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Gnostic Doctrines

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Gnostic Doctrines

Ignatius

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that ye should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils. – The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 

Justin Martyr

For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, – Dialogue with Trypho

Irenaeus

The Gnostics say: Carnal men, again, are instructed in carnal things; such men, namely, as are established by their works, and by a mere [i.e. infierior] faith, while they have not perfect knowledge. We of the Church, the gnostics say, are these persons. Wherefore also they maintain that good works are necessary to us, for that otherwise it is impossible we should be saved. But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature.

Others of the (Gnostics) yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual. For they (the Gnostics) declare that we (the church) simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them. -ibid

But these men are in all points inconsistent with themselves, when they decide that all souls do not enter into the intermediate place, but those of the righteous only. For they maintain that, according to nature and substance, three sorts [of being] were produced by the Mother: the first, which proceeded from perplexity, and weariness, and fear-that is material substance; the second from impetuosity -that is animal substance; but that which she brought forth after the vision of those angels who wait upon Christ, is spiritual substance. If, then, that substance which she brought forth will by all means enter into the Pleroma because it is spiritual, while that which is material will remain below because it is material, and shall be totally consumed by the fire which bums within it, why should not the whole animal substance go into the intermediate place, into which also they send the Demiurge? But what is it which shall enter within their Pleroma? For they maintain that souls shall continue in the intermediate place, while bodies, because they possess material substance, when they have been resolved into matter, shall be consumed by that fire which exists in it; but their body being thus destroyed, and their soul remaining in the intermediate place, no part of man will any longer be left to enter in within the Pleroma. For the intellect of man-his mind, thought, mental intention, and such like-is nothing else than his soul; but the emotions and operations of the soul itself have no substance apart from the soul. What part of them, then, will still remain to enter into the Pleroma? For they themselves, in as far as they are souls, remain in the intermediate place; while, in as far as they are body, they will be consumed with the rest of matter. – Against Heresies, Book II

For those things which have been predicted by the Creator alike through all the prophets has Christ fulfilled in the end, ministering to His Father’s will, and completing His dispensations with regard to the human race. Let those persons, therefore, who blaspheme the Creator, either by openly expressed words, such as the disciples of Marcion, or by a perversion of the sense [of Scripture], as those of Valentinus and all the Gnostics falsely so called, be recognised as agents of Satan by all those who worship God; through whose agency Satan now, and not before, has been seen to speak against God, even Him who has prepared eternal fire for every kind of apostasy. – Against Heresies, Book V

Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth, so that by following those things already mentioned, proceeding on their way variously, in harmoniously, and foolishly, not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behoves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures. For the Church has been planted as a garden (paradisus) in this world; therefore says the Spirit of God, “Thou mayest freely eat from every tree of the garden,” that is, Eat ye from every Scripture of the Lord; but ye shall not eat with an uplifted mind, nor touch any heretical discord. For these men do profess that they have themselves the knowledge of good and evil; and they set their own impious minds above the God who made them. They therefore form opinions on what is beyond the limits of the understanding. For this cause also the apostle says, “Be not wise beyond what it is fitting to be wise, but be wise prudently,” that we be not east forth by eating of the “knowledge” of these men (that knowledge which knows more than it should do) from the paradise of life. Against Heresies, Book V

Clement of Alexandria

As, then, philosophy has been brought into evil repute by pride and self-conceit, so also ghosts by false ghosts called by the same name; of which the apostle writing says, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science (gnosis) falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith.”- The Stromata, or Miscellanies — Book II

Tertullian

Besides all this, I add a review of the doctrines themselves, which, existing as they did in the days of the apostles… Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain who denied and doubted the resurrection. This opinion was the especial property of the Sadducees. A part of it, however, is maintained by Marcion and Apelles and Valentinus, and all other impugners of the resurrection. Writing also to the Galatians, he inveighs against such men as observed and defend circumcision and the (Mosaic) law. Thus runs Hebion’s heresy. Such also as “forbid to marry” he reproaches in his instructions to Timothy. Now, this is the teaching of Marcion and his follower Apelles. (The apostle) directs a similar blow against those who said that “the resurrection was past already.” Such an opinion did the Valentinians assert of themselves. When again he mentions “endless genealogies,” one also recognizes Valentinus… But in his epistle he especially designates those as “Antichrists” who “denied that Christ was come in the flesh,” and who refused to think that Jesus was the Son of God. The one dogma Marcion maintained; the other, Hebion. The doctrine, however, of Simon’s sorcery, which inculcated the worship of angels, was itself actually reckoned amongst idolatries and condemned by the Apostle Peter in Simon’s own person.

 

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