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Valentinians – Early Church Heretics

Irenaeus

At the same time, the Valentinians deny that He assumed anything material [into His nature], since indeed matter is incapable of salvation. They further hold that the consummation of all things will take place when all that is spiritual has been formed and perfected by Gnosis (knowledge); and by this they mean spiritual men who have attained to the perfect knowledge of God, and been initiated into these mysteries by Achamoth. And they represent themselves to be these persons.

Others of them 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. And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the elect seed. For they declare that we 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

They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal, represented by Cain, Abel, and Seth. Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. – ibid

Valentinus, who adapted the principles of the heresy called “Gnostic” to the peculiar character of his own school. – ibid

But those who are from Valentinus, being, on the other hand, altogether reckless, while they put forth their own compositions, boast that they possess more Gospels than there really are. Indeed, they have arrived at such a pitch of audacity, as to entitle their comparatively recent writing “the Gospel of Truth,” though it agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the Apostles, so that they have really no Gospel which is not full of blasphemy.- ibid

Clement of Alexandria 

The followers of Valentinus assign faith to us, the simple, but will have it that knowledge springs up in their own selves (who are saved by nature).

Valentinian… Also, similarly with Basilides, supposes a class saved by nature, and that this different race has come hither to us from above for the abolition of death. – ibid

Tertullian

Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain who denied and doubted the resurrection. This opinion was the especial property of the Sadducees. A part of it, however, is maintained by Marcion and Apelles and Valentinus, and all other impugners of the resurrection. Writing also to the Galatians, he inveighs against such men as observed and defend circumcision and the (Mosaic) law. Thus runs Hebion’s heresy. Such also as “forbid to marry” he reproaches in his instructions to Timothy. Now, this is the teaching of Marcion and his follower Apelles. (The apostle) directs a similar blow against those who said that “the resurrection was past already.” Such an opinion did the Valentinians assert of themselves. When again he mentions “endless genealogies,” one also recognizes Valentinus.

One man perverts the Scriptures with his hand, another their meaning by his exposition. For although Valentinus seems to use the entire volume, he has none the less laid violent hands on the truth only with a more cunning mind and skill than Marcion. Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision of the Scriptures as suited his own subject-matter. – ibid

The Valentinians, who are no doubt a very large body of heretics… If you propose to them inquiries sincere and honest, they answer you with stern look and contracted brow, and say, “The subject is profound.” …For this reason we are branded by them as simple. – ibid

Let, however, any man approach the subject from a knowledge of the faith which he has otherwise learned, as soon as he finds so many names of Æons, so many marriages, so many offsprings, so many exits… of a dispersed and mutilated Deity, will that man hesitate at once to pronounce that these are “the fables and endless genealogies” which the inspired apostle by anticipation condemned, whilst these seeds of heresy were even then shooting forth? – ibid

Valentinus had expected to become a bishop, because he was an able man both in genius and eloquence. Being indignant, however, that another obtained the dignity by reason of a claim which confessorship had given him, he broke with the church of the true faith. Just like those (restless) spirits which, when roused by ambition, are usually inflamed with the desire of revenge, he applied himself with all his might to exterminate the truth. – ibid

Axionicus at Antioch is the only man who at the present time does honor to the memory of Valentinus, by keeping his rules to the full. But this heresy is permitted to fashion itself into as many various shapes as a prostitute, who usually changes and adjusts her dress every day… Whenever they have hit upon any novelty, they forthwith call their presumption a revelation, their own perverse ingenuity a spiritual gift. – ibid

For this reason it is that they 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

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