There is evidence in the Gospel and/or Letters for the influence of Gnosticism, Docetism
, and some of the variant forms of Judaism, he agrees, but not all the evidence suggests the same background.
There can be no civilization on the basis of unreality, ofwhat we have called Docetism
. Reality offers us redemption from unreality, and the poor offer us redemption from social and ecclesial Docetism
The mere invocation of the names of the great heresies of the past--Arianism, Nestorianism, Eunomianism, Docetism
, Eutychianism, to name a few--may tempt us to believe that heresy is now a matter for the historians, and the degrees of remotion from our own setting these names indicate might imply that the whole thing is a dead issue (has anyone called you a "Donatist" recently?).
The earliest identifiable heresy is Docetism
, forerunner of Gnosticism, whose adherents regarded the humanity and earthly passion of Christ as more apparent than real; they are chastised in such passages as I John 4.1-3, II John 7, Colossians 2.8 ("Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ"), and were also a special target of Ignatius.
A theology of the polis that is not mere docetism
would then have to articulate the stance of faith in relationship to that conflict.
The heresy was called Gnosticism that, in one of its earliest forms, Docetism
, denied Jesus' real humanity and, thus, his actual suffering and death.
Gnosticism had much in common with an even earlier heresy, Docetism
(from a Greek word that means "to seem").
The Koran opts for "docetism
," the belief that the Crucifixion was a "simulacrum," an illusion or hoax, with Jesus ascending to heaven before he could be executed.
That God equals Christ is no more true than that Christ equals human; both lead to the earliest of Christian heresies, docetism
One of the most useful features of this commentary are the nineteen excursuses: on [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Light and Darkness, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], False Teachers in I John (Docetism
), [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Being Born of God, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Textual Tradition of the `Comma Johanneum', Second Repentance, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], The Commandment of Mutual Love, The Antichrist, Early Catholicism, and Diotrephes and the Presbyter.
The meaning of the church's resistance against docetism
, gnosticism and all the heresies and theological issues that were settled in the ecumenical councils, was its conviction that Christ remains wholly transcendent to, but at the same time immanent and present in the world.
John, his favorite Gospel writer, is already more theologian than historian, using his portrayal of Jesus' life and teaching to combat, in the first Christian century, the incipient heresy of Docetism
. John combats a purely philosophical understanding of God as the unknowable, immaterial One by emphasizing the bodily resurrection of Jesus and Christian belief in the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of the risen Lord.