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Was Jesus Two Separate People?: The Heresy of Nestorianism

Was Jesus Two Separate People?
The Heresy of Nestorianism
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
-Colossians 2:9 (NIV)

 

This heresy was propagated by a man named Nestorius who lived in the late fourth century (exact date is debated and not really known) to 451AD. He was born in modern day Turkey and became a monk and preacher. We don’t know much more about his early years. Whatever else we know about him is in 428AD. In this year he was brought in as the bishop of Constantinople because of a nasty feud amongst the local candidates.

His theological Heresy was an attempt to show that Christ was also a man. The reason he wanted to do this was in response to scholars of his day who placed far too much emphasis on the Deity of Chris; so much so that they were starting to teach that Christ couldn’t have come from Mary because God could not come from a mortal woman. He was trying to bring a balance, but his understanding of the nature of Jesus (Hypostatic Union) was off and heretical.

The Nestorians believed that Jesus was a combination of two separate persons, the man and God. I was thinking of this subject and it is kind of like saying Jesus had Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Identity Dissociative Disorder). For those of you out there who know more about Psychology than I do, I know this should be applied here but I was trying to bring a little levity to this topic. Anyway, why would I say that? A person with MPD has two separate personalities in one body. This is how the Nestorians viewed Christ, two separate and distinct beings.

Most Trinitarian theologians will tell you that the incarnation is a union of two natures into one personality, God the Son. Nestorians literally taught that there were two separate personalities. One being a man named Jesus and the other being God (hence the MPD joke). They see the man (one individual personality) indwelt by Jesus.

 

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Sources Consulted

  • Shedd, W. G. T. (2003). Dogmatic theology (A. W. Gomes, Ed.) (3rd ed.) (958). Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub.
  • Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1910). History of the Christian church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  • Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
  • Douglas, J. (1992). Nestorius. In J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort (Eds.), Who’s Who in Christian history (J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort, Ed.) (502–503). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.
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