- Communicatio idiomatum
Main article: Scholastic Lutheran Christology
In Christian theology communicatio idiomatum ("communication of properties") is a Christological term, seeking to explain the interaction of deity and humanity in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christian orthodoxy has maintained that the divine and the human are fully unified in Jesus Christ (according to the Council of Ephesus in 431) but that the two natures also remain distinct (according to the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451). Christians agree that the two natures, distinct yet unified, participate in some sort of exchange. However, there remains disagreement in the exact dynamic of this incarnational union. Those leaning toward an Antiochene Christology stress the distinction of natures and therefore a more tightly regulated communication of properties; those of the Alexandrian Christology persuasion underscore the unity of Jesus Christ and therefore a more complete communication of properties.
The doctrine has since the Protestant Reformation served as a bone of contention between Reformed and Lutheran Christians. In Reformed doctrine, the divine nature and the human nature are united strictly in the person of Christ. According to his humanity, Jesus Christ remains in heaven as the bodily high priest, even while in his divine nature he is omnipresent. This coincides with the Calvinistic view of the Lord's Supper (real presence), the belief that Christ is truly present at the meal, though not substantially and particularly joined to the elements. Lutherans, on the other hand, describe a union in which the divine and the human natures share their predicates more fully. Lutheran scholastics of the 17th century spoke of the genus maiestaticum, the view that Jesus Christ's human nature becomes "majestic," suffused with the qualities of the divine nature. Therefore, in the eucharist the human, bodily presence of Jesus Christ is "in, within, under" the elements.
To wit, where Lutherans can make bolder claims regarding the unity of Christ, the Reformed can make bolder claims for the preservation of the human nature of Christ. In more heated rhetoric, Lutheranism is accused of promoting monophysitism, and the Reformed a certain Nestorianism.
The philosopher J.G. Hamann famously argued that the communicatio idiomatum applies not just to Christ, but should be generalised to cover all human action: 'This communicatio of divine and human idiomatum is a fundamental law and the master-key of all our knowledge and of the whole visible economy'.
- ^ Hamann Writings on Philosophy and Language (ed. K Haynes, Cambridge: CUP, 2007), p.99
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