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II. The idea of heresy is always decided by the idea of the Church. The designation ἅιρεσις an adherence to something 91self-chosen in opposition to the acknowledgment of something objectively handed down, and assumes that this is the particular thing in which the apostasy consists. Hence all those who call themselves Christians and yet do not adhere to the traditional apostolic creed, but give themselves up to vain and empty doctrines, are regarded as heretics by Hegesippus, Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement, and Origen. These doctrines are as a rule traced to the devil, that is, to the non-Christian religions and speculations, or to wilful wickedness. Any other interpretation of their origin would at once have been an acknowledgment that the opponents of the Church had a right to their opinions,184184Hence we need not be surprised to find that the notion of heresy which arose in the Church was immediately coupled with an estimate of it, which for injustice and harshness could not possibly be surpassed in succeeding times. The best definition is in Tertull., de præscr. 6: “Nobis nihil ex nostro arbitrio indulgere licet, sed nec eligere quod aliquis de arbitrio suo induxerit. Apostolos domini habemus auctores, qui nec ipsi quicquam ex suo arbitrio quod inducerent elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter nationibus assignaverunt.” and such an explanation is not quite foreign to Origen in one of his lines of argument.185185See Vol. I., p. 224, note 1. Hence the orthodox party were perfectly consistent in attaching no value to any sacrament186186We already find this idea in Tertullian; see de bapt. 15: “Hæretici nullum habent consortium nostræ disciplinæ, quos extraneos utique testatur ipsa ademptio communicationis. Non debeo in illis cognoscere, quod mihi est præceptum, quia non idem deus est nobis et illis, nec unus Christus, id est idem, ideoque nec baptismus unus, quia non idem; quem cum rite non habeant, sine dubio non habent, nec capit numerari, quod non habetur; ita nec possunt accipere quia non habent.” Cyprian passed the same judgment on all schismatics, even on the Novatians, and like Tertullian maintained the invalidity of heretical baptism. This question agitated the Church as early as the end of the 2nd century, when Tertullian already wrote against it in Greek. or acts esteemed in their own communion, when these were performed by heretics;187187As far as possible the Christian virtues of the heretics were described as hypocrisy and love of ostentation (see e.g., Rhodon in Euseb., H. E. V. 13. 2 and others in the second century). If this view was untenable, then all morality and heroism among heretics were simply declared to be of no value. See the anonymous writer in Eusebius, H. E. V. 16. 21, 22; Clem., Strom. VII. 16. 95; Orig., Comm. ad Rom. I. X., c. 5; Cypr., de unit. 14, 15; ep. 73. 21 etc. and this was a practical application of the saying that the devil could transform himself into an angel of light.188188Tertull., de præscr. 3-6.


But the Fathers we have named did not yet completely identify the Church with a harmoniously organised institution. For that very reason they do not absolutely deny the Christianity of such as take their stand on the rule of faith, even when these for various reasons occupy a position peculiar to themselves. Though we are by no means entitled to say that they acknowledged orthodox schismatics, they did not yet venture to reckon them simply as heretics.189189Irenæus definitely distinguishes between heretics and schismatics (III. 11. 9: IV. 26. 2; 33. 7), but also blames the latter very severely, “qui gloriosum corpus Christi, quantum in ipsis est, interficiunt, non habentes dei dilectionem suamque utilitatem potius considerantes quam unitatem ecclesiæ.” Note the parallel with Cyprian. Yet he does not class them with those “qui sunt extra veritatem,” i.e., “extra ecclesiam,” although he declares the severest penalties await them. Tertullian was completely preserved by his Montanism from identifying heretics and schismatics, though in the last years of his life he also appears to have denied the Christianity of the Catholics (?). If it was desired to get rid of these, an effort was made to impute to them some deviation from the rule of faith; and under this pretext the Church freed herself from the Montanists and the Monarchians.190190Read, on the one hand, the Antimontanists in Eusebius and the later opponents of Montanism; and on the other, Tertull., adv. Prax.; Hippol., c. Noët; Novatian, de trinitate. Even in the case of the Novatians heresies were sought and found (see Dionys. Alex., in Euseb., H. E. VII. 8, where we find distortions and wicked misinterpretations of Novatian doctrines, and many later opponents). Nay, even Cyprian himself did not disdain to join in this proceeding (see epp. 69. 7: 70. 2). The Montanists at Rome were placed by Hippolytus in the catalogue of heretics (see the Syntagma and Philosoph.). Origen was uncertain whether to reckon them among schismatics or heretics (see in Tit. Opp. IV., p. 696). Cyprian was the first to proclaim the identity of heretics and schismatics, by making a man’s Christianity depend on his belonging to the great episcopal Church confederation.191191Cyprian plainly asserts (ep. 3. 3): “hæc sunt initia hæreticorum et ortus adque conatus schismaticorum, ut præpositum superbo tumore contemnant” (as to the early history of this conception, which undoubtedly has a basis of truth, see Clem., ep. ad Cor. 1. 44; Ignat.; Hegesippus in Euseb., H. E. IV. 22. 5; Tertull., adv. Valent. 4; de bapt. 17; Anonymus in Euseb; H. E. V. 16. 7; Hippolyt. ad. Epiphan. H. 42. 1; Anonymus in Eusebius, H. E. V. 28. 12; according to Cyprian it is quite the common one); see further ep. 59. 3: “neque enim aliunde hæreses obortæ sunt aut nata sunt schismata, quam quando sacerdoti dei non obtemperatur”; epp. 66. 5: 69. 1: “item b. apostolus Johannes nec ipse ullam hæresin aut schisma discrevit aut aliquos speciatim separes posuit”; 52. 1:73. 2: 74. 11. Schism and heresy are always identical. But, both in East 93and West, this theory of his became established only by very imperceptible degrees, and indeed, strictly speaking, the process was never completed at all. The distinction between heretics and schismatics was preserved, because it prevented a public denial of the old principles, because it was advisable on political grounds to treat certain schismatic communities with indulgence, and because it was always possible in case of need to prove heresy against the schismatics.192192Neither Optatus nor Augustine take Cyprian’s theory as the starting-point of their disquisitions, but they adhere in principle to the distinction between heretic and schismatic. Cyprian was compelled by his special circumstances to identify them, but he united this identification with the greatest liberality of view as to the conditions of ecclesiastical unity (as regards individual bishops). Cyprian did not make a single new article an “articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiæ”. In fact he ultimately declared — and this may have cost him struggle enough — that even the question of the validity of heretical baptism was not a question of faith.

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