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False Teachings
Historic Heresies: Monophysitism

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Monophysitism (alternately referred to as Eutychianism) was a heresy that arose in the church in the fifth century century. It was forwarded by Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, who opposed Nestorius' errant Christology of Nestorianism. While Nestorius separated the two natures of Christ, Eutyches went to the other extreme of blending the two, producing a third nature - a tertium quid. While monophysitism resembles the heresy of Apollinarianism, Eutyches at least insisted that the two natures of Christ, the divine and human, were both incorporated into the person of Christ, despite becoming only one after the incarnation. Eutyches' false teaching was rightly rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.

The Teaching Summarized
In his arguments against Nestorius, Eutyches insisted upon an essential union of the two natures. Unfortunately, though, Eutyches took the unity argument to the extreme and from two natures produced a hybrid single nature within the person of Christ - hence the term, "monophysitism," which derives itself from the roots, mono (one) and physis (nature). Basically, Christ (according to Eutyches) was neither man nor God in the end, but of a new combined nature after the incarnation, as shown in the figure below:

Just like Apollinarianism, at least one nature was done away with (with monophysitism commonly expressed as the divine nature dominating the human in the third derivative new nature).

Because Eutyches' theology removes man and God both from the person of Christ, it leaves Jesus' followers without a true Savior. Christ is neither God, who saves, nor Man, able to identify with those whom He is saving. Additionally, the doctrine of God collapses under this teaching system, as the divine nature is subject to change (an impossiblity, based on the immutability of God). Not only is the mutability of God obvious from the moment of the blending in Eutychian theology, but such a teaching leaves the divine nature to necessarily die at the cross of Christ (and consequently led to the erring theopaschitai of the sixth century, who taught that God directly suffered).

The Chalcedonian Creed contains language about Christ, that is explicitly anti-monophysitism:
  • "in two natures"
  • "without confusing the two natures"
  • "without transmuting one nature into the other"
  • "the distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union"
The Church has appropriately rejected Eutyches' monophysitism (and its derivatives) since the Council Chalcedon. Christians across the world affirm the reality of Christ's full humanity and deity, and the union of the two, as declared in the scriptures and summarized by the Chalcedonian Creed. A full presentation of the biblical union of two natures in the single person of Christ is contained in the article, Two United Natures in One Person.

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