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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Church and its Heresies

Search the dictionaries and you will find 'nature' defined as something corresponding to "Thing's essential qualities, person's or animals innate character". On another level, you think, speak and act according to your nature. As our Lord Jesus Christ put it "Each tree is recognized by its own fruit." (Luke 6:44)

It is important to remember this as you consider heresies which have arisen in Christ's Church since Pentecost. I am going to identify and comment briefly on some of the early heresies here following (much of the commentary is direct quoting from "Know The Truth" by Bruce Milne; Inter-Varsity-Press, 1981):


Derived from Jewish Christianity and attempted to solve a perceived problem of the relationship of humanity and divinity in Christ by effectively removing the divinity. Jesus was simply the human, though divinely appointed, Messiah who was destined to return at the end of the age to reign on the earth by God's sovereign power. In effect this left the gulf between God and man unbridged.


Dates from apostolic times. In contrast to Ebionism it solved the problem by excising the humanity of Christ. Jesus only seemed human (Gk. doceo - seem). Its roots lie in Graeco-Oriental convictions that matter is inherently evil and that God cannot be the subject of feelings or other human experiences. Docetism was unacceptable because it cut the bridge between God and man at the other end; God did not really come to us, hence no effective sacrifice was made for our sins.


The thought-world of Gnosticism has been said to be loaded with bizarre speculations, and it is unclear how far it was a unified system of thought. Christ is seen by some Gnostic writers as descended from the heavenly stratosphere or 'fullness' (Gk. pleroma); he united himself for a time with a historic person, Jesus, whose body was formed of a psychic substance, the two elements being loosely linked in him. Gnosticism clearly reflected a strong Docetic tendency. It effectively cut the bridge at both ends; neither true God nor true man, Christ was unfitted to be the mediator.


Revolved around the views of Arius (256-336), a presbyter of Alexandria who had been influenced by the great teacher, Origen. Arius came to hold that 'the Son was created'. Arius had imbibed Plato's division between the tangible world of sense experience and the intangible world of ideas. God, the absolutely unique and unoriginated source of all things, belonged to the second of these worlds, so was radically separated from the created world. Once this framework is accepted there is obviously great difficulty in fitting the Son (Logos, the Word, Jn. 1:1) into the picture. Arius concluded that the Logos must belong to the creaturely side of being; hence he is not eternal,al5 but is himself a created being: 'there was a time when he [Christ] was not'. Christ is the most exalted of all creatures certainly, but ultimately only that.


Apollinarius (310-390), an over-enthusiastic supporter of Athanasius, held that in Jesus the eternal Word (Logos) took the place of the human soul. At the incarnation God the Son took up residence in a human body, so that Christ did not possess a full human nature. The position, obviously Docetic in tendency, was rejected since it in effect denies that God truly became man.


Nestorius was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople in AD 428. In the interests of preserving the full manhood of the mediator, Nestorianism taught the separation of the two natures in Christ to the extent of rendering questionable his authentic personal unity; this rendered the incarnation invalid and imperiled salvation. Many scholars today believe that Nestorius himself did not hold many of the views attributed to him by his 'orthodox' opponents.


Eutyches, an outspoken opponent of Nestorianism, championed the unity of Christ's person and claimed that, while there were two natures before the incarnation, there was only one composite nature after it. This implies that Jesus is a third sort of being, neither true man nor true God, hence unable to act as mediator. Eutyches was condemned at the Synod of Constantinople in 448, but reinstated somewhat dubiously at Ephesus in 449. Clearly matters could not continue in this manner and a major council was summoned at Chalcedon in 451 to resolve the debates once and for all. The statement of the Council of Chalcedon, which was deeply influenced by the more pragmatic theology of the West, failed to please all the parties but has been the basis for orthodox formulations of the person of Christ ever since.

So ends the examples of heresies I am going to recall from the early church. There have been others but sufficient are provided to make the point.

It should be noted that, for all intents and purposes, these heresies arose from people purporting to be Christian. It should also not escape the reader's attention that, at its root, each heresy was a corruption of the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ. Proponents did not think they were maligning the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ. Instead, they likely hoped to be a help toward a right understanding in believers as to the true 'Nature' of the Jesus Christ.

It is clear that in some instances, and probably all, that their world view influenced proponents in the formulation of their doctrine cum heresy.

It is also evident from closer study that some heresies had large following, had been influential in the life of the church for a long time and incurred great pain and diligence to remove them from Christ's Church. Even today, at least one of those heresies has life in religious bodies considered now to be non-Christian.

We should note from this sad history of the church that the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ is not something to be taken casually because it has far reaching consequences for the Gospel of Jesus Christ i.e. His 'Nature', the condition of Man, His work on the Cross for Man and His Resurrection. Clearly, the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ is intrinsic to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the faithful of old saw this, fought for it and won the battle.

For more than a century another heresy has gained momentum within the church and is proving very difficult to dislodge. Like those heresies of old it corrupts the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ. It is that heresy which ascribes to Jesus Christ a method of creation that is bloody, frustration filled, intelligence lacking, disease and death-riddled and it is that called Theistic Evolution. All those characteristics are necessary components of the Theory of Evolution proposed by Charles Darwin and advocated by Neo-Darwinists today. These same characteristics must therefore be similarly acknowledged by those in the church who seek to super-impose Jesus Christ over the process to arrive at their 'dog's breakfast' - Theistic Evolution.

In their rush to embrace the prevailing world view on Origins, Theistic Evolutionists lose sight of the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ borne in His Incarnate Being. Demonstrating their foolishness these heretics inconsistently recognize the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ in his communications and activities when Incarnate yet are obliged to divorce Him from that same 'Nature' in His creative works at the beginning of Creation. This has to be the consequence of ascribing a bloody, frustration filled, intelligence lacking, disease and death-riddled process to Jesus Christ in His creative works.

Compare for a moment that 'survival of the fittest' principle pregnant in the ordering of life according to the theory of (Theistic) Evolution. Is that principle to be found in the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ? Who:

"being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross." (Phlp. 2:6-8)

and said "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5)

and "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy" (Matt. 5:7)

and "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9)

and "Do not resist and evil person. if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Matt. 5:39-40)

and "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" Matt. 5:44)

Theistic Evolutionists, I have some questions for you.

Just who is the Jesus Christ you profess faith in?

What is the 'Nature' of this Jesus Christ you profess faith in?

How long will you espouse to the world the monster deity that you do?

How long will you continue eroding faith in Christ's Church?

Sam Drucker


Peter said...

You missed Peter Jensenism...

sam drucker said...

Peter, I think you are right.

Darwin did not work within the church to present a perspective which alters the 'Nature' of Jesus Christ.

I suppose the Episcopalian Church in Sydney is unique in the church generally insomuch as it has two brothers who have had so much influence over three decades and they both are sympathetic to Theistic Evolution. So much so that Biblical Creationists (kindred believers with Luther and Calvin) have been systematically marginalised. As they approach retirement there is the son of the Archbishop being pushed forward to some role of leadership, if only by media opportunities, and he also is sympathetic to Theistic Evolution.

Therefore, your assertion seems well made that Jensenism may well be a heresy of our age. Now this is a quandary. How could men so highly regarded as evangelical be both that and heretical at the same time.

Sam Drucker

sam drucker said...

Haste toward the end of writing the blog last evening caused the omission of one point.

Implicit in all I have said is that Jesus Christ, in all He is and what He has done, is the Strong becoming weak for the sake of the weak - the suffering servant.

In effect, Jesus Christ in his very 'Nature' is the antithesis of a deity who would use survival of the fittest via a bloody, frustration filled, intelligence lacking, disease and death-riddled process to create.

Sam Drucker