Monday, August 03, 2009

Nestorius was exiled this day 1574 years ago, but his legacy lives on

Nestorius was an early Christian, who was born in 386. He became the archbishop of Constantinople on Apil 10, 428, just 47 years after it was declared the second most important See after Rome, which is the diocese of the Pope. As you can see, Nestorius was no small figure in the early Church. In fact, some could argue, he was second only to the Pope in importance in those days.

Given this background, we can see how dramatic Nestorius's rise and fall really were. What caused Nestorius's ultimate downfall was his refusal to accept a declaration of the universal church, namely that of the Theotokos, or Mary as Mother of God. I mentioned that Nestorius's legacy lives on because today many Protestant denominations refuse to accept this doctrine as well. There is much which can be said of the doctrine, but the basic formula is as follows:

1) Jesus is God
2) Jesus was conceived and born from Mary
3) Mary is the mother of God

It is important to note, we do not believe Mary preceded God in any way. Of course, God has existed always and Mary came about in history as a creature. But, we cannot separate Christ's nature. He is a single person, a divine person, with a divine will and a human will (his wills are united also, but remain two).

As mentioned previously, Nestorius was of such importance in the early Church, that his exile caused a predictable split in the Church. Of course Nestorius had his followers. They split and formed their own communities. But though some fall away, it is always important to maintain the Truth, and this is guaranteed when Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.

Today, there are around 170,000 Nestorians in the world, a tiny fraction of Christianity.

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