De Praescriptione Haereticorum

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How to argue with heretics and how not to--with reference to my last post and to recent debacle in the Episcopal Church this synopsis of the On the Prescription of Heretics just packed a wallop.

This book is about how Christians think about heresy and respond to the arguments of heretics. Tertullian is concerned at the way Christians are disputing with heretics and pagans, and the effect this is having on believers. He feels that it is never possible to convict a heretic from the scriptures, because they simply deny the authority of whichever bit of scripture they are quoted, and shift their ground every moment. At the same time the spectacle of the dispute seems to put their opinions on the same level as that of the scriptures. In general, how do we recognise and deal with heretics - people who pretend to be Christians but actually accept no authority but their own opinions?
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This reminds me of what Thomas Merton wrote in "New Seeds of Contemplation":

The devil is not afraid to preach the will of God provided he can preach it in his own way. The argument goes something like this: "God wills you to do what is right. But you have this inner attraction which tells you, by a nice warm glow of satisfaction, what is right. Therefore, if others try to interfere and make you do something that does not produce this comfortable sense of interior satisfaction, quote Scripture, tell them that you ought to obey God rather than men, and go ahead and do your will, do the thing that gives you that nice, warm glow."



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 19, 2003 2:43 PM.

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