“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 Jn 4: 1-4)

We confess that Jesus Christ has come “in the flesh.” Not as did the ancient heretics known as “docetists” (from the Greek verb “dokeo” that means “to seem”), who taught that Christ did not have a real, physical body, but only “seemed” to us to have one, for our benefit; and not as do certain modern-day heretics, who see Christ as a useful “archetype” created by the human psyche in order to help us understand and get through the big “psycho-drama” of human existence. It doesn’t matter, these people say, whether He “really” came to us, historically, (i.e., “in the flesh”), because He’s a good idea in any event.

This is the spirit of the “Anti-christ” (i.e., “instead of Christ,” or Christ-surrogate), St. John the Evangelist says to us, in no uncertain terms. It is a salt-less and light-less replacement of the faith handed down to us, in which it does “matter” that Jesus Christ “has come in the flesh.” Otherwise, our real, physical communion in His flesh and blood, and our physical participation in His real death and resurrection in the regenerative waters of baptism, and the rest of our sacramental life in the Church, would just be another set of “self-help” tools we have created for ourselves, rather than God’s Self-offering of His life to us, that we may share in His life, as He has shared in ours, in the flesh. What we are given to share in, is the great “Theo-drama” (as Hans Urs von Balthasar called it) of Salvation History, – and not just a “psycho-drama” we have created in our own minds, as if we could save ourselves; as if “we” created Christ, and not the other way around. “If Christ has not been raised,” St. Paul reminds us, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor 15: 14) So let me not turn away from the gift of God, handed down to me by “a great cloud of witnesses” to His revelation of Himself to us, throughout the ages, and let me not accept the gift of merely-human musings instead.

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