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Early Heresies Research: Apollinarianism & Pelagianism Matthew P.

Miller Early Heresies Research: Apollinarianism This work will open in a panoptic summary of Apollinarius doctrine. Each point will be elaborated upon. The work will close with the orthodox response to the heresy as a whole. Apollinarius was a fourth century Laodicean theologian who was a reader under Theodotus, an Arian bishop (Kelly 289). His Christology was almost entirely a well-intentioned polemical response to the Antiochene doctrine of the two natures of Christ, but his response to this hypostatic union ended up being too extreme and even leaned towards Arianism (290). This heresy first arose around 350 A.D. but did not become prominent until a few decades later (290). Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa were Apollinarius most formidable opponents.

Panoptic Summary of Apollinarius Doctrine. Apollinarius saw the Antiochene schools view of the two natures of Christ in one person as being logically incompatible as it forms too great of a distinction between the two natures to still have one Person (Hardy 216, line 20). He was highly disputative against the Nestorian doctrine of two sons (Kelly 290). Almost any separation or distinction which was attempted to be made within the Person of Christ was a point of contention for Apollinarius. He was highly protective of the fact that if Christ is not one Person, then the Lords entire redemptive work in Jesus is nullified because there is no saving life to bestow (291).

Contradictions in the Hypostatic Union of the Two Natures of Christ. One of the main points which led Apollinarius to debate the traditional hypostatic union was the apparent contradictions between having two natures, such as 1) contradictory wills, 2) contradictory intelligences, and 3) contradictory passions (Kelly 291). It was unallowable for Jesus to have a human mind since the human mind is, in his own

words, fallible and enslaved to filthy thoughts (291). The human and divine natures were not separate natures fused into one, but the assimilation of the flesh by the Word. The traditional view of the two natures of Christ, that he had an eternal and a finite mind, divine and human desires, and infinite and limited knowledge were other contradictions Apollinarius dreaded and hoped to escape. In summary, there was only one principle at work within Jesus which directed his biological and psychological faculties (including reason) the divine, eternal Word.

Apollinarius Resulting Hyper-Hypostaticism. Because Christ could not have had a human mind with its wild passions and desires, Jesus instead had a divine mind, more specifically, the Word (Kelly 291). With this Word-mind, Jesus was able to be passion-less in human terms and was unable to succumb to human desires. But the Word-mind replaced more than just the thoughts of the human mind; it also replaced the minds supervising function over the processes of the body (291). Thus, the Word also controlled the biological and physical systems of Jesus body, resulting in a division-less, biological unity between God and man, which is really a hyper-hypostatic union. Since the Word and the flesh are so inseparably joined, to the point of non-distinction, Jesus flesh is automatically glorified (Kelly 294). He was careful not to say that the Word was always, eternally, united to the flesh or that it was identical to the essence of God (consubstantial), but he seemed to affirm the traditional hypostatic union by saying that Christs flesh is God in so far as it is united with the Godhead so as to form one Person (294). Along with this hyper-hypostaticism comes the belief that it is proper to worship the flesh of Jesus as it shares in all of the divine characteristics of the Word (295). This worship is not a result of the union of the natures, as a traditional hypostatic union would suggest, but instead results from the fact that the attributes of the flesh and the attributes of the Word are entirely interchanged and shared (295), with the one being equal to the other.

The orthodox response to Apollinarius heresy can be summarized in one, extremely weighty theological statement which draws out the most serious problem with his Christology: If Christ did not assume our full nature, then whatever part He did not assume has not been redeemed and is still under the curse of sin, and he cannot be said to be a man. If Christ did not assume a mind just like ours, yet without sin, then the mind cannot be redeemed and those who sin with the mind have an excuse (Hardy 220). Rather, the full unity of the full human and full divine natures in the one Person of Christ gives us the Savior who can heal us entirely and who is sympathetic towards our weaknesses. One of Apollinarius main contentions was that Christ could not have had a human mind because that would have subjected him to fleshly passions, but this is really a non-point. Jesus must have had a fully human mind as the Scriptures say that he was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Jesus human nature is not afflicted by sin as is ours, so it is not a problem that he assumed the nature. He is the second Adam, and Adam was made perfect, without sin, and with a fully human, rational mind, body, and soul. It would not have been a good thing for us if Christ did not take on a mind like unto our own and experience external temptations. If he did not have a human nature fully like ours, apart from sin, then he cannot even be considered a man (Kelly 296): Apollinarius Christology logically concludes in Docetism (296), which means that Jesus only appeared like a man, and this makes Mary a sort of channel of divinity, a belief which Gregory of Nazianzus cried out against (Hardy 217). Apollinarius also struggled to answer insights in the Gospels which prove that Jesus had a fully human mind. For example, he could not really explain how Jesus grew in knowledge, was ignorant of the day he would return, or how Christ experienced human suffering during the Passion (Kelly 296, 299). The orthodox doctrine of the hypostatic union affirms that Christ fully underwent the Passion and death in his Person while his divinity remained impassable (299). Apollinarianism was rightly condemned as a heresy, but it showed the importance of the hypostatic union in work of Jesus Christ.

Research on Early Heresies: Pelagianism This work will open in a panoptic summary of Pelagius doctrine. Each point will then be elaborated upon. The work will close with the orthodox response to each point of the heresy. Pelagius was a fourth century theologian and revivalist (Hall 205) who confessed and defended orthodox Trinitarianism and Christology (Pelikan 316). However, he is better known for his prominent role in the Pelagian Controversy. He ultimately departed from Western tradition during his debates with Augustine regarding the doctrines of free will and original sin and their implications, such as sinless perfection and salvation apart from hearing the gospel. It is vital to gracious scholarship to remember that the core issues raised in the Pelagian Controversy were not viewed as matters of heresy but as matters of open question and inquiry (316), while the implications of these core issues were viewed as having the potential to conclude heretically. It is equally vital to keep in mind that modern Pelagianism is neither entirely representative nor accurate of what Pelagius taught but is rather a dogma based upon Pelagius doctrine which was established and articulated by his followers, namely Celestius and Julian of Eclanum (313).

Panoptic Summary of Pelagius Doctrine. Pelagius teaching revolved around the doctrines of free will and original sin. In logical order1, mans nature is not entirely affected by the Fall, and thus man has the ability in and of himself to choose to do good or evil. Mans unhindered2 ability to willfully choose to act righteously is assisted by the law, and this combination is sufficient, as sufficient as the gospel, for a man to become righteous, even apart from any immediate help from God. Grace is thus limited to 1)

Refer to Pelikans quote of Celestines summary of Pelagius teaching at the end of page 315 and beginning of page 316.

Unhindered by the innate presence of sin, but hindered by the bad example of Adams sin, as noted subsequently.

Gods creative acts in nature, making man in His image, and 2) the giving of the law; Pelagian grace is not interjectional. Man Retained the Ability to not Sin after the Fall. The Fall did not affect every aspect of Adams being. After the Fall, Adam and all his descendents retained the ability of the will to keep from sinning. This ability was retained because sin did not become integrated into mans nature. Sin did not pass from Adam to his descendents through his nature but through his example3. Pelikan summarizes this point well on page 315, Even after sin the will remained as free as it had been before sin was committed. Babies are not born with sin but are born with Adam-like innocence. The previous point is one of the core issues of Pelagius teaching, whereas the following issue is an implication: From the previous point, Pelagius concluded that it is possible for man to attain sinless perfection solely as a result of his will in response to the law. He referred to Biblical characters that are never mentioned to have sinned as proof that certain men not only lived without sin, but led holy lives (Pelikan 314).

God Doesnt Command Impossibilities. Pelagius arrived at the belief that man did not inherit a sinful nature from Adam because he saw mans responsibility in the Scriptures (such as Deuteronomy 24:16) and concluded that since man is responsible for his sin that he also must be capable of responding to and obeying Gods commandments (Pelikan 314). God would not command something which was impossible to be done. When Jesus, in Matthew 5:48, commands us to be perfect just as the Father is perfect4, Pelagius said that Jesus would never have said this if he had known [it] was beyond

Refer to Augustines quote of Pelagius at the beginning of Chapter 10 of his Treatise on Nature and Grace (Schaff).

Pelikan (313, par. 2) and Hall (205) both emphasize this point of Pelagius doctrine.

achievement (313). Therefore, God would be unjust to demand perfection from someone who was unable to be perfect. Along with this, Pelagius taught that if man was born with a nature totally affected by sin, then he would not be responsible for his sin because it would be involuntary (Schaff, ch. 34). Gods Grace Consists in Law and Nature. The main point of contention in the Pelagian Controversy was the work and extent of grace. For Pelagius, God primarily5 showed his grace to humanity in two ways: First, God created man in His image and man thus has the grace of freedom (Hall 205). This grace is, presumably, mans free will which he has since he is created in the image of a free God. Second, God gives the law6 to man by means of the Scriptures so that he may know what is pleasing and displeasing to God (205). The combination of the will (nature) and the law are sufficient for a man to become righteous. The justification of the righteous through the law and nature is an act of Gods grace because He provided both. These forms of grace do not present an all-encompassing view or definition of Pelagian grace, nor are they (law and nature) identical to Gods grace, but are rather the major components of the outworking of grace (Pelikan 315).

Orthodox Response: Man Retained the Ability to not Sin after the Fall. The greatest weakness of Pelagius stance of the Falls affect on the will of man is that he formulated his doctrine without taking into full consideration the theological significance of Romans 5:12. This was the principal text in the discussion between Augustine and Pelagius. The question was, What impact did the Fall have on the

Pelikan mentions two other forms of grace held by Pelagius, though they are less dominant in his theology and thus considered by the author to be secondary: 1) demonstration of the snares of the devil and 2) illumination by the manifold and ineffable gift of heavenly grace (315).

Note that the law does not refer specifically to the Torah, but to any divinely revealed commandment (315, lines 3-7).

nature of man? Was man so affected by sin that he became wholly incapable of doing anything other than sinning, even from conception? Augustine established the orthodox position on this topic by emphasizing that, according to Romans 5:12, all who descend from Adam inherit the penalty of death which was promised to him and delivered by God as a result of his sin (Schaff, ch. 10). This penalty of death is passed unto all Adams descendents because in him all sinned. Augustines response is that man inherits Adams sinful nature from birth; this is the doctrine of original sin: they are not without sin, which they have derived from their birth (Schaff, ch. 4). Pelagius said that all sinned didnt mean all inherited sin but, rather, all imitate Adams sin (Schaff, ch. 10). The thrust of his position is that man becomes a sinner the first time he sins. Again, for Pelagius, if man was a sinner from birth then his sin would be involuntary and thus the sinner could not be justly held responsible for his misdeeds. Rather, Pelagius said that man could practice righteousness through his will in response to nature alone. Augustine saw this problem in the logical conclusion of this Pelagian teaching and offered the following example (Schaff, ch. 10) to show his error: If a person in a remote region died, without ever having heard the gospel or the name of Jesus Christ, could this person be saved by obeying what was revealed to him in nature? According to Pelagius, this is possible. If this is possible then righteousness would come through the law and Christ would have died in vain (Galatians 2:21). Therefore, it is impossible that man retained the ability, in and of himself as a response to the light of nature, to not sin after the Fall.

Orthodox Response: God Doesnt Command Impossibilities. Would God be unjust for commanding someone to do something that is impossible? In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer (Deut. 10:16). A man may loosen

his neck and accept rebuke, but how is he supposed to circumcise his heart? He cannot, for this is a work of God: The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants (Deut. 30:6, Rom. 2:28-29, Col. 2:11-12). With an orthodox view of the Gods grace, Augustine concluded that it is possible for man to not sin or to avoid sinning but only by the grace of God through the means of prayer, forgiveness, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Schaff, chs. 11, 29). Since the will itself is corrupt, and must first be cured before good works could please God (Hall 207), Gods grace is entirely necessary for a person to submit to and obey any of Gods commandments. Mans inability, not Gods irrationality, makes the divine commandments impossible, and their impossibility and mans inability do not absolve man of his responsibility for his sin.

Orthodox Response: Gods Grace Consists in Law and Nature. Pelagius understanding of grace is not only foreign to biblical theology, but contrary to it. Gods grace as revealed in the Scriptures, and especially the New Testament, is more than the mere creation of man in His image or the giving of the law. It is an expression of Gods unmerited favor, an expression which intrudes in the life of a man and redeems him from sin and death. The orthodox response compared Pelagian grace to what the New Testament writers said of grace. In such a comparison it becomes apparent that Pelagian grace is incompatible with the grace that saves and purifies a man, as is revealed in the Scriptures: Pelagian grace consists of law and nature, therefore Christ is the end of grace (Romans 10:4).This is illogical, unbiblical, and plainly wrong. Grace does not bring about wrath (Romans 4:15, 8:1). Grace justifies, the law cannot (Galatians 2:21). Christ died to accomplish what the law could not (Romans 8:3-4). Augustines response focused on the fact that Pelagian grace contradicted the necessity of Christs death and resurrection and the necessity of mans baptism into it as the only means of salvation. The appeal against Pelagius was an appeal to the

Churchs highest authority, the Scriptures, and we can say, based on the Scriptures, that Pelagius taught heretical soteriology. Works Cited Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine And Practice in the Early Church. Washington D.C.: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2005. Hardy, Edward Rochie. Christology of the Later Fathers (Library of Christian Classics). New York: Westminster John Knox, 1977. Holy Bible: New King James Version. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1978. Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (The Christian Tradition: ... of the Development of Christian Doctrine). New York: University Of Chicago, 1975. Schaff, Philip. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Volume 5. Buffalo: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.