Does Jesus Have One or Two Wills?
In this brief clip from his teaching series A Survey of Church History, W. Robert Godfrey examines how the early church understood the relationship between nature and will in Jesus. Watch this entire message for free.
You probably had begun to think that this black board was never to serve a purpose but when you get to a nice word like Monothelitism, it useful to have a blackboard. Monothelitism was the sort of last issue in the question of how the human and divine natures related to one another in Jesus. The church had reached this consensus at Chalcedon, 451, that Jesus was one person uniting in himself two full and complete natures – a complete divine nature and a complete human nature. So that he was fully human and fully divine; wasn’t half human, half divine. He’s fully human and fully divine. And, that did leave the church with tensions amongst some who thought to talk about two complete nature’s ran too much risk of leaving you with two persons in Jesus. And since that turmoil continued to trouble the Church, a theologian or several theologians suggested that maybe a way forward would be to say Jesus has two natures but he only has one will. Monothelitism is the teaching that Jesus has only one will.
And the other position, of course was, Dyothelitism that Jesus has two wills. Now this led to a fair amount of controversy that we don’t have to rehearse in much detail but the church came to the conclusion. I’d really like to poll you, which you think the orthodox point of view? Monothelitism or Dyothelitism? I do that in seminary. Seminarians almost always getting it wrong which is very distressing but I’d try to correct them. Monothelitism was declared a heresy and the reason it was declared a heresy is because the church concluded a will is in extent an essential part of a nature. If Jesus didn’t have a human will as well as the divine will, it would be very difficult to see him as truly and fully human. We know he has a divine will because he was the Logos from all eternity and the second person in trinity that has a will. So we know he has a divine will. If he has only one will it’s just the divine will and the church, I think, rightly concluded that that would mean he did not have a fully human nature because he wouldn’t have a fully human will.