Theandric Acts of Christ

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The termin Greek θεανδρικα 'ενέργειαι, in Latin operationes deiviriles, denotes the characteristic activity of the god-man, those acts or operations in which both the divine and the human natures cooperate. After a review of the origin and history of the term in the Monothelite controversy, its orthodox use and meaning will be explained.

Origin. The term theandric act (operation) was first used by pseudo-dionysius (c. 500), who said Christ "did not perform divine acts as God nor human acts as man, but as the God-Man He manifested a kind of new theandric operation " (Epistola 4 ad Caium ). As used by him, the term favored the Monophysitic and Monothelitic theories of one nature and one will in Christ and was often misused (e.g., by Severus of Antioch).

Cyrus, Patriarch of Alexandria, won over to the formula by Sergius I, Patriarch of Constantinople, included it with his anathematisms at the time of the Act of Union (633) in his successful efforts to reconcile Egyptian Monophysites and Catholics: "Christ performs human and divine acts by one theandric operation." In this sense Sergius had incorrectly understood the expression as synonymous with the formula of St. Leo I: "Each nature performs the functions proper to itself, yet in conjunction with the other nature" (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer 294). The chief opponent of Cyrus, Sergius, and the Monothelites was St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

History. The history of the formula theandric or divine-human acts of Christ is in large part the history of monothelitism. In the controversy following Sophronius's opposition to Sergius over the question of whether to speak of two operations in the Word Incarnate or of only one, Sergius appealed to the pope, honorius i. The pope's two evasive letters, imposing silence on the disputed question but failing to come to terms with the problem, would later bring upon him the castigations of the Third Council of Constantinople (see constantinople iii, council of) and Pope Leo II.

Understood in its Monothelitic sense of a double principle of activity but only one activity, the term theandric act was condemned (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer 515) by Pope St. Martin I in the regional Council of the Lateran (649; see lateran councils), a condemnation later confirmed for the entire Church by Pope St. Agatho. Martin I permitted its use merely to designate the wondrous union in Christ of the two distinct operations. The final condemnation of Monothelitism came in Constantinople III (680681), which defined two distinct wills and operations working together in perfect harmony and condemned by name the Monothelites Cyrus, Sergius, and his successors in the See of Constantinople, Pyrrhus, Paul, and Peter.

Orthodox Use. Besides the accepted usage recognized by Pope Martin I, St. Maximus Confessor, because of his admiration for Pseudo-Dionysius, also interpreted the term in an orthodox sense, not as a new divine-human action, but as the divine and human energies operating together to produce a single effect. St. john damascene also used it correctly (De fide orthodoxa 3.19).

Explanation. Relative to the activity of the God-Man, the Church in condemning monergism and Monothelitism has defined that in Christ there are two distinct wills and two distinct modes of activity. For the will is a faculty proper to a nature, and every nature is a remote principle of activity proper to itself. In Christ, since there are two natures, there are also two wills and two modes of activity. The acting subject (principium quod ) is but one, the Person of the Word, who wills and acts in both a divine and a human way.

Three types of operations or acts were distinguished in Christ in scholastic theology: purely divine, properly human, and so-called mixed acts. (1) Purely divine operations are operations of the word, both the internal processions (see processions, trinitarian) and external creative activity (in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit), in which the human nature of Christ has no part whatever. These purely divine operations can in no way be called theandric acts. (2) Properly human operations are acts that, although they belong to the Divine Person of the Word as to their acting subject (principium quod ), are elicited by the human nature only (principium quo ). Such properly human operations are called theandric acts in a wide sense only. For, besides the natural and super-natural concursus required for human acts, the divinity enters into these acts only insofar as it is identified with the Person whose acts they are and from whom the acts receive an infinite moral value and dignity. (3) Mixed operations are acts in which the two natures, each exercising its own proper activity, join together in producing a single effect, the human being the instrument of the divine. These mixed operations are called strictly theandric acts. For in the complete activity we distinguish a human act and a divine act, joined in perfect harmony. When Christ performed a miracle, the divine nature provided the healing power, while the human nature lent its own proper activity as instrument by speaking, praying, touching. In this sense the divine nature as principal cause and the human nature as instrument united to produce a common action, that of healing miraculously. The human nature and the human will were not merely passive entities, but their full human activity was used by the divine will as an instrument in performing one theandric act.

Cardinal Louis billot and others distinguished another category of theandric acts of Christ, the meritorious and satisfactory activity of Christ (see satisfaction of christ). Because His human acts are the acts of a Divine Person, they have an infinite value as merit and satisfaction. This type of theandric act really belongs to the second category above, but considered under the aspect of its unique value. The more usual distinction is based on the ontological constitution of the acts themselves.

See Also: hypostatic union; incarnation; jesus christ (in theology); jesus christ (in theology) (special questions), 3, 4, 7, 8; monophysitism; perichoresis, christological.

Bibliography: a. michel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.1:205217. m. jugie, ibid., 10.2:230723. l. billot, De Verbo Incarnato (7th ed. Rome 1927) thesis 31. p. galtier, De Incarnatione ac Redemptione (9th ed. Paris 1947) 136141.

[c. j. moell]