Monothelitism (a Greek loanword meaning "one will") is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus, known as a Christological doctrine, that began in Armenia and Syria in AD 633. Specifically, Monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will. This is contrary to the orthodox Christology that Jesus Christ has two wills (human and divine) corresponding to his two natures. Monothelitism is a development of the Monophysite position in the Christological debates. It enjoyed considerable support in the 7th century before being rejected as heretical.


The Christological definition of Chalcedon states that Jesus was one person with two natures (the dyophysite position), in opposition to the Monophysite position that Jesus was one person with one nature.

The Monothelite teaching emerged as a compromise position. The Monophysites could agree that Jesus had two natures if he only had one will, and some Chalcedonians could agree that Jesus had one will if he had two natures.

Perhaps at the suggestion of Emperor Heraclius (610–641), the Monothelite position was promulgated by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople (patriarch 610–638). The Monothelite position gained favor in the Church for a time, and spread under Pope Honorius I (pope 625–638).

Monothelitism was officially condemned at the Third Council of Constantinople (the Sixth Ecumenical Council, 680–681). The churches condemned at Constantinople include the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Maronite church, although they now deny that they ever held the Monothelite view (they describe their own Christology as Miaphysite). Christians in England rejected the Monothelite position at the Council of Hatfield in 680.

Notable Figures in the Monothelite Debate

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