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The Church has had to face heresies since the first periods of Christian history: these heresies put the faith and the legacy of Jesus Christ in great danger.
The first centuries of Christian faith witnessed the dualistic Gnosticism that affirmed that matter is the work of evil and therefore Jesus could never have assumed a material human body. Therefore it denied Incarnation and the salvation of mankind through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Gnosticism affirmed that the Incarnation of God’s Word had only been an illusion. That heresy was born in Persia and was combated by the Apostles themselves (see The Letter to the Colossians 2, 9; The First letter of John 4,2; The Second Letter of John 7) and mainly by Saint Irenaeus (dead 202 A.D.). That may have been the worst heresy of all times.
During the II and III Centuries monarchical heresies like the adoptionism and subordinationism tried to deny the Holy Trinity: they did not accept the idea that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were three distinct entities. They defended the idea that The Son and the Holy Ghost were mere manifestations of the Father Himself, subordinate to the Father and they were not at all Two Entities, equally Divine but distinct from the Father in One Only Trinity.
After those Trinitarian Heresies the Church witnessed a series of Christological Heresies:
1. Aryanism. Arias from Alexandria (dead on 334 A.D.) affirmed that Christ was just one more creature of the Father; the greatest of all creatures, from whom the Father had created all other creatures. This heresy was combated by Saint Athanasius and condemned during the First Council of the Church in Nicene (325 A.D.). The Council of Nicene taught that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, generated, not created and co-substantial with the Father.”
2. Apolinarianism. Apolinarius (300-390 A.D.), Bishop of Laodicea, defended that Christ did not have a human soul; He was God and therefore His human nature was subverted. Two Popes, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 A.D.) and Saint Gregory of Nissa (dead on 394 A.D.), combated this idea and defended the principle that “those who are not taken by the Verb are not redeemed.”
3. Macedonism. Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, defended that the Holy Spirit was not God and that the Spirit was a mere creature of the Father. This heresy was condemned in the II Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.) that established that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord Who grants life and comes from the Father and the Son; and with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified” (Symbol Nicene-Constantinople).
Professor Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino