Was Jesus always the Christ?
The Heresy of Adoptionism
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
Why study this, even briefly? Because quite frankly this is an old heresy is becoming rampant in our churches again today.
Apoptionism is something that came about concerning the deity of Christ. This view has never really gone away, though it has lost popularity (You will still find some fringe groups teaching it and it is popular with some in the Word-Faith crowd). It originally began sometime in the Second Century and basically states that Jesus was not always the Son of God. This teaching states that He did not become the Christ until His baptism and did not become a part of the Godhead until after He was raised from the dead.
This view denies the deity of Christ by ignoring Him as the pre-incarnate Christ. This makes God something less because it states that Jesus was not a part of the Trinity until after His resurrection. This goes against the classic teaching of the trinity and makes God finite. Christianity asserts that God is infinite. This teaching makes Jesus finite.
Why did this teaching come about? People were trying to understand an infinite God in our finite minds. This arose in order to understand the two natures of Jesus Christ. He is 100% God and 100% man (This is known as the Hypostatic Union). Col. 2:9 (NKJV) says that, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
Interestingly, the Catholic Church condemned this as a heresy under Pope Victor (190-198). Unfortunately the heresy was revived in the 8th century teaching that Christ was the Son of God concerning His divinity but not His humanity. It stated that His humanity was only adopted into the Godhead. Pope Leo III held a council in Rome in 798 A.D. condemning this as heresy just like the first iteration of the teaching.
Now the unfortunate part is that some in the church today have actually started to revive, if not a portion, this teaching. Very often we will see some famous teachers on television state that Jesus was not ‘the anointed one of God’ until the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him at His baptism. This teaching is Gnostic (a group of false teachers we will go into later this week). Thinking along this line end up leading to this heresy. Most of these teachers have not gone as far as adoptionism, but some have. The bigger named ones usually don’t go any further than that in their teaching but it is still error. If you hear someone teaching this, just know this it is heresy and should be condemned.
As a side note a lot of the people come so dangerously close to this teaching because they use a study Bible that teaches adoptionism. It is called the “Dake’s Annotated Study Bible” Here is a quote from it:
- “Gr. Christos, ‘Anointed.’ – Used in N.T. 577 times. Like the name “Jesus” it has no reference to deity, but to the humanity of the Son of God, who became the Christ or the “Anointed One” 30 years after He was born of Mary. God “made” Him both Lord and Christ. The Heb. Is ‘Messiah’.” (Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, published by Dake Bible Sales, Inc, Lawrenceville, Georgia, New Testament, p. 1.)
No serious minister or Bible Student would ever want to use this study Bible because of teachings like this, and this is just one of many. This is heresy and must be condemned.
I hope you have learned something today and will continue to spot serious irregularities in teaching and will continue to seek Christ on your path to true spiritual freedom. Keep in mind this is not in-depth and as always I ask that if you are interest to do more research.