10 Heresies about the Birth of Christ

Here are 10 Heresies related to the birth of Christ at Christmas. Just like counterfeit money, it’s best to know the real thing so that you can spot the fake bills. It’s the same way with your faith in Christ.

Christ in Christmas born on Dec 25

So here are 10 theological counterfeits. Print them out and memorize them:

  1. Universalism teaches that Christ was born in Bethlehem to save all humans and all demons. Origen allegedly taught this doctrine. But the Nicene Creed reads “for us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. Christ was born to redeem only humans.
  2. Ebionism teaches that Joseph is the natural father of Jesus. The Nicene Creed refutes this with:”conceived of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. Arianism teaches that Jesus not fully God, but only the first and best creature of God. On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ if fully God and fully man.
  4. Docetism teaches that Jesus only appeared to have a real physical body. On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ is fully God and fully man. As Christ says, “Hand and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones.”
  5. Valentinianism taught that Holy Spirit deposited the Christ Child in her womb and that Mary was the a surrogate mother, but not truly Christ’s genetic mother. The Apostle Paul refutes this when he writes, “God sent His Son, made of a woman.”
  6. Apollinarianism wrongly teaches that Christ did not have a human soul. They taught that the divine nature replaced the soul of Christ. This is false because Christ in the Gospels says, “Now my soul is troubled.”
  7. Nestorianism teaches that Jesus is two “persons” – Jesus the human son of Mary and Jesus the divine Son of God. On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches that Christ is one person with two natures: divine nature and human nature.
  8. Monophysitism teaches that Jesus is fully God but not fully man. The Catholic Church teaches that Christ has two natures: divine nature and human nature.
  9. Monothelitism teaches that Jesus has only one will. The Catholic Church teaches that Christ has two wills: a divine will and a human will belonging to His human soul.
  10. Iconoclasm teaches that images are idolatrous. On the contrary, the Catholic Church defends the use of Christian (not pagan) images since Christ became visible through the incarnation.

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  • Nicholas Hardesty

    Did you mean to include Pelagianism there at the end?

    • Rob B.

      As I understand it, Pelagianism doesn’t deal with the nature of Christ, but the nature of how men are saved. The rest of these do (except for #10, which doesn’t seem to fit either).

      • hows_the_boy

        Well, iconoclasm is an implicit denial of the incarnation, and thereby a implicit denial of Christ’s human nature.

        • Rob B.

          That’s a good point. Thanks!

      • Howard Richards

        The title is not “10 Heresies about the Nature of Christ” but “10 Heresies about the Birth of Christ”. Pelagianism can be included because it denies that “unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior”, claiming instead that “unto you is born … an Example.”

        • Rob B.

          Ahhhh, I see now! That makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the clarification!

  • HartPonder

    Nice reminders, however 1# needs more clairifacation. Is the Creed to be read inclusively, or exclusively as related to all matters of Faith? How do you hold to your current viewpoint in light of Ephesians 1:10, and Colossians 1:20, where all things in heaven and earth will be through Christ, no exceptions? (Paraphrasing).

    • You just need access to the Greek. It’s “all” not all things and it’s not gender exclusive.

      • HartPonder

        The Greek order is, “And through Him (Christ) to reconcile again completely (see Eph 2:16) all things (Greek, ‘the whole universe of things’) unto Himself (unto God the Father, 2Co 5:19), having made peace (God the Father having made peace) through the blood of His (Christ’s) cross,” that is, shed by Christ on the cross. One question to reflect on is since the good Angels do not need reconciliation, is who in heaven whould?

        Using the traditional translation (1500’s) of the Creed, “for us men” was the norm. Go figure…

        • Howard Richards

          This is hardly the only difficult passage, or even the most difficult. That, of course, is why we need a Church to provide us with a definitive interpretation.

          • HartPonder

            I like the way you think! Amen… The good Doctor’s article made me go deeper into the Faith…

          • rene


  • Jack

    You and your readers will be happy to know that both the Assyrian Church of the East (formerly called Nestorians) and the Monophysite Churches have signed declarations of common Christology with both the Eastern (Chalcedonian) Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

    FWIW, the Coptic and other “Monophysite” churches prefer the “miaphysite”–a term derived from the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria. And they have prayed the Chalcedonian definition just before communion for centuries.

    • Jack,

      There are Eutychian Monophysites and then there are Cyrilian Miaphysites. The former or condemned, the latter are not. The Copts, for example are Cyrilian Miaphysites. They are legit.

      The Assyrian Church of the East (although they at once did deny Mary as ‘Theotokos’) have come around to a suitable Christology (and Mariology).

  • Jared

    I’m sure there are even more heresies surrounding the birth of Jesus such as the heresy that Mary experienced pain during childbirth.

    • Josiane Mannella

      There is a quote in Genesis that said a woman’s pain with be multiplied when giving birth to a child which may mean that there was already bareable pain as opposed to that the extreme pain you feel when giving birth. Our Blessed Mother was full of Grace and i don’t believe she had the same labor pains as us. I believe that God saved her from that pain.

  • Lorraine

    Is there a typo in number 4, “Hand and see”?

  • Cassandra

    You’re forgetting a very important one today which is emblazoned in supposedly good, yet blasphemous, movies like The Nativity Story.

    Jesus’ birth was miraculous, passing through the womb “like light passes through glass.”
    Mary suffered no labor pains, nor any corruption during the birth.

    • Howard Richards

      She made up for those pains later, though. Although many mothers suffer greatly because of their children, I think I am safe in asserting that no other mother suffered as much as Mary at the foot of the Cross.

    • Peggy

      Where did you learn that? I have never heard of that before.

      • Cassandra

        It is explicitly taught in the Roman Catechism issued after Trent. It is more implicitly taught in the 1983 Catechism, but still there:

        499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth “did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.”

        There’s a lot more from the Fathers, councils, popes. Aquinas treats it in ST III q 28 a 2.

        Our modern Churchmen are embarrassed by such things and don’t teach them. Some, like Steve Ray, have even argued against it, making a fool of himself on Relevant Radio–even after knowing he’s contradicting the Roman Catechism. Some people just can’t wrap their heads around the miraculous.

  • Howard Richards

    I take it you are among those who would not baptize Mr. Spock. While that question is very hypothetical and probably will always remain so, the argument from the silence of the Nicene Creed is amazingly weak. Not only is there at least one longer Creed (Paul Vi’s Credo of the People of God), there is a lot of Teaching the Church has seen as necessary beyond the Nicene Creed.

  • filologos101

    Typo on the ad for the Thomas book says “resources”

  • Great list, with concise and easy to remember descriptions. Thanks!

  • Charles Saliba

    Jeremiah 32:Behold I
    am the Lord the God of all flesh: shall any thing be hard for me?

    41 And I will rejoice over them, when I shall do them good: and I will plant
    them in this land in truth, with my whole heart, and with all my soul.

    The above is God the Father, No?

    So since God the Father is a spirit, HE HAS NEITHER A SOUL NOR FLESH, so with
    the statements:



    He for sure referred to Jesus’ s soul, THE HOLY SPIRIT, and JESUS’ FLESH BODY,
    “THE WORD”!


    John 16:14, He ,


    shall glorify me;
    because he


    shall receive of mine,
    and shall shew it to you. 15 All things


    whatsoever the Father
    hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he


    shall receive of mine,


    and shew it to you.

    since THE HOLY SPIRIT received all human attributes from Jesus’ body, “THE
    WORD” IT STANDS TO REASON that the Holy Spirit was ACTUALLY Jesus’ soul!

    Although Jesus was in all things like us, he was throughout divine! ALL HEAVENLY!

    Otherwise he could not be the redeemer, as a RANSOM!

    The fact that Jesus the man was the Godhead in flesh, he had to have his soul THE
    HOLY SPIRIT, in order for THE FATHER to abide within from conception!

    Jesus himself gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles after his glorification when he entered while they were locked! So Jesus’ soul was actually the Holy Spirit!

    The fact that The Holy Spirit built Jesus’ body “THE WORD” from within

    He Himself actually AS HIS SOUL built Jesus’ body “THE WORD” MADE FLESH for his
    ABODE, in order for the Father to ABIDE within THE HOLY SPIRIT! Jesus’ soul!

    This also means that “THE WORD” was AN INTEGRAL PART of Mary,
    in order to become flesh, even, from Mary’s conception!

    This to respect the same process of the first Adam:



    WORD” within herself, FROM HER CONCEPTION, from her mother’s womb!

    So Mary’s soul and Jesus flesh body are both “THE WORD” male and female!

    The new Adam and Eve!

    So Mary and Jesus, were both MALE and FEMALE RELATED TO “THE WORD”

    Genesis 1:27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM.

    The fact that Mary is our mother, REGARDING THE SOUL since within our souls, we
    have a speck of “THE WORD”

    Since the first Adam was our father regarding the soul!

    That means, that the Holy Spirit abides in our soul only through Mary. as
    “THE WORD”

    not directly!

    • rene

      Deep! But I am not sure, the distinction of the Divine Persons is entirely evident as mystery and the mystery of the divine indwelling of the Divine Persons… but it may overlook the exegetical meanings of Adam & Eve as general concepts, then personified as individuals, yet this may be a bit more reminiscence of the Hebraic notion that all the individual children are present in the “loins” of the father per Genesis. Still, it is a very deep passage.

  • Rene

    Great! And Yes, the heresy of Helvidius attacking the perpetual virginity of Our Lady (and refuted by St Jerome…) should be included

  • John

    Hi Taylor et al – Thanks for this good post and discussion. One pesky, non-willful doubt I have had recently about the nature of Christ is roughly this: I understand that Jesus is one Divine person who has taken on a human nature. But isn’t human nature itself bound up in an essential way with personhood, thus leaving us with two persons again, a Divine one and a human one? Or to put it another way–especially in light of the fact that Christ has a human soul and a human will–how does the Second Person of the Trinity take on a human nature without, as it were, taking on another (human) person? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

  • LizEst

    Our celebrant read these to us this morning…and gave us access to the printout!