What concord has Christ with Belial, or Harry Potter?

A Prayer to the Theotokos

Grant, O Lady, peace and health to thy servants, all Orthodox Christians, and enlighten their minds, and the eyes of their hearts unto salvation. (From the prayer to the THeotokos after the Akathist in the Prayer Book, published by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY)

What concord has Christ with Belial (II Cor. 6:15) or Harry Potter?

 

This title is, of course, a little play on words. With Great Lent almost upon us I chose this title to make a certain point. For the Orthodox, Great Lent is a time of increased fasting, and also prayer through the many additional Church services. And what is the main concern among the Orthodox at this time? Even more so than the services it seems to me that it is food: About keeping the dietary exclusions, being attentive to being moderate, and maybe even skipping some meals. It seems to me that this is more often than not the prime focus of Orthodox. Although fasting from foods is useful and productive, as is an increase of services yet we need to also consider the following: Outside of the Church services with what do we feed our mind?

That which is in our mind affects our heart. Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) (1) once said: “The thoughts that pass through our mind are not our thoughts, but if we accept them, they enter our heart and become a part of us.” In a similar way the Elder Joseph the Hesychast (2) has written: “The mind is the supplier of food to the heart whatever it receives it sends down there whether good or bad.” So then, with what shall we feed our minds? During Great Lent we should not only fast from foods and attend more services, but we should nourish our mind and heart with the things of God. This is getting back to the norm to which we are called, as Orthodox Christians our whole life should be dedicated to God. The final petition of many of the Litanies in our Church conclude with the words: “Let us commend one another and our whole life unto Christ our God.”

So then, where does the literature of this world come into play in the life of a Christian? (It is especially the entertainment world that I am thinking of.) With what will it fill the mind? What will it send down into the heart? How will the heart be affected? Will the heart be drawn to God, to become more Christ-like or will there be another consequence? Although there is some reading outside the Church which could have a good theme and have some profit, but in such we still find light mixed with darkness, good mixed with evil, discretion mixed with delusion. Such writings come from fallen, passionate humans who sometimes have evil motives. Even authors who seek to share something edifying fall short of the saints who were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:21).

So now, I am going back to the title: “What concord has Christ with Belial” (II Cor. 6:15) or Harry Potter? Where do we rate Harry Potter with all that has been said? I have made an example of this character because the series of books concerning him have gained a great popularity. Many Orthodox do read this literature and some clergy consider it to be harmless.

Now I will tell you of my experience with Harry Potter. Both in the past and more recently parents who were concerned about their children have brought Harry Potter to my attention. So I decided to ask other clergy about this literary character. I spoke with a priest and deacon with whom I thought might have something reliable to say about this. Unfortunately neither of them read any novels concerning him but they had received some feedback from others who had. They both came to the same conclusion. These books are dangerous for Christians because they are presenting something evil as though it is good. These books will serve to normalize occult practitioners as good and acceptable. The big problem is that evil is camouflaged and being presented as innocent entertainment that is permissible for Christians. This reminds me of someone I know who practiced so-called “white” magic. The person who initiated him into this convinced him it was acceptable with the argument: “We are using evil to accomplish good.”

However, since neither of the above clergy actually read Harry Potter I went on to talk to two other priests about him. One said to me, “I can only speak from my experience which is limited. I have only read the first volume which appears to be like a harmless fairytale. Some of my parishioners have read this and I do not know of them being harmed.” I decided to call one other priest whom I knew from past experience to have been well informed about Harry Potter. I will quote only one short comment: “The books get more dark with each volume.”

I finally decided to read something of Harry Potter myself. So I did get one of the later volumes from the public library. When I saw how every chapter began with an illustration that had occult significance I was shocked to think that any Orthodox Christian would venture to read such a book. It speaks of magic, warlocks, and witches etc.. But what effect did reading from this book have upon me? It was very attractive and alluring but to the old fallen man—this was easy to discern. As a monk my life is heavily concentrating on the life of the Church—the saints, the services, spiritual writings and a strict prayer rule. Only if one is thus strictly concentrated on the life of the Church can the above be discerned, that is, that this book was very attractive and alluring to the fallen man.

I must continue to say what happened to my mind and heart: It was as though my mind and heart were being twisted. I went to my chapel fell down before the icon of the Mother of God, “Quick to Hear”. After praying for about five minutes I was freed from this effect on my mind and heart. I must warn that if your life in Christ is too external, and you have not entered within, and are not strictly concentrated on the life and good things that the Church offers us, you will not discern this negative effect. So let us conclude by quoting the holy Apostle Paul. Let us turn to the section in the Second Letter to the Corinthians (II Cor. 6:14-18) of which only part of a verse was quoted above:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership hath righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? Or what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: “I will live with them and move among them, I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you,” saith the Lord, “and touch nothing unclean and I will receive you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

(1) In the book Everyday Saints published by Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, the Chapter “His Eminence the Novice” is dedicated to him.

(2) His life and letters have been published by St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona in the book, Monastic Wisdom.

 

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The Theology of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko: Orthodox or Opinion? Part II

A Hymn to the Theotokos

He Whom the heavens cannot contain, O Virgin Theotokos, ineffably by a word, was contained within thy womb; and thou hast remained pure in no way having thy virginity defiled. For thou alone among women art both virgin and mother; and thou alone, O pure One, hast nourished a Son Who is the Life-giver. And in thy embrace thou didst hold the never-slumbering Eye, Who didst not leave the bosom of the Father but continued as He was before the ages: Wholly above as God with the angels and wholly below from thee with men being everywhere inexplicably present. Entreat Him, O all-holy Mistress, to save the Orthodox who confess thee to be the pure Theotokos. (Saturday Evening Small Vespers, the Theotokion at the Aposticha, Tone 8)

The Theology of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko: Orthodox or Opinion? Part II (continued)

Next we must consider the opinion that our Lord Jesus Christ did, in His human nature, grow in wisdom and understanding. Concerning this St. Cyril of Alexandria, in his work, “Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke” writes: “He [that is, Christ] is said to have increased in wisdom, not as receiving fresh supplies of wisdom—for God is perceived by the understanding to be entirely perfect in all things, and altogether incapable of being destitute of any attribute suitable to the Godhead—but because God the Word gradually manifested His wisdom proportionately to the age which the body attained”. [p.64]

In reference to this the Blessed Theophylact writes:

He subjected Himself to His parents, giving an example even to us, that we should subject ourselves to our parents. The Virgin kept all these sayings in her heart. For both the Child’s actions and His words were divine, and not those of a twelve year old, but of a mature man. See here how the Evangelist explains what it means that the Lord increased in wisdom, by addingand in stature”, showing that as the Lord increased in stature and age, He permitted more and more of His wisdom to manifest itself. And He found favor with God and man, that is, He did what was pleasing to God and what drew praise from men. First from God, and then from men. For we must first please God, and then men. (Blessed Theophylact, “The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Luke”, House Springs, Missouri: Chrysostom Press, p. 39)

Finally St. John of Damascus teaches:

He is said to have progressed in wisdom and age and grace, because He did increase in age and by this increase in age brought more into evidence the wisdom inherent in Him; further, because by making what is ours altogether His own He made His own the progress of men in wisdom and grace, as well as the fulfillment of the Father’s will, which is to say, men’s knowledge of God and their salvation. Now, those who say that He progressed in wisdom and grace in the sense of receiving an increase in these are saying that the union was not made from the first instant of the flesh’s existence. Neither are they holding the hypostatic union, but, misledby the empty headed Nestorius, they are talking preposterously of a relative union and simple indwelling, “understanding neither the things they say, nor whereof they affirm”. (ITim. 1:7)For, if from the first instant of its existence the flesh was truly united to God the Word—rather , had existence in Him and identity of person with Him—how did it not enjoy perfectly all wisdom and grace? It did not share the grace and neither did it participate by grace in the things of the Word; rather, because human and divine things had become proper to the one Christ by the hypostatic union, then, since the same was at once God and man, it gushed forth with the grace and the wisdom and the fullness of all good things for the world. [“Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, Book 3, Chapter 22]

So, even though, our Lord Jesus grew physically (including His brain) the fullness of divine wisdom was always with Him. This is because the ability of a human being to reason is not only a function of the human brain, but also, as our Holy Fathers teach, it is a faculty of the human soul that will continue to function even after the physical brain is dead. Our Holy Fathers speak of the soul as possessing three powers; they are the powers of reason, desire, and anger. Bishop Kallistos (Ware) explains these powers of the soul in the glossaries in each volume of “The Philokalia”. Fr. Reardon expresses something quite different when he writes of our Lord, “All his ‘thinking’ took place in a human brain at the service of a human intellect because Jesus was (and is) God’s Son enfleshed in a human condition.” [“The Jesus We Missed”, p. 86] Along these same lines Fr. Hopko states of our Lord, “Jesus is really a human being…if you’re a real human being, then you’re limited. You learn things as a human being, with a human brain.” [see the third paragraph above]. I believe these errors stem either from an ignorance of, a lack of understanding of, and/or a lack of experience in the ascetic tradition of our Church.

The next step for us to take is to establish the truth that even during His life on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God was not ignorant of anything. So then, let us first see what St. John Chrysostom teaches about this:

As a reference, I will be using Aloys Grillmeier’s book, “Christ in Christian Tradition, Volume One, From the Apostolic age to Chalcedon”, translated by John Bowden. In examining the Christology of St. Chrysostom, Grillmeier follows the study by C. Hay: “St. John Chrysostom and the Intergrity of the Human Nature of Christ”, FrancStud 19, 1959, 301. Thus Grillmeier writes of St. John Chrysostom: He supposes the existence of so close a communication between the Logos and the spiritual soul of Christ that he will allow no limitation to Christ’s human knowledge because this seems to endanger his divinity. Because the Logos dwells in Christ, there is no need for knowledge to be mediated to Christ’s human spirit by human sense experience: ‘In the (divine) nature he possessed all. Nowhere in his writings does Chrysostom give any indication that Christ possessed a distinct human knowledge.’” [“Christ in Christian Tradition”, p. 419; single quotation marks refer to, C. Hay, art. cit., 305]

In addition to this what does St. John of Damascus tell us?

One should know that He did assume an ignorant and servile nature, and this is because man’s nature is subservient to God who made it, and it does not have knowledge of future events. If, then, like Gregory the Theologian, you distinguish what is seen from what is thought, then the flesh will be said to be servile and ignorant. However, by reason of the identity of person and the inseparable union, the Lord’s soul enjoyed the knowledge of future events as well as the other signs of divinity. For, just as the flesh of men is not of its own nature life-giving, whereas that of the Lord, being hypostatically united to God the Word Himself, became life-giving by reason of its hypostatic union with the Word without losing its natural mortality, and we cannot say that it was not and is not always so; in the same way, while His human nature did not of its essence have knowledge of future events, the Lord’s soul, by reason of its union with God the Word Himself and the identity of the person, did, as I have said, enjoy along with the other signs of divinity, the knowledge of future events also (emphasis are mine). (“An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, Book 3, Chapter 21)

Again he states:

One should furthermore know that His sacred mind performs His natural operations, both understanding and knowing itself to be the mind of God and adored by all creation, but at the same time still mindful of His doings and sufferings on earth. It is, moreover, associated with the operation of the divinity of the Word by which the universe is ordered and controlled, understanding and knowing and ordering not as a mere human mind, but as one hypostatically united to God and reckoned as the mind of God” (emphasis are mine). (Ibid., Book 3, Chapter 19)

As a final aspect on this matter St. John writes:

And so, the Word of God is united to flesh by the intermediary of mind which stands midway between the purity of God and the grossness of flesh. Now, the mind has authority over both soul and body, but, whereas mind is the purest part of the soul, God is the purest part of the mind. And when the mind of Christ is permitted by the stronger, then it displays its own authority. However, it is under the control of the stronger and follows it, doing those things which the divine will desires.

Moreover, the mind became the seat of the divinity which has been hypostatically united to it (emphasis mine), just as, of course, the flesh did—but not an associate, as the accursed opinion of the heretics falsely teaches, when, judging immaterial things in a material way, they saw that one measure will not hold two.(1) (Ibid., Book 3, Chapter 6)

There are two more points that must be taken into consideration. Again, in his book, The Jesus We Missed, Fr. Reardon writes: “If the traditional interpretation of Jesus (that defined by the ancient councils and enshrined in the ancient creeds) is correct, there is no reason to suppose that the human mind of Jesus enjoyed access to the divine omniscience, and there is no evidence in the Gospels that that was the case.” (p. 80) And a little later he expresses the same as follows: “There is not sufficient evidence in the Gospel stories that the mind of Jesus had access to the divine omniscience, and traditional Christology prompts us not to ascribe it to him.” (p.84)

First we must consider the following: Is Fr. Reardon expressing traditional Christology of the Orthodox Church or the Christology that developed in the West? He does not support this with any quotations of the Holy Fathers and he is not unity with all that has been quoted above of St. John Damascus. In the person of our Lord Jesus Christ the Divine nature was hypostatically united with our human nature—including the intellectual power of the soul and the carnal brain. In the Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ—the Son of God, our human nature was enriched with His Divinity. In the passage above, Fr. Reardon implies that the grace of God dwelt in our Lord Jesus Christ in a way similar to the prophets—this is what “the mind of Jesus having access to the divine omniscience” implies. He even interprets our Lord’s foreknowledge of the disciples meeting “a man carrying a pitcher of water” (Luke 22:10) “as an example of prophetic foresight” (p. 82). Rather we should listen to St. Gregory the Theologian who wrote in his “Letter to Cledonius” (As found in John McGukin, Saint Cyril and the Christological Controversy, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004, p.392):

If anyone should say that [the divine power] was operative in Him by grace as in the case of a prophet, but was not and is not united to Him essentially, then let such a one be empty of the higher powers, or rather full of the opposite. (2)

Finally, one last thing to we need to consider is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ: was His Person Divine or human? There is no doubt that our Orthodox Faith confesses the truth that His Person is Divine. In Christ God the Divine and human natures are united in one Person or Hypostasis—God the Son. The second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God “became flesh”, that is, He assumed our human nature, He did not become a human person. This is expounded by St. Cyril of Alexandria in his “Letter to Nestorius” which is included in the proclamations of faith in the Third Ecumenical Council. St. Cyril writes as follows:

Neither will it at all avail to a sound faith to hold, as some do, a union of persons; for the Scripture has not said that the Word united to Himself the person of man, but that He was made flesh. This expression, however, “the Word was made flesh,” can mean nothing else but that he partook of flesh and blood like to us; He made our body His own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting off His existence as God, or His generation of God the Father, but even in taking to Himself flesh remaining what He was. [“Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers”, Vol. 14, p. 198]

However, the erroneous Christology of Frs. Hopko and Reardon would very nicely fall into place if either His Person were human or there would be dual persons in our Lord—both Divine and human. These are, of course, great errors. So now, we end with a question similar to the title with which we began: The Christology of Frs. Hopko and Reardon, Orthodox or opinion?

(1) The reader should be aware that the mind is not equivalent to the brain. The mind (or nous as the Greek transliterates) is the inner essence of the reasoning faculty of the soul. The mind functions in a rational way for the needs of this world and also in a contemplative way in which it apprehends spiritual knowledge. When the mind functions in a contemplative way it is in the heart. Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) once related something on this theme worthy of noting. While a young monk he was given the obedience to learn Greek. When he began to study he said that his mind was lifted from his heart and went to his head.

(2) “i.e. if anyone maintains a Christology based on grace (Christ as a specially graced man) rather than on nature (Christ as God himself) then such a person not only has no grace (to inform theology) but has proved himself demonic in intent. Gregory is radically attacking the Antiochene tradition.”—John McGukin, “Saint Cyril and the Christological Controversy”, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004, p. 392 footnote #8.

 

The Theology of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko: Orthodox or opinion? Part II

A Hymn to our Lord

The sisters of Lazarus stood beside Christ and, lamenting with bitter tears, they said to Him: “O Lord, Lazarus is dead”. And though as God He knew the place of burial, yet He asked them, “where have ye laid him?” Coming to the tomb, He called Lazarus that was four days dead; and he arose and worshipped the Lord Who had raised him. (Sessional hymn after the Third Ode of the Matins Canon of Lazarus Saturday—“The Lenten Triodion”, p. 479, St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press)

The Theology of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko: Orthodox or Opinion? Part II

Although this is was originally meant only to be a continuation of a critique of Fr. Hopko’s theology focusing on Christology, I felt it necessary to bring in another modern writer in the Orthodox Church: Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon. Fr. Reardon has authored a book entitled, “The JESUS We Missed, The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ”. Since, in this book, he shares certain beliefs about our Lord with Fr. Hopko, I felt it vital to include his book in this critique.

But before I begin this we should take a moment to consider another viewpoint of Fr. Hopko in which a Coptic site (coptichymns.net/PNphpBB2-viewtopic-t-9216.html) questions a particular teaching of Fr. Hopko’s wondering if his concept is consistent with Orthodox teaching. They quote Fr. Hopko speaking of the death of the soul as follows:

Those who have been Baptized have died, raised and sealed with the life creating Spirit. They are literally raised from the dead and cannot die, and death becomes the transfiguration or the passage of everlasting life in Christ, because Christ is risen. This is important, not because we have an immortal soul; our soul is as dead as our body is, as far as the Bible is concerned. We do not teach immortality of the soul in our Church; we are not Socrates or Plato, but we follow the Bible. Death is the enemy of the body and soul, and Christ raises us up in body and soul. It is because Christ is risen that we have hope over death, not because of any ‘natural’ teaching. (www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/afterdeath.htm)

The above is not the teaching of the Orthodox Church; if it were then our funeral service and all our prayers for the dead would be a mockery of the faith. On the other hand, the Orthodox theologian and writer, Constantine Cavarnos offers us the proper Orthodox viewpoint in his book, “Immortality of the Soul”. In another of his works, “Modern Greek Philosophers on the Human Soul”, he has a chapter on St. Nectarius of Aegina (Chapter IV) in which he presents eighteen proofs of the immortality of the soul as outlined by the saint.

So, let’s return to our main topic and take a look at one facet of the Christology of the aforementioned clergymen. In a podcast on Ancient Faith Radio (ancientfaith.com/podcasts/nameofjesus/jesus_-_the_man), Fr. Hopko speaks of our Lord as a man. The whole of his talk can be heard or the transcript read at the aforementioned site. So as not to tire my readers I will address only a few brief quotes from this talk. In speaking of our Lord as a man Fr. Hopko expresses the following:

It would be definitely the teaching of ancient Christianity and certainly Eastern Orthodoxy that in making this confession of faith and [saying] that Jesus is really a human being…if you’re a real human being, then you’re limited. You learn things as a human being, with a human brain. And this would definitely be the teaching, that, as a man, hōs anthrōpos, Jesus was not omniscient. He was not omnipresent; He was not all over the place. He could express divinity through His circumscribed—that would be a good expression of the Church Fathers—His bounded humanity. [emphasis mine]

A little later he states:

There are certain elements in Him [that is, our Lord] that are really human. If He were not really human, they wouldn’t be so. For example, Jesus didn’t know English. Jesus couldn’t speak English. Now, you could say, “Well, God could have infused in Him the knowledge of English or something.” Well, perhaps God could; perhaps He could have infused it in anybody if He wanted to. It doesn’t seem very likely, but in any case, if Jesus is really human, then He is also ignorant of many things. [emphasis mine] He does not know the [theory] of relativity. He never read Charles Darwin. He didn’t know the Baghavad Gita. Maybe He even thought the earth was flat; who knows? He was a first-century, real human being.

I shared a slightly expanded version of the above with a few highly theologically trained acquaintances of mine. I asked their appraisal and here are their comments:

This is not the Christology that I encounter in the Church Fathers and I believe because first and foremost there is not the piety that is present in the Church fathers. First of all, I know of no Church Father that speaks of our Lord’s humanity in the abstract, cut off from the divinity and not within the divine hypostasis of the Son. The one ecclesiastical figure who did so is Nestorius. Christ is the mystery of all mysteries and to explain that mystery in a logical fashion as do many liberal protestants simply takes a person away from Christ. A humble answer is that Christ is perfect man in every way, but perfect God in every way. There is no human way to understand that, for that mystery is guarded by and in the divine Person of the Son. We also believe that He did human things in a divine way and divine things in a human way, but we don’t speak about what He didn’t do and never speak about what He couldn’t do. We believe that Christ was absolutely free, free to be all over the place, but choosing to be in one place. As for not being omniscient, this is a subject the fathers do refer to and I know of no father claiming anything less than omniscience for the Lord Christ.  Yes, this is a troubling excerpt for an Orthodox Christian, although I think many heterodox, especially liberal protestants, and perhaps some Roman Catholics, would agree.

Another contact of mine replied as follows;

After speaking with a friend of mine here, who has done much work on St. John of Damascus’ theology, here is what it comes to: In a word, NESTORIANIZI (theologizes in the style of Nestorius). The human nature of Christ does not exist independently from His Divine Nature. We do not know of the “man Jesus”, only the God-man Christ. The human nature of Christ as created is not everywhere present. However, it is everywhere present on account of its unity with Divinity. St. John Damascus presents this wonderfully in His Exact Exposition on the Orthodox Faith. These are theories found among non-Orthodox – not in the writings of the Fathers.

Before going on to some excerpts from the Holy Fathers, I think it is best to first look at a few passages from Fr. Reardon’s book; they are found in “Chapter 6—Learning and Teaching”. First, however, I would like to make some comments on the title of this book: “The JESUS We Missed, The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ”.

Consider the following questions: Who missed HIM? Did St. Athanasius the Great who wrote the acclaimed work “On the Incarnation” miss HIM? Did the St. Gregory whom the Church named “The Theologian” because of his unequaled Theological Orations miss HIM? Did the classical dogmatition St. John Damascus, and St. Gregory Palamas the expounder of the Orthodox concept of deification miss HIM? Did the Orthodox Church miss HIM for two thousand years, and did Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, only now—in 2012—published a book to tell the Orthodox Church the surprising truth about the humanity of the JESUS it has missed for all this time? I believe the readers can see my point.

Now to some excerpts, on page 79 at the outset of the above mentioned chapter Fr. Reardon writes:

Among the limitations consequent to the Incarnation, it is important to consider whether they included the Word’s assumption of human ignorance. This, too, would seem to be part of the “human condition,” after all.

When Luke tells us, “Jesus increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52), the plain meaning of the statement implies that he progressed from less wise to wiser. He necessarily began with less wise, and from that he “increased.”

Now, an “increase” implies the making up of a deficiency, the overcoming of a limitation. Logically prior to learning certain things, Jesus was ignorant of them. In short, the limits of the Incarnation included Jesus’ experience of ignorance.

So, now let us ponder these questions: Did our Lord Jesus, in His human nature, have the need to grow in understanding? Did He also experience ignorance in His human nature? To answer affirmatively to these questions shows is an erroneous Christology, since it is to separate the divine and human natures in Christ. Therefore we must begin by speaking of the union of the two natures in our Lord. Archbishop Dimitri, the former Archbishop of Dallas and the South, expresses the Orthodox concept correctly when he writes: “The two natures were united in the one Person of the Saviour at the moment of conception in the womb of the Virgin”. [The Doctrine of Christ, p. 48] In order to confirm this by the teachings of the Holy Fathers let us turn to St. John of Damascus. In Book Three of his “Exact Exposition o f the Orthodox Faith” he writes:

For the very Word of God was conceived of the Virgin and made flesh, but continued to be God after this assumption of the flesh. And, simultaneously with its coming into being the flesh was straightway made divine by Him. Thus three things took place at the same time: the assuming of the flesh, its coming into being, and its being made divine by the Word. (emphasis mine) Hence, the holy Virgin is understood to be Mother of God, and is so called not only because of the nature of the Word but also because of the deification of the humanity simultaneously with which the conception and the coming into being of the flesh were wondrously brought about—the conception of the Word, that is, and the existence of the flesh in the Word Himself. [Chapter 12]

In writing of the operations of the two natures in Christ again he states:

Therefore, the divinity communicates its excellencies to the flesh while remaining with no part of the sufferings of the flesh. For the flesh did not suffer through the divinity in the same way that the divinity acted through the flesh, because the flesh served as an instrument of the divinity. So, even though from the first instant of conception there was no divisions whatsoever of either form, (emphasis mine) but all the actions of each form at all times belonged to the one Person, we nevertheless in no way confuse these things which were done inseparably. On the contrary, from the nature of the works we perceive to which form they belong. [Ibid. Chapter 15]

to be continued…