Richard Hooker on the Person of Christ

Richard HookerRichard Hooker (1554-1600) penned what is probably the most concise and helpful statement of what Christians believe regarding the person of Jesus Christ in his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1597). As an added bonus, he also provides summaries of the four key christological heresies and the corresponding church councils that dealt with them. Hooker’s four key words—truly, perfectly, indivisibly, and distinctly—are a great way to remember the four key aspects of Christ’s person. Hooker explains:

There are but four things which concur to make complete the whole state of our Lord Jesus Christ: his Deity, his manhood, the conjunction of both, and the distinction of the one from the other being joined in one. Four principal heresies there are which have in those things withstood the truth: Arians by bending themselves against the Deity of Christ; Apollinarians by maiming and misinterpreting that which belongeth to his human nature; Nestorians by rending Christ asunder, and dividing him into two persons; the followers of Eutyches by confounding in his person those natures which they should distinguish. Against these there have been four most famous ancient general councils: the council of Nice [aka Nicaea, AD 325] to define against Arians, against Apollinarians the council of Constantinople [AD 381], the council of Ephesus [AD 431] against Nestorians, against Eutychians the Chalcedon council [AD 451]. In four words, αληθως, τελεως, αδιαρετως, ασυγχυτως, truly, perfectly, indivisibly, distinctly; The first applied to his being God, and the second to his being Man, the third to his being of both One, and the fourth to his still continuing in that one Both (5.54.10).

In short, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is truly God, perfectly man, indivisibly both, and distinctly each.

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