Father Jonathan Kelly – The Knowledge of Jesus Christ
Father Jonathan Kelly taught at CatholicManNight on April 20, 2012. Here is an outline of Father’s address on the Knowledge of Jesus Christ:
Jesus Christ speaks from who He is and what He knows, not from what He has learned or what He believes.
- In the history of the Church, counsels arise to determine answers to what is being questioned at the time.
- First heresy was that Jesus only appeared human because of the amazing things He did. It is called – Docetism (from the Greek word meaning “appear.”
- Then the pendulum swung the other way, Arius said that Jesus Christ was created by the Father. “Was not before he was.”
- Council of Nicaea in 325 settles it:
- Jesus Christ is of the same essence of the Father, co-eternal, begotten not made (our Creed comes from Nicaea)
- Fully God and fully man, true God from true God
- Next question was, how is He both God and man?
- Council of Chalcedon in 451 answered, “Without mixture, without confusion.”
- Divine nature penetrates the human nature without changing it
- Hypostatic union began at conception and will always exist
- Began at conception
- His human intellect and His body did not always exist
- Began at conception
- During His life the Divine Word never leaves the man
- “My God my God why have you forsaken me…” The Divinity withdrew His protection, but never separated the union.” – Hugo of St. Victor
- Future…endlessness of the union
- “and of His kingdom, there will be no end.” (Creed & Luke 1:33)
- “He holds His priesthood permanently, because He lives forever.” (Heb 7:24)
Knowledge of Christ
- How does Jesus know things?
- Because of the hypostatic union, He has two intellects, Divine and Human
- Divine intellect which is all knowing and this knowledge is not in question
- Human intellect is what is discussed
- So the question is really, “In what way does Christ know things in His human intellect?”
The human intellect is capable of three types of knowledge (Beatific, infused, acquired)
- Beatific knowledge
- “In the soul of Christ, from the first instant, there was intuitive vision.”
- Christ sees God (Jn 3:11,32; 5:46; 8:14)
- Christ knows the Father…does not have faith but knowledge Jn 8:54-55
i. A theologian recently got in trouble for saying Christ had faith. The response was (paraphrasing): if Christ has faith, it is not like our faith.
- But the human soul did not have beatific vision comprehensively…because comprehension implies understanding in totality. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite.
- He had the beatific vision from the beginning, He knows all that men have done and have done and are doing. It is always in actu.
- Infused knowledge
- Infused knowledge of some subject
- Christ’s knowledge was per se infused (St. Thomas)
- All created things, natural and supernatural, as far as they are knowable
- Not always in actu
- Acquired knowledge (knowledge acquired in the normal way)
- “He does learn, but only in the order of experimental verification of species already known. Thus whatever he taught he knew and he knew it prior to any learning he may have done regarding the experimental verification of the knowledge.”
i. Christ acquired experimental knowledge through the senses and use of intellect
ii. Learned to speak Hebrew, even though He knew Hebrew
- To what extent is debated but must preserve the acquired knowledge of Christ to maintain His humanity
i. “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
ii. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
iii. Opinion, but believe this was relatively small
- Has inverse and proportionate relationship to infused knowledge
i. If He had lots of infused, less acquired and vice versa
ii. I agree with the theologians who propose that Christ had quite a small amount of acquired knowledge
- Why might this be important tonight?
- The way Jesus Christ lived His life, even though He had unlimited access to divinity, He did grasp at it
- Continually amazed that He held firm
- He could have run up Mt. Calvary but He chose to remain within His humanity even though it would mean falling under the weight of the cross
- He did not numb or medicate the pain
- We live in imitation of Christ
- We must wait for God’s grace/guidance/knowledge/inspiration amidst any pain
- He is the Great mediator; in Himself exists both humanity and divinity
- He stands in the breach for humanity and He stood there fully God and man
- You are called to stand in the breach, by God’s grace, as intercessor for your families and those entrusted to your care…Amen