Third Sunday in Lent: The Nicene Creed(s)

 The form of our Nicene Creed is result of more than one council. The first paragraph denies the heresies of demi-urges, or competing Gods making things. The Christological heresies are denied in the next two paragraphs, and the next returns to Trinitarian concerns. Finally issues of order, catholicity, and apocalyptic are closed.

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Second Sunday in Lent: Apostle's Creed

Purity is hard to ask under persecution, as we know after 20th century genocides. What do we do with backsliders, who took the libelli, and our religious fanatics, who refused them and suffered? In mid-20th century language, these are collaborators and resistance heroes, or in early 21st century terms, survivors of ethnic cleansing. How strict or merciful would you be?

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Lent: Day 9 of 40 - Tertullian

Tertullian was born rich, in Carthage, part of the imperial elite which controlled trade in North Africa. Privileged and educated, he wrote in Latin, with satirical rhetoric and Roman law, opposing Marcion’s dualisms, and then reductions of Jesus and the Spirit to subordinate deities to the Father.

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Lent: Day 8 of 40 - Iranaeus

It’s easier to tell who Irenaeus is against than who and what he is for, from our records. He wrote Against Heresies as a lengthy refutation of Gnostics – and until the translation of the Nag Hamadi library late in the 20th century, was our best source of what they believed. It is an ironic outcome that he actually preserves his opponents’ ideas, not his own.

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Lent: Day 6 of 40 - Montanus

Was it the Holy Spirit, or human spirits, that drove Montanism? Paul had already fought with charismatic factions in the 1st century – appealing to unity in Christ in the Corinthian correspondence. The records are less clear about these 2nd century heretics, many of whose writings were destroyed once they lost the ecclesiastical struggle.

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Free Spirits and Legalists

Faith and inspiration tend to chaos, too. ‘Organized religion’ is like herding cats, when every one follows their own heart. That counters social inequality, giving courage to the dispossessed to assert their equal humanity. But when asserted by privileged folks like us, it is self-indulgent and selfish, a licentious abuse of power.

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Apocalyptic Revelations

Let’s not reduce the apocalyptic voice from the ‘naughts’ to one crazy guy in a cave near Cyprus, ‘St John the Divine’, writing on the Isle of Patmos. Each of the heretics like us in this first week shared an apocalyptic faith, in communities struggling with ‘forces of good and evil in crisis’ like us.

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According to Whom?

What we ask of others, we ask ourselves: what’d my bias, my subjectivity? Who and what should we look for and listen to, which channels should we surf, and which will get more of our time? I don’t silence other heretics, but I weigh my sources, and watch some, not all, channels in this universe.

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