The lack of unity among Christians, and especially between Monophysites and the majority, which Justinian had failed to eliminate, continued to pose a major problem to both Church and state, and Emperor after Emperor wrestled with it. The issue became urgent when, in the seventh century, Arab invaders bearing a new religion, Islam, began their conquests. The Emperors believed it imperative to have Christians and the Empire present a common front against the invader. A fresh approach was made towards bringing Orthodox and Monophysites together, but, far from attaining its goal, it brought another wave of controversy.
The new approach was suggested by the Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople to the Emperor Heraclius and found support in the writings, then relatively new, which were attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite. These had said that the selfsame Christ and Son works divine and human deeds by one divine-human operation (energeia). For a time the statement that Christ acted through one energeia brought about union in Egypt of Orthodox and Monophysites, but it drew attack. Sergius, in an attempt to by-pass a divisive debate, suggested that the discussion of whether Christ acted through one or more than one energeia be dropped, but that surely all would agree that in Christ there was only one will (thelema). To this Pope Honorius, to whom Sergius had written, assented. Seemingly backed by the bishops of the two most eminent sees in the Church, in 638 the Emperor Heraclius issued an edict containing the views of Sergius, forbidding the discussion of one or two energies, and declaring that Christ had one will. This seemed to win the assent of the legates of the successor of Pope Honorius, but in 641 a later Pope came out against Monotheletism, the statement that there was only one will in Christ, and declared that his had really been the view of Honorius. Subsequent Popes also affirmed that there were two wills, divine and human, in Christ, and this in general was the conviction in the West. It was argued chat if Christ is truly man as well as truly God, he must have a human as well as a divine will. To deny him a human will is to deprive him of his full humanity. It was, of course, held that the divine and the human will were always in accord and never in disagreement.
Since the discussion was a menace to the unity of the Church and was producing fresh division and weakness, in 648 the Emperor Constans II forbade further debate of the questions of one or two energies and of one or two wills. In defiance of this order, in 649 Pope Martin I held a synod at Rome which declared for two wills in Christ, condemned the Patriarch of Constantinople for taking the opposite view, and also came out against the imperial edicts of 638 and 648. For what he deemed the Pope's contumacy the Emperor had Martin brought to Constantinople as a prisoner, treated him cruelly, and exiled him to the Crimea. There Martin died. The Greek monk Maximus, known to later generations as the Confessor, who had been an able and outspoken opponent of Monotheletism, was imprisoned, tortured, mutilated, and exiled.
By this time most of the provinces where the Monophy sites were strongest had been lost to the Arabs, and, apparently from a desire to bring peace in such of the Church as remained within the Roman Empire, the successor of Constans II called what is usually known as the Sixth Ecumenical Council. This met in Constantinople in 680 and 681. It pilloried the advocates of the Monothelete position, naming among them several Patriarchs of Constantinople and Pope Honorius as instruments of the Devil, and came out flatly for two wills and two energies in Christ, as "concurring most fitly in him for the salvation of the human race." In its distinctive findings the council declared that it was following the suggestions of the reigning Pope, Agatho, and of the synod of a hundred and twenty-five bishops which had been held under him in Rome the preceding year.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council is generally said to mark the end of the centuries-long debate over the relation of Jesus Christ to God and over the fashion in which the divine and human were to be found in him. To be sure, the issue was revived by a Byzantine Emperor early in the eighth century and a large group in the Lebanon, the Maronites, held to Monotheletism until the twelfth century, when they made their peace with Rome. Moreover, the Nestorians and various branches of the Monophysites continued their independent existence. Yet by the eighth century Arianism, the first major dissent on the issue, had largely disappeared, and for the main bodies of Christians in the West and for those in the East who had their chief centre in Constantinople the discussion had ceased and a common mind had been reached.
The positions defined in the course of the debate have since been deemed final by the churches which together embrace the large majority of Christians. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and most Protestants hold to them. The various branches of the Monophysites cling to the findings of their spiritual ancestors of the fifth and sixth centuries. It has been mainly among some Protestants, and they small minorities of that wing of the faith, that the ancient questions have been raised afresh and answers given which differ from those of the first six ecumenical councils.
Was this article helpful?
Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.