Maximus was tortuously trying to defend Honorius from the charge of monothelitism, because Fr Max inferred he had a sense of the Pope being infallible. This article only pertains to the Disputations. After reading the book, the type of argumentation St Maximus was offering when the issue with Honorius came up was par of the course for its contents. Very thorough, getting into linguistics and turns of phrase—giving a more than charitable view of Honorius than was evidently justified as the Church as subsequently condemned him.

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Maximus the Confessor is known for many things, especially his ardent defense of dyothelitism in the face of physical torture. Yet, many are not aware of his disputation with Pyrrhus, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who defended the Ecthesis of Patriarch Sergius, which taught Christ had only one will. In the debate, Maximus skillfully navigates the troubling waters of monothelitism and offers cogent responses to his interlocutor, Pyrrhus.

Pyrrhus begins the dispute by asking Maximus why he has chosen to accuse him of heresy. Maximus explains that his affirmation of the Ecthesis of Patriarch Sergius is heretical, because the patriarch affirmed monothelitism. Pyrrhus is perplexed by this response because he asserts if Christ is one hypostasis person then he should have only one will.

This is a crucial point, because it shows Pyrrhus things the will is seated in the person and Maximus believes it is in the nature. So, from the outset, we see much of the debate hinges on where the agency of willing is seated. Maximus responds by explaining the need to distinguish between different meanings in terms, otherwise, people end up talking past one another. Maximus chides this response as contrary to reason. It should be noted that here, and in other places, Maximus explicitly affirms the legitimacy of reason in theological disputes, to the chagrin of some who maintain reason has no place in matters of faith.

Pyrrhus skirts around the issue and retorts that two wills necessitates opposition. In other words, he believes if there are two wills then they must, in some way, be in opposition to each other.

Maximus shows the folly of this view, because if we accept the premise that there are two wills and they must be in opposition to each other, then this opposition is either native to the natural will itself and thus God is the author of the confusion or the opposition stems from sin. Yet, Christ is sinless and he has two wills due to his two natures. Therefore, his two wills cannot be said to be in opposition to one another. Pyrrhus asks Maximus to confirm that willing pertains to nature and Maximus agrees.

Pyrrhus proceeds to set up a straw man through the use of equivocating terms. Maximus also explains Pyrrhus must not equivocate terms and offers a distinction between different kinds of wills. Pyrrhus asserts if will pertains to nature then humans must not share the same nature because people have different wills.

He, once again, shows Pyrrhus has an underdeveloped theology due to a lack of proper distinctions. From the above, we observe many things that apply to today. One that stands out in particular is that Maximus rejects the position of those who prefer a primitive ambiguity in theological terminology over against the need for a developed and distinct terminology.



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Disputations with Pyrrhus

Mazujora Open Preview See a Problem? Create lists, bibliographies and reviews: What caused me to read this book was my dealings with Calvinists and their stress of humans being passive during regeneration. On the one hand, St. Yiana marked it as to-read Nov 06, The specific requirements or preferences of your reviewing publisher, classroom teacher, institution or organization should be applied. The Disputation with Pyrrhus of Our Father among the Saints Maximus the Confessor For the things that exist came to be out of nothing, and not to non-being; and the natural characteristic of this power is an inclination to that which maintains them in being, and a drawing back from things destructive [to them].


Saint Maximus the Confessor’s Disputations with Pyrrhus and Papal Infallibility


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