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Dyothelitism or dithelitism (from Greek δυοθελητισμός "doctrine of two wills") is the Christological doctrine that teaches the existence of two wills (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ. Specifically, dyothelitism correlates the distinctiveness of two wills with the existence of two specific natures (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ, in a dyophysite context.


Dyothelitism as a position stands in opposition to the view of monothelitism, the doctrine of Jesus having one will, in Christological thought. Dyothelitism was championed by Maximus the Confessor.[1] The conflict arose between varying views of the constitution of a 'person' and 'will': monothelites believe that a single person can only possess a single will without arising in conflict,[2] whereas dyothelites emphasize the perfect humanity in Christ's nature.[3]

The debate concerning the monothelite and dithelite churches came to a conclusion at the Third Council of Constantinople in 681. The Council declared that, in line with the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, just as there are two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, there are equally two "wills" or "modes of operation" in the one person of Jesus as well:[4]

And we, most pious Lord, accepting the teaching of the suggestion sent to your most gentle Fortitude by the most holy and blessed Agatho, Pope of Old Rome, and of that other suggestion which was adopted by the council subject to him, and following the sense therein contained, so we are minded, so we profess, and so we believe that in our one Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, there are two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, undividedly, and two natural wills and two natural operations; and all who have taught, and who now say, that there is but one will and one operation in the two natures of our one Lord Jesus Christ our true God, we anathematize.

Chalcedonian Christianity accepts dyothelitism as theologically orthodox. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:[5]

"Similarly, at the Sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ's human will 'does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.'"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maximus the Confessor". Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  2. ^ Ter Ern Loke, Andrew (January 2016). "On Dyothelitism Versus Monothelitism: The Divine Preconscious Model". The Heythrop Journal. 57 (1): 135–141. doi:10.1111/heyj.12073. ISSN 0018-1196.
  3. ^ "Philip Schaff: History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073 - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". ccel.org. Retrieved 2024-02-09.
  4. ^ "Medieval Sourcebook : Sixth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople III, 680-681". Fordham.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  5. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 2024-02-09.


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