I am currently teaching Development of Patristic Theology Through Augustine for GGBTS, and we are reading through Ignatius. Last week we read this section:
For there are some who maliciously and deceitfully are accustomed to carrying about the Name while doing other things unworthy of God. You must avoid them as wild beasts. For they are made dogs that bite by stealth; you must be on your guard against them, for their bite is hard to heal. (2) There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first subject to suffering and then beyond it, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ignatius to the Ephesians 7:1-2)
Of course, the final section is one of the most amazing descriptions of the dual nature of Christ to be found in the Apostolic Fathers, and it stands as a tremendous testimony to the early date of the highest forms of Christology. But we noted that this in-depth Christological statement is actually used in the context of exhortation to the Ephesians to stand against false teachers and heretics. This means Ignatius assumed the readers of his epistle, the believers at Ephesus, would be able to understand and follow the exhortation. Is it not sad that such a description would be lost on a large portion of modern evangelicalism, and that mainly due to the idea that you should not challenge your listeners to move forward in their understanding of God’s truth? “Seekers” (John 6:24/65-66, Romans 3:11) are more interested in having their “felt needs met” than they are applying themselves to understand the Incarnation, the relationship of the divine and human in Christ, and to see this as important in detecting and refuting false teachers who eat away at the fabric of every church that loses sight of what is truly important. If you attended services today in a church where God’s truth was proclaimed without compromise, rejoice and be thankful. In fact, take time to give thanks to the Lord, and say something kind to your pastor and elders. And as Ignatius reminded us long ago, be on your guard against the wild beasts.