St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 11

Theology for Beginners: Chp 11. The Redeemer
Theology for Beginners: All chapters
Penny Catechism: Q110-127
Catechism of the Council of Trent (The Roman Catechism): The Creed Art.2
Sermon: Hypostatic Union
Catholic Encyclopedia: Jesus Christ, The Incarnation
Aquinas 101: Jesus Christ: True God & True Man
Summa Theologica: Tertia Pars Q1-26
Companion to the Summa: Vol4 Chp 2, Chp 3

The Redeemer


  1. Recap:

    Chapter 1: Why study theology?

    - Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

    - Theology is the greatest of all sciences by the sublimity of its object: God; and by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith.

    - Theology teaches us our finality: the finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves by the perfect love of God.

    - Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour: if we love God, then we love everything He loves.

    Chapter 2: Spirit

    - A spirit is an immaterial intelligent living being (types: God, the angels and the souls of men)

    - A soul is defined as the first principle of life of those material things which live (plants, animals and men). Plants, animals and men have souls, but only the souls of men are spirits.

    - Properties: a spirit does not change in its being, does not corrupt, does not die (and is therefore eternal), has no mass, no shape, and no place e say that spirits are subsistent, which means that they have all they need to exist - they do not need a body to exist (like a plant or animal soul).

    Acts: to know and love. No material organ is required for these activities.

    Chapter 3: The Infinite Spirit

    God is the Infinite Spirit. 

    - God is all knowing, all loving, all powerful

    - God is His own existence

    - God was not created, He does not change, He has no past and future, God perpeturally in the present.

    - God is naturally everywhere: by His essence (per essentiam), by His power (per potentiam), by His knowing (per scientiam)

    God is Actus Purus, He cannot ever be in potency to doing anything; He is His action.  St. Thomas says that He is Actus Purus – one , simple, infinite and perfect action which is always in the present.

    Chapter 4: The Blessed Trinity

    The Blessed Trinity is the term used to express the central doctrine on the Christian religion: the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, these Three Persons being truly distinct from one another. There is one being, with one nature and there are Three Persons. The Blessed Trinity is known only by revelation, but can subsequently be explored by reason.

    Chapter 5: The Three Persons

    In an attempt to understand as much as possible about the Blessed Trinity using revelation and our knowledge of the intellect and being (by the science of metaphysics), St. Thomas, building on theologians before him, makes a best attempt to reconcile the unity of God and the distinction of the Three Persons in God. God has one nature by which the Three Persons operate. The distinction of the Three Persons is discerned in the mutually opposed relations resulting from the act of God knowing Himself and loving Himself. The Persons, are distinguished as the subsistant relations or Paternity, Filiation and Passive Spiration.

    Most of us, however, do not have a sufficient grasp of metaphysics to understand this complex theory and so a simpler one is proposed: In the act of knowing Himself, God generates a mental Word which is identical to the Generator. In the generator we discern the Father, in the generated, we discern the Son. These are Persons Who will naturally love each other, this love being personified in the Holy Ghost

    Chapter 6: Making the doctrine of the Trinity a living and loved reality

    For most people something like that happens when they embrace a mystery of the faith revealed to them by the Church:

     - first there is an intellectual response as they grasp the theological exposition of the mystery

     - then a vital response as the wonder and beauty of the mystery draws the observer in

     - then a loving response as the mystery becomes a light and a power in our lives.

    Chapter 7: Creation

    God created all things from nothing and sustains all things in existence from moment to moment - all for His glory. 

    Chapter 8: The nature of man

    Man is made in the image and likeness of God, possessing an intellect and a will. He is different from the animals because he loves the things he knows whereas animals are attracted to the thing they sense; and he can choose what to love whereas animals are attracted to things by nature. Man is capable of moral good or evil, whereas animals always act according to their nature. The ultimate purpose of man is to know and love God. The ultimate purpose of non-intelligent creatures is to adorn creation for the glory of God.

    Chapter 9: The Supernatural Life

    Man is made for the Beatific Vision (that perfect possesion of God in heaven) but with his fallen nature he is radically incapable both of attaining this end and remaining in this state of perfect happiness. By sanctifying grace, man begins a supernatural life here below. He is transformed by grace and receives supernatural virtues and the Gift of the Holy Ghost with grace. He begins to live and act with the life and actions of God. He enters on to the path to heaven and progresses towards it. If he die in a state of grace, then the supernatural life within him is perfected to the point of perfect bliss in union with God.

    Chapter 10: The Fall

    Despite sanctifying grace, supernatural virtues, Gifts of the Holy Ghost, and the praternatural gifts, Adam fell for the temptation to become like God. This was the sin of pride. He was left bereft of everything supernatural and praeternatural, and therefore incapble of attaining that for which he was made: the Beatific Vision. The act against the injunction of God is called Original Sin, the consequence of this act (the deprivation of grace and gifts) is also called Original Sin. The Divine Will ordained that the Original Sin (consequence) be suffered by all the offspring of Adam. 

  2. God enters His creation

    To redeem the world from the slavery of Original Sin and actual sin, an infinite act of justice was required by man. Not being possible for man, but God being merciful by nature, God entered into His creation as a man to redeem all men if they would have it. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word of the Father, took to Himself a human nature in the womb of His most perfect creature and was born into the world as Jesus Christ. The Person was divine, and in this Divine Person was a union of the divine and a human nature.  

  3. Definitions for non-philosophers

    Nature: A nature is that by which this agent acts.

    Person: A person is a responsible agent. 

    "It is John Jones (the person) who talks, laughs, enjoys poetry and makes mistakes; and that he does all these things is because he is human, because he has human nature." In a man, human nature is individualised in a human person. 


  4. Definitions for philosophers

     - A Person is the hypostasis of a rational nature. It is that most fundamental subject which bears a rational nature. 

     - A Nature is the principal of operation and properties of a thing.

     - A Hypostasis is the bearer of nature, it is ultimate subject of all being and acting.

     - The Hypostatic Union: In Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity operates with a divine nature and a created human nature. The divine nature and the human nature are united in the Divine Person. This union in the Person is called the hypostatic union. It is a unique union existing only in Jesus Christ.

  5. Definition of Jesus Christ

    What is Jesus Christ?

    When we ask what a thing is, we observe the nature (principle of operations and properties) and we answer by stating its essence: "that's a cat", "that's a star" etc. because creatures have only one nature. But if we ask, "What is Jesus Christ?" we must answer by saying "Jesus Christ is God and Jesus Christ is a man" not because he has two essenses (there is only one Divine Essence), but because we observe two natures.

    Analogically, we may define Jesus Christ as follows:

    As God (ie. in his Divine nature)

     - Formal Cause (that which determines what a thing is): God

     - Material Cause (what it is made of): none, beacause God is a spirit

     - Efficient Cause (how is it made): none, because God is uncaused by another

     - Final Cause (what is it for): God

    As Man (ie. in His human nature)

     - Formal Cause: a human soul

     - Material Cause: a human body

     - Efficient Cause: God, at the Incarnation

     - Final Cause: the Redemption of man 

    Who is Jesus Christ?

    When we ask "Who is that?" we want to know the person. The Person of Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The hypostasis is Jesus Christ which bears the Divine Nature (as do the Father and the Holy Ghost), and a human nature. 

    We say that the divine and human natures are united hypostatically in Christ, that is, joined to each other in one Person (de fide). Jesus Christ is one Person, but He he operates through two natures. 

  6. Jesus Christ as God

    As God, Jesus Christ is a Divine Person Who by His divine nature is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, immortal, immeasurable and every other perfection. 

  7. Jesus Christ as Man

    As man, Jesus Christ is a Divine Person Who by His human nature lives like every other human being. He knows, loves, grows, learns, acts, suffers and dies like other men.

  8. Christological heresies

    There appears to be every possible logical error concerning the divinity and humanity of Christ which manifests itself as heresy (see Christological Heresies). Chief among them are:
  9.  - Arianism: Christ was not God (4th until 6th C.)

     - Nestorians: There were two persons, two hypostases, two natures, one body. Christ participated most perfectly in the Logos (5th C. still present)

     - Monophysites: Christ was not man. One person, one hypostasis, one nature. (5th C. to the Middle Ages)