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Christianity / Orientations / Heresy /
Monothelitism


In Christianity, the concept of Christ having only one will. It comes from Greek, "one will".
Monothelitism was an attempt to mend the gap between the Chalcedonian and Monophysite understandings of the nature(s) of Christ. This conflict had been going on since the first half of the 5th century, when the Monothelite definition was introduced early in the 7th century.
Monothelitism avoided the apparently unsolvable question of whether Christ had two natures, one human and one divine, or only one nature. Rather it placed the focus on stating that the nature(s) had only one will and one operation, although, still Christ was defined to have two natures. the compromise intended to give the Monophysites the one will, while the Chalcedonians would keep their dual nature.
The idea would cause much interest, it was approved by both the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Pope of Rome. But quickly the controversy would show itself, and Monothelitism would never become a success. It was largely because it did not solve any conflicts, it simply introduced more to disagree upon.
Another factor of great importance was the conquest of Arab Muslims of the Christian territory inhabited by Monophysites. As these lands fell out of the hands of the Byzantine emperor, the conciliation politics of Monothelitism became meaningless.

History
Around 430: Nestorius declares the first formulation of Monophysitism.
451: The Council of Chalcedon, is unsuccessful at finding a compromise between the Monophysite view of Christ and the view of the Western church.
Early 7th century: Byzantine emperor, Heraclius, promotes the Monotelite idea, in which Christ is not defined by his nature(s) but by will.
622: Heraclius aims at convincing the Monophysites of the Armenian church of Monothelitism.
634: Invasion into territories with a Monophystie population by Arab Muslims. Within the next 8 years, most of Monophysite territory would fall out of the hands of the Byzantine emperor.
638: Heraclius publishes the Ekthesis, defining Monothelitism.
648: New Byzantine emperor, Constans 2, forbids all discussion over the idea of Monothelitism.
680-681: Third Council of Constantinople, where the idea of Monothelitism was debated. It ended with declaring Christ with two wills and two operations, both together in the body of Christ.




By Tore Kjeilen