nativity Scenes or Any images of Christ, are that they misrepresent Him. Why? Because He is both human and divine. So to portray only the humanity is to split Christ into two people. But then there is the catch twenty-two side of the argument, if you *DO* try and represent the divine nature, then you are still misrepresenting him. Why? Because the divine nature is invisible, infinite and without form. So de facto any attempt to depict it is to misrepresent God.

Sounds good right? It would be, if it didn’t have a fatal error as its assumption. In Christian theology there is a very important distinction made between a person (the who) and their nature (the what). Person’s are absolutely unique and non-repeatable. Natures are common and can be shared (we all share humanity, but there is not another you in the world). And while a person never exists without a nature, they are not reducible to it. They are more than their nature. That’s why persons are a mystery and can only be known by direct interaction. Not by studying what they’re made of.

This is important because if nature and person are the same then Christ must be two persons, since he has two natures (Nestorianism). If nature and person are the same, then the Trinity (one nature, three persons) becomes impossible. Because one divine nature would mean only one divine person who plays the role of three (Modalism) or there are three divine persons with three separate natures (Polytheism).

That’s why the above argument against portraying Christ doesn’t work. It’s saying that unless both *natures* can be depicted, you can’t have a representation of the divine *person*. But this is false. Christ is not his divine nature, though he has one. Neither is Christ his human nature, though he that too. Christ is still completely the same *person* no matter what nature he is operating in. When the Apostles saw Christ in the flesh, they were not seeing a misrepresentation. They were seeing the complete *person* of Christ *in* his humanity. That is why Christ can see “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).” Jesus is a complete and accurate representation of his Father’s personage, even in his humanity. Because persons transcend natures.

It is also why Mary is given the title of “Theotokos.” Theotokos means “God Bearer” usually translated “Mother of God”. But some people don’t like it when you say “Mary is the Mother of God”. They’ll say Mary is only the mother of the human Jesus. But that’s treating Jesus as if he’s 2 different people. He’s not. He’s one Person, with two natures. He’s still the same person when He was in Heaven, and when He was born. The *person* born to Mary, Jesus, is divine (uncreated).

So go on and have a Merry Christmas, celebrating the truth of the incarnation. That God became fully and completely human for our sake, that humanity may be elevated to God and that all who accept, God’s grace will enjoy divine life and glory, in relationship with the ever blessed Father, Son and Holy Spirit, forever.

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2015 by in Theology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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