IV. Doctrinal strategy concerning soteriology and anthropology
(CRC's view of man and of Christ's work of atonement and of how man can become a partaker of Christ)

Through Jesus Christ there is a free way to God, the Father. In order to establish people in a position in Christ departing from which they can be effectively equipped and trained as living stones in the body of Christ, towards fulfillment in God's kingdom, all the obstacles consisting of wrong doctrine patterns with which the devil tries to obscure that free way, all the wrong alternatives the devil is offering instead, all the wrong copies of the gospel and so on have to be analyzed, located and rejected.
Taking our previously stipulated strategy of the reconstruction of the doctrine of Christ as a point of departure, we are now taking into consideration the effects of the apollonarian and arian doctrinal paradigms on soteriology and anthropology in order to draw a rough sketch of deviations from the Gospel in general.

I. The reflection of apollonarian christology in the doctrines of salvation, man and sanctification could be called ascetic dualism. This is the kind of thinking pattern according to which human nature cannot be completely saved. A dizzy concept of salvation exists, but salvation is perceived as a process linked closely to a man's denying his human nature. This is defended by a wrong application of Bible verses that talk about one's dying to oneself and neglecting one's personal, fleshly desires, i.e. of all that which comes from the old, natural man, who is to be regarded as died and crucified with Christ. The apollonarian ascetic dualist takes these verses to an extreme, wrong meaning according to which God is against everything that is human and personal. This kind of person is judging not only the old soulish part of one's being, the old, natural man, that stands against God's will being neither willing nor able to walk in the Spirit; instead he is going further and is judging human nature as it had been designed and created by God in the beginning. Everything which is material is in itself evil and has to be rejected (platonic dualism). In this the apollonarian christology is followed, according to which Christ was more God and less (or not at all) human.

The Colossians were one outstanding example of this "apollonarian maze". They avoided touching certain foods and would pay undue attention to angels. Since angels are non-human God-worshippers they were exactly what the Colossian Christians wanted to be like (Col.2,18).

Another form of apollonarian sanctification is addressed in Phil. 3,2. In Phil 3,2-3 Paul writes:
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh..."   
The word mutilation is in the Greek "katatomee" which is possibly a wordplay derived from "paratomee" which means "circumcision". Paul wanted Christians to be "circumcised" in their hearts and minds through the Spirit and in truth, having rejected their old lives and crucified the flesh-ego. Now "katatomee" means that one also "cuts" something, but while doing so, cuts beside ("kata-") and not where one should cut. It can be likened to the picture of somebody who wants to cut a sausage, but instead of hitting it, glides off with his knife and cuts his finger instead. A cutting ("tomee") is being performed in which God does not show any interest.

The basic thinking of the apollonarianist in this respect is, that God cannot save a human being in its entirety. Something has to be cut off first in order to put a given human being into a place, from whence it can go on towards salvation. In order to come nearer to God, a human being needs to become inhuman, as it were, alienated from normal humanity as created by God. This is a completely pagan way of thinking. The priests of Baal would inflict injuries on themselves and priests of the old Canaanite religions were mutilated as a sign of higher dedication to the respective pagan gods. This is why in the Old Testament Ceremonial Law it was not allowed for a mutilated person to become a priest of Jehovah, in order to avoid a seeming association with these pagan rites (Lev. 21, 5; Lev. 21, 17-23). The true God wanted to be served by entirely human persons that reflected the goodness of creation of man by their being normal, healthy persons. This was a clear-cut message to the onlooking pagans.

Needless to say that today none within the sphere of the modern, civilized, post-Christian and enlightened Occident will promote literal mutilation. But the mentality which lies behind this mutilation is well and alive. There are many forms of apollonarian sanctification which hinder Christians in many places to fully live up to the potentials that lie in the doctrines of identification in Christ, incarnation and resurrection of both Christ and the believer. Instead they become mutilated monsters that hinder others to come to Christ.

The apostle John describes this doctrine as the teaching of Antichrist:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." (2nd John, 7).
So according to John, one does not have to undertake a pilgrimage to some exotic occult places in order to meet the spirit of antichrist, since it can be found among those who confess Jesus, namely as "not coming in the flesh".

II. Far from now being able to sigh from relief, a close look at the reflection of arianism upon the teaching on salvation, man and sanctification, will have a sobering effect on those who have sought within the ranks of arianistically persuaded Christians to find a refuge from apollonarianistic tendencies, only to (hopefully) wake up to the fact that they have departed from the doctrine of Christ in just another way. Here we are dealing with two more forms of dualistic thinking patterns: One which could be called the first-by-the-Spirit-and-then-through-the-flesh successive dichotomy and another which could be called hedonistic dualism.

II.a. The wrong Galatian gospel is in fact a close relative of the arian heresy.  The Galatian arianist thinks that he can come closer to God by human means. Paul reminded the Galatians of the fact that they came to know God through faith in the true Gospel which is based upon the supernatural, divine, non-human, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit:
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3,3)
The Galatian arianist, who looses sight of the fact that Christ was 100% God, perverts the Gospel to become yet another man-made art.
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1, 11-12).
To the Judaizing arianist that part of God's revelation which looks like one should and could fulfill it by human efforts, namely the law, became very appealing in this respect. But in fact that very law points toward the supernatural God who enters into man's life by supernatural means. It points toward the law of Christ. The law does declare any other way to God than that one prepared by God Himself (through His son Jesus) to be illegal. The Gospel is not against the law. In fact the Gospel is the good news that now the law is going to be applied against all religious, human efforts to come closer to God and not against those who through faith in Christ become declared justified by God. Both in the Old and the New Covenant the way to God was/is always through faith. Pharisaic, dispensationalist and arianist legalism have seen law and grace as two opposing ways through which God deals with men. But in fact the law of God only points towards the grace of God, it points towards the necessity of capitulation before God, surrender to the Holy Spirit, total obedience towards Christ, total identification in Christ. In this way the law is a means of grace. But it is not a means of grace in that one could become saved by trying to fulfill it by human means. The arianistic pharisees cry out to God "Your method is not perfect God, WE have to render it perfect!". The arianist always knows better than God. For him Christ is merely the first perfect human follower of God. The Holy Spirit is only one first source he can tap in to get some initial inspiration, all the rest he will manage with dignified learning and culture. The arianistic pharisees also consider SIN to be heavier than GRACE. "We know that God does not hear sinners", they say (this is a quote from the blind man who got healed and who quoted this piece of pharisaic doctrine against them in John 9, 31a). The pharisee says: "SIN is too heavy for God to overcome. He cannot just give grace like that. Man has to add something to it." Arianists miss the power of God to save and sanctify by grace alone. They loose sight of the Holy Spirit's power to position and ground a human being fully in Christ (Gal.2,19+29). They will therefore come to a powerless form of Christianity bound in traditions or to a political gospel that believes in a moving of things by mere human efforts (with a lot of pious words as outward chocolate covering).

II.b. Hedonistic dualism is what best could describe that form of arianism rampant within the church in Corinth. Especially in 1.Cor.15 Paul is dealing with that. The Corinthians believed that it were all the same, how the flesh behaves. As long as one has "the right faith", it does not matter, how things look like in tangible reality. This was yet another schism (=dualism, dichotomy) between flesh and spirit, just like in the case of the more apollonarian Colossians, with the difference that the result was not some sort of ascetism and orientation towards angels but rather a hedonistic laissez-faire mentality which perceives with horror the humanly impossible task of becoming conformed to God's standards and instead of looking for a divine way of resolving the problem, says "Let us now drink and eat and not worry about immorality and all these bodily things, because one day we die anyway, and then (and only then) we will be perfect in Christ". While it is true that final perfection will only be attained in heaven, this is no excuse for a Christian to not strive after it and pursue it (Phil. 2,6+7; 3,10) and believe in his heart that God will do the necessary heart operations and anointings and empowerings in His time. This kind of arianist does not understand the mystery of a divine Christ coming to live in the human body; the mystery of the resurrection power of Christ becoming effective in a Christian who dies to himself. Instead he wants to manage everything on a horizontal, inter-human scale. Fellowship becomes more important than God. The church becomes a glorified leisure-time club. God and Christ and the Holy Spirit become symbolic entities that are abused as key terms with which one can cover up one's religious activity. God has to serve as an idol, He becomes reduced to the last resort emergency solution just in case one's own foolishness does not help any further.

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