I already blogged a little about the inconsistent manner we like to summarise our historical roots as Christians, particularly the Protestant, charismatic and other independent churches. Sometimes we claim that we accept the first four ecumenical councils and not the last three. Respected author and researcher Patrick Johnstone writes in his footnotes on p64, paragraph 5, of the Future of the Global Church:
The Council of Chalcedon condemned both the extreme positions of Monophysitism (in which Christ was one Person in whom the divine and the human were fused completely in one nature) and Diphysitism (purportedly Nestorius' view, in which Christ had two, unmingled natures or essences in one Person). The council took a middle position: that Christ was an indivisible union from two distinct natures. Sadly, the complex shades of meaning over which they argued were more a reflection of the broken relationships between the spokesmen for each position, the different languages they used - Latin, Greek and Syrica - and the different political systems in which they operated. Evangelical Christians of the 21st Century would probably have been closer to the position of the Eastern Church, with its emphasis on the Scriptures and its insistence that Mary was not the Mother of God but only the mother of Jesus.
What is going on here? I smell picking, choosing and twisting! Read especially carefully the final sentence starting "Evangelical Christians..."
- Diphysitism (purportedly Nestorius' view, in which Christ had two, unmingled natures or essences in one Person), this hardly seems to me an extreme position against which the creed brought balance; Johnstone's wording here is almost word for word the creed itself! If my understanding is correct, the Nestorian position went a lot further, not just no mingling of the natures, but the separation was so deep that it denied the hypostatic union and pretty much implied schizophrenia!
- Emphasis on the Scriptures: I think many would disagree with Johnstone on this interpretation of this primary concern of the 21st Century church.
- Mary was not the Mother of God: this is flat out wrong, sorry to be so blunt. It is not just wrong however, it is also surprising to read that here from such a thorough researcher. It is, furthermore, symptomatic of the picking and choosing of the modern church that thinks it is building off such solid creedal foundations, themselves built on the deeper-still biblical foundations.
The Word was made flesh] let him be anathema.