The idea that Jesus possessed the beatific vision during his earthly life had traditionally been upheld by Catholic theologians. However, in the last century or so, this idea has become heavily scrutinised by some of the biggest names in contemporary theology. This paper examines the works of two particular contemporary theologians on the issue, Thomas Joseph White and Thomas G. Weinandy. Thomas White defends the belief that Jesus, during his earthly life, possessed an immediate vision of the Father. White believes that the beatific vision is necessary for the Incarnate Son to know with certainty his own identity as the Son of God. Without the beatific vision, Jesus would have to have had faith in his own divine Sonship, an understanding which runs contrary to the portrayals of Christ in Scripture. White also argues that the beatific vision is the only means by which the Incarnate Son can know, with certitude, his own divine will. Only in this way can Jesus maintain unity in his theandric actions. Thomas Weinandy, on the other hand, rejects the notion of Jesus’ beatific vision.
Weinandy argues that the question itself is inherently flawed, giving rise to a conception of Jesus that is implicitly Nestorian. Thus, to believe that Jesus possessed the beatific vision would result in a violation of the Christological declarations of the Council of Chalcedon. Weinandy instead promotes a ‘hypostatic’ or ‘filial’ vision, whereby the Son comes to humanly know himself as Son in relation to the Father, and not in relation to his own divinity.
Chami, W. (2018). "Did Jesus Possess the Beatific Vision During His Incarnation?: A Comparative Essay on the Perspectives of Thomas Joseph White and Thomas G. Weinandy," Aristos 4(1),. https://doi.org/10.32613/aristos/2018.4.1.5