Neo-Apollinarianism Remains Heretical

A Response to Dr. William Lane Craig

On his Reasonable Faith podcast, entitled “Does Dr. Craig Have an Orthodox Christology?’, released on July 9th, 2017, Dr. William Lane Craig defends his claim that his Christological theory of Neo-Apollinarianism was not heretical. We try 5 is in this post where I wish to respond and argue that the new boss of Neo-Apollinarianism is just as heretical as the old boss of classical Apollinarianism.

The first concern Craig addresses is that if it is a model he himself believes, to which Craig denies. Craig says it is merely a possible model, to which he himself is not committed to. While I agree that would be enough not to brandish Craig a heretic, it is nonetheless concerning. If someone were to offer a Modalist account of the Trinity as a possibility, then even if that proponent is still not himself a heretic, he still places others in danger of taking up a heretical belief. Hence, even if we cannot be dogmatic in explaining the mystery of either the Trinity or the Incarnation, it does not follow we cannot be dogmatic in calling our heretical conceptions.

Craig moves onto describe his doctrine of Neo-Apollinarianism, and draws out 3 points about what his doctrine entails. They are as follows,

  1. Christ has two natures, human and divine, in agreement with the Council of Chalcedon.
  2. The soul of the human nature of Christ is the same as the second person of the Trinity, the Logos.
  3. The divine aspects of the Logos are concealed in the sub-consciousness of Christ, while he retained the consciousness of divinity.

Craig then contradistinguished his model from classical Apollinarianism. According to Craig, the tenants of the classical model are,

  1. Christ does not have a complete human nature, not having a human soul.
  2. Jesus only had a human body.

Craig goes onto say that on his new model, the divine nature completes the human nature — giving it knowledge, freedom of the will, and other properties human nature possesses- whereas on the old model, the human nature remains merely human.

It’s at this point where I have the following objection to make. The Council of Chalcedon not only says that Christ had two natures, but as the Council’s ‘Definition of Faith’ declares that

— it stands opposed to those who imagine a mixture or confusion between the two natures of Christ;
….it anathematises those who concoct two natures of the Lord before the union but imagine a single one after the union.[1]

What Craig does is what I would consider a violation of the doctrines set out by the Council of Chalcedon, namely in the mixture or confusion of the natures. That is, Craig counts the Logos as both a part of both the divine and human nature of Christ (namely its soul), mixing them. The problem in classical Apollinarianism is not just it denied Christ had a complete human nature, but that what it lacked needed to be supplemented by the divine nature. While the Neo-Apollinarianist might say that the human nature was complete, it is still problematic to the Council of Chalcedon because it claims Christ’s human nature needed to be mixed with the divine nature to concoct a single union.

Craig does bring up some honest difficulties with finding a metaphysic for the incarnation, one that does not fall into Nestorianism. While that does sound difficult, I will leave it for a future post. Whatever, the answer could be, this ain’t it

End Notes

[1] Council of Chalcedon, “Definition of Faith”, Link

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