faith of our fathers

Arthur Middleton on heresy

The 'one faith' was given 'once for all' [Jude 3] by the Apostles from the momentary voice of God the Father at Jesus' baptism: "Thou art my beloved Son', and at his Transfiguration: "This is my Son, my chosen; listen to him'; from the continuous instruction by word and act of God the Son: "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you'; and the continuous inspiration of God the Holy Spirit: 'But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things'.

This faith thus delivered by the Apostles as the messengers of God was gradually formulated into a few principal propositions (as particular doctrines were successively called into question), by the collected representatives of the Church, until a Standard of Faith was completed in the Nicene Creed, which became the Rule of Faith. This Creed comprises those truths which all hang together in such a unity that one link of the chain cannot be taken away without injury to the whole chain.

Heretics are, therefore, those who break the 'one faith' by making a selection (a la carte), of some parts of it for acceptance and belief and of others for rejection and disbelief. The parable of the tares sown among the wheat predicted that heresies would arise in the Church. Our Lord's use of the word 'enemy' [Matt. 13.25] implies that such heresies arise from Satan, that sower of division who originally separated man from God.

The 'one faith' was affected by Judaizing influences and by the Greek and Oriental philosophy with which it came into contact. Here we see the first sowing of the tares. The early forms of opposition to Christianity, as in the latter-day attacks on Christianity - the denial of the facts that lay at the foundation of its principles - soon became a perversion of the facts that spawned misleading interpretations of the principles themselves.

All heresy originates from the more or less false answer to the question, 'What think ye of Christ; whose Son is he?' For the germ of the whole faith was contained in that divine proclamation from heaven, "Thou art my Beloved Son.' Every form of heresy may be traced to some misbelief relating to the Incarnate Person of the Blessed Trinity. The earliest heretics, consequently, after those who actually denied the Incarnation or the Resurrection, endeavoured to depreciate the glory of Christ.

Today's innovators must answer the same question, 'What think ye of Christ; whose Son is he?' The Catholic Faith has always been there and is not an invention of humankind but a revelation of God, a touchstone of truth. Any innovation in religion has got to show that it has always been there. The burden of proof lies with the innovator, who has to prove that his particular '-ism' was always there. Secular feminism, which reduces God and his revelation to the transience of political correctness and the threefold ministry to the politics of human rights, must answer the same question.

As early as the second century, Hippolytus declared, in the face of Montanist priestesses, that this destroyed apostolic faith and order. Since then, and until the late twentieth century, the feminizing of holy order was unheard of, so that the protagonists have had to leap over eighteen centuries to invent it.

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