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After Gnosticism, Aryanism, Apolinarism and Macedonism the Church had to face some other heresies concerning Jesus Christ. These new heresies deeply disturbed the life of the Church but were eventually overcome in Catholic Councils.
Nestorianism. Nestorian (dead on 426) was the Patriarch of Constantinople and he defended the misconception that Jesus was in fact two people (a human and a divine person) with two different natures; therefore Mary was merely the mother of the man Jesus but not the Mother of God (as the protestants also affirm). That implied in the fact that Jesus might have two Selves. Nevertheless, Christians have called Mary as “Theotokos”(Mother of God) since the First Century.
That heresy was condemned in the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.), mainly due to the efforts of Saint Cyril of Alexandria (dead on 444 A.D.). This Council established that Jesus is One Only Person (a Divine One): Jesus Self is Divine and He has two natures (a human one and a divine one) harmoniously united though distinct in this One Person Who is also the Word of God. The Council also thoroughly confirmed the Christian belief of the first centuries that Mary is Saint and “Theotokos”(Mother of God).
Monophysicism. Eutiches of Constantinople and Dionysus of Alexandria defended this heresy, which was in fact a magnified copy of Nestorianism and fell in the opposite misconception: they affirmed that Jesus had one only Nature and was one only Person. They affirmed that His Divine nature had absorbed his human nature and therefore He had not been a man in the strictest sense. That heresy was condemned in the Council of Calcedonia (451 A.D.) that re-affirmed that Jesus is one only Person (Divine) with two natures (human and Divine). During this Council Pope Leo Magnum sent a letter to Patriarch Flavianus of Constantinople re-affirming the dogma of Jesus’ double nature. The Council approved the Pope’s words and the Bishops said that: “Peter spoke through the mouth of the Lion”.
Monotelitism or Monoenergism. Serge, Patriarch of Constantinople (VIIth Century) defended that Jesus was one only Person with two natures, though one only Will (“theletes” in Greek) and one only Action. That idea also denied that Jesus was a perfect man and put the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption in great risk. That heresy was condemned in the Constantinople Council III (681 A.D.). That Council established that Jesus is One Only Person, two natures, two wills and two acts. In other words, Jesus is perfectly human and perfectly Divine. During His earthly life He acted as God (in the miracles) when He wanted, though He totally redeemed mankind when He perfectly and totally took upon Him our human nature. The Letter to the Hebrews affirms that Jesus: “has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” (The Letter to the Hebrews 4, 15) and that “he had to become like his brothers in every way” (The Letter to the Hebrews 2, 17).
Professor Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino