Docetism Says that Jesus was Not Really Human and Did Not Really Die

When Jesus was a baby, He didn’t sleep all that well at the beginning. The baby Jesus kept waking up his mom

Jesus was tortured to death, but Jesus is not still being tortured, and Jesus was not tortured for three days after He died.

Jesus had told his disciples that He would not be asking the Father to save him “from this hour,” because it was “for this reason” that he had “come to this hour” (John 12:27). What Jesus did ask was that the Father glorify his name, and the Father answered: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again,”

Jesus told them that this voice had spoken for their sake because the time had come for “the judgment of this world, “when the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when Jesus was “lifted up from the earth,” he would “draw all people to himself. That was his way of indicating the kind of death he would die In the garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew his sword in an effort to protect Jesus from arrest, but Jesus told him: “Put your sword back into its sheath,” because Jesus willed: “to drink the cup that the Father has given me” (

Calvin said that the physical death of Jesus would not save anybody, Calvin said it was God’s torture of Jesus that saved but Calvin also said that the torture was before Jesus died

Calvin: “If Christ had died only a bodily death ,it would have been ineffectual. No—it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God’s vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgment.” 2.16.10.

Calvin–“Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God’s anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. … … Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price—that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. ”

Calvin argued, that In ADDITION TO his physical suffering, Christ endured an “invisible and incomprehensible judgment” and paid “a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible moments of a condemned and forsaken man.” 2.16.10.

Calvin does not deny the physical death of Christ but Calvin assumes that Christ went straight to heaven, and Calvin adds something else to the human physical death of Christ. Some today teach that there would be “no hope without” vicarious law-keeping imputed ADDED TO Christ’s human physical death. Calvin taught that it was the pre-death sufferings of Christ which really made the propitiation, and NOT the human physical death.

What happens to the “Calvinist extra” (deity not united to humanity) if Christ’s deity is present in two places, not only with His dead body but also with his “human spirit in heaven”? Why object to Lutheran ideas about the ubiquity of the humanity (by communication of attributes with the deity) once you have agreed to humanity present with deity in two places?

F F Bruce–One symptom of the docetic tendency appears in the description of our Lord’s manhood as ‘heavenly humanity’…Writing in 1901, W. B. Neatby said, ‘A year or two ago I heard an address from a Brother of the Open Section, who actually taught that Christ did not die from crucifixion, but by a mere miraculous act. Or C. F. Hogg’s pamphlet, The Traditions and the Deposit: ‘What He did not know, He knew that He did not know’

Smeaton, Atonement As Taught By Himself, p 78—The Son of God took sin upon Him, and bore it simultaneously with the taking of the flesh, nay, in a sense even prior to the actual fact of the incarnation. The peculiar character of the Lord’s humanity, which was, on the one hand, pure and holy, and yet, on the other, a curse-bearing humanity, plainly shows that in some sense He was the sin-bearer from the moment of His sending, and, therefore, even prior to His actual incarnation.

Smeaton–And when it is said that God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, we have the very same thing…Sin was borne by God, not alone in the sense of forbearance, but in such a sense that it was laid on the sin-bearer, to be expiated by the divine Son. Thus the Lamb of God appeared without inherent sin or taint of any kind, but never without the sin of others. The sin of man was not firsti mputed to Him or borne by Him when He hung on the cross, but in and with the assumption of man’s nature.

Smeaton—The very form of a servant, and His putting on the likeness of sinful flesh, was an argument that sin was already transferred to Him and borne by Him; and not a single moment of the Lord’s earthly life can be conceived of in which He did not feel the harden of the divine wrath which must otherwise have pressed on us for ever.
Because He bore sin, and was never seen without it, it may be affirmed that the MORTALITY which was comprehended in the words, “Thou shalt surely die”—that is, all that was summed up in the wrath and curse of God,—was never really separated from Him.

Smeaton–As the sin-bearer, He all through life discerned and felt the penal character of sin, the sense of guilt, not personal, but as the surety could realize it, and the obligation to divine punishment for sins not His own, but made His own by an official action; and they who evacuate of their true significance these deep words, bears the sins” allowing Christ to have no connection with sin, and only dwelling on His purity and spotless innocence as our example—they who will not have Him as a sin-bearer—are the most sacrilegious.

There are dangers to describing sin as corruption instead of guilt, because guilt is cause of inability. There is great error in describing “made sin” as the “spiritual death” of Christ. Christ did not become corrupt, and Christian do not become righteous by infusion or by imparting (one more extra nature ) but by God’s legal imputation. …..

If Christ died spiritually, then Christ Needed to be Regenerated

Glenn Peoples—many reject the view that Jesus atoned for sin by suffering in hell after death . The problem, however, is that they still assume that the punishment for sin is suffering the wrath of God in the form of torment, and so the solution, whatever it is, is assumed to be that Jesus suffers that torment somewhere, either on the cross or in hell – and since it wasn’t in hell it was on the cross.

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11 Comments on “Docetism Says that Jesus was Not Really Human and Did Not Really Die”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them.”

    Institutes 4:17:5 For there are some who define the eating of the flesh of Christ, and the drinking of his blood, to be, in one word, nothing more than believing in Christ himself. But Christ seems to me to have intended to teach something more express and MORE SUBLIME in that noble discourse, in which he recommends the eating of his flesh—viz. that we are quickened by the true partaking of HIM, which he designated by the terms eating and drinking, lest any one should suppose that the life which we obtain from him is obtained by simple knowledge.

    Calvin–For as it is not the sight but the eating of bread that gives nourishment to the body, so the soul must partake of Christ truly and thoroughly, that by his energy it may grow up into spiritual life. According to them, to eat is merely to believe; while I maintain that the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing, because it is made ours by faith, and that that eating is the effect and fruit of faith.

    Lutheran–Q: Following a Communion service, what are the prescribed means for the disposal of the consecrated wine and wafers?

    A: To begin with, care should be taken that inordinate amounts of bread and wine are not consecrated at each service, but rather just what is needed for that service.

    While Scripture does not tell us whether Christ’s body and blood are still present in the blood and wine after Communion, we should still treat what remains with greatest reverence. The point here is to recognize the fact that these elements were used in the service to deliver our Lord’s very body and blood to us. How we treat them after the service should never lose sight of that great mystery of faith.

    There are two places to find helpful information on this topic. One is Section B.2.c. of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations’ 1983 document titled, Theology and Practice of the Lord’s Supper.
    B.2.c. Post Communion Reverence

    The consecrated elements which remain after all have communed should be treated with reverence. This reverence has been expressed by Lutherans in various ways. Some have followed the ancient practice of burning the bread and pouring the wine upon the earth. Others have established a basin and drain-piscina-specifically for disposal for the wine. The elders or altar guild may also return the consecrated bread and wine to specific containers for future sacramental use, or the elders and pastor can consume the remaining elements. All of these practices should be understood properly. The church is not, thereby, conferring upon the elements some abiding status apart from their use in the Lord’s Supper itself.
    The other point of reference is page 89 of The Altar Guild Manual: Lutheran Service book Edition, by Dr. Lee Maxwell that says:
    “If any of the Lord’s body and blood remains, they can be disposed of in a number of ways. The best way is to consume the remaining elements, since the Lord said, “Take and eat … Take and drink,” and did not provide for anything that was left over. There is historic precedent for reserving the remaining elements against the next communion. The hosts can be stored in a pyx or ciborium (apart from unconsecrated hosts), the blood of the Lord in a suitable cruet or flagon (apart from unconsecrated wine). What remains in the chalice, however, should either be consumer or poured into the piscine or onto the ground, since there may be crumbs or other foreign matter in it. The reserved elements may then be kept in the sacristy or placed on the altar or credence and covered with a white veil. It is un- Lutheran and irreverent to place unused elements in the trash or to pour the remainder of what is in the chalice or flagon into the common drain.”
    As noted in the manual, the general practice of the Lutheran Church has been NOT to mix consecrated and unconsecrated elements. If the elements are saved for future use, it is best they are kept separate. The practice of consuming the remaining elements also has a long history in the Lutheran Church.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    When Luther says that Jesus becomes literally present with the bread but not in the bread

    Does this mean that Jesus cannot become incarnate in inanimate matter but only out of nothing?

    Once Jesus becomes incarnate with the bread, what happens then to what has become incarnate?

    Can what has become incarnate become dis-ncarnate?

    Can what has become present disappear?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Glenn Peoples—many reject the view that Jesus atoned for sin by suffering in hell after death . The problem, however, is that they still assume that the punishment for sin is suffering the wrath of God in the form of torment, and so the solution, whatever it is, is assumed to be that Jesus suffers that torment somewhere, either on the cross or in hell – and since it wasn’t in hell it was on the cross.

    Anything but the blood of Jesus: How (some) traditionalists downplay the death of Christ

    Was the human spirit of Jesus “present in the sacrament” like his human spirit was present in heaven when He was dead?

    David Murray—Jesus was in heaven for these few days, His human soul still united to His divine nature, rightly being worshipped there for His saving work of suffering and dying for sinners. Yes, that worship is theologically sound and totally appropriate. But was Jesus not also on a cold slab of rock in a Middle Eastern cave? Yes, He was. While His human soul was separated from His body, His divine nature was separated from neither and never will be. His divine nature was as united to His lifeless body on earth as it was to His glorified soul in heaven. That means I can worship Him equally in the grave as in glory

    Belgic Confession, Article 19— “So then what he committed to his Father when he died was a real human spirit which left his body. But meanwhile his divine nature remained united with his human nature even when he was lying in the grave; and his deity never ceased to be in him, just as it was in him when he was a little child, though for a while it did not show itself as such.”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    When we make a distinction between the substance and accidents of the sacrament. is that like the distinction between the substance and administration of the covenant?

    Scott Clark—Radbertus, a 9th century monk, was the first to postulate transubstantation and one of his contemporaries, Ratramnus, criticized it immediately by noting, as the Protestants did in the 16th century that his view (later adopted by the Roman communion) that conflated the sacrament with the thing signified .

    Further. Ratramnus objected, Radbertus’ view demanded that we accept a relation between substance and accidents that is untenable. Implicitly and ironically Rome’s is a gnostic view. According to Scripture, our senses are generally reliable. When Scripture says “taste and see” (Psalm 34:8) or “look at the birds” (Matt 6:26) it assumes that there is there is the closest relationship between the accident (e.g., wings and feathers) and the substance of a bird. To use “taste” metaphorically assumes that we know what it is to taste. Rome, however, asks us to believe that by the power of consecration that relationship is broken and that though the elements appear to be bread and wine they are not. That is precisely the same error the Docetists asked us to accept. They said that Jesus appeared to be a man but they knew that he could not be true man and true God. His humanity, they argued, was only apparent, hence the label docetic (from the Greek verb δοκέω, to appear or seem).

    To say that Jesus only appeared to be a true man is heresy Scripture does not testify that Jesus only appeared to be true man but that he is true man, the Son of Man (e.g., Matthew 8:20) who came to seek and save the lost. He is also true God, one person with two natures. So too, in the Holy Supper, we must reject the gross error of transubstantiation. The Supper is not Christ. . Our Lord Jesus did not say, in the institution of the Supper, “This becomes my body.” Rather, he said, “This is my body.”…

    The catechism appeals to another of Ratramnus’ criticisms of Radbertus’ novel view. Why does Rome claim that the substance of the bread has been transformed but it does not say the same for baptism? We know that the water of baptism is and remains water. ..If it is not necessary for baptismal water to be transformed, why is it necessary for the bread and wine to be transformed? It is not necessary and it does not happen.

    “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine until that day….” (Matt 26:29). He spoke these words after he had given thanks, after he had instituted the Supper. Why should we think that the Lord had transubstantiated the fruit of the wine? . In 1 Corinthians 11:26–28 the Apostle Paul refers to “this bread” and “the cup” repeatedly. .” Nowhere did the he say explicitly or even imply that, by consecration, the elements become other than they were … In 1 Corinthians 10:1–4 the Apostle teaches that the Israelites ate “the same spiritual food” and drank the same “spiritual drink” as we do. They ate and drank Christ by faith, by the operation of the mysterious Holy Spirit. God’s Old Covenant people ate manna and water from the rock. Neither the manna nor the rock was not transubstantiated

  5. markmcculley Says:

    “Calvin rejected any notion of a local presence of Christ in the Supper. Labeling the Lutheran notion of the ubiquity of Christ’s body a “phantasm,” he fully discredited it as a credible way to understand the Supper. ” What happens to the “Calvinist extra” (deity not united to humanity) if Christ’s humanity is present in two places, not only in His dead body but also in his “human spirit in heaven”? Why object to Lutheran ideas about the ubiquity of the humanity once you have agreed to humanity present with deity in two places?

    Nevin more than Calvin focused on the full humanity of Christ and the union of his natures, so that believers are joined not only to his divinity but also to his humanity

  6. markmcculley Says:

    not only did God the Son raise Himself from the dead
    but God the Son stays alive when you eat Him

    that’s what more than half of those who profess to be Christians believe

    it’s not that this is “too much to believe”

    it’s that the Bible does not teach it

    was God the Son in his living body before He died handing out another living body?

    that’s not incarnation, that’s docetism

    it’s not me asking “what would be the point of eating God the Son while He’s still living”
    it’s that the Bible does not teach it
    if that makes me a biblicist and a rationalist and a modernist, I don’t care

    God the Son offered Himself in death once for all time, not to us but to God

    yes, I believe in the unfinished work of God the Son
    His present intercession and His future coming to earth to raise the justified from the dead

    but the real humanity of God the Son is now seated in heaven
    neither the deity or the humanity of God the Son is seated in my stomach

  7. markmcculley Says:

    John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them.”,+that+the+flesh+and+blood+of+Christ+are+not+less&source=bl&ots=gaecUB3jrc&sig=Iy5OMcntTdyi8vnkJF_QUE4B7s0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwii6ajTx5fRAhUH0IMKHawrCjIQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Since discipline in an ecclesia is not perfect, then let’s not do discipline yet–except for certain kinds of immorality, but otherwise we welcome the magistrates to the sacraments to find grace , despite their ignorance and disagreement with our Confession of Faith, in the hopes of making the world a little better than it could be?

  8. markmcculley Says:

    The clergyman told the mother her dead daughter’s body was just a shell,’

    “For now and until I tell you otherwise, she’s my daughter. ”

    Thomas Lynch “What if, rather than crucifixion, Jesus had opted for suffering low self-esteem for the remission of sins? What if, rather than ‘just a shell,’ God had raised only the
    personality of Jesus or the idea of Jesus?

  9. markmcculley Says:

    did Jesus “die spiritually” before Jesus “died physically” and what does that even mean?

    even though i know what it means for Adam to have become guilty, i do not know what it could have meant for Adam to “die spiritually”

    if “spiritual death” means something like “became corrupt and unable to please God”, and if the Son “died spiritually”, does that the Son became corrupt before He died physically? Ken Copeland teaches that, so please explain what you mean by the “spiritual death” of God the Son

    Did the “soul” of Jesus the Son die before He died physically?

    I know that the Bible teaches that the soul which sins shall die, but what does this mean? Does it mean that the soul cannot really die but becomes corrupt? Or does “shall die” mean that the soul cannot really die but suffers so much that there will never ever be enough suffering inflicted by God do that God will always be present with this soul? Is God being there to continue to punish separation abandonment and banishment from the presence of God?

  10. markmcculley Says:

    i was named as a grandfather because I BECAME a grandfather.

    I was not born a grandfather.

    I was not born again into being a grandfather

    a legal relation
    I became a grandfather external imputation

    i began to love my grandchild
    God did not begin to love His elect
    God’s essence is love for His elect
    God did not choose some arbitrary time to begin to love His elect

    my grandson is outside me
    I am outside my grandson,
    though we both like to eat
    we do not eat each other
    we do not live in each other.

    God has always been a Father (the Father)
    God has not always been a creator
    God has always loved the elect

    Christ is all God, but outside Christ God is still God

    Lutherans accuse you of Docetism if you say that the presence of Jesus in the sacrament depends on if you have faith in the correct Lutheran doctrine . Lutherans warn that the presence can kill you or elect you, no matter what you believe or understand.

    the humanity which is in Christ is not everywhere present
    at two different places or two different times
    the divinity which is in Christ is not in Christ only

    the distinction between Creator and creature remains

    God did not send His Son to die for the elect in order to love the elect
    God sent His Son to die for the elect because God loved the elect

    in respect of love, God loves some and not others

    in respect of justice, God has no respect of persons, God justifies nobody who is not imputed with Christ’s death

    God has not yet justified any of the elect to whom God has not yet baptized into Christ’s death

    justification does not depend on our faith or understanding in the gospel
    but nobody is justified without faith and understanding the gospel

    the Holy Spirit is not here first, to then give us faith and to then give us Christ

    God’s legal imputation gives us Christ’s death and Christ’s death gives us Christ and then faith and access

    God does not change, but God’s external relation to the elect changes when the elect are justified

    there is no legal safety in Christ before an elect person legally shares in Christ’s death

    so there is order and priority

    Christ was divinity before Christ was also humanity
    Christ’s divinity is not changed by Christ’s incarnation and humanity

    Christ’s divinity is everywhere present and still has priority when Christ’s humanity is present locally (or even dead)

    asymmetry, the divinity is greater than the added humanity

    i deny that we can have Christ’s (human gracious) presence before we are imputed with Christ’s death and legal access

    contra Barth and the “timeless justification” folks–who teach that God is not reconciled
    who teach that God is the subject, the one who reconciles, but never also the one reconciled

    the Barthians who teach that all sinners are already born reconciled but simply don’t know it yet
    the Barthians who reduce God to “nominalist” revealing of what is only because God says it and reveals it

    “The Atonement is not about a change in God, because God loves all humans from eternity. But there is a change in us when the Holy Spirit causes us to appropriate Christ’s work. The change is not in God from wrath to grace, because the change is only in our belief that we were under the wrath, because now we believe that we were never under the wrath, and that nobody was ever under the wrath.”

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Cotton Mather Protestant lamenting, in an overt mind-over-matter sort of way, not his sinfulness, but rather his humanity!-

    “-I was once emptying the Cistern of Nature, and making Water at the wall. At the same Time, there came a Dog, who did so too, before me. Thought I; “What mean and vile Things are the Children of Men, in this mortal State! How much do our natural Necessities abase us and place us in some regard, on the Level with the very Dogs! . . . Accordingly, I resolved, that it should be my ordinary Practice, whenever I step to answer the one or other Necessity of Nature, to make it an Opportunity of shaping in my Mind, some holy, noble, divine Thought.

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