Image Breakers, Image Makers: The Role of Heresy in Divided Christendom
Contributor(s)University of New England
KeywordsEuropean History (excl British, Classical Greek and Roman)
Christian Studies (incl Biblical Studies and Church History)
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AbstractFrom the beginning of Christian history the religious and social phenomenon of heresy has existed alongside orthodoxy. As early as the mid-first century St. Paul declared 'Oportet esse haereses': there must be heresies. The founder of Christianity may in fact have pointed out that in his father's house were many rooms, but his disciples through the ages have insisted that they should all live in the same one. Thus, heresy became an integral part of the Christian heritage which then passed into the shape of European civilization. Nothing could be further from the truth than the idea that heresy resulted from religious indifference. Instead the phenomena of heresy, both east and west, were by products of intense spiritual concern. Heretics did nol die for views they considered irrelevant with no meaning for their lives and their salvation. The heretical inclination, then, was voluntary; a result of conviction. As St. Augustine put it: "For ye are not to suppose, brethren, that heresies could be produced through any little souls. None save great men have been the authors of heresy..."