The Three Typical Christologies

The same truth holds of the other Christological systems. A different

metaphysical idea lies at the root of each. Nestorian, monophysite,

catholic, these three were the main types of Christologian in the fifth

century. Each studied Christ's life. After studying it, the Nestorian

said of Him, "There are two persons here." "Not so," said the

monophysite, "I see but one incarnate nature of God the Word." The

replied, "You are both wrong; there is one person in two

natures." All three types deserve close study. The thinkers were

devout and sincere, and, for the most part, able men. There is no

question here of superficial uninformed thought, nor of moral

obliquity. The disagreement was due not to their vision but to their

view point, not to the object of their thought or the process of their

thinking, but to their different presuppositions and starting points.

Presented in this way the monophysite and other Christological

controversies of the fifth and sixth centuries become phases of the

cosmic problem. They thus regain the dignity which is theirs by right,

and which they lose in the ordinary church histories. The heat of

passion they aroused becomes intelligible. It was no battle about

words. The stakes were high. The controversialists championed

far-reaching principles with a decisive influence on the course of

thought and conduct. Unfriendly critics usually portray the

Christologians as narrow-minded and audacious. So, no doubt, they

were, but they were not wrong-headed. If the matters in dispute

between theist, deist, and pantheist are trivialities, then and then

only can we regard the enterprise of the Christologians as chimerical

and their achievements as futile. The different formulae represented

attitudes of mind fundamentally opposed. No peace between catholic and

monophysite was possible. They had conflicting conceptions of ultimate