came up and grew, the masters of the Church started fighting them back and these controversies theynamed heresies.This way the church spends a great deal of its time, teaching and preaching in defense of the believers against the teachings arisen from this religious, philosophical and cultural background.
1.Context and Definitions
The early church dealt with controversies related to ambiguous teachings that were big challenges toits masters and the definitions posted by the Hebrew bible and kept by Christianity, reaffirmed or rephrased by the Christian writings. There are references to disagreements in the New Testament in thevery beginning of the church, as mentioned by Apostle Paul in I Cor 11:19, when first the word fromwhich originated the word heresy is used (haireseis – factions in the RSV and differences in the NIV). Ithad not the actual meaning. It was used for “sect”, “school” (as of philosophy or medicine), as referred by Grant
.At that very moment heresy was a fact, but it was not yet a challenge.For reference in this study, the Oxford English Dictionary definition of heresy as a
“theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the catholic or Orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. By extension, heresy is an opinion or doctrine in philosophy, politics, science, art, etc., at variance with those generally accepted as authoritative”
will be taken.In a short etymological consideration, the word heresy comes from the Greek word
that means choose), and means choice, beliefs or a
of dissident believers (Oxford Dictionary). Irenaeus writings
) are intended tofight the opposition in the early Christian Church. For him, the contrary and right position is theorthodox (from
“thinking”), which is the position of the Church. Therefore, wecan understand heresy not only as a concept that developed in and for Christianity, but also as any position or philosophy that is against the most accepted as the right one (orthodox).
Robert M. Grant. Heresy and Criticism: The search for authenticity in early Christian Literature. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993. p.4.