“Heretic” is an overused word isn’t it? We slap that label on anyone who disagrees with us.
Real heresy is a belief in opposition to a central belief of historically orthodox Christianity. (Justin Holcomb defines heresy more completely here than I have space for.)
Central belief – not a difference of opinion on homosexuality, evolution, women in ministry, or the superiority of the King James version. Central beliefs are things like…well, I think we can all agree that the divinity of Jesus is central right?
Historically orthodox Christianity teaches what theologians call “hypostatic union“. In plain English? Jesus is somehow mysteriously both fully human and fully divine. (Colossians 2:9, John 10:28-30, John 1:1-5, Mark 2:5-7, Hebrews 1:8-11)
Ted (not his real name) pastors a large congregation renowned for writing and recording a great deal of modern worship music now sung in churches across America and around the world. In fact, the church acts as a record label signing, recording, distributing and profiting from many artists. And Ted believes Jesus was not divine.
He teaches “kenosis theory.” “Kenosis” means “emptied.”
Ted believes Jesus emptied Himself of all divinity when He came to earth, becoming nothing more than a human being. Ted says when Jesus was baptized, He then received the Holy Spirit and became a human being in right relationship with God. The Holy Spirit then performed miracles through the fully human Jesus. This, Ted says, was to show all human beings what miraculous things the Holy Spirit could do through them too.
In Ted’s own words…
Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead. He had set aside His divinity. He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us. Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help.
[Jesus] had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God.
If [Jesus] did all His miracles as God I’m still impressed but I’m not compelled to follow. … But when I find out He set aside His Divinity to display…
A Different Jesus
The early church fathers got together to discuss guys like Ted in 451 AD at the Council of Chalcedon. There, they decided to write a statement of belief about the nature of Jesus and serve as a kind of line between orthodoxy and heresy.
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person (prosopon) and one Subsistence (hypostasis), not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.
Why This Matters To Me
I buy almost all my clothes second hand, because I don’t want fund pollution in the developing world or the employment of children. I’m careful about where my sugar and coffee and chocolate come from too. I don’t want to fund slavery either. But what about heresy?
As a worship leader, if I sing songs from Ted’s church am I similarly supporting heresy? Am I increasing his influence and financing his teaching?
What do you think?