When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.

28 October, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Apollinarianism

This week's heresy is one of the most detailed of which we still have surviving documentation.
Apollinarianism (also known as Apollinarism) is a 4th century heresy that teaches Jesus could not have had a human mind, but rather that Jesus had a human body and “lower soul” (the seat of emotions), but a Divine mind. Apollinaris, for whom this heresy is named, taught that the two natures simply couldn’t coexist, and so the “lesser form” (His human nature) gave way to the “greater form” (His Divine nature). This, along with Eutychianism, is a form of Monophysitism, which errantly teaches Christ only had one nature. Some at the time considered this an overreaction in response to Arianism, whose teachings were that Christ was simply not divine in nature. Polemianism and Antidicomarianism are considered to be “sub-Apollinarianism” heresies. At the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the followers of this heresy were accused of attempting to create a “tertium quid” (a “third thing” that is neither God nor Man). Apollinaris also taught in the same vein as Tertullian that the souls of men were propagated by other souls as well as their bodies (also known as Traducianism).

21 October, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Marcionism

Part two of last week's heresy of the week (Cerdonianism) is Marcionism.
Marcionism was an early church heresy, beginning in the 2nd century, with a dualistic belief system similar to Gnosticism (some have categorized it as Gnostic, others have not), influenced by Cerdonianism. Marcion taught that the Hebrew God was evil and less than the God of the New Testament. He taught that Jesus was the Savior sent by the all-forgiving God and Paul was his chief apostle. His canon consisted of edited portions of the Gospel of Luke and 10 of Paul’s epistles. All other books were rejected. The primary premise of Marcionism is that the teachings of Jesus are incompatible with the actions of the Old Testament God. They opposed any connection between Jesus and the Jewish religion. The God of the Old Testament (creator God—teaching that the material world is defective because it was created by Him) is considered to be wrathful, whereas the New Testament God was unknown before Christ and is only love and mercy. The main difference between Marcionism and Gnosticism is the lack of pursuit of secret wisdom in Marcionism.

14 October, 2013

Heresy of the week: Cerdonianism

Next week's heresy will be "part two": Marcionism.  They are closely related enough I wanted to do them in a series, but distinct enough to not put them in the same post.
Cerdonianism is a Gnosticism sect founded by Cerdo in the 2nd century. Cerdo was the teacher of Marcion, who founded Marcionism. Very little is known about this sect, other than they held fairly typical Gnosticism beliefs—two “causes”, one perfectly good and one perfectly evil. The evil “cause” created the world and was the Old Testament Jewish God. Christ is the Son of the good “cause”, and He was sent here to oppose evil, but they deny his humanity (Monophysitism). As the body and all material things are evil, they were strict Asceticism followers and had a very severe moral system which must be closely followed for “salvation” (Legalism and Pelagianism).

13 October, 2013

Hearing Voices

I've seen several posts about this on Facebook in recent weeks, and then we talked about this in Confirmation Class tonight (I'll have notes up later this week--we missed the last two weeks because we were out of town, so I want to watch the videos from those and post those notes first before I post tonight's class notes because I'm OCD like that).  So, of course, I have to commentate on it. 

One of my biggest frustrations with my protestant friends is hearing about how “God spoke to me,” as if it is some kind of conversation.  It isn’t.  There’s more that goes bump in the night than God—and if you can’t test the spirit from which your voice came and unequivocally prove it is Biblical, then you can pretty safely assume it wasn’t God.  If you’re still convinced it is of God, even if what was said isn’t Biblical, then, my dear friend, you are a Gnostic—getting secret knowledge from God that has not been revealed to anyone else, any time else, anywhere else.

“But God has plans for me—plans for good, and plans for me to prosper!” you may say (Jeremiah 29:11).  That is, perhaps, the single most consistently ripped-out-of-context verse in the entire Bible.  It is a specific promise to a specific people in a specific time and specific place—it is not a blanket promise to and for you.  God’s promise to and for you is His Son—Christ and Him crucified for your sins, and all you need to do is not reject that promise.

Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6).  Instead, focus on your vocations: wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, political activist, friend… tomorrow will worry about itself.

And next time you hear what you think is a still, small voice—test it (1 John 4).  If it isn’t of God (i.e. clearly found in the written words of the Bible), ignore it.  If you don’t ignore it, you’re either a Gnostic or listening to spirits not of God.  Neither is a good option… since they are essentially the same thing.

My Pastor made a great point in class tonight about having heard what he thought were voices of God himself--only to find out they weren't, and it was a disappointment and a faith-shaking experience.  That is what happens when we let things other than God into our faith.  That's why sound doctrine is so important.

Another good resource is the current (Fall 2013) issue of the Around the Word Journal on the Internal vs. External Word.

07 October, 2013

Heresy of the Week: Symbolism

This particular heresy is one that really bugs me because of how prevalent it is.  If you can doubt the clear saying of Scripture here, where else are you allowed to fill in your own meaning?
Symbolism is a term to describe the protestant Eucharistic heresy taught by the Arminians, Calvinists, and Radical Reformed. Their teaching is that the bread and wine simple “represent” or “symbolize” the Body and Blood of Our Lord. This teaching was resoundingly rejected by Martin Luther at the Marburg Colloquy with Zwingli, and is also condemned by the Catholic Church.