Monday, February 25, 2008

Miaphysitism

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Church Teaches that Miaphysitism and Dyophysitism Are Not Contradictory But Both Are True
1. Miaphysitism is orthodox. St. Cyril of Alexandria, the very Doctor of the Incarnation who slew the dragon of Nestorianism,{1} was both Miaphysite and Dyophysite, so these positions are not contradictory. That St. Cyril would have accepted Dyophysitism as defined by Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome in his celebrated Tome, is clear from the creed of union he signed with John of Antioch ca. 433.{2} The Church defined that Miaphysitism, affirmed by St. Cyril in many of his writings (Epp. 1 & 2; Contra Nestorius 2; Ad eulogium 2) is orthodox in the eighth canon of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople II). {3} The Lateran Council of 649 reaffirmed this position.{4} Thus one Ecumenical Council affirmed that Miaphysitism is orthodox and compatible with Dyophysitism.

Restricted Meaning of Physis When It Comes to Christ’s Human Nature
2. St. Cyril realized that physis has its full meaning when applied to Christ’s Divine nature, but physis has a restricted meaning when applied to His human nature.{5} Why? Christ’s humanity is not "wholly like to our nature" because it is intrinsically sinless and free from the defects of original sin (not pura natura but integra natura), and His human nature has no human personality of its own.{6} This is parallel to the different uses of consubstantial: God the Father and God the Son are one substance numero, while God the Son is one substance specie with us.{7}

Advantages of "Mia Physis" in Cyrillian Paradigm
3. Why does the saintly Alexandrian Doctor adopt and use the formula, then, of mía phúsis toû Theoû Lógou sesarkoméne (one nature incarnate of God the Word)? Though this formula originated from the heretic Apollonarius who falsely ascribed it to the Doctor St. Athanasius the Great of Alexandria, St. Cyril of Alexandria interpreted it in an orthodox way.{8} St. Cyril means by this formula, according to Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman, that when the Logos became man, there was no change in His essence, attributes, and personality (ergo mia physis), whereas the manhood He assumed was not in every respect the same nature as the massa, ousia, physis, etc. from which it was assumed.{9} For St. Cyril, the added nature was not best expressed by a second substantive like it was collateral in its position with the Divine nature, but by the adjective or participle sesarkomene because by assuming the human nature, Christ changed it in its qualities.{10} Further, the saint wished to preserve, in conformity with the third century Council of Antioch which deposed the heretic Paul of Samosata thanks in part to the efforts of Malchion, the immutability of the Logos.{11}

Miaphysitism Not Monophysitism
4. He meant that Christ is but one Divine eternal hypostasis (mia theia physis). He did not mean that the two natures coalesced into one (mia physis = unity one; mono physis = single one, i.e. blended), but that Christ is one Son whose Divine ousia is not subject to His humanity.{12} According to the accurate reading of St. Cyril by the wonderworking genius and prince of theologians St. Thomas Aquinas, one nature does not result from the two, but "the Nature of the Word united flesh to Itself in Person."{13}

Different Senses of "Physis"
5. St. Cyril always held the orthodox view that Christ has two perfect and distinct natures (one Divine and one human). He did not see physis a mere nature and he was right to affirm mia physis since physis in the Cyrillian Miaphysite formula means "a subsistent (i.e. personal) nature."{14}

6. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor of the Incarnation and Pillar of the Faith, pray for us!

Notes and References
{1} St. Cyril fought valiantly against Nestorius, who to the end persisted in his heresy of two hypostases which leads to two persons, i.e. two Christs, as demonstrated in my under-construction post "Contra Nestorius" @ Huysman, Will R. "Contra Nestorius." The Banana Republican. 19 Aug. 2007. 25 Feb. 2008 <http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2007/08/contra-nestorius.html>. Nestorius was not condemned based on a misunderstanding, i.e., Nestorius was in fact Nestorian.
{2}
Before the worlds begotten of the Father according to the Godhead, but in the last days and for our salvation of the Virgin Mary according to the Manhood; consubstantial with the Father in the Godhead, consubstantial with us in the Manhood; for a union of two natures took place, wherefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to the understanding of this unconfused union, we confess the Blessed Virgin to be Theotókos, because the Word of God was incarnate and made man, and through her conception united to Himself the temple He received from her. And we are aware that the words of the Gospels, and of the Apostles, concerning the Lord are, by theologians, looked upon some as applying in common [to the two natures] as belonging to the one Person; others as attributed to one of the two natures; and that they tell us by tradition that some are of divine import, to suit the Divinity of Christ, others of humble nature belonging to His humanity.
{3} "Si quis secundum sanctos Patres non confitetur proprie et secundum veritatem unam naturam Dei verbi incarnatumanathema sit."
{4} Those are anathematized who say "one Nature incarnate of God the Word", unless they "accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected."
{5} Chapman, John. (1909). "Eutychianism." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05633a.htm.
{6} Ibid.
{7} Ibid.
{8} Ibid.
{9} Ibid.
{10} Ibid.
{11} Ibid.
{12} Ibid.
{13} Aquinas, St. Thomas. http://newadvent.org/summa/4002.htm#article1">Summa Theologica, III, q. 2, art. 1, ad 1.
{14} Chapman, John. (1909). "Eutychianism." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05633a.htm.

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