As Christian thinkers continued to deal with various errors regarding the incarnation and the Trinity they eventually developed a formula called the “communication of attributes.” This expressed the idea that although Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man, he is but one person. Because he is one person, and thus a single subject in both a psychological and grammatical sense, what is said about the person of Christ may logically be said about both God and man. For this reason it is always right to say that God was born, suffered, died and rose. But this statement is only right if we also affirm that while the Son is God, God is not only the Son but also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Martin Luther developed this idea about the attributes even further. He wanted to stressed the communication of the attributes so profoundly that he insisted the human body of Christ possessed the divine attribute of omnipresence. This would mean that (somehow) Jesus was present in Jerusalem but at the same time he was present in his body everywhere. Luther’s opponents suggested that he compromised the humanity of Christ in the process. He insisted that he was defending it. I agree with his critics but I do not think he was guilty of a great error in any true sense of the word. But, and this is important I think, his teaching challenged a richer, fuller truth by overstating his case. On the other end of the Reformation spectrum John Calvin so stressed the human and divine in Christ that he came close to splitting him into two persons. (He never actually did this but his emphasis does seems to be slightly off, at least as many theologians have understood him.)
What all these Christian teachers had in common was their earnest belief in the divinity of Christ. They all wanted to make sure that others truly believed in him as Lord. And they took the incarnation very seriously. Contrary to liberal theology, as it developed in the last two centuries, all of these men openly stated their faith in Christ as Lord and, when called upon, would die for that faith. Praxeas, as we saw, did confess his faith in a way that could have actually cost him his life.
Harold O. J. Brown concludes:
Would modern theologians, if challenged to confess their faith in court and give their lives for it, be ready to die for their theology, or would most prefer to explain it away as only a theory or an interpretation? In the absence of persecution, it is impossible to know what others will do. Indeed, even the most orthodox and traditional Christians would be unwise to boast in advance of how they would respond to persecution and the threat of a painful death. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that one senses a tremendous urgency and genuineness in the early heretics that one misses in the more urbane and academic discussions of modern theologians (Heresies, 102).
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