Minister's Blog

Christology for amateurs (2) Adoptionism

By Steve Jeffery, 12 Aug 2013

"Adoptionism: Jesus is like Popeye after eating a can of spinach. Popeye was just an ordinary guy... until he took a mouthful of spinach. Then he was transformed into a Super-Man – bold and brave with bulging biceps – able to do things no other man could do."


After the train-wreck Christology of Docetism, you might be tempted to regard Adoptionism as a step in the right direction. At least Jesus is really "flesh" – a real man. And you might even think that Adoptionism can gain a shred of biblical support, perhaps from the idea that Jesus was declared to be God's "Son" at his baptism (Mk 1) or his resurrection (Rom 1).

Unfortunately, neither the theological structure of Adoptionism nor the exegesis of these texts withstand much scrutiny. The exegesis misunderstands the language of God's "Son" to refer to his divine nature, whereas in fact it refers to his status as God's anointed King (cf. Ps 2; 2 Sam 7). And adoptionism itself affirms neither that Jesus is God, nor that God became man (Jn 1). Another Christological fail.

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