Against Heresies

All too often, it is asserted that it is somehow “mean”, or “hasty” to denote a particular position as heresy. This, however, is not the historical position of the church – by any means. One need only to look at the Ante-Nicene or Nicene Fathers to get a different picture. Irenaeus’ most famous work is, in fact, titled Against Heresies. Tertullian has a famous work with the title of The Prescription Against Heretics. An amazing number of the early fathers wrote against the doctrines of Marcion – and to a man, called his position heresy. In fact, most of Tertullian’s works are in direct response to heretics – the term which means “those professing heresy”. It is a technical, specific term, with a precise meaning. It is not an ad hominem, but even so, I try to address the doctrine, not the person holding it. You can go on for quite a while listing the works addressed specifically to heresies. Naming something which is neither orthodox nor exegetically sound to be heresy is not even remotely “hasty” – especially when it’s a position which has been addressed by the church for quite some time, and rejected on exegetical grounds. The role of the apologist is to guard the sheep. The role of the apologist is filled by gifted pastors and teachers, for that very reason. It’s not the case that we are making a “snap” or “hasty” judgment in calling the denial of a fundamental doctrine by the technical term accorded that denial. We are delineating the acceptable from the unacceptable, in terms of Sola Scriptura.

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