What is Adoptionism?

Question
What is Adoptionism?
Answer
Adoptionism or Dynamic Monarchianism was a heretical teaching. It was a false view that claims Jesus was God's adopted Son. See "What is Ebionism?" below. In the second century, it was rejected by the Synods of Antioch (AD 264-269) and the First Council of Nicaea (AD 325).

This false view taught that because of Jesus' sinless life, God chose and adopted him to be his Son. According to Adoptionism, before Jesus was adopted by God he was a mere man.

However, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is not adopted; he is begotten (John 1:14, 18; 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10) and was born of a virgin, sinless (Isa 7:14; Matt 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38).

Christ existed before he came as a man (John 3:13; 6:33, 38, 62; 8:23; 16:28; Rom 8:3; Gal 4:4; 1 John 1:2). Jesus himself taught his own pre-existence. He said, "And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed" (John 17:5: cf. John 8:59-59). Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe (John 1:2-3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2). Without a doubt Jesus Christ existed in eternity as he is very God of very God, who is sinless (Psa 11:7; Hab 1:13; Tit 1:2; cf. 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Jesus is not merely sinless, he is eternally sinless. As such there was no need of Jesus to be adopted.

Despite all the heresies in the early church (among them, Adoptionism, Albigenses, Apollinarianism, Arianism, Docetism, Ebionism, Gnosticism, Kenosis, Marcionism, Modalism, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Patripassionism, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Socinianism, Subordinationism, and Tritheism, etc.) the Word of God still abides (1 Pet 1:23). Amidst all these assaults against God and his church by numerous false religions, the church has grown stronger, not weaker. In many ways, the church should be thankful for the gift of opposition!

Related Topics:

Could Jesus Sin?
Christological Heresies?
What is Albigenses?
What is Apollinarianism?
What is Arianism?
What is Docetism?
What is Ebionism?
What is Gnosticism?
What is Kenosis?
What is Marcionism?
What is Modalism?
What is Monarchianism?
What is Monophysitism?
What is Nestorianism?
What is Patripassionism?
What is Pelagianism?
What is Semi-Pelagianism?
What is Socinianism?
What is Subordinationism?
What is Tritheism?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).