Reasons for Chalcedonian Orthodoxy
1. What’s the difference between the view (Nestorianism) that Jesus was two people—one fully human and one fully divine—and the official catholic view above? Both hold that there are two natures and two wills. What’s the difference?
[Trent Dougherty] I think the hinge issue is unity of agency. It’s a *person* who acts, who accrues moral status (being praiseworthy, being a moral example, being the King, etc.). It was important that there was one person who was the Messiah not two people. For example, in the Crucifixion the Nestorian view is that the human person died and the divine person did not. If so, why venerate the divine person and to what avail did the human person die.
(St. Dominic preaching to the heretics)
2. Why is it so important that Jesus be fully human? Why does it have to be a human who saves us from our sins?
[Trent Dougherty] There is a strong tradition from the patristic period and flowering in the Medieval period that the uniting of the human nature to the divine nature conferred a great honor on all humans. It’s hard to make out exactly what the view was but it was a common one. A very imperfect analogy would be the pride I take in being at Rochester in virtue of the fact that Peter van Inwagen went here and Keith Lehrer taught here. Now that got precious little to do with my present circumstances, but it is an undeniable fact that it makes me feel special.
This might have become important in light of the fact that by far the biggest intellectual battle the Church has ever fought—from antiquity to present—is against various forms of Gnosticism. In affirming that the divine second person of the Trinity actually became fully united to a human nature in the Incarnation the Church was utterly rejecting Gnosticism and affirming the redeemability and dignity of the physical as a matter of the utmost doctrine. Clearly Nestorius’ theology was much more amenable to Gnostics and it’s also hard to see how it wouldn’t slide into the Gnostic-like heresy of Arianism. It was in part a pastoral decision.