“Blending the Lord’s Appearance As A Man Into a Confused Combination”

Nestorius, presumably referring to the views of men like Cyril of Alexandria, argued that the “heretics” commit a similar error to that of Arius and Apollinaris, “blending together the Lord’s appearance as a man into a kind of confused combination.” This, Nestorius says, blasphemes “God the Word consubstantial with the Father” by changing the flesh into the nature of the Godhead and making the Godhead suffer the same ignominies as the flesh (e.g., death).:”(“The First Letter of Nestorius to Celestine,” in Christology of the Later Fathers, ed. Edward Rochie Hardy [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1954], pp. 346-348.)”: Cyril, of course, denies these charges in a way that demonstrates Nestorius had not really grasped what Cyril was saying in the first place.:”(“The Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius,” in ibid., pp. 349-354.)”:

I’m not defending Nestorius, mind you–just noting what to me is an interesting feature of his argument. That is, his major motivation seems to be to safeguard the full divinity of Christ.:”(And as this is a major motivation of John Calvin, I can begin to see why certain Catholics of my acquaintance readily charge Calvin with Nestorianism, despite Calvin’s vehement repudiation of the heresy.)”: Obviously not a bad thing, but as the history goes on to show he winds up committing a different disastrous error: distinguishing the humanity and divinity of Christ to the point of essentially separating them, endangering redemption by detaching the life-giving power of the divine from the flesh by which the Lord redeems us all. (I’m not sure if this is the best way to put things; please correct me if it isn’t).

It’s another instance of how too great an attachment to one truth can distort one’s perception of other truths–a dynamic that plays out throughout all of Church history in excessive emphases on many fronts: Christology, predestination, saint cults, papal authority, and Scripture / Tradition, to name just a few.

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