Reasons For The Prevalence Of Monophysitism
Monophysitism is in our midst undetected to-day. It is not hard to
account for its prevalence. The clergy are for the most part unable to
expound Christology, and the laity are impatient of exposition.
Anything savouring of precise theology is at a discount. So pulpit and
pew conspire to foster the growth of the tares. The "Athanasian" creed
is in disrepute, and its statement of dogmatic Christology is involved
he discredit attaching to the damnatory clauses. The clergy are
perhaps rather glad to leave the subject alone. They know it is a
difficult subject, and they are afraid of burning their fingers. The
laity rarely hear any reference to the two natures of Christ. If they
do, they are not interested; they do not think that the question makes
any difference to faith or practice. The whole extent of the
Christological knowledge possessed by the average churchman is
comprised in the formula, "Christ is God and man." He cannot apply the
formula nor reconcile it with common sense. He occasionally hears from
the pulpit the phrase "God-man"; but it is a mere phrase to him; it is
not translated for him into a language that he can understand. So he
registers the doctrine mentally as an impenetrable mystery and gives it
no further attention, or perhaps turns away in disgust from the system
whose central figure is so unintelligibly presented by its authorised
exponents. The bare statement that Christ is God and man, though true,
is not adequate. It carries no conviction to thinking minds to-day.
The full definition of the council of Chalcedon should be published
broadcast, and so studied by theologians in the light of modern
psychology that they can present it as a reasonable dogma, intelligible
to-day and touching modern life.
In the absence of such teaching the spread of false, unbalanced or
inadequate conceptions of what Christ was and of what He is is
inevitable. Our concern here is to exhibit those of a monophysite
character. Monophysite tendencies of the present day may be grouped
according as they affect Christ's being or His work or Christian
practice. We propose to take them in that order.