Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ignatius to the Trallians - The interweaving of heresy

This is a continuation of my series on Ignatius and the seven letters he wrote while on his way to be martyred in Rome. If you are unfamiliar with Ignatius, you may want to start with the introduction to this series.

Our mind, soul, and spirit are hungry for nourishment; for knowledge, understanding, information, and revelation. The question is, from where do we get our food?
"I therefore, yet not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, entreat you that ye use Christian nourishment only, and abstain from herbage of a different kind; I mean heresy. For those [that are given to this] mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does greedily take, with a fatal pleasure leading to his own death." (Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter 6)
Not all things that appear to be spiritual "meat" are healthy and fit for consumption by our souls. There are those who teach what looks like truth but it is mixed with just enough error to be deadly; mixing the things of Jesus with their own style of poison; their own false teaching. Ignatius cautions the believers in Tralles not to stray from our christian field to eat the herbage grown in other fields; in the fields of the heretics  Truth is found in the church and its teachings not from the likes of of Simon, Marcion, and Valentinus. Their teaching may look like pleasing sweet wine but the end of it is spiritual death.

One of the things that draws us to heresy is our own pride. Heresy promises the opportunity to know something others do not; it makes us feel superior in knowledge and revelation to other Christians. Heresy promises special knowledge, wisdom, and insight that the ignorant masses do not posses. Heresy draws on our pride while it fails to deliver its promises.
"Be on your guard, therefore, against such persons. And this will be the case with you if you are not puffed up, and continue in intimate union with Jesus Christ our God, and the bishop, and the enactments of the apostles. He that is within the altar is pure, but he that is without is not pure; that is, he who does anything apart from the bishop, and presbytery, and deacons such a man is not pure in his conscience." (Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter 7)
Ignatius encourages us to remain steady in our faith. Rather than pursuing heresy we should pursue relationship with Jesus, submission to His teaching, and unity with His church. Jesus came not only to bring His teaching but also to establish His church. When we venture outside of His church, outside of the order He has established, then we risk venturing into heresy.

Ignatius write to the Trallians that, while he knows that such falling away is not characteristic of them, it is always good to be reminded of the truth.
"Not that I know there is anything of this kind among you; but I put you on your guard, inasmuch as I love you greatly, and foresee the snares of the devil. Wherefore, clothing yourselves with meekness, be ye renewed in faith, that is the flesh of the Lord, and in love, that is the blood of Jesus Christ. Let no one of you cherish any grudge against his neighbour. Give no occasion to the Gentiles, lest by means of a few foolish men the whole multitude [of those that believe] in God be evil spoken of. For, 'Woe to him by whose vanity my name is blasphemed among any.' " (Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter 8)
Pride draws us to heresy but love draws us to Christ and His brethren. Knowledge is good but character is better. Knowledge apart from love, character, and a relationship with Christ is a recipe for disaster, but when we first pursue the love of God and the love of the brethren then the knowledge we gain will make since and will be life giving, both to us and to those around us.

David Robison

No comments:

Post a Comment