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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Five Major Heresies in the Church: Docetism

by David Chadwick

Heresies. They are the beliefs and opinions that are contrary to the Christian faith. As we move forward, let me first add how important it is to note that not every area of disagreement is a heresy.

Unfortunately, in my many years of pastoral ministry, I have seen many who deem things they are uncomfortable with as heretical. Dear friends, please be careful. Unless it’s a clearly outlined biblical and historical heresy, we should not toss this word around loosely.

With that said, let’s look at another one of the historical deviations from Biblical Christianity so we can learn more clearly what are considered true heresies.

Docetism. It is the belief that Jesus is not human. The Greek word “to seem” is the root of the word Docetism.

In this heretical thought, Jesus seemed human but is not. He did not have a real human body. It only appeared to be real. All of the suffering on the cross was not real. It only appeared to be real. So, according to this way of thinking, the crucifixion was an illusion of reality and Jesus, as a perfect spirit, only “seemed” to suffer and die. Don’t fall for this heresy! Its logic is no better than a sleight of hand trick.

Jesus was totally God and totally human at the same time (Philippians 2:5-11)! Both his body and his spirit were real. He was a flesh and blood person, conceived in a virgin’s womb. He walked this earth and chose to suffer just like us, as a demonstration of love! He is able to help us because he knows everything we experience (Hebrews 2:18). Plus, he had to be fully human, the second Adam, to pay the price for the forgiveness of our sin (Romans 5:12-19).

I find it interesting that Gnosticism promotes the separation of the spiritual and the material and Docetism encourages the separation of divinity and humanity. Oh how humankind loves extremes! But the profound message of the Gospel is found in the tension and mystery of extremes. A message that is profoundly material and mystically spiritual. A Savior who was fully God and fully man.

This is the Gospel that saved my life! I pray it has saved yours as well!

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