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Monophysitism And Islam Sabellianism The Connecting Link






Category: MONOPHYSITISM PAST AND PRESENT

It is in place here to point out the somewhat intimate connection that
existed between monophysitism and Islam. The monophysites held the
outposts of the Empire. Mahomet came into contact with them, and it
was probably from them that he formed his conception of Christian
doctrine. The later history of the monophysite churches shows that
they often secured a large measure of toleration at the hands of the
Caliphs, while the diphysites were being rigorously persecuted. Lapses
to Islam were not infrequent, and in some periods apostasy on a large
scale occurred. Cases are on record even of monophysite patriarchs who
abjured their faith and joined the followers of the Prophet. The
connection between monophysitism and Islam was not fortuitous. There
was a doctrinal affinity between them. Both systems were rigidly
monotheistic. Both degraded the notion of deity by a perverse attempt
to exalt it. Both cut redemption and mediation out of their religion.

The family likeness between the two systems does not extend beyond the
realm of the doctrine of supreme deity. In other respects the religion
of the sword and the religion of love have little or nothing in common.
Crescent and Cross are poles asunder. The monophysites as a body
remained nominally and in intention Christians and trinitarians. But
in the doctrinal area specified the resemblance holds. It could hardly
be otherwise. Sabellian tendencies were always present and powerful in
the monophysite communion, and Sabellianism is a long step in the
direction of Islam. Sabellius taught in effect, "Allah is one." The
three persons, for him, were only aspects of the one indivisible deity.
There are no distinct entities corresponding to the names of Father,
Son and Holy Spirit. Sabellianism is intimately associated with monism
in all its phases. Monophysitism being essentially monist could not
escape the taint. Whether Sabellianism made the heretics monophysites,
or monophysitism made them Sabellians, we need not inquire. The two
creeds are bound up in the same bundle by the tie of monism. The
relation of the Son to the Father and the relation of the Son to
humanity are vitally connected. Misconception of the one relation
entails misconception of the other. Denial of relation in the godhead
goes hand in hand with denial of relation in Christ. If the theologian
reduces the latter to bare unity, he does the same for the former.
Catholic Christology is thus a necessary deduction from trinitarian
dogma. Nicaea necessitated Chalcedon. To safeguard the distinction of
persons in the godhead, a distinction in the natures of Christ was
essential. To preserve intact the latter distinction, the proprium of
the Son and His personal subsistence had to be kept distinct from the
proprium and subsistence of the Father.





Next: The Christological Errors Of Monophysitism

Previous: Monophysitism And The Doctrine Of The Trinity



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