Aug 2, 2009

Ignatius v. the Docetists: A Debate part 6

I thought it would be interesting to create an imaginary - but realistic - dialogue between Ignatius of Antioch and his Docetic opponents. I tried to keep it true to what we know about him/them. The next few posts will deal with this. Today's post is the last Docetic response - tomorrow will be the last Ignatius response!

While I admit that a number of our plethora of ideas do yet require further study and examination, there is one truth which I shall not recant here today. It is clear to me through my careful inspection of Scripture that it is impossible to believe that Christ did or ever would become a dire man.

The great apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi provides an excellent proof for the Docetist philosophy. His inspired words read, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Need I go on? Need I prove it further?

Christ was made in the “likeness of men” not into a man Himself. A likeness is nothing more than a reflection, an image created by the senses of the receiver, not an actual creation. Is it not possible that the disciples and those others who witnessed the spirit of Christ on earth could have sensed Him to be a man, when in reality He was a mere resemblance?

The apostle goes on to say that Christ was “found in fashion as a man.” If I put on the royal costume does that make me emperor? If donned the garb of a pagan priest, would he still not be on his way to martyrdom as a follower of Christ? I hope my point is clear. Being found in fashion as a man, walking on the sinful world of man, does not always a man make.

Here is the last response from Ignatius.


It is interesting to note that these Docetists take their name from the word “dokeo”, which means “to seem”. They teach that Christ’s body only seemed to be real, that his existencte was more ghost-like than genuine. That he was a phantasm, not fully human and that he only appeared to be the Christ.

Well I say unto you, that Cerinthis and these Docetists only appear to be Christian but upon closer inspection are not truly his. And even though they despise the true body of our Lord Jesus, their bodies will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will truly burn forever.



“Adoptionism." Cited 8 July 2009. Online:

Ferguson, Everett, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. New York: Garland, 1990.

Wace, Henry, and William C. Piercy, eds. A Dictionary of Christian Biography: And Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D. With an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994.

Wand, J.W.C. The Four Great Heresies. London: A. R. Mowbray & Co Ltd, 1967.

Williams, Robert R. A Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church Fathers. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1960.

This series of articles was co-written by Jacob Baumann, an M.Div. student at Phoenix Seminary.

This series of articles was co-written by Jacob Baumann, an M.Div. student at Phoenix Seminary.

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