Lupe: Mr Salza, Thank you 1st off for your great website and many of God’s blessing to you. I am debating a protestant minister that is a 7th day Adventist who recently told me that Honorius I taught the monothelite heresy so I was hoping that you could help me with his claim. I know that he never taught such a thing but kept silent on the matter and the succeeding Popes settled the matter. So is there any historical proof that I can use that will help me show him that this Pope did not do such a thing. God Bless You!
J. Salza: Lupe, I would recommend Patrick Madrid’s book called “Pope Fiction” where he goes into detail on the alleged papal “errors.”
The Adventist must first understand that the pope is infallible only when he seeks to bind the entire Church to His teaching. Jesus promised Peter that “whatever you bind or loose on earth is bound or loosed in heaven” Mt.16:19.
When Pope Honorius allegedly professed the Monothelite heresy (which he did not), he was only writing a private letter to the Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople. He was not seeking to bind the Church to a dogmatic decree. The pope’s private letters are not protected by Christ’s promise of infallibility, because such letters are not seeking to “bind” the Church.
Further, Pope Honorius’ letter is not a profession of the heresy (and is ambiguous at best). Even though it states that Christ has one will (and Christ has two wills, not one), the pope was actually writing in the context of Christ’s humanity only. In other words, the pope was emphasizing to Sergius that Christ has only one human will, not two wills of mind and body. Honorius’ second successor, John IV, confirmed Honorius’ intention and confirmed his orthodoxy.
Honorius’ letter was in response to Sergius who also suggested one human will of Christ, which Honorious confirmed, but under the pretext that he would use the pope’s confession of this one human will as evidence that the pope supported the Monothelite heresy – an underhanded move by Sergius. His intention has been exposed, and all subsequent popes confirmed Honorius’ orthodoxy, in a letter that had no binding authority on the Church at all.