Friday, December 2, 2011

The Wills of Christ

We(EO) don't believe the human energy to be passive. One group of Monothelites of old believed that the Divine energy was active while the human passive. In this they were seen as marionattists(puppets). Our understanding of Free Will, and Predestination in regards to humanity starts with our understanding of Free Will and Predestination in Christology. From pages 166 - 168

Pyrrhus: But we do not say "one energy" in order to deny the human operation. It is said to be passible in contrast to the divine energy.

Maximus: Then by the same principle those who say "one nature" do not say this as a denial of the human nature, but because this [human] nature is distinguished from the divine, for this reason it is also said to be passible.

Pyrrhus: How so? Did not the fathers define human movement as passibility, in contrast to the divine energy?

Maximus: God forbid! For, to speak generally, no existent thing is known or defined through comparison with its opposite. Otherwise, [the two] things will be found to cause each other reciprocally. For if. because divine movement is an energy, human movement is passible then certainly it follows that because divine nature is good, human nature is therefore evil. And the exact opposite may likewise be said: that because human movement is termed passible, for this reason divine movement is termed energy, and that because human nature is evil, the divine nature is for this reason good. But enough of this! For such [thoughts] are altogether perverse.


In the words of Pierre Piret, to allow the dialectic of oppositions to define things
"circumscribes beings in a fundamental opposition, between the limits of good and evil; the implied corollary of such a contradiction between the divine ενεργεια and παθος is that the human nature is evil because the divine nature is good. And such opposition can be immediately reversed and counterposed: the divine nature is good because the human nature is evil, and this human nature thus determines, in its wickedness, the goodness of the divine nature. 22

And this is to return to the predicate of Plotinus and the problematic of Origen which we examined chapter two: as God is absolute simplicity, incorporeal, Good, Father and Creator, so there must always be a compposite, material, and evil creation standing over against Him precisely in order that He may be all those things. It is therefore the dialectic of oppositions which, in finding its way into the monothelete controversy, provides the essential link between the three moments of doctrine - Creation, Redemption and Eschatology - and therefore its refutation in the one will require its refutation in the others.

"The basic task remains what it always was: to disentangle the principle of plurality from that of oppositions, but in the case of Monotheletism, it assumes a double aspect. On the one hand, St. Maximus must show that there is no opposition of the two wills in Christ, reinterpreting what took place at Gethsemane. On the other hand, once he has established that there is a genuine human will of Christ which is not in opposition to the divine, he must go on to show how that will is not dialectically conditioned by showing what the "goods" are that it is confronted with at Gethsemane. The way in which the Confessor does this is difficult and complex, and requires us to trace his logic through step by step.

We are led almost immediately back to the fundamental distinction of person and nature. Pyrrhus asks a very illuminating question question of St. Maximus: "was not the flesh moved by the decision of the Word Who is united with it?" This might at first glance be taken as a subtle affirmation of the dyothelete position and therefore as a contradiction within Monotheletism. But upon closer inspection it is not. For Pyrrhus the essential goal was to preserve Christ's voluntary motion; therefore, the will was not natural because because what is natural is compelled. The will is therefore hypostatic and free. In turn, Christ's humanity has no will. But even more intriguing is St. Maximus' response to the question, for he seems to avoid any direct answer entirely. He remains content simply to make allusions to the earlier heresy of Nestorianism and then to launch into an excursus on nature and its natural properties:"

Maximus: You divide Christ by talking like this! For [in that case] 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 fleshy properties. But we say, following all the holy fathers in this as in all things, that, since the God of all Himself became man without [undergoing any] change, then [it follows] that the same Person not only willed in a manner appropriate to His Godhead, but also willed as man in a manner appropriate to His humanity. For the things that exist came to be out of nothing, and not to non-being; and the natural characteristic of this power is an inclination to that which maintains them in being, and a drawing back from things destructive [to them]. Thus the super-essential Word, existing essentially in a human manner, also had in His humanity this self-preserving power that clings to existence. And He [in fact] showed both [aspects of this power], willing the inclination and the drawing back through His human energy. He displayed the inlination to cling to existence in His use of natural and innocent things, to such an extent that unbelievers thought He was not God; and He displayed the drawing back at the time of the passion when He voluntarily balked at death. Wherein, then, has the Church of God done anything absurd if She confesses that along with His human and created nature, there also existed in Him, without diminution, the principles inserted creatively in that nature by Him, without which that nature could not exist?"

But it is in fact the allusion to Nestorianism that provides the key to the decipherment of this passage. If it was true that Pyrrhus' remarks disclosed a "revival of the heresy of Apollinarius" because Christ's manhood appears in them as "organon, an instrument or tool without real power of free choice - a puppet show of passive attributes, worked from outside by the divinity of the Word,"25 then it was equally true that the humanity is somehow detached from the Word precisely since it was worked from outside.26 This Division in Christ was the result of the whole monothelete dilemma.

Christ's prayer in Gethsemane - "If it be possible let this cup pass from me" - was attributed by the Monotheletes to that opposing human will. His subsequent petition - "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt" - was the denial and overriding of the human will by the divine will. Thus the one Person of Christ was willing two entirely contradictory and opposing things at the same time, and this, to Maximus, was to "divide Christ." It would therfore have to be concluded that St. Maximus is not in disagreement with the Monotheletes over the principle of excluding opposition in Christ. He is rather in disagreement over what such exclusion means. It is in his reinterpretation of the prayer at Gethsemane that one discovers how St. Maximus had applied the principles both of the distinction of logos and tropos and that of the plurality of the objects of choice." [1]

[1] pages 166-168 from the book Free Will in St. Maximus the Confessor by Joseph P. Farrell






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