Monday, July 25, 2005

Heresies

Here's a good article from First Things entitled The Pattern of Christian Truth.

Interestingly enough, though the author, Timothy George, is a Southern Baptist, many of the ideas presented in the piece sound incredibly familiar to those that are found in the works of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the famous 19th century Anglican-turned-Roman-Catholic. In particular is the recognition given to the role heresy has played in historic Christendom, continually prompting the Church to defend, and more properly define, her doctrines. This article cites 3 famous examples, which I'll briefly summarize (for a quick lesson in Church history!) Want more? Check out the article.

1) In the 2nd century, Marcion taught that the God of the Old Testament was not the same as the God of the New Testament. He thus sought to sever all connections between Christianity and its Jewish past. He also saw the physical world, including the human body, as an indignity, and thus insisted that Jesus could never have actually assumed a physical body. In response, the Church insisted upon the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and also of the goodness physical creation and its role in salvation history (affirming that Jesus had a body).

2) In the 4th century, Arius could not see how God the Father could "share" his divinity with anyone else, and so denied the divinity of Christ. The church countered with the Council of Nicaea in 325, formulating a more precise trinitarian definition and promulgating the same Nicene creed which we say today. In particular, the phrase "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father" was born of this doctrinal scuffle.

3) Later that same century, Pelagius did not agree with the idea that our current sinful state was the natural consequence of Adam's sin: rather, he thought that we could attain perfection in this life (by following the rules given us by Christ), and entirely rid ourselves of sin, by our own merits. The response, first articulated by St. Augustine, but later ratified by the Council of Ephesus in 431, insisted upon the presence of Original Sin and its effects in all of humanity, and more importantly, the need for our redemption to come from the divine grace of Christ's self-sacrifice.

We certainly don't want to say that heresies are a good thing, yet with examples like these it's important to realize that, just as with other evils, God can always bring good out of them.

1 Comments:

At 7/28/2005 9:14 AM, Anonymous M said...

Just this morning in the homily, we heard that there will always be good and evil--without the two there would be no need for Virtue. "However," he added, "good will always triumph."

 

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