Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation IX

Summary Against Modern Thought: Errors About The Incarnation IX

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Week 9 refuting arguments claiming Jesus was not the Word Incarnated. Like last week, this is a simple one.


1 Now, the position of Macarius of Antioch seems to come to just about the same thing. He says that in Christ there is only one operation and will.

2 Every nature, of course, has a proper operation of its own, for the form is the principle of operation, and in accord with its form every nature has the species proper to it. Hence, as of diverse natures there are diverse forms, there must be also diverse actions. If, then, in Christ there be one action, it follows that there is in him but one nature. This last belongs to the Eutychean heresy. We then conclude that it is false to say there is but one operation in Christ.

3 Again, in Christ there is the perfect divine nature by which He is consubstantial with the Father, and a perfect human nature by which He is one in species, with us. But the perfection of the divine nature includes having will (this was shown in Book I); similarly, also, the perfection of human nature includes having a will by which a man has free choice. There must, then, be in Christ two wills.

4 The will, further, is one potential part of the human soul, as the intellect is. If, then, in Christ there was no other will than the will of the Word, by an equal account there was no other intellect than the intellect of the Word. Thus we return to the position of Apollinaris.

5 If, moreover, there was in Christ but one will, surely it was only the divine will. For the divine will which the Word had from eternity He could not lose. But the divine will is unrelated to merit because he merits who is tending toward perfection. Thus, then, Christ by His passion would have merited nothing—whether for Himself, or for us. The contrary of this is taught by the Apostle: “He was made obedient to the Father even unto death, for which cause God also has exalted Him” (Phil. 2:8-9).

6 What is more, if there was no human will in Christ, it follows that by His assumed nature He had no free choice. So, then, Christ used to act not after the fashion of man, but after the manner of the other animals who lack free choice. Then, nothing in His acts was virtuous or laudable, nothing a model for imitation by us. In vain, then, he says in Matthew (11:29): “Learn of Me because I am meek, and humble of heart”; and in John (13:15): “I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so do you also.”

7 Again, in one who is pure man, although he is one in supposit there are many appetites and operations according to the diversity of natural principles. For in his rational part there is will; in his sensitive, the irascible and concupiscible appetites; and, further, the natural appetite following on natural powers.

In the same way he sees with the eye, bears with the ear, steps with the foot, speaks with the tongue, and understands with the mind, and these are diverse operations. The case is such because the operations are not multiplied according to diverse subjects operating only, but as well according to diverse principles by which one and the same subject operates, and from which the operations take their species. But the divine nature is much more removed from human nature than the principles of human nature are from one another. Therefore, the will and operation of the divine and the human nature in Christ are distinguished from one another, although Christ Himself is one in each of the natures.

8 Furthermore, Scriptural authority clearly shows that in Christ there were two wills. He Himself says: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (John 6:38); and again: “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). From these words it is clear that there was in Christ another will apart from the will of the Father. But clearly, there was in Him a will common to Him and the Father. For, just as the Father’s and the Son’s nature is one, so also is their will. Therefore, there are two wills in Christ.

9 But this is as clear of their operations. For in Christ there was an operation common to Him and the Father, for He says: “Whatever the Father does the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). But there is another operation in Him which is not proper to the Father: to sleep, for example, to be thirsty, to eat, and others of this sort which Christ made man did or suffered; so the Evangelists tell us. Therefore, there was not one operation.

10 Now, the present position seems to have had its rise in this: its authors did not know how to distinguish between what is simply one, and what is one by order. For they saw the human will in Christ ordered entirely beneath the divine will, so that Christ willed nothing with His human will except that which the divine will disposed Him to will.

In like manner, also, Christ did nothing in His human nature, whether by acting or by suffering, except as the divine will disposed; hence we read: “I do always the things that please Him” (John 8:29). The human operation of Christ, also, achieved a kind of divine efficacy by union with the divinity, just as the action of a secondary agent achieves a kind of efficacy from the principal agent; and this resulted: every action or suffering of Hit was salutary.

For this reason Dionysius calls the human operation of Christ “theandric,” that is, “God-mannish”; and also because it is of God and a man. So, those men, seeing the human operation and will of Christ ordered beneath the divine in an infallible order, decided that there was in Christ only one will and operation, although there is no identity (as was said) between one by order and one simply.

Notes And so we learn a new word, theandric. Hard to find a use for it!


  1. C-Marie

    The Gospel of John … absolute clarity on this subject.
    God lbess, C-Marie

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