Differing Views About Christ

So who is Jesus Christ? Are you sure you know? Throughout the centuries a lot of differing views about Christ (Christology) has come up and this has caused a lot of confusion, division in the church and animosities among Christians up to our time today.

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Here are some of the various views on Christology which I was able to get from the book, Incarnation by Thomas F. Torrance:

  • Adoptionism – the theory that Jesus was born human but adopted to be the Son of God.
  • Apollinarianism – the doctrine that in the incarnation the eternal Word took the place of the human spirit or mind (nous). This was condemned at Constantinople in 381 on the ground that it impaired the perfect humanity of Christ because it meant Jesus did not have a normal human mind.
  • Arianism – the doctrine condemned at Nicaea in 325, that Jesus was not of the same being as God and therefore not God but the highest of creatures, created by God for a mediatory and creative role.
  • Docetism – the theory that while Jesus was God, he only appeared to be human (from the Greek, dokeo, to seem or appear). Generally, any theory which denies the full reality of Jesus’ humanity.
  • Ebionism – the view that Jesus was not God but an ordinary man adopted to become Son of God.
  • Eutychianism – a doctrine of ‘two natures before the incarnation and one after’. This was condemned at Chalcedon in 451 on the ground that it implied Christ’s human nature was no longer the same as ours but had been swallowed up by his divinity.
  • Monophysitism – the view that there is only one nature (divine) in Christ not two (divine and human), [from the Gk, ‘monos’ one, and ‘physis’ nature]. Condemned at Chalcedon in 451.
  • Monothelitism – the view that Christ only has ‘one will’ (a divine will) and not two (divine and human), [from the Gk, monos one, thelein ‘to will’]. Condemned at Constantinople in 680.
  • Nestorianism – the theory of a conjunction of two persons, divine and human, in Christ. Although Nestorius (died c.451) did affirm the oneness of Christ and a union of will, rather than a hypostatic union of divine and human in one person, was seen as compromising the unity of Christ and was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
  • Sabellianism – a form of modalism, the Father, Son and Spirit are not eternal persons in God himself but modes of ways that he successively reveals himself.
  • Socinianism (Socinus (1539-64)) – a unitarian theology which teaches that Christ is not divine, but a mortal man begotten through the Holy Spirit and then re-begotten in the resurrection to be immortal. Though not an atoning sacrifice, his death was accepted as a ground for forgiveness and was important for its revelation of the love of God.

These are some of the views on Christology that I found listed in the book, Incarnation. Some other views about Christ may not be listed here or maybe some views maybe a variant or a combination of various views.

So which one is you version of Christ?

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