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Christology

Subfield of theology; the study of Jesus Christ. In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown claims fourth-century Emperor Constantine had the New Testament books embellished to make Jesus appear "godlike." However, throughout the New Testament books (which were completed in the first century), the followers of Jesus clearly affirmed that he is not only the Messiah but also fully human ( John 1:14; 1 John 4:1-6) and fully God ( John 1:1; 8:58 [cf. Ex. 3:14]; 10:30-33; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:5-6; Heb. 1:8). In the late-first and second centuries, the Gnostics challenged this orthodox understanding, teaching that Jesus only seemed human. This belief (known as Docetism, from the Greek word to seem) was soundly rejected by orthodox believers.

When the Arians later denied Christ's full deity, the Council of Nicaea (325) reaffirmed apostolic teaching, concluding that Jesus was "begotten of the Father before all ages, Light from Light, True God from True God." In what Brown contends was a "close vote" (DVC, 233), the orthodox view (that Jesus was both divine and human) passed 316 to 2, overwhelmingly affirming the doctrine Christians had believed (and died for) for several centuries.

In the fifth century, the Monophysites emphasized Jesus' divine nature to a degree that they neglected his humanity. In response, the Council of Chalcedon (451) again echoed apostolic teaching, declaring that Jesus was "perfect in deity and also perfect in humanity; truly God and truly human."

CHART OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ERRORS by Jim Garlow, edited by Timothy Paul Jones

Errors Denying the Human Element
Docetism (70-170)
Jesus did not possess a human body. His humanity was an illusion. Jesus was wholly divine but not human.
Apollinarianism (4th century)
Jesus did not possess a human mind.
Its place was taken by logos (divine reason).
Jesus was divine but had an incomplete human nature.

Errors Denying the Divine Element
Ebionism (70-325)
Jesus received God's Spirit at his baptism as an endowment for his Messianic work.
Jesus was a Spirit-endowed human.
Adoptionism (8th century)
By the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him, Jesus was adopted into the Godhead. Jesus is the man who became God.
Arianism (3rd & 4th century)
Jesus was lower than God but higher than man, so he should be viewed as the first of God's creation.
Jesus was a demi-god or semi-divine.
Socinianism (6th century)
In early forms, Christ received the Spirit by baptism; in later forms, he was a man of exceptional power.
Jesus was a divinized man.

Errors Denying the Unity of the Person (embracing two natures)
Nestorianism (4th century)
(Also known as Hyper-Dyophysitism) Jesus was human and divine, but these natures were completely separate.
Jesus had two natures that constituted two persons.
Monophysitism (6th century)
The elements of Jesus' humanity and divinity mixed together to form a single, mingled nature.
In Jesus,two natures became one nature.
Eutychianism (5th century)
The elements of Jesus' humanity and divinity mixed together to form a third nature.
Jesus was a mingling of two natures that made a third.
Monotheletism (7th century)
Christ possessed two natures—one human and one divine—but he possessed only a divine will.
Jesus'humanity was deficient because it lacked a truly human will.

Errors Denying the Distinctions in the Godhead
Modalistic Monarchianism or Dynamic Monarchianism Sabellianism (3rd century) (3rd century)
There is one God, and the Father, Son, and Jesus was not in his nature truly God. Holy Spirit are simply different expressions of one divine person. God existed in Jesus the way he exists in all of us. Jesus and the Father are not distinct in any way.
Patripassianism (3rd century)
God the Father became incarnate, suffered and died.
God the Father became his own Son.

The eighth century saw the emergence of the Adoptionist heresy, that Jesus was a human being who became divine at baptism. John's gospel, written by an immediate eyewitness, had affirmed that Jesus was divine from the beginning (1:1; 8:58), so the church rejected this belief as well. See also Adoptionism; Arius of Alexandria; Constantine the Great; Council of Nicaea; Docetism; Gnosticism; Separationist Christology.



Printed with permission from Bethany House Publishers, South Bloomington, Minnesota from the book "The Da Vinci Codebreaker : an easy-to-use fact checker for truth seekers" by James L. Garlow.
 

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