“Reviewing these heresies pertaining to the person of Christ is not meant to scare you from thinking deeply about Jesus. In fact, you should saturate yourself with Scripture in order to think rightly about the person of Christ this Christmas (and year round!). What we have to understand is that a Jesus who is not fully God and not fully man could never rescue us from our sins.”
(Allen Nelson IV – Things Above) The great hymn writer Charles Wesley once wrote:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail th’incarnate Deity, Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. (source)
This is a most beautiful and theologically rich line, but it’s not without some historical controversy. I’m referring to how we understand the person of Jesus. In these few words, Wesely has articulated the orthodox view: Jesus is the incarnate Deity. He is the 2nd Person of the Trinity pleased with us in flesh to dwell. He is God with us. In song, this is an articulation of what theologians call the hypostatic union – that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, two distinct natures in one person.
Admittedly, this is a bit more mindblowing than we give it credit for the one time a year we sing Christmas songs. In fact, I might make a plug here on the necessity of preaching and teaching on this truth more than just around Christmas time. Both the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus is essential to the Christian faith. If we diminish either we produce a view of Jesus that is both less than Scriptural and less than saving. Furthermore, this hypostatic union takes place in the womb of Mary. Jesus did not take on flesh during His birth but at conception!
Historically then, there have been about 5 major errors associated with Jesus becoming man. There are more than these 5 (see Nestorianism for example), but these are what I’m calling the “main” errors we must watch out for. Don’t be a heretic for Christmas (or any time of the year). As a life goal, seek to never have some sort of view of Jesus named after you as it will probably result in someone writing a negative blog post about you in the future. Here we go: