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 The Principles of Theology - Article 2

by W.H.Griffith Thomas

ARTICLE 2

Of the Word or Son of God which was made very man.
The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.
De Verbo, sive Filio Dei, qui verus homo factus est..
Filius qui est Verbum Patris, ab æterno a Patre genitus, verus et æternus Deus, ac Patri consubstantialis, in utero beatæ Virginis ex illius substantia naturam humanam assumpsit: ita ut duæ naturæ, divina et humana, integre atque perfecte in unitate personæ, fuerint inseparabiliter conjunctæ: ex quibus est unus Christus, verus Deus et verus homo: qui vere passus est, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus, ut Patrem nobis reconciliaret, essetque hostia non tantum pro culpa originis, verum etiam pro omnibus actualibus hominum peccatis.

Important Equivalents
Of one substance with the Father = ac Patri consubstantialis
Man’s nature = naturam humanam
Of her substance = ex illius substantia
So that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided = ita ut duæ naturæ, divina et humana, integre atque perfecte in unitate personæ, fuerint inseparabiliter conjunctæ
Very = verus
Sacrifice = hostia
Original guilt = culpa originis

It is appropriate that after the Article on the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity we should be led to consider that doctrine on which the Trinity mainly rests, the Doctrine of the Person of Christ. So that the Article is a corollary of Article 1 since the doctrine herein stated is at once the complement, presupposition and exposition of Trinitarian doctrine.[1] This, too, was placed in the forefront of the Reformation to show the essential unity of the Reformed with the mediæval Faith, and also because of the denials of the doctrine of the Incarnation seen at an early period of the Reformation movement.[2]

The Article is derived from the Third Article of the Confession of Augsburg. Its title in 1553 was Verbum Dei verum hominem esse Factum, “That the Word or Son of God was made a very Man”. The phrase descriptive of our Lord’s eternal generation and consubstantiality, “Begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father” was inserted in 1563 from the Confession of Wurtemberg. There were other verbal but insignificant changes in 1563 and 1571. Comparison should also be made with the statement in the Reformatio Legum.[3]

The problem then, as now, was how to reconcile and harmonise the two natures in the one Person of Christ. How was the union to be conceived and expressed? The Article naturally follows the orthodox interpretation of Christology, derived from the formula of Chalcedon.[4] We must, therefore, look first at this as it is, and then enquire as to any modern variations. The earliest commentator on the Articles, Rogers, sets forth four propositions as covering the teaching: (1) Christ is very God; (2) Christ is very Man; (3) Christ is God and Man in one Person; (4) Christ is the Saviour of Mankind.

>> Part 1. The Divine Nature of Christ

Footnotes

[1] “The dogma of the Trinity is closely bound up with the dogma of the Person of Christ. The former is concerned with the inner life of the eternal Godhead, and the place therein of the only-begotten Son; while the latter deals with the mode of the existence of the Son as incarnate, and this both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation. The doctrine of the Person of Christ is at once a presupposition and a consequence of the doctrine of the Trinity” (Paterson, The Rule of Faith, p. 224).

[2] Hardwick, History of the Articles of Religion, pp. 89, 90; Boultbee, The Theology of the Church of England, p. 15.

[3] “Credatur etiam, cum venisset plenitudo temporis, Filium qui est Verbum Patris, in utero beatæ virginis Mariæ, ex ipsius carnis substantia, naturam humanam assumpsisse, ita ut duæ naturæ, divina et humana, integre atque perfecte in unitate Personæ, fuerint inseparabiliter conjunctæ; ex quibus unus est Christus, verus Deus et verus homo: qui vere passus est, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus, descendit ad inferos ac tertia die resurrexit, nobisque per suum sanguinem reconciliavit Patrem, sese hostiam offerens illi, non solum pro culpa originis, verum etiam pro omnibus peccatis quæ homines propria voluntate adjecerunt” (De Summa Trin., c. 3).

[4] “We teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in Manhood, truly God and truly Man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood, one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably, the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 2, p. 62 ff.).

 

 

 

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The Principles of Theology

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>> 39 Articles Issues pages

>> Griffith-Thomas biography


Article 2

>> Introduction to Article 2

>> 1 - Divine Nature of Christ

>> 2 - Incarnation of Christ

>> 3 - Death of Christ


>> Issues page on Article 2


Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man

 



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