In the seminary class I’m taking this semester, one of the major topics is the person of Christ. How is it that Jesus can be truly God and truly man? Some in the early church thought His divine nature swallowed up His human nature; others thought His two natures were completely separate so as to make Him two different persons living in one body; still others thought the two natures blended so thoroughly that a third new type of nature was produced. The debates were finally settled by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. when bishops from the entire church affirmed the biblical “Definition of the Union of the Divine and Human Natures in the Person of Christ.” The following contemporary translation may seem a bit hard to wade through, but it’s worth pondering as we meditate on just Who it was that was born that first Christmas morning.
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us.