Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/178

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ADOPTIONISM
ADOPTIONISM
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Them be not from without but from within, and that Their indwelling in us be not fleeting but eternal." And St. Paul (I Cor., iii, 16, 17), "Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are." From what has been said, it is manifest that our supernatural adoption is an immediate and necessary property of sanctifying grace. The primal concept of sanctifying grace is a new God-given and God-like life super-added to our natural life. By that very life we are born to God even as the child to its parent, and thus we acquire a new filiation. This filiation is called adoption for two reasons: first, to distinguish it from the one natural filiation which belongs to Jesus; second, to emphasize the fact that we have it only through the free choice and merciful condescension of God. Again, as from our natural filiation many social relations crop up between us and the rest of the world, so our divine life and adoption establish manifold relations between the regenerate and adopted soul on the one hand, and the Triune God on the other. It was not without reason that Scripture and the Eastern Church singled out the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity as the special term of these higher relations. Adoption is the work of love. "What is adoption," says the Council of Frankfort, "if not a union of love?" It is, therefore, meet that it should be traced to, and terminate in, the intimate presence of the Spirit of Love.

Wilhelm and Scannell, A Manual of Catholic Theology based on Scheeben's Dogmatik (London, 1890); Hunter, Outlines of Dogmatic Theology (New York, 1894); Nieremberg-Scheeben, The Glories of Divine Grace (New York, 1885); Devine, Manual of Ascetic Theology or the Supernatural Life of the Soul (London, 1902); Newman, St. Athanasius, II, Deification, Grace of God, Divine Indwelling, Sanctification (London, 1895); Bellamy, La vie surnaturelle (Paris, 1895); Terrien, La Grâce et La Gloire (Paris, 1897); Lessius, De Perfectionibus Moribusque Divinis; De Summo Bono et Æternâ Beatitudine (Antwerp, 1620; Paris, 1881); Petavius, Opus de Theologicis Dogmatibus (Bar-le-Duc, 1867); Scheeben, Handbuch der kathol. Dogmatik (Freiburg, 1873); see also current treatises on grace: Mazzella, Hurter, Pesch, Katschthaler.

Adoptionism, in a broad sense, a christological theory according to which Christ, as man, is the adoptive Son of God; the precise import of the word varies with the successive stages and exponents of the theory. Roughly, we have (1) the adoptionism of Elipandus and Felix in the eighth century; (2) the Neo-Adoptionism of Abelard in the twelfth century; (3) the qualified Adoptionism of some theologians from the fourteenth century on.

1.—Adoptionism of Elipandus and Felix in the Eighth Century. This, the original form of Adoptionism, asserts a double sonship in Christ: one by generation and nature, and the other by adoption and grace. Christ as God is indeed the Son of God by generation and nature, but Christ as man is Son of God only by adoption and grace. Hence "The Man Christ" is the adoptive and not the natural Son of God. Such is the theory held towards the end of the eighth century by Elipandus, Archbishop of Toledo, then under the Mohammedan rule, and by Felix, Bishop of Urgel, then under the Frankish dominion. The origin of this Hispanicus error, as it was called, is obscure. Nestorianism had been a decidedly Eastern heresy and we are surprised to find an offshoot of it in the most western part of the Western Church, and this so long after the parent heresy had found a grave in its native land. It is, however, noteworthy that Adoptionism began in that part of Spain where Islamism dominated, and where a Nestorian colony had for years found refuge. The combined influence of Islamism and Nestorianism had, no doubt, blunted the aged Elipandus's Catholic sense. Then came a certain Migetius, preaching a loose doctrine, and holding, among other errors, that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity did not exist before the Incarnation. The better to confute this error, Elipandus drew a hard and fast line between Jesus as God and Jesus as Man, the former being the natural, and the latter merely the adoptive Son of God. The reassertion of Nestorianism raised a storm of protest from Catholics, headed by Beatus, Abbot of Libana, and Etherius, Bishop of Osma. It was to maintain his position that Elipandus deftly enlisted the co-operation of Felix of Urgel, known for his learning and versatile mind. Felix entered the contest thoughtlessly. Once in the heat of it, he proved a strong ally for Elipandus, and even became the leader of the new movement called by contemporaries the Hæresis Feliciana. While Elipandus put an indomitable will at the service of Adoptionism, Felix gave it the support of his science and also Punic faith. From Scripture he quoted innumerable texts. In the patristic literature and Mozarabic Liturgy he found such expressions as adoptio, homo adoptivus, υἱὸς θετός, supposedly applied to the Incarnation and Jesus Christ. Nor did he neglect the aid of dialectics, remarking with subtilty that the epithet "Natural Son of God" could not be predicated of "The Man Jesus", who was begotten by temporal generation; who was inferior to the Father; who was related not to the Father especially, but to the whole Trinity, the relation in questions remaining unaltered if the Father or the Holy Ghost had been incarnate instead of the Son. Elipandus's obstinacy and Felix's versatility were but the partial cause of the temporary success of Adoptionism. If that offspring of Nestorianism held sway in Spain for wellnigh two decades and even made an inroad into southern France, the true cause is to be found in Islamitic rule, which practically brought to naught the control of Rome over the greater part of Spain; and in the over-conciliatory attitude of Charlemagne, who, in spite of his whole-souled loyalty to the Roman Faith, could ill afford to alienate politically provinces so dearly bought. Of the two heresiarchs, Elipandus died in his error. Felix, after many insincere recantations, was placed under the surveillance of Leidrad of Lyons and gave all the signs of a genuine conversion. His death would even have passed for a repentant's death if Agobar, Leidrad's successor, had not found among his papers a definite retraction of all former retractions. Adoptionism did not long outlive its authors. What Charlemagne could not do by diplomacy and synods (Narbonne, 788; Ratisbon, 792; Frankfort, 794; Aix-la-Chapelle, 799) he accomplished by enlisting the services of missionaries like St. Benedict of Aniane, who reported as early as 800 the conversion of 20,000 clerics and laymen; and savants like Alcuin, whose treatises "Adv. Elipandum Toletanum" and "Contra Felicem Urgellensem" will ever be a credit to Christian learning.

The official condemnation of Adoptionism is to be found (1) in Pope Hadrian's two letters, one to the bishops of Spain, 785, and the other to Charlemagne, 794; (2) in the decrees of the Council of Frankfort (794), summoned by Charlemagne, it is true, but "in full apostolic power" and presided over by the legate of Rome, therefore a synodus universalis, according to an expression of contemporary chroniclers. In these documents the natural divine filiation of Jesus even as man is strongly asserted, and His adoptive filiation, at least in so far as it excludes the natural, is rejected as heretical. Some writers, mainly Protestant, have tried to erase from Adoptionism all stain of the Nestorian heresy. These writers do not seem to have caught the meaning of the Church's definition. Since sonship is an attribute of the person and not of the nature, to posit two sons is to posit two persons in Christ, the very error