The earliest heretical view concerning the person of Christ was that known as “Ebionism.” In the interests of a supposedly pure monotheism the Ebonites denied the Deity of Christ and held that He was merely a man on whom the Spirit of God rested in its fulness. God and man were regarded as always external to each other.
It denied the possibility of a union of the divine and the human nature and so ruled out the doctrine of the Incarnation. Some Ebionites acknowledged His supernatural birth, while others rejected it and held that His baptism marked the time at which He was especially endowed with the Holy Spirit. All agreed that after His death He was exalted to kingship.
But this means that they acknowledged Him only as a great prophet or teacher during His earthly career and so definitely a part of the creaturely existence,— all of which in turn means that the worship paid Him by the Church was simply idolatry. They held that the old Jewish law was still obligatory upon the Lord’s people. Hence their system appears to have been simply Judaism within the pale of the Christian Church.
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