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Apollinarism or Apollinarianism is a Christological heresy proposed by Apollinaris of Laodicea (died 390) that argues that Jesus had a normal human body but a divine mind instead of a regular human soul. It was deemed heretical in 381 and virtually died out within the following decades.[1]


The Trinity had been recognized at the Council of Nicea in 325, but debate about exactly what it meant continued. A rival to the more common belief that Jesus Christ had two natures was monophysitism ("one nature"), the doctrine that Christ had only one nature. Apollinarism and Eutychianism were two forms of monophysitism. Apollinaris' rejection that Christ had a human mind was considered an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was a lesser god.[2]

Theodoret charged Apollinaris with confounding the persons of the Godhead and with giving in to the heretical ways of Sabellius. Basil of Caesarea accused him of abandoning the literal sense of the scripture, and taking up wholly with the allegorical sense. His views were condemned in a Synod at Alexandria, under Athanasius of Alexandria, in 362, and later subdivided into several different heresies, the main ones of which were the Polemians and the Antidicomarianites.

Apollinaris, considering the rational soul or spirit as essentially liable to sin and capable, at its best, of only precarious efforts, saw no way of saving Christ's impeccability and the infinite value of Redemption, except by the elimination of the human spirit from Jesus' humanity, and the substitution of the Divine Logos in its stead. Apollinarism was declared to be a heresy in 381 by the First Council of Constantinople.[1]

Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has proposed a neo-Apollinarian Christology in which the divine Logos completes the human nature of Christ. Craig says his proposal is tentative and he welcomes critique and interaction from other scholars.[3]

Craig also clarifies his proposed neo-Apollinarian Christology with this statement. "Against Apollinarius, I want to say that Christ did have a complete human nature. He was truly God and truly man. Therefore his death on our behalf as our representative before God was efficacious."[4]


  1. ^ a b Sollier, Joseph. "Apollinarianism." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 8 February 2019
  2. ^ McGrath, Alister. 1998. Historical Theology, An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Chapter 1.
  3. ^ William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland. 2003. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. InterVarsity Press. 608.
  4. ^ https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/does-dr.-craig-have-an-orthodox-christology/

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Apollinarianism". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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