Preserving the whole theological system: Maximus the Confessor’s dyothelitism as a bulwark for trinitarian theology, christology, and soteriology


Abstract

This paper examines Maximus the Confessor’s thought concerning the pressing urgency of his day, namely, the threat posed by monothelitism and monenergism. What were the theological stakes, as he saw them, for orthodoxy that prompted such stark resistance to imperial attempts at a doctrinal compromise? The paper focuses first on the mode of union in the Incarnation and the manner of the assump­tion of the human nature, including a human will and a human operation. Maximus also manages to rescue orthodoxy’s fathers, especially Gregory Nazianzen, Cyril of Alexandria, and Dionysius and from his opponents’ interpretations of various ¢por…ai. The second section considers Maximus’s presentation of the synthetic heterodoxy and its inevitable result, namely that one composite will in Jesus Christ – in isolating Christ from the Godhead on the one hand and from true humanity on the other – ultimately destroys all of theology. How can Christ save or divinize man if he is no longer like man? He cannot, says Maximus. Instead, Christ would become a sort of tertium quid, neither God nor man, in one movement unraveling Trinitarian theology, Christology, and soteriology. The concluding section briefly considers the immediate impact of Maximus from his martyrdom, including the matter of Constantinople III’s strange failure to mention Maximus in the conciliar text. Finally, this section explores Maximus in our own time, especially how the theology that developed in the seventh century through Maximus is a sort of an­swer to some of the difficulties of post-Enlightenment modernity.


Keywords

Council of Chalcedon; Council of Constantinople III; Cyril of Alexandria; Dionysius the Areopagite; Gregory Nazianzen; Maximus the Confessor; Pyrrhus of Constantinople; monenergism; monothelitism

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Published : 2018-12-16


Clarke, K. (2018). Preserving the whole theological system: Maximus the Confessor’s dyothelitism as a bulwark for trinitarian theology, christology, and soteriology. Vox Patrum, 68, 479-500. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.3373

Kevin M. Clarke 
Ave Maria University  United States