It is popular for modern(ist) theologians to speak of two personalities in Christ. Some have gone so far as to claim that there are two persons in Christ – and, to us, it is difficult to understand how such speculation on the part of certain scholars has not yet been openly condemned as heresy.
On account of the one person of Christ, the Church prays in her Creed: I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ. This means not only that Jesus Christ alone is the Lord, but also implies that he his one. Christ the Lord is one, he is not two – thus, though he is both human and divine, Jesus is one divine person which is the person of the Eternal Word.
Still, it is common enough for these modern theologians to speculate regarding the personality of Christ, they ask: Granted that the Lord is one person; is it yet possible to claim that there are two personalities, one human and one divine? We admit that the Church has not yet pronounced on this issue; however, for reasons which will be manifest below, we argue that it is not safe for a Catholic to suppose that there are two personalities in the one person of our Savior.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life
In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 14:6), the Lord tells the apostle Thomas I am the way, and the truth, and the life. In a previous article, we have already considered the manner in which Christ is each of these three: He is the Way as man, but he is the Truth and the Life as God. As man, he is the instrument and means to the divinity. As God, he is the divine truth and divine life toward which all men are drawn. Thus, in his single divine person, Jesus is both the way and the destination.
What is striking to us here is that Jesus uses only one “I am”, ἐγώ εἰμι. He does not say, “I am the way, and I am the truth and the life.” This is what we would expect, if it were true that there were two personalities or two “I”s in Christ. But he does not differentiate between a divine and a human ego, rather he simply says I am the way, and the truth, and the life. We have here one person speaking in one personality of himself in his two natures. The single divine person (and personality) identifies with both his human and divine natures.
This passage would lend quite strongly to the view that there is only one personality in Christ’s single divine person. Whether we speak of this personality as a divine personality or as a divine-human personality (personally, I would prefer “divine personality”, since it is the personality of a divine person who existed before the assumption of a human nature), we at least have good reason to say that there is not an additional human personality: There is only one personality and Jesus is only one “I”.
What if the Lord has no human personality?
We might question whether this point is of any importance. Does it really make a difference if the Lord has no human personality in addition to his divine personality? I would argue that it makes a great difference.
If the Lord has no human personality (as I have argued), then whatsoever Christ does must unequivocally be attributed to the action of a divine person, the person of the Eternal Word. If Jesus’ sole personality is that of the Son, then we are led to affirm that it was truly and really the person of the Word who was born, who lived, who suffered, who died, who lay dead in a tomb, who descended, who rose again and who now sits at the Father’s right hand.
If Jesus has no human personality, we realize all the more clearly that God has truly died in the person of the Son (through his human nature) – there is no additional divine personality which is somehow separated from this Jesus who died for our salvation. The union of the divine and human natures in Christ is such that it was truly the Lord God himself who came among us – the divine “I” of the Word of God is the very same “I” which has told us, Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matthew 28:20).
Indeed, how differently we read the Scriptures when we recognize that there is only one personality and one “I” in Christ! As St. Cyril tells us: “All expressions, therefore, that occur in the Gospels are to be referred to one person, the one enfleshed hypostatis of the Word. For there is one Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria, writing to the heretic Nestorius)