From the Archives: Excerpts from an Augustine Sermon
In view of the length of my previous sermon, I deferred a question of great importance, namely the correct meaning of what John … says in his epistle: "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:2). We see many heresies confessing that Christ came in the flesh, yet we cannot say they are all of God.
The Manichee, of course, denies that Christ came in the flesh. There is no need to linger over this and persuade you at length that such a fallacy is not from God. The Arian, however, professes that Christ came in the flesh, as does the Eunomian, the Sabellian and the Photinian. Why do we seek witnesses to prove them wrong? Who can count the number of these pestilences? For the moment, however, let us deal with the more notorious of these. There are many who do not know the heresies I have mentioned, and they are better off for their ignorance. As we well know, the Donatist says that Christ came in the flesh, and yet far be it that this fallacy is from God. To speak to the more recent heresies, the Pelagians profess that Christ came in the flesh; nevertheless, this fallacy is far removed from God.
Let us then, my beloved ones, reflect carefully. For since we all accept the truth of the words: "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God," we therefore must refute those who do not profess that Christ came in the flesh. For if we were to allow this confession to stand, we should have to admit that those who profess it are of God. How am I to restrain or deter you from these errors, how am Ito defend you against them with the shield of truth? May the Lord assist me— for your expectation is already a prayer for me—that those may be ...