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Early (lesser-known) Heresies

Basic Christian ideas have long been questioned. Basically the questions focus on the incarnation, that God took on human form and the Trinity, that there is one God with three aspects [Father, Son, Holy Spirit]. But this kind of doubting has occurred before. This summary will present some of the heresies (false teachings) against the incarnation which occurred in the first 300 years after Jesus. These were people who heard that Jesus was both God and man, yet they came up with different ideas.

The Alogi (200s)(a group) denied the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Anomoeans (300s)(a group) believed that Jesus was divine but was of a different essence (source) than God.

Artemon (200s)(a man) believed that Jesus was only a man, although he was greater than the prophets.

Bardesanes (200s)(a man) believed that Jesus was divine, but that he was a phantom (he only appeared real but was just a spirit). In other words, Bardesanes believed that God could not take on human form (denied the incarnation) but did come to Earth in the form of a phantom. This is also called Docetism. According to some Docetists, Jesus did not die on the cross, instead (do you want to guess?) Simon of Cyrene died on the cross. He was the guy who the Romans forced to carry Jesus’ cross once Jesus could no longer carry it.

The Collyridians (300s) were mostly women who sacrificed cakes to Mary (Blessed Virgin Mary), which they later ate.

The Homoeans (300s) believed that the Son was like the Father, but not the same as the Father.

Marcion (100s)(a person) believed that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament were two separate Gods. He rejected the God of the Old Testament (and therefore the Old Testament) as the God of the Jewish Law; instead he embraced the God of the New Testament who he saw as the God of Love. Marcion believed that the Apostle Paul understood this and so Marcion only accepted the Gospel of Luke (since Luke traveled with Paul) and Paul’s letters (Romans through Philemon).

The Messalians (300s) believed that each person, because of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, has a demon united with his/her soul. Baptism will not remove the demon, only prayer will accomplish this division. Once the demon has left, the person will receive a vision of the Trinity.

Noetus (200s)(a person) said that God the Father was the one to be born, suffer, and die. In other words, he did not believe in the Father and the Son, just the Father; he claimed that belief in the Father and the Son was ditheism (worship of two gods; monotheism is worship of one god).

Paul of Samosata (200s) believed that Jesus was a man and that the power of God came to rest upon him. So Jesus was God in that the power of God came upon him, but Jesus was not the same as God.

Theodotus (200s)(a man) believed that Jesus was a man who was anointed with the Holy Spirit once he was baptized by John the Baptist, and then he became Christ.

©2007 Mark Nickens All Rights Reserved