The fundamental point in Adoptionism is the distinction of a double Sonship in Christ—one by nature and one by grace, one by generation and one by adoption, one by essence and one by title, one which is metaphysical and another which is brought about by an act of the divine will and choice. The idea of sonship is made to depend on the nature, not on the person; and as Christ has two natures, there must be in him two corresponding Sonships. According to his divine nature, Christ is really and essentially (secundum naturam or genere) the Son of God, begotten from eternity; but according to his human nature, he is the Son of God only nominally (nuncupative) by adoption, or by divine grace. By nature he is the Only-Begotten Son of God;0by adoption and grace he is the First-Begotten Son of God. 661
The Adoptionists quoted in their favor mainly John 14:28 Luke 1:80; 18:19; Mark 13:32; John 1:14; 10:35; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 11:3; 1 John 3:2; Deut. 18:15; Ps. 2: 8; 22:23, and other passages from the Old Testament, which they referred to the Filius primogenitus et adoptivus; while Ps. 60:4 (ex utero ante Luciferum genui te); 44:2; Is. 45:23; Prov. 8:25, were understood to apply to the Filius unigenitus. None of these passages, which might as well be quoted in favor of Arianism, bear them out in the point of dispute. Christ is nowhere called the "adopted" Son of God. Felix inferred from the adoption of the children of God, that they must have an adoptive head. He made use of the illustration, that as a son cannot have literally two fathers, but may have one by birth and the other by adoption, so Christ, according to his humanity, cannot be the Son of David and the Son of God in one and the same sense; but he may be the one by nature and the other by adoption.2
It is not clear whether he dated the adopted Sonship of Christ from his exaltation3or from his baptism, 664or already from his birth. 665 He speaks of a double birth of Christ, compares the baptism of Christ with the baptism or regeneration of believers, and connects both with the spiritualis generatio per adoptionem; 666but, on the other hand, he seems to trace the union of the human nature with the divine to the womb of the Virgin. 667
The Adoptionists, as already remarked, thought themselves in harmony with the Christology of Chalcedon, and professed faith in one divine person in two full and perfect natures;8they only wished to bring out their views of a double Sonship, as a legitimate consequence of the doctrine of two natures.
The champions of orthodoxy, among whom Alcuin, the teacher and friend of Charlemagne, was the most learned and able, next to him Paulinus of Aquileja, and Agobard of Lyons, unanimously viewed Adoptionism as a revival or modification of the Nestorian heresy, which was condemned by the third Oecumenical Council (431). 669
Starting from the fact of a real incarnation, the orthodox party insisted that it was the eternal, only begotten Son of God, who assumed human nature from the womb of the Virgin, and united it with his divine person, remaining the proper Son of God, notwithstanding this change.0 They quoted in their favor such passages as John 3:16; Rom. 8:32; Eph. 5:2; Acts 3:13–15.
The radical fault of this heresy is, that it shifts the whole idea of Sonship from the person to the nature. Christ is the Son of God as to his person, not as to nature. The two natures do not form two Sons, since they are inseparably united in the one Christ. The eternal Son of God did not in the act of incarnation assume a human personality, but human nature. There is therefore no room at all for an adoptive Sonship. The Bible nowhere calls Christ the adopted Son of God. Christ is, in his person, from eternity or by nature what Christians become by grace and regeneration.
In condemning Monotheletism, the Church emphasized the duality of natures in Christ; in condemning Adoptionism, she emphasized the unity of person. Thus she guarded the catholic Christology both against Eutychian and Nestorian departures, but left the problem of the full and genuine humanity of Christ unsolved. While he is the eternal Son of God, he is at the same time truly and fully the Son of man. The mediaeval Church dwelt chiefly on the divine majesty of Christ, and removed him at an infinite distance from man, so that he could only be reached through intervening mediators; but, on the other hand, she kept a lively, though grossly realistic, remembrance of his passion in the daily sacrifice of the mass, and found in the worship of the tender Virgin-Mother with the Infant-Saviour on her protecting arm a substitute for the contemplation and comfort of his perfect manhood. The triumph of the theory of transubstantiation soon followed the defeat of Adoptionism, and strengthened the tendency towards an excessive and magical supernaturalism which annihilates the natural, instead of transforming it.
Note. The learned Walch defends the orthodoxy of the Adoptionists, since they did not say that Christ, in his two-fold Sonship, was alius et alius, a[llo" kai; a[llo" (which is the Nestorian view), but that he was Son aliter et aliter, a[llw" kai; a[llw". Ketzerhistorie, vol. IX., pp. 881, 904. Baur (II., p. 152) likewise justifies Adoptionism, as a legitimate inference from the Chalcedonian dogma, but on the assumption that this dogma itself includes a contradiction. Neander, Dorner, Niedner, Hefele, and Möller concede the affinity of Adoptionism with Nestorianism, but affirm, at the same time, the difference and the new features in Adoptionism (see especially Dorner II., p. 309 sq.).
§ 119. The Predestinarian Controversy. Comp. vol. III., §§ 158–160, pp. 851 sqq.
Literature. I. The sources are: (1) The remains of the writings of Gottschalk, viz., three Confessions (one before the Synod of Mainz, two composed in prison), a poetic Epistle to Ratramnus, and fragment of a book against Rabanus Maurus. Collected in the first volume of Mauguin (see below), and in Migne’s "Patrol. Lat.," Tom. 121, col. 348–372.
(2) The writings of Gottschalk’s friends: Prudentius: Epist. ad Hincmarum, and Contra Jo. Scotum; Ratramnus: De Praedest., 850; Servatus Lupus: De tribus Questionibus (i.e., free will, predestination, and the extent of the atonement), 850; Florus Magister: De Praed. contra J. Scot.; Remigius: Lib. de tribus Epistolis, and Libellus de tenenda immobiliter Scripturae veritate. Collected in the first vol. of Mauguin, and in Migne’s "Patrol. Lat.," vols. 115, 119 and 121. A poem of Walafrid Strabo on Gottschalk, in Migne, Tom. 114, col. 1115 sqq.
(3) The writings of Gottschalk’s opponents: Rabanus Maurus (in Migne, Tom. 112); Hincmar of Rheims: De Praedestinatione et Libero Arbitrio, etc. (in Migne, Tom. 125 and 126); Scotus Erigena: De Praedest. Dei contra Gottescalcum, 851 (first ed. by Mauguin, 1650, and in 1853 by Floss in Migne, Tom. 122). See also the Acts of Councils in Mansi, Tom. XIV. and XV.
II. Works of historians: Jac. Ussher (Anglican and Calvinist): Gotteschalci et Praedestinatianae controversiae ab eo motto Historia. Dublin, 1631; Hanover, 1662; and in the Dublin ed. of his works.
Gilb. Mauguin (Jansenist, d. 1674): Vet. Auctorum, qui IX. saec. de Praedest. et Grat. scripserunt, Opera et Fragm. plurima nunc primum in lucem edita, etc. Paris, 1650, 2 Tom. In the second volume he gives the history and defends the orthodoxy of Gottschalk.
L. Cellot (Jesuit): Hist. Gotteschalci praedestinatiani. Paris, 1655, fol. Against Gottschalk and Mauguin.
J. J. Hottinger (Reformed): Fata doctrinae de Praedestinatione et Gratia Dei. Tiguri, 1727. Also his Dissertation on Gottschalk, 1710.
Card. Noris: Historia Gottesc., in his Opera. Venice, 1759, Tom. III.
F. Monnier: De Gotteschalci et Joan. Erigenae Controversia. Paris, 1853.
Jul. Weizsäcker (Luth.): Das Dogma von der göttl. Vorherbestimmung im 9ten Jahrh., in Dorner’s "Jahrbücher für Deutsche Theol." Gotha, 1859, p. 527–576.
Hefele (R. Cath.): Conciliengesch. IV. 130–223 (second ed., 1879).
V. Borrasch: Der Mönch Gottschalk v. Orbais, sein Leben u. seine Lehre. Thorn, 1868.
Kunstmann: Hrabanus Maurus (Mainz, 1841); Spingler: Rabanus Maurus (Ratisbon, 1856); and C. v. Noorden: Hinkmar v. Rheims (Bonn, 1863); H. Schrörs: Hincmar Erzbisch v. R. (Freil. B. 1884).
See also Schröckh, vol. XXIV. 1–126; Neander, Gieseler, Baur, in their Kirchengeschichte and their Dogmengeschichte; Bach (Rom. Cath.), in his Dogmengesch. des Mittelalters, I. 219–263; Guizot: Civilization in France, Lect. V.; Hardwick: Middle Age, 161–165; Robertson, II. 288–299; Reuter, Rel. Aufklärung im Mittelalter, I. 43–48; and Möller in Herzog2, V. 324–328.
Gottschalk or Godescalcus, 671an involuntary monk and irregularly ordained priest, of noble Saxon parentage, strong convictions, and heroic courage, revived the Augustinian theory, on one of the most difficult problems of speculative theology, but had to suffer bitter persecution for re-asserting what the great African divine had elaborated and vindicated four centuries before with more depth, wisdom and moderation.
The Greek church ignored Augustin, and still more Gottschalk, and adheres to this day to the anthropology of the Nicene and ante-Nicene fathers, who laid as great stress on the freedom of the will as on divine grace. John of Damascus teaches an absolute foreknowledge, but not an absolute foreordination of God, because God cannot foreordain sin, which he wills not, and which, on the contrary, he condemns and punishes; and he does not force virtue upon the reluctant will.
The Latin church retained a traditional reverence for Augustin, as her greatest divine, but never committed herself to his scheme of predestination. 672 It always found individual advocates, as Fulgentius of Ruspe, and Isidore of Seville, who taught a two-fold predestination, one of the elect unto life eternal, and one of the reprobate unto death eternal. Beda and Alcuin were Augustinians of a milder type. But the prevailing sentiment cautiously steered midway between Augustinianism and Semi-Pelagianism, giving the chief weight to the preceding and enabling grace of God, yet claiming some merit for man’s consenting and cooperating will. 673 This compromise may be called Semi-Augustinianism, as distinct from Semi-Pelagianism. It was adopted by the Synod of Orange (Arausio) in 529, which condemned the Semi-Pelagian error (without naming its adherents) and approved Augustin’s views of sin and grace, but not his view of predestination, which was left open. It was transmitted to the middle ages through Pope Gregory the Great, who, next to Augustin, exerted most influence on the theology of our period; and this moderated and weakened Augustinianism triumphed in the Gottschalk controversy.
The relation of the Roman church to Augustin in regard to predestination is similar to that which the Lutheran church holds to Luther. The Reformer held the most extreme view on divine predestination, and in his book on the Slavery of the Human Will, against Erasmus, he went further than Augustin before him and Calvin after him; 674yet notwithstanding his commanding genius and authority, his view was virtually disowned, and gave way to the compromise of the Formula of Concord, which teaches both an absolute election of believers and a sincere call of all sinners to repentance. The Calvinistic Confessions, with more logical consistency, teach an absolute predestination as a necessary sequence of Divine omnipotence and omniscience, but confine it, like Augustin, to the limits of the infralapsarian scheme, with an express exclusion of God from the authorship of sin. Supralapsarianism, however, also had its advocates as a theological opinion. In the Roman church, the Augustinian system was revived by the Jansenists, but only to be condemned.
§ 120. Gottschalk and Babanus Maurus. Gottschalk, the son of Count Berno (or Bern), was sent in his childhood by his parents to the famous Hessian convent of Fulda as a pious offering (oblatus). When he had attained mature age, he denied the validity of his involuntary tonsure, wished to leave the convent, and brought his case before a Synod of Mainz in 829. The synod decided in his favor, but the new abbot, Rabanus Maurus, appealed to the emperor, and wrote a book, De Oblatione Puerorum, in defence of the obligatory character of the parental consecration of a child to monastic life. He succeeded, but allowed Gottschalk to exchange Fulda for Orbais in the diocese of Soissons in the province of Rheims. From this time dates his ill feeling towards the reluctant monk, whom he called a vagabond, and it cannot be denied that Rabanus appears unfavorably in the whole controversy.
At Orbais Gottschalk devoted himself to the study of Augustin and Fulgentius of Ruspe (d. 533), with such ardent enthusiasm that he was called Fulgentius. 675 He selected especially the passages in favor of the doctrine of predestination, and recited them to his fellow-monks for hours, gaining many to his views. But his friend, Servatus Lupus, warned him against unprofitable speculations on abstruse topics, instead of searching the Scriptures for more practical things. He corresponded with several scholars’ and made a pilgrimage to Rome. On his return in 847 or 848, he spent some time with the hospitable Count Eberhard of Friuli, a son-in-law of the Emperor Louis the Pious, met there Bishop Noting of Verona, and communicated to him his views on predestination. Noting informed Rabanus Maurus, who had in the mean time become archbishop of Mainz, and urged him to refute this new heresy.
Rabanus Maurus wrote a letter to Noting on predestination, intended against Gottschalk, though without naming him. 676 He put the worst construction upon his view of a double predestination, and rejected it for seven reasons, chiefly, because it involves a charge of injustice against God; it contradicts the Scriptures, which promise eternal reward to virtue; it declares that Christ shed his blood in vain for those that are lost; and it leads some to carnal security, others to despair. His own doctrine is moderately Augustinian. He maintains that the whole race, including unbaptized children, lies under just condemnation in consequence of Adam’s sin; that out of this mass of corruption God from pure mercy elects some to eternal life, and leaves others, in view of their moral conduct, to their just punishment. God would have all men to be saved, yet he actually saves only a part; why he makes such a difference, we do not know and must refer to his hidden counsel. Foreknowledge and foreordination are distinct, and the latter is conditioned by the former. Here is the point where Rabanus departs from Augustin and agrees with the Semi-Pelagians. He also distinguishes between praesciti and praedestinati. The impenitent sinners were only foreknown, not foreordained. He admitted that "the punishment is foreordained for the sinner," but denied that "the sinner is foreordained for punishment." 677 He supported his view with passages from Jerome, Prosper, Gennadius, and Augustin. 678
Gottschalk saw in this tract the doctrine of the Semi-Pelagian Gennadius and Cassianus rather than of "the most catholic doctor" Augustin. He appeared before a Synod at Mainz, which was opened Oct. 1, 848, in the presence of the German king, and boldly professed his belief in a two-fold predestination, to life and to death, God having from eternity predestinated his elect by free grace to eternal life, and quite similarly all reprobates, by a just judgment for their evil deserts, to eternal death.9 The offensive part in this confession lies in the words two-fold (gemina) and quite similarly (similiter omnino), by which he seemed to put the two foreordinations, i.e. election and reprobation, on the same footing; but he qualified it by a reference to the guilt and future judgment of the reprobate. He also maintained against Rabanus that the Son of God became man and died only for the elect. He measured the extent of the purpose by the extent of the effect. God is absolutely unchangeable, and his will must be fulfilled. What does not happen, cannot have been intended by him.
The details of the synodical transaction are unknown, but Rabanus, who presided over the Synod, gives as the result, in a letter to Hincmar, that Gottschalk was condemned, together with his pernicious doctrine (which he misrepresents), and handed over to his metropolitan, Hincmar, for punishment and safe-keeping.
§ 121. Gottschalk and Hincmar. Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, a most influential, proud and intolerant prelate, was ill-disposed towards Gottschalk, because he had been somewhat irregularly (though not invalidly) ordained to the priesthood by a rural bishop (chorepiscopus), Rigbold of Rheims, without the knowledge of his own bishop of Soissons, and gone on travels without permission of his abbot. 680 He treated the poor monk without mercy. Gottschalk was summoned before a synod of Chiersy (in palatio Carisiaco) 681 in the spring of 849. He refused to recant, and was condemned as an incorrigible heretic, deposed from the priesthood, publicly scourged for obstinacy, according to the rule of St. Benedict, compelled to burn his books, and shut up in the prison of a convent in the province of Rheims. 682 According to the report of eye-witnessses, he was scourged "most atrociously" and "nearly to death," until half dead he threw his book, which contained the proofs of his doctrine from the Scriptures and the fathers, into the fire. It is a relief to learn that St. Remigius, archbishop of Lyons, expressed his horror at the "unheard of impiety and cruelty" of this treatment of the miserabilis monachus, as Gottschalk is often called by his friends.
In his lonely prison at Hautvilliers, the condemned monk composed two confessions, a shorter and a longer one, in which he strongly re-asserted his doctrine of a double predestination. He appealed to Pope Nicolas, who seems to have had some sympathy with him, and demanded a reinvestigation, which, however, never took place. He also offered, in reliance on the grace of God, to undergo the fiery ordeal before the king, the bishops and monks, to step successively into four cauldrons of boiling water, oil, fat and pitch, and then to walk through a blazing pile; but nobody could be found to accept the challenge. Hincmar refused to grant him in his last sickness the communion and Christian burial) except on condition of full recantation. 683 Gottschalk scorned the condition, died in his unshaken faith, and was buried in unconsecrated soil after an imprisonment of twenty years (868 or 869).
He had the courage of his convictions. His ruling idea of the unchangeableness of God reflected itself in his inflexible conduct. His enemies charged him with vanity, obstinacy, and strange delusions. Jesuits (Sirmond, Peteau, Cellot) condemn him and his doctrine; while Calvinists and Jansenists (Ussher, Hottinger, Mauguin) vindicate him as a martyr to the truth.
§ 122. The Contending Theories on Predestination, and the Victory of Semi-Augustinianism. During the imprisonment of Gottschalk a lively controversy, was carried on concerning the point in dispute, which is very creditable to the learning of that age, but after all did not lead to a clear and satisfactory settlement. The main question was whether divine predestination or foreordination which all admitted as a necessary element of the Divine perfection, was absolute or relative; in other words, whether it embraced all men and all acts, good and bad, or only those who are saved, and such acts as God approves and rewards. This question necessarily involved also the problem of the freedom of the human will, and the extent of the plan of redemption. The absolute predestinarians denied, the relative predestinarians affirmed, the freedom of will and the universal import of Christ’s atoning death.
The doctrine of absolute predestination was defended, in substantial agreement with Gottschalk, though with more moderation and caution, by Prudentius, Bishop of Troyes, Ratramnus, monk of Corbie, Servatus Lupus, Abbot of Ferrières, and Remigius, Archbishop of Lyons, and confirmed by the Synod of Valence, 855, and also at Langres in 859.
The doctrine of free will and a conditional predestination was advocated, in opposition to Gottschalk, by Archbishop Rabanus Maurus of Mainz, Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims, and Bishop Pardulus of Laon, and confirmed at a synod of Chiersy, 853, and in part again at Savonnières, near Toul, in 859.
A third theory was set forth by John Scotus Erigena, intended against Gottschalk, but was in fact still more against the orthodox view, and disowned by both parties.
I. The doctrine of an Absolute and Two-Fold Predestination.
Gottschalk professed to follow simply the great Augustin. This is true; but he gave undue disproportion to the tenet of predestination, and made it a fundamental theological principle, inseparable from the immutability of God; while with Augustin it was only a logical inference from his anthropological premises. He began where Augustin ended. To employ a later (Calvinistic) terminology, he was a supralapsarian rather than an infralapsarian. He held a two-fold predestination of the elect to salvation, and of the reprobate to perdition; not in the sense of two separate predestinations, but one predestination with two sides (gemina, i.e. bipartita), a positive side (election) and a negative side (reprobation). He could not conceive of the one without the other; but he did not teach a predestination of the sinner to sin, which would make God the author of sin. In this respect he was misrepresented by Rabanus Maurus. 684 In his shorter Confession from his prison, he says: "I believe and confess that God foreknew and foreordained the holy angels and elect men to unmerited eternal life, but that he equally (pariter) foreordained the devil with his host and with all reprobate men, on account of their foreseen future evil deeds, by a just judgment, to merited eternal death." He appeals to passages of the Scriptures, to Augustin, Fulgentius, and Isidor, who taught the very same thing except the pariter. In the larger Confession, which is in the form of a prayer, he substitutes for equally the milder term almost or nearly (propemodum), and denies that God predestinated the reprobates to sin. "Those, O God," he says, "of whom thou didst foreknow that they would persist by their own misery in their damnable sins, thou didst, as a righteous judge, predestinate to perdition." He spoke of two redemptions, one common to the elect and the reprobate, another proper and special for the elect only. In similar manner the Calvinists, in their controversy, with the Arminians, maintained that Christ died efficiently only for the elect, although sufficiently for all men.