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Chapter XII.

A fuller account of the Errors of Photinus, Apollinaris and Nestorius.

[32.] Here, possibly, I may be asked for some account of the above mentioned heresies; those, namely, of Nestorius, Apollinaris, and Photinus. This, indeed, does not belong to the matter in hand: for our object is not to enlarge upon the errors of individuals, but to produce instances of a few, in whom the applicability of Moses’ words may be evidently and clearly seen; that is to say, that if at any time some Master in the Church, himself also a prophet in interpreting the mysteries of the prophets, should attempt to introduce some novel doctrine into the Church of God, Divine Providence permits this to happen in order to try us. It will be useful, therefore, by way of digression, to give a brief account of the opinions of the above-named heretics, Photinus, Apollinaris, Nestorius.

[33.] The heresy of Photinus, then, is as follows: He says that God is singular and sole, and is to be regarded as the Jews regarded Him. He denies the completeness of the Trinity, and does not believe that there is any Person of God the Word, or any Person of the Holy Ghost. Christ he affirms to be a mere man, whose original was from Mary. Hence he insists with the utmost obstinacy that we are to render worship only to the Person of God the Father, and that we are to honour Christ as man only. This is the doctrine of Photinus.

[34.] Apollinaris, affecting to agree with the Church as to the unity of the Trinity, though p. 140 not this even with entire soundness of belief, 466 as to the Incarnation of the Lord, blasphemes openly. For he says that the flesh of our Saviour was either altogether devoid of a human soul, or, at all events, was devoid of a rational soul. Moreover, he says that this same flesh of the Lord was not received from the flesh of the holy Virgin Mary, but came down from heaven into the Virgin; and, ever wavering and undecided, he preaches one while that it was co-eternal with God the Word, another that it was made of the divine nature of the Word. For, denying that there are two substances in Christ, one divine, the other human, one from the Father, the other from his mother, he holds that the very nature of the Word was divided, as though one part of it remained in God, the other was converted into flesh: so that whereas the truth says that of two substances there is one Christ, he affirms, contrary to the truth, that of the one divinity of Christ there are become two substances. This, then, is the doctrine of Apollinaris.

[35.] Nestorius, whose disease is of an opposite kind, while pretending that he holds two distinct substances in Christ, brings in of a sudden two Persons, and with unheard of wickedness would have two sons of God, two Christs,—one, God, the other, man, one, begotten of his Father, the other, born of his mother. For which reason he maintains that Saint Mary ought to be called, not Theotocos (the mother of God), but Christotocos (the mother of Christ), seeing that she gave birth not to the Christ who is God, but to the Christ who is man. But if any one supposes that in his writings he speaks of one Christ, and preaches one Person of Christ, let him not lightly credit it. For either this is a crafty device, that by means of good he may the more easily persuade evil, according to that of the apostle, “That which is good was made death to me,” 467 —either, I say, he craftily affects in some places in his writings to believe one Christ and one Person of Christ, or else he says that after the Virgin had brought forth, the two Persons were united into one Christ, though at the time of her conception or parturition, and for some short time afterwards, there were two Christs; so that forsooth, though Christ was born at first an ordinary man and nothing more, and not as yet associated in unity of Person with the Word of God, yet afterwards the Person of the Word assuming descended upon Him; and though now the Person assumed remains in the glory of God, yet once there would seem to have been no difference between Him and all other men.



“Et hoc ipsum non plena fidei sanitate.”—The Cambridge Ed., 1687, with Baluzius’s notes appended, reads, “et hoc ipsum plena fidei sanctitate.”


Rom. vii. 13.

Next: Chapter XIII. The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation explained.