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Monday
Jun152009

Theological Term of the Week

Apollinarianism
A Christological heresy taught in the fourth century by Apollinaris of Laodicea, who maintained that Christ had a human body and a human soul, but not human mind. Rather, Christ’s mind came from the divine nature of the Son of God; in place of the human mind was the divine Logos. This teaching declared to be heretical by the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

  • Scripture repudiating this heresy:
    Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17 ESV)
  • From the Heidelberg Catechism:

    Question 16. Why must [the mediator and deliverer] be very man…?

    Answer: Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin….

  • From Elwell Evangelical Dictionary, V. L. Walter:

    The central deviation of Apollinarianism from the later Chalcedonian orthodoxy began in a Platonic trichtomy. Man was seen to be body, sensitive soul, and rational soul. Apollinaris felt that if one failed to diminish the human nature of Jesus in some way, a dualism had to result. Furthermore, if one taught that Christ was a complete man, then Jesus had a human rational soul in which free will resided; and wherever there was free will, there was sin. Therefore it followed that the Logos assumed only a body and its closely connected sensitive soul. The Logos or Word himself took the place of the rational soul (or spirit or nous) in the manhood of Jesus.

    …The general principle on which Apollinarianism was condemned was the Eastern perception that “that which is not assumed is not healed.” If the Logos did not assume the rational soul of the man Jesus, then the death of Christ could not heal or redeem the rational souls of men. And as the church wrestled with this perception it rejected Apollinarianism and moved toward the Chalcedonian Definition, which rebuked and corrected both Antioch and Alexandria in their extremes: “This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and also in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul and a body.”

Learn more:

  1. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Apollinarianism
  2. GotQuestions.org: What are Docetism, Apollinarianism, Ebionism, and Eutychianism?
  3. Thoughts of Francis Turretin: Apollinarianism and Orthodoxy
  4. Justin Holcomb: Apollinarius: Know Your Heretics

Related terms:

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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