“For He shall be subjected, not because He shall then begin to do the Father’s will (for from eternity He doth always those things that please Him), but because, then as before, He obeys the Father, yielding, not a forced obedience, but a self-chosen accordance; for He is not a servant, that He should be subjected by force, but a Son, that He should comply of His free choice and natural love.”
In the first part of Biola AntiChrist I provide a sketch of Garrett DeWeese’s article “One Person, Two Natures: Two Metaphysical Models of the Incarnation” which is published here. In this second part, I provide an analysis of DeWeese’s argument against Dyothelitism as well as his attempt to construct a coherent and plausible Monothelite model. I argue that DeWeese doesn’t actually have an argument against Dyothelitism properly understood. I further argue that his Monothelite model fails to be consistent with Chalcedonian Christology and Nicene Trinitarianism, as well as falling victim to the same criticisms he attempts to deploy against Dyothelitism.
II. Powers and Instances
To begin, some remarks on DeWeese’ gloss on the differences between Plato and Aristotle. Here we need to be careful as the difference between Plato and Aristotle has spilled more ink in antiquity and beyond than one could imagine. For the Middle and Late Platonists, it was inconceivable that Plato’s greatest student could have a fundamental disagreement with him and so the Platonic commentator tradition was off and running, trying to demonstrate that there was no fundamental difference between master and student.[i] So there are numerous texts in Late Antiquity that offer very Platonic interpretations of Aristotle
A second reason for caution is that specific terms tend to be read by current readers as having an Enlightenment, sense to them rather than the content that they would have had for users in antiquity. Take the term “abstract” as a prime example. It can be said that Plato takes forms to be abstract objects. But what Plato does not mean is that they are constructions by us, the product of some cognitive process or that they are mental entities that are causally inert. The former sense would be more Lockian and the latter isn’t Platonic at all. For Plato forms are “abstract” and so different from concrete particularizations of their power because of the conservation and reservation of their specific causal power. So, the Cold produces coldness, but the former is never causally and existentially exhausted by the latter. So being “abstract” for Plato is a thesis about the reservation of power and not a thesis about mental entities as moderns would tend to view them.
III. On Substances and Synods
So, a lot of ink has been spilled trying to get clear on exactly what the difference is between Plato and Aristotle on forms. Aristotle somewhat ambiguously writes that Plato thought that forms were “separate” from specific instances whereas Aristotle takes them to exist only in instances. I won’t wade into that debate here. But what is worthy of attention is how DeWeese glosses the history of how these two views moved through ecclesiastical history. But first some clarifying remarks about Aristotelian metaphysics are necessary.
Aristotle uses the term substance in three senses. It is always important to be clear on exactly what sense an author, whether Aristotle or not is using the term. Primary substance or substance in the first sense is what it is to be that individual qua individual. Primary substance is that which makes it this table as distinct table as opposed to that other table over there. Substance here is what makes an object a this, that is this specific concrete instance. Primary substance is thisness. Secondary substance is that of form or essence, that is, what it is that makes the first substance the kind of thing it is, such as tableness. Secondary substances are qualitative. What is my secondary substance? Well, it is human because that is what I am or the kind of thing I am. Thirdly, substance in the third sense is that of substrate, that of which a thing is composed. For Aristotle in most cases this will be matter, though matter for Aristotle is not what most moderns think of. For moderns, matter is extensional stuff, that is, it takes up space. That is its nature. For Aristotle and the majority of ancients, matter has no quality of its own, including extension. Matter is formed or affected by qualities, that is, by secondary substances but matter of itself has no quality of its own. This is one reason why it can function as a substrate for objects. So, matter and body are two very different things.
In contrast to Aristotle, Plato seems to have a two place, rather than a three-place model for substance, if that word could be used here. In Plato’s world there are forms (Aristotle’s secondary substances) and matter (Aristotle’s third sense of substance). Forms are essences or natures or at least can be constituents of natures. Things then can exemplify various forms or qualities that can be said to be the nature of some thing. Forms exert their causal power on matter to bring about objects, but objecthood per se doesn’t seem to find a place in Plato’s metaphysics. What we think of as objects are just temporary manifestations of the causal power of many different forms at a given point in time. From the above, it is clear that Plato doesn’t think of forms as “abstract” in the sense that most moderns would. For Plato’s forms are “abstract” in that they are not causally exhausted by the instances they produce in the world and they are not circumscribed or limited in what they are by the world.
Moving over to church history we can now evaluate DeWeese’s account of how these two views played out. Recall that in DeWeese’s telling, the Platonic view of natures has it that natures are a set of properties. This view he thinks was dominant in early Christianity, with the latter glossing individual objects as just sets of properties. So, there wasn’t a problem with viewing Jesus as human because all that meant in sum was that Jesus had a set of properties that are what constitute humanity. It is only when we move to an Aristotelian conception of substance, specifically primary substance that DeWeese thinks problems arise, namely whether the humanity of Christ could or does constitute a second person. It was this shift he thinks that made Eutychianism and Monothelitism possible.
But this account is just wrongheaded. Here is why. First, it is not as if the Fathers or bishops at councils or in their written works, were card carrying Platonists or Aristotelians. The majority of them were not classically trained. Some had basic to intermediate grasp of the dominant philosophical categories, terms and systems of thought of their time. A few had substantial philosophical knowledge. But what is evidenced when one reads through the theological disputes of the fourth through seventh centuries is how plastic the usage of these terms is and more specifically how ready bishops were to modify philosophical concepts from Platonism, Aristotelianism and Stoicism.[ii] What is more, given the pervasive influence of the Platonic commentator tradition card carrying Aristotelians were much harder to come by. Most figures, Christian or Pagan, were working with a Platonized version of Aristotle and this was true well into the Medieval period. [iii]
Second, the ecclesial use of the concept of substance roughly in terms of substance in the first sense predates the Christological debates. This is evidenced in the synodal decision of Nicea which employs the term substance as the Latin equivalent for the Greek ousia when speaking of the singular divine essence and being, namely God. Subsequent theological debate also provides ample evidence. Substance was also the primary term the later Latin tradition used to denote the divine persons in the Trinity. The cross use of the term caused no small amount of confusion between Greek and Latin speakers until the council of Alexandria in 362 under St. Athanasius. This synod was held in part to bridge the linguistic gap and help unite western and eastern Nicenes.
Furthermore, the Nicenes who employed the term to denote a single existent did not use it in a strictly Aristotelian sense. If they had, then the Aristotelian usage would have excluded any possibility of a plurality of persons. The reason is simple. Aristotle doesn’t have a concept of person as distinct from an instance of a kind, that is, of substance in the primary sense.[iv] Going in the other direction the same point can be supported for the term substance was used of the divine persons as well. Neither a Platonic nor Aristotelian gloss will do here, for they are not three separate individuals as three tables would be, nor are they three instances of a set of properties. If they were, we’d be left with a form of Tri-theism. [v]
Thirdly, DeWeese’ attempt to ground Eutychianism and Monothelitism in a shift to thinking of Christ’s humanity in terms of Aristotelian primary substances is off target. What motivated those heresies along with Nestorianism and Apollinarianism was not an Aristotelian shift. Apollinarius himself uses a more Aristotelian view of the relation between a generic nature and an individual. As T.J. Carter writes,
“The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God ‘by nature’ because each is a person who ‘possesses’ and individually objectivises the one divine nature understood along quasi-generic lines, viz. the same ‘characteristic property’…If we set aside the peculiarities which belong to this uniquely tri-personal example, Apollinarius is using a model for unity of nature in Fr.[agment] 111 which sees a numerical correlation between an individual subject and the single generic nature which he possesses or individualizes. On this analysis Christ as a single person cannot possess/individualize two natures and be God and man at the same time. Therefore, Christ is one ‘man’ (and ‘God’) through the possession/individuation of one composite generic nature which is intermediate between those of God and men.”[vi]
Either the supposed Aristotelian shift from a property view to a primary substance view of persons took place much earlier than DeWeese supposes, and includes Apollinarius himself or this counts as evidence against the thesis that an Aristotelian shift motivated later Christological problems. For example, Coptic polemicists argued against Chalcedon on the basis that the Chalcedonians took the hypostasis of the Word to be nothing more than a collection of properties, which is an awfully strange objection to make if Chalcedon and forward was waxing more Aristotelian on this very point.[vii]
The irrelevance and lack of explanatory power in DeWeese’s thesis can be seen by the fact that it doesn’t matter if one takes a property view of persons or a substance view of persons since the Christological problem will remain. For on either view persons will be glossed either as things to be explained in terms of underlying entities which are not persons or as just an entity per se. This is why it was Apollinarius’ commitment to identifying the person with soul or mind that entailed his theological trajectory. On his view, the person just is a mind or a soul and so Christ could only have one. The idea that persons are just entities can be perceived in Apollinarius’ own work.
“With a finger they engrave stone, those who assert the dogma that two minds are in Christ-I mean, a divine and a human. For, if every mind is autonomous, being moved by its own volition according to nature, it is impossible that, in one and the same underlying being, two minds could coexist, willing opposite to each other with each doing what it wants according to its own self moving primary impulse.”[viii]
Notice that Apollinarius is thinking of minds as objects with causal powers and the reason two minds cannot co-exist is because of the opposition of causal powers. For Apollinarius difference is opposition. It is also clear that Apollinarius is confusing the power and act of willing with the subject who does the willing. That confusion is only possible if one is conflating the categories of person and nature, between whoness and whatness. And it is precisely this confusion that is at work in DeWeese’ view that the soul or mind is the person via his commitment to substance dualism.
Consequently, the real metaphysical motivation for historical Christological controversies is the wider inadequacy of the Hellenistic tradition to distinguish between person and nature. It doesn’t much matter if one is a Stoic, Platonist or Aristotelian, the demands of Christian theology in Triadology and Christology simply break the wineskins of Hellenism. This is because the Hellenistic traditions see persons, if they see them at all, as just instances of a kind, whether instances of properties, instances of properties concretized by a unifying principle, or corpuscular unities. Persons are fundamentally objects. This is why Nestorianism and Apollinarianism share the same basic trajectories as Monothelitism and Monophysitism. They are just different options on the same Porphyrian tree constructed from the same starting Hellenistic assumptions.[ix]
IV. Chalcedon Much?
Recall that DeWeese reads Chalcedon as being compatible with either a Monothelite or Dyothelite position. There are plenty of reasons for thinking this is false. First, DeWeese’s position entails that Christ lacks a human soul in the Chalcedonian sense and that view was condemned at Chalcedon as well as at previous councils (Constantinople I, & Ephesus). On a Chalcedonian view, Christ’s human nature has all the relevant human operative powers qua human life or soul. The language of the definition of faith is intended to rule out the very position that DeWeese, Craig, et. al advance.[x] Second, Leo’s Tome approved at Chalcedon and given an exclusively Cyrilline interpretation at Constantinople II in 553 speaks of two natural activities, with each nature having its own set of appropriate causal powers, even going so far as to speak of natures in terms of two volitional powers. [xi] Third, Dyothelitism had already been expressed by key figures such as Cyril of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa[xii] and denied by Apollinarius.[xiii] While not all of the pre-Chalcedonian figures were as explicit as the foregoing, the preceding (Nyssa and Cyril) were of sufficient stature combined with Chalcedon’s reading of Leo’s Tome so as to preclude Monothelitism. The condemnation of Apollinarianism by Chalcedon alone would be sufficient to preclude the overall model of DeWeese and Craig. And the theological framework set out by Chalcedon is certainly incompatible with an Apollinarian and Monothelite position. Even moderate Monophysites such as Severus of Antioch affirmed the existence of two wills in Christ.[xiv] So, the evidence is decidedly against DeWeese’ claim that Chalcedon is ambivalent and so compatible with either a Monothelite or Dyothelite view.
DeWeese seems to be assuming that any view that posits two natures and one person is Chalcedonian but this is just not so. And it is not so because that formula on its own is too vague to do the work Chalcedon intended. Chalcedon was in this respect quite specifically aimed at ruling out that kind of ambiguity that would allow Nestorianism.[xv] For the Nestorians also affirmed the basic formula of one person and two natures. Nestorius and Theodoret were both adamant in rejecting the idea that there were two sons and they both affirmed that there was only one son. It was just that what they called “son” was the product of the union of the Logos with a man. The outward appearance produced by the underlying two subjects was the “Son” and hence singular. If that wasn’t bad enough even Arians could affirm such a formula since for at least some forms of Arianism Christ was a human body inhabited by a divine spirit. So, Chalcedon is far narrower in what it means by one person and two natures. In sum, DeWeese’ position isn’t compatible with Chalcedon.
V. Suppositional Medievals
DeWeese glosses the Medievals as postulating the concept of a suppositum, that which bears and sustains properties, in order to get out of the problem of the humanity of Christ constituting a second person in Christ. Ordinarily, a body-soul composite would be sufficient for human personhood but in the case of the incarnation it isn’t. The task for the Medievals was to say why it wasn’t. As DeWeese sees it though the medieval accounts run into all sorts of problems.
As Orthodox I am not bound to defend the Latin Medievals and the truth of Dyothelitism doesn’t turn on whether any of their accounts of the Incarnation pass muster or not. Some of the reasons are simple enough. The Medievals didn’t formulate the doctrine. Whatever the Medievals thought on the matter depends in part on their conformity to the formulated doctrine and whatever metaphysical commitments the formulators utilized to construct it. So, any account of the Medievals just moves the question back to the formulators.
Second, the majority of the Medievals had no access to the relevant documents. Practically none of them had access to the writings of Maximus the Confessor. Aquinas doesn’t get access to at least some of the documents of Constantinople III until very late in his career. For the most part, he is working from a Latin translation of John of Damascus’ Exact Exposition.[xvi]
That said, there are some good reasons for taking a stroll through the accounts offered by Aquinas and Scotus. While the Latin’s had particular errors and some methodological ones, the scholastics weren’t stupid. You can learn a lot, particularly in terms of clarity of thought from their works. If and when they make mistakes, the mistakes are not simple ones or easy to identify. Before any Orthodox opens their mouth about their supposed “rationalism” or other errors, they should take a good long while reading what they actually said.[xvii] In addition, DeWeese’s treatment of the Medievals is not only weak but exemplifies some of the conceptual mistakes he makes in evaluating Dyothelitism per se. Lastly, I see no good reason to concede any ground without argument to DeWeese’s Apollinarian/Monothelite position.
First up, I give a quick gloss on the Christological models of Aquinas and Scotus. I focus on them because they are the main targets at which DeWeese seems to be aiming. Nothing here is meant to be an exhaustive treatment; I lay out just the basic structure so as to make an engagement with DeWeese’s criticism clearer.
VI. Wholes and Parts
Medieval Christologies in the main, especially later on come in two general varieties, either Whole/ Part analogies or Substance/Accident analogies with Aquinas taking the former and figures like Scotus taking the latter.
For Aquinas the primary substance of the Incarnation is none other than the divine person of the Logos. In the primary substance of the Logos two secondary substances (divine and human) subsist, which is why the person of Christ can be said to be composite. Now one of the restrictions on being a primary substance is that a primary substance cannot be a part of anything else, that is, it cannot be had by anything else. And this makes sense because what it is to be an individual thing, a this, wouldn’t be a this, if it were and functioned as an intrinsic part of another this. If for example we made a larger table out of many other tables, the subsidiary parts would not be tables themselves, but would be part of the one larger table. Constitution then is not identity for Aquinas. Parts are such because of their function and the role they play in the unity in the whole and are not wholes themselves. So, wholes can have properties qua whole or qua their constituents without their constituents counting or being a whole.
From here it is not difficult to see how Aquinas would meet the challenge that DeWeese poses. The human nature of Christ (a human body and a human soul) would not constitute a substance because it is a part of a larger whole. It functions as a part, so to speak of the incarnate Word and so doesn’t have the standing of a this.[xviii] This solution to DeWeese’s challenge of course turns on the metaphysics of substances that Aquinas was working with.
Recall that DeWeese claims that the kinds of distinctions Medievals make to avoid Nestorianism are ad hoc. And he thinks they are ad hoc because no one would think of them unless they were trying to give an account of the incarnation.[xix] But this is a bit like saying that electrons are ad hoc because positing different electrons wouldn’t occur to anyone not trying to give account of elements on the periodic table. The same can be said for all sorts of distinctions drawn in order to provide an account of any number of things in various disciplines. What constitutes a thesis being ad hoc is that it is not generated by the principles of the model itself but borrowed from other models in order to save the model in question. But in the case of Aquinas it is very clear that the distinctions he draws simply fall out of his overall metaphysics. They aren’t generated by some other set of theses or metaphysical outlook, but by Aquinas’ own metaphysics.
A few other points here need to be made. Nothing in Aquinas’ account or in DeWeese’s fundamental objection turns on a commitment to Dyothelitism. Rather what motivates DeWeese objection and Aquinas’ answer is the underlying metaphysics of substantiality and what constitutes a person. DeWeese would need to demonstrate that Dyothelitism entails the metaphysics in question and not merely that it allegedly developed in the way that DeWeese claims it did historically. Consequently, DeWeese’s objection is not an objection to Dyothelitism per se but that is what the objection needs to be rather than an objection to Aquinas’ metaphysical commitments.
Second, could DeWeese’s objection even touch Aquinas’ position? That does not imply that there might not be other problems with Aquinas’ account or objections Thomists might not have to address.[xx] But my reason for thinking that DeWeese’ objection could not touch Aquinas’ account is because DeWeese’s account turns on and utilizes the same fundamental reasoning. Notice DeWeese’s account of what constitutes a person turns on the same whole/part thinking that Aquinas’ account turns on.
“That is to say, a person is an individual, a particular that has its own properties but is not “had by” something else.”[xxi]
So, a person can’t he “had” by anything else, otherwise it is not a person. That mirrors the reasoning and arguably the metaphysics of Aquinas on primary substances and specifically on the suppositum of the Logos.[xxii] A primary substance by any other name is still a primary substance. If it isn’t DeWeese owes us a reason why it isn’t. Moreover, given his gloss of a person as an individual that has properties, this doesn’t seem compatible with his preferred metaphysics of persons as a set and kind of network of properties but rather exemplifies a more Aristotelian outlook of primary substances. DeWeese seems to have not escaped the metaphysics he thinks is the fatal flaw operating in medieval accounts. Consequently, he seems to be susceptible to the same objections he deploys against Aquinas. While this may amount to a tu quo que, it does highlight the degree to which DeWeese’s position lacks consistency.
But we can also run the same basic objection against his own stated view of persons as a collection of properties, namely why aren’t the properties themselves a separate person on DeWeese’s account? If they are sufficient for personhood then there is no need for them to be “had” by something else. On the other hand, if they can’t be a person because they are had by something else, then there is no reason to think Aquinas’ position falls prey to the objection. And if that is true, then we at the very least have a Dyothelite medieval model that escapes the objection. In which case, the only avenue left open to DeWeese is to deploy that objection to Dyothelite models that are not relevantly similar to Aquinas’ account. It is of course open to DeWeese to retreat to a more consistent identity claim, namely that persons just are some set of properties, but that would entail sacrificing the idea that persons are the things that have properties and not simply constituted by them.[xxiii]
VII. Substance and Accident
Scotus’ account of the Incarnation is glossed in terms of a substance/accident analogy. Primary substances are a this, a particular or individual thing whereas accidents are properties that can come to be and pass away relative to some substance. I can come to have hair and I can become bald, but having or not having hair doesn’t alter me per se. So, Scotus sees the incarnation in similar terms. Christ pre-exists his incarnation and so the hypostatic union cannot be necessary to him qua divine person. It is important to note that Scotus doesn’t take the humanity of Christ to be an accident strictly speaking but like an accident.
But how does Scotus even get to the notion of substance/accident relation as a way of thinking about the Incarnation? Scotus first has to figure out what is the right kind of relation between Christ and his humanity.[xxiv] Since Christ and his humanity are said to be one or united, Scotus has to ferret out the right kind of unity.[xxv] Scotus rejects aggregation, accidental unity, substantial unity, simple unity and formal identity. What remains is a unity of order and a specific kind of order, namely that of dependence. What Scotus seems to have in mind here is a dependence relation where something less depends on something greater. But Scotus rejects that the kind of dependence relation at work in the hypostatic union is one of a causal relation, of one thing causing another. And this is so since all creatures depend on God yet not all created things are hypostatically united to God.
But how is this to work since the humanity of Christ is itself taken to be a substance, a this, though not the suppositum, of the humanity of Christ? That is, how can the substance that is Christ’s humanity be an accident or function like one in a dependent relation since to be a primary substance seems to exclude dependence? Scotus thinks that it is possible for a primary substance to have the mode or the way of being, if you will, of an accident just so long as it doesn’t inhere in another substance. It can do this if the dependence relation is one where the substance bears an extrinsic dependence relation to a suppositum.[xxvi]
So for Scotus, in the incarnation, the humanity of Christ gains a kind of extrinsic dependence relation to the person or suppositum of the Logos, while the Logos is not informed or essentially altered by this new relation.[xxvii] Now since the humanity of Christ is a substance it functions as a truth-maker for certain propositions about Christ. And because of this it communicates existence to the divine suppositum of the Logos in a similar way that accidents share their being with the substance to which they are related. So there is a kind of reciprocity since substances support any accidents that depend on them so that the Logos communicates something of its being or existence to the humanity. Here we reach the teaching of enhominzation of the Logos. So, for Scotus, unless the humanity of Christ has its own existence it can’t do this and this for Scotus threatens the full and genuine humanity of Christ. Here it should be obvious that Scotus has a genuine theological worry he is seeking to assuage, namely that Christ is fully and genuinely human.
It should be noted that for all of Scotus analysis of the humanity of Christ as a substance he is very clear that the humanity of Christ can only be spoken of as the humanity of the person of the Logos. In fact, Scotus is explicit that the Logos and Christ, qua suppositum or person, are identical. Hence any language of “the man” always refers to the person of the Logos, even if it refers to the Logos incarnate.[xxviii] So there is no obvious Nestorianism here.
It is true that for Scotus it is possible that the Logos lay aside his human nature. [xxix] It is also true that he thinks that this would bring about no fundamental change in that humanity itself. The reason why it would not bring about any fundamental change is easy to see. Because the union between the person of the Logos and the humanity of Christ is construed in terms of an extrinsic dependence relation, the loss of that relation would entail that there was no alteration in either of the two things previously united. While this might seem troubling, Scotus actually has a good theological motivation for thinking so.
For Scotus, if there is something fundamentally different in the humanity of Christ from our humanity, then Christ cannot be consubstantial with all men and so Christ would not be fully human. This is one reason why he rejects Aquinas part/whole model since for Aquinas what keeps the humanity of Christ from being a human person is that it functions like a part in relation to a whole, specifically it derives its being from the Logos. Scotus seems to think that he can do the same work with less metaphysical commitment. Scotus is going to reject Thomas’ view about the humanity of Christ deriving its being from the Logos and construe the manner in which the humanity of Christ is related and dependent on the Logos as the way to preclude a second subject in Christ. In this way, Scotus’ account is metaphysically “thinner” than that of Thomas. For Scotus then the reason why the humanity of Christ is not a second person is that it depends on the person of the Logos.
Now recall DeWeese launches a number of criticisms at Scotus’ or at least Scotistic positions. In sum Scotus’ account commits him to negative properties but these are controversial and contemporary metaphysicians find little sympathy with them. Additionally, at least some Scotistic figures think it was possible for the humanity of Christ to be decoupled from the divine person of the Word, which entails specific absurd results or that the standard interpretations of Dyothelitism are flawed.
It is true that Scotus account commits him to negative properties of a sort, but notice that the reasons given by DeWeese are not reasons for thinking that thesis is incoherent or that there is something wrong with the idea metaphysically speaking. There is nothing in what DeWeese offers that would point out any conceptual incoherence with the idea per se. All he provides are biographical facts about what contemporary metaphysicians or at least some of them find dubious or reject. Well, that can be said for lots of positions in metaphysics including positions DeWeese holds. Simply mentioning dominant historical positions does no philosophical work. DeWeese has provided biographical facts in the place of an actual argument.
What is more, it isn’t clear that DeWeese’ position is fundamentally different on this score. All we have to do is take a look at how he glosses personhood.
“A person is an individual with an appropriately complex and structured set of mental properties, faculties (a natural grouping of capacities) and higher order capacities, unified by internal relations. That is to say, a person is an individual, a particular that has its own properties but is not ‘had by’ something else.” [xxx]
What I am curious about is, if Scotus’ appeal to negative properties, that is, the property of not being dependent on some other substance, is unpalatably problematic, why does it seem that DeWeese advocates for the same thing above? Notice a person has to have the negative property of its properties not being had by anything else. This looks like special pleading on DeWeese’s part. Negative properties for me, but not for thee.
Second, it is true that Scotus thinks that it is metaphysically possible for a decoupling to take place. And he thinks so because he thinks of the relation between the Logos and his humanity as a kind of extrinsic dependence relation, in which case, it falls out of his account and it is not ad hoc. While I don’t agree with this position, it is motivated by a legitimate theological concern, namely that Christ be truly human and the Logos alone is the subject that is Christ. Again, what Scotus has in mind here is that there can’t be anything fundamentally different about the humanity of Christ for if there were, Christ would not be consubstantial with all humans. So, the only difference has to be the kind of relation that exists between the two and that implies that the humanity isn’t a second person precisely because of the dependence relation.
For my part I think there is a simple way to patch this account up which is simply make the union contingent prior to the incarnation, but necessary per accidens after the union. The notion of accidental necessity is a well-worn concept among the Medievals and it is roughly the following.[xxxi] An event can be contingent, but once it happens it cannot be changed, such as events that happened in the past. So Scotus can take the union to be accidentally necessary and avoid the decoupling thesis. This comports well with the gratuity of the incarnation as well as the sui generis nature of the incarnation.
But even if that were not a suitable patch, the important point is to notice that there is nothing here in Scotus’ account that is distinctly Dyothelite. If anything generates the problems that DeWeese thinks he finds here, it is not Dyothelitism but a thesis about substances and taking persons to be a specific kind of substance. This is evidenced by the fact that his entire discussion is about substances and what constitutes personhood and not what constitutes a will and the relation of will to personhood. What we need from DeWeese is an argument that Dyothelitism entails a set of theses about substances and persons that he thinks generates these problems, but that is exactly what we don’t get. In sum, DeWeese actually has no argument on the table against Dyothelitism.
VIII. Defending Dyothelitism
Here I tackle DeWeeses’s arguments directed against Dyothelitism.[xxxii] His claim is that Dyothelitism implies Nestorianism. He notes that he has no conclusive argument that will and mind belong to person rather than nature, though he favors the former over the latter. His reasons for thinking so are given below.
His first reason is that the notion that a person could have two minds/two wills is prima facia implausible. We have prima facia justification to believe that whenever we encounter a mind, we encounter a person. He seems to be thinking that when we encounter a person our assumption that we encounter just one mind or will is justified. Furthermore, some contemporary advocates for the Christian position (Dyothelitism) utilize analogies from hypnosis, psychology and neuroscience to argue for the plausibility of dual consciousness in a single person, presumably to show that if something can exist in one person in our ordinary experience, then it is plausible for it to be the case in the Incarnation. But DeWeese claims that none of the proposed cases represent two minds. Presumably they show us a single mind in some abnormal state. Utilizing cases from abnormal psychology seem to only raise the implausibility of the Dyothelite model.
In response, it is true that whenever we encounter thinking behavior and infer a mind, we encounter a person, and that this is by far usually the case. But it doesn’t follow first that the mind is the person or second that we can reason to the conclusion that there is always only one mind whenever we encounter a person. The only thing that follows is that when we encounter a mind or rather behavior that exhibits the act of thinking, we encounter a person, but of course that is neither implausible nor disputed. More unpacking of the above point is required though. DeWeese seems to ground his claim of implausibility on something reminiscent of Hume’s argument against miracles. Roughly Hume’s thinking was that our constant and regular experience is that of the non-miraculous and so that when provided with a miracle claim, we are never justified in believing it because of our prior constant and regular experience. DeWeeses’ reasoning seems similar. Our constant experience of minds and persons is such that whenever we counter one person, we only encounter one mind and vice versa. Here we need to separate logic from epistemology. First as a matter of logic our experience doesn’t dictate what could be the case. As to epistemic justification, all other things being equal DeWeese has a point. But given that he concedes the reality of the incarnation, all other things are not equal. So, invoking parsimony here to support the implausibility claim does no work. The incarnation is sui generis and so we should expect that things that are plausible or not given our every day experience may not be an adequate measure for what is plausible in this case. His reasoning only goes through only if the incarnation is an everyday case, which it isn’t.
We can also use “fiction” to undermine the appropriateness of appeals to plausibility and implausibility based on regular experience. Take the “hypnosis” scene from The Exorcist. We can see here how the everyday framework for plausibility works out. The psychiatrist is working from a naturalistic paradigm along with the medical doctors. The psychiatrist hypnotizing Reagan claims to assert control over the “person” inside of Reagan, known as “Captain Howdy.” The psychiatrist doesn’t think he is dealing with a genuine second person, but with a manifestation of Regan. However, his assumption is clearly wrong. Needless to say, things do not go as planned as “Captain Howdy” makes an appearance in a scene reminiscent of Sons of Sceva in Acts 19. The relevant point both in that scene and in the rest of the film is how plausibility should function, namely fluidly. That is, what is plausible or not should change give relevant data, but in the film, it doesn’t. The naturalistic assumptions of the doctors and psychiatrists form a constricting epistemic cage that inhibits their ability to deal with the real problem or offer any real aid to the little girl. It is in just this way that DeWeese’s implicit substance dualism and everyday experience motivates the implausibility thesis. It works in the face of the sui generis nature of the incarnation.
Likewise, in the Gospels people encounter something or rather, someone more than fits with their every day experience. The Gospels build upon people moving from something they can fit Jesus into, such as a revolutionary, a prophet, a miracle worker, to something or someone who doesn’t quite fit any one of those categories. In his being lifted up, his exaltation on the Cross and in the Resurrection his true identity is disclosed as the divine person of the Eternally Begotten, God incarnate. In short, the conditions for what counts as plausible shift and change with the events expressed in the Gospels.
So, given the sui generis nature of the Incarnation we might be justifiably motivated to look at examples from abnormal psychology. But suppose DeWeese is correct that analogies from abnormal psychology undermine the plausibility of Dyothelitism. Does the plausibility of Dyothelitism depend on such analogies? No, it doesn’t. The plausibility for Dyothelitism relies rather on the biblical material where Jesus exhibits human volitional activity and a genuinely human mental life. He expresses a natural human fear of death (Matt 26:38ff) as well human cognitive limitations (Mark 13:32). He wills things that fail to come to pass. (Mark 6:5 & 7:24) He learns obedience and carries out his task to the point of death, even the humiliating death of public naked crucifixion. (Hebrews 5:7-10 & Phil 2:8) These are not mere docetistic appearances to fool others around him to think that he is human. He has and lives a human life.
Furthermore, while all of the analogies from abnormal psychology are put forward by some of its contemporary defenders, none of them or anything like them are offered by its historical exponents or defenders. The coherence or plausibility of Dyothelitism does not depend on examples drawn from contemporary psychology but the scriptural material and the metaphysics utilized to cash out its account. And none of these are actually engaged by DeWeese, let alone Craig or other critics of the Christian position.
I do think that abnormal psychology examples are ill advised in the first place. This is for two reasons. First, as the old famous paper goes, What is it like to be a bat? and the short answer is, only a bat could know, the same goes for deity. What is it like to be a god? Well, only a deity could know.[xxxiii] The qualia of such a state, if qualia are even applicable here is completely beyond us. The second is like unto it, namely the sui generis status of the incarnation. If one can’t know the qualia of being a deity, then one can’t know what it is like to be an incarnate deity either. Ivor Davidson is precisely right when he writes,
“Efforts to penetrate the psyche of Jesus tend to forget the case in question, the nature of divine existence in human flesh, is entirely sui generis, an utterly free act grounded in the mystery of divine choosing. Alleged parallels with ‘divided minds’ or the like are inherently problematic, in so far as, if faith’s claim is to be heard, no other mind can represent a case comparable to that of Christ’s person. Any other mind is created, pure and simple; his human mind is created, yes, but his created humanity is not all that there is to his person. To talk of ‘two wills’ as entailing something akin to ‘two psychological subsystems’ in Christ, similar to those that might exist in a merely human agent, is not only to speak of things whereof we would do well to remain silent, or to isolate natures from person once again: it is also potentially to violate the ontological uniqueness of the one who is here confessed. He is not just a particularly interesting instantiation of a phenomenon capable of being studied elsewhere: he is God among us, and his human existence is an instance only of itself.[xxxiv]
There is another point to notice about the examples from abnormal psychology that DeWeese overlooks. While the examples from abnormal psychology do not, as DeWeese rightly notes, demonstrate the existence of two minds in one person, they do present a problem for substance dualists like himself, Craig and Moreland. For what those examples show is that two streams of consciousness can exist in one and the same person. Why is this a problem for substance dualists like DeWeese, et al? Because for them, the person just is the mind or rather consciousness. Abnormal or not, the existence of two streams of consciousness implies on such a model the existence of two minds and two persons. This kind of anthropological Nestorianism if you will is exactly the conclusion that DeWeese tries to saddle Dyothelitism with and one which motivated his own monothelite account. I will return to the doctrinal aspects of this problem later. That said, it is clear that the Dyothelite position can deal with dual consciousnesses in one person in a straightforward way. This is because for the Dyothelite the mind or the intellect is a power that the person has, which they utilize. The existence of two minds would not imply the existence of two persons since the person is not metaphysically reducible to the mind. But for DeWeese and company two streams of consciousness implies two persons. The relevant point here is that DeWeese dismisses the reality that abnormal psychology poses for his own account.
IX. The Dynamic Duo
Next DeWeese claims that on Dyothelitism it is difficult to show how two wills in the same person do not conflict with each other. In his paper, though, he offers no explicit reason to think that this is true. He cites Gregory Nazianzus’ remark that the human will of Christ cannot be opposed to God given the hypostatic union.[xxxv] He then asks a series of questions and subsequent remarks utilizing material from Richard Swinburne.
“But then, did Christ ever decide to act as man? Or was his human will always regulated by his divine will, so that every decision Jesus made was a decision of his divine will? If the ‘subjection’ of the human will to the divine is then naturally interpreted as any human desires always being kept in place by stronger divine desires,’ one cannot help wondering whether the infinite difference between human and divine desires within one person would not render the power of human desires vanishingly small.”[xxxvi]
Notice a few formal things here. First the Dyothelite position is saddled with a rather off the cuff construction of DeWeese’s own making. We are provided with absolutely zero documentation or reasons to think that this is how historical defenders of Dyothelitism would represent their position, to say nothing of contemporary specialists. Second, DeWeese merely asks questions and then proceeds from there. But questions are not arguments and what we require is an argument because those are the things that get the demonstrative work done.
Historically speaking Nazianzus’ expression only commits us to a deification of Christ’s human volition. It doesn’t saddle Christians with some elimination thesis which DeWeese’ questions are meant to imply. If we take the biblical material at face value, deified saints still act as humans, just deified humans and the same goes for Christ’s human volitional activity. DeWeese’s question gains its intuitive force by implicitly assuming a view of deification that entails the elimination or extinction of all that is human. But in the Christian tradition, this is not generally how deification is glossed.[xxxvii] So far we aren’t offered any reason to think that DeWeese’s claim that Dyothelites are at pains to show how the two wills in Christ did not conflict is true.
As to the metaphysics, desires are not volitions or willings. One can have desires all day long without ever acting on them. Desires in this way are dispositional states rather than acts. Volitions on the other hand are, at least, an execution of an intention or a plan of action. So, DeWeese’s gloss here doesn’t even rise to the level of the question on the table. Dyothelitism is a thesis about volitional power(s) and not desires. And in any case, on Dyothelitism, the human will doesn’t make decisions anymore than the divine will does since it is the person who makes a decision using the respective power of choice.
To recap, DeWeese has it that the divine will or divine desires govern and determine the human will and desires. His gloss is reminiscent of Jonathan Edward’s view where the strongest desire always wins out. But the problem is that DeWeese is thinking of the divine will as the agent itself rather than a causal power the agent utilizes. So DeWeese’ view depends on importing his own view of the will as hypostatic back into the Dyothelite view. In this way his gloss is a caricature and so constitutes a straw man. DeWeese hasn’t yet engaged the actual Dyothelite position.
As to Dyothelitism itself, DeWeese gives us no reason to think that the position he roughly glosses, of one will acting in a controlling and deterministic way relative to the other (divine to human as it were) is that of Dyothelitism. There is no reason on offer from DeWeese to think that this is how Dyothelites have to or do in fact construe the matter. His gloss here is completely unsupported.
X. Nestorianism Redux
But his gloss is not without its usefulness. DeWeese seems to be thinking of Dyothelitism in terms of the human will constituting an agent unto itself, which either acts autonomously and so lapses into a type of dual subject Christology or is constrained and determined by the divine will. This is evident in his question about whether the human will was regulated by the divine will or whether Christ acted as man. This schema of the divine will utilizing the human will as an instrument through determination was a view held during the Monothelite controversy in the seventh century. And it was motivated by the same concerns, protecting the impeccability of Christ.
Note the material from the pro-Monothelite Ekthesis. It acknowledges that Nestorius taught a form of Monothelitism.
“For even the abominable Nestorius in dividing the divine incarnation of the Lord and introducing two sons did not dare speak of two wills, but on the contrary glorified an identity of wills in the two persons he had fabricated, how is it possible that those who confess the correct faith and glorify one Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God, also accept these two contrary wills in him?”[xxxviii]
Next note the material from Maximus. For Maximus rejects the idea of an extrinsic utilization of the human by the divine, the very schema that DeWeese tries to saddle Dyothelitism with.
“Pyrrhus: Was not the flesh moved by the decision of the Word Who is united with it?
Maximus: You divide Christ by talking like this! For Moses and David, and as many as were susceptible to the influence of the divine energies, were moved by His command and laid aside human and fleshly properties. But, following all the holy Fathers in this as in all things, we say: since the God of All has Himself become man without change, that the same Person not only willed appropriately as God in his Deity, but also willed appropriately as man in His Humanity. For the things that exist came to be out of nothing, and have therefore a power that impels them to hold fast to existence, and not to non-existence, which is simultaneously an inclination towards that which naturally maintains them in existence, and drawing back from things destructive. Consequently, the super-essential Word, by virtue of His humanity, had of His humanity this self-preserving power which clings to existence. And He exhibited both, wiling the inclination and the drawing back on account of his [human] energy.”[xxxix]
Next note Maximus’ recognition that such a schema as DeWeese ascribes to the Dyothelites was common to both the Monothelites and the Nestorians.[xl]
“Why, then, do they reject Nestorius, yet firmly embrace his words and ideas? [It is] rather that those who say ‘one will’ vindicate [his teachings], for their Ekthesis testifies, advocates, and decrees ‘one will,’ which is what Nestorius advocates: the doctrine of one will in two persons was invented by him.” [xli]
John Meyendorff aptly summarizes the connection with Nestorianism.
“Furthermore, and paradoxically, Monoenergism was not only a bridge towards the Monophysites; it could be useful in approaching the Nestorians, whom Heraclius met in Persia. Indeed the Antiochian, pre-Chalcedonian theologians, teachers of Nestorius, formulated their Christology precisely by affirming that the two natures, or hypostasis of Christ, were united by one activity (energia) of their unique ‘prosopon of union.’ Unfortunately the formula also had doubtful antecedents, since it had been used by Apollinarius.”[xlii]
So, the idea of the divine will using the human will as an instrument or determining it wasn’t the view of Dyothelites like Maximus, but was rather the view of Nestorians and other positions including that of the Monothelites. Note the text from Monothelite Patriarch Paul expressing the same idea below.
“His flesh endowed with a rational and immaterial soul was through the same consummate unity enriched with divine things, for it obtained the divine and invariable will of the Logos who united it with himself according to the hypostasis, and it was constantly led and moved by him.”[xliii]
Hovorun commenting on this text writes,
“Christ’s human nature was guided and controlled by his divine will or command (nevma), as it had been called by the Monothelites from the time of the Ecthesis. Their suggestion that his human nature was led by divine commands delivered them from avoiding any possible conflict between the humanity and the Godhead in Christ. Were there a human will, such a conflict would be inevitable. This was perhaps the most popular argument supporting the single will; it occurred in almost every Monothelite text, from the Ecthesis onwards.”[xliv]
Ivor Davidson notes,
“The monothelites against whom Maximus argued could not conceive of how there could be a distinction of wills in Christ without some form of opposition between them. On their reasoning, divine purpose has to overwhelm human willing if the incarnation was to be confessed as a divine act. More modern forms of Monothelitism may tend to take the opposite approach: if human willing is to be conceived of as free, it must exist on its own terms, unconstrained by divine forces.”[xlv]
The gloss provided by DeWeese that were intended to show that Dyothelitism is saddled with Nestorianism or is unable to explain how a duality of wills do not conflict, is actually a model provided by Nestorians and Monothelites. So, the construction of Dyothelitism used to construct the dilemma depends on a Monothelite and Nestorian model. In fact, either of the two lemmas that DeWeese proposes are fundamentally Nestorian-divine extrinsic instrumentalization of humanity or a dual subject Christology. All DeWeese offers us here is a strawman and question begging. What is more the problems he intended to deploy against Dyothelitism are ones to which his own position is susceptible as I demonstrate below.
XI. Synergy in Christ
But what of DeWeese’s proposed problems for Dyothelitism? If there are two wills in Christ as Dyothelitism maintains, how is it that Christ’s two wills not only do not conflict but cannot conflict? And if they can’t conflict, how can Christ’s human freedom be preserved? After all, in DeWeese telling, Dyothelites have to interpret the biblical material in an instrumentalist and suppressive sense.
“On the dyothelite model, we would have to gloss the passage[ Matt 26] something like this: “The human will of Christ’s human nature desired that the cup pass, but his divine will (which was numerically identical with the Father’s will), did not, and it is the divine will which controls jesus’ decision- making, so there is no possibility that the human desires will be acted upon. While normally the divine will in Christ so overpowers his human will that the human will is invisible, on this one occasion we are privileged to see it.”[xlvi]
Do Dyothelites need to interpret the Gethsemane passages this way? A better question is, does DeWeese provide a single example of a representative source doing so? I believe the answer to both questions is in the negative. But to see why DeWeese is wrong will require some leg work. As indicated above, the will on Dyothelitism is not the person or the agent. The will is a power that the person uses, a natural faculty. It is one and the same person rather who uses the two different natural powers of willing, namely the Eternal Son. Because the Son has no beginning, his use of each natural power of willing is impeccable. But this requires a bit of unpacking.
The conditions on a libertarian gloss on free will have been nicely elucidated by Robert Kane in his The Significance of Free Will which I will summarize. The two sets of conditions on a Libertarian gloss on free will are Ultimate Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities (UR+AP). For clarity, Ultimacy and Responsibility are two distinct conditions where as Alternative Possibilities is one condition. The Ultimacy condition is roughly that it is necessary for my acts to be free that they be up to me, that is, that I am the source of them. I constitute the causal backstop or causal terminus for my actions. This does not exclude prior or antecedent contributing causes, but it does exclude them as antecedent sufficient causes for my actions. This means that the explanatory buck for my actions stops with me. In order for the Ultimacy condition to be met, I must be responsible for my free actions.
Now since my character can determine my actions, in order to meet the Ultimacy condition, I have to be responsible for whatever character I end up having. This is why I cannot be given a set character fixed in a moral orientation. This is to say that I cannot be created or altered to be impeccable apart from my free choice to be so. If I were created or made impeccable apart from my choice, then the character I have and the subsequent choices determined by that character would not be up to be and so would violate the Ultimacy and Responsibility conditions. So, if I have a beginning, then I cannot be created impeccable. Impeccability must be the result in part of something I choose.
And that implies that I have to be able to choose between different moral characters. Choices I make constitute progress towards or away from different moral characters, what Robert Kane labels “self-forming willings.” By them I am forming a self, a specific kind of person. In this way, finite agents are involved in a character construction project. Eventually choices create a fixed character of the person which then determines the scope of their further actions. One can see how this easily plugs into an Aristotelian schema of the different types of character for example. Subsequent choices are still free because the character that determines them, or at least their scope, is derived from the agent. The character that they end up having was chosen by them and they are responsible for it. So, because I have to be able to choose between different types of characters, this implies that I have to have alternative options or possibilities open to me, that is, I can choose between them. Hence the UR condition implies the AP condition.
With all of this in mind, let’s return to DeWeese’s proposed problems for Dyothelitism. How is it that there can’t be a conflict of wills in Christ without eliminating Christ’s genuinely human actions? Plugging a Chalcedonian model into the above Libertarian gloss the solution is elegant. Christ is all and only the one divine person of the Eternal Son who has two natural powers of choosing, two wills. It is one and the same person using these two natural powers so there is no subordination of one will to the other. Humanity and divinity in Christ do not relate in a utilizing or deterministic fashion. (Incidentally this precludes predestinarianism in soteriology as well.) This is part of the reason why there can’t be a conflict of wills because it is always the one and the same person using both wills.
But that is only part of the picture. Recall above that I noted that for agents with a beginning, their moral character has to be up to them. Their personal use of their power of choice cannot be morally fixed from the get-go, but is between the good and the evil. This is what Maximus designates as the gnomic will. It is not a separate faculty of will or a faculty at all, but the person’s morally unfixed use of their natural power of choosing. That natural power is teleologically oriented towards the good, but that does not determine that the agent can only do good, because a power and its use are two different things.
But Christ qua divine person has no beginning. Consequently, he goes through no process of habituation to attain the moral character he has.[xlvii] One might say that the divine persons of the Trinity timelessly, eternally and impeccably choose the character that they have. This is why Maximus says that God never ceases from doing good because he never began to do good. Christ then has no gnomic will or a morally unfixed mode of willing. Another way of saying the same thing is that Christ has no gnomic will because Christ is not a finite person. This is why it is impossible for there to be a moral conflict between the two wills in Christ as DeWeese claims.
Lest this be thought to be a creation of my own, Bathrellos in his work on Maximus Christology says much the same.
“In order to find a solution, attention must again be paid to the all-important distinction between nature (and natural will), on the one hand, and person, on the other. It is one thing to say that the human will of Christ is moved by the Logos, and quite another thing to say that it is moved by the divine will (or by divinity). To say that the human will of the Logos is moved by him is perfectly compatible with Maximus’ thought, for time and again Maximus makes it explicit that the willing subject in Christ, the willer who wills as God and as man, is the enfleshed Logos. Given that it is the willer who moves the will, and that the willer in Maximus’ Christology is identified with the enfleshed Logos, it is the enfleshed Logos who moves his human will as well as his divine will.”[xlviii]
Much the same is evidenced in the remarks of Thomas Joseph White, O.P.,
“Following Maximus, then, Damascene will distinguish between the personal mode (tropos) of the mental and voluntary activity of Christ, and his distinct nature as man (logos). The natures are the principles of specifically human or divine operations in Christ, but these operations occur only in the unique hypostasis of the Son. Therefore they exist only in a filial mode because they are always the natural operations of the Son of God made man…If the two operations of Christ as God and man are distinct, they are not for that reason separated. The divine nature indwells the human such that the human operations of Christ are conduits for the operations and effects of his divine life. When Christ heals the blind man, he wills humanly to touch the man, yet the power of healing that proceeds from his hand emanates from the divine wisdom and power that are present in his person. This means in turn that there is a hierarchical and instrumental character to the human acts of Christ. These latter are themselves subject to the activity of his person and work in concord with the operations of his divine nature. This is nowhere more true than with respect to the human mind and will of Christ. Since the latter are the human mind and will of God incarnate, they must operate according to their intrinsically natural principles, yet they are also altered as to their mode so as to function in accord with the divine life and will that dwell within the Word…This leads Damascene to an important conclusion: the operations of the divine and human wills in Christ must be coordinated in a unique way due to the hypostatic union. This is the classical dyothelite emphasis on the role of synergy in the life of Christ. True, Christ is not God and man because the two wills of Christ are coordinated. (Appeals to such a ‘moral union’ would be absurd.) On the contrary, because Christ is God and man in one subsistent person, therefore there must be a coordination between his two wills in all circumstances.[xlix]
Consequently, Christ’s human actions and choices are genuinely human, yet impeccable because the person making them is a divine person. This is why DeWeese’s worry about Christ’s human volitional life becoming ephemeral on a Dyothelite gloss is unmotivated from within Dyothelitism. His human life is genuinely human because there is no extrinsic utilization of some other person. There is nothing in the thesis of Dyothelitism that would warrant the worry in the first place. But if the worry does not have its motivating home in Dyothelitism does it have one at all? I believe it does.
The worry is that a plurality of wills at least can, if not certainly will, necessarily conflict. This is the single most pervasive worry in Monothelite sources, both ancient and contemporary with DeWeese a contemporary example. On the other hand, as DeWesse worries, an extrinsic use of the human by the divine will sap Christ’s humanity of any of its genuine humanity. The latter part of the concern I believe has been dealt with above by noting that it trades on a confusion of nature and person. The former part of the concern trades on a confusion between difference and opposition which was shared by the Monothelites of old.
On their thinking God wills what is good and to will otherwise than God is to will the evil. Difference with respect to the object of choice situates the possible choices as being for or against the good. And this is because the good is thought to be one thing. This intuition is quite widespread as it can be found in Origen and various other figures and doctrinal controversies. For Origen the fall is a fall from primordial unity to plurality, particularly the plurality of matter. If we think about plurality as being opposed to unity and if unity is the good, then plurality has to be ultimately eliminated or precluded.
But freedom intuitively expressed entails a plurality of options or alternative possibilities. If that is so, then it is no wonder why freedom per se would be viewed as the source of evil or at least its possibility. This is why sin or its possibility is often thought of as being entailed by being metaphysically plural or composite. Not a few thinkers view the possibility of sin for humans and other agents as entailed by being composite, as opposed to being absolutely simple.
On such a schema, freedom gets pared down in order to guarantee impeccability (and the same goes for divine freedom as well which runs up against doctrines like Creation Ex Nihilo). This is easily seen in various attempts to gloss the compatibility of free will and heavenly impeccability. For Origen the matter of the body is eventually eclipsed in a return to the One because the body is composite being material. For Augustine, humans are assumed into the single moment of God’s existence so that there are no further moments to make a contrary choice. For Aquinas, alternative possibilities are the result of earthly ignorance and make evil possible so that they must be precluded in heaven. Freedom has to be transformed and pared down from choosing between options to choosing one option while advocates tell us that this constitutes “genuine freedom.” Much the same goes for figures like Scotus who take the power to choose between alternatives to be preserved while God removes the plurality of options to choose between in heaven.[l] In all of these models plurality is subordinated in some way to unity. Maximus by contrast as I previously explicated above takes the possibility of sin not to be entailed by metaphysical composition, but by finitude and the conditions on freedom.
But what I think is most relevant is that the Procrustean moves in anthropology and soteriology have their parallel in Christology. The same problem of trying to reconcile unity and plurality at work in the former areas are also at work in Christology. This is why the same fundamental moves to pare down freedom to make it compatible with unity are present in Christology. And the same parallels exist with respect to divine freedom and the creation of the cosmos which is why you have talk of God creating the world apart from a choice between alternatives.
“The perennial temptation is to attempt to adjust one side or the other in order to depict a person who is, as it were, psychologically credible – to trim, for example, aspects of what divinity might mean in order to ﬁt the parameters of humanity, or to submerge the reality of Jesus’ human struggles in the depths of a divine agency that renders his moral dedication as a human subject somewhat less impressive than it otherwise appears to be. On the one side, divine willing is scaled down to the proportions of human choosing, in all its precariousness and structural inﬁrmity; on the other, human willing is only ostensibly authentic, since divinity remains in direct hegemonic control. To take the ﬁrst route is to jeopardize the full force of the New Testament’s insistence that Jesus’ actions are expressive of an utterly ﬁrm, albeit utterly gratuitous, divine purpose – that the Son comes into the world to fulfill a will that originates in God’s own heart and is outworked according to God’s invincible determination, with effects that humanity on its own could not achieve. To take the second path is to risk the falsiﬁcation of Jesus’ human choices and decisions, to suggest that he is either subject to forces beyond his control or even coerced into acting in ways strongly contrary to his own desires.”[li]
This view about the simplicity of the Good and difference entailing opposition is brought to a consideration of Dyothelitism, particularly the Gospel material in the Passion. If Christ wills otherwise, then it must be the case that he wills contrary to God and so evil. But this is impossible. Therefore, Christ must not really be willing otherwise. The quick and dirty way around this is usually to say that Christ merely desires contrary to God but doesn’t actually will contrary to God. This is the move that DeWeese actually makes. He writes,
“This leads to a more satisfying interpretation of the scene in the garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26: 39), we can understand it in a very straightforward way— the one personal will of Christ who, with human nature and a human body was operating as a fully human person, desired the cup of suffering, death, and separation from the Father, to be taken from him. But Christ submitted his (personal) will to the divine will of the Father.”[lii]
There are so many problems with this text from DeWeese that it is difficult to know what not to engage, but let me zero in on why the proposed solution doesn’t actually work. If difference is glossed as opposition, then desiring differently or willing differently will make no difference here. And the reason is simple because desires can be just as morally culpable as willings. If willing contrary to God would be sinful, so would desiring contrary to God. And then of course we’d require an explanation of how someone who is without sin in their humanity can even have desires contrary to God.[liii] In this way DeWeese’ monothelite gloss only relocates the problem rather than solves it.
It is open to DeWeese to argue that Christ desiring differently doesn’t imply that he desires contrary to God and so the desire would be blameless. But if that move is made, then there is no reason to object to the Dyothelite position of two wills in Christ where Christ wills differently with respect to each volitional power either. Once the principle that difference entails opposition is abandoned it can’t then be invoked again relative to willing. But what the above points to is Maximus’ teaching that nothing natural is opposed to God.[liv] If that is so, then desiring or willing differently will not imply an opposition, moral or otherwise, which is why the Monothelite worry about conflicting wills is unfounded.
Following Craig’s lead, DeWeese argues that his Monothelite view and Craig’s Apollinarian view is superior to that of the Christian Dyothelite position on the grounds of parsimony.
“The advantages of simplicity favor the contemporary model. As Craig says: “[ Christ’s prayers in the garden] do not contemplate a struggle of jesus’ human will with his divine will (he is not, after all, talking to himself!), but have reference to the interaction between jesus’ will (‘ my will’) and the Father’s will (‘ yours’). Possessing a typical human consciousness, Jesus had to struggle against fear, weakness and temptation in order to align his will with that of his heavenly Father. The will of the Logos had in virtue of the Incarnation become the will of the man Jesus of Nazareth.’”[lv]
Let me dispense with the appeal to parsimony first. Parsimony is an external principle used in theory selection. It provides nothing to tell us which model is in fact true because it provides no information relative to the actualities of a given theory. If a more complex model is in fact true, parsimony be damned. Second, parsimony at best only provides assistance all other things being equal, but as I demonstrated above, all other things are not equal because DeWeese’ Monothelitism doesn’t in fact provide a solution but only compounds the problems. And this is so because it leaves the problematic philosophical assumption of difference as opposition in place. Providing a Procrustean bed for the humanity of Christ doesn’t change that, which is why it compounds the theological problems rather than eliminating them.
All of that said, Craig, Moreland and DeWeese simply misrepresent the Dyothelite position. It is not hard to know why they do, because in twenty years they practically never interact with the primary sources or any of the secondary literature by specialists in post-Chalcedonian Christology, which is a very strange thing for people with (multiple) earned doctorate degrees to do.
But how do Craig and DeWeese misrepresent Dyothelitism? First let’s put aside Craig and Moreland’s rather stupid and question begging caricature of Dyothelitism positing the wills as agents and so conversing with themselves. On the traditional Dyothelite reading of the Passion in Gethsemane the apparent struggle is not between Christ’s human willing and Christ’s divine willing. The reason is simple. On a Nicene Trinitarianism, there is but one will between the three divine persons. A unity of will implies on Nicene Trinitarianism a common and identical essence. There is no conflict or struggle between the divine persons because it is simply impossible.
On Dyothelitism the apparent struggle or rather the learning of obedience is within Christ relative to his human nature. The reason is not difficult to see with a little reflection. Since death and subsequent annihilation is not our natural end, there is then in human nature a natural disposition away from death. This is simply inapplicable to God given divine immortality. Furthermore, this natural eschewing of death is a principle of human nature placed there by God and so is something good and divinely willed also. Christ in his human power of choice in choosing to preserving his life is choosing something good and therefore his choice is not morally blameworthy or evil. The willings for self-preservation and the salvation of the world are between two goods and not between good and evil options. So, as the good and faithful Son, he in his human power of choosing wills to go to the Cross and through it to immortality hence his utterance, “not my will.” In this way the principle of human self-preservation embedded in human nature is fulfilled in resurrection through death. Consequently, human salvation did not depend on a divinely willed act, but rather on a humanly willed act, in a corollary with Mary’s free choice to bear God the Word.[lvi] Salvation is accomplished at a Christological level through synergy and not in monoenergism. From here it is easy to see that monergistic soteriological models are merely anthropological versions of monoenergism/Monothelitism in Christology.
XII. A FUBAR Trinity
Taking a wider view of what DeWeese offers in the previous quote reveals that he is committed to the logical consequences that Maximus and other figures anticipated. If the will is hypostatic, then there will be three wills in the Trinity and not one.
“The contemporary model has trinitarian implications. Christians have always believed that God has a unitary will. The medieval philosophical theologians took this to mean that the will of the Father was numerically identical to the will of the Son, which itself was numerically identical to the will of the Spirit. They were not saying that the trinitarian persons always desired the identical thing, nor that they always willed the same object or event. There was, in a strict and literal sense, only one will in the Godhead. For example, one of the arguments for dyothelitism offered by Pope Agatho in his letter to the sixth council claims that wills must go with natures on the basis of a Trinitarian analogy: “For if anybody should mean a personal will, when in the holy Trinity there are said to be three Persons, it would be necessary that there should be asserted three personal wills, and three personal operations (which is absurd and truly profane). Since, as the truth of the Christian faith holds, the will is natural, where the one nature of the holy and inseparable Trinity is spoken of, it must be consistently understood that there is one natural will, and one natural operation.” That has the consequence that what the Father wills, the Son and the Spirit also will, and so on. That presents no problem if will means “desire.” But if it means “exercise of active power,” as it must if there is strictly one will, problems arise. The contemporary model solves the problems, for it allows that the three persons of the Trinity desire the same thing, but at the same time also allows for the three persons to exercise their individual active power. On the understanding represented by Agatho’s statement, there is one will in the Trinity and two in Jesus Christ. On the contemporary model, there are three wills (i.e., three faculties of volition) in the Trinity and one in Jesus Christ.”[lvii]
A few things are plain to see. First, DeWeese is willing to traverse not only Christological orthodoxy but also Trinitarian orthodoxy. Second, it should be obvious that it is not possible to alter Christology without substantial ripple effects across the entire system of Christian theology. Indeed, such changes will not remain bounded in Christology and the doctrine of God but will alter the entire system.
Next notice that DeWeese’ positing three wills in the Trinity creates all sorts of problems. First it undermines the very basis of Nicene Trinitarianism. One of the major patristic and conciliar arguments for the common essence between the three divine persons was the fact of a common will and a common willing. Passages such as John 5:17-18 were the staple of Nicene Trinitarianism in reasoning from a common activity to a common will and hence common essence. But on DeWeese’ view it is at least that much more difficult to maintain, if it is possible at all, that the there is common essence between the three persons.
Furthermore, on DeWeese’s account the very unity of the Trinity is directly undermined. On the two previous quotations DeWeese takes Christ’s statements of “not my will” to be an expression either of Christ’s hypostatic divine will or of a desire that Christ has. On the willing gloss we have an example of the two persons willing differently so that DeWeese is not able to claim that the persons of the Trinity always and necessarily will harmoniously. This is so because on DeWeese’s account the difference is between the divine persons as such and not within the humanity of Christ as Maximus has it. Much the same goes for glossing the difference as desire since it is the same person who desires differently than the Father and the Spirit. And it is not too difficult a jump to make to argue from the fact that the divine persons on DeWeese’ account do not always or necessarily will or desire the same ends or objects, to, that they do not think the same either. If they have different wills, and in fact will differently, on the very same basis they will also have metaphysically separated intellects. On what basis then are we to believe that the divine persons of the Trinity share a common essence? On what possible basis is there to believe in a perpetual harmony between them?[lviii] Not only does DeWeese’ model undo Chalcedon but it undoes Nicea and the entire fabric of the Trinitarian faith. Here we are presented with a revival of the Tri-theism of the extreme Monophysite John Philoponus, who even the Copts had the good sense to reject.[lix] [lx]
XIII. Apollinarian Legerdemain
DeWeese’s Monothelite account is, as should be clear by now, fundamentally Apollinarian, as is William Lane Craig’s and J.P. Moreland’s account. For Apollinarius was, as Maximus and other sources indicate, the father of the doctrine of one will in Christ which was condemned by Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon and every Protestant confession of faith. Here I want to take some space to point out some Christological inconsistencies and problems with DeWeese’s account.
Recall that some of the motivating material for DeWeese’s model (and Craig’s as well) was that if Christ has a human will, then that will would constitute a second person in Christ, implying a form of Nestorianism. The same goes for positing in Christ a human soul. Furthermore, recall that for DeWeese the soul is not so much something someone has, but rather something someone is. The soul or consciousness just is the person. Now take a look at two texts from DeWeese.
“Possessing a typical human consciousness, Jesus had to struggle against fear, weakness and temptation in order to align his will with that of his heavenly Father.”[lxi]
“But a defender of the contemporary model would simply deny that a soul is something a person has; rather, a soul is what a person is. In another context Robert Saucy (who himself defends a dyothelite model) writes that “soul in its most comprehensive sense stands for the entire person— the human being is a living soul.” The contemporary model understands soul in this sense, so Christ did indeed “have” a fully human soul simply because he was fully— though not merely— a complete human person.”[lxii]
If on DeWeese’s model consciousness just is the person, how then does his view not imply a second person in Christ? The same goes for his saying that Jesus had a human soul. Why don’t the functional human properties constitute a second human person? Remember, a “typical human consciousness” on DeWeese’s account just is a human person all on its own. Moreover, this is exactly how DeWeese glosses personhood at the beginning of his article, namely a collection of properties. If those properties are sufficient for human personhood, then why aren’t they sufficient for a second human person in Christ? If a body-soul unity is sufficient for human personhood, then why doesn’t the union of the Logos with the flesh of Christ produce a second human subject? That is after all essentially the same argument that DeWeese deployed against Scotus and other Medievals. The most apparent way to preclude that outcome would be an appeal to negative properties, that is, a substance can’t be a part of or had by something else. But that option is rejected by DeWeese. If they are not sufficient for a second subject, then it seems as if DeWeese’s original argument against Medieval models collapses.
But DeWeese’s view seems to be in even more trouble. This is because on DeWeese’ view the “soul” of Christ is a kind of modulation of divinity itself.[lxiii] The relevant human-making properties are a kind of restricted or partitioned divinity. So, we are left with a view that posits a fundamental alteration in the divine person of God the Word himself into a kind of divine-human hypostatic hybrid. And then we are at the doorstep of Monophysitism or Arianism. Either Christ qua hypostasis is a divine-human tertium quid, some new third thing, or Christ has been made less than fully divine qua person.[lxiv]
Nor will following the path of Craig and Moreland help. On their view Christ constructs a human consciousness or self that is apparently controlled by the divine “subliminal” self. [lxv] The same problem reappears. Why doesn’t this human consciousness constitute a second subject in Christ? Not only that, but the model is just another version of the Nestorianism that we saw above, namely where a divine subject uses a human subject as a manifestation. If though there is no extrinsic instrumentalization of the human consciousness by the divine, so that the human consciousness just is the consciousness of God, then Christ must be less than fully God and so Arianism once again. The only other option for DeWeese and company is to say that the human consciousness of Christ is not a second person because it is merely like human consciousness so that it can’t be considered a distinct human self.
This brings to the forefront the more fundamental problem with this kind of model, which is that it is fundamentally Docetistic. What it offers is not really an incarnation at all, but a kind of theophany or divine manifestation. Christ simply creates and manifests properties that mimic human properties rather than uniting himself to humanity from the Virgin’s womb. In this way DeWeese’ view construes the humanity of Christ as a kind of divine projection rather than the Christian view of an assumption of human nature. I am sure DeWeese and company will protest this and assert rather that they take those properties to be truly human making properties. Even if they could make good on that claim, the problem remains which is that these properties are projections and constitute nothing more than a kind of theophany. But there are reasons why I don’t think they can make good on the claim.
On the Christian model, Christ assumes and has a genuine human soul or life. This soul exists just as ours does, united to his divine person as it were. Because it is a genuine human soul it has a contingent existence just as ours does and so is under genuine threat in the face of death. The same can be said for the human body which he takes from the substance of the Virgin. But on Craig’s account because the soul of Christ just is the soul that is the divine Word, there is no genuine contingency with respect to Christ’s humanity on their gloss, at least not to what they wish to say is his “human” soul. No amount of self-limitation to produce those human-like properties will grant to them genuine contingent existence, which is just to say that Christ is not consubstantial with humanity since he lacks its defining feature at the level of that proposed human nature.
A Batman analogy might help. In the Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne is captured by Bane and placed in a prison underground which has a very large escape hole at the end of a long vertical tunnel. Many have tried to climb and make the final leap which will grant them freedom, but none can make the jump. Wayne is then counselled by one of the elderly inmates, that he cannot make the jump because he lacks the most powerful human impulse, the fear of death. Only by making the jump without the safety net of the rope can Wayne regain the fear of death and “jump farther than possible” and escape.
On the model that DeWeese and company offer, it is difficult to see how the divine person of Christ can have a genuine human fear of death when what is psychologically produced is the product of a covert subliminal controller. It is merely mimicking fear. After all, the subliminal self of the Divine Word isn’t afraid but only the human consciousness. And if the fear is just mimicry then neither are any other of the supposed human personal properties anything more than mimicking human existence. They are merely an appearance of humanity without actually constituting genuine human existence. This is why the view proffered by DeWeese, Craig and Moreland is Theophanic and Docetistic. It is not a model of the incarnation at all.
In sum, either the human properties are sufficient to constitute a second person or Christ isn’t fully human. On either option DeWeese view ends up in a denial of the Incarnation. It does so because it is built on a set of assumptions that only permit a specific range of possibilities-Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism or Arianism and all of those options run afoul of a distinction between person and nature.
XIV. More Sola Nothing
Lastly, after having evaluated DeWeese’s position and arguments I discuss two formal issues concerning DeWeese’ article. The first is DeWeese’s appeal to Scripture over and against the decisions of church councils. The second is the methodology that DeWeese employs. But first a consideration of an appeal to Sola Scriptura.
Craig and Moreland make a similar appeal to scripture over against the councils of the church.[lxvi] I note that with their appeal, they actually do not provide or reference a scriptural argument anywhere. As far as DeWeese goes, he himself remarks,
“The point is this: while most Evangelicals should and do regard the deliverances of the ecumenical councils as weighty in defining the orthodox faith, they would agree that the councils cannot be accepted uncritically but must themselves be judged by the authority of Scripture.”[lxvii]
Now, suffice it to say, that I am not Protestant so I simply reject his appeal to Protestant distinctives, specifically Sola Scriptura. I’ve provided reasons why that doctrine is false elsewhere.[lxviii] That said, even on Protestant principles, DeWeese’ remarks don’t help him. Here is why.
First, DeWeese would need to either actually provide a scriptural argument for the truth of his view or the falsity of Dyothelitism on the one hand, or he would need to provide a reference to that exegetical and interpretative argument(s). Craig and Moreland never provide a reference either nor even attempt to do that work and DeWeese is no different. The lesson is simple. If you are going to appeal to scripture over against the unanimous judgement of the church across time, then you actually have to make that appeal and so make a case. Just waving the term scripture around does no work. Consequently, there is no actual appeal to scripture on the table.
The only attempted case that DeWeese makes in favor of Monothelitism is a philosophical case. And as I think has been made clear from the above material, that case was made in near complete ignorance of the historical theology. DeWeese, along with Craig and Moreland, are completely unable to present an accurate picture of the position that they are criticizing. All they offer are caricatures and strawmen that anyone who had spent some time in either the primary or secondary literature on this question would quickly recognize as such. And this is for the simple reason that they never interact with the primary or secondary literature on this question to any meaningful degree or at all.
Moreover, pointing to other cases, as DeWeese does, where other Protestants have provided a case for rejecting other theological points upheld by ecumenical councils does no work in support of DeWeese’s position. All it does is open the space for Protestants to evaluate a case DeWeese or someone else makes. But in nearly twenty years of advocating for this view, none of the dissenters either construct or point to such a case.
And of course, DeWeese in construing the matter as Protestant judgment against that of ecumenical councils misses some relevant points. His monothelite dissent, along with Craig and Moreland, isn’t just contrary to ecumenical councils, but it is also contrary to all of the classical Reformation confessions of faith. All of them either explicitly or implicitly affirm Dyothelitism and do so in their representative theologians who exposit those confessions. In this way, their dissent doesn’t have the formal home in Protestantism that his remarks seem to imply.
Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean that you get to make an appeal to scripture and then you’re done. The way it is supposed to work historically is that you submit a case to the church authorities that you are under as secondary authorities, and then they render a judgment as to its acceptability. It is only after that on Sola Scriptura, should they reject it, that one is licensed to circumvent them by another appeal to scripture. But the way that DeWeese, Craig and Moreland behave as if they can simply say they appeal to scripture and that renders their view acceptable, just because they say so. Apart from any criticisms of Sola Scripture per se, if this isn’t Lone Ranger Christianity, I am not sure what else could be. The long and short of it is, this is not a Protestant/Catholic issue. This is Christian/Non-Christian issue.
XV. On Methods and Madness
But how did DeWeese, Craig and Moreland get here? They are after all, educated men. They all have earned doctorates in relevant fields, Craig with two of them no less. How is it that they have managed to foul up this badly? I have been asking myself this question for twenty years ever since I first came across their views. As to the actual course of events, I can offer no explanation.
But as to their methodology or rather lack thereof, that seems very clear. If you look at the sources they employ, you’ll notice that a good number of the sources are systematic theologies. There is nothing wrong with using systematic theologies in such cases, but such texts are written usually by generalists and not by people who have a specialization in a specific area. Even if they are, they don’t have competence in every area. That is fine as far as it goes. They are by and large writing summary accounts. Systematics are often a place to start, but they are hardly the last word on a given topic.
The next set of sources are writers who do work in Christology, and that is as it should be. But none of the sources employed have any special competence in the Dyothelite-Monothelite controversy, let alone the history of Apollinarianism. What is more, the majority of sources cited are somewhat hostile to any coherence claim regarding the Christian position, that is, Dyothelitism. The sympathetic sources tend to be philosophers trying to explicate the incarnation in general, such as the case with Morris’ in his work The Logic of God Incarnate. Being familiar with the literature on this question, reading DeWeese piece, I get the feeling that there is some cherry picking and deck stacking going on. Reading Craig and Moreland’s work gives me the same impression.
It is not that there wasn’t sufficient literature on this question by specialists. There was prior to DeWeese’ piece for example Bathrellos work, The Byzantine Christ, which came out a number of years prior to his article which handles practically all of the objections he makes in one way or another. And that work was published by Oxford University Press, a publisher of no small repute. There are plenty of other works long prior as well, both in terms of books as well as numerous articles in professional journals, some of which I have used here, all published sufficiently prior to DeWeese’ article and Craig and Moreland’s book. And yet, none of that literature ever shows up in a single reference in nearly twenty years. The same goes for the primary sources which DeWeese, Craig and Moreland spend practically zero time discussing, evaluating, or analyzing.
Now I am certainly not the brightest bulb, but I had no trouble as a graduate student using the Philosophers’ Index and other databases at my university library finding such literature. Even after being out of the university for many years, it is not that hard to find this literature. Granted I am of the original Atari generation, but Google Scholar and Academia.edu are not that difficult to use. Why is it that men who are paid to do such research either can’t find such works or can’t be bothered to read them prior to passing judgment on core Christian teaching and that for nearly twenty years? Honestly, I am quite baffled. And it is quite embarrassing.
That said, given that they did not lack the requisite education, the opportunity and the means to know better and that they chose not to, I can’t see how they are not blameworthy of promoting heterodoxy to an unsuspecting body of laity. And make no mistake, their views have been and are now being spread even further by others.
This is not to say that they can’t do the requisite work now. They could write a tome revising Christology providing exegetical arguments, survey and analyses of historical theology and biblical theology and so forth. That would be a welcome change from simplistic strawmen and an utter lack of engagement with the literature. But that is the kind of work that they should have done twenty years ago and the fact is that they know it.
Now to be fair to Biola University, I do not wish to paint the matter as if the entire faculty promotes or finds such heretical christologies acceptable. There are cases where a faculty member has noted the heterodoxy of such positions in print. Take John McKinley in his work, Tempted for Us: Theological Models and the Practical Relevance of Christ’s Impeccability and Temptation. [lxix] He remarks, contextually apparently in reference to DeWeese, Craig, et al,
“Despite the long tradition against this teaching, a few contemporary Christologists and philosophers favor Monothelitism. I had earlier been persuaded of a reconfigured form of Monothelitism for a brief time until my first teacher, Robert L. Saucy, helped me reverse from heterodoxy.”[lxx]
Somewhat muted as it is, McKinley does call such a view “heterodoxy” plain and simple and he is right to do so. In the context it isn’t difficult to see who he has in mind either. Yet the rest of Biola faculty and administration seem just fine with faculty, both past and present, publishing and publicly promoting, as DeWeese, Craig and Moreland do, flat out Christological heresy, and that is heresy by pretty much any Christian tradition, including their own. The irony for my part is that Biola discriminates against Orthodox and Catholics in hiring and their students aren’t always treated with respect if they happen to be of those persuasions either. But Biola does not discriminate in hiring against high profile debaters and philosophers who openly teach Christological heterodoxy.
A number of years ago, Biola commissioned a task force to investigate whether Orthodoxy was compatible with Evangelicalism Protestantism.[lxxi] I can’t imagine just how shocked they were to find out that they weren’t compatible on soteriological issues. That said, the administrative judgement came down that they would no longer permit the hiring of non-Protestants. They are a private institution and I support their political right to act in this manner, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is that you are, as a faculty member, free to deny core Christian teachings such as the Incarnation and the Trinity with impunity, but you are not free to deny Protestant distinctives. If that strikes you as counter intuitive, it should. Of course, it may turn out that Protestant soteriological distinctives do not depend on Christian teaching on the Trinity and Incarnation and I would not be shocked to find that out.
That said, no one should be persuaded by what DeWeese, Craig and Moreland have offered. And this is for the simple reason that as yet, they have not offered any argument to reject the Christian teaching that Christ has two wills and a human soul.
[i] Sorabji, Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence, Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.
[ii] Harry Wolfson writes, “On the whole, it is not historically correct to arrange the Fathers into groups, to dress them in the uniform of the Academy of the Lyceum or the Porch, to make them march under the banner of Plato or of Aristotle or of the Stoics and sing the songs of those schools. The Fathers did not regard themselves as followers of the various schools of Greek thought. They did not think in terms of contrasts between different systems within philosophy; they thought only in terms of a contrast between Scripture and philosophy. Within philosophy itself there were to them only right doctrines, which were in agreement with the Scriptures, and wrong doctrines, which were in disagreement with Scripture, though on certain doctrines they found some philosophers were more often in agreement with Scripture than others. In battling each other, the Fathers did not battle as partisans of certain opposing interpretations of Scripture. Their opposing interpretations of Scripture, however, were sometimes influenced by philosophic considerations or supported by philosophic arguments, and in this way therefore, it happens that the Fathers are found occasionally to have aligned themselves with certain philosophic attitudes on certain particular problems.” Harry Wolfson, “Philosophical Implications of Arianism and Apollinarianism,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 12 (1958), p. 12-13.
[iii] Sorabji, Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence, Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.
[iv] Christopher Stead, Divine Substance, Oxford, 1977, p. 263.
[v] DeWeese takes the Chalcedonian language of consubstantiality with God and man to be evidence of this shift since the former is taken, he thinks, in a more Aristotelian sense of primary substance whereas the second is taken in a more generic or Platonic sense. But again, this is wrongheaded because that language and the generic sense goes back to Athanasius in the 350’s when he is writing de Sententia Dionysii. Stead, p. 264. That is long before any supposed such Aristotelian shift. And Stead makes clear that Athanasius’ usage is quite plastic.
[vi] J.T. Carter, The Apollinarian Christologies: A Study of the Writings of APollinarius of Laodicea, Hamely King Pub., 2011, p. 98.
[vii] Andrew Louth, St. John of Damascus: Tradition And Originality in Byzantine Theology, Oxford, 2002, p. 161.
[viii] Letter to Julian, Frag. 150.
[ix] To see this one has to think about it briefly. If persons are natures, then if Christ is one person then either he can only have one nature and hence Monophysitism or if he has two natures he must be two persons, hence Nestorianism. Likewise, if Christ is one person, he can only have one will. All of these views are just ways to shoehorn in Christianity into a Hellenistic mold.
[x] “…very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting…” https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.xiii.html
[xi] “For each “form” does the acts which belong to it, in communion with the other; the Word, that is, performing what belongs to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what belongs to the flesh; the one of these shines out in miracles, the other succumbs to injuries.” https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.vii.html
[xii] Cyril “Consider therefore how He though Himself letting go nought, nor yet suffering weakness in His own Nature, permitted His Flesh to go after its own laws, and this thing is said to be His, because His Body is His own. Hence the being weak according to the Flesh proved to us that He was Man, the not enduring death and scaring away decay from His own Body that He is God Who knows not to be weak: for He is the Life and Might of the Father. For that the weakness herein unwonted and unwilled by Him 4, He made voluntary in the good-pleasure of God the Father, to save all under Heaven, Himself will teach saying, For I have come down from Heaven, not to do Mine own Will but the Will of Him That sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day. Yet how, if the will of the Father be good, does the Son say that He has His own Will, a good one surely, and other than this?” Fifth Book Against Nestorius, http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/cyril_against_nestorius_05_book5.htm
Cyril again “What then was this that Christ both, willed and willed not 1? Dishonour from the Jews, revilings, insults, contumelies, scourgings, spitings, and yet more, false witnesses, and last of all, the death of the Body. These things for our sakes Christ willingly underwent, but if He could without suffering them have accomplished His Desire for us, He would not have willed to suffer. But since the Jews were surely and inevitably going to adventure the things done against Him, He accepts the Suffering, He makes what He willed not His Will, for the value sake of His Passion, God the Father agreeing with Him, and co-approving that He should readily undergo all things for the salvation of all. Herein specially do we see the boundless goodness of the Divine Nature, in that It refuseth not to make that which is spurned, Its choice for our sakes. But that the suffering on the Cross was unwilled by our Saviour Christ, yet willed for our sakes and the Good Pleasure of God the Father, you will hence understand. For when He was about to ascend thereunto, He made His addresses to God, saying, that is, in the form of prayer, Father, if it be possible, let this Cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as THOU. For that in that He is God the Word, Immortal and Incorruptible, and Life Itself by Nature, He could not shudder at death, I think is most clear to all: yet made in Flesh He suffers the Flesh to undergo things proper to it, and permits it to shudder at death when now at its doors, that He may be shewn to be in truth Man; therefore He says, If it be possible, let this Cup pass from Me. If it may be (He says) Father, that I, without suffering death, may gain life for them that have fallen thereinto if death may die without My dying, in the Flesh that is, let this cup (He says) pass from Me; but since it will not take place (He says) otherwise, not as I will, but as THOU. Thou seest how powerless human nature is found, even in Christ Himself, as far as it is concerned: but it is brought |385 back through the Word united with it unto God-befitting undauntedness and is re-trained to noble purpose, so as not to commit itself to what seems good to its own will, but rather to follow the Divine Aim, and readily to run to whatever the Law of its Creator calls us. That we say these things truly, you may learn from that too which is subjoined, For the spirit indeed (He saith) is willing, but the flesh is weak. For Christ was not ignorant that it is very far beneath God-befitting Dignity, to seem to be overcome by death, and to feel the dread of it: therefore He subjoined to what He had said the strongest defence, saying that the flesh was weak, by reason of what befits it and belongs to it by nature; but that the spirit was willing, knowing that it suffered nought that could harm. Seest thou how death was unwilled by Christ, by reason of the Flesh, and the inglory of suffering: yet willed, until He should have brought unto its destined consummation for the whole world the Good Pleasure of the Father, that is, the salvation and life of all?” Commentary on the Gospel of John, Ch. 6:39, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/cyril_on_john_04_book4.htm
Gregory of Nyssa “Since in Christ the human intention is one thing and the divine another, he who speaks first does so as a human, saying what is appropriate to the weakness of human nature, as one who has made our sufferings his own: he then adds further words because, for the sake of the salvation of mankind, he wishes that sublime will that is worthy of God to be fulfilled, rather than his human will. When he says ‘not my will,’ by his words he is referring to his human nature. But when he adds, ‘your will,’ he indicates the unity of his own divinity with the Father.” Against Apollinarius, sec. 19.
[xiii] Apollinarius “Nor were they able to see this, even though it is obvious to all, that the divine mind is self moving and moved uniformly since immutable, but the human (mind) is self moving but not moved uniformly, since mutable, and that a mutable mind is not mixed with immutable Mind in the formation of one underlying being. For he, the underlying being would be at odds (with himself) torn apart by the opposing wills of which he consists. For this reason we ourselves confess one Christ and we worship, since he is one, one nature, will and energy, which saves by miracles and sufferings.” Letter to Julian, Frag. 151.
[xiv] “Even less is Christ divided into two natures. He is indeed one from two, from divinity and humanity, one person and hypostasis, the one nature of the Logos, became flesh and perfect human being. For this reason he also displays two wills in salvific suffering, the one which requests, the other which is prepared, the one human, the other divine.” Severus of Antioch, Liber contra impium Grammaticum, III., 33.
[xv] This was the point of including the following phrase “…but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ…” since it picked out the Logos as all and only the person of Christ. There was no way for the Nestorians to accept this phrasing at face value. See Paul B. Clayton, The Christology of Theodoret of Cyrus, Oxford, 2007.
[xvi] See Corey L. Barnes, Christ’s Two Wills in Scholastic Thought: The Christology of Aquinas and Its Historical Contexts, PIMS, 2015
[xvii] Such use of the term “rationalism” doesn’t make much sense anyway given that figures like Aquinas thought that sensation was the primary source for human knowledge. If the complaint is that they used reason in relation to theological topics, all I can say is that ignorance and stupidity doesn’t make one holy.
[xviii] ST 3a.2.3 ad. 2. “Reply to Objection 2: Hypostasis signifies a particular substance, not in every way, but as it is in its complement. Yet as it is in union with something more complete, it is not said to be a hypostasis, as a hand or a foot. So likewise the human nature in Christ, although it is a particular substance, nevertheless cannot be called a hypostasis or suppositum, seeing that it is in union with a completed thing, viz. the whole Christ, as He is God and man. But the complete being with which it concurs is said to be a hypostasis or suppositum.”
[xix] “First, these distinctions would never have occurred to anybody who was not trying to account for the incarnation, so the account seems rather ad hoc, and philosophers dislike ad hoc-ishness.” P. 127
[xx] For a full discussion see Richard Cross, The Metaphysics of the Incarnation, Oxford, 2002, chapter 2. For a response to the kinds of criticisms that Cross makes to Aquinas’ account see James B. Reichmann, S.J., “Aquinas, Scotus, and The Christological Mystery: Why Christ is not a Human Person,” The Thomist, 71 (2007): 451-74.
[xxi] DeWeese, p. 138.
[xxii] A suppositum was that which bears properties. In general, it does double duty for the term substance or hypostasis, but not always. Hence the two terms cannot always be taken as semantic equivalents. It just depends on the particular author’s use.
[xxiii] It might be objected that DeWeese aims only at Scotistic and Ockhamistic models of the Incarnation and so my criticisms via Aquinas do not touch his main argument. As to what position the argument is aimed at I agree that it is in fact aimed at those models, but in terms of what DeWeese says, it isn’t. And it isn’t. And the reason it isn’t is because DeWeese lumps them all together to speak of “the medieval model.” (P. 125-126) And this is because he seems to think that all of the models that posit a suppositum are vulnerable to his criticism, in part because he thinks that they leave Christ’s humanity as a primary substance subordinated to the suppositum.
[xxiv] Here my account follows Richard Cross’ in his two works, Metaphysics of the Incarnation and Great Medieval Thinkers: Duns Scotus.
[xxvi] Quodlibetum, 19. n. 23.
[xxvii] Here Scotus’ worry seems to be with the compatibility of change and simplicity of the divine essence, which is why he wants to preclude alteration or change.
[xxviii] Ordinatio, 3. 11. 3, n. 5
[xxix] Quodlibetum, 19, n. 21.
[xxx] DeWeese,. p.137
[xxxii] For some reason he consistently refers to Dyothelitism as the “medieval model” when it finds its home in the like of Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Alexandria.
[xxxiii] “It is indeed both ridiculous and irreverent to ask what it feels like to be God incarnate.” Christ, the Christian and the Church, 1946, p. 37.
[xxxiv] Ivor Davidson, “Not My Will but Yours be Done: The Ontological Dynamics of Incarnational Intention,” International Journal of Systematic Theology, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2005, p. 200.
[xxxv] Fourth Theological Oration.
[xxxvi] DeWeese, p. 133
[xxxviii] Pauline Allen, Trans., Sophronius of Jerusalem and Seventh Century Heresy: The Synodal Letter and Other Documents, Oxford, 2009, p. 215.
[xxxix] Joseph Farrell, Trans. The Disputation with Pyrrhus of Our Father Among the Saints Maximus the Confessor, 1990, pp.16-17, sec. 32-33.
[xl] In other texts Maximus recognizes that Monothelitism originated with Arius and Apollinarius. See the Disputation with Pyrrhus, sec. 39.
[xli] Ibid, pp. 36, sec. 105.
[xlii] John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, 1989, p. 338. For how Monophysites like Severus held to gloss where the divine dominated the human see Cyril Hovorun, Will, Action and Freedom: Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century, Brill, 2008, pp. 15-25.
[xliii] See Hovorun, p. 126.
[xlv] Ivor Davidson, “‘Not My Will but Yours be Done’: The Ontological Dynamics of Incarnational Intention,” International Journal of Systematic Theology, Vol. 7, No. 2, April 2005, p. 195. See also Paul M. Blowers, Maximus the Confessor: Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration of the World, Oxford, 2016, p. 47, & Fancois-Marie Lethel, “The Prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane in the Monothelite Controversy,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 8, 2017 @ https://www.hprweb.com/2017/04/the-prayer-of-jesus-in-gethsemane-in-the-monothelite-controversy/
[xlvi] DeWeese, p. 150. Notice that this is just a quote and gloss that DeWeese supplies himself. It is not derived from or grounded in any patristic or conciliar source nor any contemporary source. He just says it as if we should just believe that this is how Dyothelites do or must understand the Passion narrative without any argument at all.
[xlvii] “Butter and honey shall he eat, before he knows either to prefer evil or choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know good or evil, he refuses evil, to choose the good.” Isaiah 7:15-16 LXX
[xlviii] Demetrios Bathrellos, The Byzantine Christ: Person, Nature and Will in the Christology of Maximus the Confessor, Oxford, 2004, p. 168. See also Davidson, “’Not My Will but Yours be Done,’” p. 198.
[xlix] Thomas Joseph White, O.P., “Dyothelitism and the Instrumental Consciousness of Jesus,” Pro Ecclesia Vol. XVII, No. 4, (2008), pp. 404-406.
[l] See Simon Francis Gaine, Will There Be Free Will In Heaven?, T & T Clark, 2003.
[li] Davidson, p. 185
[lii] DeWeese, p. 150.
[liii] Either it will be the case that human nature is at its best intrinsically evil and so naturally opposed to God, which runs contrary to the Christian doctrine of creation, or human nature in this desire is good and God is morally evil, which of course is also a non-starter.
[liv] Opusculum 7
[lv] DeWeese, p. 151.
[lvi] Maximus, Opusculum 6, in Blowers, Trans., On The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, SVS, 2003, pp. 173-176Bathrellos, pp. 146-147, Blowers, Maximus the Confessor: Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration of the World, p. 238-239, Thomas A. Watts, “Two Wills in Christ?: Contemporary Objections Considered in the Light of a Critical Exaamination of Maximus the Confessor’s Disputation with Pyrrhus,” Westminster Theological Journal, vol. 71, (2009), p. 465.
[lvii] DeWeese, pp. 149-150
[lviii] This same problem afflicts Tri-theists such as the Mormons as well as “Social Trinitarians.” They both claim that the divine persons always do and will in fact will the same things, but here we have a case where on their own principles, they don’t.
[lix] See Uwe Michael Lang, John Philoponus and the Controversies Over Chalcedon in the Sixth Century, Leuven-Peters, 2001.
[lx] For the subliminal model proffered by Craig and Moreland, William Hasker provides some significant objections. Essentially Hasker argues that on their view that there are actions that the other two persons of the Trinity know about, but that the Son cannot know about and cannot will in accordance with. Hasker writes, “So during the earthly life of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit perform actions of which the Son has no conscious knowledge and in which he does not concur or cooperate. Pretty clearly, this requires us to reject the unity of operation of the trinitarian persons which is axiomatic for the traditional, orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.” Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Ed., Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion Volume 8, Oxford Univ. Press, 2017, p. 125.
[lxi] DeWeese, p. 151.
[lxii] DeWeese, p. 149.
[lxiii] I am indebted to Alex Papulis for this term and thinking about the matter in terms of modulation.
[lxiv] Other problems crop up. For instance in support of substance dualism, one of their main arguments for it is that contradictory properties cannot be true of the same substance.
[lxv] “We postulate that the divine aspects of Jesus’ personality were largely subliminal during his state of humiliation. We suggest that what William James called the “subliminal self ”is the primary locus of the superhuman elements in the consciousness of the incarnate Logos. Thus Jesus possessed a normal human conscious experience. But the human consciousness of Jesus was underlain, as it were, by a divine subconsciousness. Moreland, J. P.; Craig, William Lane. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Kindle Locations 16763-16767). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition. See also “Neo-Apollinarianism and Mind/Body Dualism,” Weekly Q & A with Dr. William Lane Craig, — April 12, 2019 https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2019/neo-apollinarianism-and-mind-body-dualism
[lxvi] “So while I don’t like contradicting the decrees of an ecumenical Council, I think that the danger of falling into Nestorianism is far greater than the danger of falling into Monophysitism. I think we can coherently and biblically be Monothelites without being Monophysites.” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/monotheletism#ixzz4ulRoGdDF
[lxvii] DeWeese, p. 148.
[lxix] Paternoster, 2009.
[lxx] McKinley, p. 226, ftnt.24.