On this slow path we are taking to see where the doctrine of the Trinity came from (it may seem slow, but of course a full analysis would take volumes!) I have been trying to show how different understandings of Christ emerged in early Christianity – starting from the original belief of his disciples in his resurrection and exaltation, to later exaltation views (he was a man who became divine at his resurrection; NO! at his baptism; NO! at his birth) and then incarnation views (he was never a man who was not God. He was God who became a man).
Paul has both views: Christ was a divine being who became human but then got exalted to a higher level of divinity; the final view is found in the Gospel of John: Christ was completely divine from the beginning, and in fact was the Creator of the universe. Wow.
In the last post I showed that this incredibly “high” Christology in John was taken yet higher in the later Johannine community, as some members came to think Christ was so *much* divine that he was not *at all* human. This is the view scholars have called “Docetism” from the Greek word (dokeo) that means to “seem” or to “appear.” In this view Christ “appeared” to be a human but he wasn’t really: he was in fact only divine.
The are debates among scholars about how to understand the opponents of the author of 1 John, whom he calls “antiChrists” because they do not think Christ “came in the flesh.” There are further debates about docetists that appeared not long after, as attested in the writings of Ignatius. Here is how
The writings of Ignatius are not widely known among the general reading public; but they are both fascinating and incredibly important. If you’d like to see something about them, and their importance for understanding the developing Trinity, JOIN THE BLOG. You’ll get this post, and four others this week. And every bit of your small membership fee will go to help those in need.