Hello, my siblings in Christ. I’m Bojan and today I want to show you a short overview of some of the more notable heresies that have sprung up in Christianity. This will be followed by how I envision the icons of Christ to look like within those teachings. These aren’t meant to mock Orthodox iconography. They are there to visually emphasize the errors of particular heresies. Gnosticism. Well, we are off to a great start. Essentially, Gnosticism is a faith system revolving around the notion that the highest divine principle emanates the lesser ones. One of these is a creator of the material world. Our souls, the divine sparks, are trapped within our bodies by a lesser deity, the Demiurge. Gnosticism is very, very diverse and has freely mixed with different religions, but especially into Judaism and nascent Christianity It is a really, really weird system, but it did exist before Christianity. That is why early Christians could easily identify Gnostic ideas. Docetism. Docetism is a subset of Gnostic beliefs based upon the teaching that matter in itself is evil and that Christ Himself couldn’t have had a real body. His physical body, they claimed, was a mere illusion, and He never truly died on the cross. Adoptionism. The belief that divinity was granted to Jesus later in his life, generally thought to be at His baptism. Before that, Jesus was simply a virtuous man, becoming the Christ and the Son of God when St. John baptized Him in the Jordan. Sabellianism. Belief that there is no Trinity and that God simply manifests Himself as one of the three persons, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, without them being distinct. if you have seen this, would you think of Sabellianism? Christianity has dealt with this joke centuries before it even came into existence. Another name for this heresy is Patripassianism, the teaching that the Father suffered on the cross. Since God is a unified whole, when Christ died the Father died. Novatianism and Donatism. These two heresies are very similar, and they both the basically revolved around the idea that the Christian life should be very strict. Readmission to the church after a lapse should be difficult, baptism should be repeated, lapsed clerics should be reordained or barred from the priesthood entirely, the sacraments offered by sinful priests are invalid, and so on. Their main idea was, however, that the Church had no power to absolve sins. Arianism, coming from Alexandria. This is probably the heresy that was the most serious threat to the Church, claiming that the Son was not eternal with the Father and that there was a time when the Son was not. The Son, while divine and far above from an ordinary human, was still a creation, and the same was said of the Holy Spirit. Macedonianism. Unlike Arians, Macedonists thought that the Son is coeternal with the Father, but like Arians they deny the same privilege to the Holy Spirit. For Macedonists, the Holy Spirit wasn’t a person. He was a creation and action of the Father and the Son. If you ever hear that the Holy Spirit Isn’t a person, it’s a force, or if someone ever refers to Him as an “it” – yes, that’s Macedonianism. Apollinarianism is a typical case of Orthodoxy going overboard. Apollinarianism teaches that Christ never had a rational mind or a human soul, His divinity serving as both. As an over reaction to Arianism, it essentially taught that the Jesus Christ wasn’t fully human. Nestorianism. Nestorius and his followers stated that the Virgin Mary shouldn’t be called Theotokos, she who gave birth to God, but Christotokos, she who gave birth to Christ. The issue was, according to Nestorius, that Mary, being human, couldn’t have given birth to a Divinity that existed before she did. This made sense on the surface level, but it left us with one awkward question: if the child she gave birth to isn’t God, whom did she give birth to? Realizing that this is thinly-veiled Apollinarianism, Nestorianism was quickly condemned. Monophysitism. In contrast to the Orthodox teaching that Jesus Christ is one person in two natures, divine and human, monophysitism teaches that natures in Christ create a new single nature. As in many other heresies, this turns Christ into a non-human, and thus incapable to bridge the gap between God and humanity. Iconoclasm. In the beginning, iconoclasm had more to do with Christian practice. It considered icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the saints to be idols. Later on iconoclasm quickly slipped into Nestorianism, claiming that icons of Christ could not be painted, as we could never truly depict his divine nature. According to them,the only true icons of Christ were the Eucharist and the cross. Predestination: God loves you, God loves you not. (in deep voice)
God loves you, God loves you not.