Saturday, April 14, 2012

Answering Heresy

Tertullian and Irenaeus both wrote against the teachings promulgated by the heretic Marcion.  Mark Gignilliat describes Ireanaeus' response as a lesson for us:

Irenaeus describes Marcion's editorial exegesis as "the most daring blasphemy against Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and prophets."  Marcion again according to Irenaeus, "mutilates the gospel."  He "dares to mutilate the Scriptures."  He is an instrument of Satan, and because he is so, "I purpose specially to refute him."  How is it that Irenaeus will seek to refute Marcion?  On the basis of Marcion's own claims and Irenaeus' own exegesis of Scripture.  Despite [Adolph] Harnack's overreaching claim that the early church's theological discourse fell prey to alien forms of Greek metaphysical categories and, in turn, destroyed the purity of the apostolic age, one observes that these ante-Nicene fathers' struggle for trinitarian grammar takes place in the context of the exegesis of Scripture (and by Scripture, I mean primarily the Old Testament).  To put the matter simply, theology for the early church (and for us too!) is exegesis.

Mark S. Gignilliat, Evangelicals and Nicene Faith, p. 21

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I read Irenaeus' "Against Heresies" a wee bit over a year ago and found it fascinating. He really nailed false teachings, and didn't seem to be worried about offending any one. (Sort of like Paul). Today Christians are more worried about offending someone than exposing error, which is why there are so many false teachers!