07 May 2008

Your theological challenge of the day

Define "incarnate" to the satisfaction of an inquisitive person who has not yet attained his fourth birthday.

Bonus points if you can do it while incurring fewer than 5 questions that begin with "but why" or "but what."

Points subtracted if this takes you so long that he loses interest and wanders off to do something else.



The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Really? I was operating under the assumption that we earned extra points if they lose interest and wander off....

That's my general strategy with four year olds.... ;)

Rebekah said...

Ugh. How many times I've watched a little face get more and more confused while I methodically employ all that education to explain concepts like "nature" and "person." RPW, you're definitely on to something.

Pr. H. R. said...

Just make them memorize the real definition. They'll grow into it.

So, for Person, simply look to Aquinas, Pars I, Q. 29, a. 1, to find Boethius' classic definition:
"a person is an individual substance of a rational nature."

Of course, you'll have to flip to Pars III, Q. 16, a. 12 to find that "individual substance" means
The "individual substance" which is included in the definition of a person, "implies a complete substance subsisting of itself and separate from all else;"

So, taking all that together, when you have trained your toddler to say that Jesus is two natures in one person and they ask, "what's a person?" you can simply say, "Why, a person is an individual substance of a rational nature, that is to say, a complete and self-subsisting instance of a rational nature."

You should also train your children to say, "Nevermore" when you ask them what a raven says. Again, they'll grow into it.


Gauntlets said...

My tactic: "Go ask Dad."

Then they do. And as he's both nicer and smarter than I, this system works out pretty well.

I'm far too Papist at heart to be allowed to teach the babies anything. ;) Yeah, I know. I'm working on it. (Ba-dum CHING!)

Pr. H. R. said...


Don't start with me on the Papists again. You're liable to get a really long reply. To wit.

1. See the conclusion to Part I of the Augsburg Confession. We're the catholics. So be catholic.

2. But don't be papist. The Pope is bad. Here are two of his latest anti-Christian statements. One holding out salvation by works - even to atheists and muslims - and the other holding out condemnation for all who do not bow to his extravagant claims.


Lumen Gentium (Vatican II: 1964)
16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126); But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.


Pastor Aeternus (Vatican I: 1870)
Chapter 1
6. Therefore, if anyone says that blessed Peter the apostle was not appointed by Christ the lord as prince of all the apostles and visible head of the whole Church militant; or that it was a primacy of honor only and not one of true and proper jurisdiction that he directly and immediately received from our lord Jesus Christ himself: let him be anathema.

Chapter 2
4. For this reason it has always been necessary for every Church--that is to say the faithful throughout the world--to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to head, with that see, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body [48].

5. Therefore, if anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the lord himself (that is to say, by divine law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.

Chapter 3
8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful [52], and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment [53]. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon [54]. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff.

9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

Chapter 4
9. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.

Gauntlets said...

OK! Like I said, I'm working on it!

For the record, definitely not Senior Ratzi or any of the Big Hat Fellows. I'm more attracted to all the shiny baubles. Buttons and bows. The Pretties.

Caw. Caw.