Christian Denominations 2024

Nature of Christ Blog 18

Heresies against the Nature of Christ

(Arianism, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism)
Blog 18
Arius of Alexandria (256-336 CE) argued that Christ was not fully divine because the divinity of the Son was inferior to the divinity of the Father. 
Apollinaris of Laodicea (310 -390 CE) refused the teachings of Arius and emphasized Christ's divinity and hence adopted the doctrine of the Homoousion (Christ is one essence with the Father). However, he taught that if Christ truly obtained a human mind, He would have become applicable to sin. Therefore, the Divine Logos replaced the human mind of Christ and He only assumed flesh not full humanity, “Not possessing a human mind 'changeable and enslaved to filthy thoughts.'” [1] He also confessed the one nature of Christ to Julian in 363 CE, “One nature (φύσιν) of the Word of God which was enfleshed and is worshiped together with his flesh with a single worship.” [2] 
Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople from 428 to 431 AD, attempted to defend the equality of the three persons of the Trinity. Therefore, he emphasized the distinctions between the humanity and the divinity of Christ as he argued, “Mary did not bear the Godhead but a man, the inseparable instrument of the Divinity, ..., the Creature did not bear the Creator, but bore a man, the instrument of Godhead.” [3] He believed that the Son of God entered into the Son of Mary, meaning that there are two ousiai, two hypostases, but one prosopon. Therefore, he believed that St. Mary is the mother of one nature (Humanity) and that it is more proper to refer to her as Christotokos (Mother of Christ) and not Theotokos (mother of God). He taught that Christ had two separate natures, each with their own hypostasis, even though they are united together under one prosopon. Nestorius did not explain the mystery of the union as he simply called it a connection, “If any one says that the man who was formed of the Virgin is the Only-begotten, who was born from the bosom of the Father, and does not rather confess that he has obtained the designation of Only-begotten on account of his connection with him who in nature is the Only-begotten of the Father.”[4] 
Eutyches (378-456 CE) preached, “Though the two natures of Christ were originally distinct, yet after the union they became but one nature, the human being changed into the Divine.” [5]

[1] Diarmaid Macculloch, “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years,” (New York: Penguin Group, 2010), 220.
[2] St. Gregory of Nyssa, Anti-Apollinarian Writings,, 11.
[3] Fr. Shenouda M. Ishak, “Christology and the Council of Chalcedon,” (Denver: Outskirts Press, 2013), 6.
[4] Council of Ephesus,
[5] Philip Schaff, NPNF2: Leo the Great,,7.