Heresies.jpg The first two heresies were about who Christ is/was. The next two are about how the divine and the human nature are related. The first concerned Nestorius and Theotokos, the God-bearer. The next heresy is from Eutyches and Eutychianism or Monophysitism. All of this is discussed at an excellent level by B. Quash and M. Ward, Heresies and How to Avoid Them: Why It Matters What Christians Believe.

In essence (that’s a pun), Eutychianism teaches that Jesus has only one nature, and it is hybrid of divine and human. The impact is that Jesus’ humanity is not (quite) the same as ours. The Fourth Council, at Chalcedon in 451, decreed this view incompatible with our gospel and salvation. The Church has always held this viewpoint.

A theme in this book is that heresy prompts reflection that leads to sound theology, to orthodoxy. But, as the author of this chp, Marcus Plested, an Orthodox theologian, states it, orthodoxy is more than reponse to bad ideas but the living articulation of we know to be true about the gospel.

Heretics, Plested observes, did not seek to be wrong but they sought out answers to their own questions. Orthodoxy is “less incorrect” than heresy. And, in fact, Plested contends Eutyches never really taught the hybrid theory of Christ’s nature. If Nestorius separated the humanity and deity of Christ too much, Eutyches didn’t separate them enough. His critics didn’t think he denied his view enough when he made a concession.

It was at Chalcedon, in 451, that Eutyches’ view was denied. Here are the words: the perfect humanity and perfect deity were united in Christ “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation” (46).

The real humanity of Christ must be affirmed if he is to become Incarnate and take upon himself our nature; the reality deity of Christ must be affirmed if Christ is to satisfy the divine nature in that act of redemption. Furthermore, Eutyches makes communicants at the Eucharist to be “God-eaters” because the bread and wine are taken up into the God-nature of Christ. Hence, the humanity (separable from deity) need to be respected in order to understand the eucharist. And Plested contends Eutyches ultimately destroys the future/eternal human-ness of humans.

Plested is convinced this view isn’t held much today, but I’m not so sure: it seems to me that many think of Christ’s nature in hybrid terms instead of two inseparate natures. [Slightly corrected.]

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad