Christian Counseling Should Utilize Christological Principles
Christ’s human nature is a divine mystery tied to the Hypostatic Union or as stated in Scripture when “the Word became Flesh”. This miraculous fusion of natures gives much for meditation and thought but also serves as an excellent paradigm for Christian Counseling. Through it, Christ becomes the ultimate example for any spiritual malady men may face. His example consists in his victory over any temptation.
The Importance of the Hypostatic UnionThe mystery of the Hypostatic Union transcends all human reasoning. Our reason must acquiescence to faith and our spiritual eyes must see what our physical eyes can never understand. This is not illogical by rational beings to suspend such rationale to such a unique mystery but on the contrary is logical to restrain our intellectual hubris. In doing so we are able to accept the mysteries of the infinite and their innate superiority over our finite limitations. With this, one must accept as an article of faith this mystery and the reality and importance of the Hypostatic Union.
There are three elements that the Logos hoped to give mankind through his incarnation. The first two deal with theological issues and the final element deals with counseling. First, the necessity of a God-man became apparant after the fall of Adam. A infinite debt was required to be repaid via a finite source. The offending finite party needed a representative; a high priest, yet the offending party could not pay this reparation. Due to this, an infinite source, the Logos, became flesh and fused his nature with a human nature in order to offer and be offered as the perfect sacrifice.
Second, the union provided a relational correspondence between God and man that previously could not exist with an immutable being. Through the Incarnation, the Logos via his human nature became relational and open to change within this miraculous union of divine and human. The love between God and man could now experience a new level of intimacy that involved emotion and a unique brotherhood.
The Church ProclaimsBefore we enter into the counseling benefits and their application of the Incarnation or Hypostatic Union, let us review what the Church proclaims regarding Christ. The Christian Church teaches that Christ is both divine and human but one person. In the early church, many would attempt to unify natures or divide natures within the personhood of Jesus Christ. In those instances, various councils triumphantly silenced the Christological heresies. Nicaea in 325 proclaimed Christ, the Logos, as co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father. Ephesus in 433 declared Mary as not mother of Christ’s human nature but the actual ‘Theotokos” or Mother of God. This proclamation prevented the division of Christ’s natures and recognized his unique and single personhood. Chalcedon in 450 reinforced the polar opposite. Those of wrong opinion suggested that Christ consisted of one nature instead of two natures–hence creating a mixed nature that was neither fully divine or human. Finally, in 481, the Council of Constantinople pointed out that Christ did indeed have two natures as well as two wills. The heretical opinion hoped to suggest that Christ while possessing two natures, only had the will of the Logos and not the soul of a man. In this teaching, it was affirmed that Christ had a created human soul that was unified with the Logos in the Hypostatic Union. In this way, Christ’s full human integrity was protected from heretical interpretation–for Scripture teaches that Christ was like us in everything but sin.
Christian Counseling Application
Applying the beauty of the Hypostatic Union to Christian Counseling is an important way for people to see Christ as a true paradigm. Christ’s human nature, the new Adam, is a beacon of light in the storm of the temporal reality. It illuminates all men in how a human being is to react to temptation in this world. Christ’s human nature, untainted by Original Sin, still nevertheless faced temptation. One can see this during the Forty Days in the Desert and the intense Agony of the Garden. In the desert, Lucifer attempted to turn the soul of our Lord. He promised him power and other luxuries if he would simply forsake the Father and worship him.
Do not think that such wonderful things did not tempt our Lord. Have we not wanted fine things in this life when spiritual things should have been first? Our Lord, as a man, desired wonderful things but his will was in such perfect union with his divine side and that of the Father that he would never separate the path laid before him. Yes he is perfectly God, but in his perfect humanness he felt true temptation. His body was not a mere shell or a phantasm as the early gnostics would contend, but was true flesh. However, unlike Adam, Christ’s will would not be bent by the whiles of the world or the seductions of the serpent. Instead, Christ would teach humankind how to hold true to the will of the Father. In this, one truly can marvel at Christ. He is not a mere demi-god who feels no pain or temptaiton but instead voluntarily submits himself to these things. In this Christ as a person, both divine and human, does not preach from a lofty throne in heaven but instead teaches us through his own example; an example that led to submission of his own will even unto a painful death that he accepted with the sweat of blood.
So as we walk our journey and attempt to conform our wills to that of our Master, Jesus Christ, can we see ourselves binding our will to the Father as Christ’s human soul did? When we are tortured by our passions regarding sex, desire, fame, disobedience, sloth or any other vice, we need to only realize that these same internal wishes were presented to our Lord and as a man he conquered them.
Praise be to Jesus Christ, two natures, two wills, but ONE PERSON–Our God.
Please utilize these Christological principles in your own Christian Counseling.
The Christian Counseling Online Program at AIHCP offers courses for Christian Counselors and other qualified professionals. The Christian Counseling Online Program consists of a variety of courses that after completion lead to certification.
Mark Moran, MA