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adherents of a religiophilosophical doctrine that formed in Byzantium in the seventh century. According to the Monothelites, Christ possessed two natures (human and divine) but one will and one divine-human “energy”; Christ’s human will was absorbed within his divine will. The Monothelite doctrine arose as a compromise between the orthodox dogma adopted at the Council of Chalcedon and the doctrine of the Monophysites.

The most prominent Monothelites were Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople (610–638); Cyrus, bishop of Phasus; and Theodore, bishop of Pharan (in the Sinai Peninsula). The Monothelite doctrine was officially approved by Emperor Heraclius in his Ecthesis (638).

The Monothelites were challenged by Maximus the Confessor, who asserted that Christ’s human will had retained its independent existence and was subordinated to the divine will only in an act of free choice. Emperor Constans II, in his Typos (648), proposed a compromise solution that forebade the use of the disputed formulations.

The Monothelites were condemned as heretics by Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council in 649; they were also condemned by the Constantinople (Sixth Ecumenical) Council in 680–681. With the final defeat of the Monothelites, the mystical doctrine of the two natures and two wills of Christ was reinforced.


Lebedev, A. P. Vselenskie sobory VI, VI i VII vv., 3rd ed. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Beck, H. G. Kirche und theologische Literatur im Byzantinischen Reich. Munich, 1959. Pages 292–95, 430–33.


References in periodicals archive ?
This thesis will be clearer if one compares some particular features of the Monothelite teaching (which became official doctrine in Constantinople and a basis for the union with the Monophysites) with some important features of Islamic teaching.
For them, the encounter with the Monothelite heresy would have turned him away from the theurgism of Pseudo-Denis and its unfocused presentation of the role of human freedom in the ascent of the soul.
His insistence that energy and will are tied to essence, not hypostasis, positions him to defend the duality of energies and wills in Christ in the Monothelite debate.
Since "theologians as diverse as Cyril and Nestorius, Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, Maximus the Confessor and Monothelites all claimed Gregory's authority for their own doctrinal ends" (227), Hofer is more than doubtful about the adequacy of the Dogmengeschichte approach for the different Christologies before Chalcedon, and especially for Gregory's very distinctive account of Christ.