Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning 'one' and
physis meaning 'nature') is the christological position that Christ has only one nature, as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human. There are two major doctrines
that can undisputedly be called
- Eutychianism holds that the human nature of Christ was essentially obliterated by the Divine, "dissolved like a drop of honey in the sea".
- Apollinarianism holds that Christ had a human body and human "living principle" but that the Divine Logos had taken the place of the nous, or "thinking principle", analogous but not identical
to what might be called a
mind in the present day.
The radical monophysitism of Eutyches emerged in Egypt as a response to Nestorianism. It was rejected at the
Council of Chalcedon in 451 and is also rejected by the
Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Later, monothelitism was developed as an attempt to bridge the gap between the monophysite and the Chalcedonian position, but it too was rejected by the Chalcedonians, despite at times having the support of the Byzantine Emperors.
Some are of the opinion that
monothelitism was at one time held by the Maronites, but they, for the most part, dispute this, stating that the Maronite Community has never been out of communion with the
Roman Catholic Church.
Miaphysitism, the Christology of the
Oriental Orthodox Churches, is sometimes considered a variant of monophysitism, but these Churches are at pains to distinguish their teaching from monophysitism per se.