Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Notes on Irenaus's Against Heresies

“Hence, they claim, material substance took its beginning from ignorance and grief, fear and bewilderment.” -Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. 1, Chp. 2, Pt. 3

The Gnostic reviling of creation.
In Irenaeus I am finding many unanticipated thing. He has a deep sense of the connection between doctrine and actions. Perspicuity in describing this system of doctrines, and a calm that is not associated with the use of the term “heresies”. Not only that, even a playfulness. He sees the imaginative nature of the manufacturing by the Gnostics of their doctrines and so he suggests tongue-in-cheek additions to their doctrines. He has a real sense of the wider community of Christians.

He describes some who teach that the spirit of the spiritual is incorruptable and that therefore they can do anything and it will not effect their eternal destiny. For instance, they even attend gladiatorial games and seduce other men's wives. This reminds me of Dostoevsky's remark that if there is no God than everything is permitted. Doctrines need not deny God to produce the same effect. Doctrines need not even be religiously rooted, to the average observer's eyes.

The speciousness of the treatments of Scripture...making it something that they merely attach their system to. An imperial system which is also deceptive. Imperial? Because it seeks to appropriate and convert to its own organization, merely giving lip service to the outward trappings of the religion that it is seeking to leech, to possess like a parasite on a host.

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