2. The Docetu ( doke>w ? ?to seem,? ?to appear?; A. D. 70-170), like most of the Gnostics in the second century and the Manichees in the third, denied the reality of Christ?s human body. This view was the logical sequence of their assumption of the inherent evil of matter. If matter is evil and Christ was pure, then Christ?s human body must have been merely phantasmal. Docetism was simply pagan philosophy introduced into the church.
The Gnostic Basilides held to a real human Christ, with whom the divine nou~v became united at the baptism but the followers of Basilides became Docete. To them, the body of Christ was merely a seeming one. There was no real life or death. Valentinus made the ^on Christ, with a body purely pneumatic and worthy of himself pass through the body of the Virgin as water through a reed, taking up into himself nothing of the human nature through which he passed or, as a ray of light through colored glass, which only imparts to the light a portion of its own darkness. Christ?s life was simply a theophany. The Patripassians and Sabellians, who are only sects of the Docete, denied all real humanity to Christ. Mason, Faith of the Gospel, 141 ? ?He treads the thorns of death and shame ?like a triumphal path,? of which he never felt the sharpness. There was development only externally and in appearance. No ignorance can be ascribed to him amidst the omniscience of the Godhead.? Shelley: ?A mortal shape to him Was as the vapor dim Which the orient planet animates with light.? The strong argument against Docetism was found in
<580214> Hebrews 2:14 ? ?Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same.?
That Docetism appeared so early, shows that the impression Christ made was that of a superhuman being. Among many of the Gnostics, the philosophy, which lay at the basis of their Docetism, was a pantheistic apotheosis of the world. God did not need to become man for man was essentially divine. This view, and the opposite error of Judaism, already mentioned, both showed their insufficiency by attempts to combine with each other, as in the Alexandrian philosophy. See Dorner, Hist. Doct. Person Christ, A. 1:2l8-252, and Glaubenslehre, 2:307-310 (Syst. Doct., 3:204-206); Neander Ch. Hist., 1:387.
3. The Arians (Arms, condemned at Nice, 325) denied the integrity of the divine nature in Christ. They regarded the Logos who united himself to humanity in Jesus Christ, not as possessed of absolute god-hood but as the first and highest of created beings. This view originated in a misinterpretation of the Scriptural accounts of Christ?s state of humiliation,
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