Topic:Early Church Fathers/Fathers and Councils of the Church/Chart of Historical Christological Heresies

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Fathers and Councils of the Church
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Chart of Historical Christological Heresies

Heresy Date Natures Proponents Heresy Refuted by Reply
Docetism C1 H- D+ Donatus, Julius Cassianus, Valentinian 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. He was not really incarnate. Opposite of Arianism. Ignatius, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Council of Arles, Council of Chalcedon; 1 John 4:1-3, John 1:1,14, 2 John 7 If Christ were not fully human He could not redeem humanity (Heb. 2:14, 1 John 4:1-3, Col 1:22)
"the Poor Ones"
C2 H+ D- Early Jewish Christians in Palestine. Also denoted any Christian group who adhered to both Jesus and the Jewish law They regarded Jesus as a mortal human messianic prophet but not as divine, revered his "brother" James as the head of the Jerusalem Church and rejected Paul of Tarsus as an "apostate of the Law" Irenaeus,Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius Jesus is fully divine; he is worthy of worship (John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 13:8)
Gnosticism C2 H- D- Marcion, Simon Magus, Valentinus, Mani

Matter is evil. It denies the Incarnation. If matter is evil, then Jesus Christ could not be true God and true man, for Christ is not evil. Christ only appeared to be a man. His humanity was an illusion. Belief in many divine beings, known as "aeons," which mediated between man and God. The lowest of these who had contact with men is Jesus. Iranaeus; Tertullian; Hippolytus; Justin Martyr; Apostles' Creed 1 John 4:1-5, 2 John 1:7-11, 2 Cor 11:4, Gal 1:6-9; 2:4-6, Col 2:21-23, 2 Pet 2:1-22, Jude 1:4-19

Adoptionism C3, C12 H+ D- Theodotus of Byzantium, Peter Abelard Jesus was not really God but a man who received special graces and received a divine status at his baptism. Pope St. Victor 1, Pope Adrian 1, Antioch 268, Pope Alexander III Jesus is always God
Modalistic Monarchicism C3 H- D+ Praxeas of Asia Minor and Noetus Bishop of Smyrna, Sabelius The trinity is three modes, different aspects of God. God would manifest himself as the father, the son and as the holy spirit, whenever he elected. Origen; Tertullian Jesus separate from God but still God
Dynamic Monarchicism C3 H+ D- Theodotus, Paul of Samosata Jesus was an ordinary man, in whom had been placed a divine power by God. Divine power descended upon Christ at his baptism and again after his resurrection Pope Callistus, Alexandria 264, Antioch 268 See Adoptionism
Greatest threat to the early Church
C4 H+ D- Arius, presbyter of Alexandria; Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius of Nicomedia Jesus wasn't fully God. He wasn't eternal, He couldn't be called Creator, but was himself created by God. Since he wasn't fully God, he couldn't and didn't redeem us. Cited John 17:3 as justification. Arius claimed that Jesus was a special being, but was only that. His dignity was only a gift from his creator God. Homoiousios: Jesus has the appearance of God and is of similar substance. He is the first and highest created being. Athanasius; Basil, Pope Sylvester, Pope Damasus, Alexander of Alexandria, Ambrose, Gregory Nazianzus, Ossius, Theodosius, Marcellus, Nicaea 325, Constantinople 381 Athanasius: Jesus homoousios –one substance with God. Only a divine Christ can save (Phil. 2:6; Rev. 1:8)
Appolinarianism C4 H- D+ Apollinarius, bishop of Laodicea; Justin Martyr Christ had no human soul or spirit, only a divine one. No rational human mind or human free will. Christ without a human soul, made his suffering meaningless Damasus; Basil; Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Theodosius, Synods 377 and 381 and Constantinople 381 Divine mind in human body
C5 H+ D+ Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, Theodore of Mopsuestia There were two separate natures in Christ. Christ was a "Man who became God" rather than "God who became Man". Jesus of Nazareth and the Word were united. Therefore, Mary was not the "Mother of God" denied Mary the title of Theotokos (Greek: "God-bearer" or, less literally, "Mother of God") only one of whom was in her womb.
Viewed Christ as a prophet and teacher, inspired by an indwelling logos
Christ was the first "perfect man"
Cyril of Alexandira; Ephesus 431, Council of Chalcedon 451 2 natures in 1 person
Eutychianism C5 H- D- Eutychians; Theodosius II, Robber Council 449 1 mixed nature after incarnation
New Hybrid: neither human or divine. Result of this merger was that Christ's soul was fully divine, equal to the father, but not equal to man. It had added human attributes to Jesus, but still, in essence, left him being a god.
Flavian of Constantinople; Pope Leo; Theodoret; Eusebius of Dorylaeum; Chalcedon 451 2 natures communication between them
Opposite of Nestorianism
Until C7 H- D+  Emperor Basiliscus The human nature was swallowed by the divine nature to create a new third nature Constantinople 680, Emperor Zeno 2 Natures are separate
 C5  H+ D-  Pelagius, Coelestius, Council of Bishops 415, Pope, Zozimus,  Denied original sin, and the doctrine of Grace, maintained humans are not tainted by the sin and babies are born pure. Christ was not a saviour who took Adam's original sin upon himself, but a teacher who gave mankind an example of what man should be. Man does not need God's grace but can act on his own behalf. Man could, by discipline and willpower alone lead a righteous life, without the help of God. Augustine, Council of Ephesus 431, Pope Innocent I Man needs God's grace for eternal salvation.
Iconoclasm C6   Emperor Leo III, Constantine V Sinful to make pictures and statues of Christ and the saints and pray to them. Empress Irene, Second Council of Nicaea 787, Exodus 25:17, Numbers 7:89, Hebrews 9:1, Ezekiel 41, and Genesis 31:34 Icons and images are all right to venerate
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