Church and Heresies

I exhort you therefore – yet not I, but the love of Jesus Christ – take you only Christian food, and abstain from strange herbage, which is heresy: for these men do even mingle poison with Jesus Christ, imposing upon others by a show of honesty, like persons administering a deadly drug with honeyed wine, so that one who knows it not, fearing nothing, drinks in death with a baneful delight. Ignatius: to the Trallians (A.D. 35-105) ch.6

But mark you those who hold heretical opinions touching the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us, how that they are contrary to the mind of God. They have no care for love, none for the widow, none for the orphan, none for the afflicted, none for the prisoner, none for the hungry or thirsty. Ignatius: to the Smyrnaeans (A.D. 35-105) ch. 6

Yet they style themselves Christians, just as certain among the Gentiles inscribe the name of God upon the works of their own hands, and partake in nefarious and impious rites. Some are called Marcians, and some Valentinians, and some Basilidians, and some Saturnilians, and others by other names; each called after the originator of the individual opinion, just as each one of those who consider themselves philosophers, as I said before, thinks he must bear the name of the philosophy which he follows, from the name of the father of the particular doctrine. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.212

Many offshoots of numerous heresies have already been formed from those heretics we have described. This arises from the fact that numbers of them – indeed, we may say all – desire themselves to be teachers, and to break off from the particular heresy in which they have been involved. Forming one set of doctrines out of a totally different system of opinions, and then again others from others, they insist upon teaching something new, declaring themselves the inventors of any sort of opinion which they may have been able to call into existence. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 353

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 schematics 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. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 497

From all such persons, therefore, it behooves us to keep aloof, but to adhere to those who, as I have already observed, do hold the doctrine of the apostles, and who, together with the order of priesthood, display sound speech and blameless conduct for the confirmation and correction of others. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 497

Now all these [heretics] are of much later date than the bishops to whom the apostles committed the Churches. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 547

Further, it is said that it is on account of “those that are approved that heresies exist.” [The apostle] calls “approved,” either those who in reaching faith apply to the teaching of the Lord with some discrimination (as those are called skilful money-changers, who distinguish the spurious coin from the genuine by the false stamp), or those who have already become approved both in life and knowledge… On account of the heresies, therefore, the toil of discovery must be undertaken; but we must not at all abandon [the truth]. For, on fruit being set before us, some real and ripe, and some made of wax, as like the real as possible, we are not to abstain from both on account of the resemblance. But by the exercise of the apprehension of contemplation, and by reasoning of the most decisive character, we must distinguish the true from the seeming. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.549-550

And again, those also are likewise unclean that part the hoof, but do not ruminate. For these point out the heretics, who indeed go upon the name of the Father and the Son, but are in capable of triturating and grinding down the clear declaration of the oracles, and who, besides, perform the works of righteousness coarsely and not with precision, if they perform them at all. To such the Lord says, “Why will you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” And those that neither part the hoof nor chew the cud are entirely unclean. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.555-556

Heresies would have no power, if (men) would cease to wonder that they have such power. For it either happens that, while men wonder, they fall into a snare, or, because they are ensnared, they cherish their surprise, as if heresies were so powerful because of some truth which belonged to them… heresies derive such strength as they have from the infirmities of individuals – having no strength whenever they encounter a really powerful faith. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.244

How comes it to pass, (they ask), that this woman or that man, who were the most faithful, the most prudent, and the most approved in the church, have gone over to the other side? … what if a bishop, if a deacon, if a widow, if a virgin, if a doctor, if even a martyr, have fallen from the rule (of faith), will heresies on that account appear to possess the truth? Do we prove the faith by the persons, or the persons by the faith? Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 244

But let us rather be mindful of the sayings of the Lord, and of the letters of the apostles; for they have both told us beforehand that there shall be heresies, and have given us, in anticipation, warnings to avoid them… Heresies, at the present time, will no less rend the church by their perversion of doctrine, than will Antichrist persecute her at that day by the cruelty of his attacks, except that persecution makes even martyrs, (but) heresy only apostates. And therefore “heresies must needs be in order that they which are approved might be made manifest, both those who remained steadfast under persecution, and those who did not wander out of their way into heresy. For the apostle does not mean that those persons should be deemed approved who exchange their creed for heresy. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 244-245

Of these the practical effects are false doctrines, called in Greek heresies, a word used in the sense of that choice which a man makes when he either teaches them (to others) or takes up with them (for himself). For this reason it is that he calls the heretic condemned, because he has himself chosen that for which he is condemned. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.245-246

But here is, as we have said, the same madness, in their allowing indeed that the apostles were ignorant of nothing, and preached not any (doctrines) which contradicted one another, but at the same time insisting that they did not reveal all to all men, for that they proclaimed some openly and to all the world, whilst they disclosed others (only) in secret and to a few… Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 255

Since, therefore, it is incredible that the apostles were either ignorant of the whole scope of the message which they had to declare, or failed to make known to all men the entire rule of faith, let us see whether, while the apostles proclaimed it, perhaps, simply and fully, the churches, through their own fault, set it forth otherwise than the apostles had done. All these suggestions of distrust you may find put forward by the heretics. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nice

ne Fathers vol.3 pg. 256

If it be true, then, that those heresies, which in the apostolic times were in a rude form, are now found to be the same, only in a much more polished shape. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 260

I must not omit an account of the conduct also of the heretics – how frivolous it is, how worldly, how merely human, without seriousness, without authority, without discipline, as suits their creed… The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures – it may be even to baptize. Nowhere is promotion easier than in the camp of rebels, where the mere fact of being there is a foremost service. And so it comes to pass that today one man is their bishop, tomorrow another; today he is a deacon who tomorrow is a reader; to-day he is a presbyter who tomorrow is a layman. For even on laymen do they impose the functions of priesthood. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 263

They will, besides, add a good deal respecting the high authority of each doctor of heresy,- how that these mightily strengthened belief in their own doctrine; how that they raised the dead, restored the sick, foretold the future, that so they might deservedly be regarded as apostles. As if this caution were not also in the written record: that many should come who were to work even the greatest miracles, in defense of the deceit of their corrupt preaching. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 265-266

We are accustomed, for the purpose of shortening argument, to lay down the rule against heretics of the lateness of their date. For in as far as by our rule, priority is given to the truth, which also foretold that there would be heresies, in so far must all later opinions be prejudged as heresies, being such as were, by the more ancient rule of truth, predicted as (one day) to happen. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 477

Therefore was the Church called a virgin, for she was not as yet corrupted by worthless teaching. The bulis it was who, displeased because he was not made bishop, first began to corrupt her by stealth. He too was connected with the seven sects which existed among the people, like Simon, from whom come the Simoniani; and Cleobius, from whom come the Cleobiani; and Doritheus, from whom come the Dorithiani; and Gorthaeus, from whom come the Gortheani; Masbothaeus, from whom come the Masbothaei. From these men also come the Menandrianists, and the Marcionists, and the Carpocratians, and the Valentinians, and the Basilidians, and the Saturnilians. Each of these leaders in his own private and distinct capacity brought in his own private opinion. From these have come false Christs, false prophets, false apostles – men who have split up the one Church into parts through their corrupting doctrines, uttered in disparagement of God and of His Christ…. Hegesippus (A.D. 170) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 pg. 764

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