PODCAST: The Christological Debates to the Council of Chalcedon, Part 2 (History of Christianity #190 with Daniel Whyte III)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #190, titled, “The Christological Debates to the Council of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON], Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 1:14 which reads: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Ignatius of Antioch. He said: “If any one says there is one God, and also confesses Christ Jesus, but thinks the Lord to be a mere man, and not the only-begotten God, and Wisdom, and the Word of God, and deems Him to consist merely of a soul and body, such an one is a serpent, that preaches deceit and error for the destruction of men. And such a man is poor in understanding, even as by name he is an Ebionite.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Christological Debates to the Council of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON], Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Although this explanation seemed satisfactory to Apollinaris [UH-POL-EH-NAR-IS], soon many began to see flaws in it. A human body with a purely divine mind is not really a human being. From the Alexandrine point of view, this was quite acceptable, for all that was needed was that Jesus really speak as God, and that he have the body necessary to communicate with us. But the Antiochenes [AN-TEE-OH-KEENS] insisted that this was not enough. Jesus must be truly human. This was of paramount importance, because Jesus took up humanity so that humankind could be saved. Only if he really became human did he really save us. If any part of what constitutes a human being was not taken up by him, that was not saved by him. Gregory of Nazianzus [NAA-ZEE-AAN-ZEEN-AWS] (one of the Cappadocian Fathers) put it this way:

If any believe in Jesus Christ as a human being without human reason, they are the ones devoid of all reason, and unworthy of salvation. For that which he has not taken up he has not saved. He saved that which he joined to his divinity. If only half of Adam had fallen, then it would be possible for Christ to take up and save only half. But if the entire human nature fell, all of it must be united to the Word in order to be saved as a whole.

After some debate, the theories of Apollinaris [UH-POL-EH-NAR-IS] were rejected, first by a number of leading bishops and local synods called by them, and eventually by the Council of Constantinople in 381–the same council that reaffirmed the decisions of Nicea [NY-KEE-AH] against Arianism.

The next episode of the christological controversies was precipitated by Nestorius, a representative of the Antiochene [AN-TEE-OH-KEEN] school who became patriarch of Constantinople in 428. There were always political intrigues surrounding that office, for the patriarchate of Constantinople had become a point of discord between the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. The Council of Constantinople had declared that the bishop of Constantinople should have in the East precedence similar to that which the bishop of Rome had in the West. This was a simple acknowledgment of political reality, for Constantinople had become the capital of the Eastern empire. But the bishops of the older churches in Antioch and Alexandria were not content with being relegated to a secondary position. They responded, among other things, by turning the bishopric of Constantinople into a prize to be captured for their own supporters. Since Antioch was more successful at this game than Alexandria, most of the patriarchs of Constantinople were Antiochenes [AN-TEE-OH-KEENS], and therefore the patriarchs of Alexandria regarded them as their enemies–a process we have already seen when dealing with the life of John Chrysostom. For these reasons, Nestorius’s position was not secure, and the Alexandrines were looking to catch him at his first mistake.

Next time, we will continue looking at “The Christological Debates to the Council of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON].”

Let’s pray.


Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.