A good friend of mine posted the following quote on his blog from Tertullian refuting the heretic Marcion. In case you’re not up on your heretics, Marcion was a man who presented himself as a Christian in the second century AD. Christianity was, at that point, about a hundred years old, and even then Marcion’s views were investigated, reviewed against scripture, and promptly rejected. What were these views? Well, in part, very similar to what we see in liberal christianity today! He disavowed the doctrine of hell, the idea of a judging God who is angry at sin and sinners, and instead he believed in a god who was simply all about love. He affirmed that this god of his was Jesus Christ, but the Jesus that he spoke of was very different than those whom the Apostles knew and wrote about. That heresy was refuted by many notable Christians at the time, among whom were Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. The following quote is a from Tertullian’s refutation of Marcion, his teaching, and his followers:
But evidently he does judge evil by refusing consent, and condemns it by forbidding it: yet he forgives it by not avenging, and excuses it by not punishing. There you have as a god a defaulter against the truth, one who annuls his own decision. He is afraid to condemn what he does condemn, afraid to hate what he does not love, allows when done that which he does not allow to be done, and would rather point out what he disapproves of than give proof of it. Here you will find the ghost of goodness, discipline itself a phantasm, casual precepts, offences free from fear.
Listen, you sinners, and any of you not yet so, that you may be able to become so: a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind. Of course he forbids you to sin—but only in writing. It lies with you whether you consent to accord him obedience, so as to appear to have given honour to your god: for he will not accept your fear. And in fact the Marcionites make it their boast that they do not at all fear their god: for, they say, a bad god needs to be feared, but a good one loved.
Fool: you call him lord, but deny he is to be feared, though this is a term suggesting authority, and with it fear. Yet how shall you love, unless you fear not to love? Evidently he is not even your father, to whom would be due both love for affection’s sake, and fear for the sake of authority: nor is he your lawful lord, for you to love for human kindness’ sake and fear for the sake of discipline. This is the way kidnappers are loved without being feared. The only domination which can be an object of fear is the lawful and regular one: though even an illicit one can be an object of affection, since it rests not upon respect but upon affectation, on seduction and not on force: and what greater seduction is there than to abstain from punishing wrongdoing?
So then, you who decline to fear your god because he is good, what keeps you from bubbling over into all manner of vice—the superlative enjoyment of life, I suppose, for all who do not fear God? Why absent yourself from those popular pleasures, the excitement of the race-course, the savagery of the wild beast show, the lechery of the stage? Why also during persecution do you not at once offer your incense, and so gain your life by denial? “Oh no”, you answer, “far from it”.
In that case you are already in fear — of doing wrong: and by your fear you have admitted your fear of him who forbids the wrong. It is another matter if, in imitation of your god’s perversity, you pay respect to him whom you do not fear, as he in turn forbids what he does not punish. With much greater inconsequence, to the question, “What will happen on that day to every sinner?” they answer that he will be cast away, as it were out of sight.
Is not this an act of judgement? He is judged worthy to be cast away—evidently by a judgement of condemnation: unless perhaps the sinner is cast away into salvation, so that this too may stand to the credit of a god supremely good. And yet what can being cast away amount to, if not the loss of that which he was on the way to obtain if he were not cast away—salvation, no less? So then he will be cast away to the damage of his salvation: and a sentence like this can only be passed by one offended and indignant, a punisher of wrongdoing—in short, a judge.
HT: Adkinsblog (formatting added for readability)
Oh to have men who speak without fear of being called “intolerant” in these days. Rob Bell produces a new book where he sides with Marcion and the world (and liberal christians) adores him. Christian men and women revolt against his teaching and are dismissed as intolerant. Jesus told us this would happen and while it’s painful to watch, it just points out the facts found in scripture. Good to see old heresies recycled though – that makes them easier to refute…
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.