scottish journal of theology
The category of the will in Maximus
Though Monothelitism provided the stimulus for Maximus’ mature doctrineof the will, many key components of his ﬁnal position were in placebeforehand. For example, the issue of human freedom is introduced inone of Maximus’ earliest extant works, ‘Letter 2’ (to John Cubicularius), inwhich he speaks of the need to make our capacity for self-determination(
) submit to reason and, more speciﬁcally, the way in which ourinclination (
) must be persuaded ‘to follow nature and not in any wayto be at variance with the
of nature’ so that ‘we are able to have oneinclination (
) and one will (
) with God and with one another, nothaving any discord with God or one another’.
This wholesale renewal of human intentional action is necessary because through the fall the devil has‘separated us, with respect to our inclination, from God and one another’,having ‘divided nature at the level of mode of existence, fragmenting it intoa multitude of opinions and imaginations’ by introducing into human beingan ‘irreconcilability with respect to inclination’ that led us ‘to turn from thenatural movement [we] once had
. . .
to what is forbidden’.
Already at this very early stage (around 626 and thus well before theemergence of Monothelitism) the basic architecture of Maximus’ laterthinking on the will is visible. Two points in particular are important here.First, Maximus deﬁnes fallen existence in terms of division with respectto inclination or
; second, he associates
with personal mode of existence (
) rather than created human nature (
). In the fall humanbeings ﬁnd themselves divided from God, each other, and even within theirown selves by an ‘irreconcilability of inclination’ that marks a declensionfrom the natural movement towards God characteristic of the will in itsoriginal state.
Whereas humankind was created with a natural desire forGod, the fall perverts desire.
In redemption, however, this internal division
Maximus the Confessor, ‘Letter 2’ (PG 91:396C), in Andrew Louth,
Maximus the Confessor
(London: Routledge, 1996), 86–7.
Maximus, ‘Letter 2’ (PG 91:396D–397A), 87; the translation has been modiﬁed toindicate that Maximus speaks consistently of ‘inclination’ (
) in the singular here.
Thus Maximus can say that ‘nature remains undamaged and undivided in those whohave received
. . .
grace, not divided up into the differences introduced by
’.‘Letter 2’ (PG 91:401A), 89.
As Maximus describes it elsewhere, ‘every wicked power is at work
. . .
with the natural passions into the corruption of unnatural passions’.
21 (CCSG 7:128–9) in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken (eds.),
St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ
(Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’sSeminary Press, 2003), 110; translation slightly altered.