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Doctrine and Heresy

Heresy helps define correct doctrine

1.  Introduction

Truth vs heresyThe word “theology” is suspect for many, especially in the charismatic churches. The words “doctrine” and “dogma” are also found to be unattractive words, by the same. Yet, when we discover how heresies proliferated, even within the times of the apostles and soon after that during the times of the early church fathers and later, we also discover how important doctrine and theology are.

When we understand that truth hinges on the handling of “theology” and “doctrine” we will also understand the necessity of these in the church today! We need to understand that

Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. (Irenaeus [AD 120-202], Against Heresies, Book I, Preface 2)

To the extent that we ridicule “theology” and “doctrine” and regard inquiry of these as superfluous, old heresies will reappear and new ones created. This will happen even to those who regard themselves “orthodox” and believe they are firmly rooted in the “faith once delivered.” (Jude 3)

Heresy

designated either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church.1

Heresy presupposes orthodoxy, which faith and doctrines are those that honour God correctly. Heresy refers to a false doctrine of such magnitude that those who believe it – heretics - must rightly be considered to have abandoned the faith.

So, when can a doctrine rightly be considered heresy? I believe there are three theological areas that need to be considered. I believe each of these areas has subsections.

1.      The doctrine of God.
-     The existence of God
-     The knowability of God
-     The character of God
-     The Trinity
2.      The doctrine of Christ.
-     The person of Christ
-     The work of Christ
-     The resurrection of Christ
3.      The doctrine of salvation.
-     The nature of man
-     The nature of sin
-     The nature of salvation

When we err on any of these three areas, I believe that we affect our understanding of who God is or the reason why He needed to save us.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 ESV)

Our worship of God is effectuated on two fronts. From our spirits based on truth. It is quite worthless to have the one without the other. To claim, in the modern sense of sensual worship, that we have wonderful times of worship, yet do not hold to the Biblical doctrines of God, Christ and salvation, simply means that our worship is a mere sensual experience aimed at a “god” of our own making! If we worship God with a completely wrong understanding of who He is, is not to worship Him at all. If our worship is based on anything else but God’s own truth, we are involved in false worship. In God’s mind, if we are not interested in His truth, we are not interested in Him! How can we claim to worship God at all if we are not worshipping the God who revealed Himself in the Bible.

The proverb corruptio optimi pessimum est, means “the corruption of the best is the worst.”  The corruption of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity – those that determine whether one is Christian or not – is the worst kind of corruption!

2.  Heresy in the church

Almost from the very inception of the church, the church had to deal with heresies. Those who say that they would love today’s church to be like the New Testament church should rather study their Bibles and church history a little more closely. The New Testament church was in no way perfect, even with the apostles there with them. We can verify this simply by reading the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians.

One of the very first heresies to creep into the church was that of the Judaizers.

"Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Ac 15:1)

Legalism, based on that of the Old Testament and every other legalism that adds to the way of salvation in order to be saved should correctly be noted as heresy. Paul dealt with this heresy in his writings too.

(6)  I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  (7)  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-7)

(4)  But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.  (5)  But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you...  (16)  nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:4-5, 16)

Another heresy that crept into the church at that early stage was Gnosticism. The books of Colossians and 1 John were written to fight against Gnosticism. Gnosticism claims to have “special” knowledge that the ordinary Christian does not possess. This special knowledge was acquired by a very allegorical view of the Scriptures. Under the simple text of the Bible there is hidden a special meaning of it all.  There is much, much more to Gnosticism that cannot be included in this document.

Due to the many heresies that arose from those heretics that held to them, the church had to solidify what it really believed, and that is how our various creeds2 were formulated. Whenever an error arose, it had to be corrected.

Next, let’s look at some heresies encountered in the church over the years.

2.1 Adoptionism

“Adoptionism is an error concerning Christ that first appeared in the second century. Those who held it denied the preexistence of Christ and, therefore, His deity. Adoptionists taught that Jesus was tested by God and after passing this test and upon His baptism, He was granted supernatural powers by God and adopted as the Son.  As a reward for His great accomplishments and perfect character Jesus was raised from the dead and adopted into the Godhead."

This error arose out of an attempt by people to understand the two natures of Jesus. The scriptures tell us that Jesus is both God and man: "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).  This is known as the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union where in the one person of Christ, there are two natures: God and man.

Theodotus of Byzantium was the most prominent adherent to this error.

Adoptionism was condemned as a heresy by Pope Victor (A.D. 190-198).

2.1.1  8th Century revision

"Adoptionism was later revived in the 8th Century in Spain by Elipandus, archbishop of Toledo, and Felix, bishop of Urgel.  This was a variation of the first error but it held that Christ was the Son of God in respect to his divine nature, but that as a man, he was only adopted as the first born of God. In 798 Pope Leo III held a council at Rome that condemned adoptionism as a heresy.”3

2.2  Albigenses

“A heresy during the middle ages that developed in the town Albi in Southern France. This error taught that there were two gods: the good god of light usually referred to as Jesus in the New Testament and the god of darkness and evil usually associated with Satan and the "God of the Old Testament." Anything material was considered evil including the body which was created by Satan. The soul, created by the good god, was imprisoned in the evil flesh and salvation was possible only through holy living and doing good works. At death, if the person has been spiritual enough, salvation comes to the believer. But, if the person has not been good enough, he is reincarnated as an animal or another human. The Albigenses denied the resurrection of the body since it was considered evil. The Albigenses taught that Jesus was God but that He only appeared as a man while on earth. It also taught that the Catholic church of the time was corrupted by its power and wealth. Their asceticism and humility compared to the great affluence of the clergy helped to bring many converts to this evangelistic movement. There were two types of Albigenses: believers and Perfects. Believers were Albigenses who had not taken the initiation rite of being a Perfect. Perfects denounced all material possession. They abstained from meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and sexual relations. To become a Perfect a believer had to go through consolamentum, an initiation rite involving the laying on of hands that was supposed to bring the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Infrequently, suicide was practiced as a way to rid oneself of the evil human body. In 1208, Peter de Castelnau, an official representative of the Pope, was murdered by an Albigenses. Since they had been growing in number, becoming a threat, and would not convert to Christianity, Pope Innocent III ordered them to be wiped out. The persecution was fierce and the movement was stopped.”4

2.3  Apollinarianism

“Apollinarianism was the heresy taught by Apollinaris the Younger, bishop of Laodicea in Syria about 361.  He taught that the Logos of God, which became the divine nature of Christ, took the place of the rational human soul of Jesus and that the body of Christ was a glorified form of human nature.  In other words, though Jesus was a man, He did not have a human mind but that the mind of Christ was solely divine.  Apollinaris taught that the two natures of Christ could not coexist within one person.  His solution was to lessen the human nature of Christ. Apollinarianism was condemned by the Second General Council at Constantinople in 381.  This heresy denies the true and complete humanity in the person of Jesus which in turn, can jeopardize the value of the atonement since Jesus is declared to be both God and man to atone.  He needed to be God to offer a pure and holy sacrifice of sufficient value and He needed to be a man in order to die for men. Jesus is completely both God and man.  This is known as the Hypostatic Union.”5

2.4  Arianism

“Arianism developed around 320, in Alexandria Egypt concerning the person of Christ and is named after Arius of Alexandar.  For his doctrinal teaching he was exiled to Illyria in 325 after the first ecumenical council at Nicaea condemned his teaching as heresy.  It was the greatest of heresies within the early church that developed a significant following.  Some say, it almost took over the church. Arius taught that only God the Father was eternal and too pure and infinite to appear on the earth.  Therefore, God produced Christ the Son out of nothing as the first and greatest creation.  The Son is then the one who created the universe.  Because the Son relationship of the Son to the Father is not one of nature, it is, therefore, adoptive.   God adopted Christ as the Son.  Though Christ was a creation, because of his great position and authority, he was to be worshipped and even looked upon as God.  Some Arians even held that the Holy Spirit was the first and greatest creation of the Son. At Jesus' incarnation, the Arians asserted that the divine quality of the Son, the Logos, took the place of the human and spiritual aspect of Jesus, thereby denying the full and complete incarnation of God the Son, second person of the Trinity. In asserting that Christ the Son, as a created thing, was to be worshipped, the Arians were advocating idolatry.“6

2.5 Docetism

“Docetism was an error with several variations concerning the nature of Christ.  Generally, it taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body, that he was not really incarnate, (Greek, "dokeo" = "to seem").  This error developed out of the dualistic philosophy which viewed matter as inherently evil,  that God could not be associated with matter, and that God, being perfect and infinite, could not suffer.  Therefore, God as the word, could not have become flesh per John 1:1,14, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.. "  This denial of a true incarnation meant that Jesus did not truly suffer on the cross and that He did not rise from the dead. The basic principle of Docetism was refuted by the Apostle John in 1 John 4:2-3.  "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world."  Also, 2 John 7, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist." Ignatius of Antioch (died 98/117) and Irenaeus (115-190), and Hippolatus (170-235) wrote against the error in the early part of the second century.  Docetism was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.”7

2.6 Donatism

“Donatism was the error taught by Donatus, bishop of Casae Nigrae that the effectiveness of the sacraments depends on the moral character of the minister.  In other words, if a minister who was involved in a serious enough sin were to baptize a person, that baptism would be considered invalid. Donatism developed as a result of the persecution of Christians ordered by Diocletian in 303 in which all churches and sacred scriptures of the Christians were to be destroyed.  In 304 another edict was issued ordering the burning of incense to the idol gods of the Roman empire.  Of course, Christians refused, but it did not curtail the increased persecution.  Many Christians gave up the sacred texts to the persecutors and even betrayed other Christians to the Romans.  These people became known as 'traditors,' Christians who betrayed other Christians.  (Note:  traditor, not traitor) At the consecration of bishop Caecilian of Carthage in 311, one of the three bishops, Felix, bishop of Aptunga, who consecrated Caecilian, had given copies of the Bible to the Roman persecutors.  A group of about 70 bishops formed a synod and declared the consecration of the bishop to be invalid.  Great debate arose concerning the validity of the sacraments (baptism, the Lord's Supper, etc.) by one who had sinned so greatly against other Christians. Ater the death of Caecilian, Aelius Donatus the Great became bishop of Carthage and it is from his name that the movement is called.  The Donatists were gaining 'converts' to their cause and a division was arising in the Catholic church.  They began to practice rebaptism which was particularly troublesome to the church at the time and was condemned at the Synod of Arles in 314 since it basically said the authority in the Catholic church was lost. The Donatist issue was raised at several ecumenical councils and finally submitted to Emporer Constantine in 316.  In each case the consecration of bishop Caecilian was upheld.  However, persecution fuels emotions and by 350 the Donatists had gained many converts and outnumbered the Orthodox in Africa.  But it was the apologetic by Augustine that turned the tide against the Donatist movement which eventually died out in the next century. The problem with Donatism is that no person is morally pure.  The effectiveness of the baptism or administration of the Lord's supper does not cease to be effective if the moral character of the minister is in question or even demonstrated to be faulty.  Rather, the sacraments are powerful because of what they are, visible representations of spiritual realities.  God is the one who works in and through them and He is not restricted by the moral state of the administrant.”8

2.7 Gnosticism

“Gnosticism traces its roots back just after the beginning of the Christian Church.  Some researchers state that evidence of its existence even predates Christianity.  Whichever the case, the error of gnosticism had affected the culture and church of the time and possibly even a earned a mention in 1 John 4. The word 'gnosticism' comes from the Greek word 'gnosis' which means 'knowledge.'  There were many groups that were Gnostic and it isn't possible to easily describe the nuances of each variant of Gnostic doctrines.  However, generally speaking, Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge (gnosis).  This knowledge usually dealt with the individual's relationship to the transcendent Being. A more detailed Gnostic theology is as follows.  The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil.  Therefore, God generated lesser divinities, or emenations.  One of these emanations, Wisdom desired to know the unknowable God.  Out of this erring desire the demiurge an evil god was formed and it was this evil god that created the universe.   He along with archons kept the mortals in bondage in material matter and tried to prevent the pure spirit souls from ascending back to god after the death of the physical bodies.  Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers.  Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.  In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic.  That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe. What we know about Gnosticism is gained from the writings of Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Origen, and some later manuscripts discovered in the eighteenth century such as the 'Codex Askew, Codex Bruce, the Berlin Gnostic Codes and, most recently, the Nag Hammadi collection.' Nag Hammadi is a town in Upper Egypt near ancient Chenoboskion and 13 codices discovered were discovered about 1945. The danger of gnosticism is easily apparent.  It denies the incarnation of God as the Son.  In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind and we would still be lost in our sins. There is debate whether or not this is a Christian heresy or simply an independent development.  The evidence seems to point to the later.  Nevertheless, the Gnostics laid claim to Jesus as a great teacher of theirs and as such requires some attention.  It is possible that 1 John was written against some of the errors that Gnosticism promoted.”9

2.8 Kenosis

“'Kenosis' is derived from the Greek word 'kenoo' which means 'to empty.' It is used in Phil. 2:7.  The text of Phil. 2:5-8 is worth recording here. 'Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,' (Phil. 2:5-8). The kenosis theory states that Jesus gave up some of His divine attributes while He was a man here on earth. These attributes were omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Christ did this voluntarily so that He could function as a man in order to fulfill the work of redemption. This view was first introduced in the late 1800s in Germany with Gottfried Thomasius (1802-75), a Lutheran theologian. Phil. 2:5-8 does not teach that Jesus gave up any of His divine attributes since it says nothing of those attributes. Instead, it is speaking of His humility that moved him, according to the will of the Father, to leave His majestic state in heaven and enter into the humble position of human nature. There is, however, a problem the orthodox must deal with that the Kenosis theory seems to more adequately address.  Take Mark 13:32 for example.  In it, Jesus said, 'But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.'  If Jesus knew all things, as is implied in His divine nature, then why did He not know the day or hour of His own return.   The answer is that Jesus cooperated with the limitations of humanity and voluntarily did not exercise His attribute of omniscience.  He still was divine but was moving and living completely as a man. The Kenosis theory is a dangerous doctrine because if it were true then it would mean that Jesus was not fully divine.  If Jesus was not fully divine, then His atoning work would not be sufficient to atone for the sins of the world. The correct doctrine is the Hypostatic Union, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9) and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.”10

2.9 Modalism

“Modalism is probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God.  It is a denial of the Trinity which states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three consecutive modes, or forms.  Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times.  At the incarnation, the mode was the Son.  After Jesus' ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit.  These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous.  In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another.  Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity even though it retains the divinity of Christ. Present day groups that hold to this error are the United Pentecostal and United Apostolic Churches.  They deny the Trinity, teach that the name of God is Jesus, and require baptism for salvation.  These modalist churches often accuse Trinitarians of teaching three gods.  This is not what the Trinity is.  The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in three eternal coexistent persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”11

2.10 Monarchianism

“Monarchianism (mono - 'one'; arche - 'rule') was an error concerning the nature of God that developed in the second century A.D.  It arose as an attempt to maintain Monotheism and refute tritheism.  Unfortunately, it also contradicts the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.  Monarchianism teaches that there is one God as one person:  the Father.  The Trinity is that there is one God in three persons:  Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Trinity is monotheistic, not polytheistic as some of its critics like to assert.  Monarchians were divided into two main groups, the dynamic monarchians and the modal monarchians. Dynamic Monarchianism teaches that God is the Father and that Jesus is only a man, denied the personal subsistence of the Logos and taught that the Holy Spirit was a force or presence of God the Father.  Present day groups in this category are the Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, and Unitarians.  Additionally, some ancient dynamic monarchianists were also known as Adoptionists who taught that Jesus was tested by God and after passing this test and upon His baptism, He was granted supernatural powers by God and adopted as the Son.  Ancient teachers of dynamic monarchianism were Theodotians, a Tanner in Byzantium around 190 A.D., and Paul of Samosata a bishop of Antioch in Syria around 260 AD. Modal monarchianism teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are just modes of the single person who is God.  In other words, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not simultaneous and separate persons, but consecutive modes of one person.  Praxeas, a priest from Asia Minor, taught this in Rome around 200 AD.  Modern groups in this general category are the Oneness Pentecostal groups known as the United Pentecostal and United Apostolic Churches.  However, the present day modalists maintain that God's name is Jesus.  They also require baptism "in Jesus' name" not "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" for salvation.”12

2.11 Monophysitism

“Monophysitism is an error concerning the nature of Christ that asserts Jesus had only one nature, not two as is taught in the correct doctrine of the hypostatic union:  Jesus is both God and man in one person.  In monophysitism, the single nature was divine, not human.  It is sometimes referred to as Eutychianism, after Eutyches 378-452, but there are slight differences.  Monophysitism arose out of a reaction against Nestorianism which taught Jesus was two distinct persons instead of one.  Its roots can even be traced back to Apollinarianism which taught that the divine nature of Christ overtook and replaced the human one. Monophysitism was confined mainly to the Eastern church and had little influence in the West.  In 451, the Council of Chalcedon attempted to establish a common ground between the monophysitists and the orthodox, but it did not work and divisions arose in the Eastern church which eventually excommunicated the monophysitists in the 6th century. The denial of the human nature of Christ is a denial of the true incarnation of the Word as a man.  Without a true incarnation there can be no atonement of sin for mankind since it was not then a true man who died for our sins. It was condemned as heresy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681.”13

2.12 Moral Government Theology

“A theological error that maintains that God is not immutable but changes His mind, that He does not exercise sovereign control over earthly matters, that He does not know all future events - particularly the free-will choices of individuals, etc..  It denies that the atonement pays for our sins, denies Jesus’ substitutionary death, and denies the imputed righteousness of Christ to the believer.  It asserts that people are capable of keeping the whole Law of God, that there is no depravity of human nature, and that salvation is up to a person’s free will choice.”14

Charles Finney was one of the great names who followed this error. YWAM also teaches many of its tenets and so does George Otis Jr.

2.13 Nestorianism

“Nestorianism is the error that Jesus is two distinct persons.  The heresy is named after Nestorius, who was born in Syria and died in 451 AD, who advocated this doctrine.  Nestorius was a monk who became the Patriarch of Constantinople and he repudiated the Marian title "Mother of God."  He held that Mary was the mother of Christ only in respect to His humanity.  The council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to address the issue and pronounced that Jesus was one person in two distinct and inseparable natures:  divine and human. Nestorius was deposed as Patriarch and sent to Antioch, then Arabia, and then Egypt.  Nestorianism survived until around 1300. The problem with Nestorianism is that it threatens the atonement.  If Jesus is two persons, then which one died on the cross?  If it was the "human person" then the atonement is not of divine quality and thereby insufficient to cleanse us of our sins.”15

2.14 Pelagianism

“Pelagianism derives its name from Pelagius who lived in the 5th century A.D. and was a teacher in Rome, though he was British by birth.  It is a heresy dealing with the nature of man.  Pelagius, whose family name was Morgan, taught that people had the ability to fulfill the commands of God by exercising the freedom of human will apart from the grace of God.  He denied original sin, the doctrine that we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam.  He said that Adam only hurt himself when he fell and all of his descendents were not affected by Adam's sin.  Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God.  He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought.  God's grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him. Pelagianism fails to understand man's nature and weakness.  We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5).  We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam:  'Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned' (Rom. 5:12, NIV).  Therefore, we are unable to do God's will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14).  We were affected by the fall of Adam, contrary to what Pelagius taught. Pelagius was condemned by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus and excommunicated in 417 A.D. by Pope Innocent I.”16

2.15 Socinianism

“A heresy concerning the nature of God.  It is derived from two brothers of the surname Sozinni who lived in the 1500's in Poland.  Socinianism denies the doctrine of the Trinity claiming it denies the simplicity of God's unity.  Instead, God is a single person with the Holy Spirit as the power of God.  Since it emphasizes the unity of God, there could be no divine and human union in a single person as Christ.  Therefore, Socinianism denies the incarnation and deity of Christ as well as Christ's pre-existence.  It teaches that Jesus was only a man.  However, as is separate from the unitarians, it taught that Jesus was a deified man and was to be adored as such.  Nevertheless, since Jesus is not divine by nature, His sacrifice was not efficacious; that is, it did not result in the redemption of people who would trust in it.  Instead it was an example of self sacrifice.  The followers of Socinianism also rejected infant baptism, hell, and taught the annihilation of the wicked.  The Bible was authoritative but was only properly understood through rationalism.  Of course, this system of belief is wrong since it denies the doctrine of the Trinity and deity of Christ.”17

2.16 Tritheism

“Tritheism is the teaching that the Godhead is really three separate beings forming three separate gods.  This erring view is often misplaced for the doctrine of the Trinity which states that there is but one God in three persons:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This error hasn't taken different forms throughout the centuries. In the early church the Christians were accused of being the tri-theists by those who either would not nor could not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. In the late 11th century a Catholica monk of Compiègne in France, Roscelin considered the three Divine Persons as three independent beings and that it could be said they were three gods. He maintained that God the Father and God the Holy Ghost would have become incarnate with God the Son unless there were three gods. Present day Mormonism is tritheistic -- but with a twist. Mormonism teaches that there are many God's in the universe but they serve and worship only one of them. Regarding this world, the godhead (the Trinity) is three separate gods: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The supreme God within their Trinity is the Father. So, in reality, Mormonism is polytheistic with a tritheistic emphasis. Of course, tritheism clearly contradicts the teaching of the Bible regarding monotheism. 'You are My witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me,' (Isaiah 43:10). 'Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me,' (Isaiah 44:6). ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none,’ (Isaiah 44:8).”18

3.   Appendices

Appendix A: The Apostles' Creed

(third-fourth centuries A.D.)
The basic creed of Reformed churches, as most familiarly known, is called the Apostles' Creed. It has received this title because of its great antiquity; it dates from very early times in the Church, a half century or so from the last writings of the New Testament.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Amen.
*The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Appendix B: The Nicene Creed

A.D. 325; revised at Constantinople A.D. 381)
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
*The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Appendix C: The Athanasian Creed

(fourth-fifth centuries A.D.)
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Spirit uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty;
And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
And yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord;
so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or less than another.
But the whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal.
So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and made of the substance of His mother, born in the world.
Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.
One altogether, not by the confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
And shall give account of their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
*The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Appendix D: The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon

(451 A.D)
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body;
of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood;
like us in all respects, apart from sin;
as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages,
but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer;
one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten,
recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation;
the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union,
but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence,
not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ;
even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us,
and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

End Notes

[1] Brown, Harold OJ, HERESIES, Heresy And Orthodoxy In The History Of The Church, HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS, Second Printing 1998, p2.
[2] See Appendix A
[3] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/adoptionism.htm, 2002.
[4] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/albigensis.htm, 2002.
[5] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/apollinarianism.htm, 2002.
[6] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/arianism.htm, 2002.
[7] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/docetism.htm, 2002.
[8] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/donatism.htm, 2002.
[9] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/gnosticism.htm, 2002.
[10] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/kenosis.htm, 2002.
[11] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/modalism.htm, 2002.
[12] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/monarchianism.htm, 2002.
[13] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/monophysitism.htm, 2002.
[14] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://carm.org/dictionary-moral-government-theology, 2002.
[15] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/nestorianism.htm, 2002.
[16] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/pelagianism.htm, 2002.
[17] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/socinianism.htm, 2002.
[18] Slick, Matthew J, CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS AND RESEARCH MINISTRY (CARM), http://www.carm.org, http://www.carm.org/heresy/tritheism.htm, 2002.
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