1 Timothy 1:17 - taken out context
A while back I was asked, "What is wrong with the Branch Theory?", strangely by a person who had already read what I wrote on the matter, and who seemingly had no rebuttal. Besides the fact that it's wrong for the reasons I already mentioned, until last week's class on the early Christian heresies, I couldn't quite place my finger on something else. Yes, it's logically incoherent. Yes, it has no historical precedent in the early Church. But there was something else about it that has bothered me for some time, and it finally came to me last week.
One of the facts I've always known, is the fact that all heresies are, at their root, christological distortions. If, in fact, the Branch Theory is actually a heresy--rather than just a logical inconsistency and appealing to historical errors--then there must be some way in which it distorts who Our Lord really is. And another fact I've always known, is that at the root, all theological propositions, whether good or bad, are propositions about who Our Lord is. Thus, even logical mistakes or historical errors used to support a theological proposition, ultimately (though almost always unintended) result in heresy.
And, as my old friend Fr John Heidt liked to say, there are really never any new heresies.
So what's the heresy of the Branch Theory? Docetism. Ecclesial Docetism, to be precise. All protestants who attempt any kind of "invisible church" theory fall into this error (usually unintentionally--thank God for invincible ignorance). I just came across another article where the author noticed this same exact thing! But specifically about the Branch Theory itself, I don't ever recall anyone ever writing about it being docetic.
More on this at another time.