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Friday, December 21, 2007



Sheed writes:

"So God the Son can say not only 'I am God with a human nature to act in' but in the most absolute fullness of meaning He can say 'I am man.' He does not simply act as man: He is man–as truly man as we."

What would be the heresy which responds like this?:

"Part of the definition of man is that he has one nature, and only one nature. Anyone who has both a divine and a human nature is therefore not truly human. Therefore Christ was not truly human, but quasi-human at most."

Carl E. Olson

Sounds like a variation on either Monarchianism or Arianism.

Brian Schuettler

It sounds like your question, Jackson, goes to the heresy of Monophysitism. BTW, this is a great way to learn more about Church history and Doctrine!

But the first heretical view that comes to mind, however, would be Apollinarianism. This view held that the one person of Christ had a human body but not a human mind or spirit, and that the mind and spirit of Christ were from the divine nature of the Son of God. Since this view did not believe that Jesus has a human mind and spirit, it in effect denied that Christ is fully and truly man. Following it's own internal logic, it presented Christ as a sort of half-man which is made complete by the divine nature. Thus, Apollinarianism was rejected by several church councils, from the Council of Alexandria in A.D. 362 to the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381.

A second heretical view is called Nestorianism, a view which did at least acknowledge that Jesus is fully God and fully man. However, it denied that He was only one Person. This view taught that there were two separate persons in Christ as well as two natures. The biblical teaching is that Christ is only one Person, and therefore the church rejected this belief as well.

A third heretical view is Monophysitism, which taught that Christ only had one nature, rather than two. This view held that the human nature of Christ was taken up and absorbed into the divine nature, so that both natures were changed somewhat and a third kind of composite nature resulted. An commonly used analogy would be if we put a drop of ink in a glass of water: the mixture resulting is neither pure ink nor pure water, but some kind of third substance, a mixture of the two in which both the ink and the water are changed. Similarly, Eutyches, one of the main advocates of this view, who lived 378-454, taught that Jesus was a mixture of divine and human elements in which both were somewhat modified to form one new nature. This view is also unbiblical because it demolishes both Christ's deity and humanity. On this view, Christ is no longer truly and fully God and truly and fully man, but is some entirely different kind of being that resulted from a mixture of the two natures.

An excellent source text for these interesting questions is Jaroslav Pelikan's THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: A History of the Development of Doctrine Volume 1 THE EMERGENCE OF THE CATHOLIC TRADITION (100-600) University of Chicago Press 1971

Brian Schuettler

And, of course, as Carl pointed out, there is Arianism. Arianism really goes against a trinitarian formulation of God and represented the greatest challenge to the true teaching of the Church, only rivaled later by Luther et al.

Carl Olson

Here is a list of Christological heresies from Kenneth Whitehead's book, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.


Thanks guys. Monophysitism was what I was thinking of -I think. I really need to bone up on these heresies. It seems it would be easy to unknowingly get swept away by one.

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