Destroying Death by Death

Протоиерей Джон Бэр

Resurrection of Christ, Noel Coypel, 1700

Resurrection of Christ, Noël Coypel, 1700

Продолжение. Предыдущая публикация: «Moses wrote of Me»

The second point is that it is by his death that Christ conquers death,

revealing life everlasting.

This is of such paramount importance that one risks using too many words to emphasize it. Or rather, it has such awesome implications that one is, in fact, lost for words.

Christ does not show himself to be God by being “almighty,” as we tend to think of this

— as moving mountains, throwing lightening bolts and so on—

it is rather by the all-too-human act of dying,

in the particular manner that he does.

Death is, in point of fact, the only thing that is guaranteed to happen to all men and women from the beginning of the world onwards, throughout all regions and cultures of the world.

And thus Christ reveals what it is to be God through the only thing that we have in common.

He does this not simply by dying

— for that would merely have been a capitulation of God, the end—

rather, he does it by the way that he has died.

Had Christ revealed what it is to be God in any other way—

for example, by being rich and powerful (reflecting our own desires),

or poor and an outcast (as we might conclude by hearing prophetic and evangelical injunctions),

or by being a first-century Jewish male (in a quest for the “historical Jesus”)

— any such option would have excluded some people: those who do not fit any such group would have no part in him.

Alternatively, if it were simply because he was human, like us, that he died,

but because he is also God he is able to get himself out of the grave,

that would have been great for him,

but it would not really have helped others.

Such things are unworthy of any consideration at all.

As we will see, it is rather because he conquers death by his death

that he enables all men and women also

to use their own mortality to come to life in him.

This is the heart of the theology defended by the councils.

That which we see in the crucified and risen Christ, as proclaimed by the apostles through the words drawn from scripture—from the prophecies and the accounts, the poetry and the prayers—that is what it is to be God, this is the heart of the faith defended in the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in the fourth century.

This is the meaning of the affirmation that Christ is “consubstantial with the Father,”

that he is what it is to be both God, and yet other than the Father.

Moreover, this is only known in and through the Holy Spirit, by whom alone we are able to confess Christ as Lord (1 Cor 12:3), in whom we are also adopted as sons of God, and so we also confess the Holy Spirit to be what it is to be God, one of the Holy Trinity.

The heart of the definition of the Council of Chalcedon is that what it is to be human and what it is to be God

— death and life —

are seen in one concrete being (hypostasis), with one “face” (prosōpon).

That is, we do not look at one being to see God and another to see man.

No!

Both are revealed together—“without confusion, change, division, separation.”

What it is to be God and what it is to be human remain the same, but the miracle is that each is now revealed together in one and, therefore, also through each other:

mortality is not a property of God,

creating life is not a property of humans,

but Christ has brought both together, conquering death by his death and in this very act conferring life, a life which can no longer be touched by death.

And, moreover, as the subsequent Councils affirm, this one is the eternal Word of God and the image of the invisible God.

Продолжение: «Behold the Human Being» — «It is Finished»