Gregory of Nazianzus Contra Apollinaris

My summation of Gregory of Nazianzus’ attack on Apollinarianism:

“[W]e do not sever the man from the Godhead, but we lay down as a dogma the unity and identity [of person]…,” the eternal God assuming manhood for our salvation.:”(“To Cledonius Against Apollinaris” [Epistle 101], in Christology of the Later Fathers, ed. Edward R. Hardy [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954], pg. 216.)”: The point of Christ’s redemptive work is to recreate the entire human nature which has fallen through sin.:”(Ibid.)”: But when it comes to Christ’s person, “If anyone has put his trust in him as a man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which he [Christ] has not assumed, he has not healed; but that which is united to his Godhead is also saved.”:”(Ibid., 218.)”: Christ is not a true man if he has not a human mind, for men are not mindless animals.:”(Ibid., 219.)”:

Saying that the Godhead takes the place of the human soul, as Apollinaris does, fails to touch my own salvation, “For Godhead joined to flesh alone is not man, nor to soul alone, nor to both apart from intellect, which is the most essential part of man.”:”(Ibid.)”: It is no objection to say that one person cannot contain two perfect natures, for we are talking about things that are incorporeal and intellectual, and these “can mingle with one another and with bodies, incorporeally and invisibly.”:”(Ibid.)”: The further objection that the human mind is condemned in sin is specious, for the same applies to the body, and “If he assumed the worse that he might sanctify it by his incarnation, may not assume the better that it by sanctified by his becoming man?” Furthermore, “Mind is mingled with mind, as nearer and more closely related, and through it with flesh, being a mediator between God and carnality.”:”(Ibid., 220. Notice the Alexandrian theme that the Word has “converse with flesh by means of mind,” as Gregory put it in his Third Theological Oration, ibid., pg. 173.)”:

Mind is actually essential to our salvation, for it was the mind of man that fell first: “For that which received the command was that which failed to keep the command, and that which failed to keep it was that also which dared to transgress; and that which transgressed was that which stood most in need of salvation; and that which needed salvation was that which also he took upon him. Therefore, mind was taken upon him.”:”(Ibid., 221.)”: It is no proof against the necessity of mind that the Scripture says “The Word was made flesh,” for this is one instance of many where Scripture uses a synecdoche: part refers to whole.:”(Ibid., 222.)”:

The Apollinarians are not ignorant of Scripture, but they misinterpret them. They “confess indeed the orthodox words, but they do violence to their sense, for they acknowledge the manhood to be neither without soul nor without reason nor without mind, nor imperfect, but they bring in the Godhead to supply the soul and reason and mind, as though it had mingled itself only with his flesh, and not with the other properties belonging to us men; although his sinlessness was far above us, and was the cleansing of our passions.”:”(“The Second Letter to Cledonius Against Apollinaris” [Epistle 102], in ibid., 226. In his Fourth Theological Oration, Gregory speaks of heretics in general as being “sacrilegious robbers of the Bible and thieves of the sense of its meaning,” ibid., pg. 177.)”: The Apollinarians mistake the Scriptural passages referring to “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and Christ being made man (John 1:1) to be teaching not a perfect man tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15) but a bizarre mixture of God and man. Accordingly, “They who take away the humanity and the interior image cleanse by their newly invented mask only our outside, and that which is seen,” and thus inaugurate a second Judaism. Indeed, they sophistically say we should worship “not a God-bearing man, but a flesh-bearing God.”:”(Ibid., 227.)”:

Essentially, Apollinarian rhetoric means that the faith began 30 years ago, nearly 400 years after Christ came in the flesh, and this means that “vain all that time will have been our gospel, and vain our faith.”:”(Ibid., 228.)”: Apollinarian reasoning is altogether mindless because they accuse the orthodox of introducing two separate and conflicting natures into Christ–and this despite the tortured Apollinarian exegesis that splits many passages of Scripture up by attributing part of the action to the human and the other part to the divine!:”(Ibid.)”: Nothing is more valuable to Gregory than peace, but the “brawlings” of the Apollinarians against him “exclude unanimity.”:”(Ibid., 229.)”: Although there is no precedent for it, the bishop of Constantinople must teach the Emperor “that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.”:”(“To Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople” [Epistle 202], in ibid., 232.)”:

This entry was posted in Christology-Patristic, Patristic Hermeneutics, Theology-Christology, Theology-Soteriology. Bookmark the permalink.

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