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Posted on 11/27/2006 6:58:00 PM PST by Ottofire
Irenaeus of Lyons
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 Irenaeuss 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. 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.
Irenaeus was born in the Roman province of Asia, now on the western coast of modern Turkey, around the year 140. 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 Polycarps martyrdom, Irenaeus is described as a disciple of Polycarp. The magnitude of Polycarps 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 recentlywhat we learn in childhood adheres to the mind and grows with itso 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 teachingthings 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 Gods mercy, noted them not on paper but in my heart. By Gods grace I continually reflect on them  Sometime during his teen years, Irenaeus left Asia and went west to Rome. His reasons for doing so are not known. He was still in Rome, it appears, at the time of Polycarps martyrdom around 155 A. D. 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, 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 martyrs witness states that it was in Latin, thus implying that the other confessions were in Greek.
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.
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. Irenaeus was subsequently elected in his place.
During his time as bishop, Irenaeus continued to have a strong passion for the evangelization of Gaul. 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, 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 Gnosticismin 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. It is known that Irenaeus wrote other works against the heresy of Gnosticism, but only Against Heresies has come down to us. 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.
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. Jeromes assertion that the bishop of Lyons died as a martyr is not at all certain. He probably died around 200.
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. 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. This saving knowledge entailed recognition of the supposedly divine element within ones being which constituted the real self, the realization that, latent within ones being, there is a divine spark. Salvation was thus defined in terms of self-enlightenment, not deliverance from sin and sins 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. Christs 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. 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.
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. Saturninus of Antioch, a Syrian Gnostic who flourished in the second century, plainly declared that marriage and procreation are of Satan. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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 Gods Word. He went on to detail what Scripture teaches about the nature of Gods 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 Pauls 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 
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, 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, 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. The confession stresses that, contrary to Gnosticisms 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. Without a full assumption of humanity, sin excepted, human beings cannot be saved.
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.
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 Spirits being. In Against Heresies 5.12.1-4, Irenaeus argued that salvation of the body is the Spirits 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. The contrast that Irenaeus made here clearly indicated his conviction in the Spirits 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. 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.
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. In the Church there is one and the same faith, one and the same doctrine, one and the same way of salvation. 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.
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.
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. 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.
 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).
 Early Christian Doctrines (4th ed.; London: Adam & Charles Black, 1968), 107
 F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, Irenaeus of Lugdunum, Expository Times, 44 (1932-1933), 167.
 For the date, see Robert M. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons (London/New York: Routledge, 1997), 2.
 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].
 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].
 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.
 Martyrdom of Polycarp 22.2 (The Moscow Epilogue) (The Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, ed. Lightfoot, Part Two, Vol. 3:402).
 Hitchcock, Irenaeus of Lugdunum, 168.
 The Martyrs of Lyons [trans. Herbert Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 69].
 Against Heresies 1, Preface 3. There is nothing to justify Robert Grants remark that Irenaeus mission among the Celts was a failure and that the Celtic population remained resolutely non-Christians (Irenaeus of Lyons, 5).
 For the poignant account of his death, see The Martyrs of Lyons (trans. Musurillo, Acts of the Christian Martyrs, 71, 73.
 Early Christian Fathers, ed. and trans. Richardson, 348.
 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.
 Against Heresies 3.6.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 128).
 Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History 5.20.1; 5.26.1.
 Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1967), 80.
 Cited Hitchcock, Irenaeus of Lugdunum, 170.
 Trans. R. McL. Wilson, The Gospel of Philip (London: A.R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1962), 32, altered.
 See, for example, Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4-5; 1 Peter 3:21.
 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.
 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 Scribners Sons, 1903), 324, 325,].
 Acts of Thomas 12 (trans. Stead in Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Schneemelcher, 2:449).
 Cited Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.24.2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 349).
 See Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.33.9, where he notes that the Gnostics really have no martyrs.
 See, for instance, Pauls 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.
 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.
 Against Heresies 1 Preface 2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 315).
 Against Heresies, 2.28.2.
 Against Heresies 3.1.1.
 Against Heresies 3.5.1.
 Against Heresies 2.28.3.
 Against Heresies 3.2.2.
 Against Heresies 2.28.3 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 399).
 Exodus 20:11.
 Philippians 2:10-11.
 Against Heresies 1.10.1 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 70-71).
 Henry Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 102.
 See Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.14.1-3.
 Against Heresies 5.14.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 170).
 Against Heresies 5.14.4 (trans. Grant, Irenaeus of Lyons, 170).
 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.
 Roch Kereszty, The Unity of the Church in the Theology of Irenaeus, The Second Century, 4 (1984), 212-213.
 For example, see Against Heresies 1.10.2.
 Kereszty, Unity of the Church, 205.
 Kereszty, Unity of the Church, 215-216.
 Against Heresies 5.20.2 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 460).
 Against Heresies 3.25.7 (trans. Roberts and Rambaut in Coxe, arr., The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 460).
Dust gathers on the Scripture as Heresy gathers on the church.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Silence isn't a proof. It doesn't mention "monergism," either.
--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?
Read post 4, and then try to tell me that Irenaeus was a sola scriptura adherent.
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]
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.
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
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.
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?
--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!
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...
--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.
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.
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.
"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.
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