Sunday, November 12, 2006

Jesus Christ: The Absolute

Class @ Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, N.J. (November 10, 2006)


State of Affairs: Relativism -
No Absolute (as good and evil)

Dictatorship of Relativism: “A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the `I’ and its whims as the ultimate measure.”[1]

May 13, 2004: “It is our duty to cultivate within ourselves respect for the sacred [Absolute] and to show the face of the revealed God [Absolute] – the God who has compassion for the poor and the weak, for widows and orphans, for the foreigner; the God [Absolute] who is so human that he himself became man, a man who suffered, and who by his suffering with us gave dignity and hope to our pain.

“Unless we embrace our own heritage of the sacred we will not only deny the identity of Europe. We will also fail in providing a service to others to which they are entitled. To the other cultures of the world, there is something deeply alien about the absolute secularism that is developing in the West. They are convinced that a world without God has no future. Multiculturalism itself thus demands that we return once again to ourselves.

“We do not know what the future of Europe will be. Here we must agree with Toynbee, that the fate of a society always depends on its creative minorities. Christian believers should look upon themselves as just such a creative minority, helping Europe to reclaim what is best in its heritage and thereby to place itself t the service of all human kind.”

Benedict commented earlier that Toynbee “emphasized the difference between technological-material progress and true progress, which he defined as spiritualization. He recognized that the Western world was indeed undergoing a crisis, which he attributed to the abandonment of religion for the cult of technology, nationalism, and militarism. For him this crisis had a name: secularism.”[3] {Keep in mind the distinction between “secularism” and “secularity.” Secularism is a society without a transcendent God. Secularity is the attitude of the relative autonomy of self-determination and freedom that is a theological reality, a Christian truth and grounded in the anthropology of the act of Christian faith [self-gift])


Civilization and Culture

A) Sketch of Western Civilization
(Hilaire Belloc)

“The Crisis of Civilization”

“That the culture and civilization of Christendom – what was called for centuries in general terms `Europe,’ was made by the Catholic Church gathering up the social traditions of the Graeco-Roman Empire, inspiring them and giving the whole of that great body a new life. It was the Catholic Church which made us, gave us our unity and our whole philosophy of life, and formed the nature of the white world. That world – Christendom – went through the peril of the barbaric assault from without as also from the victorious pressure of great heresy – which soon became a new religion – Mahommedanism.

“These perils it survived , though shorn of much of its territory; it re-arose after the pressure was past to the high life of the Middle Ages, which in the 11th, 12th, and especially the 13th centuries reached a climax or summit wherein we were most ourselves and our civilization most assured. But from various causes of which perhaps old age was the chief, that great period showed signs of decline at the beginning of the 14th century; a decline which hastened rapidly throughout the 15th century. The Faith by which we live was increasingly doubted; and the moral authority upon which all depended was more and more contested. The society of Christendom underwent a heavy strain threatening disruption; it equally became more and more unstable, until at last in the early 16th century came the explosion which had been feared and awaited for so long. That disaster is called in general usage `The Reformation.’

“From that moment onwards throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and the 18th, on through the 19th, the unity of Christendom having disappeared and the vital principle on which its life depended having become weak or distracted, our culture became a house divided against itself, and increasingly imperiled. This evil fortune was accompanied by a rapid increase in external knowledge, that is in science and the command of man over material things, even as he lost his grasp of spiritual truths. It was the converse of what had happened in the beginning our civilization , when our religion had saved the ancient world and formed a new culture, though burdened by a decline in science and the arts and material things.

“Our increase in knowledge of the externals and in our power over nature did nothing to appease the rapidly growing internal strains of our world. The conflict between rich and poor, the conflict between opposing national idolatries, the lack of common standards and of the fixed doctrines upon which they depend had led up by the beginning of the 20th century to the brink of chaos; and threatened such dissention between men as to destroy Society. In this crisis the only alternatives are recovery through the restoration of Catholicism or the extinction of our culture.”

B) Benedict XVI: Marxism Continues to be Unresolved:
On May 13 [feast of Our Lady of Fatima] 2006, Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, addressed the Italian Senate on the state of the West. In it, he said:

“The Communist systems collapsed under the weight of their own fallacious economic dogmatism. Commentators have nevertheless ignored all too readily the role played by the Communists’ contempt for human rights and their subordination of morals to the demands of the system and the promise of a future. The greatest catastrophe encountered by such systems was not economic. It was the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience.

“The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the Communist economy has been recognized, its moral and religious fallacy has not been addressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem, and left untreated, it can lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger – above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler”
[4](emphasis mine).

The Argument (Philosophic Reason)

Consider civilization as the result of culture. Then, consider the meaning of culture as the activity of “cultivating” the human person as person. Then, consider the remarks of John Paul II that the human person cultivates himself/herself by means of activity. He asserts that “culture… develops principally within… the dimension of self-determining subjects. Culture is basically oriented not so much toward the creation of human products as toward the creation of the human self, which then radiates out into the world of products.”[5] He goes on: “As I understand St. Thomas’ thought, human activity (action) is simultaneously transitive and intransitive. It is transitive insofar as it tends beyond the subject, seeks an expression and effect in the external world, and is objectified in some product. It is intransitive, on the other hand, insofar as it remains in the subject, determines the subject’s immanent quality or value, and constitutes the subejct’s essentially human fieri. In acting, we not only perform actions, but we also become ourselves through those actions – we fulfill ourselves in them.”[6]

Theological Faith: to Experience Christ Who is the Absolute is to Know the Absolute

1) What is faith in metaphysical/anthropological terms? The gift of the “I.”

The first of all activities in the order of priority is the act of faith in that it is the only act in which the entire self is called forth to be gift to the Creator. John Paul II responded to Andre Frossard:
“To God who reveals himself we must bring the obedience of faith by which man entrusts himself entirely, freely , to God, bringing to him who reveals the complete submission of his intelligence and heart and giving with all his will full assent to the Revelation which he has made. Thus faith is man’s reply to the Revelation by which God `communicates himself’… In the words `man entrusts himself to God by the obedience of faith,’ one must see, if only indirectly, the thought that faith, as response to the revelation by which God `gives himself to man,’ implies through its internal dynamism a reciprocal gift on the part of man, who in a way `also gives himself to God.’ This gift of oneself is the profoundest and most personal structure of faith.

In the act of faith, man does not respond to God with the gift of a bit of himself, but with the gift of his whole person
[7] (emphasis mine).

2) How does one come to know the “I” of another? Knowing consists in being “one” with a reality outside the self. Being a finite creature, we cannot be a being that we are not. Hence, we form likeness of them within us. We have sense perception and abstract knowing through concepts and reasoning.

In the case of the “I” of another, since I have no access to experience that “I” directly, I must do what the other does so that in the “internal dynamism” of mastering and subduing myself, I experience in myself what he/she experiences in himself/herself.
Here is John Paul II’s philosophical rendering: “I have no other access to another human being as an I except through my own I.”[8]

“Self-determination, which reveals the freedom of the will and the freedom of the human being in the most direct and complete way, also allows us to define what makes each individual his or her own I, It allows us as if to touch what is expressed in the concept `self.’ Through the aspect of the self-determination manifested in my action, I who am the subject of that action discover and simultaneously confirm myself as a person in possession of myself. To the essence of my I, or self, belongs not just self-consciousness, but more important self-possession. Self-consciousness conditions self-possession, which manifests itself primarily in action. Thus action leads us into the very depths of the human I, or self. This takes place through experience.

“The other… lies beyond the field of this experience. Self-consciousness, like self-possession, as the name itself suggests, is not transferable beyond the individual concrete I, or self, that experiences itself and consequently understands itself in this manner. Although I cannot experientially transfer what constitutes my own I beyond myself, this does not mean that I cannot understand that the other is constituted in a similar fashion – that the other is also an I Fort the other to be so constituted, self-possession conditioned by the other’s own self-determination will be essential. An understanding of this truth defines to some extent the relation of my own concrete I to all other human beings. They are not just others in relation to my I; each of them is also another I. The other is always one of those I’s, another individual I, related experientially in some way to my own I. (…)

“Thus the reality of the other does not result principally from categorical knowledge, from humanity as the conceptualized essence `human being,’ but from an even richer lived experience [an event], one in which I as though transfer what is given to me as my own I beyond myself to one of the others, who, as a result, appears primarily as a different I, another I, my neighbor. Another person is a neighbor to me not just because we share a like humanity, but chiefly because the other is another I.”

3) This is the metaphysical underpinning of Christian faith. It is not an abstraction or ideology, but an encounter-experience with the revealing Christ. And the experience and self-consciousness of myself as giving self is the likeness to the giving-Self of Christ Who is revelation of the Father precisely as “I.” So that I “know” Him by making the very gift of myself that is mimicking His gift of Himself. And so the faith is experiential and a pre-conceptual consciousness before it is conceptual as creed and dogma.

In fact, it is the experience of the Absolute in the self as believer. To be in relation as self-gift is to experience the Absolute directlyTo be in relation is to activate the absolute of the relationality of the divine Persons in one’s very self. It is to be divinized as image of God. It’s act is prayer and it plays out like the Transfiguration where Christ becomes a radiant light, visually and intellectually. Reason is filled with this activation of the “I” as being going out of self, and is the ultimate explanation of the relation of faith and reason.

Jesus Christ - Absolute

What Do We Mean When We Say That Jesus Christ – This Individual From the Town of Nazareth – is Absolute?

Ans: The “I” of Jesus Christ is Uncreated Being and Therefore, Absolute

The thesis at the root of all Benedict’s thinking is the following: There is ontological density – the most extreme and total – in the material, finite, contingent, individual “thisness” taken by the senses. The Source of Being and reality itself stands before us as the concrete man, Jesus of Nazareth. As Romano Guardini begins his classic, “The Lord:”

“If someone in Capharnaum or Jerusalem at the time had asked the Lord: Who are you? Who are your parents? To what house do you belong? – he might have answered in the words of St. John’s gospel: `Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am’ (Jn. 8, 58).”

This “I” that one turns into by the act of self-gift is “like” the “I” of the Absolute Christ as God in Person. Now it is necessary to consider that the Person of Christ is indeed the Absolute within the singular contingent individual Jesus of Nazareth. The Theology of that was ambiguous in Chalcedon in 451. It needed 200 years until the Council of Constantinople III (680-681) to experience and frame the relation between the divine and the human in Christ in terms of the will. The question that was answered was: how can the human will of Jesus of Nazareth be free when it is the will of the divine Logos? For 200 years, it was considered essential to consider the human and divine natures (2) as independent and parallel while existing in the one divine Person of the Logos.

Benedict XVI’s Statement on The Council of Constantinople III

“Western theology, with its predominantly metaphysical and historical concerns, has rather neglected this aspect [the spiritual tension which marks the God-man], which is in fact the link between the various disciplines of theology and between theological reflection and the concrete, spiritual working out of Christianity. The third Council of Constantinople (the thirteen hundredth anniversary of which, in 1981, was – significantly enough – almost forgotten, compared with the celebrations commemorating the First Council of Constantinople and that of Ephesus) sets forth the essential elements which, in my view, are also fundamental to a proper interpretation of the Council of Chalcedon. Obviously, we do not have space to make a thorough exposition of the problems, but let us at least try briefly to outline the issues which concern us here. Chalcedon had described the ontological content of the Incarnation with its celebrated formula of Two Natures in One Person. This ontology signaled the beginning of a great dispute, and the Third Council of Constantinople found itself confronted with the question: What is the spiritual substance of this ontology? Or, more concretely: What does it mean, in practical and existential terms, to speak of `One Persons in Two natures’? How can a person live with two wills and a twofold intellect? These were by no means questions posed out of theoretical curiosity: the questions affect us too, for the issue is this: How can we live as baptized people, to whom Paul’s words must apply: `I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal 2, 20)?

“As is well known, then – in the seventh century – as today, two solutions which were equally unacceptable presented themselves. Some said that in Christ there was in fact no actual human will. The third Council of Constantinople rejects this picture of Christ as that of a `Christ lacking on both will and power.’ The other solution took the opposite view and assumed that there were two completely separate spheres of will in Christ. But this led to a kind of schizophrenia, a monstrous suggestion which was also unacceptable. The Council’s answer is this: the ontological union of two faculties of will which remain independent within the unity of the Person means that, at the existential level, there is a communion (κοινωνία) of the two wills. With this interpretation of union as communion, the Council sketches an ontology of freedom. The two `wills’ are united in the way in which two wills can be united, namely, in a common affirmation of a shared value. In to her words, common affirmation of a shared value. In other words, what unites the two wills is the Yes of Christ’s human will to the divine will of the Logos. Thus, in concrete terms - `existentially’ – the two wills become a single will while remaining, at the ontological level, two independent realities. The Council adds that, just as the Lord’s flesh may be called the flesh of the Logos, his human will may also be termed the Logos’ own will. In practice the Council is here applying the Trinitarian model (with the mandatory ever-greater difference in the analogy) to Christology: the highest unity there is – the unity of God – is not the unity of unstructured, amorphous substance but unity by communion, a unity which both creates and is love. Thus the Logos adopts the being of the man Jesus into his own being and speaks of it in terms of his own I: `For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). In the Son’s obedience, where both wills become one in a single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between human and divine being. The `wondrous exchange,’ the `alchemy of being,’ is realized here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange, and only here, that that fundamental change takes place in man, the change which alone can redeem him and transform the conditions of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act whereby we participate in the son’s obedience, which involves man’s genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole. Only where this act takes place is there a change for good – in the direction of the kingdom of God.”

In a later moment (1985), Cardinal Ratzinger directed a retreat for John Paul II. There, he made the same point, but with nuances. He said:

“In the manuals, the theological development after Chalcedon has ordinarily come to be little considered. The impression thus frequently remains that dogmatic Christology finishes up with a certain parallelism between the two natures of Christ. This impression has also been the cause leading to the divisions since Chalcedon. But in effect the declaration of the true humanity and the true divinity of Christ can retain its significance only when there is clarification also of the mode of unity of the two natures, which the Council of Chalcedon has defined by the formula of the `one person’ of Christ, at that time not yet fully examined. In fact only that unity of divinity and humanity which in Christ is not parallelism, whereon stands alongside the other, but real compenetration – compenetration between God and man – means salvation for humankind. Only thus in fact does that true `being with God’ take place, without which liberation and free do not exist.”[11]

Comment: It is most important to observe that the two “wills” are “wills” of the One Person Who wills as both God and man. The human faculty of a human person does not will. The person wills. So also, if that human will is the will of a divine Person, it is the divine Person willing with a human faculty, not the human faculty willing. And yet, at the same time, that human will is not abolished by the fact that it has been assumed by a divine Person. On the contrary, the human will as the entire human nature of the historical man Jesus (whose only Person is the Logos) now achieves the autonomy and freedom of the divine Person. The human will does not lose its freedom by saying Yes to the will of the Father. It achieves the supreme freedom of self-gift that is its ontological “construction” as image of God.

Conclusion: Since the human will does not will but the divine Person wills by it and through it, the Absolute of the divine Person is present in the exercise of the human will of this concrete man Jesus of Nazareth. And that humanity is neither independent as parallel in order to be free, or absorbed and abolished as human in the divine, but rather exalted, fulfilled and autonomous with the autonomy of the divine Person Himself who is now the revelation of exactly what it means to be man as image of the divine Persons. The Absolute is in the contingent, the eternal is in time, the infinite is in the finite.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Another Rendering of Ratzinger’s “Compenetration” Without “Parallelism: Attention to the Disappearance of Dualisms
[Supernatural/natural, grace/nature, faith/reason, Church/State…]

Consider that “compenetration” of the divine Person in and with the human will of Jesus of Nazareth, is what is meant by “total self-gift,” and with it "communio."

And yet, the human will is not reduced but perfectly autonomous and free as divinized

“(The Third Council of Constantinople [680-681] teaches that the unity of God and man in Christ involves no amputation or reduction in any way of human nature. In conjoining himself to man, his creature, God does not violate or diminish him; in doing so, he brings him for the first time to his real fullness. On the other hand (and this is no less important), it abolishes all dualism or parallelism of the two natures, such as had always seemed necessary in order to safeguard Jesus’ human freedom In such attempts it had been forgotten that when the human will is taken up into the will of God, freedom is not destroyed; indeed, only then does genuine freedom come into its own. The Council of Constantinople analyzed the question of the two-ness and the one-ness in Christ by reference to the concrete issue of the will of Jesus. It resolutely maintains that, as man, Jesus has a human will which is not absorbed by the divine will. But this human will follows the divine will and thus becomes one will with it, not in a natural manner but along the path of freedom. The metaphysical two-ness of a human and a divine will is not abrogated, but in the realm of the person, in the realm of freedom, the fusion of both takes place, with the result that they become one will not naturally, but personally. This free unity – a form of unity created by love – is higher and more interior than a merely natural unity. It corresponds to the highest unity there is, namely, Trinitarian unity. The Council illustrates this unity by citing a dominical word handed down to us in the Gospel of John: `I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). Here it is the divine Logos who is speaking, and he speaks of the human will of the man Jesus as his will, the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of John 6, 38 the Council indicates the unity of the subject in Christ. There are not two `I’s in him, but only one. The Logos speaks in the I-form of the human will and mind of Jesus; it has become his I, has become adopted into his I, because the human will is completely one with the will of the Logos. United with the latter, it has become a pure Yes to the Father’s will.[12]

"Maximus the Confessor, the great theological interpreter of this second phase of the Christological dogma, illuminates this whole context by reference to Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives, which as we already saw in thesis I, expresses Jesus’ unique relationship to God. Indeed, it is as if we were actually looking in on the inner life of the Word-made-man. It is revealed to us I the sentence which remains the measure and model of all real prayer: `Not what I will, but what thou wilt’ (Mk. 14, 36). Jesus human will assimilates itself to the will of the Son. In doing this, he receives the Son’s identity, i.e., the complete subordination of the I to the Thou, the self-giving and self-expropriation of the I to the Thou. This is the very essence of him who is pure relation and pure act., Wherever the I gives itself to the Thou, there is freedom because this involves the reception of the `form of God.’ [The Absolute].

"But we can also describe this process, and describe it better, from the other side: the Logos so humbles himself that he adopts a man’s will as his own and addresses the Father with te I of this human being; he transfers his own I to this man and thus transforms human speech into the eternal Word, into his blessed `Yes,’ Father.’ By imparting his own I, his own identity, to this human being, he liberates him, redeems him, makes him God. Now we can take the real meaning of `God has become man’ in both hands, as it were: the Son transforms the anguish of a man into his own filial obedience, the speech of the servant into the Word which is the Son.

"Thus we come to grasp the manner of our liberation, our participation in the Son’s freedom. As a result of the unity of wills of which we have spoken, the greatest possible change has taken place in man, the only change which meets his desire: he has become divine. We can therefore describe that prayer which enters into the praying of Jesus and becomes the prayer of Jesus in the Body of Christ as freedom’s laboratory. Here and nowhere else takes place that radical change in man of which we stand in need, that the world may become a getter place. For it is only along this path that conscience attains its fundamental soundness and its unshakable power. And only from such a conscience can there come that ordering of human affairs which corresponds to human dignity and protects it. Every generation has to seek anew this right ordering of the world in response to a conscience that is alert, until the kingdom of God comes, which God alone can establish.

Islam is “Faith” as Conceptual Ideology, not Anthropology of Self-Gift

The reality is that Islam does not live faith as an anthropological act. It is a conceptual act that leads to prayer and fasting, but this worship more than faith. John Paul II suggested this when he said: “Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.
“Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is als0 mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.”

Since Christian faith is an obedience of self-gift, and therefore, free, it is significant that faith in Islam is not free. And the result of this is the failure to have any notion of true “secularity” based on the “consciousness” of the self-transcending believer and the consequent dualism of Church and State as consequence. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger had this comment:

“The modern idea of freedom is thus a legitimate product of the Christian environment; it could not have developed anywhere else. Indeed, one must add that it cannot be separated from this Christian environment and transplanted into any other system, as is shown very clearly today in the renaissance of Islam; the attempt to graft on to Islamic societies what are termed western standards cut loose from their Christian foundations misunderstands the internal logic of Islam as well as the historical logic to which these western standards belong, and hence this attempt was condemned to fail in this form. The construction of society in Islam is theocratic, and therefore monist and not dualist; dualism, which is the precondition for freedom, presupposes for its part the logic of the Christian thing.

"In practice this means that it is only where the duality of Church and state, of the sacral and the political authority, remains maintained in some form or another that the fundamental pre-condition exists for freedom. Where the Church itself becomes the state freedom becomes lost. But also when the Church done away with as a pubic and publicly relevant authority, then too freedom is extinguished, because there the state once again claims completely for itself the justification of morality; in the profane post-Christian world it does not admittedly do this in the form of sacral authority but as an ideological authority – that means that the state becomes the party, and since there can no longer be any other authority of the same rank it once again becomes total itself. The ideological state is totalitarian; it must become ideological if it is not balanced by a free but publicly recognized authority of conscience. When this kind of duality does not exist the totalitarian system in unavoidable.

“With this the fundamental task of the Church’s political stance, as I understand it, has been defined; its aim must be to maintain this balance of a dual system as the foundation of freedom. Hence the Church must make claims and demands on public law and cannot simply retreat into the private sphere. Hence it must also take care on the other hand that Church and state remain separated and that belonging to the Church clearly retains its voluntary character.”

[1] Cardinal Ratzinger’s Homily in Mass at St. Peter’s Before Conclave: “Jesus Christ: `The Measure of True Humanism,’” April 19, 2005.
[2] Joseph Ratzinger now Pope Benedict XVI and Marcello Pera, “Without Roots – The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam,” Basic Books (2006) 79.
[3] Ibid. 67-68.
[4] Benedict XVI: “The Spiritual Roots of Europe: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” in Without Roots, the West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Basic Books (2006) 73-74.
[5] Karol Wojtyla, “The Constitution of Culture Through Human Praxis,” Person and Community Lang (1993) 265.
[6] Ibid. 266.
[7] Andre Frossard, John Paul II, “Be Not Afraid,” St. Martin’s Press (1984) 64.
[8] Karol Wojtyla, “Participation or Alienation,” Person and Community, (1993) 204
[9] Ibid. 200-201.
[10] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1984) 90-93.
[11] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 88-89.
[12] Ratzinger comments: “The central distinction which is fundamental to the Council (and which has received scant attention up to now) was worked out by Maximus the Confessor: he distinguishes the Thelema Physikon which belongs to the naturae and thus exists separately in Christ’s godhead and manhood, from the `gnomic’ thelema `which is identical with the liberum arbitrium and pertain to the person; in Christ it can only be a single thelema, since he subsists in the divine Person’ (Beck 41). Thus `much that had earlier been regarded as Monophysite… could be taken into spiritually’ (Beck 43). Once this basic idea of Constantinople III, which is central to Neo-Chalcedonian Christology, based on Pannenberg, are futile, resting on a misunderstanding. In Theo. Berichte 2, 29, Wiederhehr speaks of the `symmetrical path of the two-natures doctrine’ under the influence of the `two wills’ decision and thinks that it resulted from the idea `of an internal Christological dialogue… between a divine and a human nature.’ Thus he can rightly object that `there is nothing of this in the Jesus of the synoptics.’ `As far as the man Jesus is concerned, his dialogue partner is the Father, not his own self in his divine nature and person.’ This assertion, which he opposes to Neo-Chalcedonism, is in fact precisely the view of Constantinople III, except that the latter works out its ontological and existential structure very much more thoroughly than Widerkehr. Pannenberg (Jesus, God and Man, 1968) formulates it thus: “`Person’ is a relational concept, and, because the relation of Jesus to the Father in his dedication to him is identical with the eternal Person of the Son of God’ (339). It seems to me, if I read him correctly, that Pannenberg too fails to see that he is thinking along sthe same lines as Constantinople III (and Maximus the Confessor). In fact he is concentrating rather on the dispute with Leontius of Byzantium. From this point of view… etc., etc.
[13] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 37-42.
[14] John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Knopf (1994) 92-93.
[15] J. Ratzinger, “A Christian Orientation….” Op. cit. 162-163.

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