E-Learning Past Mistakes

Church History

When protecting the United States from counterfeit money, federal agents do not only study real money. If that were the case, they wouldn’t have come up with new methods to ensure that the money you have is the real thing (ie: microprinting ink, new notes every 10 years, etc. ). They long realized that in dealing with the real they had to know what the counterfeiters were doing to keep ahead of them.

In a previous post, I pointed out that it is important to learn corporately and not in a vacuum especially from church history. I quoted a bit saying those who don’t learn heresy are forced to repeat it.

The immediate question might be “What? Learn Heresy?”

Today we deal with a whole mess of counterfeit-Christianity, more-so when you step into the pluralistic quagmire that is the internet. These errors have long been addressed. In that other post I warned that we shouldn’t be studying in a vacuum; here I want to equip you with other tools that show you how Christians historically responded to error:

E-Reading

  • On the Incarnation by Athanasius (alternate link). He stood against Arius (and apparently the mass of Christians) that were falling for the Arian heresy. Arius believed that the Son of God was not eternal but rather a created being. You’ll see Arianism today with Jehovah Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, Mormonism (probably a modified Arianism) and Christadelphians.
  • Against Praxeas  by Tertullion (alternate link). Tertullian stood against the belief that God is one person who revealed himself in different modes or roles which is known as modalism or sabellianism. He is the one who coined the term trinitas which is to say that God is three persons in one essence over against this teaching that says that there are no multiple persons in the Godhead. United Pentecostalism teaches this today. Also read On The Trinity by Hilary.
  • The Refutation of All Heresies by Hippolytus (alternate link). Here you’ll find a refutation of the matured heresy that Paul deals with in his letter to the Colossians—people who make a wrong division between the physical and the spiritual and all that that entails. Some of the error was even making a difference between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old—as if there were a difference! You’ll find Gnosticism all over the modern church. Also read Against Marcion by Tertullion (alternate link) where he shows the tight connection between the Old and New testament
  • Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin (alternate link). Calvin (like all these writers) had his own issues but he systematically worked through Scripture in a response to the Roman church.
  • The Fundamentals. This twelve book set covered a ton of topics all in response to liberal Christianity. There were no councils during this era, so you won’t find a creedal statement—but you will find teaches that are grounded on the fundamentals of the faith.
  • Mysticism and Christianity by B B Warfield. Heavy reading that breaks out of the early centuries of the church but still manages to address a lot of the love for experiences we see today.

Audio

  • Ancient and Medieval Church History podcast by David Calhoun of CTS

Paper Books

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