12 July, 2010

Irenaeus's Rule of Faith in Judging & Opposing Heresies

Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth.

Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 115-202AD), Against Heresies, 1.8.1

Note Irenaeus's two-fold mention of what the Lord taught, the prophets announced and the apostles delivered; these serve as his canon or rule, by which he judges the teaching of the heretics. The heretics source their opinions on religious doctrine from outside of scripture, and then misinterpret scripture "with an air of probability" to fit with their own doctrines.
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