Christ In Us

The other day I tweeted a link to a Parchment & Pen post by Michael Patton and noted that it all sounded quite a bit Nestorian. The post was an attempted refutation of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and of course, Reformed types have been accused of Nestorianism on this point for as long as there have been Reformed folks. Lisa Robinson then tweeted the following:

To which I responded, “where do I sign?”

So Lisa has just written a post about this issue and I’d like to add my two cents in response. First of all, just by way of clarification, my problem with the whole “Jesus lives in my heart” language is that it has become a sentimental slogan; an evangelical catchphrase. It’s not actually the theology of the sentiment that I find fault with.

On the contrary, I think there’s something to it. Colossians 1:27 is as good a place to start as any. Paul speaks of “Christ in you [i.e., the Colossians and by extension all believers]” as a “mystery” and the “hope of glory.” The NLT translates Χριστος εν υμιν as “Christ lives in you.” Or take the words of our Lord in his high priestly prayer as recorded in John’s Gospel, specifically the closing of the prayer:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26 ESV)

Note in particular the phrase “I in them” (εγω εν αυτοις) repeated in both verses 23 and 26 (καγω εν αυτοις). So it’s not like the concept of Jesus living in our hearts is theologically untenable. It’s just an annoying (to my ears) way of putting things. It’s like saying that your “in love” with God rather than just saying you love him. There’s nothing really wrong with it, I guess, but I wouldn’t say it so I’d prefer others not to either.

As far as Lisa’s appeal to CMP’s arguments against transubstantiation to support her position, that’s where I want to cry foul and shout NESTORIANISM at the top of my lungs. All this talk about Jesus’ “undivinitized” human nature being seated squarely on the right hand of the Father in heaven seems to miss the very spirit of Chalcedon that CMP initially appealed to. The point of Chalcedon is that there’s a single divine person who became incarnate. What that person does, he does. His natures don’t do anything apart from the person. This glorified enfleshed divine person is truly in his people and really present in the sacrament of communion.


5 thoughts on “Christ In Us

  1. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:14-17). While this passage is more about the formation and in-habitation of Christ in the heart, with the indwelling Christ the foundation, it is not about the indwelling per se. Though this is a different context than the modern cliche, it is thoroughly a Pauline revelation.

  2. From a Catholic perspective this where the Chalcedodian doctrines come into play the real Person of Christ who is the Second Person of the Trinity and human who is not mixed or coalesced comes into play. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist the whole Person of Christ actually is taken into the person and not just into the heart. The protestant reductionist understanding of Sacramental Theology has problems with the true reality of Chalcedonian Theology. In essence this a point of Unity within both sections of the Catholic Church, orthodox and Latin. It is one of the hopes with the new Pontiff who will be elected as Bishop of Rome that true unity will be realised

  3. Troy: This would be another passage making the point about Jesus living in our hearts. It’s primary intent needn’t be making that exact point for the point to be made anyway.

    Andrew: I don’t think you can make blanket statements about “protestant reductionist understanding[s]” when there’s such a variety of views. The Lutherans don’t have any problem, as far as I can see, with Chalcedonian Christology here. In fact, they’re the ones accusing the Reformed of being Nestorian over this very issue! They’re able to make the accusation precisely because they grasp Chalcedon.

  4. Joshua: The reformed, and by that I mean Calvinist as opposed to Zwinglian, view of the Lord’s Supper does seem Nestorian. That’s more at issue with the Nestorian charge than the “Jesus living in my heart” language.

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