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Monothelitism

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The doctrine of Monothelitism states that Christ has two divine natures but only one will. This belief was seen as contrary to the council of Chalcedon, which stated that Christ had two natures, human and divine. The Monothelites claimed that it was possible to have two natures, and only one will. Nestorianism, a heresy that had been condemned not only at Chalcedon, but also more recently at the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553, was combated by the Monothelites, leading to a certain degree of acceptance in the church. Many opponents to Monothelitism emerged, and the church had no official position at that time.

One such opponent was St. Maximus the Confessor. St. Maximus combated Monothelitism by citing Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, a passage used by the Monothelites to propagate their doctrine. Monothelites stated that Jesus and the Father had one will, while Maximus stated that Jesus submitted his will to The Father's. Maximus writes, "Just as through one man, who willingly turned away from the good, human nature was changed from incorruption to corruption — unto the misfortune of all humanity — so likewise through one man, Jesus Christ, who willingly refused to turn away from the good, human nature underwent a restoration from corruption to incorruption, unto the benefit of all humanity" (Questions to Thalassius 42).

The overwhelming majority of Christians disagree with Monothelitism, and use the following passages to do so. John 10 says “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”. Christians also cite Hebrews 10 which says, "Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart". Monothelitism was condemned at the 3rd Council of Constantinople, and to this day is condemned by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant Christians.

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