Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Tinfoil Hats Not Required

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saint Irenaeus, who grew up in Smyrna (not Tennessee), near Ephesus, in the area which is now western Turkey, was the Bishop of Lyons in southern France in the early second century, is considered a Father of the Church, and was mentored by people who knew the first disciples, including the Apostolic Father, Saint Polycarp, who was the Apostle John’s disciple. Recall that Jesus the Christ called James and John “Sons of Thunder,” who were the sons of Zebedee. That might explain the confidence he felt to write five treatises in Greek on detecting and debunking heresies, which is commonly entitled in Latin as “Adversus haereses” (Refutation of Heresies), and according to the translation of its title, devoted to the “Detection and Overthrow of the False Knowledge.”

Irenaeus studied Gnostics’ writings in depth, and refuted them in meticulously painstaking detail. Gnosticism, which arose in Irenaeus’ era, was considered heresy not only because it was logically contrary, but because it was opposite what Jesus’ Disciples knew about the Christ from their first-hand experience. Today, we would consider them as “tinfoil hat wearers.”

Gnostics were dualists who taught that Christ did not really have a physical body, but only seemed to have one, much like a hologram. They claimed He was only an appearance, just so He could communicate with men, but was not really on Earth. They taught that Jesus Christ was two great opposing forces – good versus evil, light versus darkness, knowledge versus ignorance, spirit versus matter. They argued that because the world is material and imperfect, God couldn’t have made it, and asked “How can the perfect produce the imperfect, the infinite produce the finite, the spiritual produce the material?” They also claimed that Jesus Christ had two separate teachings, one for the common man, and another advanced teaching which He kept secret from most people, and was fit only for a chosen few (themselves), whom they considered spiritual elites.

Irenaeus poured water on fire of Gnosticism by his sure efforts to “strip the fox,” as he put it, so that no one could mistake Gnostic’s claims of secret spiritual knowledge for the real and accessible message of Christ.

Irenaeus wrote of God: “He cannot be seen or described in… all his greatness… Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God… who holds all things together and gives them their being.”

“Gloria Dei est vivens homo.” 

(“The glory of God is a living man.)

– Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, book 4, chapter 20

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