Untitled Sermon (2)
In the fourth century A.D. Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, began to propagate the view that Jesus though the Son of God, could not be co-eternal with His Father and that He must be regarded as external to the divine essence and only a creature. Arius held that Christ was not true God. Our text calls Christ, “the Word,” making Him a Person in the Trinity. Arianism could be classified as the progenitor of modern Unitarianism.
In the fourth century, Apollinaris, bishop of Laodicea in Syria, wrote against Arianism and other heresies. Zealously wishing to maintain the true error of denying Christ’s full humanity, he declared that Christ had a human body but did not possess a human spirit. The complete true proper humanity of Jesus was thus denied.
In the fifth century, Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, taught that Christ was both God and man, but that the Godhead was one Person, the manhood another. Instead of a union of two natures with distinction, Nestorians taught that there were two persons.
In this same era lived Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, who was a zealous foe of Nestorianism: yet he proposed another strange theory concerning the nature of our Lord. The Christological view of Eutyches was that the human nature of Christ is absorbed into the divine; yet Eutychianism holds firmly to one nature, the divine in Christ. This made the humanity of Christ a mere accident of the immovable divine substance.
The early church met these heretics with four adverbs which briefly and conveniently defined the two natures in Christ’s Person. They said that when “the Word was made flesh” the divine and the human natures were united “truly”, to oppose the Arians; “perfectly,” to oppose the Apollinarians; “undividedly,” to oppose the Nestorians; and “unmixedly,” to oppose the Eutychians.
—Thomas G. Lawrence