DOCETISM was a heresy that appeared in early Christianity. It held that Christ’s humanity was illusory and that His true nature was divine - too divine to be really human.
A brief survey of the word reveals that Docetism has a somewhat ambiguous meaning and is difficult to pin down. What is apparent, however is that the connotation of the word is synonymous with the notion that God is too Holy to be too human – an idea that surfaces often in religiosity, particularly religion tainted with the platonic notion that matter is bad and mind is good – mind in this context being seen as the closest to spirituality.
There was a man at a church I attended once who lived that Godliness was mainly defined as oldness and dullness. He lived a stoic life as an accountant. Legalists tend in this direction because law is an abstraction.
I read a book many years ago entitled, ‘For God’s Sake Be Human.’ The author had it right. The son of God was a human being – and still is. A human being as a member of the trinity and we are in Him. God came among us as a human being and is incarnated in us. Christ come in our flesh is the difference between religion and Godliness.*
Mind-body dualism has surfaced in Catholicism and Puritanism. It’s a staple of fundamentalism where truth can be expressed as definitions and positions. Dualism is responsible for the sacred/secular illusion that posits the exaggerated importance of holy places and holy times. Sacred/secular is a most pervasive dualism and a relic of Adamic good/evil dichotomy. One of the present dualisms is ‘cancel’ culture along with the conservative idea that old is good and new is bad. The implied view of some branches of fundamentalism is that inhibition is good and life is suspect.
This artificial dichotomy grows from the garden of the knowledge of good and evil and its bi-furcation. The greatest rebuttal to this heresy is that Christ has come in the flesh. Our flesh. He lived with humans, was a human and is a human living in each of us and in the company of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus joined heaven to earth in His person.
Incarnation negates dualism full stop. Christ in us and with us means that God is in us and with us and in the ordinary affairs of life. There is no sacred versus secular, no compartments of holy and unholy because all is Holy in the sovereignty of Christ. Holy is where you are as son/daughter of God. Ephesians 1.10 makes it plain that Jesus draws all things into communion with Himself. This is the new creation of oneness, spirit and life. Our privilege is to be holy in the incarnation and ignite all things with His spirit and life. We could start with religion.
Thomas Torrance observes, “
The docetic approach to Christ, on the other hand, in seeking to commend the relevance of the Christian message to mankind tended to cut itself off from its starting point in the Deity of Christ and thus to transmute itself into human speculation or mythological constructs projected into God from below.” (1)
Those who make law the basis of Christ’s Kingdom are greatly mistaken. They have religion but it’s not part of the Kingdom Jesus began. A notable mythological construct is the reification of the law as the unifying principle of salvation and the new earth. Quite the contrary. The law is an emanation of the fall and the knowledge of good and evil. It’s nature is separation and condemnation. There is no salvation, no life and no healing in the law. But there is condemnation and separation from God and each other.
The enterprise of the trinity side-stepped the law and drew humanity into themselves in the person of Jesus Christ. By believing Christ we participate in the communion that is His in the Family of God. It is the trinity and its oneness in plurality that has become our oneness with God. As sons we are part of God yet growing ever more fully into the selves we were created to be.
You need to know that grace is not a means of coping with the law. Grace is Christ for you and as you. Most Adventist theologians don’t get this.
The new creation and the new earth has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with our agreeing with Him that we have been drawn into His life – unto oneness with Father, son and Holy Spirit. This is the meaning of life and engine of the new creation.
* Paul’s use of the flesh refers to our life in Adam. Our life in Christ is the trinity embodied in human flesh.
Torrance, Thomas F.. The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 114). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.