When we consider Jesus Christ, we can do so in terms of His person, His words, and His works (Wilfred Yeo, 2021). As a body of Christ, we need to turn our eyes to Him in these three ways and fixing our gaze on Him, be renewed in spirit and in truth. As my good friend Wilfred says, we all have to account to the Lord in answering the central question: "Who do you say I am?" (see Matthew 16:15 and Mark 8:29). I agree with him.
Throughout church history, the body of Christ has wrestled with this fundamental question of our faith, namely on the person of Christ. There have been church councils held to ascertain and establish what is the truth about the person of Christ. When it comes to doctrinal interpretations and variant readings of the words and works of Christ, the church evinces multiple denominational distinctives. There are also different motifs and grammars of articulating the work of Christ. The pre- and post-Reformation church shows highly distinctive theologies in the reading and interpreting of scriptural texts to advance alternative doctrinal positions. For example, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Calvinists and Arminians may all have differing views on soteriological concerns.
But when it comes to the person of Jesus Christ, this is where the rubber hits the road. This is the quintessential issue and foundation rock upon which the entire Christian faith stands or falls. Stretching historically beyond the Reformation back to early church history, we find the church consumed by the question of the person of Christ: establishing his divinity as well as his humanity in a way that makes the entire Christian faith and practice possible and true. In other words, ensuring we get right the person of Christ and answering rightly the question of who we say Christ is, is absolutely fundamental and non-negotiable. This is where the demarcating line between correct Christian doctrine and heresy is drawn. The gospel stands or falls upon this central pivotal truth.
Thus, we can say that if we get the person of Jesus Christ wrong, we have gotten the entire faith and practice wrong. If we assert an erroneous Christ who is not fully divine and fully human, we would be outside the fold of Christian faith—a heretic. This is serious.
Eons ago, I used to cringe at the words "heretic" and "heresy." That was when I did not fully appreciate and understand the import of having a correct doctrinal view of absolute truth: Christ Himself. To assert that something is heresy is not an exercise of arrogance or presumptuousness (though I admit many have fallen into this trap historically) but an affirmation of responsibility (cf. Wilfred Yeo) and authenticity. It is not a matter of egocentric conflict or self-promotion, but a matter of humbly honouring God for who He really is. Exposing heresy is a struggle to worship the Lord our God with all our mind as well as all our heart, soul, and strength. It is faith seeking understanding in a way that truly illuminates and frees, rather than intellectualizing and arguing for intellectual argument's sake. No. To seek and sieve truth from facts is not a project of vainglory but a journey of glorifying God who deserves all our honour. And it is not an easy journey. It demands our all.
Just as God awakened His church to the nature and power of His Spirit in the 1970s in Singapore; just so now is God awakening His church to the nature and person of Christ, the Son (cf. Wilfred Yeo) amidst the travails of confusion and heresy. This is not the time for vacillation with truth and compromise with error.
May we have the spiritual courage to affirm once again our Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds in a way that honours and glorifies God, and be responsible stewards of the precious inheritance we have in the saints through Christ Jesus, our Lord.