THE GHOST OF APOLLINARIS IN CHINESE CHURCHES TODAY
In recent years a doctrinal confusion regarding Christ’s human nature has arisen in Chinese churches. A group of Christians identifying themselves as “Reformed” have asserted that Christ’s humanity is uncreated and preexistent, coeternal with His deity. Central to their general position is a challenge against what they think to be Chalcedon’s assumption, namely, that human nature must include the flesh. Their proposal is that Christ’s human nature is uncreated and eternally within His divine Person, and this human nature is the “image of God” in which human beings are created. On this view, Christ would be the archetypal human. According to their proposal, the incarnation would be Christ’s act of taking on merely human flesh, but not human nature, which already subsists within Christ’s Person from all eternity without the body. Their very fundamental starting point is that “no part of Christ’s Person can be created,” which, of course, does not necessarily contradict the historic orthodoxy of the Church if this very imprecise statement is properly qualified.
近年来华人教会间出现了一种对于基督人性的辩论。一群自称为“改革宗”的基督徒坚持基督的人性是非受造的，先存的，与其神性同为永恒。他们基本的立场乃是挑战他们所认为迦克顿信条的内容，也就是说，基督的人性必须被包含在其肉身之中。他们认为基督的人性乃是非受造的，并且与祂的神格同为永存，这个人性是‘神的像’，人性在其中被造。根据这个看法，基督是人类的原型。根据他们的看法，道成肉身乃是基督取了人类肉身的行为，基督并没有取得人性，这个人性已经从永远就存在于基督的位格中，却没有身体。他们最基本的观点乃是，‘基督位格中没有任何被造的部分（no part of Christ’s Person can be created），’当然，这个非常含糊不清的宣告若是能够正确的被解释，它不必然会跟教会的正统教义产生冲突。
However, given that it is not incorrect—though imprecise it may be—to say that “no part of Christ’s Person can be created,” it is a serious misreading of Chalcedonian Christology to interpret its description of Christ’s human nature as “a part of” His Person. On the Chalcedonian understanding, the relation between Christ’s human nature and divine Person is not to be understood as “part of the whole,” but rather a relation of : Christ human nature in such a way that it is inseparably to His divine nature in His divine Person with abiding distinction. If this “relation of communion” is hard to understand, think of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three “parts” of the Triune Godhead, but rather, as Augustine famously puts it, each Person in the of the divine Being. The three Persons are inseparably united in a relation of mutual indwelling (Greek: perichoresis) without ever blurring the distinction between the Persons. In a similar way, Christ’s two natures are not two “parts” of His Person, but are in a relation of communion and mutual communication, such that to see the man Jesus to see the very Son of God Himself. One important difference between Christ’s two natures and the Triune Godhead is that while the three Persons are coeternally self-existent, Christ’s human nature was (i.e., taken on) by His divine Person upon the incarnation, before which Christ is called the “ ”—“Word without flesh.” Thus, when the Bible says that He “emptied Himself” (Greek: kenosis), it does not mean that He dumped some of His divine attributes, but rather He assumed or took on the form of a servant. In other words, it is a self-emptying rather than. In other words, Christ’s human nature was to His divine Person upon the incarnation, before which He was without human nature.
然而，因为这个宣告是错误的—虽然它可能只是含糊不清—宣称“基督位格中没有任何被造的部分”乃是对于迦克顿基督论的严重误解，并将它对基督人性的描述诠释为祂位格的‘一部分’。在迦克顿的理解之中，基督人性和神格间的关系不能被了解成为“部分（part of whole）”，而是相通的关系：基督取了人性的方式时代它以一种无法被分隔的方式，在祂的神格中，以彼此内住的方式，与祂的神性联合。若这个“相通的关系”不容易被理解，我们可以想像三位一体：父，子和圣灵不是神格的三个“部分”，而是根据奥古斯丁著名的说法，每个位格皆拥有神完全的存有。三个位格以不可分割的方式在‘彼此内在’的方式中（希腊文：Perichoresis—相互渗透）相互联合，同时三个位格的分别也不会被模糊。同样的，基督的二性也不是祂位格的两个“部分”，而是在相通和彼此相通的关系之中，如此观看为人的基督，就是观看神儿子的本身。在基督的二性和三一神的神格间很重要的一个不同点在于，在三个位格是同永恒，和自有的同时，基督的人性是祂的神格在成为肉身时被取的（例如，穿上），在这之前，基督被成为‘Logos asarkos’—“没有肉身的道。”故此，当圣经说祂“倒空自己”（希腊文：Kenosis）的时候，并不代表基督把祂神性的属性都倒光了，而是祂取了，或穿上奴仆的形像。换句话说，祂乃是借由‘添加’而自我倒空，并不是因‘减少’而自我倒空。换句话说，基督的人性在道成肉身的时候被加在祂的神格之上，在这之前，祂是没有人性的。
This is of key import to our knowledge of Jesus Christ: suppose that Christ’s human nature were “a part of” His divine Person, and given that the proponents of the aforementioned heterodox Christology are indeed right in their conviction that “no part of Christ’s Person may be created,” then the necessary inference would be that Jesus’s humanity is uncreated and eternally a part of His Person (this is precisely their proposal). Yet, after Christ “emptied” Himself, His humanity underwent : He took on the form of a servant, experienced bodily as well as mental growth (Luke 2:40), tasted death, and became incorruptible upon His resurrection. Now, if Christ’s humanity were uncreated and eternally subsisting as “a part of” His Person, there would then be two possible inferences. The first is to admit that Christ experienced all these changes in the fulness of His humanity, body and soul. But if His humanity, or indeed part of His humanity, were uncreated and eternally “a part of” His divine Person, would this not mean that a part of His very Person also underwent change? But Christ’s Person is the Person of the Son of God, the Creator-Logos: He is —in Him there is not a shadow of change! To avoid this inference, one may then argue for a second possibility: what experienced all these changes was only Christ’s physical body but not His entire human nature. On this view, Christ’s uncreated human nature has indeed been a part of His Person from all eternity, and this part—indeed no part—of His Person underwent change, because what experienced all the changes was only Christ’s body that was not a part of His humanity until the incarnation. Sure this would avoid the inference that Christ’s Person underwent change, but would it not then lead to the conclusion that Christ’s body was only a shadow, as it were? Yet that is an ancient heresy repudiated by Ecumenical Council known as “docetism”, namely, the theory that Christ did not really go through any of the things that happened during His earthly time: what suffered on the cross, for example, was only a shadowy body rather than His true and full human nature. As far as I know, the proponents of the theory of Christ’s uncreated humanity in contemporary Chinese churches have rejected docetism and recognised it as heresy. What this means, then, is that when they posit that Christ’s uncreated humanity subsists eternally within His Person, they cannot avoid the inference that Christ’s Person underwent change. For this reason, Chalcedonian Christology emphasises that Christ’s humanity is “a part of” His Person, thus eternally self-existent (indeed, if His humanity were “a part of” His Person, it would have to be eternal and uncreated if the whole Person is to be eternal and uncreated), but to His self-existent Person by . This way, Chalcedonian Christology can state that Christ really experienced in the fulness of His humanity all that He went through from His conception to the ascension, and all the changes that Christ underwent in His humanity would not constitute any shadow of change in His Person. Thus, it is of key import to understand the relation of Christ’s humanity to His Person as one of by . In my opinion, one key reason for the ongoing Christological confusion in Chinese churches today is a lack of understanding of the crucial differences between “a part of” and “united to.”