Lent: Day 19 of 40 - Apollinarus

Apollinarus was eager to defy Arians – determined to assert that Jesus was more than a superman between God and human. He said that the mind and soul of Jesus was of one substance with the Father, though his heart and body remained human. He may have overstated his case – his followers certainly did, ending up with another version of adoptionism with Jesus’ brain replaced by God’s, his heart his own.

The Cappadocians, Basil and 2 Gregories, were more successful in opposing both Arian and Appolinarian heresies by turning the case around and saying “what was not assumed, was not redeemed” so that Jesus’ essence was the same as the Father, one of three hypostases but being of one substance with the Father, homoousias.

Basil was born rich and famous – his father’s mother a saint, his mother a martyr’s daughter. Educated in Athens and Constantinople, Basil toured the hermits of Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia, upon graduation. He came home, wrote up a ‘Rule’ for organized monasticism, and set up a hermitage. He was the ‘doer’.

Basil ends up metropolitan of Cappadocia anyhow, despite his attempt to step outside the diocesan organization. He used his position to found monasteries, hospitals for the sick asylums for the poor, and hospices for travelers. And organizer who opposed waste, he relied on his friend and his brother, Gregory of Nazanzius and Gregory of Nyssa, as orators and thinkers.

The Cappadocians opened up new heresies like ‘modalism’, saying the essence of God is manifested in 3 modes of being, each with special characteristics (creating, interceding, inspiring), and introducing the language of ‘ransom’ to talk of Jesus’ death, and developing the language of ‘realism’ in describing communion. These are the excesses of emphasizing the unity of Trinity against the Arian subordination of Jesus as semi-divine.

These guys did right things, before they thought right things. They were not lone rangers, but team players and organizers. Reacting or overreacting to one heresy, Arianism, that made Jesus less than God and more than human, they rode a pendulum over into other heresies. They balanced the extreme speculations of Alexandria, and of the desert monks, as the fault lines between what would become the Coptic, and the Orthodox, and the Catholic communions were beginning to emerge.

What part of Jesus could be divine, while leaving him still human, for you?

Can he have a divine mind and know all things, as long as he has a human heart?

What’s the fundamental element of being human for you: heart, brain, or soul?