Thursday, June 28, 2007

Standing Against Heresies

You might call him a "spiritual grandson" of St. John, the disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ. Irenaeus, whose name means "the peaceable one" learned Christianity as a student of the venerable Polycarp, bishop and martyr of Smyrna. Polycarp had known John the Evangelist.

John's Gospel makes it very clear that Jesus was both human and divine. John talks about Jesus as "that which our hands have handled, of the Word of Life." John was probably wording his Gospel in such a way as to stand against heresies that were already taking shape. Among the heresies that he would have dealt with would have Gnosticism, which denies that Jesus came in the flesh. Irenaeus had to deal with the same heretical thinking in his own day.

It is believed that Irenaeus was a teenager when he took the Gospel to Lyons in southern France. He stayed there and accepted his role in the formation of the Christian community. He became a major spokesperson for keeping the church on track with the Gospel as handed down to him by Polycarp and by John before him. Irenaeus' most famous writing is The Refutation and Overthrow of Gnosis, Falsely So-Called , commonly known as Against Heresies.

It is believed that Irenaeus suffered a martyr's death in approximately 202 A.D.

Almighty God, you upheld your servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we pray, steadfast in your true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In peace,

The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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