I love 50-dollar words, especially if they are barely English, foreign words with a little spin to render them officially English. Our mother tongue offers this largesse of loquacity precisely because it is the product of a mingling of tongues: Latin, through Norman French mostly, and Anglo-Saxon. The latter is the twig from the Old High German branch while the former is the remnant of the medieval lingua franca, Latin as spoken by the Normans. So, English possesses a wonderful ability to adapt foreign words to its use. And, my big word today is dyophisitism (the belief) or dyophisite (the adherent of such belief). Like most such naturalized Greek citizens in our language, these Greek words had to pay homage to Latin first, before being admitted into the hallowed halls of our English lexicon. Consider: Iesous (Greek, from Hebrew yeshu^ah) to Iesus (Latin, with a consonantal initial I, written in the Middle Ages as Jesus) and then pronounced with the characteristic vowel shift in English in our common way now. Or: arithmetikon (Greek, “having to do with numbers”) to Latin arithmeticum, and so on.
Well, then, so what of this dyophisitism? The Orthodox Christian belief that the Savior of the world possesses TWO (dyo) NATURES (physis), one created, human, consubstantial with us, changeable, and the other uncreated, divine, beyond all suffering (impassible, if you want the fancy word). These two natures stand in Jesus Christ in what we call a hypostatic union (hypostasis, “person” or “substance”). This is in opposition to the false, heretical belief, called monophysitism. Monophysites affirm that Christ possesses one nature, thus confusing the human and the divine. The historical monophysites refused to accept the teaching of the 4th oecumenical synod, thus they are not Orthodox Christians, no matter what their modern apologists may say. In effect, the Savior is not like Clark Kent / Superman, or the Hulk, or more of a parody, Dr Jekyl / Mr Hyde. Rather, He is truly God, but suffers as a man. “He thought it not robbery (arpagmon, something to be grasped in a haughty way) to be equal to God, but He emptied Himself by taking on the form (morphe, stronger than mere appearance) of a slave” (Philippians 2: 6-7). We say in one of our hymns, “In the grave with the body but in Hades with the soul as God; in paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit wast Thou, O Christ, filling all things, Thyself uncircumscribed” (used in the Divine Liturgy, as the presider places the offered bread and wine upon the Holy Table in the Great Entrance). By the way, that last word is another fifty-dollar word, and it means… but wait… Hey, let me know, if you want to know!
And the point? He became FULLY what I am–yet without sin (“He learned obedience through the things which He suffered, that He might become the captain of our salvation” –Hebrews 2), so that I may become FULLY what He is, by divine grace! This is the Hope of man, the thirsting of our race.