Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus

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johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Now we're talking past each other. You said Ephesus has almost nothing going for it. Then you said

you are looking to attribute "the work of the Holy Spirit" in the entire history of the church (in the spirit of the Magisterial Reformers), I still do not see how, precisely you are dividing up what was "the work of the Spirit" and what was not "the work of the Spirit" in these councils.

and I showed you where Calvin called Ephesus holy, and reverent and to be embraced. Surely you see a difference between something that's holy and to be reverenced and to be embraced and something that has almost nothing going for it!

Yes, I see what Calvin said. I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here. But when I look at the council itself, I see a bankrupt proceeding, held under questionable circumstances, that made a ruling ("Theotokos") that no reformed confession even mentions.

Other than that Calvin listed as he did, what is it about Ephesus that is "the work of the Holy Spirit"? Why is Nestorius condemned?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Nobody is claiming that the tradition was wrong to condemn "Nestorianism" when some of Nestorius' followers embraced the errors condemned by Ephesus. But the term "Nestorians" is equivocal. Some of his early followers did walk down the Ephesianly condemned path. Others (and his modern descendants) did not.

If present day Nestorians are not historic Nestorians then there is no benefit to discussing them in a thread which is examining an historic question.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Chalcedon's words: "the frenzied folly of Nestorius" (Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, second series, 14:264).

It was not this simple though.

Facts can be brutal things. Just accept them and you will be much better for it.

It is a fact that Chalcedon referred to "frenzied folly"; it does not say what that "frenzied folly" was. That actually explains nothing. So I'm not sure what you are asking me to accept.

As a former Roman Catholic, I was able to leave that system precisely because I did not accept what they said as "facts"; I challenged them, and searched for the truth. (That is why I am here and why I attend a PCA church).

I've written quite extensively about this here and in the other thread. I'm relying on the word of sound historians and theologians and have cited them extensively. I can admit that Nestorius, personally, in his actions, may have been "frenzied". But that is not a heresy. His rationale for suggesting the use of the term "Christotokos" was an attempt to compromise between a party that was insisting on Theotokos and one that was insisting on anthropotokos. To my knowledge this dispute occurred prior to Ephesus. (In Heraclides, Soro does not provide a quote for this, but he says that Nestorius does state that he could "accept the communicatio idomatum" as expressed in the term Theotokos" with the reservation that it be noted that "In the beginning was the Word," and that "God the Word exists eternally." That is a scriptural qualification of that term.)

It was also stated in the other thread that Chalcedon admitted some portion of Nestorius's construction into the definition that we all now adhere to (and as well, some of Cyril's construction from Ephesus was not used. So, prior to Chalcedon, nobody adhered to "Chalcedonian orthodoxy" Such a thing simply did not exist.

From what I can gather, from what you have been saying, the only reason Nestorius is a heretic is that he did not say "Theotokos". But nor did any of the Reformed confessions; each and every one of them managed to define their Christology without saying "theotokos".

Aside from that, the ONLY thing that I can tell is that you dislike that I've said that Berkhof was factually wrong about what Nestorius (and Theodore) taught. And I explained that in detail as well.

Could you please state, in positive terms, what it is that you think I should "just accept"?

-----Added 10/18/2009 at 07:53:39 EST-----

made a ruling ("Theotokos") that no reformed confession even mentions.

Is this to be taken that you consider none of the Reformed Confessions to have stated anything about Mary as the Mother of God, or that God was born of Mary?

Cheers,

It seems to me that the Second Helvetic confession goes into the most detail of this -- the date on that is 1566. And it does not say "theotokos" nor "Mother of God" but uses other language to make its Christological statement.

Please don't be coy; if you think I am in error, please say precisely where.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is a fact that Chalcedon referred to "frenzied folly"; it does not say what that "frenzied folly" was. That actually explains nothing. So I'm not sure what you are asking me to accept.

I am asking you to accept the fact that there was no revised understanding of Nestorius or what he taught. The councils speak uniformly. Your conjectures to the contrary are simply contrary to fact.

(In Heraclides, Soro does not provide a quote for this, but he says that Nestorius does state that he could "accept the communicatio idomatum" as expressed in the term Theotokos" with the reservation that it be noted that "In the beginning was the Word," and that "God the Word exists eternally." That is a scriptural qualification of that term.)

This is all a figment of the historian's imagination. Any communicatio can only be predicated on the acknowledgment of a unio personalis, which Nestorius never affirmed. His statements in the Bazaar only allow for a moral union and specifically refer to the adoption of the person of the flesh. Such language cannot be reconciled with orthodox Christology as defined by Chalcedon.

It was also stated in the other thread that Chalcedon admitted some portion of Nestorius's construction into the definition that we all now adhere to (and as well, some of Cyril's construction from Ephesus was not used. So, prior to Chalcedon, nobody adhered to "Chalcedonian orthodoxy" Such a thing simply did not exist.

How ridiculous! Chalcedon praises Ephesus and self-consciously aims to reproduce the orthodoxy of Ephesus in seeking to meet the challenges of new errors.

From what I can gather, from what you have been saying, the only reason Nestorius is a heretic is that he did not say "Theotokos". But nor did any of the Reformed confessions; each and every one of them managed to define their Christology without saying "theotokos".

You are not gathering very well. I have continually insisted on the Christological significance of the theotokos -- a significance which Nestorius rejected. That significance is embodied in the reformed confessions. See WCF 8:2. The eternal Son of God was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary. That conception pertains to the human nature but is nonetheless a conception of the Son of God -- a doctrine which Nestorius rejected.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not interested in getting involved in this thread beyond this post, but I do think it's of importance to point out a few historical facts about events at the Council of Chalcedon.

The 9th session of Chalcedon was held on October 26, and involved the examination of Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466). He had been deposed in 449 by the "Robber Council of Ephesus." It was well known that he had befriended Nestorius. In order for him to be restored, Theodoret was required by Chalcedon to condemn Nestorius, which he did in the following formula...
"Anathema to Nestorius and to whoever does not call the holy Virgin Mary Theotokos and to anyone who divides the only-begotten Son into two sons. I myself also have subscribed to the definition of faith and to the letter of the very reverend archbishop Leo; this is my opinion. And after all that, may you be saved." See Peter L'Huillier, The Church of the Ancient Councils, p. 197.

The same condemnation of Nestorius was likewise required by Ibas of Edessa, Sophronius of Constantina, and John of Germanicea. The point is that even though Antiochian sentiments were represented in the official definition of Chalcedon, none of that affected the Council's posture against Nestorius as pronounced at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. Though the number of bishops claimed to have been present was later numbered at about 630 in attendance, the actual figure was probably closer to 510, and the Antiochian contingency was well represented (Ibid, p. 187).

DTK
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Please don't be coy; if you think I am in error, please say precisely where.

You may need to do an in-depth study of the 9th Commandment; both in your treatment of people on this board, as well as historic councils of the Church. Please don't impute motives that you are ignorant of. The form of my question was intended to give you the chance to speak for yourself rather than my own prejudice being read into what you said. Perhaps you should grant me the same courtesy.

Cheers,
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
One of my seminary professors did his Ph.D. on Cyril and the Council of Ephesus. I copied the OP and sent it to him to get his opinion on this. Here is the gist of his reply:

But here’s the short version of the story:



1) Yes, Cyril was a jerk in the way he treated Nestorius.



2) But Cyril did not treat Nestorius any worse than Nestorius treated Cyril at the time that Nestorius thought he had the upper hand. In his Book of Heraclidis, written much later from exile, Nestorius seems to have forgotten this fact and he whines incessantly about the way Cyril treated him. But he does not back down on his Christology at all, and he does not seem to remember how badly he treated Cyril.



3) The way Cyril treated Nestorius would have been inexcusable IF a major truth of the gospel were not at stake.



4) Modern scholars don’t think that a major truth of the gospel was at stake, because they believe Nestorius adequately affirmed the “deity of Christ.”



5) But as Cyril knew all along, as John of Antioch came to recognize, and as virtually the whole church eventually realized, Nestorius did NOT adequately affirm the deity of Christ. For Nestorius, Christ as a man in whom God the Son dwelt, just as the Spirit dwells in each of us. But the rest of the church, led by Cyril, correctly recognized that such a definition of “deity” missed the central point: Christ had to BE God the Son, not just be INDWELT by God the Son, or he could not save us.



6) Modern scholars generally speaking hold to a Christology very much like that of Nestorius. Their notion of the “deity of Christ” means little more than some sort of divine spirit dwelling in this man. It certainly does not mean that he was the eternal Second Person of the Trinity. Since the modern scholars believe that, and want that to be acceptable, they assume Nestorius’ thought was acceptable, and they assume that Cyril’s vehemence toward Nestorius was only the result of politics. It wasn’t. Behind the politics and the mistreatment of Nestorius lay the fundamental, correct recognition that Nestorius’ Christ could not save us, because he was not God the Son incarnate.



7) One of the sad ironies of this is that evangelicals emphatically hold to Cyril’s Christology, but we do not realize that we are doing so. And we often passionately defend Nestorius and defame Cyril, not realizing that in doing so we have bought into a liberal, 19th-century way of viewing the controversy that has nothing in common with our own faith.

P.S. – Nestorius’ use of Christological language was not the problem. The problem was his view of salvation and the view of Christ that came out of it.


P.P.S. – Jenkins’ The Lost History of Christianity is a fascinating book, but he knows basically nothing about the theological issues of the time, and he virtually admits as much. He is willing to say that anyone who calls himself a Christian is one.

This prof is knowledgeable in the area and has written a chapter in a textbook (Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology) as well as at least one book (Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers) on the subject.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you for posting this information from your professor. I'd like to make a couple of responses.

1) Yes, Cyril was a jerk in the way he treated Nestorius.

It is not only Cyril being "a jerk." It is an entire church council following his lead, and writing a condemnation of a man based on Cyril's misattribution of what Nestorius actually said. An entire council ratified, under Nestorius's name, a false witness. And, of course, it caused a huge schism in a church which had not previously been split.


2) But Cyril did not treat Nestorius any worse than Nestorius treated Cyril at the time that Nestorius thought he had the upper hand. In his Book of Heraclidis, written much later from exile, Nestorius seems to have forgotten this fact and he whines incessantly about the way Cyril treated him. But he does not back down on his Christology at all, and he does not seem to remember how badly he treated Cyril.

I am aware of Nestorius's prior reputation of being a self-proclaimed hunter of heretics. In that regard, he ticked off a lot of people, and was not well liked. But I don't recall Nestorius's "whining" getting written into church dogma. Nestorius did not lead armed gangs in the street, compelling people and voting bishops to "see things my way."


3) The way Cyril treated Nestorius would have been inexcusable IF a major truth of the gospel were not at stake.

I don't see how you can say "we accept Cyril's treatment because he defended a major truth of the gospel." And again, it turned out to be a mixed bag in the end. Cyril's Christology at Epheusus was overturned to some degree at Chalcedon and Nestorius's "one person, two natures" formulation did make it into the final definition at Chalcedon. It took "the sword" of an emperor to make all parties sit down and make nice. That, I think, is one good explanation for all the inconsistencies that came out of that council. (For example, Cyril is lauded, but his theology gets whacked; Nestorius is still condemned, but his theology makes it into the definition, etc.)


4) Modern scholars don’t think that a major truth of the gospel was at stake, because they believe Nestorius adequately affirmed the “deity of Christ.”

This is vague. Who are the "modern scholars"? Moffett, whom I've quoted most extensively, cites Loofs, who did most of the "modern" work on Nestorius. I'm not able to find any personal background about him. But he also cites A.R. Vine. Perhaps your professor could be more careful to say which scholars are the "modern scholars," and how precisely how that affected their reading of history. McGuckin is not "modern" by any stretch, in fact, he is a devout Eastern Orthodox partisan.


6) Modern scholars generally speaking hold to a Christology very much like that of Nestorius. Their notion of the “deity of Christ” means little more than some sort of divine spirit dwelling in this man. It certainly does not mean that he was the eternal Second Person of the Trinity. Since the modern scholars believe that, and want that to be acceptable, they assume Nestorius’ thought was acceptable, and they assume that Cyril’s vehemence toward Nestorius was only the result of politics. It wasn’t. Behind the politics and the mistreatment of Nestorius lay the fundamental, correct recognition that Nestorius’ Christ could not save us, because he was not God the Son incarnate.

Moffett clearly says Nestorius's theology was "weak". But Nestorius was not in the category of a gnostic, or a docetic, for example. He adhered to the doctrine of the Trinity as espoused at Nicea and Constantinople. He was from the school of Antioch, which used Scripture in a grammatico-historical way (in contrast with the allegorical style of Alexandria.) In my reading, I'm constantly coming across Nestorius citing Scriptures to make his point.

Even so, this is perhaps the only point of the six that really has some merit; with that said, I'm not convinced that any Reformed scholar has ever given this whole period the thorough kind of treatment it deserves. It was, after all, the occasion of the first and probably the deepest schism in church history.

And it is true that other parts of the theology of Theodore and Nestorius were not what we as Reformed believers would accept. But it was legitimate enough in that day. (In the early church, there were wide variations in what people believed, and the fact that an early believer was orthodox in one area of his teaching was no protection that other things he taught or believed were orthodox.)


7) One of the sad ironies of this is that evangelicals emphatically hold to Cyril’s Christology, but we do not realize that we are doing so. And we often passionately defend Nestorius and defame Cyril, not realizing that in doing so we have bought into a liberal, 19th-century way of viewing the controversy that has nothing in common with our own faith.

We do not hold to Cyril's Christology. We hold to Chalcedonian Christology, which is not exactly Cyril's Christology. In his 433 "formulary" with John of Antioch, Cyril made major concessions. Kelly says, "The anathemas which he had made so much of had dropped into the background, and even his favorite expressions, "one nature" and "hypostatic union" had disappeared. Instead he found himself accepting the Antiochene language of "one prosopon" and "union of two natures," while one phrase emphasized the duality of the natures after the union. "Theotokos" was admitted, but only with safeguards which satisfied the Antiochenes, and it was balanced by the admission of their traditional description of the humanity of the Word's "Temple."

This formulary, along with Leo's Tome, were the primary sources for the definition of Chalcedon. Cyril was an opportunist; in the end, on his "christology", he licked his finger, stuck it in the air, and checked the direction of the wind. (And in the end, he accepted what was much closer to Chalcedon, while his Alexandrian school, steeped in "one nature, hypostatic union" did break off and become the Monophysite, Coptic church of Egypt.)

So where do we really stand?

No Reformed scholar really has looked with the depth needed to produce a study which is mentioned in the same breath as Grillmeier or McGuckin. So we really don't know.

P.S. – Nestorius’ use of Christological language was not the problem. The problem was his view of salvation and the view of Christ that came out of it.

What was his "View of salvation"? He was very careful to keep to the parallel of "First Adam / Second Adam", and follow through the implications of that.


Re. Jenkins, I've not cited him here, except for such things as measuring the size and the scope of the "Nestorian" church.

If your professor's work is available online anywhere, I'd be happy to take a look at it.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
What was his "View of salvation"? He was very careful to keep to the parallel of "First Adam / Second Adam", and follow through the implications of that.


Re. Jenkins, I've not cited him here, except for such things as measuring the size and the scope of the "Nestorian" church.

If your professor's work is available online anywhere, I'd be happy to take a look at it.

The professor's work is available in the two published works I mentioned. In addition, he has a book published by Oxford Press, but I do not recall the name. It is very expensive if I recall ($60 or more for a book less than 300 pages), which is probably why he didn't include that.

As far as Nestorious' view of salvation, it seems it was a sort of proto-Pelagianism, If I recall correctly. He did not delve into a denial of original sin, but taught a view that very much bordered on "Christ as our example," in the sense that in Adam we lost our way and got off track, but in Christ we have our example who shows us our way back.

Of course, that is from memory. The prof did include something of this in class notes, but I do not have them with me at present. I will try to post on this later in the day.

And with all due respect, let me add one more item to this post: this is my professor's area of expertise (his doctorate was specifically on Cyril), so to simply brush off most of his comments as having little or no merit because you don't happen to agree with them or prefer to agree with your own sources instead, is not very helpful. Speaking as a moderator, this is one reason that discussions like this begin to devolve into shouting matches. While expertise does not mean that one cannot err in one's conclusions, it is something to consider. Also, presuppositions need to factor into this (which is why he mentioned modern scholarship; I do not know of whom he spoke, as I copied the response "as is" -- it was an email response and not meant to be a theological treatise). The professor in question is Westminsterian in his theology. I know nothing of the predilections of Moffett, et al.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
The professor's work is available in the two published works I mentioned. In addition, he has a book published by Oxford Press, but I do not recall the name. It is very expensive if I recall ($60 or more for a book less than 300 pages), which is probably why he didn't include that.

You never gave his name. I'm happy to look up those works, and even to consider buying a $60.00 Oxford Press work that's done by a Reformed scholar.

As far as Nestorious' view of salvation, it seems it was a sort of proto-Pelagianism, If I recall correctly. He did not delve into a denial of original sin, but taught a view that very much bordered on "Christ as our example," in the sense that in Adam we lost our way and got off track, but in Christ we have our example who shows us our way back.

I can accept, too, that Nestorius (and Theodore) had some similarities with Pelagius. But Soro (at least) goes to some lengths to distance Theodore from Pelagius. On the other hand, Cyril's entire school went off into Monophysitism. I don't think "guilt by association" is helpful here.

And with all due respect, let me add one more item to this post: this is my professor's area of expertise (his doctorate was specifically on Cyril), so to simply brush off most of his comments as having little or no merit because you don't happen to agree with them or prefer to agree with your own sources instead, is not very helpful. Speaking as a moderator, this is one reason that discussions like this begin to devolve into shouting matches. While expertise does not mean that one cannot err in one's conclusions, it is something to consider.

I did not "brush off" his comments. I addressed each one of them with factual content, and everything I said in that post addressed a particular point of substance. I have no desire to get into a shouting match. But nor do I care to listen to something along the lines of "Ephesus said it, that settled it."

I can understand that you are passing along a much-abbreviated response. It seems to me that that $60.00 work from Oxford is precisely the place to begin, in order to have the right kind of discussion.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
You said, "Even so, this is perhaps the only point of the six that really has some merit..." Sorry, but that sounds like a brush off. I understand and accept that this may not have been the intent.

I have withheld the prof's name because I was posting private correspondence. Also, I do not know the exact title of the Oxford work (but I do believe it is a distillation of his thesis). He was giving me the more accessible works, I believe. If you wish, I can ask him for the title of the work and then PM you with it.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Phillips, I intended no disrespect at all. I'm writing quickly, getting kids off to school, and perhaps I could have been more precise with that one. But I had addressed each of the points up till then, in a fair way, I think, and it wasn't my intention to brush anyone off.

I've already tracked down the works on Amazon, and the Oxford work is "only" $35.00. I would still disagree (from what I know) with this statement from the back cover, that "Cyril's understanding of ... Christology was not merely his own, but was in fact the consensus of the early church." Between the council of Ephesus and the agreement with John of Antioch in 433, Cyril made some major concessions in his Christology, and those who held to his earlier Christology, clearly did not understand what he was saying, as they split off into Monophysitism. Perhaps there is some good explanation for this, but I'd like to see it.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
John, thank you for your comments/explanation. It is appreciated. Emotions and intents are not always conveyed nor interpreted well in these sorts of forums. Which is why all Christians need to go the extra mile (myself included, of course), In my humble opinion. :)

I had a question with the prof concerning the last point. This was his reply. Perhaps this will explain certain things further:

I did mean to say that we hold to Cyril’s Christology. But what I meant by that was that in terms of what we actually believe, we are affirming Cyril’s Christology. Unfortunately, our theological language is very ambiguous, in that we don’t define what we mean by deity or humanity, and we don’t explain how we believe the incarnation happened. Schleiermacher affirmed that Christ was fully divine and fully human, and that there was a union of two natures. But he did not mean anything like what we mean. So we need to say what we mean, which is that God the Son took a full human nature into his own person at the incarnation, so that humanity was united to him (and thus to his divine nature). Notice the very good language of the WCF here. First it says that the Son became man, and THEN it says that the result of that action was that there was a union of two natures. It explicitly rules out the possibility that deity (as a quality) was united to a man, which is what Schleiermacher and company believed. It affirms instead that humanity was united to the person of God the Son (and thus to his divine nature that he had always possessed). In so far as I can tell (and I have checked a lot of them), ALL confessional statements prior to 1800 (Orthodox, Catholic, and all stripes of Protestant statements) say the same thing as the WCF, but the 19th century has so colored the way we STATE our Christology that we don’t say that anymore. We still MEAN that, but we don’t SAY it anymore.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I've already tracked down the works on Amazon, and the Oxford work is "only" $35.00.

Just to make sure you have the correct book (as the one I'm seeing on Amazon is actually $39.32, but I do see some others available for $34.44), the title should be Grace and Christology in the Early Church. It is in paperback now, which is the reason for the lower price (a good thing, and I may get a copy now). If you look at the Amazon page, it looks like a new hardcover would now cost well over $150! :wow:
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
John, thank you for your comments/explanation. It is appreciated. Emotions and intents are not always conveyed nor interpreted well in these sorts of forums. Which is why all Christians need to go the extra mile (myself included, of course), In my humble opinion. :)

I really do appreciate this; and I too need to be very careful with what I say.

I had a question with the prof concerning the last point. This was his reply. Perhaps this will explain certain things further:

I did mean to say that we hold to Cyril’s Christology. But what I meant by that was that in terms of what we actually believe, we are affirming Cyril’s Christology. Unfortunately, our theological language is very ambiguous, in that we don’t define what we mean by deity or humanity, and we don’t explain how we believe the incarnation happened. Schleiermacher affirmed that Christ was fully divine and fully human, and that there was a union of two natures. But he did not mean anything like what we mean. So we need to say what we mean, which is that God the Son took a full human nature into his own person at the incarnation, so that humanity was united to him (and thus to his divine nature). Notice the very good language of the WCF here. First it says that the Son became man, and THEN it says that the result of that action was that there was a union of two natures. It explicitly rules out the possibility that deity (as a quality) was united to a man, which is what Schleiermacher and company believed. It affirms instead that humanity was united to the person of God the Son (and thus to his divine nature that he had always possessed). In so far as I can tell (and I have checked a lot of them), ALL confessional statements prior to 1800 (Orthodox, Catholic, and all stripes of Protestant statements) say the same thing as the WCF, but the 19th century has so colored the way we STATE our Christology that we don’t say that anymore. We still MEAN that, but we don’t SAY it anymore.

I have really not looked deeply at all into the theological aspects of this; I'm primarily looking at historians, I think. I have said all along that I have no problem with the way that the Reformed confessions state their Christology. Except that each and every one of them stubbornly refuses to affirm Cyril's anathema on those who don't say "Theotokos." :um:

Second Helvetic, too, "detests the heresy of Nestorius, which makes two Christs of one and dissolves the union of the person..." But this, too, does not seem to be what Nestorius actually taught. Nestorius's work, in fact, is full of "one prosopon after the union." So I do see some disconnect there.

But consider Nestorius's words from that council:

I could say much on this subject and first of all that those holy fathers, when they discuss the economy, speak not of the generation but of the Son becoming man. But I recall the promise of brevity that I made at the beginning and that both restrains my discourse and moves me on to the second subject of your reverence. In that I applaud your division of natures into manhood and godhead and their conjunction in one person. I also applaud your statement that God the Word needed no second generation from a woman, and your confession that the godhead is incapable of suffering. Such statements are truly orthodox and equally opposed to the evil opinions of all heretics about the Lord's natures. If the remainder was an attempt to introduce some hidden and incomprehensible wisdom to the ears of the readers, (This is Nestorius's counter-charge -- not sure what "the remainder" is -- maybe it is "Mother of God" language? At any event he is not dogmatic about it -- JB) it is for your sharpness to decide. In my view these subsequent views seemed to subvert what came first. They suggested that he who had at the beginning been proclaimed as impassible and incapable of a second generation had somehow become capable of suffering and freshly created, as though what belonged to God the Word by nature had been destroyed by his conjunction with his temple or as though people considered it not enough that the sinless temple, which is inseparable from the divine nature, should have endured birth and death for sinners, or finally as though the Lord's voice was not deserving of credence when it cried out to the Jews: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.'' He did not say, "Destroy my godhead and in three days it will be raised up."

I would like to know what is detestable in this. Note that he qualifies his own belief with Scripture.

The Council of Ephesus

As for the price of the book, yes, I was looking at the used book section. (Not sure what's up with those prices. Must be a supply/demand thing -- they only print a very small first run; once those are sold, then you're dealing with an aftermarket kind of pricing.)
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
If I remember, the reason for the excessive pricing has to do with the publishing house. You pay more for better editors.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
We do not hold to Cyril's Christology. We hold to Chalcedonian Christology, which is not exactly Cyril's Christology. In his 433 "formulary" with John of Antioch, Cyril made major concessions. Kelly says, "The anathemas which he had made so much of had dropped into the background, and even his favorite expressions, "one nature" and "hypostatic union" had disappeared. Instead he found himself accepting the Antiochene language of "one prosopon" and "union of two natures,"

Just to note that Chalcedon did adopt the hypostatic union terminology. I'll also say that the Antiochenes were starting to become more comfortable with this language by Chalcedon (even Nestorius makes use of hypostasis to describe the unity of Christ in the Bazaar).

It should also be noted that the Coptic Church is not monophysite: it is miaphysite.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Philip, thank you for those corrections.

Pastor Phillips: If you go Amazon and search the book "Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective: An Introductory Christology," you will see the following:

We can no longer legitimately view the Christological controversy as a clash between two equally represented "schools," leading to a compromise at Chalcedon that settled the matter in a largely negative way. Rather, the Christological controversy was an expression of the outrage that most of the church felt woard the unacceptable Christology of a tiny minority of people, one of whom (Nestorius, the catalyst for the controversy) happened to be in a very influential position as bishop of Constantinople. That outrage expressed itself negatively in Nestorius's condemnation at the Chouncil of Ephesus in 431 and led positively to the consistent doctrinal formulations at Chalcedon in 451, Constantinople II in 553, and Constantinople III in 680-81." (This is from Fairbairn's chapter in that work, beginning on page 80)

Later he says, "When one recognizes that the fundamental issue of the controversy was who the one person of Christ was, and when one accepts the centrality of Cyril's place in the controversy, then it becomes clear that the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 were consistent with each other and were Cyrillian in substance, even though they did not use Cyril's terminology." (82)


Now, that last statement is something that is completely the opposite of what my understanding is of those two last councils. C-II was a largely negative condemnation (again) of Nestorius, Theodore, Theodoret, and others.

Reymond (614) says, "and the Second Council of Constantinople, convoked by [the emperor], while it did not repudiate the Definition of Chalcedon, did attempt by its Twelve Anathemas to make the Definition more palatable to the Alexandrian interpretation...." Later he says that the controversies of the next two centuries "must be judged, then, to be at heart relapses into contradictions that Chalcedon had already substantially overcome."


Your professor seems to be adopting the Eastern Orthodox view of all of this. I'm sure it's not going to be the last word on it.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I would like to know what is detestable in this. Note that he qualifies his own belief with Scripture.

I'm sure you have heard this before, John, but every heretic quotes Scripture. The fact that someone quotes verses is no guarantee of orthodoxy (the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons who come to my door do that). Arius did that. It should be no surprise that Nestorius would do so as well.

I asked (one final time) for the prof to give a summary of what he termed 2-act and 3-act salvation schemes in this early church folks. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Nestorius apparently held to a scheme that was form of proto-Pelagianism, and that was what was wrong with his view of salvation. In other words, his faulty view of the nature of Christ led to a faulty view of redemption in Christ. This is what the professor said concerning those views:

Those models have been criticized a lot, and they may be too simplistic to be useful in all that many cases. (For example, neither one fits Augustine very well.) But they fit Theodore and Cyril marvelously. Theodore sees the human calling as one of advancing from the first age to the second age. So creation (act 1 or stage 1) is a condition of the possibility for fellowship with God, NOT the actuality of it. Humanity is then called to advance from possibility to actuality (this is act 2). And Christ (the divinely-inspired man) is the leader who goes before us and leads us upward. (Notice how much like 19th-century thought this sounds.) Theodore does not see the fall as an actual event. Rather, it is a metaphorical way of describing the fact that we have always been mortal, sinful, and separated from God. (Again, notice the parallels to 19th-century liberalism.) In my opinion, this creates insoluble theodicy problems, and I remember talking to you about this one day after class.



In contrast, Cyril (3-act scheme) sees creation (act 1) as placing humanity in fellowship with God, the fall (act 2) as the loss of that fellowship as humanity fell into a predicament from which it could not extricate itself, and redemption (act 3) as more-or-less a restoration to the original condition of fellowship with God. I write “more-or-less” because Cyril (and everyone else) sees what we have in Christ as being, in some ways, more than what we had in Adam. But the point is the basic similarity of the two conditions—Rev. 21-22 parallels Genesis 1-2.



So the basic idea is like this: 2-act – creation, elevation

3-act – creation, fall, restoration



Thus, the 3-act scheme automatically places more emphasis on God’s action (we could not get out of the pit we fell into), and the 2-act automatically places more emphasis on human action (it is our job to rise up to God). That’s why the 2-act shows up in pure form only in heretics like Arius, Theodore, and Pelagius.

My advice is that, beyond this, you procure the works of the prof and then after digesting them, you correspond with him with further questions. That will be far more effective than having me play intermediate. :)
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Phillips -- I do appreciate you running this past Dr. Fairbairn; There is no need for you to follow up with him any further. I do hope to try and purchase his work on Cyril. But in the meantime, I do have a few comments:

I would like to know what is detestable in this. Note that he qualifies his own belief with Scripture.

I'm sure you have heard this before, John, but every heretic quotes Scripture. The fact that someone quotes verses is no guarantee of orthodoxy (the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons who come to my door do that). Arius did that. It should be no surprise that Nestorius would do so as well.

I have heard that "every heretic quotes Scripture." But in the present context, I don't think that's a sufficient response. It should be possible, through exegesis, to show precisely what it is that Nestorius is saying that is heretical.

I asked (one final time) for the prof to give a summary of what he termed 2-act and 3-act salvation schemes in this early church folks. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Nestorius apparently held to a scheme that was form of proto-Pelagianism, and that was what was wrong with his view of salvation. In other words, his faulty view of the nature of Christ led to a faulty view of redemption in Christ. This is what the professor said concerning those views:

Those models have been criticized a lot, and they may be too simplistic to be useful in all that many cases. (For example, neither one fits Augustine very well.) But they fit Theodore and Cyril marvelously. Theodore sees the human calling as one of advancing from the first age to the second age. So creation (act 1 or stage 1) is a condition of the possibility for fellowship with God, NOT the actuality of it. Humanity is then called to advance from possibility to actuality (this is act 2). And Christ (the divinely-inspired man) is the leader who goes before us and leads us upward. (Notice how much like 19th-century thought this sounds.) Theodore does not see the fall as an actual event. Rather, it is a metaphorical way of describing the fact that we have always been mortal, sinful, and separated from God. (Again, notice the parallels to 19th-century liberalism.) In my opinion, this creates insoluble theodicy problems, and I remember talking to you about this one day after class.



In contrast, Cyril (3-act scheme) sees creation (act 1) as placing humanity in fellowship with God, the fall (act 2) as the loss of that fellowship as humanity fell into a predicament from which it could not extricate itself, and redemption (act 3) as more-or-less a restoration to the original condition of fellowship with God. I write “more-or-less” because Cyril (and everyone else) sees what we have in Christ as being, in some ways, more than what we had in Adam. But the point is the basic similarity of the two conditions—Rev. 21-22 parallels Genesis 1-2.



So the basic idea is like this: 2-act – creation, elevation

3-act – creation, fall, restoration



Thus, the 3-act scheme automatically places more emphasis on God’s action (we could not get out of the pit we fell into), and the 2-act automatically places more emphasis on human action (it is our job to rise up to God). That’s why the 2-act shows up in pure form only in heretics like Arius, Theodore, and Pelagius.

My advice is that, beyond this, you procure the works of the prof and then after digesting them, you correspond with him with further questions. That will be far more effective than having me play intermediate. :)

I do find this "two-act" and "three-act" comparison helpful. But again, Nestorius and Theodore were not condemned for "Pelagianism". To do so now completely misses the point of what was argued at the time. And there are many other theologians in the early church who held to various forms of what later became "Pelagian". In fact, there is not, to my knowledge, a single church father who held what any of us would consider to be a totally orthodox theology.

So concerning what I have seen from the Professor, he condemns Nestorius and Theodore for Pelagianism, which the councils did not do.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
The comment about "every heretic quotes Scripture" is simply to point out that simply because someone quotes Scripture (which virtually every heretic has done) lends nothing little to the discussion. If Arius wants to point out that Christ is the firstborn of all creation in order to justify claiming Him to be less than God, that does mean he is using Scripture accurately. You are right, that does not address the issues; it was simply to state that just because Nestorius points to the Scriptures does not mean he is using them correctly.

Also, no one is specifically accusing them of "Pelagianism" (which dealt with the denial of original sin). However, there an aspect of human nature that runs through all centuries that follows the two-stage paradigm. Pelagianism, Finneyism, Social Gospel liberalism, etc. seem to follow after this type of thinking with regard to salvation (though for different reasons sometimes). I believe the point of the good doctor is that because Nestorius' view of the natures of Christ was erroneous, this affected his doctrine of salvation, which led to the two-act view.

I have often told people that no doctrines are held in isolation. If someone holds to a faulty view of the Trinity, for instance, this leads to serious problems in other areas of their theology. In Pelagius' case, his heretical anthropology led to an incorrect view of salvation. The argument here, if I am not overstating, is that Nestorius' view of the natures of Christ did something very similar.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Two things should be noted:

1) Ephesus actually did confirm the Council of Carthage's condemnation of Pelagianism. There was a second article of business on the agenda: a retrial of Caelestius, a disciple of Pelagius, which ended in a condemnation of CaelestiusN and Pelagianism.

2) Eastern Orthodoxy in general is semi-Pelagian, so calling Nestorius such is to state the obvious.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Two things should be noted:

1) Ephesus actually did confirm the Council of Carthage's condemnation of Pelagianism. There was a second article of business on the agenda: a retrial of Caelestius, a disciple of Pelagius, which ended in a condemnation of CaelestiusN and Pelagianism.

2) Eastern Orthodoxy in general is semi-Pelagian, so calling Nestorius such is to state the obvious.

Thank you, I will have to look this up.
 
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