Old Letters to the Editor

PLEASE USE THE NEW 'LETTERS TO THE EDITOR' PAGE. This one has technical problems.

Christianity and its Persecution of Heretics

In the first century there was no heresy for the simple reason that there was no orthodoxy. The 'heresies' referred to in old translations of the New Testament are merely differences of opinion . Small Christian communities believed what they wanted to, and worshipped as they chose. There were no central authorities, no set rituals, no agreed canon of scripture, no Church hierarchy, and no established body of doctrine. In line with the toleration practised throughout the empire each group of Christians was free to believe whatever it wanted. The natural consequence of this state of affairs was that ideas and practices in different communities diverged.

Towards the end of the second century Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, saw the dangers of numerous opinions developing. He attempted to establish an orthodox body of teaching. He wrote a five volume work against heresies, and it was he who compiled a cannon of the New Testament. He also claimed that there was only one proper Church, outside of which there could be no salvation. Other Christians were heretics and should be expelled, and if possible destroyed. The first Christian Emperor agreed. Gibbon summarises the edict which announced the destruction of various heretics: Read More

Given that we have a chance to finally escape this MONSTER, should we not take it?