...monothelitism is the view that Jesus Christ has two natures but only one will. - Wikipedia

In the garden, Jesus prayed:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. - Luke 22:42 NIV

How do (trinitarian) monothelites explain this? Do they believe that the Son's will can vary from the Father's (in which case, why doesn't the Son's willingness to accede to the will of the Father also represent an expression of the Son's will); or that the first half of this prayer does not actually represent an expression of the Son's will (in which case, for what reason does he pray this - wouldn't it then be a disingenuous request)?

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    Most (perhaps all?) monothelists see the wills as belonging to persons rather than natures, so they'd say each person of the trinity has a distinct will. I think the Son's willingness to accede to the Father's will would be an expression of the Son's will, but I'm not sure exactly how they'd describe it. Answer will hopefully be incoming :)
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 9, 2017 at 8:45
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    Has anyone believed this in the last 1000 years?
    – Peter Turner
    Mar 15, 2017 at 4:46
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    @Peter there are, such as philosopher/apologist William Lane Craig.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 8, 2018 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


First, You may be conflating Trinitarian monotheism with monothelitism which does not meet the definition of Triniterianism. Trinitarian monotheism teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not just one in will, but also one in substance.

Latter Day Saints, for example are monothelitic, but not monotheistic, teaching:

Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are one in will and purpose but are not literally the same being or substance

And on this basis many Protestants believe that Latter Day Saints are not Christian or are unsaved - so this is actually pretty large distinction and not as pedantic as one might think.

In either event, the answer is the same for both the Trinitarian monotheist and the monothelitist. This is merely a dialectic conflict within the single will of God.

This is the same dialectic conflict that any person might face who has a fear of, say, going to the dentist. You may be afraid and pray that your tooth pain would go away. You might plead and bargain to try to avoid the dentist, yet ultimately you go. You go because you know it is good for you in the long run. That despite your fear, you must go - that it is good for you in the long run. So despite your fear, you muster you courage, overcome your dread and fear, and you go to the dentist even though you don't really want to.

This does not indicate that you have two separate wills, but instead that you have mixed feelings and a fear of going to the dentist. You have an uncomfortable dissonance within your single psyche. The same is true of Jesus in the Garden. This does not signify two wills, but instead a fear of the coming thing that he has to do.

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    There were Trinitarian Monothelites, definitely; they were condemned in the Third Council of Constantinople (680–681). They held that Christ had two natures, human and Divine, but the will of the Divine nature suppressed the will of the human one. It was essentially a compromise to try and heal the schism with the Miaphysites, which it failed to do.
    – Wtrmute
    Mar 27, 2017 at 17:09
  • I think most monothelites, both historical and modern, believe that will is a property of the person not nature, and are actually trithelites. See William Lane Craig for example: reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/monotheletism
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 8, 2018 at 14:26

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