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A heretical system of thought dating from apostolic times, which held that Christ only seemed to be a man, to be born, have lived, suffered, and risen from the dead. All the evidence indicates that Docetism was combined with some form of Gnosticism and, later on, Manichaeism. In the strict sense it was less a heresy denying a Christian doctrine than a false philosophy, claiming that there was an irreconcilable antagonism between matter and spirit, and for this reason it was thought impossible that God, who is pure spirit, would become incarnate in a material body.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.