Friday, February 25, 2005

Was Theodoret of Cyrus a Nestorian?

This is the question that David T. King asks on the NoTRoMan board. Regarding Theodoret personally, the answer is "probably not." But it is beyond doubt that he wrote some works that were condemned as Nestorian at the Second Council of Constantinople, although he later disavowed them. So I suppose the real question is whether the particular works quoted in conjunction with this question were Nestorian in character. Let's look at that question.

The cited work of Theodoret, a commentary on Hebr. 7:3, reads as follows:

Of Melchizedek, by contrast, the divine Scripture did not inform us of father or mother or race, or how long he lived or when he reached the end of his life. So according to this he is without father, without mother, without family tree, with no beginning to his days or end to his life; of these details the divine Scripture gives us nothing. Christ the Lord, of course, has each of these by nature and in reality: while as God he is without mother, being begotten of the Father, as man he is without father, being born only of a mother – the virgin, I mean. As God he is without family tree: the one begotten of the unbegotten Father does not require a family tree. With no beginning to his days: the begetting was eternal. With no end to his days: he has an immortal nature. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 162. In an endnote on the word “virgin” employed by Theodoret, Robert Charles Hill comments: “Rarely mentioned by Theodoret, and always nameless.” (p. 202).

So let's turn now to one of Theodoret's condemned propositions that appears to be drawing a conclusion based on this premise that the Ever-Virgin Mary should not be identified as "Mother of God":

Against I. -- But all we who follow the words of the evangelists state that God the Word was not made flesh by nature, nor yet was changed into flesh; for the Divine is immutable and invariable. Wherefore also the prophet David says, "Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." And this the great Paul, the herald of the truth, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, states to have been spoken of the Son. And in another place God says through the Prophet, "I am the Lord: I change not." If then the Divine is immutable and invariable, it is incapable of change or alteration. And if the immutable cannot be changed, then God the Word was not made flesh by mutation, but took flesh and tabernacled in us, according to the word of the evangelist. This the divine Paul expresses clearly in his Epistle to the Philippians in the words, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant." Now it is plain from these words that the form of God was not changed into the form of a servant, but, remaining what it was, took the form of the servant. So God the Word was not made flesh, but assumed living and reasonable flesh. He Himself is not naturally conceived of the Virgin, fashioned, formed, and deriving beginning of existence from her; He who is before the ages, God, and with God, being with the Father and with the Father both known and worshipped; but He fashioned for Himself a temple in the Virgin's womb, and was with that which was formed and begotten. Wherefore also we style that holy Virgin qeotokos, not because she gave birth in natural manner to God, but to man united to the God that had fashioned Him. Moreover if He that was fashioned in the Virgin's womb was not man but God the Word Who is before the ages, then God the Word is a creature of the Holy Ghost. For that which was conceived in her, says Gabriel, is of the Holy Ghost. But if the only begotten Word of God is uncreate and of one substance and co-eternal with the Father it is no longer a formation or creation of the Spirit. And if the Holy Ghost did not fashion God the Word in the Virgin's womb, it follows that we understand the form of the servant to have been fashioned, formed, conceived, and generated. But since the form was not stripped of the form of God, but was a Temple containing God the Word dwelling in it, according to the words of Paul "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell" "bodily," we call the Virgin not mother of man (anqrwpotokos) but mother of God (qeotokos), applying the former title to the fashioning and conception, but the latter to the union. For this cause the child who was born is called Emmanuel, neither God separated from human nature nor man stripped of Godhead. For Emmanuel is interpreted to mean "God with us ", according to the words of the Gospels; and the expression "God with us" at once manifests Him Who for our sakes was assumed out of us, and proclaims God the Word Who assumed. Therefore the child is called Emmanuel on account of God Who assumed, and the Virgin qeotokos on account of the union of the form of God with the conceived form of a servant. For God the Word was not changed into flesh, but the form of God took the form of a servant.

Ouch! That looks awfully close. Maybe we ought to check the anathemas by the Second Council of Constantinople, just to make sure.

2. If anyone will not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, that which is before all ages from the Father, outside time and without a body, and secondly that nativity of these latter days when the Word of God came down from the heavens and was made flesh of holy and glorious Mary, mother of God and ever-virgin, and was born from her: let him be anathema.

3. If anyone declares that the [Word] of God who works miracles is not identical with the Christ who suffered, or alleges that God the Word was with the Christ who was born of woman, or was in him in the way that one might be in another, but that our lord Jesus Christ was not one and the same, the Word of God incarnate and made man, and that the miracles and the sufferings which he voluntarily underwent in the flesh were not of the same person: let him be anathema.

6. If anyone declares that it can be only inexactly and not truly said that the holy and glorious ever-virgin Mary is the mother of God, or says that she is so only in some relative way, considering that she bore a mere man and that God the Word was not made into human flesh in her, holding rather that the nativity of a man from her was referred, as they say, to God the Word as he was with the man who came into being; if anyone misrepresents the holy synod of Chalcedon, alleging that it claimed that the virgin was the mother of God only according to that heretical understanding which the blasphemous Theodore put forward; or if anyone says that she is the mother of a man or the Christ-bearer, that is the mother of Christ, suggesting that Christ is not God; and does not formally confess that she is properly and truly the mother of God, because he who before all ages was born of the Father, God the Word, has been made into human flesh in these latter days and has been born to her, and it was in this religious understanding that the holy synod of Chalcedon formally stated its belief that she was the mother of God: let him be anathema.

13. If anyone defends the heretical writings of Theodoret which were composed against the true faith, against the first holy synod of Ephesus and against holy Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also defends what Theodoret wrote to support the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and others who think in the same way as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius and accept them or their heresy and if anyone, because of them, shall accuse of being heretical the doctors of the church who have stated their belief in the union according to subsistence of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these heretical books and those who have thought or now think in this way, and all those who have written against the true faith or against holy Cyril and his twelve chapters, and who persist in such heresy until they die: let him be anathema.

Such then are the assertions we confess. We have received them from

1. holy Scripture, from
2. the teaching of the holy fathers, and from
3. the definitions about the one and the same faith made by the aforesaid four holy synods.

Moreover, condemnation has been passed by us against the heretics and their impiety, and also against those who have justified or shall justify the so-called "Three Chapters", and against those who have persisted or will persist in their own error. If anyone should attempt to hand on, or to teach by word or writing, anything contrary to what we have regulated, then if he is a bishop or somebody appointed to the clergy, in so far as he is acting contrary to what befits priests and the ecclesiastical status, let him be stripped of the rank of priest or cleric, and if he is a monk or lay person, let him be anathema.

Can't see much of a way around it. Looks like it's anathematized as heretical Nestorianism. Well, at least no one actually ENDORSED that view. As the Council put it:

Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Or as St. Cyril himself says:

The holy synod of Ephesus, meeting in accordance with the will of God, has pronounced sentence against the heresy of Nestorius and has condemned according to justice and with accuracy both Nestorius himself and all those who might later, in inane fashion, adopt the same opinions as he held, and those who had previously adhered to the same opinions and who were bold enough to put them in writing, placing upon them all an equal condemnation. It was quite logical that when a condemnation was issued against one person for such stupidity in what he said, then that condemnation should apply not only to that person alone but also, so to speak, against all those who spread the heresies and untruths. They express these falsehoods against the true dogmas of the church, offering worship to two sons, trying to divide what cannot be divided, and introducing to both heaven and earth the offence of the worship of man. But the sacred band of heavenly spirits worship along with us only one lord Jesus Christ.

So, as I said good thing that no one behaved in such an "inane fashion" as to adopt this view, and thereby partake of the Nestorian "stupidity." Errr, what was that you said there, Dr. Svendsen?

I made this same point by citing this same passage at the end of my article titled The New Roman Catholic Apollinarimonophysites.

OK, OK, but surely you didn't use it to support the Nestorian "stupidity," right? Let's see, there's a quote right here...

The Roman Catholic e-pologist position goes something like this: Jesus is God; Mary is the Mother of Jesus; therefore, Mary is the Mother of God (see, e.g., , premises 7 & 8, and conclusion; and Aside from the logical fallacies inherent in this syllogism (see my book, Evangelical Answers), Evangelicals rightly reject this syllogism based on the distinction between Jesus' humanity (which was "mothered" by Mary) and Jesus' divinity (which had no mother).

Oh, my.

What could have inspired you to directly incur the anathema of an ecumenical council?

Roman Catholic e-pologists like to respond to this objection by insisting that Mary didn't give birth to a nature, but rather a person, and that Jesus was a "divine person" who took on a human nature. This is the Apollinarian heresy resurrected from the theological grave.
In short, Apollinaris' view was that Christ was a body of flesh formed and animated by a nous (spirit and intellect), but that the nous was not human, but rather divine. What Apollinaris means by nous is "person."

Oh, I see. You don't know the difference between a person (hypostasis) and a nature, which is exactly Nestorianism! Now it all makes sense! I wonder if that shows up anywhere else. Let's see, there was this accusation of Monophysitism...

According to Augustine, Mary could not have been the "Mother of God," since Jesus in His divinity had no mother. He insists over and over again in this passage that Mary was the mother of Jesus humanity only.

Yep, you definitely do not know the difference between a person and a nature. Wow, imagine actually talking about Christological heresies without even bothering to learn that! St. Cyril would call that "stupidity." I'll be more charitable and call it blindly irrational anti-Catholicism. Either way, on behalf of all of us orthodox creedal Christians like myself and St. Cyril, I'd like to commend Dr. Svendsen for openly admitting his heresy, allowing us to expose it to the light of day and the anathemas of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

And evidently, this error trickles down to Dr. Svendsen's followers as well. A poster called "Hilasterion" offered the following observation:

To the extent that they cannot abide anyone speaking of just one of Christ's natures, yes he would be considered a heretic.

For the record, we have no objection to people speaking about just one of Christ's natures, as long as they aren't denying the one divine person of the Word of God. That Jesus is the same divine person as the Word of God is clearly presented in Scripture, including the letter to the Hebrews.

Incredibly enough, Svendsen recently posted this on his blog:

Why such an emphasis on belief in the Resurrection? Because if Christ died for our sins but was not raised from the dead, then redemption is incomplete. Man consists of more than his just immaterial part (soul, spirit, psyche)--he has a physical body, and that body needs to be redeemed; and if he has not risen from the dead, he has not redeemed the body. And if Christ has not redeemed the whole man, he has redeemed nothing.

You'd think that someone who actually believed this would have the sense to worry about whether or not his Christology was Nestorian, since major Christological heresies involve a denial that Christ is fully God and fully man. This is essentially an argument for why his position actually denies our salvation, and hence, cannot possibly be compatible with the Gospel.

Let NBC know what you think

Father Bryce gets a tip of my Colt .45s hat for catching one more insult in the ever-widening cultural assault on Catholics.

During the February 22 episode of the NBC-TV sitcom, “Committed,” two non-Catholics are mistakenly given Holy Communion at a Catholic funeral Mass. Nate, who is Jewish, and Bowie, a Protestant, don’t know what to do with the Eucharist, so they make several failed attempts to get rid of it. For example, they try slipping it into the pocket of a priest, dropping it on a tray of cheese and crackers, etc.

It only gets worse from there. I already thought this show was awful, but I watched other NBC shows. Not anymore. Unless NBC shows some contrition over this incident, they have lost my viewership. Please contact NBC and your local affiliates to get the word out that this sort of thing won't be tolerated.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is Chemnitz Chalcedonian?

This is the continuation of a ridiculously long discussion that began in the comments section of this thread, moved to this thread, and then this thread, and it's also being discussed in part of this thread at Pontifications.

The bottom line is that I think Martin Chemnitz violated the Chalcedonian prohibition against confusing the natures by arguing that the sacramental presence in the Lord's Supper is by divine will. I explained it at Pontifications this way:

Chemnitz says:“On the basis of the doctrine of the personal union, therefore, this axiom is very true and sure, and all the gates of hell cannot overturn it, namely, that the Logos, can be present with His assumed human nature wherever, whenever, and however He wills, not only in some place with His essential attributes but also according to and on account of the secret and ineffable personal union of the humanity with deity. When He wishes His body or assumed nature to be present, sought, apprehended is to be decided and judged not by our own argumentation, although it may have the appearance of form of rational logic, but only on the basis of the sure Word of God revealed in Scripture.

For this presence of Christ’s assumed human nature, of which we are now speaking, is not a natural or essential presence, but a voluntary and wholly free presence which depends only on the will and power of the Son of God, that is, on His promises and assertions to us whereby with definite word He assures us of His will to be present with His human nature.”

This is echoed in the Formula of Concord:“Even as many eminent ancient teachers, Justin, Cyprian, Augustine, Leo, Gelasius, Chrysostom and others, use this simile concerning the words of Christ’s testament: This is My body, that just as in Christ two distinct, unchanged natures are inseparably united, so in the Holy Supper the two substances, the natural bread and the true natural body of Christ, are present together here upon earth in the appointed administration of the Sacrament. 38] Although this union of the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine is not a personal union, as that of the two natures in Christ, but as Dr. Luther and our theologians, in the frequently mentioned Articles of Agreement [Formula of Concord] in the year 1536 and in other places call it sacramentatem unionem, that is, a sacramental union, by which they wish to indicate that , although they also employ the formas: in pane, sub pane, cum pane, that is, these distinctive modes of speech: in the bread, under the bread, with the bread, yet they have received the words of Christ properly and as they read, and have understood the proposition, that is, the words of Christ’s testament: Hoc est corpus meum, This is My body, not as a figuratam propositionem, but inusitatam (that is, not as a figurative, allegorical expression or comment, but as an unusual expression).”

Now, the notion seems to be that the divine will can give the human nature, Christ’s Body, a kind of presence that it does not have naturally; namely, the voluntary or willed presence. That strikes me as a straight confusion or mixing of the natures, which can *never* happen under Chalcedon (viz., the fact that it happens only under the special circumstances of the sacrament doesn’t make it any more permissible than would be a temporary annihilation of the human nature). I think that the difficulty is fundamentally Christological because of the use of the patristic analogy drawn between the Eucharist and the hypostatic union, and in this case, it seems that the problem is Monothelete in character, since the divine will overrides even the properties of the human nature. But it could arguably be Nestorian instead (although I’d note that Nestorians also endorsed a form of monotheletism), since the “sacramental union” seems to be a reality formed from the natures being joined to one another but not fused with one another (Monophysitism). The monothelete hypothesis seems quite plausible to me for two reasons:(1) As Josh S has explained it, Lutheran doctrine apparently holds that the both the divine and human wills act in communion in all acts of Christ, so that there cannot be acts purely of the divine will. That would suggest an impermissible confusion of the wills akin to monotheletism (and condemned by Constantinople), assuming he is correct. Moreover, this confusion appears to derive from exactly the Origenistic dialectic of opposition that St. Maximus rejects in rebutting monothelitism.(2) The Lutherans seem to have had quite a poor understanding of the patristic concept of theosis, and in particular, their account of the deification of the will used to explain the aforementioned communion of the wills in all actions appears to flatly contradict St. Maximus’s account. This sloppy handling of the communicatio idiomatum with respect to the wills could certainly explain why they didn’t perceive the contradiction with the patristic writings in their account of the Lord’s Supper.

Now it’s certainly not an *obvious* problem, but I think it is an extremely serious problem. It truly appears that this concept of the Real Presence violates the Chalcedonian prohibition on the confusion of the natures.

Far from reassuring me, the responses have only made me more doubtful, as I will explain below. My earlier words are in blue, Eric Phillips' words are in red, and my responses are in back:

"The whole point is that without the 'nature without hypostasis' concept, the hypostatic union doesn't work."

Your assumption that Christ's humanity _had_ a hypostasis in the first place is itself semi-Nestorian. A hypostasis is a particular instance of an ousia. From the first moment that Jesus existed as a particular instance of human nature, He was also divine. The only hypostasis Jesus has ever had, qua His humanity, is the unique Hypostasis of the God-Man, which before the Incarnation was eternally that of the Logos.

For reference, my previous statement referred toward the hypostasis of the human nature having been subsumed by the person of the Word. That isn't to say that I think that the human nature had any pre-existent hypostasis (thanks for that clarification), but the reason for the human nature lacking a hypostasis is its union to the divine person of Christ. I argued that this is analogous to St. Thomas's notion of the substance of the bread/wine being subsumed by the substance of Christ.

Also, your comment, while interesting, doesn't explain what you find objectionable about a "willed local presence."

The objection to Chemnitz's notion of a "willed local presence" is that the mechanism seems to violate Chalcedon, since it changes an attribute of the nature (presence) by divine will. While St. Thomas's notion of accidents without substance might seem odd initially, it is at least analogous to the nature without its own hypostasis asserted in the hypostatic union. Although that mechanism could be wrong, it doesn't involve the operation of the divine will in a way that violates the integrity of the human nature.

"You also get confusion of the natures if anything is willed contrary to one of the natures."

Jonathan! Think what you're saying! Suffering is contrary to the divine nature, and yet God suffered on the cross. Eternal life is contrary to the human nature, and yet Christ and all His Own are going to live eternally. You're rejecting the whole communicatio idiomatum here!

OK, this is exactly what I'm talking about. God's impassible divine nature most assuredly did not suffer on the Cross. The human nature suffered on the cross, and because one person has both divine and human nature, that person suffered on the cross. But to imagine that the divine nature suffered would be monstrous. Eternal life is hardly contrary to human nature. Death was a corruption of the fall, but all bodies will eventually be raised incorruptible (the damned to eternal torment, and the holy to everlasting life with God). There is nothing unnatural about a human being raised to life; the unnatural part was that they died in the first place. Theosis (partaking in the divine nature) can never be construed as a communication of attributes one to another. Do you not realize that your version of the communicatio idiomatum is blasphemous according to Chalcedon?

Josh S continued as follows:
I don't agree with Aquinas' account. It sounds like he is making the "hypostasis" a third thing. It sounds like he's tending philosophically toward Nestorianism, but needs to find himself an out.

The lack of an individual hypostasis in the human nature is not from Aquinas; it's from the Greek Fathers in opposition to Nestorianism. It would be awfully odd for the people condemning Nestorianism to tend toward Nestorianism. Again, Meyendorff's Christ in Eastern Christian Thought does wonders for explaining this.

Chemnitz's account of the scholastics' eventual rejection of the communicatio maiestaticum is interesting; Pieper maintains that it was still the case in the 19th. Of course, the Orthodox teach no such thing. You seem to be falling into the trap of trying to derive what is possible because of the human nature by pure reason rather than Scripture.

That's probably because you aren't considering the Orthodox teaching of theosis, which completely contradicts the notion of attributes of the divine essence being communicated to a human essence.

BTW, many Lutherans do teach a communicated omnipresence to the human nature, but this is in the same sort of way divine glory is communicated to the human nature.

Considering that the Orthodox account is that divine glory is communicated to the human nature by participation in uncreated energies rather than the divine essence, that would be pretty hard to support.

It's not natural for a human being to be worshipped (cf the entire OT), but Jesus is worshipped as God (cf the entire NT).

He's worshipped as a person, not as an essence.

Jesus' presence throughout the universe, then, is a communicated presence, not a diffusion of his body throughout space or an annihilation of his body's natural mode of presence.

Show me one other human being with "communicated presence."

Explaning in terms of raw ontology how this is or its precise nature is simply beyond the capability of human reason, and any attempts to do so are pure folly.

Which is why the Orthodox kept it simple. Christ's human nature is exactly like ours in all ways except sin. If Christ's human nature is in any way different from ours, then we aren't saved.

I do like how you completely ignored Eric pointing out that miracles happen according to the will of God, and that Catholics teach transubstantiation is a miracle...

God can't violate the integrity of His own human nature. Violating the integrity of bread and wine is not forbidden by Chalcedon.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Truth via error?

In commenting on a response made by the Pontificator to one of his arguments, Lutheran blogger Chris Atwood made the following observation about the question of the authorship of certain New Testament books:

If this is the case, the Pontificator’s view of church authority is far stronger and more troubling than that of Shari DeSilva. What he is implying is that pious frauds written in the second century to "nail" Gnostics and deceitfully attributed to Paul to enhance their authority - - for this is what critical scholarship takes these epistles to be - - can be turned into inerrant and unimpeachable writings by church authority. Not only that, since the letters in question were universally accepted as genuine by the early church, the Pontificator will be forced, if he continues to hold this view, to accept that the process of canonization proceeded by a kind of strange ex opere operato in which documents mistakenly assumed to be genuine by the church and approved on that basis do really become inerrant and unimpeachable as a result of church decision. Wow! What now remains of the church’s supposed infallibility? Dishonesty turned into inerrancy by the mechanics of a church council; the cheated church hierarchy imposing the document that cheated them on the world at large - - and having God’s approval to do so!

This criticism seems reminiscent of other arguments that I hear about the doctrine of the Assumption/Dormition coming from the heretical Transitus literature, about papal infallibility coming from pseudo-Isidorean decretals, and about erroneous doctrines of penance and justification coming from the mistranslations of the Vulgate (specifically, the L. "do penance" in place of Gk. "turn away from" and the L. "make righteous" in place of the Gk. "declare righteous"). Leaving aside the relative absurdity of labeling pseudepigraphy as "dishonesty" (an anachronism if ever I saw one), it would seem that this entire line of criticism partakes of the same nihilism that inevitably lands one in the lap of Harnack or Bultmann. If the great strength of Christianity as a worldview is its assimilative power for alien beliefs, as Lutheran scholar Bruce D. Marshall argues in Trinity and Truth, then it would seem entirely necessary for Christianity to make sense of beliefs taken from alien worldviews in a harmonious way. Otherwise, it can hardly be the kind of "grounding" worldview that can give meaning to the entire scope of truth. Indeed, such a reductive view of Christianity effectively negates the possibility of infallible divine revelation through fallible human beings.

Far from it being a question of the false becoming true by the Church's ratification "ex opere operato," the process of inspecting teachings by resonance with the Church's faith is a natural part of the Church's life. If we can't trust the Church to know its own faith, then we can't trust any concept of divine revelation. [Incidentally, this also explains how there could have been disagreement, albeit limited, on what was inspired Scripture without that being a church-sundering issue.] This is not to say that it is impossible for the Church to correct itself, but it does so within the life of the Church, not in response to some outside concept of objective truth.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Taking the creeds for granted

Sorry for seeming obsessed with James White by having two consecutive posts about him (not to mentioning planning to attend Patty Bonds' lecture this weekend), but something he said struck me as particularly odd lately. Anyway, Pastor White was responding to a hyper-calvinist, which apparently refers to a Calvinist who not only holds TULIP as the Gospel but also thinks that a truly regenerate person cannot accept the possibility that someone who doesn't hold to TULIP will be saved. On that point, I agree that the so-called "hyper-Calvinists" are far off the deep end. But I thought the substance of White's rejoinder was a bit odd.

The unidentified hyper-calvinist said:
Anyone who says that people who believe in universal atonement are saved is taking sides with Satan, calling God a liar and is not a Christian.

White's response began as follows:
Anyone who says that people who believe in duotheletism are saved is taking sides with Satan, calling God a liar and is not a Christian.

Without using Google or taking your eyes off your monitor, sir, do you know if you are condemned by that statement? Do you know what duotheletism is? It's important. It has to do with the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and His person, all vitally important things, just like the extent of the atonement. So, are you a duotheletist or a monotheletist? Do you know? If we make such important, yet complicated, aspects of the faith the standard by which we know if a person is a Christian, how many people are Christians today, sir?

I see this as unusual for two reasons. First, there seems to be an entirely arbitrary cutoff as to what is and isn't easy enough to be essential knowledge to Christianity. After all, isn't faith based on the Gospel? I consider Calvinism's version of salvation by grace to be anything but easily comprehensible. Moreover, in the way that it is presented by Pastor White and others, it turns on hairsplitting interpretations of the koine Greek language, hardly the most ordinary matter. Not only that, it's koine interpretation upon which a massive array of scholars disagree, so you have to figure out whether Douglas Moo's refutation of N.T. Wright is valid or not, and whether E.B.C. Cranfield is just showing Catholic bias when he includes the Catholic interpretation among his 30-odd possible views of a particular passage. There probably aren't all that many people in the world (if any) with sufficient expertise to make those judgments about every book of the Bible so comprehensively that they could come to a definitive conclusion, much less an irrefutable conclusion. So by this reasoning, I'd say that the Gospel has basically zero content. But that sure doesn't explain why they pile on Catholicism so much.

What I found really unusual was that he used the example of monothelitism versus duothelitism. As far as I can tell, Calvinism is straight-up monothelitism. All of Western theology may have that gloss to it, and if Perry Robinson and Daniel Jones are right, all of Western theology devolves into monothelitism at some level. But in the case of Calvinism, it's pretty much the pure and unadulterated confession of a single will, not just in Christ but in everything. In fact, if there is one Christological doctrine on which the somewhat nominalist origins of Protestantism have the most difficulty, it's monothelitism. At least the Origenist dialectic includes two options (perhaps winnowed down to one in the eschaton by Ss. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas). Calvinism has NONE. You are free to do exactly what your nature makes you want to do, and that is that, incidentally meaning that the notion that secondary causes excuses God from being the author of evil goes right out the window. So yeah, it's a great question to ask someone whether they are condemned for denying duothelitism, but I've got to wonder if White knows the answer to that question himself.