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The Christological Controversy

That the devil clearly understands the tremendous importance of Christ for our salvation is plain from the pattern of false doctrines through the ages.  The doctrines which the church has had to fight throughout the ages ever since the appearance of Christ have centered around the truth as it is in Christ.  This does not mean that they always had direct bearing upon His person or works, but it does mean that either directly or indirectly it was propagated to destroy faith in Him.

The Apostle Peter, for example, makes mention in his second epistle of false teachers who “bring in damnable heresies.”  These false teachers, according to II Peter 2:1, deny that the Lord has purchased them through His blood.  Here very plainly it is the work and person of Christ that is openly denied.  At other times heresies are taught which deny truths related to Christ and His works with the express purpose of leading up to and preparing for the open denial of His work and person.  Then Christ is still the center of the attack of these false doctrines.  For these false doctrines have for their purpose the overthrow of this central truth of Christ and His cross.  These false doctrines are meant to be wedges whose purpose it is to make an opening that the heart of the center may be pierced through.  Thus, for example, you have the heretical three points of 1924.  Openly they do not deny Christ and His cross.  Openly they seem to do more justice to God’s grace and love than does the truth of Scripture.  Yet, they constitute a wedge which if driven far enough will end in the denial of Christ and His cross.  Bear in mind that these pernicious three points of common grace maintain a grace of God that comes to those who are outside of Christ and a grace not merited by the cross of Christ.  For some blessings then (for so the defenders of common grace call them) Christ and His cross are not necessary.  That wedge opens up the way to a full denial of Christ.   It softens one and prepares him for a stronger dose of the lie.  But to return to what we began to say, the pattern of false doctrines through the ages show a continual attempt at destruction of the truth concerning Christ.

Thus we are not surprised to learn that in the fourth and fifth century there was a series of false doctrines which together are called, “The Christological Controversy.”  The false doctrine of Arianism to which we called your attention recently also dealt with Christ.  Arius, you will recall, denied the divinity of Christ.  This heresy is classified as belonging to the Trinitarian Controversy rather than the Christological Controversy.  For there the question was more particularly whether the Father and the Son were of the same essence or not.  Arius denied the truth of Scripture that the person of Christ is the Person of the Son of God, Who is of the same divine essence with the Father and the Spirit.  Arianism was condemned and the truth triumphed.

But the devil is a persistent adversary.  And soon enough a new attempt is made from a different vantage point to thrust a wedge and a mighty blow to the truth as it centers around Christ.  The first attempt made its appearance in the latter half of the fourth century and was called Appolinarianism after a bishop of Laodicea by the name of Appolinaris.  The chief characteristic of this heresy is that it denied that Christ had a complete human nature.  Notice here the new angle of approach.  Arianism denied the divinity of Christ and was condemned by the church.  Now less than half a century later the human nature of Christ is denied.

Let us try to appreciate the problems behind the defense of the truth of Scripture as well as behind the appearance of this heresy.  If Christ has a complete human nature and a complete divine nature, are there then not two persons, the divine and the human in Christ?  Is it not safer to say that what Christ received from Mary was simply a body but not a human soul?  If Christ received from Mary a complete human nature, does He not also receive from her then a human person?  The matter is not one that can easily be solved by quoting this or that text.  And for those unlearned in the Scriptures the arguments put forth for the lie seem very convincing.  We will have to wait till the next edition of Beacon Lights to continue this.  But we wish to leave this thought with you meanwhile.  Is it not amazing that so many of these tremendously important truths of Scripture were boldly denied before the common church member has his own personal, family Bible to which he could refer?  And is it not also then an amazing work of God’s grace that nevertheless He kept His people informed as to the truth and faithful unto it?  Should we then despise our more abundant opportunity to search the Scriptures?