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Heresies. Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy means “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church.” Orthodoxy derives from the Greek words orthos (correct) + doxa (belief). Thus, “correct belief” For us, Orthodoxy is:. How did o rthodox belief develop?.

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Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy

  • Orthodoxy means “conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church.”

    • Orthodoxy derives from the Greek words orthos(correct) + doxa(belief).

      • Thus, “correct belief”

  • For us, Orthodoxy is:


How did o rthodox belief develop
How did orthodox belief develop?

  • Over multiple centuries

  • Bits and pieces at a time

  • Triggered by various opinions about God and Jesus

    • Church councils were held

      • Leaders of the Church gathered to discuss

      • The view of the majority became orthodoxy

      • Everything else became “heresy”


What is a heresy
What is a heresy?

  • “An opinion or doctrine not in line with the accepted teaching of the church; the opposite of orthodoxy”

    • It derives from the Greek hairesismeaning “choice” or “thing chosen”

    • The founder of a heretical group is called a heresiarch

    • One who espouses heresy is called a heretic

      • SAT Vocab : Espouse = adopt or support

  • Heresy and heretics were often declared anathema

    • Anathema:

      • 1. something or someone that is cursed/damned, or that one vehemently dislikes;

      • 2. a formal curse, or ban, by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person or denouncing a doctrine


Why study heresy
Why study heresy?

  • To better know our own faith

  • Although many died out 100’s, even 1000’s, of years ago, they sometimes pop up in popular culture or in “New Age” religions that claim to be compatible with Orthodox Christianity.

    • For example, consider Star Trek V: The Final Frontier:

      • “McCoy: We were speculating. Is God really out there?

        Kirk: Maybe he's not out there, Bones. Maybe he's right here[points to his heart]--- in the human heart.”

    • Now compare this to a quote from 3rd century heretic Monoimus:

      • “… seek for Him from (out of) thyself, and learn … My God (is) my mind, my understanding, my soul, my body… and if you accurately investigate these (points), you will discover (God) Himself, unity and plurality, in thyself, according to that title, and that He finds the outlet (for Deity) to be from thyself.”


Major heresies gnosticism
Major Heresies: Gnosticism

  • One of the earliest heresies

    • Many different varieties, some older than Christianity

  • Name derived from the Greek word “gnosis” – knowledge

  • Major tenets of Gnosticism include:

    • Matter is a corruption of spirit, and thus the world (and man) is corrupt

      • Leads to either/or:

        • Asceticism – abstaining from worldly pleasures

        • Antinomianism - the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey

    • Man must seek knowledge to overcome fallen state and return to God

      • Secret Book of James 6:18

        • “So also can you yourselves receive the kingdom of heaven; unless you receive this through knowledge, you will not be able to find it.”

      • Gospel of Thomas 1:1

        • “And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

    • This knowledge believed to be passed from Christ to the Apostles

      • Mark 4 : 33-34


The opposition irenaeus of lyons d 202
The Opposition: Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202)

  • Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul

    • Modern day Lyons

  • Most famous for writing Against Heresies (c. 180)

    • Written specifically to attack Gnosticism


Major heresies gnosticism1
Major Heresies: Gnosticism

  • Many other heresies were derived from Gnostic ideas, some examples include:

    • Marcionism

    • Manichaeism

      • Will be discussed later when discussing St. Augustine

    • Docetism


Early heresies marcionism
Early Heresies: Marcionism

  • Founded by Marcion of Sinope (c. 85 – 160)

  • Beliefs based on Gnosticism:

    • Dualism

      • Two opposing powers in the universe (2 gods)

        • Demiurge – God of the Law (Old Testament God) = Evil

        • God of Jesus – God of Love (New Testament God) = Good

    • Christ was not a man

  • First person to propose a NT Canon

    • Rejected, but caused Church fathers to develop authoritative canon


The opposition tertullian d 225
The Opposition: Tertullian (d. 225)

  • Early Christian author from Carthage

    • “Father of Latin Christianity”

  • Opposed Marcionism in his book Against Marcion


Early heresies docetism
Early Heresies: Docetism

  • From Greek ‘dokesis’ (appearance)

  • Beliefs:

    • Jesus was not truly human

    • Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross

      • Rather, He only “appeared to”

    • Sometimes taught that someone “switched” with Jesus and suffered and died in His place

      • Problem?

        • If Christ did not die for our sins, then they would not be forgiven and we would not be redeemed

  • From Apocalypse of Peter:

    • “When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"

      The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."


The opposition ignatius of antioch d 107
The Opposition: Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107)

  • An Apostolic Father and martyr

    • Apostolic Fathers are Early Christian authors who lived after the Apostles (late 1st – early 2nd centuries) and led the early Church

      • Others include Clement of Rome, Polycarp, the author of the Didache, and the author of The Shepherd of Hermas

  • Opposed Docetism in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans:

    • 7:1 – “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.”


Response of the church
Response of the Church

  • Tradition says the Apostles’ Creed was formed in response to Gnostic heresies in the 2nd century

    • “I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.”

      • Rejects Gnostic dualism

    • “born of the Virgin Mary.”

      • Jesus is NOT just a spirit, but a man with flesh

    • “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.”

      • Rejects Docetism

    • “I believe in… the resurrection of the body.”

      • Shows matter is not corrupt/evil

  • Gnostic heresies also undermine the Incarnation by claiming Christ is not man


One more early heresy montanism
One more early heresy: Montanism

  • Founded by Montanus (mid – late 2nd century)

  • Called the “New Prophecy”

  • Components of Montanism:

    • Did not believe in forgiveness after Baptism

      • If you fell from grace you could not be redeemed

        • This undermines Catholic teaching on Grace and Redemption (Confessions)

    • Return to simpler church

    • Believed Holy Spirit spoke directly through him and his followers

      • Very charismatic

    • Questioned authority of Church hierarchy

      • Believed the Word of God was only true authority

  • Often compared to Protestantism because of the similarities