The Christological Controversy

This research examines the Christological controversy in fifth-century Christianity. It was an outgrowth of and overlapped with the so-called Trinitiarian controversy, which was resolved in AD 381 at the Council of Constantinople, where it was declared that the Godhead comprised three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, "begotten, not made, of one substance"--the Son and Spirit "proceeding from" but not subsidiary to the Father, who is coequal with Son and Spirit, who are also coequal (Nicene Creed, 1954, p. 372).

The Trinitarian debate achieved importance in part because of disagreement over the issue of Christ's existence as divine or human. Even when, in 381, the Council of Constantinople declared Christ to be divine, there was still the lingering problem of history, notably, the fact that the first-century Jew who was crucified was known to have been a human being. Because it was this person who was identified with the Christ/Godhead figure, there emerged the problem of how to conceptualize him: God, man, both, etc. Humanity of the historical Jesus faced the Christ who was of one substance with Father and Spirit. How could this religion make sense unless there was a coherent explanation for the existential status of its founder?

The big picture of the Christological debate is that it surfaced around Pelagianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism. Contained in each designated area is a piece of the doctrine that, ultimately, concluded that Jesus had two natures, divine



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