Happy Easter! (Heretics)

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Happy Palm Sunday! A day that I didn't even know existed until I started living with Charles who was carrying the cross at church today. My Baptist upbringing didn't include this papistical stuff.

In spring a young believer's fancy turns to Jesus. As an atheist I thought I might salute some of the people who made Christianity the joy it is.

Christianity has never been as coherent as its advocates would have folks think. Back in the early centuries they excommunicate and bloody each other over doctrine (some minor, some pretty big). I thought I'd celebrate the season by remembering the heretics.

Marcion - rejected the writings of the Old Testament and taught that Christ was not the Son of the God of the Jews, but the Son of the good God, who was different from the God of the Ancient Covenant. One of the most entertaining heresies of all time.

Pelagius - regarded the moral strength of man's will, when steeled by asceticism, as sufficient in itself to desire and to attain the loftiest ideal of virtue. I.e., it was possible to lead a life acceptable to God without believing in Christ's grace. An overly sober, unattractive lot.

Donatus - His followers had enough intolerance to retail it to prigs and fanatics the world over. His rustic followers beat people with clubs, carefully leaving them fatally wounded but didn't kill them so their victims would slowly die in pain. Donatism can be carelessly summed up as thinking that you are better than your neighbor.

Ebionites - nobody can claim to be sure who got them started. As with many of the heretics their beliefs varied. Their great sin was continuing to practice Mosaic Law and doubting the virgin birth.

Docetae - they taught that Christ only "appeared" or "seemed" to be a man, to have been born, to have lived and suffered.

Apollinaris - Christ had a human body and a human sensitive soul, but no human rational mind, the Divine Logos taking the place of this last.

Arius - Since some of the early Christian emperors were Arians they and the group that came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church spent a long time harassing and killing each other. Arius believed that God the Father created Jesus. The battle between his followers and the Catholics tended to be technical. Arians said that Jesus was of similar substance to the father, the Catholics that he was of the same substance. It was a distinction that caused massive bloodshed. Over the centuries disagreements with the Vatican about the doctrine of the Trinity caused more deaths than the medieval Crusades.

Montanus - hard to find much clear about the Montanists. They sound like the earliest version of holy rollers whose faith made them want to get happy, dance and shout.

Eutychius - (Discovered him when looking for Monophysitism) rejected the orthodox expression "two natures" of Christ. It and Nestorianism are so obscure, abstract and technical that the fights between the Catholics and Eutychians sound as odd as two astrophysicists beating each other for disagreeing about the time of the Big Bang. Interesting in that the debate over Christ's nature had much to do with the huge split in the early church that eventually led to the Russian, Greek and other Orthodox churches that are easy for those of us of western European descent to forget about.

Bishop Polycrates - He was never declared a heretic but has seasonal interest. His disagreement with a second century pope led to the excommunication of a huge lot of Christians who wanted to celebrate Easter on a different day.

(Italicized parts are from the Catholic Encyclopedia.)


Ah, that wouldn’t be the naughty little Pelagius who stripped off and teased the Emir of Cordoba, who got sick of his playing hard to get and had him catapulted over the palace walls, would it?

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Happy Easter! (Heretics)
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