If not Monarchianism, then what?
by Andrea Elizabeth
Back to God, History and Dialectic, by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell. I believe that Dr. Farrell is equating monarchianism and subordination as heresies in the following statement on p. 28:
In other words, if Christ was truly Who He claimed to be, then the
Lord of Redemption ought also to be the Lord of Creation. But here the
early fathers encountered a problem, which we may express simply by
asking what was asked then: Does this not imply that the Father and the
Son are really the same Person? But then came the immediate response:
that could not be, because when Christ died on the Cross, that would have
meant that God ceased to be; moreover, Christ prayed to His Father both
before and on the Cross. It was maintained that He repeatedly made
Himself unequal to the Father, and therefore, He was distinct from His
Father. And so the dilemma which, in one form or another, haunts the first
three centuries of Christian theology: if Christ is equal to God, then He
must be not only the same What but the same Who; but if He is really
distinct as a Who from God, then He cannot be fully God, or the same
“what”.62 The first opinion became known as the heresy of modalism, or
“Sabellianism”, because it held that there was really only one Person in
God, a “Son-Father”(uipater), Who appeared in different “guises” at
different times. The second option became known by a variety of names,
but “subordinationism” will suffice, since it maintained the traditional
doctrine that Christ was really a distinct Person from the Father, but not
equally divine with Him. This doctrine is sometimes known as
“monarchianism”, since it maintained that the Father was the “Mon-arch”,
or sole(monh) source(arch) not only of the Son, but of all things which had
beginning, namely, all of Creation. Thus, two concepts now became fused:
Fatherhood and Creatorhood on the one hand, and Sonship and
Creatorhod on the one hand, and Sonship and Creaturehood on the other.
In the following pages he then shifts to the implication of this heresy as leading to false Papal claims in Rome. I’m a bit unclear about his train of thought through page 40, where I am now. I would like for him to have shown how these where false before his immediate shift to Apostolic Succession because I thought the Monarchial view was Orthodox. Not in the sense that Christ is not as much God as the Father, but that the Father is the Source of His deity.
The criticized implications are (if I understand it) that St. Clement of Rome taught that God sent the Son and the Son sent the Apostles so that the Apostles “become part of the work of redemption”. (p. 31) Perhaps he is saying that this leads to the false Vicar of Christ claim which confuses Christ’s work with the particular Apostle’s. One can see how this can be taken with passages like John 20:21, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” While there may be a fine line of distinction between the proper way to understand it and the improper, I think the problem is one of replacement. The Son replaces the Father and then the Apostle replaces the Son. I can see how this would lead to the filioque. So while I’m making a criticism, I’m hesitant to describe the Triadic relationship more accurately for fear of being presumptuous. Maybe that’s why Dr. Farrell didn’t either, at least yet. Such is Apophatic theology.