Pelagius visits Antioch and clashes with Alexandria. Questions for Discussion: Lesson 17A- “Chapter 15 “Chalcedon Protects the Mystery” from  The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson

1. Why would the Antiochenes be the logical School to offer refuge to the Brit, Pelagius? What in Pelagius theology would resonate with the Antiochenes? On the level of theological debate, how did the Alexandrians exploit this event to again target the Antiochenes?

2. Can you summarize the opposing positions in the debate about Christ’s human free will at Ephesus in 431? How did it get settled at the Council? Were the solutions consistent or in conflict with the overall theological orientations of Antioch and Alexandria?

3. Following Ephesus (431) and the passage of the Formula of Reunion, one side came to believe that all in the Great Church would accept the “two natures after the union” solution. However, one side apparently clung to the “one nature after the union” doctrine. For this latter group, can you explain what implication it had for their preaching and teaching in their congregations? Which side was this? How did Dioscorus affect this doctrinal controversy?

4. Olson describes Eutyches as a strong and influential supporter of Alexandrian theology, but adds he was an old, “and somewhat feeble-minded monk”. So why do we study him? What does his theology teach us about the Christological controversies of this period and the two schools?

5. What happened that led to the Council of Ephesus in 449 being labeled “the robber synod”? Who were the “robbers”?

6. How did the Chalcedonian Formula achieve a compromise between two extremes yet protect the mystery of the incarnation?

7. What lingering ambiguities or tensions remained following the formulation of the Chalcedonian Definition; that is, what is the crux of this issue that students of historical theology have detected?

8. How would you define “Classical Chalcedonian Christology”? How did Luther modify the communicatio idiomatum?

See Lesson 17B for Correlated Readings:

A Letter from Pope Leo the Great to Eutyches; a Letter from Eutyches to Leo

Bible Verses for Reflection


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