Thursday Book Review – Irenaeus Against Heresies

The book review I’d like to do today is going to go along with the Friday series on heresies, in particular, the Gnostics. Irenaeus, who was taught by Polycarp, the disciple of John the Apostle, directly refutes Gnosticism in all its many forms throughout this five-volume set. While Gnosticism isn’t the only heresy he addresses or the only topic he brings up, it’s the main thrust of the book. Most likely written in 180 AD, Irenaeus Against Heresies clearly lays out Biblical theology held by the early church, while answering the heretical views being introduced into the church.

Irenaeus of Lyons quote

There’s a couple of points that I found very interesting. First, Irenaeus was a quick-witted man, willing to be sarcastic when sarcasm was needed to show foolishness. This made the dry reading of the varied sects within Gnosticism more bearable. Second, he names names for the sake of the brothers and sisters in Christ being confronted by the Gnostic leaders. He warns believers about specific people to avoid, just as we need to do today. Lastly, he connects this heresy to Simon Magus from Acts 8:9-24. That was such a fascinating part of the book, to have that man’s story told to a further degree. Obviously, the early church fathers, like Irenaeus, are not inspired writers. We do not, under any circumstances, turn their words into Scripture, or hold them as high as that authority. However, it is a blessing that so much of their writing has remained, and we can and should enjoy their works. Particularly, it was interesting to hear about Simon and where his error led.

Irenaeus Against Heresies is an important book for today’s believers, as we deal with very similar false teaching. Not only in the cults, but also in the minds of the lost who grew up hearing bits and pieces of gnostic nonsense, which can be seen in the way postmodernism has flourished. Also, Gnosticism is still very much a thing, and as believers, you will have the so-called Gnostic Gospels mentioned from time to time. It’s dry in many places, in all honesty, as even admitted by the writer who explains in a few different points why he needed to be so detailed. His sense of humor breaks up the expansive lists of names, and differing views on the eons, held by so many at the time. It’s in the public domain, which means you can download it in pdf free here, or listen to the audio here, and also if you enjoy podcasts there is a podcast version of the audio here. If you want it for yourself, and find the free printing of nearly 400 pages tedious, you can buy the kindle here, and the paperback here. I do recommend this for older brothers and sisters in Christ, as most younger readers and preteens would find this too detailed and dry to follow. As always, beloved brothers, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!

In case you missed it, I launched a new Podcast! You can listen here, and soon will be able to listen in iTunes and Google play. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you’d like to link up in other social media platforms. God bless you!


Author: lnhereford

I am a Christian, wife, mother, podcaster and homeschooler currently traveling the United States with my loving husband and darling daughter!

3 thoughts on “Thursday Book Review – Irenaeus Against Heresies”

  1. Thanks for the informative post, sister! I just so happen to have a post about Gnosticism queued up for tomorrow.

    RE: He warns believers about specific people to avoid, just as we need to do today.

    So true. Today’s evangelicals are generally so accommodating that they are absolutely repulsed by anyone who calls out the false teachers.


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