May 11th, 1983, Serial No. 00401

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Monastic Theology Series Set 1 of 3




Now, a little review for the people who haven't been here before, and it will be very brief.
But also, we haven't had to cross for a couple of weeks to get us back on track.
Remember, we are searching for a monastic theology, for a monastic theology for today, which we cannot really say exists, which is a surprising thing.
There's a lot of theology around, but monasticism doesn't have bits, and by that I don't mean a kind of inside-the-house theology, which would be just interested in monastic things, but I mean that kind of experience of the Word of God, or that kind of experience of the Christian mystery, which more or less, kind of naturally, flows from the monastic life.
It's hard to find that out.
And yet, we can find it if we look back.
At least there's a thread, but the thread has been largely lost.
The thread has both been broken, but the thread is there.
And it's not too hard to trace it back.
If you read somebody who's written a history of theology, if you read Pagagini writing about the history of theology, because he does it kind of on the side in his book on liturgy.
He directs us back into the Middle Ages, into a scholastic type of theology, and then into the period of the fathers,
When there was a theology which he refers to as Gnosis, G-N-O-S-I-S, which is the Greek word for simply knowledge, but it has a very special meaning there.
The meaning is the knowledge of God.
The word is already a biblical word.
A biblical word.
And then it's picked up by the fathers.
And the monastic theology, which existed in the Middle Ages and sort of gradually disappeared, was in direct continuity with that, with hypnosis.
And that's the reason why we pick on that, that we go back and try to pick up that thread.
The patristic theology is in direct continuity with that monastic theology, which
later can be found alongside scholastic theology in the Middle Ages.
John Leclerc was the one who unearthed that.
And he unearthed it to everybody's surprise.
And then it was a surprise that it was a surprise.
Because why should it be forgotten?
When people are living a monastic life, why should they be without the theology which is around?
I won't go and try to justify this whole business of theology.
That's a whole other argument.
It might need justifying.
I remember when I was not here for long, I wondered, what is theology?
Why talk about it?
Why not just live it?
Why not just do it?
How can there be a theology?
How can there be a lot of words about God?
And you can really ask that question now.
Why talk about it at all?
The reason is because this is a method of initiation.
Because the real monastic theology is a reading into the words.
So the multiplicity of words is a kind of, what would you call it, a kind of
theatre behind which the real initiation into the Word occurs, to busy ourselves with the Word, like the Tibetans, you know, so much busy themselves with their dharma, with their doctrine, is gradually to be eating the bread of life, and gradually to find that thing growing inside of us which is the One Word.
And that's what it's all about.
But there's a lot of reality that doesn't accomplish that.
The reason being that it keeps somehow too dualistic.
It puts the object of theology too far from the one who is considering it, too far from the one who is reading it or writing it.
Monastic theology is an initiation, but also the Gospels are an initiation, and especially the Gospel of John.
I believe that's what it's written for, is to initiate somebody into that knowledge of the Word, which the beloved apostle had.
And so that, in a way, is a point at which our monastic theology takes origin from the Gospel of John.
To review what we've done, we looked at Gnosis in the New Testament, the few references to it explicitly in the Synoptic Gospels from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Then, in St.
Paul, and then finally in the Gospel of John, where the whole thing mushrooms, where it really spreads out, or I should say, opens up.
Then we started looking at the earliest fathers, the so-called apostolic fathers, and looking for their terminosis, but also looking around to see what they understood about the knowledge of God.
And it turns out to be quite rich and quite hard to grasp at the same time because it's all one thing.
The life and the knowledge, it's all one thing.
There were a couple of strong pointers in Saint Ignatius of Antioch who says that Jesus Christ is the gnosis of God.
He himself is the gnosis of God.
surprises us a little bit, because John says he's the Word of God.
Here, Ignatius has shifted the term, but it's still in the continuity of that notion of the Word of God, the Logos.
And we'll pick that up again, because I think that's the central element.
And he says also that he is the mind of God.
He is the mind of God, and he's the knowledge of God.
And I think that knowledge of God has a double sense.
He's the knowledge which God has of himself and of all things.
And at the same time, he, in being participated by us,
Him participating in that knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ, we know God.
And in Him we know.
But he doesn't use, at that point, he doesn't use the word locus.
We find that coming out in Justin.
And Justin really says something pretty astounding.
Justin was a philosopher.
He was very well acquainted with Greek philosophy.
That was his profession.
And he opens up the word in a new direction by saying that the word is in every human being.
In other words, all the philosophers somehow, those who knew something of the truth, knew it because they had the word in them, because they had the seed of the word in them.
Now, the seed of the word in some way is human reason, but we don't have to belittle what he means by the word just because he means reason.
We have to leave that open.
So Socrates knew the logos.
and that's why he was roused, and that's why he was persecuted, and so on and so forth.
But the full Logos only appears in the coming of the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.
So Christians have opened to them a whole new level, a new fullness of the knowledge of the Word.
But the philosophers, the ones outside, they approach it in some way.
Now this for us is important because we're in another moment when the Church is opening to other traditions of truth, to other approaches to truth.
But now we may not catch the connection because it's not so much philosophy we're talking about today, is it?
It's religions.
It's Eastern religion and so on.
But I think that this is the point at which we can find a bridge.
a bridge which is not artificial or constructed on top of our own truth, but is built right into our own truth, because our own truth is the Word, is the Logos.
The Logos, I believe, is the key to the integration of Christianity and whatever may come from seemingly from outside of this land.
If we consider that all these other traditions are glimpsing the Logos, the one Logos who has made one of us in Jesus Christ,
Let me talk about this word, though, because this is going to come out very strongly in Irenaeus as we get into him.
And I think we find that actually it forms the central axis of what we're talking about.
If we were looking for a theology which can really be ours, and we were led back to the Fathers, and then we went back a little further to the New Testament, now we're moving back out into the Fathers from the New Testament,
And we found that the term gnosis somehow expressed that.
What that gnosis knows is the Word.
In other words, I don't want to say just the object of that gnosis is the Word.
You can almost say that the spouse of that gnosis is the Word, is the Logos.
These statements can seem kind of banal, but as you follow that notion of the, not even notion, as you follow the Logos through,
you find out that it's a very deep riverbed, it's a very deep channel, and everything else is a tributary of that notion, of that Logos.
And so we'll follow that through.
First of all, let me retrace a little bit, okay?
The prologue of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The word is the light, the light of man, as it says, the light that enlightens all men, it's the same as the word.
And then the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and that's Jesus Christ.
And of His glory, we've seen His glory, the glory is of the only begotten Son of the Father.
No one has ever seen God but He who is in the bosom of the Father, which is the Logos, the word which is in the bosom of the Father.
He is revealed.
Now, that's kind of the starting point for this whole development that we've been in.
I don't think that there's any more profound or unifying text in the Holy Scriptures.
So the track of the Logos, for us, begins there.
There's another history, though, which is over in Greek philosophy.
And there's another history which is in the Old Testament, the Word of God in the Old Testament.
But I'm talking about the point of convergence from which we start.
Then there's Justin.
I said something about that, so I won't repeat that.
I wanted to talk about some dimensions, some aspects of the word, because I think this whole thing about the logos requires a kind of intellectual conversion on our part.
The reason why I use the word logos, as a matter of fact, is because word for us always means something.
In other words, when we hear word, we immediately... it awakens some circumscribed understanding in our minds.
I was talking to my sister Elizabeth about that yesterday, and she said, well, she thinks of the word in a certain way, and so she has trouble thinking of it in these other terms, in this broader word.
For that reason, I'd like to speak of a few models of the word, a few ways that we already think of the word.
Lonergan talks about this thing of intellectual conversion, and this is an example where you have to broaden the horizon, not the total horizon of your life, which I'm not here, you have to broaden the horizon which you allow a certain term to have,
have to break down some partitions that we have in our minds.
And as we talk about the logos, we find that happening continually.
One model of the word, a notion of the word, is simply in human speech, and we'll talk about that in a minute.
And there, the word becomes like common coin.
It becomes like the small chain sometimes in our pockets.
In other words, we somewhat devalue it when it's so ordinary.
A philosopher, someone who stands back from that, will see great depth in it, or someone who looks at things in an anthropological way.
But ordinarily, that takes away from rather than adding to the significance of the word.
Then there's the poetic word.
What happens in poetry, what happens with the word?
You begin to see more than the word.
The word begins to find connections in things, or it begins somehow to open out into the unity of all things in some way, as the poet leaps by his insight from one thing to another, you know, metaphor, figure of speech.
Those all tend to be kind of... They tend to be also somewhat devaluing reductions of this word to something else.
But I think that the poetic word, in some way, looks into the logos, actually.
When the poet begins to glimpse the relationship between something living, something growing, or a stream, or something like that, and these are included things, and something that's in himself, what he's doing is he's experiencing that logos in which all things are one.
And with it, he carries an energy.
With it, he carries a light, a spark, a fire, and the delight of that poetic intuition.
It's a poetic word.
And that's why the word has such power.
The poetic word has such power.
And it's why poetry isn't necessarily a shallow thing.
It can really open a door into the depths.
The philosophical word is very much like that.
The word in Greek culture has a very deep and long history.
If you want to read about that, read this theological dictionary of the New Testament.
There's a long article on the word under Logos.
And I was surprised to find about Heraclitus... Let me just read you something.
This is under the word Logos.
They go, as usual, at great length into the different ways that Logos was used by the Greeks, all the different senses and so on.
This is on page 79.
Heraclitus, because the same Logos constitutes the being of both the cosmos and of man, it is the connecting principle which forms the bridge and possibility of understanding.
That's pretty close to the Logos of John.
It's certainly close to the depths which we connect with a poetic way.
Because the same Logos constitutes the being of both the cosmos and man, it is the connecting principle which forms the bridge and possibility of understanding.
So, immediately you see there that the logos for the Greeks also has that kind of unlimited expanse.
All right?
This is not just something that develops in the intestine.
It's like a vessel that's waiting there and somewhere to be taken up.
Sometimes it seems to me like these Greek philosophers are building a house for the Logos.
They're building a conceptual structure into which the actual Logos of God can come and indwell, just as the Word of God in the Old Testament is doing the same thing in another way, or building another part of it.
I don't think we have an additional parable, just an English one.
Nobody has.
We don't have, there's no complete edition, I mean even the fragments.
As far as I know we don't have the remaining text, those little bits.
He's a very special case.
He's writing very much more about that kind of thing.
They're not going to want to be in that position.
And say they do what the woman says, the way it is, regardless of anything you try.
He's certainly not a rationalist in any sense of the word.
He's a mere conceptualist.
The bridge of understanding, first between man and the world, and also between men.
Pardon me, I'm not in crucifixion.
I'll blame that on you.
Secondly, between man and God.
And finally, in later antiquity, three, between this world and the world above.
So, that's pretty inclusive.
So the dimensions, somehow, of the logos are already sketched out.
And then, it's a cosmic war, and so on and so on.
On the Jewish side, on the Old Testament side, you have this creative word, because God spoke and things were made.
God spoke and said, let there be light in this life.
So John is building on that, and he writes about the word in his prologue, and then in the prologue also, there's the prophetic word, the word which comes to bring man back to God, the word in which God addresses man.
And when you put these dimensions together, then it becomes quite profound.
That is, it is the creative word also which comes, which is sent to speak to them and so on.
That prophetic word has another extension, right into our time, in the way that we often think about the word, which is colored usually by the Protestant verses of the word of God, since the time of the Reformation, when we sort of divided up the truth among ourselves.
The word, and the preaching of the word, very much builds up a lot of Protestantism.
And so they developed a powerful theology of the word, which in our time is best represented probably by Karl Barth,
And this is what many people understand when they hear this expression, the word of God.
And that's good because it's made of the core, the center of the theology, but at the same time it's limited.
It's limited because often it doesn't have that sensitive, creative word of God.
At least it doesn't have that unitive and unifying value which the Locust truly has.
So that's a notion that we sort of have to open, if that's where we're coming from, if that's where we're starting from.
I don't want to say too much about Bartholomew, because I don't have his doctrine of the word question in my mind, but that's the dominating idea in this whole theology.
And in, I think, a lot of the best Protestant theologies of that time.
That's what, largely, what Protestantism has contributed to us, to the Roman Catholic Church, in our time, in the time of the Protestant Church, is a renewed sense of the word of God.
But then these other dimensions that were heftily frozen from all the tradition,
In Irenaeus we find something else.
We find the word operating in history.
In other words, it's the word, and this is a very Jewish notion too, it's the word by which God manifests himself in history and acts in history.
Not only does he create through the word, but he appears in the word.
The word is his arm, as Irenaeus puts it, his hand.
It's the manifestation of God in whatever way he manifests himself.
But not only in a kind of mystical way, he manifests himself in history.
He manifests himself in his actions.
He manifests himself in events.
So we've got these two great lines that cut across one another.
The line of creation, the cosmic line, which the Greeks knew so well, as we've seen.
And then the historical line, which is peculiar to Jewish.
and the two come together and intersect in the New Testament.
Then, in the New Testament, we have this notion, mystical notion, a personal mystical notion of the Word, and what we need to do is take it back, since sometimes we know it, if we've read the Christian mystics, sometimes we're
aware of that at least, we have to take that back and unite it to the other senses of the word that we're talking about, to the other dimensions to bring it into its fullness.
The reason is because often in our recent centuries, our orthodox mystical theology and Roman Catholicism has been largely the Carmelite mystical theology for the last four centuries or so, okay?
which sees the word as the bridegroom of the soul, and that goes straight back to origin, goes straight back to the Greek fathers.
However, it has become very introverted, and it has very often lost that breadth that we find in the fathers.
So we have to take it back once again and unite it to that whole center, that whole sphere of meaning that we find coming together in the term Logos and Fathers.
What I mean by that introversion is that
It's conceived almost exclusively, sometimes, in this personal relationship, the personal relationship between Christ and myself, and in this kind of nuptial theology, for instance, in St.
Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and so on, which is right in the tradition.
The only risk is that it gets narrowed.
As we have grown kind of more subjectively aware, we've become more subjective people in modern times, in the modern West, so we have drawn that theology after ourselves, and
closed its dimensions down to some extent.
We've lost some of its expansiveness, a lot of it.
So we can end up with a very introverted kind of reality, which has its consequences in our life.
Just the God and me thing, losing all those other dimensions.
That's right.
That's a corrective, okay?
If you understand the bride not only as yourself,
but also as the church, as the people of God, intends to spread it out.
And then there's that other dimension, the cosmic dimension, where it's not only the people of God, but somehow every human being, and then everything that exists, which is created in the universe, or even matter.
Okay, that's good.
That's broader still.
Now, if you read St.
John on the Cross, you find this.
Not so much the Ecclesial, I'm thinking of the Spiritual Catechumen, in which he says, all these things are the Beloved.
The forest is the Beloved, and the mountain stream is the Beloved, and the subterranean, the sonic solitude, all these things, he is all these.
So it's in the poetry.
So that's the Logos.
He's got it all there, but often we don't bring it all up.
Okay, so that's about the Logos.
We'll pick that up again later because this will be surfacing continually as we go through the project.
Let me put something on the board.
Once you've finished, put it through.
This is going to represent one of your projects.
It's kind of like, here we have the Jewish Old Testament.
And here we have the previous one.
Now, beasts have converged, and we see them converging, for instance, in John, but they converged in somebody else before John.
Before, let me just, before, or outside of Jesus.
It's a Bible.
The Bible has a notion of a logo.
And in the Greek church, he brings in a lot of that Greek philosophical back legacy, expanse of the word.
So he makes his emphasis here before St.
No, they can't prove it at the same time.
And then afterwards...
Because of the depth and the expanse of which he sees the world, the way in which he is able to work out the information
And then it goes to the west.
It goes to the west in its mystical vision and right down to St.
Bernard's vision, the anomalies on the sun and stars, where the soul as the entity is, and God as the person, and into God as the person.
It's implicit.
It's implicit in all of that rupture of mysticism that we have now.
We see God as the fragment of the soul.
And very often we forget that it's the word.
We think of it as Christ.
Sometimes we think of it as God.
We think of it as Christ, but we forget that it's the word.
And so we lose the whole richness, the whole respect for the word.
And that is a dissimilarity between Jesus and the word.
It's good.
It's good.
It's a reasonable theology.
It's open.
It's open.
So that it's not only personal.
I wrote as a Jew.
He was a Jewish, really, philosopher.
He wrote a lot.
Now, but he was really an exegete.
He interpreted the Old Testament with the vision of the philosopher.
He was a mystical man.
There's another guy.
Also, the article in the New Capital Examination Logos has a good comparison of primary and sub-primary, as far as the primary is concerned.
They give a pretty good increase in primary's use of the language.
In fact, for one tribe, it's a mystical tribe.
It builds St.
Bernard the Brotherhood.
And another one is the one which ends up in the Protestant sense of the word.
An equal judgment of the world.
One is the word that calls you to conversion in which you have to remain a somewhat external word.
In other words, the mystical dimension is composed.
And the other one is a word which goes into the mystical direction so much that it can become over-introverted.
And these are two difficult kind of traps for our modern consciousness.
One which gets very rational and moral, in a sense, against those other dimensions of the depth dimension.
The other one, which goes into the text dimension, in the mystical world, and then forgets everything else.
One which is exterior, kind of public, kind of crazy in a sense.
The other which is purely interpretive.
And, you know, I think, I don't know if there's a reason for it.
Most of that stuff has elastic theology and how it deals with the work.
And Thomas Aquinas is, of course, keeping up the work.
He's very rich.
But it's a movement not the same as in that mystical tract of the case of origin.
I think we're going to miss the point I'm trying to make.
It's easy because you don't show it.
And the country didn't show it.
We'll have to pick that up sometime.
But that's a very important link.
It's an important link.
And it mysterious, of course, sometimes.
I hesitate to make that short.
The reason why I didn't want to name a guy before we did that was because he seems to be quite a sleeper.
And again, I mentioned that he was a sleeper, but that example of him being a crucible in which
And there's also the same place where Atlantis disappeared.
So, I don't know if you can tell, sir.
By those influences, it is obviously much more exemplary to have feelings of positive and negative.
And I think there's a kind of extraordinary value in that.
And that's why I was most relieved by the fact that I existed at that time.
And I was able to open the door to that in a new way.
And then a lot of Gnostic literature seems to be coming out of the same area.
Any questions on the logos before we go on?
About Irenaeus then.
I have one more reference for you.
It's Lasky's Vision of God, page 30-37, which treats RNAs.
And although he's talking about the vision of God, he's interested in the knowledge of God in a broader way.
And it's quite a useful treatment, actually.
It brings him some good texts, which are well-chosen and sensitive, crucial texts, and also brief ones.
Lasky, the Vision of God.
So we don't have too many references, useful ones, on RNAs and inhibitions.
I'd like to take these texts in his five books against the heresies, one by one, the ones that you have in those Xerox pages, and pick up the central themes.
So once again, don't be alarmed by all that material, because we'll go through it.
I have a few notes on here, and I ask if anybody's interested, just kind of a first approach to trying to grasp it.
He's quite elusive in a way, strange.
You can see what he's saying, but when you try to...
If you try to map it out, or try to make a structure for it, in a way the Gnostics are much easier to understand, but they're much more satisfying in a certain way.
Why is it?
Because they furnish you with a whole room full of stuff, you know?
They give you a whole... It's like a gymnasium.
It's got monkey bars, and it's got things over here, and you can, you know, do a lot of things in there.
Uranaeus, why?
Why is it so hard to understand Uranaeus, if you can hold it, or to believe that you have got it all?
Because it's so simple.
It's got the simplicity of the faith.
The simplicity, the kind of spherical simplicity of the faith, of the sentence, versus the very complicated machinery that you can make if you let your head run away.
If you start doing these trips with the truth,
Then you make a convent here.
And then you make all these trapezes and things and stuff.
You fill the place with furniture.
But with Pyrenees, it's a very modestly furnished house.
A lot of that tension is qualitative.
It's conciseness.
You can feel it.
And the people who live here, they can feel everything.
And make it as simple as possible.
He wants to make the contrast between their absurd complexities, their 30 aeons and their emanations and their descents and genealogies and all that stuff.
He wants to make that look absurd.
So he stresses the simplicity, the unity and the purity of the faith.
but also because they are dualists, okay, so they split things, and then in order to somehow conceal those splits, perhaps, they multiply the machinery.
So really his best argument is the unity, the simplicity, and then the beauty, the beauty of the faith.
And this is something that's implicit there, and you may not notice it, but what he's really saying very often is, look at the way this fits together, look at the glorious way in which this all exists together, look at the harmony between these
true because of its beauty.
And then look at those caricatures that the Gnostics are making.
So that argument is kind of implicit, I want to say.
And we'll bring that up because it comes out in one of the first texts.
As the end time, of course, will be gone, and that's the only thing I can do.
In fact, I'm amazed at that.
In the supplement, in front of us, you'll see that I'm talking about the person in front of you.
And I make sure the point of saying that he's trying to use the name of the father in the end, because he has a term in the university, a technical term, which is not Google.
This is the company, Watershed, where he has been a senior director of the lines and the language department.
It's a private corporate.
It's a possible sub-company.
It goes off the market.
who is always a little sleepy.
And he says it for the sake of example, which amazes me.
I must be conversant.
Which amazes me.
I must be conversant.
Which amazes me.
You have to be able to make a distinction, which is not made in the biblical English.
I'm glad that you brought that up, because we should say here now, Irenaeus is often given credit for being the first Christian theologian, the first one who makes a synthesis.
However, one thing he does not do, or hardly does, is to move out of the biblical language.
He remains almost completely in the language of larger than the testament.
I don't know of any examples to do with which he uses a term, an important term, which is not biblical.
Even his recapitulation is already in St.
It's quite simple.
No, it's only important to recognize it, okay, to see how he's different from the ones that follow, because very soon afterwards they have to start to do that.
And then they try to redefine Christianity in philosophical terms.
or in philosophical expressions which are taken up and then molded in order to fit the Christian name.
For instance, nature and person.
The Greek words that we know as nature and person are philosophical terms and not in the Bible.
They're taken up in order to express the Christian truth against some heretical name which is driven away from it.
You have to express it back in the same term, find a common ground in order to refute something.
I don't know, I think I may have seemed to.
I think exactly.
I think the point I was trying to make was that I think that the World Bank is making a value of the presence, not just that it may be, but that it needs to be recognized.
That's good.
That helps.
One thing is to have to counter an adversary who comes from outside.
And there you may not have to change your language.
However, if you have two Christians who are interpreting a biblical expression in different ways, then you may have to make a distinction, which is using a word which is not in the Bible, in order to clarify the truth.
He was talking to the Gnostics who were not really Christians.
In other words,
The thing about this is heresy is one thing, which is usually a distortion of a part of the truth.
But it's been pointed out that gnosticism, genuine gnosticism, is not a distortion of Christian truth, it's the replacement of it with something else.
It's a simple substitution of the dynamics of the working of the Christian reality, the Christian truth, with a whole other working, which is this straight knowledge thing, which bypasses the redemption.
So, it's not as if Irenaeus had to make some distinction within the Christian truth.
All he had to do was present it in its integrity, present it in its purity.
Some of them did, sure, a lot of them did.
But they weren't really Christians, that's the thing.
They may have thought they were, you know, sometimes.
Because what they did was to borrow Christ, as it were, borrow the name of Christ and the main features of the Christian faith, and then sort of paste them on what was already something else.
I'm taking the most extreme cases, you know.
Because you probably have some Christians who had a little taint of Gnosticism, who basically held the faith, the true faith in the incarnation, the faith in the one God,
and so on, faith in the redemption, but Dan had a little bit of, but he's talking about the pure thing, okay, and he was able to isolate the pure thing in Valentinus and in those other people, and then put it side by side with the pure Christian thing, so that's what he's talking about.
Okay, if somebody who has a watch will please tell me when it's got best.
What time is it now?
A little bit about Irenaeus.
I'm going to leave his life to you, okay, to look up, except I'll just read you a page here, a very brief summary.
Saint Irenaeus, at the end of the second century, this is from the introduction to this other work of his, a demonstration of the apostolic future.
We have two works of this, and it's a strange thing, neither one of them was in the original.
They were evidently both written in Greek, and what we have for the books against the heresies is a very old Latin translation, which may even have existed in the time of Herodotus himself.
And what we have for this, they got it from the Armenian authorities.
I don't know what happened to it.
They have a lot of Greek fragments, too, for the other book, which they put in footnotes, for instance, in the editions.
Saint Iridaeus comes in the history of patrology after the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists, and in some way constitutes a link between the latter and the Alexandrians.
That means Clement, Origen, and so on.
He may be said to belong to the third generation of Christian teachers.
For in his youth, in Asia Minor, he had known the celebrated Polycarp, and the latter had himself known our Lord's own disciples, and particularly the Apostle St.
John, the maiden bishop of Smyrna."
So there's a kind of straight line there.
Now, it's surprising how much of this there is in these early writers.
Remember, Ignatius spoke also of Polycarp, wrote to Polycarp.
And Irenaeus will be talking about Polycarp and about his acquaintance with John.
So it seems like a kind of small circle in a direct transmission.
In the reign of Marcus Aurelius, when persecution was raging at Lyons, Irenaeus was a presbyter in that city, and about the years 177-178 succeeded the martyr St.
Pythinus as its bishop.
The year of Irenaeus' death is unknown.
It's commonly put at about 202, at the time of the renewed persecution under Septimus Severus.
He is venerated as a martyr, but the evidence for his martyrdom is unsatisfactory.
So it may have been given to him in an honorary way.
He's, from start to finish, battling the Gnostics.
Both of his works are polemics against Gnosticism.
And here, once again, we see a case, and sometimes you doubt it, but you see a case in which that kind of stimulus leads to a very beautiful expression of the Christian faith.
In other words, not really a one-sided expression.
It leads him to really set forth the Christian truth in its balance and its purity.
You can always say, well, yes, but to do that, you have to amputate something else.
To do that, you have to pull in the defenses and close the doors and draw the limits to close them.
That's what Pagel says in her book, The Gnostic Gospel.
She says that this is the point at which we define orthodoxy in contrast to Gnosticism.
And you reject all of that truth that's there present in Gnosticism in other ways of saying, other ways of thinking.
However, you can't really make a very good case for that with any means.
There's something there which would pick up the question of whether a certain kind of creativity does begin to wither at this time.
He's plenty creative himself.
In our first text, we see, however, how he specifies
what the true Gnosis can be, versus what the Gnostics are doing.
You have to pardon me if I get kind of over-simple, as if the Gnostics, you know, are always the bad guys and so on.
That's the way we have it presented to us, we sort of slide into that.
The Gnostics were pretty thoroughly dualistic, it seems.
They tended to divide God, okay?
This may seem strange, but they said that the creator... I'm recalling this, for those of us who have looked into Gnosticism a little bit.
They said that the creation actually was made by a kind of second-grade God, the demiurge, and that the true God is, when they're Christian, the God of Jesus Christ, and the God who saves us, the God to whom we relate with our innermost being, with that spark of divinity which is in us.
But that the creation was made by a kind of
So there's a split in God, and Irenaeus is always making fun of him for having to invent a God who's better than God.
He says, well, how presumptuous you are.
You're not satisfied with the one who made you.
He says, you can't make a fly yourself if you're not satisfied with the God who made you.
You have to make a better one.
They divide Christ largely because they can't
accept the incarnation, that is, they can't see... The same crack, the same fault runs through all of these things, in dualism, because they can't accept the incarnation, the coming of God in the flesh, for the same reason that they can't accept the Creator as being the ultimate God.
Similarly, they divide the human person, because that spark inside of you is divine, but your body is not.
Matter, the body, those are...
Second quality, start from the beginning.
They're really unredeemable.
Some of them admit the incarnation, some of them admit the passion and death of Jesus into the flesh, not the heart and blood.
They divide the scriptures because they tend to reject the Old Testament as being the
word of this inferior God, or this actually negative God, God who enslaves, God who deals death rather than life.
And, you know, it's easy to get on that track, because it's very hard for us, really, to come to terms with a lot of the Old Testament.
When we reflect on it, you can go on reading it for years without that coming up.
It's easy to see.
Also, they tended to divide humanity into several classes of people.
You had the real spiritual people and the incarnate people, and the psychic people in between.
The Pentecostals called it a soul issue.
It's not a soul issue.
Now, Herodias' constant defense against all this division is unity.
The unity of God.
There's only one God.
We can get kind of weary of his saying it time after time, unless we find a way of hearing it.
Because every time he says it, it's almost like a doxology in a sense.
It's almost like a bit of celebration.
Let's take a look at our first text.
We've only picked one in
The ones that you have here in photocopy form are the ones with an asterisk on the list.
The other ones are useful and interesting, but I haven't copied them.
And since we only have one volume of the English, it's a little hard for everybody to get access to them.
The other thing that we have is the Source Chr├ętien edition with the original, where we have it, not the original, but the translation.
And the French, French translation of that.
So the Latin and the French.
Where in the case of the demonstration of the epistolic preaching, I guess it's only the French translation.
For those who are not born in Armenia.
OK, let's just read a little bit of that text together.
It gets rich as you get on.
The church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith, one God, one Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit.
So what he does is repeat the creed.
He's explaining the creed.
He comes right back to his fundamentals.
Now what he's been doing in the whole of this first book up to now, the first nine chapters, he's exposing the doctrines of a certain group of Gnostics, the Ptolemaeans, who I guess descended from Valentinus.
So he's been exposing their doctrines and making fun of them, spoofing at them, and now he's going to expose the Christian doctrine very simply.
And it's unity, because he says they have all kinds of different versions, different varieties of their story.
We have one case.
And in one Jesus Christ.
Notice how he emphasizes that there's one God who's the maker of all things.
The creator and the one ultimate God are the very same.
One Christ Jesus.
And in the Holy Spirit.
And what he does is kind of recapitulate the creed.
and his future manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father to gather all things in one."
Now, I don't know if he uses that word, recapitulation.
I think he probably does for the first time.
That's a key concept with RNAs.
We'll find it later on.
And to raise up a new whole flesh of the whole human race in order that to Christ Jesus every knee should bow and so on.
So you see the other simplicity of it all.
And you also see the way that
Ernest works from a Trinitarian basis.
And the way also that he's concerned with the action of the persons of the Trinity in history, the way that he very often exposes or differentiates the persons is in their various ways of manifesting themselves in history.
Particularly the word, the sun.
He didn't use the expression word head there, but he wrote very small.
Number two.
As I quote, the church having received this preaching in his faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it.
Now this is the end of the second century, but they say he wrote this about 190 something like that.
She also believes these points of doctrine just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart and she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down in perfect harmony as if she possessed only one mouth.
Now that may seem very commonplace to us, you know, but the thing about Irenaeus is that what he's expressing is the commonplace and he makes it ring.
He makes the commonplace just glow.
He shows the luminosity of the common truth of Christianity.
So we have to be kind of sensitive and open in order to see that.
We have to be careful sort of to cleanse our hearing a little bit when we listen to them.
Okay, that's enough for this morning.
We'll finish this one and go on with the others next time.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.