Monday, October 6, 2014

Pieper, 1968, vol. 2. Chapter 5, “The Communion of Attributes”

Chapter 5, “The Communion of Attributes”

The communication of attributes is a controversial doctrine. Many errors arise in relation to it. What do we mean by attributes when discussing this doctrine? “The term denotes not merely attributes in the strict sense, that is to say, what the divine and the human nature are essentially, as, for example, to be eternal and temporal, infinite and finite, and the like, but also everything that the natures do or suffer according to their respective essence” (Loc. 2582). Rather than viewing this as a completely separate doctrine, Pieper views it as a subset of the personal union, an explanation of how the human and divine are one.

This doctrine is discussed in three “genera” (Loc. 2625), though the divisions are recognized as somewhat arbitrary. Pieper will discuss these genera in more detail later but introduces them in brief terms as the genus idiomaticum (appropriation), the genus maiestaticum (communication of majesty), and the genus apotelesmaticum (communication of official acts).

Pieper reminds the reader (Loc. 2661) that Reformed theology has made the communication of attributes difficult because they do not wish to accept the impossibility of the divine and human natures in the one Christ. Yet Pieper observes that these doctrines are soundly Scriptural even though they are not fully explicable within human reason.

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