Skip to comments.Nestorius on Mary as the Mother of God
Posted on 01/09/2012 10:38:02 PM PST by rzman21
Nestorius of Constantinople, Second epistle to Cyril of Alexandria WRITTEN BY NESTORIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Nestorius sends greeting in the Lord to the most religious and reverend fellow-minister Cyril. I pass over the insults against us contained in your extraordinary letter. They will, I think, be cured by my patience and by the answer which events will offer in the course of time. On one matter, however, I cannot be silent, as silence would in that case be very dangerous. On that point, therefore avoiding longwindedness as far as I can, I shall attempt a brief discussion and try to be as free as possible from repelling obscurity and undigestible prolixity. I shall begin from the wise utterances of your reverence, setting them down word for word. What then are the words in which your remarkable teaching finds expression ?
The holy and great synod states that the only begotten Son, begotten of God the Father according to nature, true God from true God, the light from the light, the one through whom the Father made all things, came down, became incarnate, became man, suffered, rose.
These are the words of your reverence and you may recognise them. Now listen to what we say, which takes the form of a brotherly exhortation to piety of the type of which the great apostle Paul gave an example in addressing his beloved Timothy: Attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. For by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Tell me, what does attend mean? By reading in a superficial way the tradition of those holy men (you were guilty of a pardonable ignorance), you concluded that they said that the Word who is coeternal with the Father was passible. Please look more closely at their language and you will find out that that divine choir of fathers never said that the consubstantial godhead was capable of suffering, or that the whole being that was coeternal with the Father was recently born, or that it rose again, seeing that it had itself been the cause of resurrection of the destroyed temple. If you apply my words as fraternal medicine, I shall set the words of the holy fathers before you and shall free them from the slander against them and through them against the holy scriptures.
I believe, they say, also in our Lord Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son. See how they first lay as foundations Lord and Jesus and Christ and only begotten and Son, the names which belong jointly to the divinity and humanity. Then they build on that foundation the tradition of the incarnation and resurrection and passion. In this way, by prefixing the names which are common to each nature, they intend to avoid separating expressions applicable to sonship and lordship and at the same time escape the danger of destroying the distinctive character of the natures by absorbing them into the one title of Son. In this Paul was their teacher who, when he remembers the divine becoming man and then wishes to introduce the suffering, first mentions Christ, which, as I have just said, is the common name of both natures and then adds an expression which is appropriate to both of the natures. For what does he say ? Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, and so on until, he became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. For when he was about to mention the death, to prevent anyone supposing that God the Word suffered, he says Christ, which is a title that expresses in one person both the impassible and the passible natures, in order that Christ might be called without impropriety both impassible and passible impassible in godhead, passible in the nature of his body.
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 Lords natures. If the remainder was an attempt to introduce some hidden and incomprehensible wisdom to the ears of the readers, 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 Lords 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.
Again I should like to expand on this but am restrained by the memory of my promise. I must speak therefore but with brevity. Holy scripture, wherever it recalls the Lords economy, speaks of the birth and suffering not of the godhead but of the humanity of Christ, so that the holy virgin is more accurately termed mother of Christ than mother of God. Hear these words that the gospels proclaim: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. It is clear that God the Word was not the son of David. Listen to another witness if you will: Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ. Consider a further piece of evidence: Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, she was found to be with child of the holy Spirit. But who would ever consider that the godhead of the only begotten was a creature of the Spirit? Why do we need to mention: the mother of Jesus was there? And again what of: with Mary the mother of Jesus; or that which is conceived in her is of the holy Spirit; and Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt; and concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh? Again, scripture says when speaking of his passion: God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; and again Christ died for our sins and Christ having suffered in the flesh; and This is, not my godhead, but my body, broken for you.
Ten thousand other expressions witness to the human race that they should not think that it was the godhead of the Son that was recently killed but the flesh which was joined to the nature of the godhead. (Hence also Christ calls himself the lord and son of David: What do you think of the Christ ? Whose son is he ? They said to him, The son of David. Jesus answered and said to them, How is it then that David inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand?. He said this as being indeed son of David according to the flesh, but his Lord according to his godhead.) The body therefore is the temple of the deity of the Son, a temple which is united to it in a high and divine conjunction, so that the divine nature accepts what belongs to the body as its own. Such a confession is noble and worthy of the gospel traditions. But to use the expression accept as its own as a way of diminishing the properties of the conjoined flesh, birth, suffering and entombment, is a mark of those whose minds are led astray, my brother, by Greek thinking or are sick with the lunacy of Apollinarius and Arius or the other heresies or rather something more serious than these.
For it is necessary for such as are attracted by the name propriety to make God the Word share, because of this same propriety, in being fed on milk, in gradual growth, in terror at the time of his passion and in need of angelical assistance. I make no mention of circumcision and sacrifice and sweat and hunger, which all belong to the flesh and are adorable as having taken place for our sake. But it would be false to apply such ideas to the deity and would involve us in just accusation because of our calumny.
These are the traditions of the holy fathers. These are the precepts of the holy scriptures. In this way does someone write in a godly way about the divine mercy and power, Practise these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. This is what Paul says to all. The care you take in labouring for those who have been scandalised is well taken and we are grateful to you both for the thought you devote to things divine and for the concern you have even for those who live here. But you should realise that you have been misled either by some here who have been deposed by the holy synod for Manichaeism or by clergy of your own persuasion. In fact the church daily progresses here and through the grace of Christ there is such an increase among the people that those who behold it cry out with the words of the prophet, The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea. As for our sovereigns, they are in great joy as the light of doctrine is spread abroad and, to be brief, because of the state of all the heresies that fight against God and of the orthodoxy of the church, one might find that verse fulfilled The house of Saul grew weaker and weaker and the house of David grew stronger and stronger.
This is our advice from a brother to a brother. If anyone is disposed to be contentious, Paul will cry out through us to such a one, we recognize no other practice, neither do the churches of God. I and those with me greet all the brotherhood with you in Christ. May you remain strong and continue praying for us, most honoured and reverent lord.
“Mother of Christ”...?
Straight from the source, excellent post. Thanks.
I’m not aware of any organized body that fully agrees with Nestorius—since he was condemned as a heretic by the unified Church (East and West) during his lifetime. This was because he denied a union between God’s eternal nature and Jesus’ human nature was possible—as shown here. Logically then Jesus would have to be two persons, not one, God the eternal Son being one, Jesus the man being another. This deconstructs Jesus, making His human nature not simultaneously divine. This is not orthodoxy—and gave birth to a group called the Nestorians.
What is your point?
I thought it was an interesting article - a bit confusing but interesting. But don’t agree with it. Also wondering why you thought it warranted its own thread, rather than just keeping it in the thread you posted it to 10 minutes ago?
What sith the Scriptures?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotton of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconcilation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconcilation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake to unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High;”
We could sum it all up with: “He that gets the Son gets it all!”
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
Nestorius publicly challenged the long-used title Theotokos (Bringer forth of God) for the Virgin Mary. He suggested that the title denied Christ's full humanity, arguing instead that Jesus had two natures, the divine Logos and the human Jesus. As such he proposed Christotokos (Bringer forth of Christ) as a more suitable title for Mary.
This would be similar to the philosophies propounded by iscool or Uri'el.
and we see a lot of these views pushed on FreeRepublic...
Post an open thread honoring the Mother of God and watch who comes out.
So that would make iscool and Uri’el semi-Nestorians?
it depends, most would say “have no clue, just irrationally hate orthodoxy”
Ten thousand other expressions witness to the human race that they should not think that it was the godhead of the Son that was recently killed but the flesh which was joined to the nature of the godhead. (Hence also Christ calls himself the lord and son of David: What do you think of the Christ ? Whose son is he ? They said to him, The son of David. Jesus answered and said to them, How is it then that David inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand?. He said this as being indeed son of David according to the flesh, but his Lord according to his godhead.) The body therefore is the temple of the deity of the Son, a temple which is united to it in a high and divine conjunction, so that the divine nature accepts what belongs to the body as its own.
First off, it makes absolutely no difference what a person thinks or believes about it...It doesn't affect a person's salvation one way or the other...
But yes, I believe Nestorius' position is the biblical one...
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
'Form' can be translated as nature...Verse 6 says Jesus had the nature of God while verse 7 says Jesus also had the nature of a servant and ultimately, the flesh...
But regardless, are you contending as Nestorius accused that the God-head died??? Is the God-head separable enough that one part of it can die???
I don't think so...But one thing is for sure and that is that Jesus had a human, corrupt body in the flesh...It could die obviously...It could and did age with time...
THAT body died...And then it was changed...It apparently was still a physical body to a degree, or when called upon to be a physical body, it certainly isn't the old corruptible flesh that Jesus was born with...
Whatever the physical Jesus was before he died is not at all the same physical Jesus that resurrected...
But I am satisfied that Nestorius had a good understanding of the scriptures when he wrote on the subject...Jesus temporarily had a human body and it was supernaturally somehow joined to the divinity of the God-head...I don't need to know how or why...
Yet he was condemmed as being a heretic.
Iscool: Whatever the physical Jesus was before he died is not at all the same physical Jesus that resurrected.
ok, thank you for sharing your views.
Nestorius on Mary as the Mother of God (Ecumenical)
The Day Nestorius Rocked the Church and an Empire
How Quickly Catholic Heresy Took Over the Church (Immediately)
Hilaire Bellocs The Great Heresies now available in EPUB format
Chapter 6: The Modern Phase [The Great Heresies]
Chapter 5: What Was The Reformation? [The Great Heresies]
Chapter 4: The Albigensian Attack [The Great Heresies]
Chapter 3: The Great and Enduring Heresy of Mohammed [The Great Heresies]
Chapter 2: The Arian Heresy [The Great Heresies
Chapter 1: Scheme Of This Book [The Great Heresies]
Introduction: Heresy [The Great Heresies]
The Great Heresies
John Calvins Worst Heresy: That Christ Suffered in Hell
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Succumbs to Heresy
The Bishop Discovers Heresy?
From Orthodox to Heresy: The Secularizing of Catholic Universities
Progressivism/Liberalism is Heresy [Excellent read & reference]
Is heresy better than schism? [Ecumenical]
Modernism: The Modernist Heresy
THE GREAT HERESIES-THE MODERN PHASE
The Protestant Heresy
The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene
Americanism, Then and Now: Our Pet Heresy (encyclical of Pope Leo XIII)
Heresies then and now: ancient Christian heresies practiced in modern times
The Plain Truth About The Baptist Bride Heresy
Balthasar, Hell, and Heresy: An Exchange (is it compatable with the Catholic faith?)
Know Your Heresies
The Rev. John Piper: an interesting look at "heresy vs. schism"
Pietism as an Ecclesiological Heresy
Arian Heresy Still Tempts, Says Cardinal Bertone (Mentions Pelagianism As Well)
Catholic Discussion] Church group stays faithful (to heresy!)
An overview of modern anti-Trinitarian heresies
Where heresy and dissent abound [Minnesota]
Gnostic Gospels - the heresy entitled "Gnosticism."
Christian mavericks find affirmation in ancient heresies
The So-Called Gospel of Judas: Unmasking an Ancient Heresy
Benedict XVI Heresies and Errors
Donatism (Know your heresies)
The Heresy of Mohammed (Chapter 4, The Great Heresies)
Father & Son Catholic Writers Tag-Team Old & New Heresies
As one Biblical scholar said to me, “No real heresy ever dies.”
He was right, you can still find folks who would find Nestorius’ heresy as supporting their YOPIS theology.
You are right that orthodox Christians of all sects reject the heresy of Nestorious. The point I believe is that the title of Theotokos or Mother of God, which is given to Mary was given to refute the Nestorian heresy not to claim she was the Mother of the God the Father, first person of the Holy Trinity.
Well, the "Assyrian Church of the East" is a historically Nestorian body. Whether they "fully agree" or ever fully agreed with Nestorius is certainly debatable.
Sounds like that’s making it personal to me by bringing in names and topics cross threads.
And yet that's what is says.
Saying that she is the mother of Christ in no way denies either Jesus' humanity nor His divinity. It simply and accurately states a fact, which calling Mary the mother of God does not because it can be so easily misinterpreted.
A mention of one Freeper’s understanding of another Freeper’s belief is not making the thread “about” him as long as the thread can stay on the issues. If the mention is inflammatory - certain or likely to incite a flamewar - then it is not tolerable.
Only by those who are confused by the Hypostatic Union, that Christ is one person with two natures; being fully human and fully divine. Nestorious rejected that Mary was the mother of the Incarnate Word and asserted she was the mother of Jesus’s humanity only. This is from the
Christians and Apologetics Research Ministry.
“Nestorianism is the error that Jesus is two distinct persons. The heresy is named after Nestorius, who was born in Syria and died in 451 AD, who advocated this doctrine. Nestorius was a monk who became the Patriarch of Constantinople and he repudiated the Marian title “Mother of God.” He held that Mary was the mother of Christ only in respect to His humanity. The council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to address the issue and pronounced that Jesus was one person in two distinct and inseparable natures: divine and human.
Nestorius was deposed as Patriarch and sent to Antioch, then Arabia, and then Egypt. Nestorianism survived until around 1300.
The problem with Nestorianism is that it threatens the atonement. If Jesus is two persons, then which one died on the cross? If it was the “human person” then the atonement is not of divine quality and thereby insufficient to cleanse us of our sins.”
So the title Mother of Christ was indeed used to deny that Christ was fully divine and fully human in one person. The reason the titles Theotokos and Mother of God are rejected now is because of hyper anti Catholicism, not from any sound Christological precept.