Monophysitism Past And Present: A Study In Christology, by A.A. Luce
Make no mistake, this book is a mess. It is not a worthless mess, something that one should avoid reading, rather a revealing mess that is quite worth reading if you are as fond of reading about Christology and ancient heresies as I am , but it is still a mess nonetheless. Indeed, what makes this book such a mess is that the author appears blindly unaware that in attempting to roast and scorch the monophysites he obviously has little regard for, he hoists himself on his own petard. Indeed, the book is valuable for what it does not say almost as much for what it does, and for revealing that so many famous Christian disputes are between people who are all wrong in different ways, which makes none of their perspectives particularly likeable. One gets the feeling that the author was not looking to be liked, because someone who wants to make friends and influence people is not going to write in such a fashion as this, although one gets the feeling that the author was seeking to ridicule monophysite tendencies in the Christianity of his (and every) age without any sort of sympathy with what he is writing about.
This book is a short one of around 100 pages or so and is divided into several chapters, although the publisher of the book was not thoughtful enough to provide page numbers or introductory material like forewords and introductions and tables of contents to make this book easier to work with. The author begins with a discussion of the metaphysical basis of monophytism in what the author views as a monist worldview (1), after which he looks at the origins of monophytism in philosophy as well as earlier heresies (2). Then the author turns his attention to monophysite doctrine (3) and the question of the Trinity as well as impassability with regards to Jesus Christ’s divine nature. After this the author discusses the ethos of monophytism and its ascetic denial of humanity or the worth of human nature (4). This brief chapter is followed by one that attempts to praise modern psychology (a questionable move at best) by the author that commits the fallacy of anachronism by judging an ancient worldview by a dubiously valuable contemporary idea of psychology that the Monophysites of the past could not have been aware of, after which the author closes with an examination of monophysitism in the present day.
This book is full of so many tensions and contradictions and riddles and enigmas that one wonders how self-aware the author was about how self-refuting his argument was. To be sure, there is a great deal that was erroneous about monophysitism, but the ancient heresies and non-Christian links and philosophical origins of Monophysitism were present in both Nestorianism as well as Trinitarianism, all of which are based on unbiblical worldviews and are contrary to scripture. All of these worldviews have bogus presuppositions by which scriptures are read out of context and with illegitimate assumptions smuggled in as exegesis, and in reading this book I felt little sympathy for the author’s own muddled reasoning and continual ad hominem and tu quoque attacks nor for the people he was criticizing as being Hellenistic Christians of a different and unorthodox sort, even as his praise of Bergson’s psychology and higher criticism demonstrate his own lack of orthodoxy and fidelity to the faith once delivered even when viewed from the point of view of fellow Hellenistic Christians. This book is a revealing and textbook example of why one should not write about historical and theological matters where one has no sympathy of one’s opponents nor any self-knowledge about how attacking them attacks at the grounds of one’s own position.
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