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False Teachings On Salvation

Irenaeus

The Gnostics say: Carnal men, again, are instructed in carnal things; such men, namely, as are established by their works, and by an mere (i.e. infierior faith), while they have not perfect knowledge. We of the Church, the gnostics say, are these persons. Wherefore also they maintain that good works are necessary to us, for that otherwise it is impossible we should be saved. But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature.

Others of the [Gnostics] yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual. For they [the Gnostics] declare that we (the church) simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them. – ibid

And in their writings [of the heretics] we read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views], declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men – some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature. – ibid

Tertullian

They say that God is not to be feared; therefore all things are in their view free and unchecked. Where, however is God not feared, except where He is not? Where God is not, there truth also is not. Where there is no truth, then, naturally enough, there is also such a discipline as theirs.

Marcion has removed from his God all his severity and judicial character… A better god has been discovered, who never takes offence, is never angry, never inflicts punishment, who has prepared no fire in hell, no gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! He is purely and simply good. He indeed forbids all delinquency, but only in word. He is in you, if you are willing to pay him homage, for the sake of appearances, that you may seem to honor God; for your fear he does not want. And so satisfied are the Marcionites with such pretences, that they have no fear of their god at all. – ibid

“Be not deceived, God is not mocked.” But Marcion’s [the Gnostic heretic] god can be mocked; for he knows not how to be angry, or how to take vengeance. -ibid

For this reason it is that they [the Valentian heretics] neither regard works as necessary for themselves, nor do they observe any of the calls of duty, eluding even the necessity of martyrdom on any pretence which may suit their pleasure. – ibid

Origen

Let us begin, then, with those words which were spoken to Pharaoh, who is said to have been hardened by God, in order that he might not let the people go; and, along with his case, the language of the apostle also will be considered, where he says, “Therefore He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens.” For it is on these passages chiefly that the heretics rely, asserting that salvation is not in our own power, but that souls are of such a nature as must by all means be either lost or saved; and that in no way can a soul which is of an evil nature become good, or one which is of a virtuous nature be made bad.

Let us now look to the expression, “It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.” For our opponents assert, that if it does not depend upon him that wills, nor on him that runs, but on God that shows mercy, that a man be saved, our salvation is not in our own power. For our nature is such as to admit of our either being saved or not, or else our salvation rests solely on the will of Him who, if He wills it, shows mercy, and confers salvation. Now let us inquire, in the first place, of such persons, whether to desire blessings be a good or evil act; and whether to hasten after good as a final aim be worthy of praise. If they were to answer that such a procedure was deserving of censure, they would evidently be mad; for all holy men both desire blessings and run after them, and certainly are not blameworthy. How, then, is it that he who is not saved, if he be of an evil nature, desires blessing, and runs after them, but does not find them? It is established, then, that to desire and follow after blessings is not an indifferent, but a virtuous proceeding. – ibid

But with respect to the declaration of the apostle, “Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” You will say then unto me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? Nay but, O man, who are you that replies against God? “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Some one will perhaps say, that as the potter out of the same lump makes some vessels to honor, and others to dishonor, so God creates some men for perdition, and others for salvation; and that it is not therefore in our own power either to be saved or to perish; by which reasoning we appear not to be possessed of free-will. We must answer those who are of this opinion with the question, Whether it is possible for the apostle to contradict himself? And if this cannot be imagined of an apostle, how shall he appear, according to them, to be just in blaming those who committed fornication in Corinth, or those who sinned, and did not repent of their unchasity, and fornication, and uncleanness, which they had committed? …”We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one of us may receive in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad.” For what reward of good will be conferred on him who could not commit evil, being formed by the Creator to that very end? or what punishment will deservedly be inflicted on him who was unable to do good in consequence of the creative act of his maker? – ibid

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