St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 2 Lesson 19


Podcast: Who is Jesus Christ?
Podcast: Notes

Magisterium: Council of Nicea 325

Penny Catechism: Q31-51
Catechism of the Council of Trent (The Roman Catechism): The Creed Art.2, Art.3
Catholic Encyclopedia: 
Aquinas 101: Jesus Christ: True God and True Man
Pints with Aquinas: 
Edward Feser: 
Summa Theologica: Tertia Pars Q1-3
Companion to the Summa: Vol IV

Who is Jesus Christ?

  1. Introduction:

    - Faith: Faith is the supernatural virtue which renders the intellect entirely obedient to the will when God reveals a truth, because of the authority of God revealing.

    - Reason: The act by which the conclusion of a demonstration is reached.

    Knowledge of God: We can know God by faith and reason.

       - Divine Revelation (Scripture and Tradition) is the source of the knowledge of God by faith.

       - Observation of the natural world gives us knowledge of God by reason.

       - Theology (Divine Revelation unpacked by reason) gives us knowledge of God by both faith and reason.

     - Nature of God: God is defined as ipse esse subsistens (subsistent being existing of Himself) or Actus Purus (Pure Act). God is in potential to nothing because He is everything: "I am Who am."

     - The Holy Trinity: 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.

  2. Definition of Jesus Christ

    Catechism: Q32. Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is God the Son, made man for us. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who came down from heaven and became man to redeem us and to teach us how to save our souls.

    Deeper Theology:

    Jesus Christ is one Person, but He he operates through two natures

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

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

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

    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).

  3. Some consequences

    (a) If Jesus Christ is God, our Creator, the Divine Logos, our Redeemer, our King, Prophet and Priest, then He should be at the centre of our lives.

    (b) The Church which Jesus Christ founded and of which He is the head is the only true Church. The Catholic Religion is the only religion that should have liberty.

    (c) The mother of Jesus Christ in the flesh is mother of the Person Who is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and therefore she is Mother of God.

  4. 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:

     - 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)