Tag Archives: systematic theology

Nestorianism in Light of Modern Christian Apologetics (Part 2)

In a previous post, I commented on an inter-Christian theological controversy regarding modern Christians and the heresy of Nestorianism. Many Christians were unaware that such a debate existed within their faith today, primarily between the Protestant sects of Lutheranism and Reformed/ Calvinist theology. I had first raised my argument using the study of the philosophy of religion regarding the ontology (nature of being) of the incarnate Christian God during my recent debate with Dr. Tony Costa. Quite a few lay-Christians thought I’d misidentified orthodox Christian beliefs (Dr. Costa and his supporter Anthony Rogers are guilty in this regard), that I as a Muslim did not understand Christian beliefs and as such my claim was based out of ignorance. Rather, through my subsequent posts a number of Christians have come to realise that I had actually raised an argument that Christian theologians themselves had raised, it was in fact the lay-Christians who were ignorant of their own modern day Christological controversies. In his erudite work on Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof wrote:

1. UP TO THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. The Reformation did not bring any great changes in the doctrine of the person of Christ. Both the Church of Rome and the Churches’ of the Reformation subscribed to the doctrine of Christ as it was formulated by the Council of Chalcedon. Their important and deep-seated differences lay elsewhere. There is one peculiarity of Lutheran Christology that deserves special mention. Luther’s doctrine of the physical presence of Christ in the Lord’s supper led to the characteristically Lutheran view of the communicatio idiomatum, to the effect “that each of Christ’s natures permeates the other (perichoresis), and that His humanity participates in the attributes of His divinity.” It is held that the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence were communicated to the human nature of Christ at the time of the incarnation.

Even prominent Calvinist theologian RC Sproul wrote in, “What Is the Trinity?”:

I have Lutheran friends, and I always refer to them as “my monophysite friends.” They refer to me as their “Nestorian friend,” but I always say, No, I don’t separate the two natures, I just distinguish them.”

It’s not an argument or claim invented by myself, it’s quite a well known common argument that many Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christian sects regard Calvinists as Nestorians. It is not difficult to see why. I tried to convey an argument that lay-Christians would be able to understand during my debate with Dr. Costa, but I will have to use a little bit of mathematics to better illustrate my point. The heresy of Nestorianism, entails that despite Christ having two natures, they are distinguished from each other to the point that Jesus becomes two Persons. Jesus with a divine nature and Jesus with a human nature. Surely in Islam, this enters the realm of polytheism. For the time being, let’s express how Reformed/ Calvinistic Theology about Jesus’s Hypostatic Union is Nestorian.

  • Jesus is a Person.
  • Jesus has a Divine Nature.
  • Jesus has a Human Nature.
  • Jesus = {Divine Nature, Human Nature}

If we were to say that Jesus suffered, does that mean the Person of Jesus with two natures suffered? Calvinists would readily say yes, but they would then additionally say, as James White has claimed, that only the human nature suffered. Thus, logically speaking it is a contradiction in thinking.

  • Jesus the Person with a Divine and Human Nature suffered.
  • Jesus the Person’s Divine Nature did not suffer.
  • Jesus the Person’s Human Nature did suffer.

Thus, this in effect breaks Jesus up into two Persons. They speak of Jesus in terms of only his human nature and of Jesus in terms of only his divine nature. Hence, regardless of their cries of orthodoxy, their ideas concerning the nature of Christ are inherently self-defeating and self-contradicting, thus eliciting charges of advocating the Nestorian heresy. In conclusion, as we have seen, Christians themselves did not know of these inter-Christian debates. That’s why I raised the argument in the first place. To bring attention to a problem that only their scholars seem to argue about, I merely wanted to demonstrate that Christians after 2000 years fundamentally disagree about the nature of God and cannot reconcile the God-man doctrine about Christ.

Why wrestle with confusion, when the solution is simply, there is no God but Allah….

and Allah knows best.