The Humanity of Christ and the Salvation of the Human Race

“Cyril had said, ‘If he conquered as God, to us it is nothing,’ and Maximus says, ‘If it is only as God that he wills these things,’ then his flesh is ‘lifeless and irrational.’  In short, if Christ does not have a human will he cannot be fully human. The will, that is, self-determination, is the characteristic feature of our human nature, and freedom its supreme token.[…]

In Maximus’s hands Christ’s act of will became a decisive moment in the history of salvation. It has long been affirmed, following the Scriptures (God ‘wills all men to be saved’, 1 Tim. 2:4), that the eternal Son of God, in concert with the Father and the Holy Spirit, had willed the salvation of humankind. But Maximus now discerns that at the moment of his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ the man willed the salvation of the world. He cites the word from 1 Timothy to highlight the distinction between the divine will from eternity (which was, of course, also the will of the divine Son) and Christ’s human will in action during his passion. The words ‘nor my will, let yours prevail’ were said ‘in a human fashion’ by Christ to his God and Father. This leads Maximus to the triumphant affirmation that Christ by his obedience as man ‘willed and carried out our salvation.’”  (Robert Louis Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, pgs. 129-131)

2 thoughts on “The Humanity of Christ and the Salvation of the Human Race

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