Sunday, June 27, 2010

St. Cyril of Alexandria: Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople III

Today is the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria. Cyril did the great thing of insisting on the ontological reality of the Person of Jesus Christ as Son of God. He effectively distinguished between person and nature as objects of concepts. His theology was the key to the “almost” definitive theology of Chalcedon which proclaimed formally that in Christ there is one Person and two natures: divine and human.

But he failed to explain how the human will in Christ could be the will of God and still free with the freedom of choice. The fathers of Chalcedon took all of the thought of Cyril but without answering that conundrum. 230 years of theological and political confusion followed. The reigning heresy that emerged was the reduction of the will of Christ to only one will, not two. This was obviously problematic since it would mean that Christ was not fully God and man, and therefore the full freight of humanity would not have been assumed by the Word, and therefore, not redeemed. The one willed heresy of Christ was “monothelitism.”

Benedict XVI wrote on 6/25/2008: “St. Maximus understood immediately that this would have destroyed the mystery of salvation, because a humanity without will – a man without a will – is not a true man, but rather an amputated man. Therefore, the man Jesus Christ would not have been a true man, would not have experienced the drama of the human being, which consists precisely in the difficulty of conforming our will with the truth of being….

Sacred Scripture does not show us an amputated man, without a will, but a true complete man: God, in Jesus Christ, has truly assumed the totality of the human being – obviously except for sin - hence also, a human will.”

Maximus saw that human freedom does not consist in the choice to say No to the will of the Father. “The greatest liberty is to say ‘yes,’ to conform with the will of God. Only in saying ‘yes’ does man really become himself. Only in the great opening of the ‘yes,’ in the unification of his will with the divine will, does man become immensely open, he becomes ‘divine.’”

Maximus saw that it is not the will that wills, but the person that wills. Hence, the divine Person wills with a divine will, and with a human will. But it is He who wills with two ontological distinct wills (created and uncreated). Therefore, they are one personal will.

Again, the key is understanding the Person to be a subject, a single “I” who emotes as “yes” to the Father rendering both wills to be one.

This is a real development of doctrine that is the completion of the doctrine of Chalcedon that left us with the parallelism of the two natures, the two wills, and with that, the dualism of supernatural/natural, grace/nature, faith/reason, Church/State, minister/layfaithful, etc. The solution to those problem/mysteries that haunt us today is in the completion of Cyril by Maximus. Read further….

No comments: