The PostBarthian

Denzinger’s Enchiridion on Origenism and Monothelitism

Henry Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma (Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum) (online text) is a compilation of quotations from Church Councils, Popes, Bishops and significant leaders that are foundational to the Roman Catholic Magisterium. The quotations are numbered, and often referenced by "Denzinger ###" by many theologians even outside of Roman Catholicism, and the work is often referred to simply as Denzinger for short. Denzinger has been updated and expanded several times since it was first commissioned by Pope Pius IX, circa 1854 A.D. 

The following quotation from Denzinger 203-211 is from Pope Vigilius in 537AD containing anathemas (ie condemnations) of principle dogmas of Origenism. Denz 203-211 is useful as a summary and a helpful list of specific differences between Catholicism and competing systems.

Denzinger 203-211: 

VIGILIUS (537) 540-555

Canons against Origen *

[From the Book against Origen of the Emperor Justinian, 543]

203 Can. 1. If anyone says or holds that the souls of men pre-existed, as if they were formerly minds and holy powers, but having received a surfeit of beholding the Divinity, and having turned towards the worse, and on this account having shuddered (apopsycheisas) at the love of God, in consequence being called souls (psychae) and being sent down into bodies for the sake of punishment, let him be anathema.

204 Can. 2. If anyone says and holds that the soul of the Lord pre-existed, and was united to God the Word before His incarnation and birth from the Virgin, let him be anathema.

205  Can. 3. If anyone says or holds that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was first formed in the womb of the holy Virgin, and that after this God, the Word, and the soul, since it had pre-existed, were united to it, let him be anathema.

206 Can. 4. If anyone says or holds that the Word of God was made like all the heavenly orders, having become a Cherubim for the Cherubim, a Seraphim for the Seraphim, and evidently having been made like all the powers above, let him be anathema.

207  Can. 5. If anyone says or maintains that in resurrection the bodies of men are raised up from sleep spherical, and does not agree that we are raised up from sleep upright, let him be anathema.

208  Can. 6. If anyone says that the sky, and the sun, and the moon and the stars, and the waters above the heavens are certain living and material * powers, let him be anathema.

209 Can. 7. If anyone says or holds that the Lord Christ in the future age will be crucified in behalf of the demons, just as (He was) for the sake of men, let him be anathema.

210 Can. 8. If anyone says or holds that the power of God is limited, and that He has accomplished as much as He has comprehended, let him be anathema.

211 Can. 9. If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema.

Denzinger, 203-211 

Denzinger was collected specifically for defending Roman Catholicism, so although these are source documents, they only contain fragments that are favorable to Roman Catholicism. The best example of the one-sided selection are the sources from Pope Honorius I on Monothelitism. Honorius I is a major hurdle in the Catholic teaching of Papal Infallibility because Honorius I was a Monothelitist, which means he believed that there were not multiple wills in God but one will. Monothelitism was official condemned later because it is wrong for one, but more importantly it is an example of an "infallible" statement of a later pope condemning the infallible statement of an earlier Pope, ie Pope Honorius I. The most common way I've heard this circumvented is to demonstrate that Pope Honorius was a Monothelist, however Honorius I never made any statements affirming Monothelitism Ex Cathedra (from the Chair of Peter). The entries in Denzinger support this Roman Catholic dodging by selecting texts that seem to make Honorius's monothelitism views into orthodox views that are compatible with the Magisterium. Immediately after this entry from Honorius I is a statement but a subsequent Pope that "clarifies" Honorius's Monothelitism.  

Denzinger 251-252: 

HONORIUS I (625-638)

Two Wills and Operations in Christ *

[From the epistle (1) "Scripta fraternitatis vestrae" to Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople in the year 634]

251 . . . With God as a leader we shall arrive at the measure of the right faith which the apostles of the truth have extended by means of the slender rope of the Sacred Scriptures. Confessing that the Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator of God and of men [1 Tim. 2:5], has performed divine (works) through the medium of the humanity naturally [gr. hypostatically] united to the Word of God, and that the same one performed human works, because flesh had been assumed ineffably and particularly by the full divinity [gr. in--] distinctly, unconfusedly, and unchangeably . . . so that truly it may be recognized that by a wonderful design [passible flesh] is united [to the Godhead] while the differences of both natures marvelously remain. . . . Hence, we confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ also, because surely our nature, not our guilt was assumed by the Godhead, that certainly, which was created before sin, not that which was vitiated after the transgression. For Christ . . . was conceived of the Holy Spirit without sin, and was also born of the holy and immaculate Virgin mother of God without sin, experiencing no contagion of our vitiated nature. . . . For there was no other law in His members, or a will different from or contrary to the Savior, because He was born above the law of the human nature. . . . There are extensive works of sacred literature pointing out very clearly that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son and the Word of God, by whom all things were made [John 1:3], is Himself the one operator of divinity and of humanity. But whether on account of the works of divinity and of humanity, one or two operations ought to be said or understood to be derived, such (questions) should not concern us, leaving them to the grammarians, who are accustomed to sell to children words acquired by derivation. For in sacred literature we have perceived that the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit operated not one operation or two, but we have learned that (He) operated in many ways.

[From the epistle (2) "Scripta dilectissimi filii" to the same Sergius]

252  . . . So far as pertains to ecclesiastical doctrine, what we ought to hold or to preach on account of the simplicity of men and the inextricable ambiguities of questions (which) must be removed . . . . is to define not one or two operations in the mediator of God and of men, but both natures united in one Christ by a natural union, when we should confess those operating with the participation of the other and the operators, both the divine, indeed, performing what is of God, and the human performing what is of the flesh; teaching [that they operate] neither separately, nor confusedly, nor interchangeably, the nature of God changed into man, and the human changed into God; but con. fessing the complete differences of the natures. . . Therefore, doing away with . . . the scandal of the new invention, we, when we are explaining, should not preach one or two operations; but instead of one operation, which some affirm, we should confess one operator, Christ the Lord, in both natures; and instead of two operations-when the expression of two operations has been done away with-rather of the two natures themselves, that is of divinity and of the flesh assumed, in one person, the Only-begotten of God the Father unconfusedly, inseparably, and unchangeably performing their proper (works) with us.

[More from this epistle see Kch. n. 1065-1069]


Denzinger, 251-252 

Denzinger 253: 

JOHN IV 640-642

The Meaning of the Words of HONORIUS about the Two Wills *

[From the epistle "Dominus qui dixit" to Constantius the Emperor, 641]

253  . . . One and He alone is without sin, the mediator of God and of men, the man Christ Jesus [cf. 1 Tim. 2:5] who was conceived and born free among the dead [Ps. 87:6]. Thus in the dispensation of His sacred flesh, He never had two contrary wills, nor did the will of His flesh resist the will of His mind. . . . Therefore, knowing that there was no sin at all in Him when He was born and lived, we fittingly say and truthfully confess one will in the humanity of His sacred dispensation; and we do not preach two contrary wills, of mind and of flesh, as in a pure man, in the manner certain heretics are known to rave. In accord with this method, then, our predecessor (already mentioned) [HONORIUS] is known to have written to the (aforenamed) Sergius the Patriarch who was asking questions, that in our Savior two contrary wills did not exist internally, that is, in His members, since He derived no blemish from the transgression of the first man. . . . This usually happens, that, naturally where there is a wound, there medicinal aid offers itself. For the blessed Apostle is known to have done this often, preparing himself according to the custom of his hearers; and sometimes indeed when teaching about the supreme nature, he is completely silent about the human nature, but sometimes when treating of the human dispensation, he does not touch on the mystery of His divinity. . . So, my aforementioned predecessor said concerning the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, that there were not in Him, as in us sinners, contrary wills of mind and flesh; and certain ones converting this to their own meaning, suspected that He taught one will of His divinity and humanity which is altogether contrary to the truth. . . .

Denzinger, 253 



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  1. Father: Found this page when looking for an onnlie Denziger. The link now ends in “.php” rather than “.html”, if you want to update it and post it as a resource in your sidebar.BTW, thanks for linking me in your blogroll! I’m deeply honored!

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