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Does the Eastern Orthodox Church consider belief in the existence of Jesus' soul before the incarnation a heresy?

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What do you mean soul in your context? Please clarify for a proper answer. –  Малъ Скрылевъ Jun 27 '14 at 15:13
@МалъСкрылевъ, see the linked question –  Graviton Jun 27 '14 at 15:30
@Graviton : Whom do you refer to as orthodox Christianity churches? Doesn't that make this primarily opinion based and too broad? I request you to narrow it down to particular denomination. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Jun 27 '14 at 16:36
Perhaps the intended meaning is something like "Do the Christians who agree with @JayarathinaMadharasan in his answer to the linked question believe that those who disagree are heretics?" –  Matt Gutting Jun 27 '14 at 16:51
@MattGutting : The problem is that even-though some churches consider contradicting opinion as heretics, not all of them do. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Jun 27 '14 at 18:07

2 Answers 2

The question is imprecise. It can be read as asking the existence of Christ before His incarnation (which is about the divine person) or about the existence of His human soul before incarnation (which is about His human nature). If it's the former the answer is definitively no. Even Arius of Alexandria while denying the Son is of the same essence with the Father he never questioned that the Logos is exist prior to His incarnation. If it's the later the answer is affirmatively yes. At the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (553) the heresy of eternal humanity of Christ is condemned:

If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.

First Anathema Against Origenism, Second Constantinople 553.

The confusion regarding the difference between what constitute a person and a nature. Jesus' human soul came into existence at the moment of His conception by Theotokos. Human soul is assumed by the Logos in His incarnation not prior. Why this is not the case? Because His humanity is not the proto-type of Adam, it's the other way around. His humanity was taken from Adam. He healed our humanity by assuming it. If He has His own humanity then our humanity is not healed because the fallen nature of Adam has not been assumed. This is why His human soul began to exist only after the conception not prior as argued by Origen.

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A good friend of mine who is Eastern Orthodox answered this question for me - he said they DO believe Jesus was present BEFORE the incarnation (assuming I understand your question right). Hence the Hymn of the Only Begotten Son:
"O only begotten Son and Word of God,
Who, being immortal,
Deigned for our salvation
To become incarnate
Of the holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary,
And became man without change;
You were also crucified,
O Christ our God,
And by death have trampled Death,
Being one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit—
Save us!"

To not accept Christ as being present before incarnation would be heretical, as He is the Word of God and was present before creation, and through Him all things were created. See the beginning of John, for example. And some part that escapes my mind in Hebrews.

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The question was not about Christ's existence before the incarnation but rather about the existence of His soul before the incarnation. One common meaning of "soul" makes it a part of human nature, so Christ's soul would have been created along with His physical body at the moment of the incarnation. But I think there are other meanings that some people would give to the word "soul", and then perhaps the eternal Word could be considered to be a soul. This is, I think,the reason for the comments on the question asking what exactly Graviton means by "soul". –  Andreas Blass Jul 6 '14 at 4:11
No, it would not depend on the definition used, because regardless Christ's soul would have existed prior to the incarnation. The soul was given to man by God, after the body was created. This would lead to the natural assumption that the soul - for everyone - existed first. In Jesus Christ's case - having been present prior to creation, the Lord in the flesh and therefor unchanging - would have the soul of God (assuming we know whether or not God has a soul, which I feel we can assume he does). Therefor, Christ's soul existed first. –  Jesse Jul 6 '14 at 5:18
You seem to use a definition of "soul" that involves the soul's existing before the body and the body's existing (at least briefly) before it obtains a soul from God. That notion of soul differs strongly from the notion I'm accustomed to, which I think is the traditional Catholic one. Since you also reach the opposite conclusion from mine, it seems that the conclusion does depend on the definition. –  Andreas Blass Jul 6 '14 at 15:39
I would agree, however this is not about the nature of the human soul - but the soul of Jesus Christ. In the flesh or not, Christ never changes (Heb 13:8 KJV). And as the Lord - Who was, and is, and is to come - every aspect of His being has been since the beginning of everything. This would mean, theologically and literally, that the soul of Christ existed prior to His incarnation. –  Jesse Jul 6 '14 at 17:08
By the same logic you could also say that it would mean Christ was 'incarnated' prior to his 'incarnation' - which is either nonsense or a mystery depending on your point of view. –  bruised reed Jul 21 '14 at 11:08

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