Church History 101: Robyn’s Guide To Gnosticism

I don’t want to present Robyn as an expert on heresy… but here’s her third guide to the heresies of the early church…

If you want a proper summary of Gnosticism I suggest you read this article from the online dictionary of philosophy, before reading the wikipedia entry, and then dismiss anything that isn’t also in the textbook.

Church History 101: Robyn’s Guide to Marcionism

Marcionism, the heresy coined by Marcion, holds the dubious honour of being the first heresy identified as such by the church proper. Here’s Robyn’s guide to Marcionism:

Marcion also tossed out the Jewish Scriptures and most of the New. He went with ten chapters of Luke (that he’d edited) and ten of Paul’s epistles.

Some people think Marcionism is similar to Gnosticisim. It really wasn’t. The Gnostics were all about their “secret knowledge” while Marcionism based knowledge on Marcion’s canon. Which prompted the creation of the actual canon.

Marcionisms view of Christ was “docetic” – it denied the humanity of Jesus (and thus denied the Demiurge’s role in the make up of Jesus (the Demiurge was what Marcion called the God of the Old Testament – who he thought existed, but was evil). The Gnostics believed in this Demiurge, but also believed that Jesus was fully human.

In his favour, at least according to Origen, he ruled out the allegorical interpretations favoured by guys like Clement and Augustine, who essentially had the same issues with the Old Testament picture of God (before they allegorised their worries away). Tertullian reckons he was open to allegorical interpretations that suited him.

A guy named Robert Price reckons Marcion was the first to collect Paul’s epistles. This is because Robert Price is an idiot who thinks that Luke, Timothy and Onesimus are fictional characters. And doesn’t think most of the books of the New Testament were written until the second century (if that’s the case you’ve got to wonder why there’s no mention of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. And why Acts ends where it does. And why John’s letters claim to be written by an eyewitness to Jesus ministry. Yeah. They must have been lying and ignoring some really compelling fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about the future of the temple, and forgetting that first century philosophical biographies (which Luke-Acts appears to be similar in genre to) normally ended with, or recounted, the death of the person they were writing about.

Church History 101: Robyn’s Guide to Montanism

Montanism was a new prophecy. A movement that the church eventually decided was heretical. It arose in about 160 A.D in Asia Minor. Tertullian eventually became the most famous Montanist.

Here are some facts about Montanism included in the picture above. See if you can match them.

  1. Montanus was a “prophet”
  2. He was accompanied by two prophetesses named Pricilla and Maximilla.
  3. Pricilla and Maximilla abandoned their husbands to take up this role. The Montanists didn’t think much of marriage.
  4. They claimed to prophecy directly under the Holy Spirit.
  5. They were greatly interested in the end times, and kept proclaiming that it was near.
  6. Pricilla and Maximilla were early feminists, promoting women in leadership.
  7. They put on public displays featuring displays of fervour, tongues and lots of noise.
  8. They wrote holy texts, which were circulated and included prophecies written in the first person.
  9. They paid their church leadership which directed funds away from the church.
  10. Quintilla was one of the early converts  who became influential. She was obsessed about the end of the world.
  11. Some of their erroneous beliefs included the denigration of marriage, false teaching about the end times, misrepresentation of  God in the trinity, and that the heavenly Jerusalem would be in Phrygia.
  12. They strongly advocated church discipline and believed people couldn’t come back after leaving the church, and they loved martyrdom.