ADOPTIANISM AND THE COUNCIL OF FRANKFORT, A.D. 794.
Few phenomena in the history of dogmas have been so variously judged, or present greater difficulties, than Adoptianism. By contemporaries, it was identified with principles commonly held to be Nestorian; by those who followed after, and who were capable of discriminating Nestorianism in its actual historical form from the vulgar notions of Nestorianism, it was at all events mixed up therewith. Others, especially Walch,* consider the difference between it and the orthodox doctrine to have consisted more in form than in substance; or regard it as a logical following out of principles sanctioned by the Church, by which the inner inconsistencies of the orthodox system had been irresistibly dragged into the light. Others, again, look on the controversy more in the light of a first exercise of subtlety and ingenuity on the part of the awakening intellect of the barbarian nations.
At the very outset, it must be assumed to be utterly improbable, that so important a contest should have been a mere revival of long-forgotten disputes. The most eminent men in the Church of that period measured weapons with each other in connection with this question. On the one side was ranged by far the larger portion of the Spanish Church, with its head Elipantus, Archbishop of Toledo, who took his stand on old traditions, and with Felix of Urgellis, who was the chief representative of Adoptianism, and exhibited unusual acuteness, culture, and acquaintance with the writings of the Fathers. On the other side we find Alcuin, teacher and friend of Charlemagne; the Asturian Bishops, Beatus and Etherius; Paulinus of Aquileia, Agobard of Lyons; with all the men from the German, Frankish, Italian, and British Churches, who had occupied themselves with this matter at the Councils of Ratisbon (in the year 792), Frankfort, Rome (in 799), and
* Ch. W. F. Walch, author of the "Entwurf einer vollstand. Historic der Ketzereien," and other works on Church History, published during the last century.—Te.
Alx-la-Chapelle (in 800). There is unquestionably a resemblance between Adoptianism and some earlier phenomena,— especially between it and the actual historical form of Nestorianism. Nor, certainly, did the keen attention devoted by the Church, not merely to Nestorius, but also to Theodore of Mopsuestia, in the Three-Chapter Controversy, and especially at the Council held in the year 553, fail to help on the revival of the ideas of the school of Antioch. The spirit of persecution did not shrink from uttering its anathemas even over the ashes and works of men who had died at peace with the Church; and the consequence thereof was, that many of their thoughts were scattered like seed far and wide, and, falling into fit soil, brought forth appropriate fruit. This was especially the case with such districts as North Africa and Spain, which were farther removed from the influence and authority of the Byzantine Court than others. But Adoptianism must not, on this ground, be regarded as a kind of straggler, which had lagged behind in some remote part of the advancing host of the Church. It was neither an unvanquished remainder of the ancient Nestorianism, nor an old heresy revived by those who were ignorant of what had gone before. We know enough of the Spanish Church to be able to affirm that it did not constitute a Western counterpart to the Christians of Chaldaca, but stood in active intercourse with the rest of the West, and with North Africa; and that, notwithstanding all its peculiarities, and the independence of its spirit, it fostered a continuous fellowship with the Romish Church. We know also that, in its numerous Councils, particularly in that of Toledo, it displayed a theological and dogmatical life, which favourably distinguished it during the seventh and eighth centuries; and that, in the course of many external and internal struggles, it succeeded in developing a kind of established national character, principally under the leadership of the Archbishops of Toledo. The main point, however, is, that notwithstanding the similarity between the mental tendencies at work in it and Nestorianism, Adoptianism had a peculiar distinctive character, and that in virtue thereof it brought its influence to bear on the problem in the precise form in which it was presented in the eighth century, but not as it was presented at the time of Nestorius. If we can succeed in showing this to have been the case, no further proof will be needed that it was not a mere production of ingenious subtlety.
Nor, on the other hand, can Adoptianism be explained merely from the opposition raised to remaining Arian or Sabellian elements; or from the controversy with the Bonosians in one direction, and that with Migetius in another.1 We cannot, of course, deny that even the school of Antioch endeavoured to forefend Arian explanations of Scripture, by distinguishing more carefully between the divine and human aspects of the Person of Christ, and by referring the lower predicates to the latter, in order to keep them away from the Son of God. Besides this, neither the opposition raised by them to Arianism, nor that to an Ebionitic view like that of Bonosus, furnished a sufficiently urgent reason for applying the predicate vto? der6<; to the humanity of Christ: they must rather have been influenced by a positive interest in the accurate determination of their own view.
The long-continued struggles with the Arianism of the West Goths in Spain, unquestionably prepared the way, to a certain extent, for this new controversy. Still more did the sects of the Priscillians and the Sabellians (to the latter sect Migetius belonged, who appears to have been controverted and refuted by Elipantus about the year 780), as also Monophysitism, which for a long period had been diffusing itself from Africa throughout Spain, loudly call upon the Church to guard against the reduction of the humanity of Christ to the position of the mere organ of a theophany, and against attributing passibility and mutability to the divine nature. In opposition to Monophysitism, the Spaniards avowed themselves at the Eleventh and Fourteenth Councils of Toledo Triphysites; they also raised their voice against Monotheletism. During this latter controversy the Spanish Church evidently accustomed itself, in antagonism to every species of commixture, to give prominence to the distinctions in the Person of Christ. Indeed, we find even as early as the end of the sixth century that a doctrine of the Trinity was formed in a similar spirit; and that, even relatively to that point, the Synod of Toledo took the lead
1 Bonosus of Sardica, about the year 890, regarded Christ as a mere dopted man. Migetius taught that the Logos became a person in Jesus, he Holy Ghost in Paul, and the Father in David.
of the movement In the Church. In addition to these negative occasions of the rise of Adoptianism, some positive causes may also be adduced: for example, the numerous remaining adherents of the school of Antioch, particularly in North Africa, which had probably acquired strength in the course of their conflicts with the Arianism of the barbarian peoples, and from the countenance afforded them by the Dyotheletic North African Synods previously mentioned. We may no less probably assume that the amalgamation which took place between the early Christian population of Spain and the arianizing Germanic tribes, gave rise to a culture which, even theologically, attached great importance both to precision of thought, and to the idea of the free personality of man.
All these are elements which must be taken into consideration in accounting for the rise of Adoptianism. But how these negative and positive factors came to produce the Christological result presented to us in Adoptianism, can only be completely understood, when we call to mind what stage the dogma of the Person of Christ had reached, prior to its appearance. Adoptianism was not one of those phenomena of Church History which might as easily have made its appearance earlier than it actually did; nor was it a mere repristination of Nestorianism; but it presupposed the problem of Christology to be in that precise position which we have found it then occupying in the Greek Church. The negative and positive factors just alluded to fitted into the Christological results previously arrived at, and relatively to which the Spanish Church had by no means remained ignorant or indifferent. Accordingly, when the problem, in the form in which it presented itself to the mind of the Church after the Dyotheletic Synod of the year 680, was brought into contact with the factors embraced by the Spanish Church, the result was Adoptianism.
Adoptianism, we say, is decidedly discriminated from Nestorianism. Adoptianists made no objection, for example, to the term deoroKos; but against the doctrine of the duality of the persons they decidedly protested, not merely as an afterthought, but from the very commencement. Again, from the very, beginning they taught that the Logos assumed humanity; but not that Christ owed His exaltation to His virtue, as the Nestorians, and especially Theodore of Mopsuestia, had held. On this latter subject their language more resembled that which the Church itself might have employed, so long as the state of exaltation had not yet been completely imported into that of humiliation, but a progress from the latter to the former continued to be recognised.1 The vio? der6<; of the Antiocheians was undoubtedly also an adopted Son, but this idea did not form the central feature of their system; and they regarded, at all events more strongly than the Adoptianists, the attainment of this rank as the reward of moral desert. As far as concerned Christology, the Nestorians occupied themselves with the sphere of the natures, and only secondarily, nay, even unwillingly, with that of the personality; being in so far opposed to the Monophysites. The Adoptianists, on the other hand, who were not under the necessity of fighting the battle of the duality of the wills and natures for themselves, but found them already recognised by the Church, occupied themselves with the sphere of the personality, whose unity had hitherto been rather taken for granted than made the object of a definite conception. It is worthy of note, moreover, that, as might be anticipated from the character of the peoples which took part in the Adoptianistic Controversy, the term "Person " was now, for the first time, understood to denote the " Ego." Previously, as is clear from the view taken of the inroaraais by John of Damascus, "persona" had denoted predominantly the constitutive principle of existence; or even the avfifiefiriiev;, the accident of the genus, of the common substance; or the existence of the substance in particularity, the particular mode of the existence of the substance. Owing to the vacillation between different views, the Greek writers on Christology were brought, as we have seen, into very great confusion.2 *
Adoptianists took their stand, consequently, on the previous decisions in favour of two natures and two wills. But at the same time they maintained that, logically, this duality
1 Compare Alcuiniopp., ed. Frobenius, 1777, c. Felic. L. iv. 5, p. 823, v. 1, 2, i. 15; compare Paulini Aq. L. iii., c. FeKc. Yen. 1734. Agobard. adv. dogma Felic.
2_ Especially as that was obliged to be in great part retracted in connection with the Trinity which had been posited in connection with Christology:—for example, that the hypostasis is merely a avfi/Seprixi; of the
* See Note L. App. ii.
ought to be recognised in a sphere which the controversy had not yet touched—in the sphere, namely, of the personality. Not that they had any intention of maintaining the existence of two Egos in Christ,—they were farther therefrom than Theodore of Mopsnestia himself,—but they tried to conceive the one and same Ego, as pertaining in common to both natures, as that which raised both natures to personality, thus perfecting and fulfilling their idea. In this respect, therefore, Adoptianism was unquestionably the genuine continuation of the course entered upon by the Church when it gave its sanction to Dyophysitism and Dyotheletism,—the course, namely, of refusing to allow anything belonging to the general human nature of Christ to be taken away. They aimed, as it were, at gathering in the harvest of the previous development, and applying it for the behoof of the personality. The "unity of the person," nay, even its undiscriminated unity, had hitherto been presupposed: the chief expression for it was, "the Son." The Son denoted the personality; it expressed the unity of the hypostasis; nay more, it was the protection of the unity against the dismemberment threatened by the duality of the natures. For infinitely and essentially different as are the natures, and, therefore, also the wills, they consoled themselves with the thought,—the Son, to whom pertain the two natures, is one,—He is the Son of God and the Son of man. The dream of having thus sheltered and secured the unity was disturbed by Adoptianism in a no very gentle manner; but yet it made so deep an impression, that from this controversy dated a retrogressive movement in Christology, which substantially paralyzed Dyophysitism and Dyotheletism ever more and more. With the re-assertion of the impersonality of the human nature, Cyrill rose again on the horizon of the Church; and the view (which at that earlier period had been with difficulty turned aside) of the incarnation as the miracle by which the divine was substituted for the human substance, leaving to the latter merely its accidents, began at this time to show itself, at all events, in connection with the holy Eucharist, instead of in connection with Christology, the free treatment of which was now no longer allowed by the ancient "Canones" relating thereto. Adoptianism thus constitutes a dividing line in the development of Christology. The tendency towards the assertion of the duality, and towards the development of its logical consequences, which had hitherto manifested itself afresh, after every struggle, however severe, came to a climax in the Adoptianists, but was also brought to a decisive crisis by their victorious opponents. The first act of the German Councils, imperfect and bungling as it may be considered, was to turn Christological inquiry into a course the opposite of that which it had hitherto pursued,—a course which, consistently followed out, would have led back to the position occupied prior to the Council of Chalcedon.
That the true Son of God, who is of the substance of the Father, was born, and assumed humanity in Christ, no one doubted.1 But Felix starts from the position, that if two natures, with two wills, were really combined in Christ, so that He was a Double Being, "geminae substantiae gigas," it is impossible again so to discuss the unity of His person as to overlook the distinction of the natures; that is, in reality, to treat Christ any longer as though He were one nature, and not two. And yet this is done when not merely the divine nature of Christ, but Christ Himself, is designated in the strict sense (proprie) Son of God, or the proper (proprium) and natural (naturalem) Son of God; for that is to allot the Ego to the divine nature alone, and to deny it to be also the actual crown of the human nature. This latter cannot, any more than the divine nature, be a mere thing. The human nature may not be conceived as absorbed by the divine; for it must be a son, that is, the Son of man, even as the divine nature is the Son of God in virtue of its possessing the very same Ego. Against giving the man Jesus the name, Son of God, on account of his union with the Son of God in the Person of Christ, Felix did not make the least objection. Felix treats him as "nuncupative deus;" and, so far from feeling any difficulty regarding the doctrine of the transference of the titles of the one nature to the other, as taught by the Greek Church, he endeavoured by means of his own theory to establish it on a clearer and firmer basis. But he never relaxes his hold on the opinion, that the Son of man was of a different nature from the Son of God,— that he was, namely, a created being of another substance than the
1 Lib. iv. 5. "Dei Filius ex deo substantialiter natus essentialiter habuit omnem potestatem cum patre et spiritu sancto." Felix adds, "Lsec potestas data est filio virginis."
Deity. Hence the Son of David cannot possibly be styled the Son of God by nature; for the only true and proper natural Son of God is the second person of the Trinity. Whoso denies this, says Felix, ought, in consistency, to believe that the Father produced the humanity of Christ from Himself, even as He produced the eternal Son of God.1 According to the Scriptures, Christ is the Son of God and the Son of David; but inasmuch as one being can only be the son of one father, how can he who is the Son of David be also, and in the proper sense, the natural Son of God?' To carry out the idea of the unity of' the person so far as to say that Christ was, in the strict sense, Son of God, not merely as to His divine, but also as to His human, nature, would be to confound God and man, and to leave no distinction between Creator and creature, between Word and flesh, between Him who assumes and that which is assumed.3 By designating Christ, as to His humanity, strictly and truly God, we do away with that resemblance between Him and believers, which is a source of so great comfort. How can we become members of God, or Christ, according to His deity? Men are not the members, but only the temple, of God. Being reconciled, we become children of God, adopted sons; but the adopted sons must also have an adopted Head (L. ii. 4, 14). As to the glqry of His deity, in virtue of which He is in all things like the Father, and unlike every creature, Christ cannot have been in all points like us, sin excepted (excepta lege peccati). As to His humanity alone, that is, as to His nature, did He in all things resemble us; in respect to His glory, there is none like, none equal to Him. What more excellent, honourable, and holy gift could have been bestowed by God
1 Lib. iii. cap. 7. "Nullo modo credendum est, ut omnipotens Deus Pater, qui spiritus est, de semet ipso carnem generet."
2 Lib. iii. cap. 1, and lib. i. 12. "Christum duos habere patres deum omnipotentem et David regem, et non posse proprium filium duos habere patres."
s Lib. iii. 17: "Ita in singularitatem persona; confunditis (geminas in Christo naturas) ut inter deum et hominem, inter carnem et verbum, inter creatorem et creaturam, inter suscipientem et susceptum nullam esse differentiam adstruatis." Lib. ii. cap. 12: "Quodsi idem redemptor noster in carne sua,—adoptivus apud patrem non est, sed verus et proprius filius, quid suporest, nisi ut eadem caro ejus non de massa generis humani, neque de carne Matris sit creata et facta, sed de substantia patris, sicut et divinitatis ejus generata?"
on human nature than that by which His creatures, after their fall, were recognised as reconciled by God? Higher, he thinks, human nature cannot rise than to be adopted into the family of God; and whatever goes beyond that, is a conversion of substance, and consequently involves the annulment of the distinction of the natures. And not only does the nature of the case, but the Scripture also, speak in favour of this doctrine: —the Scriptures term God, the Head of Christ (1 Cor. xi. 3); they speak of His anointment; they say that God was in Christ; but never that this man was God. They also style Him our advocate,—an office He could not hold if He were not a man. Christ Himself says,—" No one is good, save the one God;" for God alone is essentially and by nature good: He confessed that He knew not the day of judgment. Moreover, the Evangelists speak of His growth in years, wisdom, and favour; and Paul teaches that He took upon Himself the body of sin, and the form of a servant.1 At the same time, we must not allow these lowly expressions regarding Christ to make us unmindful of the love and compassion which moved Him to assume human nature. He became a servant for our sake.2 But if Christ was by nature truly man, and in all things subject to God, what authority have we for saying that this man of the Lord (homo dominicus), from His mother's womb, was, both in His conception and birth, the true God? (iv. 12.) If the man assumed by the Son of
1 Lib. ii. 13, 14; lib. iii. 3; lib. iv. 9 ff.; lib. v. 3, 4, 7, 8-10; lib. vi. 1-3, 7, 9. In John i. 14, he referred x<*?<S ^> tne humanity, xXrfiu* to the deity (vii. 6). Singularly enough, in lib. ii. 19 he draws a distinction between the two genealogies in Matthew and Luke, styling the former, in which the names of heathen women occur, Christ's descent according to the flesh, and that of Luke, in which priests are mentioned, His genealogy according to the Spirit. The adoption of the "caro" appears, therefore, to place Him on the same level with holy men and prophets, and to attribute to Him, in relation to adoption, a dignity higher simply in degree, not in kind.
* vi. 1-3, iii. 3. He became "servus conditionalis" by His birth from the Virgin. "Quid potuit ex ancilla nasci, nisi servus?" He was "servus Dei," subjected to God's law (vi. 4), because every creature must serve God either willingly or by constraint. This obedience He rendered, it is true, freely; for He was also " filius adoptivus." He was not called servant because He obeyed, but because He was obliged to obey. He was "per naturam servus Patris et filius ancillse ejus, non solum per obediential." This is the sense of the "servitium conditionale."
God was true and begotten God from the moment of his conception and birth, how could the Lord apply to Himself the Old Testament prophecy regarding the Servant of Jehovah, which represents the Servant of God as being formed from the womb of his mother? (Isa. xlix. 5.) Surely, in the servant's form, he cannot be the true Son of God (vii. 2, 14).
But the Son of God, from the moment of conception, united this man most intimately with Himself, in the unity of His person; so that the Son of man became the Son of God, not by the conversion of human nature, but by an act of grace (dignatione); and the Son of God became like the Son of man, not by a transformation of substance, but in that the latter was constituted a true son, in the Son of God. (Note 51.)
The Son of man may therefore now be designated, " nuncupative," God; for if, according to the word of the Lord (John x. 35), the Scriptures call those gods to whom the word of God came, although they are not by nature God, but are deified by God's grace, through Him who is the true God, and are styled gods under Him; in the same manner, God's Son, our Lord and Redeemer, although He was glorious and distinguished above all others, occupied, as to His humanity (both in its essence and name), precisely the same position as the rest in regard to everything else,—in regard to predestination, election, grace, and adoption, in regard to the assumption of the name of a servant, and so forth. The reason whereof is, that He who was very God, of one substance with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Godhead, desired to be deified, and to be named with the name of God, by the grace of adoption, in the form of humanity, and in company with His chosen ones.1 Felix represents the entire majesty (that is, glory) of God as passing over to the Son of man, on the ground of his assumption.
The question now is, whether he held adoption to be the same
1 C. Felic. iv. 2. Compare Epist. Episeoporum Hispaniae ad Episcopos Gallije:—"Credimus deum dei filium sine initio ex patregenitumnon adoptione sed genere, neque gratia sed natura." On the other hand, we read: "Hominem Christum non genere filium sed adoptione, neque natura sed gratia;—unigenitum ex patre sine adoptione, primogenitum vero verum hominem assumendo in carnis adoptione, etc. Idem qui essentialitcr cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto in unitate deitatis verus est deus, ipse in forma humanitatis cum electis suis per adoptionis gratiam deiflcatus fiebat et nuncupative deus."
thing as assumption, or whether he considered adoption to follow later than, and not directly upon, assumption? This question is connected with another,—How could this adopted Son form one person with the Son of God, as is repeatedly maintained 1
In answer to the first question, many were tempted to reply that the adoption was nothing else than the assumption. The word "adoptio," they affirmed, was so used by the older Fathers, and probably also in the Mozarabic Liturgy. The whole thing would then be reduced to a dispute about words. But, in the first place, the Adoptianists were accustomed to speak, not of an assumed human nature, but of an assumed man; and further, they took adoption in the sense in which it it used regarding Christians who become thereby children of God. Felix, however, further distinguishes between a fleshly and a spiritual birth of Christ, even as respects His humanity. The latter took place when He was adopted; the former, which must pertain both to the second Adam and to us, when He was born of the Virgin Mary. The flesh born of Mary, was assumed from the moment of the conception; and through it Christ took upon Himself the body of sin, which the prophet Zechariah describes as a "filthy garment."1 It would be going too far, indeed, to assert that he supposed a veritable sinfulness to have been transferred to Christ, in consequence of His natural birth in our flesh: for Felix decidedly reprobates such a notion.2 He referred rather to external impurity, mortality, and so forth. His opinion, however, undoubtedly was not that Christ assumed the nature which Adam had prior to the fall, but in the state to which the fall had reduced it. Maximus and Anastasius, on the contrary, fearing that otherwise, in that the human nature must necessarily will and act in accordance with its inward essence, conflicts would arise between it and the divine will, deliberately took the course which Felix declined. This nature, consequently, in itself, stood on no higher level than that of the first psychical Adam; nay more, as far as the body was concerned, it was in the state in which Adam was left by the fall, though the soul was created out of nothing, and then appropriated by the Son.3 By this act of assumption, both
1 Lib. ii. 13, 16, vii. 8: "Vestimentum ex transgressione de came peccati sordidum, quam induerc dignatus est."
2 Lib. i. 15; see above. s lib. v. 1-3.
were most intimately conjoined in the unity of the person (of the Ego—" singularitate personae"). Nevertheless, it was necessary that He should undergo a second birth, in order that His humanity also might become the Son of God. This second spiritual birth was adoption; which became His from the moment of His resurrection out of the bloody baptism of death.1 Were we to deny to Him this second spiritual birth, which took place by adoption, there would remain merely the first fleshly birth: nay more, we should be previously compelled to do away with the first fleshly birth, because it was the ground of the necessity of the spiritual one. From this it would appear, that Felix dated, at all events the completion of the adoption from the ascension of Christ to glory; and therefore, referred the words uttered at His baptism and transfiguration, "Thou art My beloved Son," to the divine nature alone.2 But if Christ were not an adopted Son, endowed with the fulness of divine gifts and of divine majesty, prior to His exaltation, and were merely the Son of man, although conjoined in unity of person with the Son of God; then we should be free to allow that He underwent a human development, and that His knowledge was imperfect, without being therefore justified in teaching, with the school of Antioch, that the Son of man merited His exaltation by His virtue and progress. Felix's view, like that of his opponents, appears to have had more affinity with the teachings of Augustine, on the subject of grace.3
1 Lib. ii. 16. "Qui est secundus Adam, accepit has geminas generationes (like Christians); primam videlicet, que secundum carnem est, secundam vero spiritalem, quse per adoptionem fit, idem redemptor noster secundum hominem complexus in semet ipso continet: primam videlicet, quam suscepit ex virgine nascendo; sccundam vero, quam initiavit in lavacro a mortuis resurgendo." The meaning of the last words is probably —" The second birth He had from the time of the resurrection, after it had begun in baptism."
2 Lib. ii. 15, i. 20. He does not appear to have ascribed to the baptism of Christ any special significance in relation to His adoption. He preferred taking the old doctrine of the resurrection as a new birth, for his point of departure; and, instead of treating it as the third birth of the Son of God, to treat it as the second birth of His human aspect. Paulinus (i. 44) took a different view of it; but he is chargeable with some degree of arbitrariness.
3 Lib. vii. 9: "Quse ille de humanitate Filii Dei, in qua natus homo, per adoptionis gratiam meruit esse quod est, et accipere quod habet." _
If this is the relation between adoption and assumption, Adoptianism must evidently have been chiefly interested in preventing the removal of the humanity of Christ, out of the sphere of created beings, and in showing that it was at first essentially like ours,—having being created of nothing as to the soul, and born of Mary as to the body. After the resurrection, however, when the two natures had one and the same Ego, and therefore approximated more closely to each other, their aim would naturally be to represent Christ's humanity as a new creation, under the new name of Adoption. It is clear that, as far as the two natures are concerned, every conception of the incarnation of the Son of God, which should attempt to cross that barrier between God and the creature, is, and remains, excluded. But must not Adoptianism itself deny the assumption of humanity by the Son of God, and emasculate the oUiei/axTi s between the two natures? As described by it, the Son of man is a whole, a person by Himself:—so at least it seems. But in that case, what meaning can be attached even to the assumption? And how is the unity of the personality of Christ compatible with such an eternal double Sonship? This is the second main question.
The very opponents of Felix (even Paulinus, i. 48, ii. 8) acknowledged that he had no intention of teaching, that there were two personalities or sons in Christ. Nor, when he designated the Son of man, God, and the adopted Son of God, did he mean that there were two Gods, though each in a different sense, in Jesus (Ale. v. 1). His opponents merely maintained, that, followed out to its logical results, his view would end in a duality of persons. Adoptianists, however, were of the opinion that the same thing might be said, with equal justice or injustice, respecting the orthodox doctrine, if the principle of tho duality of natures, «f different essence, were consistently carried out: and Felix, they asserted, had rather sought to hold fast the unity of the person in the way prescribed by the previous development of the Church. He represents the principle which constituted and established Christ, as, in such a sense, the Ego of the collective person, that the Son of man had His personal centre (the Ego which was essential to His true idea) in the Son of God (see Note 51).* This bore a certain resemblance • See Note L, App. II.
to the doctrine of John of Damascus (evinroirTaala,). His view, however, implied that the human nature was anhypostatical, which the Adoptianists did not hold; and the ewiroaraaia, in his use of it, denoted rather that the Ego of the Logos was the vehicle and substantive principle of the humanity, than that it actually appertained to the humanity as its own, and gave the humanity completeness, as though it originally belonged to its nature. Hence, both the Damascene and the Church conceived the divine nature to be so united with this divine Ego, that the former alone enjoyed independence and the hegemony, and that the human nature became merely the transition-point for the divine will, or was even reduced to that selfless condition which characterizes the body. The Adoptianists, on the contrary, drew a sharp distinction between the divine nature and the divine Ego, in so far as they allotted the latter alone to the humanity, which in virtue thereof became the Son of man. Clinging to the duality in the one Christ, they conceived Him as a double being, held together solely by the unity of the personal centre, in such a manner that to each of the two aspects of this twofold Christ were secured its reality and independence.1 One and the same person had a double sonship through its relation to different natures; but Son it was in both,—either first from the time of the resurrection, or from the very commencement,—in so far as the "assumtio" was that act of grace, by which the divine Ego, without the divine nature, was made the Ego of the man. To this point were Adoptianists led by their concern for the personality of the human nature. That it was personal, they were convinced; although they held that it was constituted such by the divine Ego, which really and truly lent itself, as it were, to the Son of man, in the act of assumption; and that this Ego became the veritable property of the humanity. In their view, therefore, the human nature lost nothing at all of its completeness, or of that which belonged to it; for the divine Ego, abstracted from the divine nature, did nothing more than perfectly supply the place of the human Ego. The human nature of Christ
1 Paul. i. 32: "Mendax spiritus conatur astruere, quia per incarnationis dispensationem et unigeniti proprietaa in dualitate nominis sit geminata, in proprii scilicet et adoptivi, et unio individuse Deitatis in plurali sit numero." Compare i. 55.
was, naturally, not regarded by them as a man prior to the ^assumtio," which first gave it its hypostasis. Similarly to Felix, the skilled dialectician who represented the party, taught also the bishops of Spain. In their memorial to Charlemagne '(Note 52), they acknowledged the unity of the person in the most decided terms; but at the same time, also, professed that their interest in religion compelled them to hold fast the "adoptio," which they represented as taking place earlier, though they did not give any very distinct opinion regarding its conciliation with, and relation to, the "assumtio." In this respect they resembled Elipantus, so far as can be judged from the fragments which remain of his writings. He expressed himself more obscurely than Felix, but seems to have had a profounder mind. We find in the works of Elipantus two ideas, which might have been made the basis of a higher form of Adoptianism, that is, of a more intimate union between the Son of man and the Son of God. On the one hand, namely, he designates the Trinity "unius glomeratio caritatis, unius ambitus dilectionis, coajterna substantia." God, he considered to be one, notwithstanding the triplicity of the persons, because they are constituted a unity by the embrace of their one substantial love. Love constitutes, as it were, the higher unity or personality, which conjoins again the three distinctions of the persons; this higher unity being conceived to have a substantial existence (Sein), and not to be a mere " actus." On the one hand, this conception of the Trinity might have indicated the direction in which the unity of the Son of man and the Son of God was to be found; and, on the other hand, the doctrine that the Son of man was not merely a single limited individual, but of universal significance, pointed to the same goal. For the resemblance which this character gave him to God, fitted him the more for being united with the Logos, in the identity of one person. With Him who was adopted as to His humanity, we also, says he, are adopted: with Him the anointed One (Christ), we also are anointed. If Christ could be designated, as to His humanity also, the proper and natural Son of God, He would be raised to a dignity which He did not seek, and which would annul the incarnation. He could further, then, be no longer the archetype and principle of our glory, inasmuch as the promise, that we shall be like Him after the resurrection, referred not to His deity, but to His humanity.1 The opponents of Elipantus were moved by religious considerations of an opposite kind,—they feared, namely, that the distinctive and unique position occupied by Christ would be endangered if He were not even as to His humanity the proper Son of God; and were also unwilling thus to diminish the distance between Him and redeemed Christians.2
The Adoptianists, nevertheless, still clung to the doctrine of the difference of the essence of the two natures, and, so far as we know, did not follow out further the view of love as a substantial bond, conjoining the two natures into one personality. As we have shown above, they did indeed posit one person for the double Sonship, but, at the same time, seriously applied the (according to John of Damascus) still admissible principle,—that the subject of the Son of God (apart from His nature), as it was the subject of the divine nature, became also the proper subject of the human nature; they further, in accordance therewith, assumed two non-coincident life-courses (doppelten incongruenten Lebenslauf),—a Son of man merely running parallel with the Son of God. Their opponents, therefore, objected, that, on such a view, the only function of the personality was to connect the Son of God with the Son of man, and that the proper idea of the incarnation of the Son of God, and of the deification of this man, was really cast aside. The one person, they urged, was still in reality nothing more than the identical empty Ego,—a formal link between two natures which remain essentially separate. We see thus that the ecclesiastical opponents of the Adoptianists were concerned for the preservation of the very foundation of Christology, for the reality of the incarnation of God.3 It is true, the arguments advanced by Alcuin, the Council of Frank
1 Alcuini, Opp. ii. 586 ff.
2 The Council of Frankfurt represented the cause of the power and glory, the Adoptianists that of the moral deed and condescension, of Christ. The Council regarded the "adoptio" of the Son of man (even though brought about by the Son of God) as an "injuria." To refuse the "persona" to the Son of man, appeared to it no more than an act of justice to the Son of God, and yet to be no injustice to the humanity.
1 Lib. vi. 10: "Gemini gigas substantia;, totus proprius Dei patris Fili us et totus proprius Virginia matris filius inseparables in personae unitate, vel Filii proprietate unus." Paulin. i. 12, 14: "Debuit homo in Deum proficere—non decebat Deum in hominem deficere."
furt, Beatus, and Etherius, in support of the <f>vaiKrj evaxns of Athanasius, or of Cyrill's fundamental idea, without that Antiocheian adjunct to which the Adoptianists clung, were in part but weak, especially when they came to the establishment of their own view. They principally employed the old image of the unity of body and soul, or fell back on the unsearchableness of the mystery, and on the omnipotence of God, which they deemed able to create anything out of nothing, according to its own pleasure; urging, that as no nature can prevent God making of it what He may choose, there was nothing to prevent Him making a natural Son of God out of human nature. But Alcuin, in particular, displayed greater ability in his criticism of Adoptianism. He asks, whether every man is the proper son of his father? If this be affirmed, he reminds us that men are not of their fathers as to the soul, but only as to the flesh; and deduces the conclusion, that if it is not allowable to designate the entire Christ God's own Son, no man can be called the son of his father. He further argues, from the unity of the person, as to whether a son can be both the proper and adopted son of one and the same father. Then from the difference of the natures, he argues as to whether the Son can be the true and proper Son of the Virgin. This is granted, says he; and yet when they come to treat of the divine aspect, they refuse to designate the entire Christ the true and proper Son of God. He further tries to force from them the confession, that the entire Christ ought not to be worshipped, nor miracles to be attributed to the Son of man. He asks, Was God's own Son, or a strange son, adopted? Of course, a strange son. When, then, he asks further, was Christ strange to God, so that God was under the necessity of adopting Him? Rather was the true and own Son of God conceived and born in the conception and birth of Christ. In general, he tries to prove that the Adoptianists ought logically to let go the unity of the Person of Christ, and to agree to the separation maintained by Nestorius.1 He also endeavours to lay, as he says, the grammatical or dialectical groundwork of his own view.2 The question is, Whether, notwithstanding the difference of the natures, the Son of man can be "proprius Dei Alius?" This depends on the general question, Whether
1 Epist. ad filiam in Deo carissimam, i. 921 ff.; contra Fel. i. 11 ff. s i. 921.
that which, strictly or properly, pertains to a substance, must always be of the same substance as that to which it thus pertains? His opinion is, that something which is of a different substance from another thing, may undeniably possess as its property this other thing, in such a manner, that for the sake of this real and substantial relationship between the two, the latter may become a predicate or mark of the former.1 At this point, also, a revolution is observable. The earlier teachers of the Church had insisted, especially during the Monotheletic Controversy, that what is not of the same nature cannot have the same predicates, and so forth; and on this principle they based the abiding duality of Christ. In this respect, therefore, the avrlBoaf; and oi/eetWts continued to be entirely nominal; the utmost that was conceded, was a strengthening of the human powers,—the intellectual powers alone, as the character of the Greek Church would have led us to expect, forming an exception. Now, on the contrary, the doctrine of the duality of substances in Christ began to be modified, and the human nature, accordingly, to be allotted as "proprium" and predicate to the divine. Assurances were, of course, not wanting that this was not intended to affect the duality of substances; but that their difference began thus to be pared down, is equally unmistakeable. As regards this particular matter, the difference between Adoptianism and the doctrine which received the sanction of the Church at Frankfurt, was as follows:—the former maintained that the personality or the Ego of the Son of God pertained to the human nature as its own; the latter maintained that the human nature was made a predicate of the Son of God, which implies that it was essentially deified. Even when the Adoptianists represented the human nature as having become like the divine attributes, they assumed the proper human nature to have been merely elevated, and jea
1 i. 921: "Tuverodegnraimaticatuaproferregulasnaturales, ostendens quaedam propria non ejusdem substantia; esse, cujtis propria esse dicuntur. Nam propria dicimus nomina, non quae nostrse sint substantia:, sed quse specialem nostrse habeant substantia; significationem. Terrarum quoque possessiones proprias esse dicere solemus. Israel is said, in John i. 11, to be the proprium of God. Deum in rebus humanis tam multa proprietatis nomine appellantur, cur in solo filio Dei hsec proprietas non potest esse, ut sit proprius filius Dei, qui ex Virgine natus est, qui solus inter omnes filios Dei hoc habuit proprium, ut una sit persona cum eo."
lously guarded against every species of mixture or transubstantiation. Their opponents arrived at the opposite view;—that the one nature became the predicate of the other, they also did not deduce from any special or later act, but from the act of incarnation itself. The Adoptianists, on the other hand, who were guided in the formation of their doctrine of the Son of man, to whom the Ego really belongs quite as truly as to the Son of God, by a desire to assert the truth and completeness of the humanity of Christ, also contributed to the same result, by drawing a marked distinction between " adoptio" and "assumtio."
The correctness of our view of Adoptianism is particularly shown by the further course of history. For whilst, on the one hand, Adoptianism recognised a double personality, and conceived both natures to be personal and independent,—maintaining only that the Ego, which is the constitutive principle of the personality in both cases, is common to both,—the teachers of the Church, on the other hand, said, Even though the human nature be represented as personal, still on this view no real incarnation has taken place. All that we have gained is the simple juxtaposition of two complete personal beings; and the hypostasis of the Son of God is held to have been so alien to the substance of human nature, that the human Ego was excluded by the divine, and the human nature was impersonal, after the Unio. So do they distinctly express themselves. Transubstantiation comprises two momenta: firstly, the destruction, annihilation of the one substance, so that, at the utmost, only its accidents remain behind; secondly, the substitution of another substance in the place of the annihilated one, —not, of course, as though the former substance, or its accidents, first realized its own completion by means of the substitutionary substance, but it ceases to have a substantial existence, and is converted into the new. This being the case, the teachers of the Church opposed to the Adoptianists, and in particular the Council of Frankfurt, must be said now to have turned their faces in the direction of a Christological transubstantiation; not, indeed, as regards the nature, but certainly as regards the Ego. For, in the first place, they expressly taught that the human personality was destroyed, consumed (deleri, consumi), by the divine,—regarding the personality, consequently, as a substance; and, in the second place, they represent the divine person of the Son, as taking the place of the destroyed human personality from the very commencement (Note 53).
If it be decided that the human nature of Christ was not personal, and that it did not become personal through the personality of the Son of God, as abstracted from His nature, then it is clear that the question of a twofold Son could not any more be raised, and we can understand how Alcuin came so zealously to insist that Christ, including also His humanity, ought to be straightway designated the one indivisible Son of God. For he considered that no other than the Son of God should be recognised as the vehicle of the predicates. It is true, he persists in maintaining that, "non deus conversus in hominem;" but yet he says, " sed homo glorificatus in Deum" (iii. 17), which is scarcely compatible with the intention of the Council of Chalcedon. He says further, also, "nee homo a natura humanitatis recessit ut non esset homo, sed natura humanitatis proprietatem naturae servavit;" but how is this reconcilable with the position, that the "persona humana," which he also certainly held to belong to human nature, is annihilated by the divine? If the human personality is destroyed and replaced by the divine, what becomes of Dyotheletism, not to mention the "glorificatio in Deum?" Even the duality of natures must then be taken in a different sense. Previously, so long as little attention was directed to the personality, and almost all to the natures, these latter were conceived as diverse, relatively independent, and even absolutely opposed, magnitudes; each was a complete whole, a substance conjoined with a congeries of qualities or accidents, which inhered in the substance; and to Monophysites (for example, even to Severus) the most vigorous opposition was raised, because they called in question the existence of such a special substantial centre of life in the human nature. Now, however, as a consequence of the reaction against Adoptianism, which wished to follow out the principles involved in the Chalcedonian decisions, the situation of matters was so changed, that, although the name of substance was still given to the human nature, a power was set over it, which not merely (as was decided even in 680) omnipotently determined it, but which, by the destruction of its inmost centre, that is, of its personality, and by the substitution of itself in the place of that centre, essentially degraded human nature to a mere husk or shell. Thus robbed of its own centre, and transposed into a strange one, human nature was brought down from the position of a distinct substance alongside of the divine, to that of a real predicate, or congeries of predicates, subsistent in a higher centre. The great importance of the part played by Adoptianism is not attributable to any positive results which it worked ont and embodied, but to the circumstance that the opposition raised to it, constituted a great crisis in the history of the dogma. The fundamental ideas of the Council of Chalcedon could not be further carried out than it attempted to carry them out: it formed the close of a long series of efforts for the complete uprooting of every trace of Monophysitism. But its attempts to put the topstone to the labours of the old Synods, from the year 451 onwards, brought to the view of the Church the danger to which Christology itself was exposed, of being set aside, and the idea of the incarnation, of being replaced by a double spiritual life, or even by a double personality. With difficulty it had, at an earlier period, repudiated the doctrine of a transubstantiizing incarnation as applied to the natures; now, it resorted to the very same doctrine in reference to the Ego, which was destroyed and replaced by the Logos.1 And, in the way of evidence that the Church, subsequently to the end of the eighth century, was greatly under the influence of these Monophysitic, nay, even Apollinaristic elements, which were in reality but a more subtle form of Docetism—not, indeed, directly as respects the sphere of the natures, but certainly as respects the higher and decisive sphere of the personality,—we need only adduce the welcome given to the doctrine of the Eucharist taught by Paschasius Badbertus, at the very commencement of the ninth century. We shall soon enough, also, see the direct Christological results of this Adoptianist Controversy, which occurred at the boundary line, separating the Old from the Middle Period.
1 Instead of two parts, auna. and -tyvm, Apollinaris taught that there -were three, and allotted merely the »o2f to the Logos. Precisely in the same manner, the persona—that is, simply the divine hypostasis—was now placed over the body and the rational soul.