Satan’s Invasion of the Church
"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears
they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and
will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths."
(2 Tim. 4:3-4)
In the history of the Church, false teachings, or heresies, were always a part of the Enemy’s armamentarium. Satanic Heresies exist in all ages with the aim of attempting to bring down Christianity---always attacking the Message and the Divinity of Jesus Christ. From the Circumcisers of the time of the Apostles, to present-day Atheism under the guises of Relativism, Positivism and Hedonism---all heresies substitute corrupt theological formulas and philosophies for what God, the Holy Spirit, has revealed to man in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
1. Heresy is a false belief pronounced by an authentic member of the Universal Christian Church of Jesus Christ; Catholic or Protestant. Heresy is not supported by Sacred Scripture or the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. Heresy offends the Truth and all authentic Christians. Heresy offends Jesus Christ and Mary, His Mother.
2. Heresy is also the utterance of a false belief or cult philosophy that threatens the faith of Christian believers. The modern media is saturated with heresies of all formulas.
Initially, it is proper to present the ultimate and ever-present heresy: Atheism, which is refusal to believe in God. Atheism has a first cousin by the name of Agnosticism. Following is the treatment of both of these heresies by the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
No. 2126 Atheism is often based on a false conception of human autonomy, exaggerated to the point of refusing any dependence on God. Yet, "to acknowledge God is in no way to oppose the dignity of man, since such dignity is grounded and brought to perfection in God. ….. "For the Church knows full well that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart.”
No. 2127 Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God's existence, declaring it impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.
No. 2128 Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical atheism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
~Modern heresies are formulated from past heresies~
Hedonism (400 B.C.)
“The name given to the group of ethical systems that hold, with various modifications, that feelings of pleasure or happiness are the highest and final aim of conduct; that, consequently those actions which increase the sum of pleasure are thereby constituted right, and, conversely, what increases pain is wrong. The father of Hedonism was Aristippus of Cyrene (400 B.C.). He taught that pleasure is the universal and ultimate object or endeavour.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Circumcision (1st Century)
The Circumcision heresy is related from the pages of Sacred Scripture itself:
some men came down from
St. Peter’s discourse on the worthiness of Gentiles as Christian converts sets the record straight:
I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears
him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel,
preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word
which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the
baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy
Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed
by the devil, for God was with him. And
we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in
Gnosticism (1st and 2nd Centuries)
Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge. (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Gnosticism is always just outside the door of the Church. It has created heresies by the bushel-basket-full---throughout Catholic history. It was the driving force behind the “Age of Enlightenment” (c. 1675-1750). Anticlericalism was the principal threat to the Catholic religion in the seventeen hundreds. Permanent, institutionalized anticlericalism’ had existed before the Enlightenment, often comparative in theme and popular in style, and it was by no means incompatible with the false piety of displayed in the late sixteen hundreds, or, half a century later, (1750) Deists were few in number in the early seventeen hundreds in England, but the range and depth of the anticlericalism challenge extended to more than a century later. Gnosticism and Deism were utilized as popular, clandestine philosophies by Freemasonry in the late seventeen and early eighteen hundreds.
Gnosticism is the mark of man superimposed over God. It can be said that it is the mark of the Beast: 666;---as 333 is the mark of the Holy Trinity. (Cf. )
The most recent Gnostic work to date is The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.
Montanism (Late 2nd Century)
Montanus was a recent convert when he
first began to prophesy in the
Our response: The proponents of the heresy are obviously demon-possessed; imitating God, Himself.
Arianism (4th Century)
Besides Atheism and Agnosticism, the greatest
heresy the Church has ever fought was Arianism. (In its various forms,
especially as the “Historical Jesus”,
the Church is still fighting Arianism today.)
Arius was a monk in the
After creating a major schism (a division
based on doctrine or authority) in the Church, Arianism was solemnly condemned
in 325 A.D. at the First Council of
Nestorianism (5th Century)
Nestorian heretic theology: One person, two hypostases (one-time evolutions), two persons: Christ evolved separately as one divine person (the Eternal Word) and one human person (Jesus Christ), thus possessing two natures in two persons.
Catholic Church theology: One person, one hypostasis (one-time only evolution), two persons: Upon conception, Christ was instantly fused into One Person by the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Word of the Holy Trinity: instantly becoming Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, who possesses two natures; human and divine. All of the Eternal Word is Christ and all of Christ is the Eternal Word.
Nestorius was a Syrian monk who was consecrated bishop in 428 A.D. He was a popular homilist who followed after the style of St. John Chrysostom. He won the favor of the emperor, Theodosius II, who appointed him Archbishop of Constantinople. Nestorius fought against the Arian heresy of the day and even convinced the Emperor to seize apostate Churches. His popularity got the best of him and he considered himself more intelligent than the sensus fidelium of the Church, which endorsed Mary, Mother of God as “Theotokos” (Qeotokos), meaning “God-bearer”. Nestorius was only willing to call Mary, Mother of Christ---not Mother of God, which would mean that Mary did not give birth to Christ as a divine Person; but only as a human person.
The truth about Christ’s Incarnation is that, from the first moment of His conception by the Holy Spirit (the Lk1:35 doctrine of the Virgin Conception/Birth of Jesus Christ), Jesus only had God as Father, and was concurrently assumed into the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. This divine action of the Holy Spirit (Lk1:35) resulted in the One Person, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father.
The Church reacted to Nestorius in 431 A.D. with the Council of Ephesus, defining that Mary can be properly referred to as the Mother of God; thus endorsing the Greek term “Theotokos” (Qeotokos), meaning “God-bearer”. (Cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Pelagianism (5th Century)
Augustine, Orosius, Prosper, and Marius
Mercator, are quite explicit in assigning
About the heresy of Pelagianism, the Catholic Encyclopedia says: R.(responses ours)
A. “Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.”
R. (The Church teaches that Adam’s physical death was caused by his original sin.)
B. “Adam's sin harmed only himself, not the human race.”
R. (The Church teaches, that, in the Plan of God, we inherit Adam’s sin at birth.)
C. “Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.”
R. (The Church teaches that children are born with Original Sin; requiring Baptism.)
D. “The whole human race neither dies through Adam's sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.”
R. (The Church teaches that death came through the first Adam and resurrection and life come through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. (1Cor15:22)
E. “The (Mosaic Law is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.”
R. (The Church teaches that the Mosaic Law is valid only for Jews of the Old Covenant. God the Father revealed His intentions for our salvation completely the New Covenant of the Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.)
F. “Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.”
R. (The Church teaches that only Jesus and His Mother, Mary, were born without original sin after Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were born without sin, but committed the Original Sin with which all humans other than Jesus and Mary are born with.)
Pelagius’ elemental orientation was the “unlimited energy of nature” and he was thus probably the first “new age” heretic. He also connected sin to social action, thus not connecting a sinful act with the violation of one’s intimacy or conscience.
There was held on
Monophysitism (5th Century)
Monophysite (Greek: mono = one; physis = nature) theology: One person, one hypostasis, one nature. This says that God changed the divine nature of the Eternal Word of the Holy Trinity and the human nature of Jesus Christ and fused them into one person.
Catholic Church theology: One person, one hypostasis, two natures: Upon conception, Christ was instantly fused as One Person by the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Word of the Trinity: instantly becoming Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, who possesses two natures; human and divine. All of the Eternal Word is Christ and all of Christ is the Eternal Word. (Cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia)
In other words, God could not change the divine nature of the Eternal Word because, as God, He cannot change Himself. He did not change the human nature of Jesus Christ because He would have created a new type of human being. God did not do both of these things because He could not, and did not, change His nature and the way He created humans. In the Incarnation, God made One Divine Person out of the Complete and Divine Eternal Word Person (His Son by Perfect Image and Likeness) and the complete and human Jesus Christ person. God did this in an instant by the Power of the Holy Spirit and the Eternal Word. He called the new Divine Person His Son: Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word.
identity of the originator of Monophysitism is not clarified, but off and on
the heresy had many followers in the Church. Many say Eutyches was not the
originator the Monophysite heresy, and he was repudiated and condemned by many
of the Monophysites. Eutyches in 448 was seventy years of age, and had been for
thirty years archimandrite of a monastery outside the walls of
Iconoclasm (7th and 8th Centuries)
This heresy came from people known as iconoclasts ("icon smashers"). They claimed that it was sinful to make any image of Christ and the saints. However, in the Bible, God had commanded the making of religious statues (Ex. 25:18-21; Ex26:31; 1 Chr. 28:18-19; 1Kings6:23-32; 1Ki8:7), including symbolic representations (cf. Num. 21:8-9 with John ).
Catharism (11th Century)
Usually referenced as having preceded Albigensianism; embracing the same heresy.
Albigensianism (12th and 13th Centuries)
The Albigenses asserted the co-existence of two mutually opposed principles, one good, the other evil. The former is the creator of the spiritual, the latter of the material world. The bad principle is the source of all evil; natural phenomena, either ordinary like the growth of plants, or extraordinary as earthquakes, likewise moral disorders (war), must be attributed to him. (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
The dualism of the Albigenses was also the basis of their moral teaching. Man, they taught, is a living contradiction. Hence, the liberation of the soul from its captivity in the body is the true end of our being. To attain this, suicide is commendable; it was customary among them in the form of the endura (starvation). The extinction of bodily life on the largest scale consistent with human existence is also a perfect aim. As generation propagates the slavery of the soul to the body, perpetual chastity should be practiced. Matrimonial intercourse is unlawful; concubinage, being of a less permanent nature, is preferable to marriage. (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Our response: The heresy is pagan and defies elemental reasoning. A good God cannot create a bad universe. That a bad god created the universe apart from a good God would say that there are two gods. No real God would permit two gods. God is the One omnipotent, infinite, merciful and just God of all creation; He created the spiritual aspect of creation and the physical aspect of creation---and they are both good. The heretics also completely ignored the revelation of God, the Bible, in constructing their theology and morality.
Jansenism (17th Century)
“Cornelius Jansen, Bishop of Ypres, France, (Cornelius Jansenius Yprensis), from whom Jansenism derives its origin and name, must not be confounded with another writer and bishop of the same name Cornelius Jansenius Gandavensis (1510-1576), of whom we possess several books on Scripture and a valuable ‘Concordia Evangelica.’"
The heresy states: “As a result of Adam's sin, our nature stripped of elements essential to its integrity, is radically corrupt and depraved. Mastered by concupiscence, which in each of us properly constitutes original sin, the will is powerless to resist; it has become purely passive. It cannot escape the attraction of evil except it be aided by a movement of grace superior to and triumphant over the force of concupiscence. Our soul, henceforth obedient to no motive save that of pleasure, is at the mercy of the delectation, earthly or heavenly, which for the time being attracts it with the greatest strength. At once inevitable and irresistible, this delectation, if it come from heaven or from grace, leads man to virtue; if it come from nature or concupiscence, it determines him to sin. In the one case as in the other, the will is fatally swept on by the preponderant impulse.”
Our response to the statement describing Jansenism: The heresy denies God’s gift of man’s free will. The heresy denies that God gives grace to those who choose against sin. The heresy states that we are helpless in our moral life and therefore predestined to heaven or to hell, depending upon what ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ sends to us.
In actuality, salvation is achievable to man through love of God and neighbor. By incorporating the revelation of God, Sacred Scripture, into his heart and participating in the Universal Church of Jesus Christ (either directly or by desire in the unknowing), salvation is achievable by man.
Jansenius initiated this heresy with a paper he wrote on Augustine, which redefined the doctrine of grace. Among other doctrines, his followers denied that Christ died for all men, but claimed that he died only for those who will be finally saved (the elect). This and other Jansenist errors were officially condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653.
Sola Fide (16th Century)
Some Protestant groups display a wide variety of different doctrines, and some claim to believe in the principle of sola fide ("by faith alone")— the idea that we achieve salvation by faith alone. In its most extreme form, the heresy declares that works of charity are not necessary for salvation.
Our response: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
“ For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
Sola Scriptura (16th Century) The theological doctrine of sola scriptura ("by scripture alone")—is the idea that we must use only the Bible when forming our theology and morality.
Our response: The doctrine denies Sacred Tradition, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Elements of tradition exist in many Protestant denominations---indeed---since the Reformation---over 400 years ago.
Tradition in the Catholic Church goes back 2000 years, as
“I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.” (1Cor11:2)
“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.”(2Thess2:15)
The diversity of Protestant doctrine stems from their belief in private judgment of scripture; which really doesn’t exclusively exist in all Protestant denominations. Try telling the pastor how to preach his Sunday sermon because you believe it should be preached another way! The doctrine claims that each individual is to interpret Sacred Scripture for himself. St. Peter has another perspective:
"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20)
significant feature of this doctrine denies that the Roman Catholic Magisterium
has any authority to teach and interpret Scripture. From
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15)
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom
it was written. (
1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture."
2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church."
3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation. According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
The two senses with which Sacred Scripture should be read:
1. The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation. "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."
2. The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by
recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the
moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly.
anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities
and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true
homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly
It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."
would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church
already moved me.” (
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 109-119)
doctrine of private judgment has resulted in a large number of different
Protestant denominations, with hundreds in the
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter) , and remained with him fifteen days. Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1:18,19)
"And when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas (Peter) and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.” (Gal. 2:9)
*(See Church Central Authority on this Website)
Protestantism, however, contains many elements of salvation. They are certain to be part of the Catholic or Universal Church of Jesus Christ. Protestants are the brothers and sisters of other Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
"Many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." (CCC:819; LG 8-2,Vatican II)
"All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." (CCC: 818; UR3-1, Pope Paul VI)
Deism (17th Century)
Deism evolved in England during the 17th Century. It flourished with the rise of European Freemasonry. Deists say that revelation (the Bible) does not play a part in assigning an understanding of the existence of God. They say that the notion of God evolved in the human mind from natural influences and reason. Therefore, God is impersonal and passive. This heresy gives free reign to decide to enslave oneself to sin.
Our response: God is a Personal God and has revealed Himself completely in the Bible. As Pope John Paul said:
“Indeed, the deepest truth about God is made clear to us in Christ.” (Redemptoris Mater)
Positivism (19th Century)
“Positivism is a system of philosophical and religious doctrines elaborated by Auguste Comte. (around 1825) As a philosophical system or method, Positivism denies the validity of metaphysical speculations, and maintains that the data of sense experience are the only object and the supreme criterion of human knowledge. As a religious system, it denies the existence of a personal God and takes humanity, "the great being", as the object of its veneration and cult.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Our response: Positivism denies the existence of the spiritual realm. Therefore it denies the existence of God. Essentially, it is Atheistic.
Relavatism (19th Century)
“Any doctrine which denies, universally or in regard to some restricted sphere of being, the existence of absolute values, may be termed Relativism. Thus, one form of Relativism asserts that we are conscious only of differences or changes. Another asserts that truth is relative, because:
1. Judgments are held to have no meaning of themselves and are subject to indefinite modification before they can become embodied in the one coherent system of ideal truth.
2. Because truth is conceived as a peculiar property of ideas whereby they enable us to deal with our environment more or less successfully (Pragmatists)”. (Cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia)
Our response: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (Heb13:8) All the arguments for the establishment of traditional Christian morality apply.
Heresies have been with us from the Church's beginning. They have even been started by Church leaders who were then condemned by councils and popes. Fortunately, we have Christ's promise that heresies will never prevail against the Church, for he told Peter:
"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18)
The Church is truly, in St. Paul's words, "the pillar and foundation of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15)
References : http://www.catholic.com/library/Great_Heresies.asp (Catholic Answers)
www.newadvent.org (The Catholic Encyclopedia)
http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/paper/aston.html (Institute of Historical Research)