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Carpocrates

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Carpocrates – Early Church Heretic and Heresies

Irenaeus

Carpocrates, again, and his followers maintain that the world and the things which are therein were created by angels greatly inferior to the unbegotten Father. They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was stedfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God. On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the creators of the world; and they say that it, after passing through them all, and remaining in all points free, ascended again to him, and to the powers, which in the same way embraced like things to itself. They further declare, that the soul of Jesus, although educated in the practices of the Jews, regarded these with contempt, and that for this reason he was endowed with faculties, by means of which he destroyed those passions which dwelt in men as a punishment [for their sins]. – Against Heresies, Book I

And in their writings we read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views], declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men-some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature. – Against Heresies, Book I

Moreover, those also will be thus confuted who belong to Simon and Carpocrates, and if there be any others who are said to perform miracles-who do not perform what they do either through the power of God, or in connection with the truth, nor for the well-being of men, but for the sake of destroying and misleading mankind, by means of magical deceptions, and with universal deceit, thus entailing greater harm than good on those who believe them, with respect to the point on which they lead them astray. For they can neither confer sight on the blind, nor hearing on the deaf, nor chase away all sorts of demons-[none, indeed, ] except those that are sent into others by themselves, if they can even do so much as this. Nor can they cure the weak, or the lame, or the paralytic, or those who are distressed in any other part of the body, as has often been done in regard to bodily infinity. Nor can they furnish effective remedies for those external accidents which may occur. And so far are they from being able to raise the dead, as the Lord raised them, and the apostles did by means of prayer, and as has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity-the entire Church in that particular locality entreating [the boon] with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in answer to the prayers of the saints-that they do not even believe this can be possibly be done, [and hold] that the resurrection from the dead is simply an acquaintance with that truth which they proclaim. –  Against Heresies, Book II

But this [Father] is the Maker of heaven and earth, as is shown from His words; and not he, the false father, who has been invented by Marcion, or by Valentinus, or by Basilides, or by Carpocrates, or by Simon, or by the rest of the “Gnostics,” falsely so called. – Against Heresies, Book IV

Clement of Alexandria

But the followers of Carpocrates and Epiphanes think that wives should be common property.

These then are the doctrines of the excellent Carpocratians. These, so they say, and certain other enthusiasts for the same wickednesses, gather together for feasts (I would not call their meeting an Agape), men and women together. After they have sated their appetites… then they overturn the lamps and so extinguish the light that the shame of their adulterous “righteousness” is hidden, and they have intercourse where they will and with whom they will.

Tertullian

However, it is not for you alone, (Simon), that the transmigration philosophy has fabricated this story. Carpocrates also makes equally good use of it, who was a magician and a fornicator like yourself, only he had not a Helen.

Hippolytus

Carpocrates affirms that the world and the things in it were made by angels, far inferior to the unbegotten Father; and that Jesus was generated of Joseph, and that, having been born similar to (other) men, He was more just than the rest (of the human race). And (Carpocrates asserts) that the soul (of Jesus), inasmuch as it was made vigorous and undefiled, remembered the things seen by it in its converse with the unbegotten God.

(Now these heretics) have themselves been sent forth by Satan, for the purpose of slandering before the Gentiles the divine name of the Church. (And the devil’s object is,) that men hearing, now after one fashion and now after another, the doctrines of those (heretics), and thinking that all of us are people of the same stamp, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth, or that they also, looking, (without abjuring,) upon all the tenets of those (heretics), may speak hurtfully of us. (The followers of Carpocrates) allege that the souls are transferred from body to body, so far as that they may fill up (the measure of) all their sins. When, however, not one (of these sins) is left, (the Carpocratians affirm that the soul) is then emancipated, and departs unto that God above of the world-making angels, and that in this way all souls will be saved. If, however, some (souls), during the presence of the soul in the body for one life, may by anticipation become involved in the full measure of transgressions, they, (according to these heretics,) no longer undergo metempsychosis. (Souls of this sort,) however, on paying off at once all trespasses, will, (the Carpocratians say,) be emancipated from dwelling any more in a body. Certain, likewise, of these (heretics) brand their own disciples in the back parts of the lobe of the right ear. And they make counterfeit images of Christ, alleging that these were in existence at the time (during which our Lord was on earth, and that they were fashioned) by Pilate. – Refutation of All Heresies, Book VII

How Carpocrates acts sillily, in himself also alleging that existing things were made by angels – Refutation of All Heresies, Book VII

Cyprian

Carpocrates, indeed, claims for himself so extreme an amount of the supernal qualities, that his disciples set their own souls at once on an equality with Christ (not to mention the apostles); and sometimes, when it suits their fancy, even give them the superiority–deeming them, forsooth, to have partaken of that sublime virtue which looks down upon the principalities that govern this world. – A Treatise on the Soul

Hegesippus

From these men also come the Menandrianists, and the Marcionists, and the Carpocratians, and the Valentinians, and the Basilidians, and the Saturnilians. Each of these leaders in his own private and distinct capacity brought in his own private opinion. From these have come false Christs, false prophets, false apostles-men who have split up the one Church into parts through their corrupting doctrines, uttered in disparagement of God and of His Christ….- Fragments of Hegesippus

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