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.