Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jonathan Prejean and the Book of Hezekiah

One of the funniest aspects of the play, Fiddler on the Roof, is Tevye's (the "papa") tendency to make up statements out of whole cloth and attribute them to Scripture: "As the good book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face." He's finally challenged on one of these statements by Mendel, one of his friends who gather together in town along with Tevye to discuss issues:

Tevye: "As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick."

Mendel: "Where does the book say that?"

Tevye: "Well, it doesn't say that exactly, but somewhere there is something about a chicken."

Those who are only remotely familiar with Scripture engage in similar statements even today. Attributing phrases to Scripture such as "all men are created equal," "cleanliness is next to godliness," and "God helps those who help themselves," are but a few examples of the biblical literacy common to most people who call themselves Christians. I dont know how many times I have been asked by some well meaning Christian, "Doesn't the Bible say somewhere that people who have not heard the gospel will get a second chance?" When I am asked such things, I normally smile at them slyly and respond, "Yeah, I think that's somewhere in the Book of Hezekiah." After a moment of confused expressions, I clarify that there is, of course, no such book in the Bible; but if there were, I bet it would contain all those sayings.

I can only assume the Book of Hezekiah is where Jonathan Prejean gets his Christology. My final contribution to the discussion with Prejean over his neo-Platinist tendencies follows:

“Svendsen does not appear to be distinguishing between the natural and supernatural operation of Scripture. I can explain that as follows. First, I didn't say that the Apostles do not speak to us outside of their first-century Jewish context. In some sense, all historical literature speaks to people outside of the historical context, be it the works of Euripides, the Qu'ran, the Book of Mormon, or whatever. In that mundane sense, the Bible does speak as any historical document does. But the authoritative component of Scripture, what makes it able to speak beyond its historical confines as revelatory, i.e., its inspiration, is supernatural and not natural in quality, and this is perceived by application of the rule of faith to Scripture (Scripture being its own rule of faith in this regard would be circular; the rule of faith isn't learned FROM Scripture but used to read Scripture).”

This is just gratuitous nonsense, and Prejean should just stay out of this arena altogether. He has claimed to know what exegesis is, but he keeps proving he is clueless about it. “Mundane” words do not suddenly have a different “meaning” just because they are found to be inspired. On the contrary; it is precisely because they are inspired and therefore authoritative that we must “pay even closer attention” (Heb 2) to them and take them at face value rather than play with them as “spiritual toys” to be manipulated by those who would have them say whatever they want them to say.

“I don't say that it has no meaning, only that it was not, by and large, intentionally written to have meaning for us today. It still DOES, on account of the Holy Spirit's superintendence of what was written, but that is more a product of the supernatural operation than the intent of the authors.”

Yes, Prejean did in fact say Scripture is irrelevant and meaningless as a consideration in the present debate, and it is embarrassingly obvious that he is now backpedaling on this point. All one need do is read the previous installments to this dialogue to know this is true. Prejean writes his current point as though this discussion is about whether or not the relevance of Scripture for today is tied directly to its inspiration. He’s stating a given, and he’s doing it as a smokescreen to take the pressure off for his rather moronic comments about Scripture’s irrelevance made earlier in this discussion. His statements both then and now are akin to stating “an orange has no flavor,” and then, once challenged on the utter foolishness of that statement, making the rather silly “clarification” that what he really meant to say was “apart from the citrus and the sugars and the rest of the chemical makeup that constitutes flavor, an orange has no flavor.” The backpedaling is obvious.

“Going ‘beyond that’ and ‘posit[ing] some sort of application today’ based on the ‘inherent authority in the writer or the writings’ is not treating Scripture as a purely historical document. It's confusing the divine and human aspects of Scripture, which are perceived by different methods, rather than allowing them to persist distinctly and unconfusedly.”

All very gnostic indeed. The “human” aspect of Scripture, according to Prejean, is “mundane” and “irrelevant” for us today. It is only the “divine” aspect, whose meaning not only transcends the words of the text, but ends up being a different meaning altogether (albeit not contradictory), and is discerned only by the magisterial illuminati.

“Certainly, general principles about the human nature and the divine nature continue to apply, because those things do not change. There is much moral guidance in Scripture that is simply an accurate description of human behavior, but even an atheist can recognize that. Paul's Christological hermeneutic is far from this sort of mundane analogy based on human nature; note the explicitly Christological focus in that passage (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 10:1-6, 16-17, 26). This is hardly just "they were idolaters, and bad things happened to them, so don't be idolaters either.”

If what Prejean intends to show is that Paul read some kind of mystical reading into the OT wilderness narrative, he is off base. Paul is not reinterpreting the OT narrative; he is simply making a modern-day application of its principle. Prejean wants us to believe that what Paul is saying here is that there is a deeper “hidden” meaning in Scripture that can be discerned only through the magisterium. But this is far from what Paul is doing here, and it is simply a case of eisegesis on the part of Prejean to suggest he is. Paul is not saying that the “rock” from which the Israelites drank was Christ in an exegetical sense, or even as some “fuller” sense of Scripture (as though Christ transformed into an inanimate object). It’s a figure of speech made as an application to the Corinthians in light of the Christ event. Christ, revealed as God in the NT, was by that fact the one who nourished the Israelites in the dessert. They were “baptized” into Moses, not in a “deeper” sense, but in a symbolic sense, illustrated by their passing “through the sea.” They partook of Christ’s provision of manna and water, and also partook of idols in the golden calf event. Being laid to waste for that idolatry was the consequence of such treason. In the same way, the Corinthians were partaking of Christ in the Supper, and they were partaking in idolatry at pagan feasts. Paul’s point is that they too were in danger of God’s displeasure. But there is nothing in this passage that lends itself to the Roman version of sensus plenior. And if this is what Prejean was trying to show, there are many other NT passages that would have made his point more readily (although even those would be suspect).

“There's also no sense in trying to stretch the historical meaning of Scripture into something that it can't be. To understand the meaning of what God told us in revelation requires us to know His son; there is no substitute.”

Except for that nagging little fact that a good portion of the New Testament was written expressly to convince readers that they need to come to know God’s Son, including the Gospels of Matthew and John: “these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Hence, the ability to understand revelation, even as an unbeliever, is assumed throughout. The Christological reading of the OT is something that came to light after the Christ event, and it was largely based on the new revelation received by the apostles. We have no corresponding “new” revelation that would similarly “explain” the NT, or that would suggest we ought to be looking for hidden meanings. Much less do we have mandates from the apostles that we ought to be reading and understanding their instructions and teachings in ways that “twist” the words of Scripture (2 Pet 3:16).

“I certainly have no qualms about this sort of argument. Nestorius appears to have affirmed the union of divine and human in Christ, only incoherently so. But I take issues with two statements here. First, I don't think "Protestants" as a whole agree with Svendsen's defense of Nestorius. Second, I'm not docetistic; I'm theandric. It's not docetistic to say that the theandric quality of Scripture depends on both the divine and human operations, distinct and unconfused.”

It’s implicitly docetic to say that the apostles do not speak to us today; and it’s gnostic to say that the “human” aspect of Scripture carries a different meaning of Scripture than the “divine” aspect.

“Nestorianism isn't the belief that there is no union in Christ; most Nestorians affirmed that there was a union. Nestorianism is the belief that the union between the natures is constituted by something other than the person of the Word of God, and particularly, by union of operations like will or love (i.e., Nestorian-type monoenergism, aka, monothelitism). It has nothing to do with my "limited paradigm," but rather with my belief that Christ cannot be constituted by the union of the natures.”

Again, according to what? A biblical paradigm, or a neo-Platonist paradigm?

“it's Svendsen who has ventured to say that the union in Christ consists of the union between two natures, just as Nestorius speculated. I am content to affirm that Christ IS the Word of God, the same person, and to deny the speculation that appropriating a human nature changes that.”

What? Where have I ever insinuated that the immutable Word changed? I have never stated such a thing. Yet, here we have in Prejean’s solution traces of apollinarianism—Jesus wasn’t a man; he simply appropriated “human nature.”

“absent an instantiation, there are no concrete properties to be bundled into a concrete entity.”

It is entirely meaningless to use Prejean’s categories. If, as Prejean concedes, “nature” does not exist apart from “instantiation”—that is, outside of a person—then Prejean is making a distinction without a difference. A person is a person in his whole being—nature included—and is not chopped up into “instantiation” and “nature” as Prejean argues. It is meaningless to talk about “instantiations” of a thing if that thing does not exist apart from the “instantiation.” In Prejean’s incoherent philosophical speculation, 1 x 0 = 1.

But perhaps the problem is with Prejean’s use of the word “instantiation.” In its dictionary definition, “instantiation” is nothing more than an “instance” of something that is already known to exist, and “to instantiate” is to “represent by an instance,” not “to bring into existence” (as Prejean seems to be using the word). For instance, heos hou in Matt 1:25 “instantiates” the meaning “until but not after”; that is to say, the phrase in Matt 1:25 represents an instance of that underlying meaning. It doesn’t “cause” that meaning to exist. It can instantiate that meaning only because the meaning exists apart from that instance. Prejean wants to apply this word to “nature,” claiming that “person” instantiates “nature.” But this makes sense only on the ground that person is a concrete instance of nature and not something separate from nature. To say that “person” instantiates “nature,” is to say that “person” is an “instance” of nature, and therefore that person is nothing more and nothing other than an instance of nature. If that’s the case, then an instantiation of human nature must be a human person. Prejean wants to avoid this conclusion by proposing that the Word assumed human nature, but in so doing destroys the very definition of instantiation. In other words, Prejean’s view is left incoherent because it is internally inconsistent with the terms and definitions he has adopted to promote it. In any case, we have again shown the utter inadequacy of Prejean’s approach to this issue. He wants to be able to explain the inexplicable in an attempt to have a “coherent” Christology; but at the end of the day his view is shown to be nothing less than incoherent.

“The nature is given concrete existence by the person”

Then “instantiation” is the wrong word to use in this discussion. What kind of “existence” does it have outside of the “person”? A theoretical one? These are simply nonsensical human speculations that have no basis in Scripture. And the more Prejean writes on these things, the clearer that point becomes.

“The doctrine of the Incarnation is that the divine person instantiates the human nature (really and concretely).”

Really? Did Prejean find this particular explanation of the Incarnation in the book of Hezekiah, perhaps? We have already shown that “instantiation” (in its dictionary definition) simply does not support Prejean’s view. Prejean has contended that “person” is defined as “instantiation of rational nature.” If he wants to tack onto that the statement that “divine person instantiates human nature,” then the outcome cannot be “divine person” with “human nature,” but must instead be “person” with “divine nature” and “human nature.” If there is an “instance” of “human nature” in Christ, then by Prejean’s own definition it must be a “human person.” Note well Prejean’s muddled and confused explanation—“person is an instantiation of nature” (or perhaps “category of instantiation of nature,” we‘re not exactly sure), and “absent an instantiation, there are no concrete properties to be bundled into a concrete entity,” and “the nature is given concrete existence by the person,” and concludes “The doctrine of the Incarnation is that the divine person instantiates the human nature.” Now compare this to the utter simplicity of Scripture: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Who is the one in the discussion engaging in philosophical speculation? It is certainly not I.

“A 'person' isn't a nature; we classify persons by the instantiation from which they derive their existence.”

Here we have evidence that Prejean is teetering between two meanings of “person.” On the one hand (via his use of “instantiation,” unless he is misusing the word), he claims to maintain that “person” represents an instance of nature. This definition gives priority to nature, not person. Person is simply a concrete instance of something that is assumed to exist (that is the dictionary definition of “instantiation”), and so “person” derives its existence from “nature.” So, contrary to Prejean’s statement above, “person” IS “nature” concretely considered (or applied). On the other hand, he wants to argue that “person” somehow exists apart from nature, giving person priority. Nature in this case is the lesser thing that is considered after the fact of “person.” On this definition, “nature” derives its existence from “person.” Prejean’s view is based on an equivocation of the term “person,” and is therefore incoherent.

But regardless of which definition he really holds, we are once again compelled to ask the question, Says who? Who says “person isn't a nature” or that a person is the “instantiation from which they derive their existence”? Prejean’s neo-Platonist instructors? If “existence” is all that defines “person,” then a dog is a person, an insect is a person, and a tree is a person. But then Prejean will object, “No, what I meant is person is an instantiation of rational nature,” but that just begs the question and is nothing more than gratuitous circular reasoning. What degree of “rational” is then required? There is evidence that even apes and dolphins can respond rationally. No one can really know for certain one way or the other. Although greatly debated, even dogs have been shown to demonstrate some degree of rational behavior. Are these “persons” as well?

“The Word of God in no way depends on His human nature for His existence, so it would be wrong to say that He is a ‘human person.’”

Notice again Prejean’s biblical confusion on this point. Of course the “Word” does not require human nature for his existence. But the “Word” is Christ’s pre-incarnate designation. His post-incarnate designation is “Christ Jesus.” Contra Prejean, Christ does not and cannot “exist” apart from his humanity. His “manness,” his human existence in all its fullness, is (again, contra Prejean) absolutely required for him to be and to remain “Christ Jesus.” Prejean simply confuses pre-incarnation conditions with the incarnation itself.

“This is backward; attributes aren't gathered together into an entity; the entity instantiates them (the concrete reality is the person, not the nature).”

No; at least on the dictionary definition of “instantiation,” the concrete “instance” is the person; but the underlying “reality” is the nature.

“The instantiation of a human nature doesn't require a human person because a divine person can instantiate the human nature without depending on that nature for His existence.”

Teeter Totter, Bread and Water. Prejean would be well advised to pick a definition of “person” and go with it. He earlier argued that a person is an instance of rational nature. That is the closest Prejean comes to the actual definition of “instantiate.” Then he suggested that “instantiate” means something like “create” (“person gives concrete reality to nature”; the word does not mean that at all). From that standpoint he is now arguing that “person” is something entirely separate from “nature” and that “nature” is something entirely separate from “person,” so that there can now be an “instance” of human nature without it resulting in a “person”; that is to say, an instance of “nature” can be extracted from the very thing it is supposed to be an instance of, so that it becomes an entity in itself without consideration of “personage,” and then can be pasted onto another “person” of a completely different nature. “Person” begins as nothing more than an artifact (instance) of rational nature (in this case rational “human” nature), and ends up being something that can in fact be extracted from that instance and disposed of. This remaining “instance” of human nature (no longer a “person,” mind you, even though Person and Instance began as the very same thing) can now be repackaged and re-used by other “persons.”

This is equivocation of the worst kind. And where exactly does Prejean get this notion in the first place? Hezekiah 46:2? Reread Prejean’s statement above; the arrogance of such an assertion is staggering. On what authority does Prejean’s assertion stand outside of the word of his neo-Platonist instructors? How exactly does Prejean know things like “attributes aren't gathered together into an entity” and “the entity instantiates [the attributes]”? In Prejean’s mind, philosophy is a hard science that allows you to break down the properties of “person” and “nature” and conduct DNA analysis on them. Prejean displays a remarkable childish confidence in his position on these things—or else he has special revelation from God about them that no one else has (the book of Hezekiah, perhaps?). I’ll wager it’s the former.

“Sure. He can be a divine person instantiating the human nature. Why not?”

Why not? Because Prejean has previously defined “person” as “instantiation of rational nature,” that’s why. “Person,” therefore, is not a thing that is separate from instantiation—it is the instantiation. And if Christ instantiated human nature then it follows inextricably that Christ is a human person. Once again, Prejean begins with one definition of “person” (person is an instance of rational nature, and an instance of rational human nature is therefore a human person—what else would define us as a human person?), and then changes it to another (person can be extracted from an instance of human nature—even though “instance” and “person” were once defined as the very same thing—and the remaining “instance of human nature” can be glued onto another “person”) to suit his cause. Prejean previously denied that “person” is a thing in itself, but rather something like an artifact of “instantiation.” If that is his working definition of “person” (unless he is now going to backpedal on that as well), and if he agrees (as he has in his answers to my questionnaire regarding the proper nomenclature of a “human person” and the consequent redundancy of referring to a man as a “human person with a human nature”) that “instantiation of rational nature” = “person,” and that “instantiation of rational divine nature” = “divine person,” then it follows inextricably, by Prejean’s own reasoning, that “instantiation of rational human nature” = “human person.” To make an exception in the case of Christ is to engage in the fallacy of special pleading. Remember, it is Prejean who insisted that any view on this issue must be coherent and internally consistent. His is neither.

Further, Prejean’s insistence on making a hard and fast distinction between “person” and “nature” results in a nonsensical product. If things like “rational thought,” mind, spirit, will, knowledge, wisdom, etc.—all those things we know were “human” in Christ (“he grew in wisdom”), what is left to define “person”? This point (combined with my point about the radical natures of sin) is what has led Prejean to clarify that “person” is not a “thing” in itself but an instantiation of a thing in the first place. Now he seems to be backpedaling and re-defining "person" as a thing in itself (considered apart from the nature it instantiates) that instantiates just any nature it wants. Prejean is nothing if not slippery in his definitions; and that in itself is enough to charge his own view with incoherence.

“Is He the union or is He the Word of God? If "the man Christ Jesus" IS the Word of God, then you affirm that a divine person (the Word of God) can instantiate the human nature. I'm not asking you to say HOW a divine person can instantiate the human nature; nobody knows that. All I'm asking you to affirm is that the natures are united in the person of the Word of God. This talk of "union" is just misleading, and it's exactly the sort of wishy-washy language that Nestorius kept using. Is the union the same as the Word of God, or isn't it?"

I affirm that the man Jesus Christ is the word of God made flesh. I affirm he is one person. But that does nothing to answer the question at hand. I also have to affirm that Jesus is as much man as he is God—and if he is less than fully man, we are unredeemed and left in our sins. If Prejean wants to refer to as “nature” all the attributes that most people recognize as comprising a “person”—mind, will, intellect, soul, spirit, desire, emotion, etc.—I suppose that’s his prerogative.

“And I will say again: the adjectives put in front of "person" do not conventionally refer to the nature instantiated by that person, but to the instantiation of the nature by which that person exists.”

I maintain that if a position must degenerate to this microscopic level of distinctions, based as they are on human speculation (what Paul calls the “wisdom of this world,” 1 Cor 1), the position is typically not worth arguing.

“Of course, since I think there is no Scriptural teaching about the "sin nature" (indeed, I view it as a metaphysical absurdity) and since I have categorically denied Svendsen's assertion that person is part of nature or a category of nature, I don't think he's proved much.”

I said I would forego this point, but this is just too delicious, because it illustrates so well the sub-Christian beliefs of Jonathan Prejean. The "sin nature," according to Prejean, is a "metaphysical absurdity" (Hezekiah 46:2). Why is it, then, no one in this world can live a sinless life no matter how hard he tries? How does Prejean explain the case of Mary in his own Roman Catholic belief? How is it Mary lived a sinless life? Was it because she did not sin accidentally, or rather because she was "conceived without sin"? How is it that, once redeemed, no one in heaven will ever sin? Why do people die in this life? The sin nature that Prejean denies effects many consequences in us: it condemns us, it causes our bodies to decay and die (what Paul calls “the corruption” in Rom 8), it produces a sinful disposition (Rom 3), and it prompts us to rebel against God (Rom 1). Paul affirms that before our conversion, “we were by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2—I suppose Prejean thinks our “children of wrath” nature is a “metaphysical absurdity” as well). If we are by nature children of wrath, that speaks of a sin principle that resides within us and that results in God’s judgment (unless God just condemns us arbitrarily). Indeed, no one can read Paul’s theology of the human condition in Rom 1:10-18 apart from the principle of sin that resides in and controls every single one of us, making us “slaves to sin”:

“as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,’ ‘The poison of asps is under their lips’; ‘Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness’; ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

Paul addresses this same condition in chapter 7 of the same letter:

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death (v. 5). . . But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. (8-11). . . For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin (14). . . So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me (17). . . . But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me (20). I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good (21). For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (21-23).

Here Paul clearly sees a principle of sin "at work within us"—that’s the sin nature. According to Paul, sin "indwells" us, "works in" us, is "alive" in us, is "present within" us, is a "principle" that wages war against our minds, and as a result makes us its "slave," putting us into "bondage to sin" and making us its "prisoner." According to Paul, this condition is the result of our being "sold into bondage to sin." Indeed, note well how Paul puts v. 8: "But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind." Paul does not say that coveting produced acts of sin, which is what Prejean's view requires. He says the opposite; namely, that sin produced coveting. How is that possible apart from the very "sin nature" that Prejean rejects as "metaphysically absurd" and that Paul takes pains to demonstrate is a metaphysical reality?

Prejean continues to demonstrate that he learns his "truth" from Plato, not Paul. This, as I stated above, well illustrates the sub-Christian nature of Prejean’s belief system. He denies the sin principle that Paul insists resides in us all. John himself tells us: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn 1:8). John is here referring to the same “sin principle” (or sin nature) as Paul in Romans 7. This sin principle is distinguished from personal acts of sin addressed two verses later: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (v. 10). Now Prejean, I assume, affirms the latter (personal acts of sin); but he denies the former (the inherent principle of sin) As such, according to the Apostle, “the truth is not in” Jonathan Prejean. Rather, like the incipient Gnostics John battles in this letter, he “deceives” himself (the charge of Gnosticism keeps mounting against Prejean).

“First, plans, thoughts, and desires are movements of the will too. Second, you're reifying sin. Sin isn't a thing; there is no sin nature.”

Since I have already debunked Prejean’s notion of “no sin nature,” I will assume that the additional points he makes based on this mistaken notion fall to the ground as well.

I wrote:
“Yet Prejean ends up abandoning this definition when he insists on referring to Christ as a “divine person with a human nature.” In every other case, instantiation of rational human nature, according to Prejean, is the very definition of "human person"; but in the case of Christ, Prejean conceives of "person" as something in addition to the instantiation of a rational human nature--indeed, the instantiation of rational human nature in the case of Christ is left hanging in the air! That instantiation of rational human nature ends up being nothing more than . . . human nature; whereas in every other case it is a person! He has already conceded that existence is part of “nature” (at least for the divine), not part of “person.” Hence, even if this “person” has “life in himself,” that is only by virtue of his divine nature, not by virtue of his person per se. It makes no sense to refer to someone as a “divine person” who also happens to instantiate humanity.”

Prejean responded: “Svendsen has misunderstood me pretty seriously.”

No, I have not misunderstood Prejean; I have simply shown the absurdity and incoherence of his view. There is nothing coherent about a view that equivocates on the words “person” and “instantiation,” using them as synonyms at first, and treating them as separate things in the end.

“‘Person’ is whatever instantiates a rational nature, no matter whether it takes its existence from instantiating that nature or not.”

Here Prejean views “person” as a "thing" apart from nature; whereas before “person” was defined as an instance of rational nature, more along the lines of an artifact.

“Ordinarily, no nature necessarily has an instantiation; thus, a ‘human person’ does not necessarily exist, not does an ‘angelic person.’ They are created.”

Whether it necessarily exists or not is beside the point. Prejean has defined “person” as “the instantiation of rational nature.” Once the instantiation takes place, the “person” exists, whether from itself or from an external source. And so, if an instance if rational nature exists (whether from itself or not), then we must ask the question “what kind of rational nature is it?” And if we have already agreed that an instance of rational nature is a person, then once we determine that this particular “instance of rational nature” is in fact “rational human nature,” we cannot conclude that the resulting “person” is something other than a human person; for that would be akin to saying that it wasn’t really an instantiation of human nature in the first place. In that case, we end up positing that an instantiation of human nature results in a non-human instantiation: A=non-A in Prejean’s view (confirming Prejean in his Docetism). That is why Prejean’s position is incoherent. It is self-contradictory.

“The divine nature necessarily exists, but it is wrong to say that the existence is part of the divine nature (which would break the divine nature into parts). Rather, the divine nature is necessarily instantiated tri-personally; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit necessarily exist and are necessarily God.”

Yes, they necessarily exist and they are necessarily God—but not apart from their divine nature. God, apart from his nature, ceases to be God. Hence, it is simply absurd to suggest that God’s existence is not an integral part of his divine nature. Of course it is! Prejean is apparently capitalizing on my phrase “part of,” and drawing all kinds of absurd conclusions about it. “Part of” is simply another way of saying that divine nature and divine existence are mutually dependent.

“On the other hand, if the Word of God does not merely happen to instantiate the human nature (that is, accidentially) but instead essentially does so, then we have the human nature necessarily existing and the Word of God as necessarily Incarnate, which is obviously unacceptable as well.”

The problem with Prejean’s statement is that what he denies is exactly what we have. As I mentioned before, while I can agree that human nature is not essential to the existence of the Word of God, it is indeed absolutely essential to the existence of Christ Jesus. There is no “Christ Jesus” without human nature, nor biblically could there be. The Word was not Christ Jesus pre-Incarnation. Although the Word “was,” Christ Jesus “became”; hence it is biblically necessary to say that both divine nature and human nature are essential to the existence of Christ Jesus—for absent one or the other, Christ Jesus does not exist.

“Because the person of Christ is the Word of God, and the Word of God does not derive His existence from being human.”

Not quite; rather the person of Christ is the MAN Christ Jesus and the Word of God.

“The question is whether the person of Christ is constituted by the union, or whether the person of Christ is the Word of God.”

I have no problem with either statement—and just for the record, the latter statement does not necessarily preclude the former, nor are the two statements necessarily mutually exclusive. But as a biblicist, I have consciously decided not to commit to either of them because to do so is to speculate well beyond Scripture. Yet this is the very question that militates against Prejean’s claim that he isn’t attempting to figure out the divine by sheer force of intellect. It is the question that refutes his claim that he does not concern himself about “how” this union took place, only “what kind” of union it is (as though the latter can sterilely be posited apart from attempting to explain the former). The question, as I have maintained throughout, is certainly not biblically resolved in any case. Since Christ is necessarily human (without humanity there would be no “Christ,” only “Word”), and necessarily divine (without the Word there would be no Christ, only “man”), I don’t see how it can be answered apart from divine revelation; and divine revelation simply does not tell us.

It is interesting to note that even Prejean’s Eastern Orthodox friends are now entertaining the notion that Prejean’s own view is Nestorian, and that he is indeed relying on hyper-rational speculation to figure out the nature of the Incarnation. The article is actually very much on target (in spite of an expected gaffe on the part of Perry Robinson, a sniveling third-rate philosophy student, and one of his associates, both of whom seem to be extremely ill informed about what constitutes a “degree mill,” and both of whom seem to think that it is an acceptable practice to get their information from the “research” of a third-rate catholic e-pologist who has no training in theology and who possesses no advanced degree—if that is the research method taught at their institution of higher learning, then I am certain I won’t be sending my children to “Saint Louis University”). To engage the unknown and the unrevealed using Prejean’s approach—namely, “I don’t need yer stinkin’ Bible ‘cause I can just figure it all out using my own brilliance”—results in a sub-Christian (nay, un-Christian or even anti-Christian) belief system that at best undermines the authority of Scripture and at worst promotes open idolatry. Worse for me, it wastes a great deal of my energy and time—energy and time I really don’t have anymore—to continue in such dialogues. They result in nothing useful. In the end Prejean will remain a neo-Platonist/Gnostic/Docetist, and I will remain devoted to the apostle’s teaching. I assume Prejean will be responding to this; if so, he’ll have the last word on it. Prejean’s view is incoherent and relies heavily on the equivocations of terms. I’ve adequately demonstrated the deficiencies of his views and his approach. My job here is done.