Felix (3)

Felix bishop of Urgel (Urgelis), in Spain, 9th century. Of his early life little is known. He became bishop of Urgel in 791. Elipandus of Toledo, who had been -his pupil, consulted him as to the doctrine of the person of. Christ, with regard to which he seems to have already embraced the so-called

Adoptian doctrine. SEE ELIPANDUS. " The answer of Felix was that Christ, with respect to his divine nature, was truly and properly the Son of God, begotten of the Father and hence he was the true God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Godhead. But that, with respect to his humanity Christ was the Son of God by adoption, born of - the Virgin by the will of the Father, and thus he was nominally God. Hence, according to the opponents of the Felicians, it followed that there was a twofold Sonship in Christ, and that he must consist of two persons. The opinion of Felix was considered by the orthodox as nothing more than a development of the Nestorian heresy. The doctrine of Felix was adopted by Elipandus, who, being the' primate of Spain, propagated it through the different provinces of Spain, while Felix himself contributed to spread it throughout Narbonne and other parts of Gaul" (Carwithen, Church History, p. 179). It appears to be clear that Felix had read some of the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (q.v.), in which a similar doctrine is taught. Felix seems, moreover, to have engaged in controversy with the Mohammedans, and, according to Alcuin, he wrote a Dialogue against them; and it is not unlikely that he was led to the Adoptian view by his desire to render the doctrine of the Incarnation less offensive to the Mohammedans. Alcuin (q.v.) entered into controversy wit-h Felix, and we learn from him a large part of what is known about the controversy (Alcuin, Opera, ii, 760 sq.). Neander gives the following statement: "Felix distinguished between how far Christ was the Son of God and God according to nature (natura, genere), and how far he was so by virtue of grace, by an act of the divine will (gratia, voluntate), by the divine choice and good pleasure (elections, placito); and the name Son of God was given to him only in consequence of connection with God (nuncupative); and hence the expressions for this distinction, secundum naturam and secundum adoptionem. Felix appealed to the fact that, though the name of Son by adoption (δἰ υἱοθεσίας) is not applied in the Bible to Christ, yet there are other designations which express the same idea. He adduces Joh 10:34, when Jesus disputed with the Jews. (κατ᾿ ἄνθρωπον), and referred to the passage in the Old Testament, in which men are called Elohim, where Christ placed himself as a man in the category of those who were called 'gods' nuncupative, and not in a strict sense. Then as to the passage, 'None is good save one, that is God,' from this it appears that as man he was not to be called good in the Same sense as God, and that only the divine nature in him was the source of goodness. He would allow an interchange of the divine and human predicates only in the same manner as Theodore; it could not be made without limitation, but the different senses must be observed according as they were attributed to the divine or human natures. He charged his opponents with so confounding the two natures by their doctrine of the singularitas personae that they left no distinction between the suscipiens and the susceptum. Expressions that were then in common use, such as God was born and died, never occur in Scripture, which also never says that the Son of God, but that the Son of man was given for us. On the latter point Alcuin could easily have confuted Felix by other passages, but both were wrong in not distinguishing the various Biblical applications of the term Son of God from the Church use of it- and in taking the idea everywhere in a Church sense. Like Theodore, Felix asserted Agnoetism of Christ. It is also a point of resemblance between them that both sought for an analogy between the union of the man Christ with the divine Being and the relation of believers to God. Felix says .that Christ in as- improper sense (nuncupative) was called the Son of God conjointly with all who are not God according to their nature, but by the grace of God in Christ have been taken' into communion with God (deificati). In this order also the Son of God is, is respect of his humanity, both according to nature and grace. He maintained that, as far as Christ as man is reckoned among the sons of God, all believers are his members; considered according to his divine nature, believers are the temple in which he dwells. He did not wish by that to deny the specific difference between Christ and believers; whatever resemblance existed between them belonged to him in a far higher sense; he was united to God by generation, and was the medium of the communion of the rest with God. Felix also perfectly agreed with Theodore in the thought that the communion with God into which Christ was received as a man might be represented as a revelation of the divine being according to the measure of the various stages of the development of his human nature, and thus supposed various degrees of it up to the highest revelation after the glorification of Christ. It might be peculiarly offensive that be should compare the baptism of Christ with the regeneration of believers; but he certainly did not mean to say that Christ thus became partaker of communion with the divine nature, but only to point out an analogy so far, as baptism marked a distinct stage in Christ's life, after which the operation of the divine life in him was peculiarly conspicuous. It is therefore evident that the doctrine of Felix was altogether that of Theodore, excepting that the latter could express himself more freely in an age when the doctrines of the Church were less rigorously defined, while Felix was obliged to use a terminology which was opposed to his own system. The great importance of the antagonism in which he stood: to the Church doctrine is likewise manifest; it included not merely Christology, but also Anthropology; for the doctrine of the revelation of the Divine Being in Christ, conditioned by various stages of development, was connected with one of special importance the principle of free self-determination. It is uncertain how far Felix consciously developed his principles; but there is no question that these were throughout contradictory to the prevalent Augustinian doctrine. As Felix lived in the Frankish territory, the Frankish Church was drawn into the controversy. In A.D. 792, Charlemagne convoked an assembly at Ratisbon, at which Felix appeared, and was induced to recant. He was then sent to Rome, where he made similar explanations (Alcuinus adv. Elipandum, i, c. 16; Mansi, Concil. 13:1031). But, on being permitted to return home, he repented of the steps he had taken, took refuge in Saracenic Spain, and again promulgated his doctrine. Alcuin, who had been summponed to take a part in the controversy, endeavored to win him over by a friendly epistle; but Felix regarded the subject of the controversy as too important, afnd thus it was carried on in his writings (Alcuini Libellus adv. liceresin Felicis, Opp. A lc. i, pars ii, 759). The Spanish bishops interceded for Felix with the emperor, and applied for a new investigation (Alcuin, Opera, ii, 567). In consequence, Charles called a second synod at Frankfort-on-the- Maine in A.D. 794, which again decided against Felix (Mansi, 13:863); and since the Adoptianists had spread themselves even as far as France, the emperor sent a commission of three persons into those parts in order to oppose them. Felix came with them, and was prevailed upon to appear before the synod at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aix), A.D. 799. After Alcuin had disputed with him for a long time, Felix declared himself: to be convinced. He made a recantation in Spain; yet he was not altogether trusted, and was placed under the oversight of Leidrad, bishop of Lyons. He could not at once give up a dogmatic tendency which was so deeply rooted; he still was always inclined to Agnoetism, and after his death a series of questions was found which showed that he firmly adhered to his fundamental views" (Hist. of Dogmas, tr. by Ryland, p. 444 sq.). Felix was deposed A.D. 799, and died about A.D. 818. His writings, whether in apology or retraction of his views, remain only in fragments; but his Profession of Faith, made at Aix-la-Chapelle in 799, is given in Alcuini Opera (Paris, 1617, fol.); in Mansi, Concil. 13:1035; in Labbe, Concil. p. 1171. See Dupin, Eccles. Writers, cent. viii; Neander, Ch. History, iii, 156, 158; Mosheim, Ch. ITistory, cent. 8:ch. v, § 3; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, § 179;

Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Edinb. transl. div. ii, vol. i, 248 sq. SEE ADOPTIANS; SEE CHRISTOLOGY.

Bible concordance for FELIX.

 
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