Monday, January 08, 2007

A study on the different heretical forms of the God-man Jesus

A study on the different heretical forms of the God-man Jesus

(Warning: one long post here)


"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in on attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself." Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.2

Heresy is a word some seem to love to throw around. It is used by many to shame and to provoke and to abuse many though the one doing may also carry heresy in their own doctrine with or without their own knowledge.

I see that most heresy comes out of ignorance, and also pride. First off the ignorance is that one may know the scripture, yet lack understanding. Partly as I have pointed out in many other posts the lack of the Holy Spirit to guide one is the most crucial and fatal flaw one can have in grasping the teachings of scripture. Even then if one is regenerated, one can fall under the teachings of often some good intentions and still believe a lie. I see this all over.

I will by using examples, this does not mean that I see these people of “heresy” or that they are false teachers as I see no one has perfect doctrine… for even the Pharisees who did, still failed in their knowledge to see Who Jesus truly was/is and that God is bigger than our own understandings. I in no way claim I am completely without error in my teachings and in that extend grace, and hope in return to receive the same said grace. For all of us must totally depend on Jesus for our salvation…

With error there must be truth. Contrary to my detractors I do believe in truth. I have stated in many posts I do and have explained my view ad nauseum so if I will not try to explain to the one or two who cannot get beyond their own myopic view of what I actually teach. Suffice it to say I see much in the form of heresy in their own views which they are very blind to.

I have linked above to a website that has some very brief summaries of the different heresies and with that hope to be able to use the terms in a sort of short hand with a reference so that one can go to and see what I am referring to.

Since my encounter with grace I have seen a ton of errant teachings. Again, most do not realize what they are teaching is errant, and most often have been taught and are only repeating what they have learned by other men. This is dangerous and why we must first be tapped into Christ Jesus Himself for Truth to flow in the way it should.

The first one I have encountered is the heresy of Pelagianism/Semi-Pelagianism which is subtle in some forms yet not in many others. I view the idea of progressive sanctification as akin to these heresies. It is that man being a moral being can achieve more righteousness and more holiness (sanctification) than that which is imputed to us by Christ Jesus. It is saying that our works prove or add to our own salvation in any way. This is taught in the Armenian circles and was promoted greatly by John Wesley. Though salvation is a process it is the works of God and God alone and not of man… or as I have said before we can boast in those works. This is subtle but to follow and believe this error usurps Jesus from being the author and finisher of our faith.

In a book by Chuck Smith (which is a great book though this one example he used ruined it a bit for me) Charisma Vs. Charismania, Chuck uses the example of lifting a table. He states that God is on one side and you are one the other and “helping God lift it”. As I read that it struck me that that was so wrong. We are not helping God. He is lifting the table and we look as if we are, but that is so we can say, “Look what the Lord has done.” to give God the Glory. Even Jesus did the miracles that the Father set out. Jesus depended totally on the Father and only did as the Father had already done or was doing. That is how we are to live now. To say we are helping God in our own salvation is heresy.

Now not only are Armenian style churches afflicted to this as I see that many Baptist are also. I see that John MacArthur and those who are like him teach that in order to prove one is saved they must do works. Scripture teaches that the proof of our salvation is not OUR WORKS, but the seal of the Holy Spirit. (1 John 5: 7-13; 2 Corinthians 1: 20-22)

The second one I see is a subtle form of Platonism in the form a Gnosticism. Though many will fully affirm that Jesus came in the flesh, which the major error of Gnosticism was that Jesus had not, they miss that the Gnostics taught that the flesh was evil and the spirit was good. This is taught in so many churches today and many twist passages to say just that. Yet, if one looks closer at the teachings of Scripture, it is the evil desires that are in us, or the desires of the flesh that are evil or contrary to the spirit. For if flesh is evil then Jesus was clothed in evil… and to cover that issue I have seen may other heresies in action. Mostly it is the lack of understanding in the teachings that Jesus was the God-Man.

One of the most prevalent forms is Apollinarianism. This is the idea that Jesus was a man, and had a human mind, yet the mind of Christ was solely divine. I think this is the error of some great theologians like Gordon Clark and others who seem to make Jesus as something other than a man.

Another errors are Jesus was a created being (Arianism), or that someway Jesus was a man and then adopted (Adoptionism). Docetism, Gnosticism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism all deny Jesus being a man and either makes him to have one nature or in some way makes Jesus to be more God than man. These in someway or form are taught by saying that Jesus did the miracles though Scripture is clear that it was the Father Who did the miracles through Jesus. For Jesus stated in John 5:19 "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” This is prevalent in the error that Jesus was some sort of ‘magic-man” and is even held in contrast in the book of Acts against people like Simon the Sorcerer who wanted to have the power of the Holy Spirit for unholy reasons. I have been accused of stating Jesus was a mere man… and yet as one reads the Gospel of John one should notice that John states things for specific reasons. On the day Jesus is presented before the people by Pilot, Pilot states “behold the man” (John 19:5) John seems to have a timeline running within his Gospel and this falls on the sixth day… the day God created man. So there seems to be a direct reference to Genesis. (This also is in chapter 20 when John states that it was the first day of the week twice which is to emphasize that this is the first day of the New Creation.) Yet, to say Jesus was a mere man (though the one from Heaven) I see does no real injustice as it seems that we have turned things around a bit. We seem to make Jesus more “God” as he lived as a man, and at the Cross we make Him a man… yet to me Jesus lived more as a man and fulfilled the divine at the Cross. Jesus was a God, become the man that fulfilled the vocation of the suffering servant, who learned obedience unto death and was then Glorified. This in no way says Jesus was less God, nor was He a different “form” rather it is that He was reclaiming mankind as the “image” of God.Colossians 2:9 states “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (also see Col 1:15). It is not that Jesus was of two natures… not was He one at the demise of the other rather Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man. This is known as the hypostatic union. Jesus was one person who had two natures a Divine nature and a human nature. He was the God-man.

A side note here: Someone recently heavily criticized me for using the small “m” in man… they then quoted a scripture about Jesus be a man that to used the small “m”. I thought that was a bit funny, yet the critique is that I used the term “mere man”. I do not see that it is necessary to capitalize the “m” in man. I see that Jesus was as it is taught fully man, and fully God. Jesus lowered Himself and took on the body of flesh with all it limitations and as I stated already depended on the Father as He did anything. To emphasize the deity of Jesus at the expense of the human side of Jesus is as I have shown a heresy.

Likewise to take away the deity and make Jesus just a man… also is a heresy as it diminishes Jesus in His fullness. Socinianism does this as well as Adoptionism as they de deify Jesus and make Him only a man. Again, I may say “mere man” to emphasize the humanity of Jesus but not at the expense of His deity. So that is the difference I am stating.

The biggest issue to me is that as I look at how much error is in our accepted teachings one must recognize it is by Grace we are saved… this same Grace that calls us reconciles us, justifies us (which is not the same as saves us) and also saves us. The life of a Christian is a process… and to a degree so is salvation as it is not in its fullness until the return of our Lord.

Mostly I hope that one will see that we all have some sort of error which should make us seek God and in that express mercy and grace to each other in even greater measure.

I do see that we need to stand up and call heresy when we see it. But I also see that it is to be done in respect and gentleness. Respect first for our God who is saving someone, and to the person who is being saved. Gentleness also as a sign of the kindness of our Great God. This is done to root out the heresy or error and replace it with the TRUTH Who is Jesus which by His Spirit we are lead in all Truth.


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