Theological nuances matter…
Is Jesus Christ a “Divine-Human Person”?
A New Heresy from Antipope Francis
As discussed in our most recent podcast, on Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2021, the false pope Jorge Bergoglio (“Francis”) dropped the following bombshell at his weekly General Audience “catechesis” lesson:
Here, then, is the grace of Christian prayer: Christ is not far away, but is always in a relationship with us. There is no aspect of his divine-human person that cannot become a place of salvation and happiness for us. Every moment of Jesus’ earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become immediate to us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the guide.
(Antipope Francis, Catechesis at General Audience, Vatican.va, Apr. 28, 2021)
This may sound harmless at first sight, and most of it is. There’s just one little heresy he sneaked into the mix. Did you catch it? He asserted that our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ is a “divine-human person”. That is indeed heresy, as will be shown. No, it is not a translation error, for in the original Italian he says the exact same thing: “persona divino-umana” (source).
Nor was this the first time he’d said it. This “Pope” had used the same heretical phrase, “divine-human person”, at least once before in reference to our Blessed Lord: “There was a time in which, in the divine-human Person of Christ, God was a child, and this must hold a particular significance for our faith”, he said at his General Audience of Dec. 30, 2015.
So, what’s the problem here, some will be wondering. Do we not profess in the Nicene Creed that Jesus Christ is “true God and true man”? Oh yes, we do indeed; but the Catholic dogma is that Jesus Christ is one divine Person with two natures: one human, the other divine.
The Notions of Person and Nature
The idea of nature conveys what someone or something is (divine / angelic / human / brute animal / plant / inanimate matter). The idea of person conveys who someone is (God the Father / St. Michael the Archangel / Fred). Animals, plants, and inanimate matter cannot be persons because a person is defined as an “individual substance of a rational nature” (Boethius) or a “distinct being, subsisting in an intellectual nature” (St. Thomas Aquinas), as explained in the Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology (online here).
For example: If we ask, “Who is Fred?”, we are inquiring about his person. We would like to know his identity. An answer might be: “He’s my father-in-law”, or “He’s my next-door neighbor.” If, on the other hand, we ask, “What is Fred?”, we are inquiring whether Fred is a human being — or perhaps a demon, a cat, or a fictional cartoon character.
With that in mind it will be a bit easier to understand what we mean when we say that our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has two natures (He is both divine and human) but is only one Person, a divine Person (He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity). Who is Jesus Christ? He is God, our Savior. What is Jesus Christ? He is both divine and human.
If Christ were more than one Person, then God the Son and Jesus of Nazareth would be two different individual Beings, substantially separate, even if united in some “moral” sense. That is the fifth-century heresy of Nestorianism, which also denied, in consequence, that the Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God, the Theotokos. (An interesting historical aside: It was when Nestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, began to preach his heresy from the pulpit that the faithful under him immediately denounced him as a heretic and recognized he had automatically lost his office of archbishop as a result of this public defection from the Faith.)
Now, Bergoglio did not say that Christ is two Persons. Rather, he claimed that our Lord is a divine-human Person. So wouldn’t that be correct?
No, it wouldn’t. Because Christ is only a divine Person; He is not a human Person at all. From all eternity God the Son has been a divine Person with a divine Nature. What happened at the Incarnation in the blessed womb of the holy Virgin Mary was that this divine Person with a divine nature took on a created human nature. The two natures were joined together, but without being mixed or confused. Thus the Second Person of the Holy Trinity always remains one divine Person; but since the Incarnation this Second Person of the Trinity has had two natures.
Francis’ teaching that Christ is a “divine-human Person” denies not only this truth but also the dogma that God cannot change — He is immutable — because it implicitly claims that the Person of God the Son changed from a divine Person to a divine-human Person. So on that account, too, it is heresy.
Now that we have clarified the terminology and explained the theological dispute a bit, we can look at the dogmatic evidence from the Catholic magisterium.
The Dogmatic Teaching of the Church
First, regarding the immutability of God: “For I am the Lord, and I change not”, God says through the prophet Malachias (3:6). The New Testament teaches the same thing: “Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17). Thus the First Council of Nicea proclaimed that “those who call ‘God the Son of God changeable and mutable,’ these the Catholic Church anathematizes” (Denz. 54).
Second, regarding the Lord Jesus Christ being one divine Person with a human and a divine nature.
In the year 451, the Council of Chalcedon under Pope St. Leo I defined the matter as follows:
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all teach that with one accord we confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in human nature, truly God and the same with a rational soul and a body truly man, consubstantial with the Father according to divinity, and consubstantial with us according to human nature, like unto us in all things except sin [cf. Heb. 4:15]; indeed born of the Father before the ages according to divine nature, but in the last days the same born of the virgin Mary, Mother of God according to human nature; for us and for our deliverance, one and the same Christ only begotten Son, our Lord, acknowledged in two natures, without mingling, without change, indivisibly, undividedly, the distinction of the natures nowhere removed on account of the union but rather the peculiarity of each nature being kept, and uniting in one person and substance, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son only begotten God Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as from the beginning the prophets taught about Him and the Lord Jesus Himself taught us, and the creed of our fathers has handed down to us.
Therefore, since these have been arranged by us with all possible care and diligence, the holy and ecumenical synod has declared that no one is allowed to profess or in any case to write up or to compose or to devise or to teach others a different faith.
(Council of Chalcedon; Denz. 148; underlining added.)
In 1053, Pope St. Leo IX wrote to the bishop of Antioch:
I believe also that the Son of God the Father, the Word of God, was born eternally before all time from the Father, consubstantial, co-omnipotent, and co-equal to the Father through all things in divinity; born of the Holy Spirit from the ever virgin Mary in time, with a rational soul, having two nativities, the one from the Father, eternal, the other from the Mother, in time; having two wills and operations, true God and true man, individual in each nature and perfect, not having suffered a fusion and division, not adopted or phantastical, the one and only God, the Son of God in two natures, but in the singleness of one person, incapable of suffering and immortal in divinity; but in humanity for us and for our salvation suffered in the true passion of the body and was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day in the true resurrection of the body; because of which we must declare with the disciples that He ate from no need of food but only from will and power; on the fortieth day after His resurrection with the flesh in which He arose, and with His soul He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, whence on the tenth day He sent the Holy Spirit, and thence, as He ascended, He will come to judge the living and the dead, and will render to each one according to his works.
(Pope Leo IX, Apostolic Letter Congratulamur Vehementer; Denz. 344; underlining added.)
In 1743, Pope Benedict XIV drew up a Profession of Faith for the Maronites, and in it we find the same Catholic dogma beautifully reaffirmed:
…I profess that which was defined against Eutyches and Dioscorus, both of execrable memory, that the one and same Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, was perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, true God and true man consisting of rational soul and body, consubstantial with the Father in regard to His divinity, and consubstantial with us in regard to His humanity, in all things similar to us, without sin; that before time He was born of the Father according to divinity, but that in these latter days the same One, for us and for our salvation, was born of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, according to humanity, and that the one same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten must be recognized in the two natures without confusion, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably, never removing the difference of the natures because of their union, and preserving the peculiar character of each nature joined in one Person and substance; that this same Lord is not separated and divided into two persons, but is one and the same Son and Only-begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ: likewise that the divinity of our same Lord Jesus Christ, according to which He is consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is impassible and immortal….
(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Nuper Ad Nos; Denz. 1463; underlining added.)
Thus Catholic dogma is very clear about our Blessed Lord being one Person with two natures.
Writing in 1951, for the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Chalcedon, Pope Pius XII reminded his bishops not to allow the Catholic dogma to be distorted by novel ways of speaking or clever subterfuge:
Let no one be deceived by the fallacies of human philosophy or led astray by the quibbles of human speech; let no one corrupt by perverse innovation or weaken by doubt the dogma confirmed at Chalcedon, namely, that there are in Christ two true and perfect natures, the divine and the human, not confused one with another, but joined together and subsisting in the one person of the Word.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Sempiternus Rex, n. 44)
We have thus established that Francis’ teaching that Christ is a divine-human Person contradicts defined Catholic dogma and is therefore heretical.
Other Sources condemn Francis
As a historical side note, it deserves to be mentioned that Francis’ heresy is also anathematized in a schema (draft document) prepared for the First Vatican Council (1869-70) by Pope Pius IX’s theologians. A lot of documents were going to be released by this council, but alas, due to the advancing Masonic army on Rome it had to adjourn after passing only two constitutions, one on the Catholic Faith (called Dei Filius) and the other on the Church of Christ (named Pastor Aeternus). The council was never resumed and is technically still in session. One of the proposed schemas concerns the Principal Mysteries of the Faith. It possesses no magisterial authority whatsoever, having never been voted on by the council fathers nor promulgated by the Pope. At the same time, it is not useless. As the work of the theologians in charge of drafting texts for the ecumenical council to discuss, it certainly reflects the state of orthodox Catholic theology at the time. We would like to quote from it because it condems the precise error proposed by Bergoglio:
If anyone understands the one person of Jesus Christ to contain many persons, or introduces two persons into the mystery of Christ, one divine and one human, joined from conception by an indissoluble bond to make one composite person: let him be anathema.
(Non-magisterial “Schema on the Principal Mysteries of the Faith” for Vatican I, Chapter 4, Canon 3; in The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, n. 469. Available electronically here.)
Again, this anathema, as stated, has no magisterial authority. However, it is still doctrinally useful and relevant as at least the product of the theologians chosen to prepare an ecumenical council — and Bergoglio’s divine-human composite person heresy is clearly repudiated by it.
The ancient dogmatic teaching of the Church about Christ being one Person in two natures is officially still affirmed even in the Vatican II Sect. For example, in 2018, none other than our old opponent Tim Staples at so-called Catholic Answers rejected the very idea now put forward by his “Pope”:
Some months ago, after writing “Did the Incarnation Cause God to Change?” I received an excellent follow-up question. Wrestling with my article, one of our readers could not get past how we can say that Christ was truly and fully man and yet not a “human person.” He asked if we could say that somehow Christ could be both a human person and a divine person in the sense of his human person being a “partaker” in the divine person?
In short, the answer is no. There is only one person, or subject, in Christ and that person is God! A divine person cannot change into a “divine-human” mix.
(Tim Staples, “Is Jesus a Human Person?”, Catholic Answers, Sep. 20, 2018; italics given; underlining added.)
Staples is entirely correct. We wish him good luck in straightening out his “Holy Father” — who, by the way, also believes and teaches that “God cannot be God without man”. You can’t make this stuff up!
It’s not just Semantics: Theological Nuances Matter
Some will say that surely what Francis said was just a mistake, an unintentional gaffe. While this is possible, it is irrelvant in the practical order. We can speculate all we want about what the false pope “must” have meant; at the end of the day we must deal with what he said, and with what is published on the Vatican web site for the entire world to see (to date, no corrections or retractions have been issued). Since he claims to be Pope, the Vicar of Christ, it is his solemn duty to ensure that nothing that comes from his lips contradicts the Catholic Faith or even appears to do so. He also has a duty not to cause scandal and, should a mistake ever creep in, to correct or retract it in the same manner in which the gaffe was communicated in the first place. Given his track record with regard to heresy and blasphemy, it would be absurd to extend to him the popular “benefit of the doubt”. That is a benefit he forfeited long time ago!
Then there are those who will maintain that such theological nuances as expounded above are just a matter for an academic dispute and are of no significance to most believers. However, people who argue in this way have obviously never looked at Church history nor understood the importance of faithfully holding on to true doctrine and recognizing the danger of heresy: “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn 9).
In the Homoousion controversy of the fourth century, a single letter in the Greek alphabet — the letter “i” or iota — made the difference between the divinely-revealed truth and the infernal heresy of Arianism. In his magnificent encyclical letter on the unity of the Church, Pope Leo XIII sounded the alarm, repeating the warning given by the author of a tract against the Arians: “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (quoted in Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9).
And in 1761, the Supreme Pontiff Clement XIII warned:
It often happens that certain unworthy ideas come forth in the Church of God which, although they directly contradict each other, plot together to undermine the purity of the Catholic faith in some way. It is very difficult to cautiously balance our speech between both enemies in such a way that We seem to turn Our backs on none of them, but to shun and condemn both enemies of Christ equally. Meanwhile the matter is such that diabolical error, when it has artfully colored its lies, easily clothes itself in the likeness of truth while very brief additions or changes corrupt the meaning of expressions; and confession, which usually works salvation, sometimes, with a slight change, inches toward death.
(Pope Clement XIII, Encyclical In Dominico Agro, n. 2; underlining added.)
That is exactly what Francis, in his charade as “Vicar of Christ”, has been doing since 2013. He has been trampling under foot the true doctrine, mocking those who would sound the alarm, creating a human church whose primary task consists in helping the suffering with their temporal needs and saving the planet through the reduction of carbon emissions — rather than helping all of humanity save their souls (cf. Mk 8:36).
St. Paul once gave a very apt description of people like Bergoglio: “For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13).
It is only fitting that the man who appears to be, but is not, the Vicar of Christ, should also preach a Counterfeit Christ with his “divine-human person” heresy.
This makes it all the more obvious whose “vicar” Francis really is.
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