Nestorianism in Light of Modern Christian Apologetics (Part 1)


In an earlier article entitled, “Should Christians Appeal to Jesus’s Human Nature to Explain God’s Ignorance or Fallibility?“, I concluded that doing so is to use the heresy of Nestorianism. To demonstrate this, I quoted an example from James White’s The Forgotten Trinity:

“Crucifixion is only meaningful with reference to his human nature (you cannot crucify the divine nature). When Paul speaks of the crucifixion of the Lord of glory, he is speaking of Christ as one person with two natures.” – White, James R. (1998-11-01). Forgotten Trinity, The (p. 160). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Most recently, in my debate with Tony Costa, “Was Jesus the Son of God or Only the Prophet of God?“, I also raised this argument. In response, Tony argued that I didn’t understand what Nestorianism was. In light of this, I began to realise that the more popular Christian apologists did not seem to be aware of what the Church Fathers had written about Nestorianism in light of the doctrine of the ‘communication between the two natures’. Thus, in this short article I’d like to refer both of the aforementioned apologists, to The Anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria which was accepted in the Council of Ephesus (431 CE). He writes:

4. If any one distributes between two characters [προ′σωπα] or persons [υ‘ ποστα′ σεις] the expressions used about Christ in the gospels, etc. … applying some to the man, conceived of separately, apart from the Word, … others exclusively to the Word …, let him be anathema.1

The full text reads:

4. If anyone distributes between the two persons or hypostases the expressions used either in the gospels or in the apostolic writings, whether they are used by the holy writers of Christ or by him about himself, and ascribes some to him as to a man, thought of separately from the Word from God, and others, as befitting God, to him as to the Word from God the Father, let him be anathema.2

Thus, the position that both of these apologists hold to, that they can apply some expressions of Christ (suffering, dying, hunger) to singly his human nature and others singly befitting God, is considered to be Nestorianism. The consequences of which, both of these apologists could be labelled as heretics and anathematized from the Christian faith according to the Church Father Cyril of Alexandria.

Note: Here is a Christian who apostated from Reformed Theology, and has debated James White’s colleague Turretin: click here for the apostate’s exposition on Reformed Theology’s similarities of Noestorian beliefs, and here for the debate. Thus, it seems as if I have inadvertently stumbled upon an inter-Christian debate, leading to the same conclusions I have been arguing all along. 

and God knows best.

Sources:

  1. Bettenson, Henry. Documents of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. London: Oxford UP, 1999. 51. Print.
  2. “Twelve Anathemas Proposed by Cyril and Accepted by the Council of Ephesus.” Twelve Anathemas. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.

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