Monism Entails A Debased Conception Of Deity

The metaphysical basis of monophysitism made this result inevitable.

Extremes meet. Extreme spirituality readily passes into its opposite.

It cuts the ground from under its own feet. It soars beyond its

fact can be found in the history of philosophy. The Stoics, for

instance, contrived to be both pantheists and materialists. Coming

nearer to our own time, we find Hegelianism explained in diametrically

e ways. After Hegel's death his disciples split into opposing

camps; one party maintained that the real was spirit, the other that it

was matter. Each party claimed the authority of the master for their

view. The divergence is easy to explain. From spiritual monism it is

a short step to materialistic monism. For the monist, all is on one

level of being. He may by constant effort keep that level high. But

gravity will act. We are more prone to degrade God to our level, than

to rise to His. The same truth can be put in abstracto. Unless the

relation between God and the world be preserved as a true relation, the

higher term will sooner or later fall to the level of the lower, and be

lost in it. This rule holds as well in movements of religious thought.

The monophysite strove for a lofty conception of deity but achieved a

low one. He undermined the doctrine of impassibility by the very

measures he took to secure it.

In the technical language of Christology the monophysites' debased

conception of deity was a consequence of "confounding the natures."

Attributes and actions, belonging properly only to Christ's humanity,

were ascribed recklessly to His divinity. The test phrase "theotokos,"

invaluable as a protest against Nestorianism, became a precedent for

all sorts of doctrinal extravagancies. The famous addition to the

Trisagion, "who wast crucified for us," which for a time won

recognition as sound and catholic, was first made by the monophysite

Bishop of Antioch.[2] Both these phrases have scriptural authority,

and they are justified by the communicatio idiomatum. But they are

liable to misuse and misinterpretation. All depended on how they were

said and who said them. The monophysite meant one thing by them, the

catholic another. The arriere pensee of the monophysite gave them a

wrong turn. He was always on the look-out for paradox in Christ's

life. He emphasised such phrases as appeared to detract from the

reality of His human experiences. He spoke of Christ as "ruling the

universe when He lay in the manger," or as "directing the affairs of

nations from the Cross." The catholic can approve these phrases; in

the mouth of a monophysite they have a heretical sound. They suggest a

passible God; they degrade the infinite to the level of the finite.

The monophysite confounds the natures, and so he has no right to appeal

to the communicatio idiomatum. Unless the idiomata are admitted as

such, unless they are preserved in their distinctness, there can be no

communicatio between them. If they are fused, they cannot act and

react upon each other. The monophysite, by identifying the natures,

forfeits the right to use the term "Theotokos" and the Trisagion

addition. On his lips their inevitable implication is a finite

suffering God.