What is Nestorianism?


By BibleAsk Team


Nestorianism is a Christian theological belief that endorses several teachings in Christology and Mariology. It clashes with the notion of hypostatic union and stresses that the two natures (human and divine) of Jesus Christ were united by will rather than nature.


During the second and third centuries, theologians had controversies over the nature of Christ. So, the church settled these issues after much discussions by stating that Jesus had both a divine and human nature in the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Then, the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 followed. Then, the focus was to define: how could the two individual natures of Christ exist in one person?

The debate focused on two conflicting schools of thought, one in Alexandria and the other in Antioch, Syria. Both schools recognized the unity of divinity and humanity in the one person – Jesus Christ. The Alexandrian school stressed the unity of the two natures and emphasized the importance of the deity aspect. And the Antiochian school stressed the difference between the two natures and emphasized the importance of the human aspect.

Supporters of the Antioch school stated that divinity and humanity consisted of a relation of continuous coexistence and cooperation without actually merging. And they divided the two natures in the one person and declared that there was not a complete union but only everlasting connection. The two natures formed the unity of the respective wills. Thus, the union was imperfect, in which the two natures were not truly united in a one individual.

On the other hand, the Alexandrians believed in a supernatural and complete commingling of the two natures, the human being bonded into one with the divine and made secondary to it. Thus, God entered humanity. Christ was able to guide humanity back to God by this union of Godhead and humans.

Nestorianism Condemned

The conflict between these two schools of thought reached its peak in the Nestorian controversy early in the 5th century. Nestorius, of Antioch, accepted the true deity and true humanity, but rejected their union. According to Nestorianism Christ is really two persons having a moral union but not affected by the other. Thus, there is God and there is a human; but there is no God-human.

The third ecumenical church council at Ephesus in 431 aimed at ending this controversy between the schools of Antioch and Alexandria. And the council condemned Nestorianism and didn’t write a new creed to replace the Nicene Creed. In this way, it didn’t achieve anything except make the division bigger.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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