Monophysitism And Islam Sabellianism The Connecting Link

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, wh
le 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.