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Tuesday
Sep062011

Theological Term of the Week

Chalcedonian Definition
The statement produced by the Council of Chalcedon in A. D. 451 that has been regarded by most branches of Christianity as the orthodox definition of the biblical teaching on the person of Christ;1 also called the Chalcedonian Creed.

  • Text of the Chalcedonian Definition: 

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.     

  • From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:
  • Some have said that that Chalcedonian definition really did not define for us in any positive way what the person of Christ actually is, but simply told us several things that it is not. In this way some have said that it is not a very helpful definition. But such an accusation is misleading and inaccurate. The definition actually did a great deal to help us understand the biblical teaching correctly. It taught that Christ definitely has two natures, a human nature and a divine nature. It taught that his divine nature is exactly the same as that of the Father (consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead”). And it maintained that the human nature is exactly like our human nature, yet without sin (“consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead”). Moreover, it affirmed that in the person of Christ the human nature retains its distinctive characteristics and the divine nature retains its distinctive characteristics (“the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved”). Finally, it affirms that, whether we can understand it or not, these two natures are united together in the one person of Christ. 

Learn more:
  1. Theopedia: Chalcedonian Creed
  2. Justin Holcomb: The Creed of Chalcedon
  3. Nick Needham: Truly God, Truly Man: The Council of Chalcedon
  4. Charles BiggsChristological Heresies and the Council of Chalcedon
  5. Melinda PennerThe Interaction of Philosophy and Theology in the Development of the Trinity and Christology at Nicaea and Chalcedon (pdf) 
  6. James White: The Trinity, the Definition of Chalcedon, and Oneness Theology
Related terms:

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

1From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

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