This paper is prepared to allow the average Believer to examine some of the “Church Identified” Heresies then and now. As you read this paper you may find that some of the concepts identified as heresies are part of your belief system or the belief system of your religious affiliation. Many of the same arguments are still on going.
I have posted this paper to stimulate thought and to challenge you to search scripture more earnestly and attentively. To seek out well-grounded teachers and to never be afraid to challenge any belief. Too many people accept what they are taught, which is dangerous for many religious institutions do not teach the truth. Some of these institutional teachings are shaped so far in antiquity that they are never questioned, and most are accepted by the majority of adherents to religious denominations. The church laity by and large have lost the origins of their by laws and doctrines of their position papers. Many do not even know what the church they belong to officially sanctions as their theological position. Quiet frankly, most church leaders can not give you the history of the formulation of their beliefs. It is time we all sought the truth individually. What could be more important than the status of your soul?
1. Arianism Arianism n. the doctrine, taught by Arius, that Christ the Son was not consubstantial with G-d the Father. Arianistic, Arianistical, adj.
Arianism, Christian heresy founded by Arius in the 4th cent. It was one of the most widespread and divisive heresies in the history of Christianity. As a priest in Alexandria, Arius taught (c.318) that G-d created, before all things, a Son who was the first creature, but who was neither equal to nor coeternal with the Father. According to Arius, Yahshua was a supernatural creature not quite human and not quite divine. In these ideas Arius followed the school of Lucian of Antioch.
Rise of Arianism
Because of his heretical teachings, Arius was condemned and deprived of his office. He fled to Palestine and spread his doctrine among the masses through popular sermons and songs, and among the powerful through the efforts of influential leaders, such as Eusebius of Nicomedia and, to a lesser extent, Eusebius of Caesarea. The civil as well as the religious peace of the East was threatened, and Roman Emperor Constantine I convoked (325) the first ecumenical council (Nicaea, First Council). The council condemned Arianism, but the Greek term homoousios [consubstantial, of the same substance] used by the council to define the Son’s relationship to the Father was not universally popular: it had been used before by the heretic Sabellius. Some, like Marcellus of Ancyra, in attacking Arianism, lapsed into Sabellianism.
(Sa·bel·li·an·ism n. A version of Monarchianism holding that the G-dhead was differentiated only into a succession of modes or operations and that the Father suffered as much as the Son. monarchianism [Gr.,=belief in the rule of one], the concept of G-d that maintains his sole authority even over Yahshua and the Holy Spirit. Its characteristic tenet, that G-d the Father and Yahshua are one person, was developed in two forms in early Christianity. Dynamistic monarchians, such as the Theodotians and Paul of Samosata, held that Yahshua was born a man and received the Messiahship as a power from G-d at a later time ( adoptionism). Modalistic monarchians taught that G-d is unknowable, except for his manifestations, or modes; Yahshua is one of these. Because of the consequent implication that G-d the Father must have died on the cross, they were called Patripassians [Lat.,= the Father suffering]. Sabellius fully developed modalism
Eusebius of Nicomedia used this fear of Sabellianism to persuade Constantine to return Arius to his duties in Alexandria. Athanasius, chief defender of the Nicene formula, was bishop in Alexandria, and conflict was inevitable. The Eusebians managed to secure Athanasius’ exile, and when the Arian Constantius II became emperor, Catholic bishops in the East, e.g., Eustathius, were banished wholesale.
Athanasius’ exile in Rome brought Pope Julius I into the struggle. A council wholly favorable to Athanasius, convened at Sardica (c.343), was avoided by the Eastern bishops and ignored by Constantius. The Catholics were left dependent on Rome for support. After the West fell to Constantius, the Eusebians reversed the decisions of Sardica in several councils (Arles, 353; Milan, 355; Boziers, 356), and Pope Liberius, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and Hosius of Cordoba were exiled. The victorious Arians, however, had now begun to quarrel among themselves.
Divisions within Arianism
The Anomoeans [Gr.,=unlike], followers of Eunomius and Aetius, were pure Arians and held that the Son bore no resemblance to the Father. The semi-Arian court party were called Homoeans [Gr.,=similar], from their teaching that the Son was simply like the Father as defined by Scripture. A third party called Homoiousians [Gr.,=like in substance] were largely prevented from joining the orthodox (Homoousian) party through a misunderstanding of terms. The Arians debated their differences at Sirmium (351–59). The final formula was an ambiguous Homoean declaration that Constantius imposed (359) on the church in two councils, Rimini (for the West) and Seleucia (for the East).
The voices of orthodoxy, however, were not silent. In the West St. Hilary of Poitiers and in the East St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory of Nyssa continued to defend and interpret the Nicene formula. By 364 the West had a Catholic emperor in Valentinian I, and when the Catholic Theodosius I became emperor of the East (379), Arianism was outlawed. The second ecumenical council was convoked to reaffirm the Nicene formula (Constantinople, First Council of), and Arianism within the empire seems to have expired at once.
However, Ulfilas had carried (c.340) Homoean Arianism to the Goths living in what is now Hungary and the NW Balkan Peninsula with such success that the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes became staunch Arians. Arianism was thus carried over Western Europe and into Africa. The Vandals remained Arians until their defeat by Belisarius (c.534). Among the Lombards the efforts of Pope St. Gregory I and the Lombard queen were successful, and Arianism finally disappeared (c.650) there. In Burgundy the Catholic Franks broke up Arianism by conquest in the 6th cent. In Spain, where the conquering Visigoths were Arians, Catholicism was not established until the mid-6th cent. (by Recared), and Arian ideas survived for at least another century. Arianism brought many results—the ecumenical council, the Catholic Christological system, and even Nestorianism and, by reaction, Monophysitism.
2. Pelagranism Pelagian n. 1. a follower of Pelagius, who denied original sin and believed in freedom of the will. -adj. 2. of or pertaining to Pelagius or his beliefs.
Pelagianism, Christian heretical sect that rose in the 5th cent. challenging St. Augustine’s conceptions of grace and predestination (See Below for definitions). The doctrine was advanced by the celebrated monk and theologian Pelagius (c.355–c.425). He was probably born in Britain. After studying Roman law and rhetoric and later theology in England and Rome, he preached in Africa and Palestine, attracting able followers, such as Celestius and Julian of Eclannum. Pelagius thought that St. Augustine was excessively pessimistic in his view that humanity is sinful by nature and must rely totally upon grace for salvation. Instead Pelagius taught that human beings have a natural capacity to reject evil and seek G-d, that Yahshua’s admonition, “Be ye perfect,” presupposes this capacity, and that grace is the natural ability given by G-d to seek and to serve G-d. Pelagius rejected the doctrine of original sin; he taught that children are born innocent of the sin of Adam. Baptism, accordingly, ceased to be interpreted as a regenerative sacrament. Pelagius challenged the very function of the church, claiming that the law as well as the gospel can lead one to heaven and that pagans had been able to enter heaven by virtue of their moral actions before the coming of the Messiah. The church fought Pelagianism from the time that Celestius was denied ordination in 411. In 415, Augustine warned St. Jerome in Palestine that Pelagius was propagating a dangerous heresy there, and Jerome acted to prevent its spread in the East. Pelagianism was condemned by East and West at the Council of Ephesus (431). A compromise doctrine, Semi-Pelagianism, became popular in the 5th and 6th cent. in France, Britain, and Ireland. Semi-Pelagians taught that although grace was necessary for salvation, men could, apart from grace, desire the gift of salvation, and that they could, of themselves, freely accept and persevere in grace. Semi-Pelagians also rejected the Augustinian doctrine of predestination and held that G-d willed the salvation of all men equally. At the instance of St. Caesarius of Arles, Semi-Pelagianism was condemned at the Council of Orange (529). By the end of the 6th cent., Pelagianism disappeared as an organized heresy, but the questions of free will, predestination, and grace raised by Pelagianism have been the subject of theological controversy ever since. Expositions of Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul was edited in English by Alexander Souter (3 vol., 1922–31).
3. Antinomianism antinomian n. a person who maintains that Christians are freed from the moral law by virtue of grace and faith. antinomianism, n.
antinomianism [Gr.,=against the law], the belief that Christians are not bound by the moral law, particularly that of the Old Testament. The idea was strong among the Gnostics, especially Marcion. Certain heretical sects in the Middle Ages practiced sexual license as an expression of Christian freedom. In the Protestant Reformation theoretical antinomian views were maintained by the Anabaptists and Johann Agricola, and in the 17th cent. Anne Hutchinson was persecuted for supposed antinomianism. Rom. 6 is the usual refutation for antinomianism.
an·ti·no·mi·an n.An adherent of antinomianism.adj.
1. Of or relating to the doctrine of antinomianism.
2. Opposed to or denying the fixed meaning or universal applicability of moral law: “By raising segregation and racial persecution to the ethical level of law, it puts into practice the antinomian rules of Orwell’s world. Evil becomes good, inhumanity is interpreted as charity, egoism as compassion” (Elie Wiesel).
[From Medieval Latin Antinomī, antinomians, pl. of antinomus, opposed to the moral law : Greek anti-, anti- + Greek nomos, law.]
Some definitions to read as applies to the above paper:
grace, in Christian theology, the free favor of G-d toward humans, which is necessary for their salvation. A distinction is made between natural grace (e.g., the gift of life) and supernatural grace, by which G-d makes a person (born sinful because of original sin) capable of enjoying eternal life. In general, the term grace is restricted to supernatural grace, usually considered as the keystone of the whole Christian theological system.
Supernatural grace is usually defined as being actual or sanctifying. Actual grace turns the soul to G-d; sanctifying grace confirms and perpetuates the ends of this conversion and makes the soul habitually good. Most theologies (except in Calvinism), wishing to maintain humanity’s freedom in addition to G-d’s complete freedom in granting grace, distinguish prevenient grace, which frees a person and awakens him or her to G-d’s call, from cooperating grace, by which G-d assists to salvation the free person who seeks it.
When G-d seems to confer on a person such actual grace that his or her conversion appears inevitable, the grace is said to be efficacious. The apparent difficulty of claiming that grace may be efficacious while a person is free was explained by St. Thomas Aquinas on the ground that it was a peculiar nature of this grace granted to some people that it should be ineluctable; it was this doctrine that Luis Molina and the Molinists disputed. Differing in effect from efficacious grace is merely sufficient grace, which, while sufficient to conversion, may be rejected by a person at will. Calvinism rejects merely sufficient grace, holding instead that grace is irresistible.
In every Christian theology G-d is considered to grant grace quite freely, since its gift is far greater than any person can merit. As to which persons are offered this grace, there is great difference. The generality hold that it is offered to people who place no obstacle in the way of salvation rather than to those who neglect what ways to grace they have been given; the Jansenists (Jansen, Cornelis), however, believed that grace was not given outside the church, and the Calvinists hold that it is offered only to those predestined to election.
Sanctifying grace may be said to succeed justification as actual grace precedes it. The operation of sanctifying grace brings holiness to the individual soul. The indwelling of G-d in the soul and the soul’s actual participation in G-d’s nature (in an indefinable manner) are the perfections of sanctifying grace. As to the means, there is a serious cleavage in Christianity, notably in regard to sacramental grace. According to Roman Catholics and Orthodox, the grace accompanying a sacrament is ex opere operato, i.e., by G-d’s ordinance the sacrament actually confers grace, the good disposition of the minister being unimportant and that of the recipient being not always a condition; Protestants hold that the sacraments are ex opere operantis, i.e., the faith of the recipient is all-important, and the sacrament is the sign, not the source of grace.
Certain Christian systems have developed quite different ideas of grace, and Pelagianism has its advocates in liberal 20th-century Protestantism. The great emphasis on grace is a distinction of Christianity. In recent years among orthodox theologians there has been a renewed interest in the theology of grace. Among traditional usages, they distinguish three forms of grace: G-d’s communication of Himself to the Christian soul is grace; the favorable attitude of G-d toward the soul is grace; the ontological modification of Christian life by G-d’s favor is grace.
predestination, in theology, doctrine that asserts that G-d predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that G-d also foreordains certain souls to damnation. Predestination is posited on the basis of G-d’s omniscience and omnipotence and is closely related to the doctrines of divine providence and grace. A predestinarian doctrine is suggested in St. Paul, but it is not developed (Rom. 8.28–30). St. Augustine’s interpretation of the doctrine has been the fountainhead for most subsequent versions, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Pelagianism argued against St. Augustine that by granting every individual freedom of choice, G-d wills the salvation of all souls equally, a view that became popular in liberal Protestant theology. The Roman Catholic view, as stated by St. Thomas Aquinas, maintains that God wills the salvation of all souls but that certain souls are granted special grace that in effect foreordains their salvation. The damned may be said to be reprobated to hell only in the sense that God foresees their resistance to the grace given them. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that predestination is consistent with free will since G-d moves the soul according to its nature. Calvinism, on the other hand, rejects the role of free will and teaches that grace is irresistible and that G-d by an absolute election saves the souls of some and abandons the souls of others. Jansenism (Jansen, Cornelis) was a corresponding predestinarian movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Traditional Jewish theology may be said to be predestinarian in the general sense that everything ultimately depends upon G-d. Islam teaches an absolute predestination, controlled by a God conceived of as absolute will.
. sin, in religion, unethical act. The term implies disobedience to a personal G-d, as in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and is not used so often in systems such as Buddhism where there is no personal divinity. In ancient Israel, besides personal sin there was national sin, usually idolatry; to regain G-d’s favor the whole people had to be purified. Ex. 32–34. Crimes of a few might also be visited on all, but punishment of the criminals could avert this. Joshua 7. Apart from original sin, Christianity and Islam have no developed idea of collective sin. As to what constitutes sin, Christian ideas differ. Some Christians divide human acts into good, indifferent, and bad; others regard all acts not positively good as necessarily sinful. Thus, some may think gambling is indifferent so long as no obligation is infringed, while others consider gambling wrong as such. The traditional view, presupposed by Christian asceticism, is that a major way to perfection lies in performing or in refraining from indifferent acts solely to please G-d. The theory that no act is really indifferent is common among conservative “evangelical” Protestants. For Christians, the effect of sin may be twofold, since a sin is at once a rebellion against the omnipotent Creator, risking punishment (hell), as well as a cause of the interruption of grace, a notion that was popularized in the Middle Ages, notably by the Cistercians in the 12th cent. and the Franciscans in the 13th. It is explicit in Western mysticism and in modern Roman Catholic teaching. Among Protestants, it was typical of Martin Luther and John Wesley. In Western theology (particularly Roman Catholicism) sins are mortal if committed with knowing and deliberate intent in a serious matter; other sins are venial. Habitual sin is called vice. Roman Catholics are required to confess individually all mortal sins (penance). The seven deadly, or capital, sins are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. The sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance are willful murder (Gen. 4.10), the sin of Sodom (Gen. 18.20,21), oppression of the poor (Ex. 2.23), and defrauding the laborer of his wages (James 5.4). The sin of the angels (specifically of Satan) is pride. The opposite of sin is virtue, but in Christian practice, the opposite of sin is grace, i.e., the merits of Yahshua’s virtues given to humanity.
atonement, the reconciliation, or “at-one-ment,” of sinful humanity with G-d. In Judaism both the Bible and rabbinical thought reflect the belief that G-d’s chosen people must be pure to remain in communion with G-d. The Bible prescribed Temple sacrifice for the removal of sin and uncleanliness. The prophets taught that outward sacrifice must be accompanied by interior purification to be complete. With the destruction of the Temple and the consequent cessation of the sacrifice focus came to be placed on the religious life of the individual who sought to be reconciled with G-d through prayer, repentance, charity, and suffering. In the Jewish calendar, atonement for all but very serious sins came on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). In Christian theology, various doctrines of atonement have been advanced in history, all of which give central place to the life and death of Yahshua. The classical theory of atonement, widely accepted in the early Church, depicted Yahshua as the divine victor in a cosmic struggle with the devil for rights over the human soul. In medieval Latin theology emphasis shifted from the divine to the human side of Yahshua. The most widely held theory at this time, often called vicarious atonement, was first stated by St. Anselm in Why G-d Became Human (1197–98): only human beings can rightfully repay the debt which was incurred through their willful disobedience to G-d, although only G-d can make the infinite satisfaction necessary to repay it; therefore G-d must send the G-d-man, Yahshua HaMashiach, to satisfy both these conditions. Anselm’s doctrine, slightly altered or elaborated, has become part of Roman Catholic theology and of that of many Protestant churches. In another theory of atonement emphasis is placed on G-d’s unconditional mercy and on the gradual growth toward union with G-d as inspired by Yahshua’s selfless example. This theory was given its standard form by Peter Abelard in the 12th cent. Here the juridical concept is replaced by an organic and social concept. The tendency today in the Church is not to regard any single interpretation of atonement as all-embracing but to view Yahshua’s atoning work from a variety of vantage points.
heaven, blissful upper realm or state entered after death; in Western monotheistic religions it is the place where the just see God face to face (sometimes called the beatific vision). In Judaism, heaven is pictured as the abode of God to which he ultimately welcomes the righteous and faithful. Many Christians believe that after the general resurrection the body of a Christian will be glorified and reunited forever with the soul in heaven. The Roman Catholic church teaches that before entering heaven many souls must pass through purgatory to be made ready. Much of the conventional imagery of the Christian heaven—e.g., golden streets—is based on the Book of Revelation. In Islam, the Qur’an describes heaven in graphically idyllic terms, replete with fleshly delights; but Islam also has a strong mystical tradition which places these heavenly delights in the context of the ecstatic awareness of G-d. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, existence is considered cyclical, making the rewards and pleasures of heaven a desirable but temporary experience; the higher objective is often conceived as a release from any form of rebirth, whether in heaven or on earth.
hell, in Western monotheistic religions, eternal abode of souls damned by the judgment of God. The souls in hell are deprived forever of the sight of G-d. The punishment of hell is generally analogized to earthly fire. A constant feature is HaSatan or Lucifer (also known as Iblīs in Islam), considered the ruler of hell. Among ancient Jews, Sheol or Tophet was conceived as a gloomy place of departed souls where they are not tormented but wander about unhappily. The ethical aspect apparently developed gradually, and Sheol became like the hell of Christianity. Gehenna, in the New Testament, which drew its name from the Vale of Hinnom, was certainly a place of punishment. Many Christian churches now regard hell more as a state of being than a place. In ancient Greek religion the great underworld is Hades, ruled by the god of that name (also known as Pluto). The Romans called this underworld also Orcus, Dis, and, poetically, Avernus. In Buddhism, hell is the lowest of six levels of existence into which a being may be reborn depending on that being’s karmic accumulations. Hell is often treated with detailed imagination in legend and literature.
monarchianism [Gr.,=belief in the rule of one], the concept of G-d that maintains his sole authority even over Yahshua and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit.) Its characteristic tenet, that G-d the Father and Yahshua are one person, was developed in two forms in early Christianity. Dynamistic monarchians, such as the Theodotians and Paul of Samosata, held that Yahshua was born a man and received the Messiahship as a power from G-d at a later time ( adoptionism). Modalistic monarchians taught that G-d is unknowable, except for his manifestations, or modes; Yahshua is one of these. Because of the consequent implication that G-d the Father must have died on the cross, they were called Patripassians [Lat.,= the Father suffering].
adoptionism, Christian heresy taught in Spain after 782 by Elipandus, archbishop of Toledo, and Felix, bishop of Urgel (Seo de Urgel). They held that Yahshua at the time of his birth was purely human and only became the divine Son of G-d by adoption when he was baptized. Variations of this doctrine had been held as early as the 3d cent. by the Theodotians, Paul of Samosata, and by the Nestorians. It reappeared in the neo-adoptionist heresy among the followers of Peter Abelard. Elipandus and Felix were condemned at Frankfurt (794). The vigorous refutation of Alcuin had much to do with the sect’s disappearance in the early 9th cent.
Calvinism, term used in several different senses. It may indicate the teachings expressed by John Calvin himself; it may be extended to include all that developed from his doctrine and practice in Protestant countries in social, political, and ethical, as well as theological, aspects of life and thought; or it may be employed as the name of that system of doctrine accepted by the Reformed churches ( Presbyterianism), i.e., the Protestant churches called Reformed in distinction from those professing Lutheran doctrnes. Early Calvinism differed from Lutheranism in its rejection of consubstantiation regarding the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in its rigid doctrine of predestination, in its notion of grace as irresistible, and in its theocratic view of the state. Luther believed in the political subordination of the church to the state; Calvinism produced the church-dominated societies of Geneva and Puritan New England. Calvinism, stressing the absolute sovereignty of G-d’s will, held that only those whom G-d specifically elects are saved, that this election is irresistible, and that individuals can do nothing to effect this salvation. This strict Calvinism was challenged by Jacobus Arminius, whose more moderate views were adopted by the Methodists and the Baptists. Calvinism challenged Lutheranism throughout Europe, spread to Scotland, influenced the Puritans of England, and received its expression in the United States in the modified New England theology of the elder Jonathan Edwards. The doctrinal aspects of Calvinism receded under the rationalism of the 18th and 19th cent. In more recent times, however, in the Reformed theology of Karl Barth, the Calvinist stress on the sovereignty of G-d found new and vital expression.
Hinnom, valley, W and S of Jerusalem. Its ill repute in the Bible emanated from the worship there of foreign gods, including supposed child sacrifice to Molech at Tophet. In later Jewish literature it was called Ge-Hinnom [Heb.,=valley of Hinnom] and in the Greek of the New Testament, Gehenna. A place for burning refuse in later Israelite times, it provided imagery for a fiery Hell in the Books of Isaiah and the New Testament. It appears as Jahannam in the Qur’an.