Walk with me a moment while I reflect on a lesson from church history. Around the 4th century, two men squared off about the nature of Christ. One argued that Christ was not human, and the other argued that that’s all He was. Two Greek words captured the difference: homousion and homoiousion. The difference is as follows, and in order “same” versus “similar.”
Both sides were wrong. One side denied the Trinity by saying that God essentially shape-shifted between the Father, Son and Spirit. They claimed that Christ was the same as the Father.
The other side led by Arius, founder of the Arian heresy, said that Jesus was a created being and was only “similar” to God.
Two letters were enough to plunge the entire Christian world into controversy. Graciously, God directed those at the Council of Nicea to affirm that Christ was both totally God and totally human. Both aspects are completely vital to our faith. Hebrews 2:16-18 says:
“For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Again, both sides were wrong and the church convened to affirm the doctrine taught in Scripture, but be warned that what often looks like theological nitpicking is actually the tip of an iceberg.
No point of theology deserves to be glossed over. Every phrase deserves examination. Heresy often comes disguised as a distraction only to mount an attack on the gospel itself.