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Irenaeus of Lyons
Fontes - The Writings of Michael A.G.Haykin ^ | 2005 | Michael Haykin

Posted on 11/27/2006 6:58:00 PM PST by Ottofire

Irenaeus of Lyons[1]

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-200) was the most important Greek-speaking Christian theologian of the second century. For example, J. N. D. Kelly, the noted Early Church historian, has observed that “Irenaeus’s vision of the Godhead [is] the most complete and…most explicitly Trinitarian” of all the authors of second century except for the Latin-speaking North African Tertullian.[2] Unfortunately, materials for detailing Irenaeus’ life are meagre at best. What we do know makes us eager to find out more about this winsome author and pastor.[3]

Irenaeus was born in the Roman province of Asia, now on the western coast of modern Turkey, around the year 140.[4] He grew up in Smyrna where he came to know Polycarp (died c.155), who was the leading elder in the church of that city and a man widely revered for his orthodoxy and piety. According to Irenaeus, Polycarp “would tell of his conversations with John and with others who had seen the Lord.” In fact, Polycarp mentored Irenaeus. In a postscript to the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom, Irenaeus is described as “a disciple of Polycarp.”[5] The magnitude of Polycarp’s influence on Irenaeus is evident in a letter which Irenaeus wrote many years after his youth to a former friend by the name of Florinus. In it, Irenaeus recalled:

I remember events from those days more clearly than those that happened recently—what we learn in childhood adheres to the mind and grows with it—so that I can even picture the place where the blessed Polycarp sat and conversed, his comings and goings, his character, his personal appearance, his discourses to the crowds, and how he reported his discussions with John and others he had seen the Lord. He recalled their very words, what they reported about the Lord and his miracles and his teaching—things that Polycarp had heard directly from eyewitnesses of the Word of life and reported in full harmony with Scripture. I listened eagerly to these things at that time and, through God’s mercy, noted them not on paper but in my heart. By God’s grace I continually reflect on them…[6] Sometime during his teen years, Irenaeus left Asia and went west to Rome. His reasons for doing so are not known.[7] He was still in Rome, it appears, at the time of Polycarp’s martyrdom around 155 A. D.[8] It was while he was in Rome that he likely encountered two of the leading heretics of the day, Marcion (fl.140-155) and Valentinus (fl. 135-165).

At some later point, possibly after the martyrdom of Justin Martyr in the mid-150s,[9] Irenaeus moved to Lyons (Latin: Lugdunum) in southern Gaul. Second-century Lyons was a miniature Rome. A bustling cosmopolitan centre of some seventy thousand in Irenaeus’ day, it was one of the largest centres in the Western Roman Empire for the manufacture of the goods and articles used in that part of the Empire. It was also one of the key ports on the trade routes up and down the Rhône River and was the centre of the Roman road system for Gaul. Lyons housed an important garrison and the city functioned as the provincial capital. Also similar to Rome, it had a large Greek-speaking element in its population, and it was among this element that Christianity became firmly established by the end of the second century. For example, in the account of the martyrdom of a large number of believers from Lyons and nearby Vienne in 177 it is assumed that the mother tongue of most of the Christians is Greek. When, for instance, the deacon Sanctus of Vienne confesses his faith, the account we have of the martyr’s witness states that it was in Latin, thus implying that the other confessions were in Greek.[10]

In Lyons Irenaeus devoted himself to the twin ministry of church planting and shepherding the church there. It says much for his passion for planting mature, biblical churches that he learned the language of the native people, Gaulish, a now extinct Celtic tongue. Irenaeus so concentrated on mastering this language that he later felt that he had lost much of his facility with his own language.[11]

At the time of the martyrdom of the believers in Lyons and Vienne, it appears that Irenaeus was away on a trip to Rome. If he had not been out of town, he would doubtless have also died as a martyr. Upon his return to Lyons, he found the Christian communities in Lyons and Vienne decimated; with probably close to fifty of the leading Christians having been martyred during the two-month ordeal of persecution. The leading elder in Lyons had been Pothinus, who had been over ninety when he died as a martyr in this persecution.[12] Irenaeus was subsequently elected in his place.

During his time as bishop, Irenaeus continued to have a strong passion for the evangelization of Gaul.[13] In part, this passion was translated into written form as he penned a major apologetic work in the late 180s. His title for it was The Refutation and Overthrow of the Knowledge Falsely So Called,[14] but the 5 volume-work is more popularly known as Against Heresies. Irenaeus wrote it in Greek, but the Greek version is only partially preserved and, instead, the whole text has come down to us in Latin. There are also some fragments extant in Syriac and Armenian. Principally this text was an attack on the two major heretical movements of the second century: Marcionism and Gnosticism—in particular, the Gnostic system as taught by Valentinus and his disciples. In attacking these heretical theologies, Irenaeus consciously sought to encourage steadfastness to the truth among his orthodox readers. As he prayed in Book III of the work:

I call upon you, Lord God of Abraham and God of Isaac and of Jacob and Israel, you who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God who through the abundance of your mercy have been pleased with us so that we may know you, you who made heaven and earth and rule over all things, you who are the only true God, above whom there is no other God; you who through our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, now give to everyone who reads this writing to know that you are God alone and to be made firm in you and separate from every heretical doctrine, godless and impious.[15] It is known that Irenaeus wrote other works against the heresy of Gnosticism, but only Against Heresies has come down to us.[16] A later work that may have been written in the early 190s is the Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, which was drawn up to provide an overview of key Christian doctrines for a friend. While known to scholars since the patristic era, there was no known copy of its existence until an Armenian translation was discovered in 1904.[17]

The date of Irenaeus’ death is not exactly known, nor the manner of his death. The Latin translator and polemicist Jerome (c.347-419/420) described him as “an apostolic man, bishop, and martyr.”[18] Jerome’s assertion that the bishop of Lyons died as a martyr is not at all certain. He probably died around 200.

Gnosticism

Gnosticism derived its name from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis. It took many different forms, comprising a wide variety of teachings and teachers. Common to nearly all of them was a cluster of fundamental characteristics. First of all, basic to the Gnostic world-view was a radical cosmological dualism: the belief that the created realm and matter was inherently evil and intrinsically opposed to the realm of the spirit, which was essentially good. In the words of the apocryphal Gospel of Philip 22: “No one will hide a great and precious object in a precious vessel. But many times has someone put countless myriads into a vessel worth a farthing. So it is with the soul. It is a precious thing and got into a despised body.”[19] The goal of life was thus defined in terms of escape from the material realm.

This escape, “salvation” to use theological language, came through knowledge and not via faith, as the New Testament maintained.[20] This saving knowledge entailed recognition of the supposedly divine element within one’s being which constituted the real self, the realization that, latent within one’s being, there is a divine spark. Salvation was thus defined in terms of self-enlightenment, not deliverance from sin and sin’s penalty. It is fascinating to note that this line of thinking resembles that of some contemporary New Age devotees.

For most Gnostics, although not all, this work of enlightenment was the work of Jesus. But the Gnostic Jesus is quite a different person from the incarnate Son of God of the New Testament. Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection were downplayed, even rejected, and emphasis was placed on Jesus as a teacher. Thus, in the Gnostic Acts of John 93, the Apostle John supposedly recalled that, when he touched Christ, he sometimes “met with a solid and material body, and at other times, when I felt him, the substance was immaterial as if it did not exist at all.”[21] The Gnostic teacher Ptolemaeus, a disciple of Valentinus, maintained that “Christ…passed through Mary as water passes through a pipe” and that during his time on earth Christ did not enter into an intimate relationship with the material realm “for matter is not capable of being saved.” Not surprisingly, Ptolemaeus also propounded the view that Christ never really suffered, “for it was impossible that he should suffer, since he was unconquerable and invisible.”[22]

Finally, Gnosticism was greatly concerned with freedom. There was, for instance, a stress upon freedom from biblical morality, which resulted in either strict asceticism or libertine indulgence. In the Acts of Thomas, a document that some Gnostics sought to pass off as Scripture, marriage is described as “filthy intercourse,” which, when it is abandoned, makes one a “holy temple, pure and free from afflictions and pains both manifest and hidden.”[23] Saturninus of Antioch, a Syrian Gnostic who flourished in the second century, plainly declared that “marriage and procreation are of Satan.”[24] It is also noteworthy that Gnostics generally had no qualms about avoiding martyrdom for their beliefs. Since Christ never really suffered in the flesh and died, Gnostics reasoned that it was unlikely that he would work through the flesh now.[25]

The roots of this heresy stretch back to the very period in which the New Testament Scriptures were being written. Before the ink on these inerrant texts was dry, Gnosticism was assailing the church. For instance, there is little doubt that the opponents of sound doctrine squarely refuted by Paul in the Pastoral Epistles and by John in 1 and 2 John were men and women of this perspective.[26] For more than a century and a half, the church waged a life-and-death struggle with this heretical worldview. Central in this struggle was the leading elder in the church at Lyons during the final quarter of the second century: Irenaeus.

Irenaeus’ Against Heresies

The most important work of Irenaeus’ literary heritage is undoubtedly his monumental Against Heresies, a work of five volumes originally written in Greek as a refutation of Gnosticism sometime in the 180s. In general, Against Heresies follows a logical order. The first book of Against Heresies describes the various Gnostic groups of Irenaeus’ day. Book II stresses their absurdity. What is especially valuable about this section is that Irenaeus quoted a significant amount of Gnostic literature in it. These quotations made Against Heresies the main source for scholars of Gnostic views and beliefs until 1945, when a large cache of Gnostic manuscripts were discovered at Nag Hammadi in the Egyptian desert.[27] This discovery corroborated the reports made by Irenaeus and other orthodox authors about the teachings of Gnosticism.

Irenaeus’ intent in these first two books was to acquaint his readers with the deceitfulness of Gnosticism, which outwardly appeared to be Christian since the terms and expressions that it used resembled those used by genuine believers. This aberrant theology was “craftily decked out in an attractive dress so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced…more true than truth itself.”[28] Irenaeus thus compared his task to that of a jeweller testing and exposing counterfeit emeralds that have been cleverly made from coloured glass.

In Book III of Against Heresies, Irenaeus tackled the question of theological authority and established the basis of Christian doctrine as Scripture and teaching in accordance with God’s Word. He went on to detail what Scripture teaches about the nature of God’s unity (the Gnostics sought to drive a wedge between the God of the Old Testament and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ) and he defended the plan of redemption through the incarnate Son of God. Book IV was especially aimed at Marcion, who had whittled canonical Scripture down to the Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul’s letters (he excluded the Pastoral Epistles, which is not surprising in view of their heavy anti-Gnostic content). Irenaeus sought to refute Marcion by stressing the unity of the Old and New Testaments. The final book, Book V, teaches about redemption and outlines Irenaeus’ understanding of the goal of history and the world to come.

It is vital to note that Irenaeus was first and foremost a pastor. Thus, he did not attempt to produce an innovative theology, nor was he desirous of originality. Yet, it is noteworthy that his Against Heresies is the richest theological work of the second century. In fact, in many respects, the goal that guided his theology was similar to that of Paul. Like the Apostle, his writings sought to foster the spiritual formation of his hearers/readers.

Rooted in Scripture

Foundational to Irenaeus’ refutation of Gnosticism are the Scriptures, the Old and the New Testaments, which he believed were the work of the one true God. For Irenaeus, these Scriptures were perfect texts because they had been spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit.[29] The human authors of the various books of Scripture had been given perfect knowledge by the Holy Spirit and thus were incapable of proclaiming error.[30] “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Irenaeus wrote,

is the Truth and there is no falsehood in him, even as David also said when he prophesied about his birth from a virgin and his resurrection from the dead, ‘Truth has sprung from the earth’ (Ps 85:11). Now the Apostles, being disciples of the Truth, are free from all falsehood. For falsehood has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has no fellowship with the light, but the presence of the one drives away the other.[31] Irenaeus based the fidelity of the apostolic writings upon the absolute truthfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as it is impossible to conceive of Christ ever uttering falsehood, so the writings of his authorized representatives are incapable of error. This quality of absolute truthfulness can also be predicated of the authors of the books of the Old Testament, since the Spirit who spoke through the Apostles also spoke through the Old Testament authors. Thus the Scriptures form a harmonious whole: “All Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found to be perfectly consistent…and through the many diversified utterances (of Scripture) there shall be heard one harmonious melody in us, praising in hymns that God who created all things.”[32] Due to their perfection, fidelity to the truth and their harmony, Irenaeus maintained that the Scriptures were to be the normative source for the teaching of the Christian community. These remarks were foundational to the rebuttal of the various Gnostic systems which argued that the Scriptures had been falsified and that even the Apostles erred in their teachings at times.[33] Given the Gnostic propensity to fob off their writings as genuine revelation, Irenaeus rightly discerned that a discussion of the nature of Scripture was vital.

Irenaeus was, of course, aware that not everything within the Scriptures could be adequately explained. He traced this situation back to the finitude of man and his inability to comprehend fully the mysteries of God. According to Irenaeus, such mysteries should be left in the hands of God, so that “God should for ever teach, and man should for ever learn the things taught him by God.” [34]

A creedal Christianity

Irenaeus also recognized the importance of a confessional Christianity in responding to heresy. In Against Heresies 1.10.1, for instance, he reproduced an early Christian creed, possibly the statement of faith of his local church at Lyons.

The church, dispersed throughout the world to the ends of the earth, received from the apostles and their disciples the faith in one God the Father Almighty, “who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them,”[35] and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate for our salvation, and in the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets predicted the dispensations of God: the coming, the birth from the Virgin, the passion, the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension of the beloved Jesus Christ our Lord in the flesh into the heavens, and his coming from the heavens in the glory of the Father to “recapitulate all things” and raise up all flesh of the human race, so that to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Saviour and King, according to the good pleasure of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of beings in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess him,”[36] and that he should render a just judgement on all and send to eternal fire the spiritual powers of iniquity, the lying and apostate angels, and men who are impious, unjust, iniquitous, and blasphemous, while on the contrary he should give life imperishable as a reward to the just and equitable who keep his commandments and persevere in his love (some from the beginning, others since their conversion), and surround it with eternal glory.[37] The confession stresses that, contrary to Gnosticism’s view of the world, there is “one God the Father Almighty, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.” Creation is not evil, because it comes from a good God. By describing God the Creator as “Father,” this statement of faith affirms the fact that the God who created all things is also the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gnosticism sought to drive a wedge between the Creator and the Father of the Lord Jesus by asserting that they were two very different beings, and that only the latter was the true God.

This confession also states that there is also “one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate for our salvation.” Therefore, the incarnation is asserted as vital for salvation. Irenaeus was the first to explicitly formulate what would become a cardinal tenet of Christianity: “any part of human nature, body, soul, or spirit, which the Redeemer did not make his own is not saved.”[38] Without a full assumption of humanity, sin excepted, human beings cannot be saved.[39]

This Christ who became flesh, the creed continues, suffered and was raised from the dead, ascended “in the flesh into the heavens,” and will return in a future “coming from the heavens in the glory of the Father.” At that time he will “raise up all flesh of the human race,” the wicked to be sent into “eternal fire” and the righteous to be surrounded with “eternal glory.” The clear emphasis here is on the reality of the Incarnation. It should be noted that Irenaeus was equally firm with regard to the deity of Christ. Christ is described as “Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King.” In Book V, Irenaeus encouraged all of his readers to “confess him [i.e. Christ] as God and hold firmly to him as man, using the proofs drawn from the Scriptures.”[40]

In this creedal statement nothing is said about the Holy Spirit beyond the fact that the Church believes in him along with the Father and the Son. In other places in Against Heresies, though, Irenaeus made it very clear where he stood as to the question about the Spirit’s being. In Against Heresies 5.12.1-4, Irenaeus argued that salvation of the body is the Spirit’s work. Without the Spirit a man simply has “the breath of life,” which gives him physical life. The breath of life is created, continues for a period of time and then ceases. It is temporal. The Spirit, on the other hand, gives eternal life and is “peculiar to God” and “eternal.”[41] The contrast that Irenaeus made here clearly indicated his conviction in the Spirit’s deity.

Irenaeus was also aware that the Holy Spirit is involved in creation. The Father, by his Word and Spirit, “makes, disposes, and governs all things, and commands all things into existence.”[42] However, the Word and Spirit cannot be regarded as less than God, for Irenaeus often asserted that there is only one Creator who is God. What does this then say about the Holy Spirit? He can only be regarded as a fully divine being.[43]

Irenaeus thus employed this creedal statement to state the essential Christian belief that a person must hold in order to be saved. Moreover, Irenaeus never tired of stressing the fact that this faith is held by the Church wherever it is found.[44] In the Church there is “one and the same faith”, “one and the same doctrine”, “one and the same way of salvation.”[45] This unity pertains, Irenaeus stressed, to the essentials of the faith. During the 190s, for example, Irenaeus was critical of Victor, the bishop of Rome, for his unwillingness to tolerate differences between churches in the celebration of Easter, both with regard to when it was actually celebrated and how. Victor was prepared to excommunicate anyone who did not agree with his perspective. In a situation like this where there was no danger to the essentials of the faith, Irenaeus longed to see mutual tolerance and the acceptance of different customs.[46]

The Gnostics, though, erred in the essentials. They had to be corrected, therefore, by the teaching of the Scriptures and the church had to be safeguarded by creedal statements like the one cited above.

Conclusion

Irenaeus’ rebuttal of Gnosticism was rooted in a confessional Christianity that, in turn, was grounded on the perfection and fidelity of the Scriptures. It is a model worthy of emulation in our day. As the Lyons pastor realized, the Lord feeds his people through all of the Scriptures: “For the Church has been planted as a garden in this world. Therefore, the Spirit of God says, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden’ (Gen. 2:16), that is to say, ‘Eat from every Scripture of the Lord’.”[47] Irenaeus likened the Church to the Garden of Eden: just as the trees which the Lord planted in that garden provided food for Adam and for Eve, so the entirety of Scripture contains nourishment necessary for all believers to experience true growth in Christ.

Irenaeus knew of one other way of reaching the Gnostics: by prayer. His prayer at the end of Book III reveals his pastoral heart.

We do indeed pray that these men may not remain in the pit which they themselves have dug, but…being converted to the Church of God, may be lawfully begotten, and that Christ may be formed in them, and that they may know the Framer and Maker of this universe, the only true God and Lord of all. We pray for these things on their behalf, loving them better than they seem to love themselves. For our love, inasmuch as it is true, is salutary to them, if they will but receive it. It may be compared to a severe remedy, extirpating the proud and sloughing flesh of a wound; for it puts an end to their pride and haughtiness. Wherefore it shall not weary us, to endeavour with all our might to stretch out the hand unto them.[48]

[1] A portion of this chapter was given initially as a paper, “The Church in the Second Century”, The Fellowship for Reformation and Pastoral Studies, 26, Number 7 (March 9, 1998).

[2] Early Christian Doctrines (4th ed.; London: Adam & Charles Black, 1968), 107

[3] F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, “Irenaeus of Lugdunum”, Expository Times, 44 (1932-1933), 167.

[4] For the date, see Robert M. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons (London/New York: Routledge, 1997), 2.

[5] The Martyrdom of Polycarp 22.2 [The Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, ed. J.B. Lightfoot (1889-1890 ed.; repr. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), Part Two, Vol. 3:401].

[6] Cited Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History 5.20.5-7 [trans. Paul L. Maier, Eusebius: The Church History (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), 195-196].

[7] Early Christian Fathers, ed. and trans. Cyril C. Richardson with Eugene F. Fairweather, Edward Rochie Hardy and Massey Hamilton Shepherd (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), 347.

[8] Martyrdom of Polycarp 22.2 (The Moscow Epilogue) (The Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, ed. Lightfoot, Part Two, Vol. 3:402).

[9] Hitchcock, “Irenaeus of Lugdunum”, 168.

[10] The Martyrs of Lyons [trans. Herbert Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 69].

[11] Against Heresies 1, Preface 3. There is nothing to justify Robert Grant’s remark that Irenaeus’ mission among the Celts was a failure and that the “Celtic population remained resolutely non-Christians” (Irenaeus of Lyons, 5).

[12] For the poignant account of his death, see The Martyrs of Lyons (trans. Musurillo, Acts of the Christian Martyrs, 71, 73.

[13] Early Christian Fathers, ed. and trans. Richardson, 348.

[14] For the date, see Robert M. Grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988), 182-183. The title of the treatise is based on the wording of 1 Timothy 6:20.

[15] Against Heresies 3.6.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 128).

[16] Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History 5.20.1; 5.26.1.

[17] Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1967), 80.

[18] Cited Hitchcock, “Irenaeus of Lugdunum”, 170.

[19] Trans. R. McL. Wilson, The Gospel of Philip (London: A.R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1962), 32, altered.

[20] See, for example, Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4-5; 1 Peter 3:21.

[21] Trans. G.C. Stead from the German translation of K. Schaferdiek in E. Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, ed. W. Schneemelcher, English trans. ed. R. McL. Wilson (London: Lutterworth Press, 1965), 2:227.

[22] Cited Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.6.1; 1.7.2 [trans. Alexander Roberts and W.H. Rambaut in A. Cleveland Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol.1; 1885 ed.; repr. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 324, 325,].

[23] Acts of Thomas 12 (trans. Stead in Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Schneemelcher, 2:449).

[24] Cited Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.24.2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 349).

[25] See Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.33.9, where he notes that the Gnostics really have no martyrs.

[26] See, for instance, Paul’s argument in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, where he refutes those who rejected marriage and argued that certain foods should not be eaten. In 2 Timothy 2:16-18, he castigates as error an over-realized Gnostic eschatology all too similar to what prevailed in second-century Gnosticism. In 1 John 4:1-5 and 2 John 7, the Apostle John stoutly maintains that the denial of the Incarnation is nothing less than heresy.

[27] For the details of this discovery and the nature of the manuscripts, see Pheme Perkins, “Nag Hammadi” is Everett Ferguson, ed., Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (2nd ed.; New York/London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998), 796-797.

[28] Against Heresies 1 Preface 2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 315).

[29] Against Heresies, 2.28.2.

[30] Against Heresies 3.1.1.

[31] Against Heresies 3.5.1.

[32] Against Heresies 2.28.3.

[33] Against Heresies 3.2.2.

[34] Against Heresies 2.28.3 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 399).

[35] Exodus 20:11.

[36] Philippians 2:10-11.

[37] Against Heresies 1.10.1 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 70-71).

[38] Henry Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 102.

[39] See Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.14.1-3.

[40] Against Heresies 5.14.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 170).

[41] Against Heresies 5.14.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 170).

[42] Against Heresies 1.22.1 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 347). See also Against Heresies 4.20.1.

[43] Roch Kereszty, “The Unity of the Church in the Theology of Irenaeus”, The Second Century, 4 (1984), 212-213.

[44] For example, see Against Heresies 1.10.2.

[45] Kereszty, “Unity of the Church”, 205.

[46] Kereszty, “Unity of the Church”, 215-216.

[47] Against Heresies 5.20.2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 460).

[48] Against Heresies 3.25.7 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 460).


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Note the use of Scripture (not tradition) to fight heresy.

Dust gathers on the Scripture as Heresy gathers on the church.

1 posted on 11/27/2006 6:58:04 PM PST by Ottofire
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...

GRPL ping!

5 Solas!


2 posted on 11/27/2006 6:59:27 PM PST by Ottofire (O great God of highest heaven, Glorify Your Name through me)
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To: Ottofire
Note the use of Scripture (not tradition) to fight heresy.

Scripture is Tradition.

3 posted on 11/27/2006 7:15:06 PM PST by Titanites
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To: Ottofire
Note the use of Scripture (not tradition) to fight heresy.

Ottofire, you just posted a ridiculously long essay telling you what Irenaeus believed that barely contained one single quote from Irenaeus himself. Why is it that Protestants object to a man telling them what Scripture says, but slurp in some man's opinion about the ECF's like a bass slurping in a nightcrawler? (You guys are allowed to read the ECFs yourselves, you know. It's not like they're chained up, and nobody is going to burn you at the stake for it or anything like that.)

You want to know what Irenaeus (the real one) said about how to maintain doctrinal orthodoxy? Try this:

But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness or wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition.

[snip]

When, therefore, we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek among others the truth which is easily obtained from the Church. For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her most copiously everything which pertains to the truth; and everyone whosoever wishes draws from her the drink of life. For she is the entrance to life, while all the rest are thieves and robbers. That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them, while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the traditions of truth. What then? If there should be a dispute over some kind of question, ought we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches in which the Apostles were familiar, and draw from them what is clear and certain in regard to that question? What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not then be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the Churches?

[snip]

The true gnosis is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of bishops, by which successions the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere; and the very complete tradition of the Scriptures, which have come down to us by being guarded against falsification, and which are received without addition or deletion; and reading without falsification, and a legitimate and diligent exposition according the Scriptures, without danger and without blasphemy; and the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and more honored than all the other charismatic gifts.

[snip]

Not merely in works, but even in faith man's freedom of choice under his own control is preserved by the Lord, who says, "Let it be done to you according to your faith," showing therewith that man has a faith of his own, just as he has judgement especially his own. And again, "All things are possible to him that believes;" and "Go, as you have believed, so be it done to you." All such expressions demonstrate that man is, as far as faith is concerned, under his own control.

[end of Irenaeus]

You'll also find in "Against Heresies" the clear teaching that Mary is the New Eve, and the clear teaching that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.

A proto-Protestant, Irenaeus wasn't.

4 posted on 11/27/2006 7:25:24 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion

All of those citations, BTW, are laboriously typed in by hand from Jurgens "Faith of the Early Fathers". I don't understand how his citation notation works, or I would have given you the citations. But "Against Heresies," is not ridiculously long anyway.


5 posted on 11/27/2006 7:27:06 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Titanites

Read Luke 1

The Gospel of Luke is written to show the exact truth from what tradition teaches. Inspired writing by Luke. Doesn't mention Marian Doctrine, purgatory, the saints, etc, etc. Hmmm. Perhaps this inspired writing is what it claims, the exact truth.

Maybe some traditions should read more scripture to judge their traditions by.


6 posted on 11/27/2006 7:30:29 PM PST by Ottofire (O great God of highest heaven, Glorify Your Name through me)
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To: Ottofire
Doesn't mention Marian Doctrine, purgatory, the saints, etc, etc.

Silence isn't a proof. It doesn't mention "monergism," either.

7 posted on 11/27/2006 7:31:26 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion

--Silence isn't a proof. It doesn't mention "monergism," either.

Wow! Neither does it mention the Trinity. It is implied.

Exact Truth. What does that mean in Catholic Diction?


8 posted on 11/27/2006 7:33:05 PM PST by Ottofire (O great God of highest heaven, Glorify Your Name through me)
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To: Ottofire

Read post 4, and then try to tell me that Irenaeus was a sola scriptura adherent.


9 posted on 11/27/2006 7:34:03 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Ottofire
It is implied.

What, you're allowed to see the Trinity and monergism as "implied," but we have to present explicit prooftexts for Marian doctrines?

That does it, I'm not gonna take this anymore. [tears off headset and stalks on the field to chew out the referees]

10 posted on 11/27/2006 7:36:05 PM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion; Ottofire

Tradition of Irenaeus' day consisted of what was taught by Polycarp; not St. Joe who based his works on St. Sam who based his works on St. Chuck who based his works on St. Fred who based his works on.... Well you should get the picture. All of the early church fathers referred heavily to the scripture-not tradition-to support their views. Irenaeus would be a Presbyterian (PCA) today.


11 posted on 11/28/2006 1:49:28 AM PST by HarleyD (Mat 19:11 "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.)
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To: HarleyD; Campion
All of the early church fathers referred heavily to the scripture-not tradition-to support their views. Irenaeus would be a Presbyterian (PCA) today.

I'm sorry, Harley, that's simply flat out wrong. Read *carefully* the very first quote that Campion posted above. You can also read Irenaeus's Against Heresies online.

Read especially Book 3 Chapter 2: The Heretics Follow Neither Scripture Nor Tradition

Book 3 Chapter 3: A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in the various churches, a perpetual succession of bishops was kept up

And Book 3 Chapter 4: The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles.

There is *no* possible way you can read Irenaeus in any other way but that he was a strong, strong partisan of the authority of the Church through Apostolic Succession, and particularly of the Bishop of Rome.

12 posted on 11/28/2006 5:50:46 AM PST by Claud
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To: HarleyD
Tradition of Irenaeus' day consisted of what was taught by Polycarp;

So did Irenaeus get from Polycarp the notion that it was a matter of *necessity* that all churches had to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome?

13 posted on 11/28/2006 5:53:49 AM PST by Claud
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To: Campion

--What if the Apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not then be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the Churches?

But they HAD and his argument is that Scripture, the writings ARE superior to the order of tradition. But that is how I read it.

--The true gnosis is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of bishops, by which successions the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere; and the very complete tradition of the Scriptures, which have come down to us by being guarded against falsification, and which are received without addition or deletion; and reading without falsification, and a legitimate and diligent exposition according the Scriptures, without danger and without blasphemy; and the pre-eminent gift of love, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and more honored than all the other charismatic gifts.

Auigh! He mentions gnosis! (jk). Very COMPLETE tradition of the Scriptures. Exact truth, very complete. Yup, sounds pretty much the same. I never said that the Early Church Fathers elevation of the Scripture was not a bad tradition. I just do not like the word tradition because it encompasses much heresy in the Catholic Church and do not want the Sacred Scripture even somewhat tainted by the term. IF the Scripture is very complete, then the Marian Doctrines, Purgatory, the saints, etc should be in it, no? Or does Irenaeus have more Scripture than we do? Differing Scripture? Sounds like he agrees with me here. Let me check the Gospels for the veneration, aka worship, of Mary, the mediatorix betwixt Jesus and us...Nope, still not there. Maybe the Tradition of the Scripture will change tonight, I'll get back to you then...Through Christ alone, nobody else stands between God and man.

--Not merely in works, but even in faith man's freedom of choice under his own control is preserved by the Lord, who says, "Let it be done to you according to your faith," showing therewith that man has a faith of his own, just as he has judgement especially his own. And again, "All things are possible to him that believes;" and "Go, as you have believed, so be it done to you." All such expressions demonstrate that man is, as far as faith is concerned, under his own control.

And? If this is a shot at predestination this just shows that you really have no good handle on the Calvinist doctrine. Through grace, through faith in Jesus Christ we are free from the bondage of sin. We can do what is our own will, and is also the will of God, as we are his instruments, and what we do is all for His glory, which is His will. Ergo, we do as we will, which is His will.

Come back and play, Campion! Don't take your Jurgens and go home!


14 posted on 11/28/2006 5:54:50 AM PST by Ottofire (O great God of highest heaven, Glorify Your Name through me)
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To: Campion

From Against Heresies, Book 5, Chapter 19

1. That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled -- was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man. For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former disobeyed God, the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.
____
I do believe this is some of what you were referring to...


15 posted on 11/28/2006 6:13:48 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Campion

--A proto-Protestant, Irenaeus wasn't.--

Another quote from Against Heresies:

Book 4, chapter 26

2. Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church -- those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismaries puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth. And the heretics, indeed, who bring strange fire to the altar of God -- namely, strange doctrines -- shall be burned up by the fire from heaven, as were Nadab and Abiud. But such as rise up in opposition to the truth, and exhort others against the Church of God, [shall] remain among those in hell (apud inferos), being swallowed up by an earthquake, even as those who were with Chore, Dathan, and Abiron. But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did.


16 posted on 11/28/2006 6:20:40 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: HarleyD
" Irenaeus would be a Presbyterian (PCA) today."
______________________________

As were most Christian sects in that first generation succeeding the Apostles.
17 posted on 11/28/2006 7:55:22 AM PST by wmfights (Romans 8:37-39)
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To: wmfights
Irenaeus would be a Presbyterian (PCA) today

As were most Christian sects in that first generation succeeding the Apostles.

Right! That is why St. Ignatius of Antioch in 107 said: "Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Yes, please, keep studying the Early Church Fathers. Not just what others say about them...but read them yourself.

18 posted on 11/28/2006 8:01:32 AM PST by Carolina
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To: Carolina

Here's some nice quotes from St. Irenaeus:




[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies."

Source: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.:

"So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, 'For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones' (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of 'spiritual' and 'invisible' man, 'for a spirit does not have flesh an bones' (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and 'the grain of wheat falls into the earth' (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ."

-"Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely Named Gnosis". Book 5:2, 2-3, circa 180 A.D.

"For just as the bread which comes from the earth, having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, having received the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection."

-"Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely named Gnosis". Book 4:18 4-5, circa 180 A.D.


19 posted on 11/28/2006 8:25:00 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Campion; Ottofire
You forgot this quote from Irenaeus:

"When, however, they [the heretics and Gnostics] are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn around and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of TRADITION. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but by VIVA VOCE." [Irenaeus: Against Heresies Book III, Chapter 2, Verse 1]

Sound familiar? Holy Father Irenaeus has just nailed the Roman Catholic Church and its historic use of these things called TRADITIONS that run counter to the Scriptures as being sourced not in the Church or its patriarchs, but in the Gnostics and Heretics and Marcionites of his day.

20 posted on 11/28/2006 8:31:01 AM PST by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Carolina; HarleyD
"That is why St. Ignatius of Antioch in 107 said: "Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." "
____________________________

This is a perfect example of why Sola Scriptura is so important.

The Apostle we know the most about and his missionary work is Paul. If you look at Scripture you will find that most of the churches he helped start elected their leaders. The leaders of these churches were not "appointed" by Paul. IOW, these churches held their leadership accountable to them as opposed to the Roman Catholic model in which an "appointed" leader held the congregation in submission to him.
21 posted on 11/28/2006 8:57:27 AM PST by wmfights (Romans 8:37-39)
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To: Uncle Chip
Holy Father Irenaeus has just nailed the Roman Catholic Church and its historic use of these things called TRADITIONS that run counter to the Scriptures as being sourced not in the Church or its patriarchs, but in the Gnostics and Heretics and Marcionites of his day.

Uncle Chip, you do your argument a vast disservice by plucking sentences out of context and pretend they support your position without reading ALL of what Holy Father Irenaeus has to say. I hate doing quote dumps, but you have made it necessary. So let's look at the entire section in full (which is, tellingly, called: "The heretics follow neither Scripture nor Tradition")

. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

You are 100% right that Irenaeus criticizes those who claim they received some "special understanding" by way of unwritten tradition. BUT, he says that when the orthodox answer the Gnostics by saying "Ok, let's look at tradition then", then suddenly the Gnostics say that the Catholic tradition is *valueless* and adulterated and false, and they and they alone "discovered" the pure, unalloyed doctrine that--presumably--had lain dormant in the Church till then.

You are only looking at one side of Irenaeus's argument--he used BOTH Scripture AND tradition to assert orthodoxy against the Gnostics--to "oppose them at all points".

22 posted on 11/28/2006 9:20:53 AM PST by Claud
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To: Carolina

I enjoyed your home page. ;-)


23 posted on 11/28/2006 9:30:46 AM PST by Running On Empty
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To: Campion
St. Irenaeus
24 posted on 11/28/2006 9:40:42 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Claud

Your point is well-taken. But it appears from Irenaeus's writings that by "tradition" he meant those things that originate with the apostles in the Scriptures, that were subsequently preserved by the presbyters. I believe that Irenaeus would say that Scripture is superior to tradition, and that any tradition that is not founded in Scripture is no tradition at all. However he does not appear to have a consistent definition for the word: "tradition". He appears to assume that what his church at that time believes and teaches is a traditional and in line with Scripture when some of it clearly is not.


25 posted on 11/28/2006 9:56:37 AM PST by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Claud; Campion; wmfights

Of course Irenaeus would have held this view and I don't disagree with Irenaeus' writings. There was only ONE Christian church at that time and it was under attacked by all sorts of heretical doctrine. Irenaeus focus was on keeping the Church pure and his writings reflect this view.

Shoot ahead 900 years later when the Orthodox split. Which traditions are you following? The Orthodox says that the Church never had a strong Pope. The Roman Catholics say they did. This was such an area of contention it has kept both groups apart for another 1,000 years. Well, if you're following traditions of the Church doesn't this seem like a silly argument? One would have thought the matter resolved. Whose tradition is it anyway?


26 posted on 11/28/2006 9:59:01 AM PST by HarleyD (Mat 19:11 "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.)
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To: Uncle Chip
He appears to assume that what his church at that time believes and teaches is a traditional and in line with Scripture when some of it clearly is not.

Well, so says Uncle Chip, but I'm not sure Uncle Chip can necessarily make that determination any more than I can! :)

We have a tendency to look at the early Church with certain assumptions about what it *must* have been like (based on our own interpretations of Scripture), rather than looking at it for what it actually was. Clearly, Irenaeus thought that what he was saying was right in line with what the Apostles taught. I'm not sure we're in a great position to contest him on that point...especially since we don't find his contemporaries writing tracts saying that he was dead wrong.

27 posted on 11/28/2006 10:08:38 AM PST by Claud
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To: HarleyD
Irenaeus said above that all Christians must be in communion with the Bishop of Rome--he made that the touchstone of orthodoxy, and I am in no position to argue with that.

So obviously, I would say that tradition in its entirety rests in the Catholic church, and that the Orthodox Churches preserve almost all of it intact (but not quite all of it, because of the non-communion with the See of Peter).

28 posted on 11/28/2006 10:19:41 AM PST by Claud
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To: HarleyD
The Orthodox says that the Church never had a strong Pope. The Roman Catholics say they did. This was such an area of contention it has kept both groups apart for another 1,000 years. Well, if you're following traditions of the Church doesn't this seem like a silly argument?

Sometime ask the Orthodox the question Jesus asked Peter, "Who do men say that I am? ... Who do you say that I am?" in reference, not to Jesus, but to the Pope.

There are almost as many answers as there are Orthodox.

I think the problem is that our understanding of what the Roman primacy means has diverged, and it was diverging for quite some time before 1054. So, some of the Orthodox might say that would be happy to recognize a Roman primacy that operated they way they think the Roman primacy operated before, say AD 800. Problem: even if we could understand accurately how the east viewed the Roman primacy before AD 800 and reproduce it today, that's not necessarily the way the West viewed it before AD 800, to say nothing of the way the West views it today.

Overlapping (not identical) tradition, but different ways of understanding it, especially in the area of ecclesiology and church government.

29 posted on 11/28/2006 10:24:17 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Uncle Chip
Holy Father Irenaeus has just nailed the Roman Catholic Church and its historic use of these things called TRADITIONS that run counter to the Scriptures

Nice taking of Irenaeus out of context, there, Uncle.

Here's the next paragraph:

But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition. (Book III, Chapter 2, verse 2)

30 posted on 11/28/2006 10:30:03 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Claud

Oops, you beat me to it. Good job!


31 posted on 11/28/2006 10:31:10 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: HarleyD
Irenaeus would be a Presbyterian (PCA) today.

PCA Presbyterians believe in the Apostolic succession of bishops, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and Mary as the "New Eve"? Do tell! Because Irenaeus believed in all of those things.

32 posted on 11/28/2006 10:32:35 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Ottofire
But they HAD and his argument is that Scripture, the writings ARE superior to the order of tradition.

Nobody's denying that. He's pointing out that, without Scripture, you'd have to depend on the teaching authority of the Church. It doesn't follow that you can dispense with the teaching authority of the Church because you have Scripture.

Come back and play, Campion! Don't take your Jurgens and go home!

I have to sleep sometime!

33 posted on 11/28/2006 10:34:47 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: wmfights
I'm not sure how you get from Sola Scriptura to bishops being accountable to the people. Are you?

The leaders of these churches were not "appointed" by Paul.

For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you ... -- Titus 1:5

34 posted on 11/28/2006 10:39:27 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Ottofire
Let me check the Gospels for the veneration, aka worship, of Mary, the mediatorix betwixt Jesus and us

Last time I checked, we were all called to mediate between Jesus and each other. That's why Paul asks certain of his readers to pray for him.

Accusing Catholics of worshipping Mary is bearing false witness again, Ottofire.

35 posted on 11/28/2006 10:42:38 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Claud
Clearly, Irenaeus thought that what he was saying was right in line with what the Apostles taught.

If he had the Scriptures in his hand and actually read them he would have known that no where did the Apostles Paul or Peter or any other Apostle teach that the Church of Rome was to be superior to the others. More than likely, this "tradition" that he was pontificating was part of the "Confession of the Church of Rome" of his day that all churchmen had to assent to if they wanted to hold a church office. For he provides no Scriptural basis for this "tradition". It may have been a "tradition" to him and those in the Church there in Rome, but it was a tradition no where else.

I'm not sure we're in a great position to contest him on that point...especially since we don't find his contemporaries writing tracts saying that he was dead wrong.

Sure we are. We have the benefit of hindsight and history that he did not have. Those contemporaries of his probably did not know of some of these things that he labelled "traditions", as I'm sure his writings were not circulated as religiously as the Scriptures were.

And even if they did read his writings, his writings were not inspired by the Holy Spirit, as even he would admit unequivocably. And for those who did read what he said about the superiority of the Church of Rome, most of the Church in his day and later did say "that he was dead wrong" --- by their actions day after day, by ignoring not only what he said in that regard, but also in ignoring the pontifications of presbyters of the Church of Rome in favor of their own presbyters and Scripture itself.

36 posted on 11/28/2006 10:43:08 AM PST by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Campion

Not a problem! Keep the quotes coming! ;)


37 posted on 11/28/2006 10:43:45 AM PST by Claud
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To: Uncle Chip
We have the benefit of hindsight and history that he did not have.

And he has the benefit of learning his faith from a man, Polycarp of Smyrna, who knew the Beloved Disciple personally.

If he had the Scriptures in his hand and actually read them ...

A moment ago you were touting him as a proto-Protestant and a devotee of sola scriptura, and now you think didn't have the Scriptures or didn't bother to read them? A bit fickle of you, I'd say.

most of the Church in his day and later did say "that he was dead wrong" --- by their actions day after day, by ignoring not only what he said in that regard, but also in ignoring the pontifications of presbyters of the Church of Rome in favor of their own presbyters and Scripture itself.

You were there?

38 posted on 11/28/2006 10:47:36 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion; Claud; wmfights
I think the problem is that our understanding of what the Roman primacy means has diverged, and it was diverging for quite some time before 1054.

It simply points out that "tradition" isn't all that it's cracked up to be. There are obvious different interpretation of those traditions. How do you know the west is following the right traditions? Someone's right and someone's wrong and both state they're following tradition. Why it's enough to make a Protestant dizzy.

Of course Irenaeus would say to follow the Bishop. The church was small and these were honorable men. Not to slam the Church for we all have our problems, but I wonder if he would say the same thing about Bishops who covered up pedophile priests?

39 posted on 11/28/2006 10:57:43 AM PST by HarleyD (Mat 19:11 "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.)
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To: HarleyD
There are obvious different interpretation of those traditions.

The same is true of Scripture. Does that mean Scripture's not all it's cracked up to be?

I wonder if he would say the same thing about Bishops who covered up pedophile priests

No question he would have some very harsh words for them. The fireworks would likely be quite pretty. :-)

40 posted on 11/28/2006 11:03:33 AM PST by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion

Useful bump.


41 posted on 11/28/2006 11:06:37 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

That's a keeper!


42 posted on 11/28/2006 11:08:32 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: Uncle Chip
More than likely, this "tradition" that he was pontificating was part of the "Confession of the Church of Rome" of his day that all churchmen had to assent to if they wanted to hold a church office.

I'm not really sure where you are getting this. There were bishops in Asia Minor, in Alexandria, in Antioch, lots of other places as well (like Lyons where Irenaeus was). They received their offices from men who received them from the Apostles. The Bishop of Rome was certainly not appointing bishops worldwide. I don't know that there is any primary source that mentions a "Confession of the Church of Rome"...at least I've never heard of it.

Anyway, the Roman See's honor was not local to Italy. Irenaeus was in Gaul (I think he grew up in Asia Minor). Ignatius of Antioch talks in high terms of the Roman See as well. It seems to have been something that was taken for granted, not a kind of political necessity.

Sure we are. We have the benefit of hindsight and history that he did not have. Those contemporaries of his probably did not know of some of these things that he labelled "traditions", as I'm sure his writings were not circulated as religiously as the Scriptures were.

This is a very very common misconception that we have in modern times. We actually know much much *less* history of the 1st century than they did 100 years later in the 2nd. They had access to libraries full of manuscripts and authors that are gone today. They knew people that knew people that saw the Apostles personally, heard them speak. That kind of testimony is irreplaceable with archaeology or epigraphy, or what have you.

As to what his contemporaries knew, Irenaeus certainly had access to all these heretical ideas that were floating about--whether orally or in writing. He corresponded with Pope Victor about the Pascal controversy way over in Asia Minor. Irenaeus was not an unknown quantity.

And for those who did read what he said about the superiority of the Church of Rome, most of the Church in his day and later did say "that he was dead wrong" --- by their actions day after day

Most of the Church? Do you know of any Church Father from the first 5-6 centuries who so much as took Irenaeus to task on this point? I certainly don't.

I know a few guys in the 1500s disagreed, but that was really quite late in the game!

43 posted on 11/28/2006 11:11:30 AM PST by Claud
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To: Campion
We have the benefit of hindsight and history that he did not have.

And he has the benefit of learning his faith from a man, Polycarp of Smyrna, who knew the Beloved Disciple personally.

You were there????

_______________________________________________

If he had the Scriptures in his hand and actually read them ...

A moment ago you were touting him as a proto-Protestant and a devotee of sola scriptura

No, I wasn't. I was touting him as one of your holy fathers, one of the patriarchs of your holy "tradition" whose writings you place above those of Scripture when it is convenient for you, but just cast aside when they become inconvenient.

____________________________________

and now you think didn't have the Scriptures or didn't bother to read them? A bit fickle of you, I'd say.

The fickleness belongs to he who claims to believe in the "written documents" except when those "viva voces" of magisterial tradition arise to overrule them.

________________________________

Most of the Church in his day and later did say "that he was dead wrong" --- by their actions day after day, by ignoring not only what he said in that regard, but also in ignoring the pontifications of presbyters of the Church of Rome in favor of their own presbyters and Scripture itself.

You were there?

Just like you were there with Polycarp!!!

44 posted on 11/28/2006 11:47:05 AM PST by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Campion
PCA Presbyterians believe in the Apostolic succession of bishops, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and Mary as the "New Eve"? Do tell!

Well, nobody's perfect. ;O)

45 posted on 11/28/2006 11:50:07 AM PST by HarleyD (Mat 19:11 "But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.)
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To: Uncle Chip; Claud; Campion
Most of the Church in his day and later did say "that he was dead wrong" --- by their actions day after day, by ignoring not only what he said in that regard, but also in ignoring the pontifications of presbyters of the Church of Rome in favor of their own presbyters and Scripture itself.

Where is the evidence for that belief? And I'm not talking about the obvious "reformers", because it seems to me you are claiming that contemporaries of St. Irenaeus, and later, all the way up to the "Reformation" (not just starting with it), were saying he was wrong about the supremacy of the Church of Rome. So where is the evidence for that, as Claud asked, where are the ECF's writings that demonstrate that that notion was prevailant, and popular, as you suggest, a good 1000 years before the "Reformation"?

46 posted on 11/28/2006 12:01:56 PM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: Claud; FourtySeven
Do you believe that everything that Irenaeus wrote was accurate? Do you think that he may have embellished some things and glossed over others? When he wrote that the Church of Rome should be followed by other churches, was he writing as in independent theologian, or a presbyter of the Church of Rome [the Lyon diocese], and thus not exactly an unbiased pontificator?

He quotes the exact words of Marcion and Valentinus and other heretics as proof of what he says that they believe. He doesn't ask the reader to take his word for it. He cites their exact words from their "written documents".

Yet when it comes to telling us that Peter and Paul ordained the Church of Rome with superiority, he cites neither Peter nor Paul nor any other apostle. He cites no "written document" as evidence. The reader is supposed to take his word for this outlandish claim.

On the one hand he accuses the heretics of resorting to "tradition" or "viva voce" in lieu of the truth of the "written documents", and then resorts to the same thing himself.

Is it possible that the reason that he cites no source for his claim of superiority of the Church of Rome is because there was none and he knew it? The absence of any "written documentation" for his claim in light of what he had said in that regard of the heretics, goes to the heart of the lack of any substantive credibility for that claim.

47 posted on 11/28/2006 1:05:22 PM PST by Uncle Chip (TRUTH : Ignore it. Deride it. Allegorize it. Interpret it. But you can't ESCAPE it.)
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To: Ottofire; sitetest; BlackElk; mockingbyrd
Note the use of Scripture (not tradition) to fight heresy.

Adversus Haereses (Book III, Chapter 2)

The heretics follow neither Scripture nor Tradition

1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, "But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world." And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

48 posted on 11/28/2006 1:09:20 PM PST by bornacatholic
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To: Ottofire
Adversus Haereses (Book III, Chapter 3)

A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in the various churches, a perpetual succession of bishops was kept up

1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to "the perfect" apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority -- that is, the faithful everywhere -- inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere. /Ad hanc enim eoclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique, conservata est ea quâ est ab apostolis traditio].

3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

4. But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles -- that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan." Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.

49 posted on 11/28/2006 1:12:22 PM PST by bornacatholic
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To: Ottofire
Adversus Haereses (Book III, Chapter 4)

The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles.

1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?

2. To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.

3. For, prior to Valentinus, those who follow Valentinus had no existence; nor did those from Marcion exist before Marcion; nor, in short, had any of those malignant-minded people, whom I have above enumerated, any being previous to the initiators and inventors of their perversity. For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion's predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop. Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. But the rest, who are called Gnostics, take rise from Menander, Simon's disciple, as I have shown; and each one of them appeared to be both the father and the high priest of that doctrine into which he has been initiated. But all these (the Marcosians) broke out into their apostasy much later, even during the intermediate period of the Church

50 posted on 11/28/2006 1:14:46 PM PST by bornacatholic
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