Jesus and Baptism (an afterthought!)

image My somewhat on the hoof all age talk this morning meant that I edited out of my sermon some important Christology.  Back last year I blogged of the apparent modalism in "The Shack" [click here]. 

Modalism states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes. He 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.

Actually modalism is a form of monarchianism (the belief that God is one person not three). 

The other form of monarchianism is called adoptionism  and is directly linked to Jesus’ baptism.  It denies the pre-existence of Christ. Jesus was born merely human and that he became divine.  Jesus then earned the title Christ through his sinless devotion to the will of God, thereby becoming the perfect sacrifice to redeem humanity. Adoptionists typically portray two key points in Jesus’ life as stages in Jesus’ becoming divine: his baptism and his resurrection. God gave Jesus his miraculous power and divine authority after Jesus proved his holiness. There is a similar error which argues that Jesus as a man was the adopted Son of God

Adoptionism was common before it was first declared heresy at the end of the 2nd century. The belief contradicts the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, defined at the First Council of Nicaea, which identifies Jesus as eternally God.  Whatever the significance of Jesus baptism, it was not the point at which he became divine.

Adoptionism was one error in a long series of Christian disagreements about the precise nature of Christ in the developing understanding of the Trinity.  Christians had and have still to explain the relationship between Jesus of Nazareth, both as man and God, and God the Father while maintaining Christianity’s monotheism.

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