Isaac the Syrian

Isaac the Syrian (Nestorian)

Isaac the Syrian is acknowledged for his ascetic writings. However, not only was he ordained bishop by a Nestorian Patriarch, Isaac’s Christology is fundamentally Nestorian, though some try argue he wasn’t.  Consider this clearly Nestorian language:

For He to whom all these things apply willingly dwelt in him, giving him the honor of His divinity and authority over all, because of the benefits which creation was about to receive through Him…He even bade the angels worship him, according to the words of the blessed Paul: ‘introducing the Firstborn into the world, he said: Him shall all the angels of God worship.’ He granted him that he should be worshipped with Himself indistinguishably, with a single act of worship for the man who became Lord and for the Divinity equally, while the two natures are preserved with their properties, without there being any difference of honor.” — H Alfeyev, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, Cistercian Publications, Michigan, 2000, pp. 54-5

In the above quote, and regarding Christ, Isaac explains that Christ is “the man who became Lord”. In his 12 Anathemas, St. Cyril states: “If anyone says that as man Jesus was activated by the Word of God and was clothed with the glory of the Only-begotten, as a being separate from him, let him be anathema.”

Yet Isaac of Syria said things like: “‘Why did God the Word clothe Himself in the body…” and called Christ “the Creator clothed in a human being”. Speaking of the Divinity, Isaac says “O Christ who are covered with light as though with garment”.

Fr. Tadros Malaty confirms the same:
“Isaac says that the cross is a symbol of “the man who completely became a temple” of God (II/11,12); the cross is made in the name of “that man in whom the Divinity dwells” (II/11,13); the humanity of Christ is the “garment of his divinity” (II/11,24). The above texts highlight that Isaac’s Christology was Nestorian.” – Fr. Tadros Malaty, A PANORAMIC VIEW OF PATRISTICS

Isaac Syrian heretical quotes

Contrary to Scripture and patristic consensus, Isaac the Syrian claimed that Adam was not removed from Paradise because he transgressed God’s commandment. According to Isaac’s strange theology, God merely pretended that was the reason. Rather, Adam was only expelled from Paradise (Isaac argued) because God wanted him to go to heaven all along:

(Isaac the Syrian ‘The Second Part,’ Chapters IV-XLI, p 164
“Again, when he expelled Adam and Eve from Paradise, He expelled them under the (outward aspect of anger: ‘Because you have transgressed the commandment, you have found yourselves outside (Paradise)–as though dwelling in Paradise had been taken away from them because they were unworthy. But inside all this stood (the divine) plan, fulfilling and guiding everything towards the Creator’s original intention from the beginning. It was not disobedience which introduced death to the house of Adam, nor did transgression remove them from Paradise, for it is clear that (God) did not create Adam and Eve to be in Paradise, (just) a small portion of the earth; rather, they were going to subjugate the entire earth. For this reason we do not even say that He removed them because of the commandment which had been transgressed; for it is not the case that, had they not transgressed the commandment, they would have been left in Paradise forever.”

The cross is a symbol of ‘the Man who completely became a temple’ of God; the cross is made in the name of ‘that Man in whom the Divinity dwells’; the humanity of Christ is the ‘garment of his Divinity’.” (Hilarion Alfeyev, The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian, p 54)

The entire purpose of our Lord’s death was not to redeem us from sins, or for any other reason, but solely in order that the world might become aware of the love which God has for His creation. Had all this astounding affair taken place solely for the purpose of forgiveness of sin, it would have been sufficient to redeem us by some other means. What objection would there have been if He had done what He did by means of an ordinary death? But He did not make His death at all an ordinary one – in order that you might realize the nature of this mystery. Rather, He tasted death in the cruel suffering of the Cross. What need was there for the outrage done to Him and the spitting? Just death would have been sufficient for our redemption – and in particular His death, without any of these other things which took place. What wisdom is God’s! And how filled with life! Now you can understand and realize why the coming of our Lord took place with all the events that followed it, even to the extent of His telling the purpose uite clearly out of His own holy mouth: “To such an extent did God love the world that He gave His only-begotten Son” – referring to the Incarnation and the renewal He brought about.

Related reading:
Remarks on the Understanding of Mercy and Justice in the Writings of Isaac the Syrian

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