Posts Tagged hypostasis
That’s right. In spite of what you might think, it’s Superman who is boring while Clark Kent is the more interesting character. (IMHO)
Consider; there is never any doubt that Superman will come out on top. Nothing can hurt him, there is no challenge he cannot best, no enemy more powerful. For all intents and purposes he is a god. At least on the scale of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. As a child I found him fascinating but it wasn’t long before I lost interest. What’s the point? – he can’t be beat. The other more ‘mortal’ superheroes, with all their tragic flaws, were much more intriguing. In some way I could relate to them better than I ever could with Superman the ‘Perfect’. Even his alter ego, Clark, became a bit tiresome. He rarely if ever demonstrated any really human failings. (I know that this all changed recently but I imagine that is just DC Comics trying to recapture market share).
Apparently we humans need heroes to worship. Too often these heroes need to be elevated to a plain far above us, with characteristics and powers we could never hope to attain. It is the typical human paradigm. We not only see it with purely fictional mythology but it shapes our mythological yet historical heroes like Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and, yes, Jesus of Nazareth.
Have we made Jesus into an unbelievable superhero? What does it mean to be both man and God? The theological term that is used to describe the idea of Jesus being both man and God is ‘hypostasis’:
A theological term used with reference to the Incarnation to express the revealed truth that in Christ one person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human. (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
But what does that really mean? For myself, it means that some how, and in some way, Jesus embodied and presented the personal characteristics of God. The Gospels say that he was able to tap into God’s holy spirit and perform miraculous signs and wonders. Our greatest enemy -death – could not defeat him. But as a man, a human being, was he privileged to have all the infinite powers of God?
Was he omniscient? Did he know what everyone was thinking, not only in Galilee but everywhere in the world? Could he foretell the future? Would he have been able to write out Einstein’s theory of relativity in the sand? As an infant in the manger did he possess all the knowledge that existed and was yet to be?
Was he omnipotent? Could he have snapped his fingers and had Pilate or Caiaphas burst into flames? Could he have called down armies of angels to destroy the Romans? Could he have turned clay pigeons into flesh and feathers and watched them fly away?
Was he omnipresent? Was he able to visit the Native North American tribes while dining with friends in Jerusalem? Was he gazing upon the Martian Mons Olympus or considering the Challenger Deep while also hanging upon the cross?
Quite a few people believe this to be the case; that Jesus was a man but he was also God, at all times throughout his life. That he must have been holding himself in check, reigning in his divinity, in order to fulfill God’s (and consequently, his own) plan to restore order to the universe.
But isn’t that just play acting? Just putting on a show? When I think of Jesus hanging on the cross it in some way breaks my heart; to imagine how he suffered, physically, mentally and spiritually – somehow making this sacrifice for me personally. If, instead of a human Jesus, I see some sort of good intentioned impostor, a divine Clark Kent who is really Superman, impervious to all that the world can throw at him while planning his own death….well then just hand me the remote control, please. I see no real drama in this.
This amounts to just another show about an unbelievable hero who is so superhuman, so out of touch with real human joy, pain and suffering that it is impossible for me to relate to him. This dramatization of Jesus does not connect – nothing clicks – he is just another god along the lines of Mars, Thor, Hercules and Superman. The message is, once again, that strength trumps weakness. Something I get enough of every day. Hardly the Good News.