BELIEF: What do 'Traditional' Catholics think about Miaphysitism?

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Greetings all.
I am taking this forum out from it’s most common focus on liturgical practice and personal piety to ask a question about theology.

I accept that the Roman Catholic church insists that it does not change dogmatically, but that doctrine develops in some way (interpretation, I guess). But something peculiar showed up in a post on a now-closed thread, and I would like to know if this statement is in agreement with Traditional Roman Catholicism, represents a legitimate development, or is actually incorrect.

I think this type of question will work as a poll, so anyone who wants to respond without typing a dissertation can do so :wink:

Miaphysitism is what the Oriental Orthodox churches teach about the nature of Christ, westerners once called it Monophysitism, but apparently that is not correct. I cannot say whether one term or the other is more accurate.

Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have held to Diaphysitism since Chalcedon, it is a very important theological point which we have held in common. (Most people don’t even know that it is called Diaphysitism, we refer to it as the Two Natures of Christ: Fully Human and Fully Divine.)

For a further definition of Miaphysitism, please seek out other reliable sources, I cannot speak for the adherents to this Christology.

Our friend and brother from the Chaldean Catholic church states:

Well, in the Catholic Church, it was agreed upon with the Oriental Orthodox that both Miaphysite and Diophysite Christologies can co-exist in the same communion. Until your Church makes a similar declaration with them, I remain skeptical of your Church’s respect and admiration for them as it pertains to Christology. They are willing to allow Diophysite Christology in the same communion with them, but I am skeptical of your Church’s allowance of Miaphysite Christology in the same communion with them.

Is this something Traditional Roman Catholics can agree with?

Can the difference be ignored for the sake of Christian unity under the Pope?

Thanks in advance,

  • Michael*

If they truly believe something different, no.

But I think that the agreement was based on a realization that maybe it is only a difference in terminology.

That when the coptics say “one nature” or whatever, their word “nature” corresponds to what we understand as “person”…

Would this dissolve the Trintity? Dessert

no…it is really a christological question, not a trinitarian one…

Interesting thread.

Well, Monophysitism is of course a heresy, since it insists that Christ possessed a single nature, rather then two. If Miaphysitism is the same as Monophysitism (would I be correct in assuming that you are trying to say that these are just two differant terms for the same idea?), then it too would be heretical and not compatible with Diaphysitism.

Of course the argument over whether or not the two opposing theological positions, Diaphysitism and Miaphysitism/Monophysitism, could exist togather in the Catholic Communion under the Sovereign Pontiff (since it is undeniable that that the Eastern Catholics and the Roman Catholics differ on some points of doctrine) would have to depend on how important this question is to the Faith (is it completely irreconcilable to the Catholic faith, or can East and West merely agree to disagree on this point?), and even if this can be considered an actual doctrine (that is necessary for one to be called “Catholic”) or merely a theological nuance.

Hi Hesychios,

First, your idea about what constitutes development is very lacking. I suggest reading this essay by Cardinal Newman:

Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.

Second, Monophysitism, is what was taught by Eutyches and was rightly condemned by Pope St. Leo the Great and the Council of Chalcedon.

The Patriarch of Alexandria (basically due to some less than honorable activity by Eutyches) erroneously thought St. Leo and the Council were reversing the Council of Ephesus and were teaching Nestorianism. The rest of the Church figured the Alexandrians were supporting Eutyches and lumped them in with the Monophysites.

As it turns out, both sides were mistaken. From what I have read of the Orientals understanding of Miaphysitism, it seems to be synonymous with the orthodox teaching against Nestorianism, and not monophysitism in which the divine nature swallows up the human. Both human and divine are present in one Person according to Oriental Orthodox theology. Instead of syaing there is a human nature and a divine nature, they basically say there is one fully human & fully divine nature–it seems to be just a matter of terminology.

Hello Genesis,

I have read Newman in the past, and I really believe I do not have a lacking understanding of development of doctrine. I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps I should not have couched it in such inadequate terms, but clearly theological understanding has grown or devloped, it has changed.

What other justification is there for a new appreciation for Miaphysitism?

How can a church reverse itself on the findings of a council? A council which, if I am not mistaken myself, is regarded as infallible? Suddenly it’s all a big misunderstanding? On who’s part, ours or theirs?

If both parties agree that it is a matter of terminology, then I believe the matter can be very simply and formally addressed.[LIST=1]
*]The Oriental Orthodox can simply acknowledge that they were mistaken and accept the Council of Chalcedon, or
*]The Catholic churches can repudiate the findings of Council of Chalcedon as a mistake.[/LIST]Failure to do either one, I am afraid, may be opening the door to heresy in the church. (One church or the other, I guess.) Is this worth the risk?

That’s what I am trying to find out here. I am asking the people who seem (or claim) to care about the Traditional Catholic church the very most whether theology matters as much as liturgical dancing.

[Edited by Moderator]


Why not, the pile is so high now, nobody will notice for long…except maybe the Trad Cath’s. and they can always be excommunicated & schismatized.

Do the Eastern Orthodox have a problem with Oriental Christology? It seems from these statements that they don’t:

:slight_smile: What do you mean by “Traditional” as I think you mean Orthodox, could you elaborate on that please as there are maybe not so many on this forum? Not sure ? I will have to read some more maybe consult with my priest or the one I used to have as this seems like a important to thing to actually make a staement about this Thanks not meaning to not do the poll right now but I am listening. I know this is just a n opinion but well a poll sounds knid of oficial > thanks Dessert

By Traditional I am referring to the target constituancy of this forum, Roman Catholic Tradititionalists.

I an curious to see what they think of these ecumenical advances. BTW, I will not be voting myself.


Ecumenism is a noble idea, but one doomed to failure in this case. Lets be realistic, there is just too much separating Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and it goes well beyond leadership issues (Bishop of Rome vs. Patriarch of Constantinople as the First among Equals, or whatever you call it).

Rather we should be trying to have better relations with each other- anything that keeps two religions from butchering each other in the name of God is a good thing I think.

One thing I should note is that there is a difference between professing “one nature” and professing the “one incarnate nature of God the Word.” Bishops such as Dioscurus, Patriarch of Alexandria, and his contemporaries branded as monophysites, did not speak of Christ as simply having “one nature” but always qualified their miaphysite position by affirming the full, genuine humanity and full, genuine divinity of Christ.

If you read the writings of St. Severus of Antioch, you will find that much of what he writes is very orthodox as concerns his Christology.

How can a church reverse itself on the findings of a council? A council which, if I am not mistaken myself, is regarded as infallible? Suddenly it’s all a big misunderstanding? On who’s part, ours or theirs?

This is one difficulty I’m having right now…The Council of Chalcedon is regarded as infallible in its confession. The decision it reached is believed to have been guided by the Holy Spirit. Yet, now the bishops–on both sides–write and speak as if the divisions that arose amongst bishops during and after the Council of Chalcedon were primarily due to the external circumstances (differences in culture, language, etc.), which led to a misunderstanding on both sides.

Hmmm…I find this proposition a bit strange. If the Council of Chalcedon was indeed guided by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, then how is it that these substantial differences in use of language were not clearly recognized and worked out at the Council?

And what I have yet to figure out is why the Council affirmed in its doctrinal confession a statement of union “in two natures,” when the Alexandrians leading up to the Council were hesitant to even accept the “of two natures” that St. Cyril had accepted when he agreed to John of Antioch’s Formulary of Union of 433.

Sometimes I wonder, however horrible the thought may seem, if Ecumenical Councils are simply figments of the imagination used to bolster one’s own confession by portraying one’s faith as continually and unalterably defended by the Holy Spirit at synods throughout the ages.

I am oft inclined to believe that yes, there was a grouping of holy bishops (and perhaps unholy) at the Council, but what they arrived at was not the work of the Holy Spirit but simply a human decision, even if that human decision perchance accords with divine truth. Not a very Catholic thought, I know. :frowning:

God knows I am no expert, but this seems to me to be an “either-or” proposition. This is simple math. Christ has either one nature or two. And it seems to me this is a basic understanding we should be able to profess. The Council of Chalcedon taught the hypostatic union: a divine nature and a human nature united in the one person of Christ. I don’t see that leaving room for Miaphysitism. I think the difference could be important when trying to understand for example how Christ could advance in wisdom and grace (Luke 2:52) while being fully divine. As far as it boiling down to a misunderstanding between languages, where does that end? And if this is really just two ways to say the same thing, would it have taken this long to figure that out?

This of course presumes that what is meant by nature is the same in both cases.

But let me ask you this: how many natures do you have? If you say one, you are wrong because you have a physical (body) and a spiritual (soul) nature. If you say two, you are wrong because you have one human nature, a person with body and soul.

The point of miaphysism is that the Incarnate Son is one united Person, just like your embodied soul is one united person. The use of the word nature is equivocal here, so there is no “either/or”. It’s a matter of different focus for emphasis, not of contradiction.

Peace and God bless!

God did give us a seperate body and seperate soul was sort of seperated by original sin. But it will be rejoined after the second coming nnot now.

Putting an emphasis can make all the diffeerence in the world.

En Espanole

Pa^pa means potatoe

PaPa^ means father
So if you call your father a Pa^pa you are calling him a potaohead.

Isn’t he Jesus the Christ? isn’t that the difference?
This sounds seperate to me.
Yes I know Ghosty the Catholic is the same person.
But do you want everyone to not think of you as seperate?

Originally Posted by dessert:

God did give us a seperate body and seperate soul was sort of seperated by original sin. But it will be rejoined after the second coming nnot now.

Putting an emphasis can make all the diffeerence in the world.

En Espanole

Pa^pa means potatoe

PaPa^ means father
So if you call your father a Pa^pa you are calling him a potaohead.

Isn’t he Jesus the Christ? isn’t that the difference?
This sounds seperate to me.
Yes I know Ghosty the Catholic is the same person.
But do you want everyone to not think of you as seperate?

Unfortunately, It isn’t that easy. The subject, Christ, is equally recognized by both sides. The problem lies not so much in using the wrong word or wrong accentuation of “nature” in regards to Christ, but in explaining how one’s language accords with other language pertaining to Christ.

A perhaps not perfect example , but let’s say you’re hiking with friends and come across a large forest. Right next to the forest just happens to be a paper mill. You look at the forest and scream “Hojas!” Now, what are you talking about? Are you talking about the natural product of the tree (tree leaves) or the product that is made from tree pulp? (sheets of paper) Perhaps you mean both. Without explaining yourself further, your friends might not understand what you’re getting at. However, were you to follow up by saying, “Hablo de las hojas verdes de las ramas,” then your friends know what you’re talking about.

I like Ghosty’s explanation a lot.

If ambiguity works for you, fine. :slight_smile: I have no trouble answering your question. I am one person with one nature (human). Christ is one person with two natures (divine and human). That formula worked for the Council and it works for me, especially since it makes a distinction between the makeup of my person and the person of Christ. Since Christ is God, I’m pretty comfortable with the distinction.

"Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin.” He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis."
[RIGHT]–Council of Chalcedon[/RIGHT]

Exactly, if their “nature” simply means that Jesus Christ is by definition Man and God, then that could just be a language understanding.

If they mean that “the nature” of the Person Jesus Christ is to be fully human and fully divine. However, we would call each of those aspects, in our language, a seperate nature because we are thinking of “nature” as a metaphysical template, whereas they are just using the word to mean something’s essential definition.

And clearly the Incarnate Word is defined as both Incarnate and Word, that the whole point of Him is to be human and divine. Not to say that the divinity did not have an independent existence before, or is somehow dependent on the humanity.

Perhaps a reconciling statement would be something like, “It is Christ’s nature to have a human nature and a divine nature”…do you see how “nature” is used in two ways in that sentence? Sort of, I believe, the problem with the Oriental Orthodox.

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