Hey everyone. Could someone please explain to me what Nestorianism is in simple terms and please also explain how and why the are wrong. Thanks in advance!
Taken from wikipedia:
When Nestorius arrived at Constantinople of which he had become Bishop, found strife within 2 diferring factions, one of which wanted to deny the title of “Theotokos” of the Virgin Mary.
Nestorius tried to find a middle ground between those that emphasized the fact that in Christ God had been born as a man and insisted on calling the Virgin Mary Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος, “God-bearer”), and those that rejected that title because God as an eternal being could not have been born. Nestorius suggested the title Christotokos (Χριστοτόκος, “Christ-bearer”), but did not find acceptance on either side.
“Nestorianism” refers to the doctrine that there are two separate hypostases in the Incarnate Christ, the one Divine and the other human. The teaching of all those churches which accept the Council of Ephesus is that in the Incarnate Christ is a single hypostasis, at once God and man. This latter doctrine is known as the Hypostatic union.
There is plenty wrong with this position…
I hope this helps you a little.
A general overview of Nestorius’s complex theology, which was condemned as heretical:
Nestorius rejected the title Theotokos (god-bearer) of Mary and called her Christotokos (Christ-bearer). His theology on the hypostatic union was flawed, he proclaimed two natures and two persons, not two natures in one person. These teachings were condemned at the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon.
Oh okay. Interesting.
Thank you everyone!
Thanks to those who already posted.
Holly, I believe this is a very important subject or heresy. Protestants often fall into this heresy of Nestorianism when they deny that Mary is the Mother of God and say that she is only the mother of Jesus’ human nature. Rather, truly, a mother gives birth to a person, not just a nature.
To explain just a bit more, Nestorianism holds there are two persons or two people occupying the same body we would call Jesus. Nestorian would not call Mary by the title Theotokos, Greek: Θεοτόκος. Its literal English translations include “God-bearer”, “Birth-Giver of God” and “the one who gives birth to God.” Less literal translations include “Mother of God.”
Philosophically there is no problem with the Catholic doctrine of God being born and God dying on a cross. We just need to make the distinction between mortal physical human life, and the immortal or in Jesus’ case the eternal existence of His Divine Soul.
For example, we do not believe that Mary gave rise to God’s existence in the Second Person of the Trinity. Rather, calling Mary the Mother of God means two things; that she is the Mother of Jesus and that Jesus is God. The Second Person of the Trinity has always existed. Mary did not come into existence until about 15 years before Christmas.
Nestorianism holds that the Divine Person, the Logos, came to live inside the body of Jesus alongside of the human person that was there. And it holds that the Divine Person left the body so that only the human person was left to suffer and die.
This issue is so important because it completely undermines the means by which we have been redeemed. See
Also, and my main reason for posting, is that this issue is a perfect opportunity to break through the closed mindedness of many Protestants so that a proper explanation of Mary’s role can be explained to them.
If I have time, I hope to write more on how I would use this as a launching point to explain Mary to a Protestant.
I hope this helps.
I think that many fundamentalist/non-denominational Protestants are Nestorian or quasi-Nestorian. When they speak of Mary being the mother of “Christ the man” but not the Mother of God.
Nestorianism is held by the Church of the East, which broke from the Catholic Church after The Council of Ephesus. They only accept the first three ecumenical councils. Nestorianism teaches that Jesus was two persons instead of one. It teaches that Jesus was the Son incarnate, but that the Son and Jesus had two different personality’s and were not totally identical. They teach that only the human person of Christ was crucified and therefore God was not crucified. They also teach Mary gave birth to the human person of Christ only and can’t be called Mother of God because of that. Evangelical Protestants accept kind of a Neo-Nestorianism. Both Evangelical Protestants and Catholics can agree that God the Son was crucified, but that Mary only gave birth to the human nature of Christ not his God nature. We know that Jesus was only one person! His person was the Son! This is a heretical doctrine and can’t be accepted.
Not only that, but some of them are semi-Arian too. This is why they have trouble with the Eucharist. They don’t believe Jesus is God in the same way His Father is God. They will argue that the Father was responsible for all of the miracles of Jesus.