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Apologetic Epistle Letter

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Joseph G’Sell

THEO 1100-N: Apologetic Epistle Paper

November 2, 2018

To Philip, my brother-in-Christ, Joseph sends greetings in the Lord.

        In the words of Jesus Christ, “Love one another as I have loved you.”[1]  Because of this, I shall try to be patient with you.  And as a brother-in-Christ I shall not be angry towards you, but rather I shall try to give you understanding of the doctrine which you disagree on, in the hopes that you may see the error in your ways, and that you may once again be completely united to the Catholic Church.

        The point you are trying to support is that Christ was not a man, that his human form was simply an illusion.  To be clear, you believe that God did not become flesh, contradicting “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,”[2] which would then result in a denial of the Incarnation.  You believe that He was so divine that it would have been impossible for Him to become a material being.  Another reason you have for this to be impossible is that God couldn’t possibly be associated with matter.  By saying this, you also say that Christ’s sufferings, namely the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, were also an illusion, for God cannot suffer, since He is perfect and infinite.  

        Philip, these points you bring up in your beliefs may have good arguments, but the fact is that the Church condemned Docetism, which is what you believe in.  The Catechism says Docetism “denied not so much Christ’s divinity as His true humanity.”[3] Even the word Docetism agrees with your beliefs, where Docetism comes from the Greek word dokein, which means “to seem”.[4] Although you bring up good points in your arguments, there is a falsehood to what you say.  Here is why.

        One thing that pretty much all Christians agree on is that God is all good and all loving.  If that is the case, Philip, why would God use any sort of deception or false realities on mankind?  Why would God lower Himself into creating a false image of Himself, as an illusion?  The Son would never be represented in such a disrespected way by the Father.  And the Son would most certainly not be labeled as the Son of a deceiving God.  The Carthaginian apologist Tertullian said in his works against Marcion, a known Docetist, “if you allege that the Creator practiced deception in any instance, there was a far greater mendacity in your Christ, whose very body was unreal.”[5]  By saying this, Tertullian is emphasizing that there is no way that God, an all loving, perfect God, would stoop so low as to deceive His own people of Christ’s humanity.

        Another reason that your belief is incorrect is that it goes completely against Christ in the New Testament.  After His Resurrection, Jesus said, “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”[6]  Here, Jesus made it clear to His Apostles that He was indeed a man, one with flesh and bones.  

        Another proof that Jesus had to have been man, and that He was not an illusion, was Scriptural accounts of Jesus’ physicality.  While He suffered with the temptations of the Devil in the desert for 40 days, one of the temptations the Devil offered was that of food, which is a physical necessity.  When He was at the well in Samaria, he said to the Samaritan woman “Give me a drink.”[7] He also said, while on the cross, “I thirst.”[8] This shows that Jesus, who you assume to be an illusion, was and is needful of the physical necessities of food and water.  If what you say is somehow true, and that Jesus is in fact an illusion, why would He yearn for food and water?  After all, if He were an illusion, physical matter like food and water would be deemed unnecessary and inferior.

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