This week I missed the Tuesday in the Twisted Tuesday post, and posted on Wednesday instead. We dealt with monotheism, the essential, Biblical, doctrine of one God. This doctrine was attacked early on in church history by a man named Marcion. Marcion was born in around 85 ad, moved to Rome in 135 ad, and died in 160 ad. Before we go more into detai about him, and as we leave the book of Acts and the New Testemant, to push forward into the second century I want to bring you along through the men who were trained by the Apostles. This will give you a better idea of who was fighting these ancient herecies.
First is Clement of Rome, whose writings are considered the oldest outside of the New Testemant, from which he quotes often. Clement was born just a few years before the crucifixtion, and was personally trained by Paul and Peter, most likely mentioned in the Bible, and was a personal friend of Polycarp. Polycarp was born a year before the Temple was destroyed, and had been personally discipled by John, whom he quotes often in his extant works. As well as being friends with Clement, Polycarp was also friends with Ignatius, and personally discipled Irenaeus. There are others that we could talk about in great detail, but it’s Polycarp that I want to focus on today. It was Polycarp who rebuked Marcion, the heretic we’re discussing today. Marcion had been the son of a wealthy man, and had made a very large donation to the church. This had not stopped the same church from declaring him a heretic a few short years later, giving him back his donation, and excommunicating him. When he asked Polycarp if he knew who he was, Polycarps response has lasted the test of time.
“Do you know who I am?” Marcion asked.
“Yes, I know who you are, you first born son of Satan.” Answered Polycarp
Marcion, with his strong gnostic bent, was the first heretic to unhitch the Old Testament. Much like Andy Stanley today, he refused to accept most of the New Testament. He believed, and taught, that the God of the Old Testament was evil, and that Jesus came to save us from that evil God. This belief led him to remove any verses where Jesus, or His disciples, quote from the Old Testament. This directly opposed the Biblical doctrine of monotheism, trinitarianism, and inerrancy. It was in response to this particular heretic that the early church fathers were led to clarify the cannon, the hypostatic union, and the trinity in their writing. Both Irenaeus and Tertulliun have extact works that deal directly with the heretical teachings of Marcionism and Gnosticism. What man meant for evil God meant for good.
Today we hear the echoes of that ancient herecy, in voices like Andy Stanley. There are also churches which call themselves the Marcionite Church of Christ, which are, as their names say, cults repeating the same error Marcion did. This particular heresy, in the rest of the professing Christian world, is more subtle. You’ll hear it in the cults, like Scientology, but you’ll also hear it in the preaching of men who claim to be orthodox. They’ll recommend not reading the Old Testament, they’ll preach that it’s not for today, that the God of the OT isn’t like the God of the New Testament. These men, regardless of how buttoned down they seem, ought to be called out, warned, rebuked, and prayed for. It’s not a small thing to reject Gods Word. I hope this series continues to be a blessing to you, my dear friends. As always, be good bereans and study to show yourselves approved.