De-Incarnated Christ of Orthodoxy?

JLatimer

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[url=http://venuleius.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/doxological-misunderstandings/]Ius Honorarium: Doxological Misunderstandings[/url] said:
Christ, in Orthodox thought (or, at least, a popularized articulation of Orthodox thought), possess [sic] a cosmic Kingship; He is the “brooding omnipresence in the dome” of any properly constructed Orthodox temple, which leaves sufficient room for a more apt “doxological” cry from the kliros: “We have no king but Caesar!” There is a strange, almost disturbing, inversion of what Eric Voegelin called the “cosmological empire”: Orthodox society (more imagined than real) is not structured as a reflection of the cosmos; the cosmos under Christ is structured like a Byzantine court, with an earthly ceremonial ritual transformed into a liturgy that is given, by title, a divine status.
...
Venuleius (blog author): I’ve toyed (and, really, that’s all this is — toying) with the thesis that Christ is effectively “de-Incarnated” in popularized Orthodox thought, piety, liturgics, etc. So to assert, as Catholicism does (or, at least, did until Vatican II), that Christ is King in this world is an almost incomprehensible assertion for the Orthodox. Christ is Heaven (“the dome”), not here on earth;
...
Also, for reasons of historical accident more than anything else, it seems (I’m speculating here) that Orthodox piety centralized a cosmic, transcendent Christ over an earthly, suffering Christ (who was also, paradoxically, kingly). It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King.
How would you respond to this assertion that Orthodoxy (as opposed to Catholicism) de-incarnates Christ, that we relegate Him to a 'mystical/cosmological' role detached from this world? Is there any merit to this critique? He makes some very provocative, to say the least, assertions: for example, the claim that the Orthodox stand in the position of the Jews exclaiming we have no king but Caesar.

Venuleius: The question of Christ’s humanity in Orthodox (popular) thought is a difficult one to unravel, though I thought Fr. Patrick Reardon’s recent lecture on the Orthodox Western Rite where he notes that the Liturgy of St. John reflects a pre-Chalcedonian Christology offers a clue into the different “emphases” one finds in Eastern and Western Christian piety and liturgics. I discussed this matter with a friend of mine, and he noted that the humanity of Christ only becomes “front and center” during the liturgical offices of Holy Week, but by Holy Saturday it’s pulled back. (On this point I keep thinking of the Byzatine icon of Christ simultaneously “in the Heavens” and “in the Tomb”; there’s a powerful demand that people never forget that Christ is still God, which is theologically correct, though one could argue that it detracts from the very real (human) suffering and death he endured.)
...
Francis: I hear you and remember one of Balthasars’ critiques of slavic Byzantine iconography being deincarnated.

Would you go so far as to say or see a functional Monophysitism?
:eek:

Note how he admits that the demand to never forget the Divinity of Christ is "theologically" correct, but still seems uncomfortable with it. Hate to be facile and dismissive, but, well, you know, the N word...
 

Ortho_cat

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I think Orthodox could stand to emphasize more of Christ's role as our mediator to God, which I think Catholics emphasize more during liturgy, but other than that I don't see much difference.

Of course, we contend that Christ came from a woman just like us, not one who was immaculately conceived.
 

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JLatimer said:
[url=http://venuleius.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/doxological-misunderstandings/]Ius Honorarium: Doxological Misunderstandings[/url] said:
Christ, in Orthodox thought (or, at least, a popularized articulation of Orthodox thought), possess [sic] a cosmic Kingship; He is the “brooding omnipresence in the dome” of any properly constructed Orthodox temple, which leaves sufficient room for a more apt “doxological” cry from the kliros: “We have no king but Caesar!” There is a strange, almost disturbing, inversion of what Eric Voegelin called the “cosmological empire”: Orthodox society (more imagined than real) is not structured as a reflection of the cosmos; the cosmos under Christ is structured like a Byzantine court, with an earthly ceremonial ritual transformed into a liturgy that is given, by title, a divine status.
...
Venuleius (blog author): I’ve toyed (and, really, that’s all this is — toying) with the thesis that Christ is effectively “de-Incarnated” in popularized Orthodox thought, piety, liturgics, etc. So to assert, as Catholicism does (or, at least, did until Vatican II), that Christ is King in this world is an almost incomprehensible assertion for the Orthodox. Christ is Heaven (“the dome”), not here on earth;
...
Also, for reasons of historical accident more than anything else, it seems (I’m speculating here) that Orthodox piety centralized a cosmic, transcendent Christ over an earthly, suffering Christ (who was also, paradoxically, kingly). It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King.
How would you respond to this assertion that Orthodoxy (as opposed to Catholicism) de-incarnates Christ, that we relegate Him to a 'mystical/cosmological' role detached from this world? Is there any merit to this critique? He makes some very provocative, to say the least, assertions: for example, the claim that the Orthodox stand in the position of the Jews exclaiming we have no king but Caesar.

Venuleius: The question of Christ’s humanity in Orthodox (popular) thought is a difficult one to unravel, though I thought Fr. Patrick Reardon’s recent lecture on the Orthodox Western Rite where he notes that the Liturgy of St. John reflects a pre-Chalcedonian Christology offers a clue into the different “emphases” one finds in Eastern and Western Christian piety and liturgics. I discussed this matter with a friend of mine, and he noted that the humanity of Christ only becomes “front and center” during the liturgical offices of Holy Week, but by Holy Saturday it’s pulled back. (On this point I keep thinking of the Byzatine icon of Christ simultaneously “in the Heavens” and “in the Tomb”; there’s a powerful demand that people never forget that Christ is still God, which is theologically correct, though one could argue that it detracts from the very real (human) suffering and death he endured.)
...
Francis: I hear you and remember one of Balthasars’ critiques of slavic Byzantine iconography being deincarnated.

Would you go so far as to say or see a functional Monophysitism?
:eek:

Note how he admits that the demand to never forget the Divinity of Christ is "theologically" correct, but still seems uncomfortable with it. Hate to be facile and dismissive, but, well, you know, the N word...
While I disagree with a great deal of what the author said, it is important to keep both facts in mind: both Christ's Divinity and his Humanity.
 

J Michael

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JLatimer said:
[url=http://venuleius.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/doxological-misunderstandings/]Ius Honorarium: Doxological Misunderstandings[/url] said:
Christ, in Orthodox thought (or, at least, a popularized articulation of Orthodox thought), possess [sic] a cosmic Kingship; He is the “brooding omnipresence in the dome” of any properly constructed Orthodox temple, which leaves sufficient room for a more apt “doxological” cry from the kliros: “We have no king but Caesar!” There is a strange, almost disturbing, inversion of what Eric Voegelin called the “cosmological empire”: Orthodox society (more imagined than real) is not structured as a reflection of the cosmos; the cosmos under Christ is structured like a Byzantine court, with an earthly ceremonial ritual transformed into a liturgy that is given, by title, a divine status.
...
Venuleius (blog author): I’ve toyed (and, really, that’s all this is — toying) with the thesis that Christ is effectively “de-Incarnated” in popularized Orthodox thought, piety, liturgics, etc. So to assert, as Catholicism does (or, at least, did until Vatican II), that Christ is King in this world is an almost incomprehensible assertion for the Orthodox. Christ is Heaven (“the dome”), not here on earth;
...
Also, for reasons of historical accident more than anything else, it seems (I’m speculating here) that Orthodox piety centralized a cosmic, transcendent Christ over an earthly, suffering Christ (who was also, paradoxically, kingly). It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King.
How would you respond to this assertion that Orthodoxy (as opposed to Catholicism) de-incarnates Christ, that we relegate Him to a 'mystical/cosmological' role detached from this world? Is there any merit to this critique? He makes some very provocative, to say the least, assertions: for example, the claim that the Orthodox stand in the position of the Jews exclaiming we have no king but Caesar.

Venuleius: The question of Christ’s humanity in Orthodox (popular) thought is a difficult one to unravel, though I thought Fr. Patrick Reardon’s recent lecture on the Orthodox Western Rite where he notes that the Liturgy of St. John reflects a pre-Chalcedonian Christology offers a clue into the different “emphases” one finds in Eastern and Western Christian piety and liturgics. I discussed this matter with a friend of mine, and he noted that the humanity of Christ only becomes “front and center” during the liturgical offices of Holy Week, but by Holy Saturday it’s pulled back. (On this point I keep thinking of the Byzatine icon of Christ simultaneously “in the Heavens” and “in the Tomb”; there’s a powerful demand that people never forget that Christ is still God, which is theologically correct, though one could argue that it detracts from the very real (human) suffering and death he endured.)
...
Francis: I hear you and remember one of Balthasars’ critiques of slavic Byzantine iconography being deincarnated.

Would you go so far as to say or see a functional Monophysitism?
:eek:

Note how he admits that the demand to never forget the Divinity of Christ is "theologically" correct, but still seems uncomfortable with it. Hate to be facile and dismissive, but, well, you know, the N word...
When I click on the link, I get the blog article, but there's absolutely nothing about the person who wrote it.  Does he/she speak for the Catholic Church?  If so, in what capacity?  Or, is this just some anonymous blogger's opinion?
 

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I think the critique is perhaps valid if you slice Liturgy off and call it the whole of our beliefs, which this article seems to do.

The incarnation may not be emphasized as much in the rubrics of the Liturgy, but it is elsewhere: foremost in the Icons, which could not exist if we preached a "de-incarnated" Christ. Christ is as material as the icons on the wall, thus the Incarnation stands firm.

I don't see any need for the Liturgy to be, unto itself, a complete treatise on Orthodox beliefs. The Liturgy exists for a specific reason: for us to celebrate the Eucharist, which is itself a proclamation of the Incarnation.
 

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Shanghaiski

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It seems to me he's trying to find an actual problem where non really exists--except in his own mind, of course.
 

ialmisry

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JLatimer said:
[url=http://venuleius.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/doxological-misunderstandings/]Ius Honorarium: Doxological Misunderstandings[/url] said:
Christ, in Orthodox thought (or, at least, a popularized articulation of Orthodox thought), possess [sic] a cosmic Kingship; He is the “brooding omnipresence in the dome” of any properly constructed Orthodox temple, which leaves sufficient room for a more apt “doxological” cry from the kliros: “We have no king but Caesar!” There is a strange, almost disturbing, inversion of what Eric Voegelin called the “cosmological empire”: Orthodox society (more imagined than real) is not structured as a reflection of the cosmos; the cosmos under Christ is structured like a Byzantine court, with an earthly ceremonial ritual transformed into a liturgy that is given, by title, a divine status.
...
Venuleius (blog author): I’ve toyed (and, really, that’s all this is — toying) with the thesis that Christ is effectively “de-Incarnated” in popularized Orthodox thought, piety, liturgics, etc. So to assert, as Catholicism does (or, at least, did until Vatican II), that Christ is King in this world is an almost incomprehensible assertion for the Orthodox. Christ is Heaven (“the dome”), not here on earth;
...
Also, for reasons of historical accident more than anything else, it seems (I’m speculating here) that Orthodox piety centralized a cosmic, transcendent Christ over an earthly, suffering Christ (who was also, paradoxically, kingly). It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King.
How would you respond to this assertion that Orthodoxy (as opposed to Catholicism) de-incarnates Christ, that we relegate Him to a 'mystical/cosmological' role detached from this world? Is there any merit to this critique? He makes some very provocative, to say the least, assertions: for example, the claim that the Orthodox stand in the position of the Jews exclaiming we have no king but Caesar.

Venuleius: The question of Christ’s humanity in Orthodox (popular) thought is a difficult one to unravel, though I thought Fr. Patrick Reardon’s recent lecture on the Orthodox Western Rite where he notes that the Liturgy of St. John reflects a pre-Chalcedonian Christology offers a clue into the different “emphases” one finds in Eastern and Western Christian piety and liturgics. I discussed this matter with a friend of mine, and he noted that the humanity of Christ only becomes “front and center” during the liturgical offices of Holy Week, but by Holy Saturday it’s pulled back. (On this point I keep thinking of the Byzatine icon of Christ simultaneously “in the Heavens” and “in the Tomb”; there’s a powerful demand that people never forget that Christ is still God, which is theologically correct, though one could argue that it detracts from the very real (human) suffering and death he endured.)
...
Francis: I hear you and remember one of Balthasars’ critiques of slavic Byzantine iconography being deincarnated.

Would you go so far as to say or see a functional Monophysitism?
:eek:

Note how he admits that the demand to never forget the Divinity of Christ is "theologically" correct, but still seems uncomfortable with it. Hate to be facile and dismissive, but, well, you know, the N word...
Nonsense?

Because that is what it is.  Odd coming from an Ultramontanist, given that they need-and demand we need-a "visible head," while we have no problem with Christ ruling the Church as the "invisible Head." Seems like another attempt to attack the Orthodox as somehow deficient in not having a "Vicar of Christ" "tanking the place of God on earth." Simple: He is ever present in the Orthodox Church, so He-and we-don't need a "Vicar."

And He is present physically-deincarnation would cause the whole very visible role of the Holy Icons to collapse in Orthodoxy.  Since I haven't seen that, I have no idea where they are getting this "deincarnation" in the Orthodox Church from.

Maybe he is upset that we do not share the Vatican's thirst for gore, the fetish for displaying body parts or the obsession to put His mother on a par with Him.  Oh, well. That's their problem, not ours.

There is also not a too thinly disguised swipe at Orthodoxy as "Caesaropapism."  Of course, besides the transformation of the church into a Papal state-despite the clear words during that passion he refers to "My Kingdom is not of this world"-the Vatican is always selective in its condemnation of "Caesaropapism."  It of course defends to the death the act of the Germanic kings in overturning the Tradition of Orthodox Rome, reiterated by Popes and inscribed on the doors of St. Peter's itself, in the insertion of the filioque in the mass at Rome, praises the Emperors of the Romans who dragged the bishops from the Orthodox patriarchates to submit to the Vatican in return for armies to defend their kingdom of this world, and celebrates the imposition of "union" by the Polish King (at the time trying to overturn the reformation in his native Sweden, and promising Polish lords Russian lands to make up for those lost to Sweden).  It isn't upset that we allegedly say "we have no king but Caesar," but that we refuse to recognize Caesar's successor as pontifex maximus as "Caesar" and "Supreme Pontiff."

I've been to many Orthodox Churches which had no Pantocrator in the dome.  I've never been to one which did not have an Icon of the Theotokos and Child (how He came) flanking the altar (how He comes now).

"It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King." Nearly every large Orthodox Cross I've seen has, above the Crucifixed Christ the inscription "King of Glory."

No, there is no merit in this "critique." Just an agenda.
 

jah777

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Andrew21091 said:
Ortho_cat said:
JLatimer said:
Andrew21091 said:
Wow, never thought I'd see my brother's blog quoted here.  :D
That's your brother?
Is he RC?
Yes, he is my brother and yes he is Roman Catholic.
I’m sure you two have had some interesting discussions and debates over the years.  I found somewhat humorous the following comment that your brother made in the comments section of his blog: 

Venuleius:

"Look, I’m not Catholic because I care about liturgy; I’m Catholic because I don’t want to go to hell. I want my plenary indulgences, Rosaries, Novenas to St. Joseph so I can find a new position, daily morning Mass that’s over in time for me to get to work, afternoon Mass during the workday that I can go to on my lunch hour, night Mass during the week I can go to after work, Saturday night Mass that I can go to so I can do drugs, drink, and have sex with my wife on Sunday morning (because — all you Orthodox out there — that’s what Catholics who go to “accommodation Mass” really do), Confessionals where I don’t have to smell the priest’s breath, scary bloody Crucifixion statuary, Purgatory, the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception, Latin, normal, well-adjusted people, etc. That’s the package deal the Pope personally dispatched to me to get me to sign-up. So far, no buyer’s remorse."


From the little I have read of the blog, the author seems very much at home with scholasticism and the absolute certainty and clarity that results from such a centralized and organized religious institution.  About the comments provided in the OP, however, I don’t have a comment.     
 

ialmisry

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jah777 said:
Andrew21091 said:
Ortho_cat said:
JLatimer said:
Andrew21091 said:
Wow, never thought I'd see my brother's blog quoted here.  :D
That's your brother?
Is he RC?
Yes, he is my brother and yes he is Roman Catholic.
I’m sure you two have had some interesting discussions and debates over the years.  I found somewhat humorous the following comment that your brother made in the comments section of his blog: 

Venuleius:

"Look, I’m not Catholic because I care about liturgy; I’m Catholic because I don’t want to go to hell. I want my plenary indulgences, Rosaries, Novenas to St. Joseph so I can find a new position, daily morning Mass that’s over in time for me to get to work, afternoon Mass during the workday that I can go to on my lunch hour, night Mass during the week I can go to after work, Saturday night Mass that I can go to so I can do drugs, drink, and have sex with my wife on Sunday morning (because — all you Orthodox out there — that’s what Catholics who go to “accommodation Mass” really do), Confessionals where I don’t have to smell the priest’s breath, scary bloody Crucifixion statuary, Purgatory, the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception, Latin, normal, well-adjusted people, etc. That’s the package deal the Pope personally dispatched to me to get me to sign-up. So far, no buyer’s remorse."


From the little I have read of the blog, the author seems very much at home with scholasticism and the absolute certainty and clarity that results from such a centralized and organized religious institution.  About the comments provided in the OP, however, I don’t have a comment.       
I hope he is joking.
 

ialmisry

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I got a kick out of this response (which I agree with)
Personally, enjoy the “Jesus went down, punched the devil in the nose, and kicked down the gates of hell” side of the story more than the “He was bleeding all over the place” side. But I’m an insecure Cubs fan and enjoy being on the winning side for once.
 

J Michael

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ialmisry said:
jah777 said:
Andrew21091 said:
Ortho_cat said:
JLatimer said:
Andrew21091 said:
Wow, never thought I'd see my brother's blog quoted here.  :D
That's your brother?
Is he RC?
Yes, he is my brother and yes he is Roman Catholic.
I’m sure you two have had some interesting discussions and debates over the years.  I found somewhat humorous the following comment that your brother made in the comments section of his blog: 

Venuleius:

"Look, I’m not Catholic because I care about liturgy; I’m Catholic because I don’t want to go to hell. I want my plenary indulgences, Rosaries, Novenas to St. Joseph so I can find a new position, daily morning Mass that’s over in time for me to get to work, afternoon Mass during the workday that I can go to on my lunch hour, night Mass during the week I can go to after work, Saturday night Mass that I can go to so I can do drugs, drink, and have sex with my wife on Sunday morning (because — all you Orthodox out there — that’s what Catholics who go to “accommodation Mass” really do), Confessionals where I don’t have to smell the priest’s breath, scary bloody Crucifixion statuary, Purgatory, the Filioque, the Immaculate Conception, Latin, normal, well-adjusted people, etc. That’s the package deal the Pope personally dispatched to me to get me to sign-up. So far, no buyer’s remorse."


From the little I have read of the blog, the author seems very much at home with scholasticism and the absolute certainty and clarity that results from such a centralized and organized religious institution.  About the comments provided in the OP, however, I don’t have a comment.       
I hope he is joking.
Seems pretty tongue-in-cheek to me.  But, what do I know?
 

Alpo

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Another Latin Catholic criticizing completely legitimate aspects of Eastern Catholicism. *papal facepalm*
 

JLatimer

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Thanks for a great response, but let me play devil's advocate.

ialmisry said:
Nonsense?

Because that is what it is.  Odd coming from an Ultramontanist, given that they need-and demand we need-a "visible head," while we have no problem with Christ ruling the Church as the "invisible Head."
I think he might see invisibility as a sign of 'disincarnation'. ISTM he's working off an incarnate=visible idea. 

Seems like another attempt to attack the Orthodox as somehow deficient in not having a "Vicar of Christ" "tanking the place of God on earth." Simple: He is ever present in the Orthodox Church,
He might say, as sacerdotium but not as regnum. His critique seems to be that the Orthodox Church acts a dispenser of sacraments, but does not image Christ's Kingship over creation. How do you address that? What is Christ's Kingship? How does it differ from earthly kingship? How is it similar? How does He exercise it? How does the Orthodox Church show it forth?

so He-and we-don't need a "Vicar."

And He is present physically-deincarnation would cause the whole very visible role of the Holy Icons to collapse in Orthodoxy.  Since I haven't seen that, I have no idea where they are getting this "deincarnation" in the Orthodox Church from.
He mentions the idea that Orthodox icons are too 'ascetical' or 'mystical'. Again the idea that incarnate=visible (in this case in the sense of 'realistic'). 

Maybe he is upset that we do not share the Vatican's thirst for gore,
I think he might say what we see as a thirst for gore is a real, thoroughgoing commitment to the real, true, literal humanity of Christ. 

the fetish for displaying body parts or the obsession to put His mother on a par with Him.  Oh, well. That's their problem, not ours.

There is also not a too thinly disguised swipe at Orthodoxy as "Caesaropapism."  Of course, besides the transformation of the church into a Papal state-despite the clear words during that passion he refers to "My Kingdom is not of this world"
He seems to draw a distinction between "of this world", "in this world". He seems to think Orthodoxy, in stressing that Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, has pushed it altogether out of this world. For him, Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, but is in this world. I would tend to agree with that. But if not the Vatican, what does Christ's not-of-but-in-this-world Kingdom look like? 

-the Vatican is always selective in its condemnation of "Caesaropapism."  It of course defends to the death the act of the Germanic kings in overturning the Tradition of Orthodox Rome, reiterated by Popes and inscribed on the doors of St. Peter's itself, in the insertion of the filioque in the mass at Rome, praises the Emperors of the Romans who dragged the bishops from the Orthodox patriarchates to submit to the Vatican in return for armies to defend their kingdom of this world, and celebrates the imposition of "union" by the Polish King (at the time trying to overturn the reformation in his native Sweden, and promising Polish lords Russian lands to make up for those lost to Sweden).  It isn't upset that we allegedly say "we have no king but Caesar," but that we refuse to recognize Caesar's successor as pontifex maximus as "Caesar" and "Supreme Pontiff."

I've been to many Orthodox Churches which had no Pantocrator in the dome.  I've never been to one which did not have an Icon of the Theotokos and Child (how He came) flanking the altar (how He comes now).

"It’s almost as if Christ’s Kingship can’t be understand when he was “just” leading the Apostles around Galilee or “just” enduring questioning, mockery, physical assault, etc. He had to be positioned in the Heavens, with a choir of angels and Saints, to be a King." Nearly every large Orthodox Cross I've seen has, above the Crucifixed Christ the inscription "King of Glory."
The N word I was thinking was Nestorian. It seems there is a similar concern for defending the integrity of humanity in the Incarnation, and a similar result: the Word of God assuming not humanity but a man (as you said, a visible Vicar of Christ, "taking the place of God on earth").
 
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