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Christianity / Orientations / Heresy /
Other spelling: Adoptianism

In Christianity, a sectarian doctrine (see heresy) that promoted an ultimate definition of monotheism in the 2nd and 4rd centuries, but revived later in history. It is also known as Dynamic Monarchianism.
Adoptionism defined God to be a single unity, while Jesus Christ was of divine nature only temporarily, for the period his mission lasted. Jesus as a human being possessed by a spiritual entity. This possession, or spiritual adoption, happened either at the time of Jesus' baptism or his ascension. He was the Son of God by the virtues of his high degree of divine wisdom and power.
Adoptionism came from the theoretical problem facing the early Christians with the strict monotheism of Judaism and the existence of earthly Jesus Christ, claimed by many to be the son of God, and of a divine nature. While mainstream Christianity formulated the concept of Trinity, Adoptionism rejected this.
Adoptionism was revived in the 8th century, with Elipandus, Archbishop of Toledo, declaring that Christ in his humanity was an "adopted son", while still there was a divine nature of Christ, in which he simply was the Son of God. This idea was close to Monophysitism. The basic concepts of Adoptionism has survived into modern Unitarian theology.

Late 2nd century: The concept of Adoptionism is expressed by Theodotus the Leather-seller from Byzantium. He is excommunicated by the Bishop of Rome, Victor 1.
Around 220: Adoptionism is taught by Artemon, who was excommunicated by the Bishop Rome, Zephyrinus.
Around 260: Paul of Samosata promotes Adoptionism among his followers.
325: The teachings of Adoptionism are strongly condemned at First Council of Nicaea.
8th century: Elipandus promotes a new formulation of Adoptionism, soon gaining support from Felix, Bishop of Urgel.
798: A council is held in Rome, convened by Pope Leo 3, condemning Adoptionism. Elipandus did not repent, and continued as archbishop until his death.
12th century: Adoptionism is revived in the teachings of Peter Abelard.

By Tore Kjeilen