Nestorianism for Dummies--Help!

I’m having a hard time understanding what Nestorianism is, and how it differs from orthodoxy. I’ve tried researching it, and I get bogged down by Latin phrases and references to other heretics.

Please, can someone just give me the sixth grade version of this? I would be eternally grateful!

Nestorians deny Mary as Theotokos.

Nestorianism is completely different to Orthodoxy. However, the Church of the East is the only exception.

The problem with Nestorius is that he proposed to individually, separate natures to Our Lord. One divine, one human, separate, leading him to denounce Mary as the “Mother of God,” because he preached that she only gave birth to a human Jesus whereas His Divine nature was separate. He rejected the title, “Theotokos” therefore.

The Orthodox agree with the Catholic view, there, the two Churches agree.

To summarize the main points of *Nestorius of whom the heresy, *Nestorianism, is named after :

The Nestorian heresy denied that Jesus was one Person, who was both God and Man. Nestorius claimed that the man Jesus Christ was not God. Nestorians believed that Jesus was only the vessel in whom God dwelt. Nestorius taught that the human and divine natures in Jesus were totally separate persons occupying the same body and not united in the same one person of Jesus. For example, Nestorius taught that it was Jesus, the man, who suffered and died on the cross and not Jesus, God.

 This heresy was an attack against the very person of      who Jesus is.  And it is precisely because Jesus is both God and Man that      His sacrifice has bridged the gap between God and man and won for us the      grace to be forgiven and to be enabled to go to heaven.  So, this heresy is      really frontal attack on the mystery by which we are saved. 

You can


Hi, Gracie!

Christian Understanding holds that Jesus is the Second Person of God (the Holy Trinity being God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Nestorianism held that Jesus had two distinct persons: human and Divine–these persons would hold separate wills (I think also level of consciousness); this goes against the Understanding that Christ has only One Person with two natures: Divine, the Incarnate Word is fully God, and human, Jesus is fully human.

You can check some of this here: (

Maran atha!


Nestorianism states there are essentially 2 separate persons. Orthodox Christianity only believes in One Divine Person, who has 2 NATURES.

An excellent reference book on heresies is Dissent From The Creed by Rev. Richard M. Hogan. In it, he lists all of the major (and a few minor) heresies, making them understandable. The error is encapsulated at the end of each chapter.

Read, “The Lesser Eastern Churches” by Adrian Fortescue. It covers the history of Nestorianism and monophysitism in great detail.

Okay, let me see if I got this, combining everything that everyone has said. Catholic orthodoxy teaches that Christ is one person who has two natures, that Christ is fully divine and fully human, and that these natures are not separate from each other. For example, The human nature is not a husk that the divine nature fills (which is what Nestorius taught).

The Nestorians divided the two natures of Christ so far, that they became two persons, so that the God person of Christ did not suffer and die upon the Cross, only the human person. This interferes with the atonement. It also means that the Nestorians denied that Mary is Theotokos.

Do I have it right? Please make corrections where necessary.

I have a few follow up questions.

In Catholic Orthodoxy, are the two natures of Christ so close that they are blended? It seems to me that if that were so, that he would no longer be God and man, but some third kind of being.

Also, the Oriental Orthodox Churches left at Chalcedon. It is said that they are monophysite. Mono means one. Do the Oriental Orthodox believe an opposite heresy to Nestorianism? That Christ only has one nature?

Hi, Gracie!

…you are riding the Big Wave… Revelation is always complicated… that’s why we must season it with Faith… Jesus the Son of man–why did He take this title and not Immanuel or any other Name?

I think it was God’s Determination to show us that He Truly Came to us and Became as one of us… so Christ, the Son, Who was the Word, God, that existed with God from the Beginning, became man… one of the principles of Christianity is that those who reject Christ’s Incarnation cannot be part of the Fold… they are anti-Christs (wow, strong stuff, eh?):

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge** the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist**

. (2 St. John 1:7)
So the Second Person of God is True man.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life

. (1 St. John 5:20)
Scriptures are adamant: Christ is the True man (man without sin) and the True God (the Only Living God Almighty).

We can dance around and make all sorts of contortions… but we cannot escape God’s Revelation through the Holy Spirit!

Which brings us to heresies; God is not what we want to understand (put into that human finite box); God is what He Reveals!

Both heresies are wrong because while one subscribes to two distinct persons (which denies Scriptures) and while the other subscribes to one nature only–either human or divine (which denies Scriptures), they both fail to accept God’s Revelation as He made it Known!

Maran atha!



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