Friday, July 17, 2009

Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor (III)

With questions for Photios and whomever else in the Comment Box.

Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor


by Daniel Jones(Photios)
Page 6

III. The Three Dialectical Principles of Monenergism

In this essay concerning Monotheletism, we will not concern those historical or political developments or its relationship with Monophysitism but solely with the theology of Pyrrhus of Constantinople as its representative in Maximus’s disputation with the Patriarch. As I have pointed out two underlying principles in the previous section, it is important to show how these two motivate a third. This third principle is that the will is hypostatic:

If Christ be one person, then He willed as one person. And if He willed as one person, then

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doubtless He hath one will and not two.31
And,
It is impossible to imply some “willer” along with the will itself.32

The first quote is an explicit confession of one will in Christ, but the second quote is more interesting. Not only does it signify one will, but it confuses properties of a nature with the hypostatic employment of that faculty, a real confusion between the will as the ‘faculty of nature’ and the will as the ‘mode of willing’ that is employed towards the ‘object of the will.’ This is the inherent problem that we saw in Origen that we pointed out earlier: confusion between person and nature. The key text that focused the debate was Christ’s agony and Passion in Gethsemane: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou will be done.”33 The idea here by all parties was to eliminate the seemingly apparent contradiction between the human and the divine. However because of the principle of “distinction is opposition,” this leads Pyrrhus to confess:
It is impossible for two wills to exist in one person without opposition.34

It was the motivating factor of non-contradiction to maintain the integrity of Christ’s hypostasis, and subsequently, to safeguard from any overture of opposing wills in him.35 This concept even appears in none greater a Father than St. Gregory [Nazianzus] the Theologian that was appealed to by the Monenergists:
Seventhly must be mentioned: the Son’s “coming down from heaven not to do his own will, but the will of him who sent him.” Certainly had these words not been spoken by the very one who “came down” we should have said the language bore the stamp of a mere man like us, not that of the Savior we know. His will is not in the least degree opposed to God, is totally dependent upon God. Our merely human will does not always follow the divine; it often resists and struggles

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against it. This is the way we interpret: “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not what I will—let your will prevail.” The alternative suppositions—either he was ignorant of the thing’s possibility, or, he was opposing the Father’s will—are both implausible. No, given that the words come from what was assumed, we must meet this problem in the same way as the previous ones. The words there mean not that the Son has, but that he has not, a will over against the Father’s. This would give the sense: “’Not to do my own will,’ for what is mine is not distinct from what is yours but belongs to both you and me, who have one will as we have one Godhead.”36 37
This principle is the first that gives traction to root the will in the hypostasis, but there is also a second principle that is related to the will being hypostatic:
If thou sayest that the will is natural, and if what is natural is compelled, and if thou sayest that the wills in Christ are natural, thou dost in fact take away all his voluntary motion.38

It is important to emphasize at this point that rooting the will in the hypostasis is built on the back of these two principles: 1) distinction is opposition or the principle of non-contradiction and 2) what is natural is compelled. This leads Maximus back to confronting the problem that recollects the Origenist Problem that is not only “a monothelete problem, but a problem of theology as well.”39

There is still some force to affirm a human operation in Christ for Pyrrhus that isolates him from the rest of the proponents of monenergism. The contradiction at the Passion is a true human will; however, it is not one that is in Christ but in us:
There are still some in Byzantium who place the natural wills in opposition [to each other] and who thus maintain that the Fathers said the Lord had a human will by appropriation [only]…It is plain that the relative appropriation is meant…Why did not the Fathers say that Christ formed our will in Himself?...They [the Fathers] referred, not to that which appertaineth to Him by mere nature, but to that which He took upon Himself by appropriation.40

The predestinarian character of Pyrrhus doctrine should be obvious in this passage. If salvation is to be accomplished, it must be wholly moved by an irresistible movement of the divine will since the human operation is in opposition to it by the mere fact that it is a creature. Christ is moved solely in his humanity by the divine Logos. This is so significant because it raises the

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problem of predestination and free-will in a Christological context and not an anthropological one.41 With a sketch of Monotheletism, along with its Origenistic presuppositions, we will now turn to St. Maximus’s doctrine of free-choice in Christ and his refutation.

31 Maximus, Disputation with Pyrrhus 10, p. 4
32 Ibid. 14, p. 5
33 Mt 26:39
34 Disputation. 16, p. 7 This is the principle of non-contradiction, which meant for Pyrrhus, that real distinction in things meant opposition. Both the Monenergists and Saint Maximos were committed to eliminating contradiction in Christ, but the two groups have different approaches of solving this dilemma. For Pyrrhus, eliminating the distinction of wills was the only way to uphold the principle of non-contradiction. We shall see Maximus’ answer later in the paper, what I like to call a non-dialectical approach.
35 Farrell, p. 81
36 Gregory of Nazianzus, The Fourth Theological Oration (Oration 30, 12), pp. 102-103
37 Maximus is quite critical of Saint Gregory in this passage. In the Sixth Opusculum Maximus says that “if it is a matter of perfect harmony and concurrence, whom do you understand as the subject? The man who is just like us, or the man we consider in the role of Savior? If it is from the man who is just like us, then our teacher Gregory errs…” PG 91:65BC. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, p. 174
38 Disputation 24, p. 11
39 Farrell, p. 82
40 Disputation 56, 66, 68, pp. 23-27
41 See Luther, De Servo Arbitrio WA 754: “Thus it is through us he preaches, shows mercy to the poor, [and] comforts the afflicted. But what is attributed to free choice in all this? Or rather, what is there left for it but nothing? And really nothing!”


READ THE PREVIOUS PART OF THIS PAPER:

4 comments:

Sophocles said...

FIRST QUESTION

You write:

This principle is the first that gives traction to root the will in the hypostasis, but there is also a second principle that is related to the will being hypostatic:

So even though the will is not rooted in the hypostasis but is a property of nature, one may hypostatically employ the will towards any given object or towards even the will itself as an object of will which showcases the different 'modes of willing' capable of the natural faculty of the will. Correct?

Sophocles said...

SECOND QUESTION

You quote:

If thou sayest that the will is natural, and if what is natural is compelled, and if thou sayest that the wills in Christ are natural, thou dost in fact take away all his voluntary motion.38

This is Pyrrhus speaking, correct?

Sophocles said...

THIRD QUESTION

You write on page 8, first quoting Pyrrhus then making a statement about his doctrine:

"There are still some in Byzantium who place the natural wills in opposition [to each other] and who thus maintain that the Fathers said the Lord had a human will by appropriation [only]…It is plain that the relative appropriation is meant…Why did not the Fathers say that Christ formed our will in Himself?...They [the Fathers] referred, not to that which appertaineth to Him by mere nature, but to that which He took upon Himself by appropriation.

The predestinarian character of Pyrrhus doctrine should be obvious in this passage. If salvation is to be accomplished, it must be wholly moved by an irresistible movement of the divine will since the human operation is in opposition to it by the mere fact that it is a creature. Christ is moved solely in his humanity by the divine Logos. This is so significant because it raises the problem of predestination and free-will in a Christological context and not an anthropological one.


So "God" or "The One" having freedom from free choice ultimately robs His creatures of any and all choice and freedom as well so the creation is irresistibly moved in the direction "God" deems but this "God" has no real freedom as He must do certain things, i.e. create, etc. So in the end, human choice only has an appearance of being composite and free but in actuality it still just becomes fused with the One's will anyway and Origen's attempt to solve the staving off of absorption is false.

By dint, then, Pyrrhus is saying that Christ, to effect salvation, having appropriated human will, must have the component appropriated, the merely human operation of the will, be overcome or moved by the divine Logos because if left up to the merely human component of Christ, He, Christ will botch salvation.

So if I'm beginning to map this out correctly, and it can be inferred that Augustine drew heavily on Origenistic principles and from Augustine we may ascribe the origin not only of predestination, which implies a lack of choice on the creation's end, but also of the filioque in which the West begins in the Trinity with the essence then moves out and infers to the Persons compared to the Orthodox(and original, correct) starting point of beginning with the Persons and then inferring and moving out to the essence.

energeticprocession said...

First Question:
I'm not giving an analysis of my own position or that of Maximus of where the will is rooted and how it is deployed by the person but simply trying to connect the dots of the Monothelite doctrine.

Second Question:
Correct. This Pyrrhus speaking.

Third Question:
"So if I'm beginning to map this out correctly, and it can be inferred that Augustine drew heavily on Origenistic principles and from Augustine we may ascribe the origin not only of predestination, which implies a lack of choice on the creation's end, but also of the filioque in which the West begins in the Trinity with the essence then moves out and infers to the Persons compared to the Orthodox(and original, correct) starting point of beginning with the Persons and then inferring and moving out to the essence."

Correct. It's not so much that Augustine is drawing on Origenistic principles but that they are both drinking from the same Neoplatonic/Middle Platonic Hellenistic Well. The filioque and predestination are symptomatic of this very problem.

Photios