This Site Has Moved Once More

Sorry for the confusion everyone, the new site’s url has been changed as the site had to be redone again.

Our New Home: http://christianheresiology.com/

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Charismatic Authority in the Early Church Part 4

As I said in my previous post, there is much evidence that early Christianity was actually a plurality rather then the monolith that tradition wants us to believe it was. A very good example of this pluralism is the history of the development of the Canon of the New Testament. The final canon was not officially designated until the Synod of Rome in 382 CE. That means that for more then three centuries various Christian communities accepted non-canonical gospels and letters as canonical. What these various Gospels and letters actually said was not really known to modern Christians until late in the 20th century. The most important of these gospels and letters were part of the discovery at Nag Hammadi in lower Egypt near a monastery dedicated to Saint Pachomius. The papyri from Nag Hammadi were not made public until the 1980s although they were discovered shortly after World War 2. Elaine Pagels in the Gnostic Gospels details the history of the scholarly in-fighting that delayed their publication.

The most important Gospels from Nag Hammadi are The Gospel of Phillip, The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Truth and The Gospel of Mary Magdallene. These Gospels present a somewhat different picture of what Jesus taught then that presented in the Synoptics. These four non-canonical Gospels are the core of what has become known as The Gnostic Gospels. For the purpose of our discussion, we will treat them as they were treated in the earliest Centuries of Christianity: of equal value to the Synoptics. As I said in my previous post, most of the earliest heresies, which are the progenitors of all the later heresies, fall under the rubric of Gnosticism. So, what is Gnosticism really? Continue reading

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Charismatic Authority in the Early Church Part 3

Weber’s typology of social authority is based on what Weber calls the increasing rationalization of society, with charismatic authority being the least rational and bureaucracy being the most rational. We must keep in mind that Weber tries to avoid adding or implying any value judgments in his sociology, although he does use common terms, like rational, that most of us implicitly assign value. Rationalization for Weber meant increasing dependency on laws or rules rather then personal authority which he considered neither good nor bad.

The major difference between Christian Gnosticism and Christian Orthodoxy was that Orthodoxy by rhe xecond century had established a basic hierarchy(bishop, priest and deacon) who’s authority was grounded not in the personal charisma of the titleholder but rather the power of the position. This power was rooted in the tradition of apostolic succession, I.E. each deacon, priest or bishop was ordained into his office by someone who’s ordination could be trace back to one of the original disciples. In the early church the bishops were seen as the direct descendants/successors of the disciples. Continue reading

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Charismatic Authority in the Early Church Part 2

Before we continue our discussion of the History of Christian Hersey I want to talk a little more about the historical situation in which Christianity found itself in the First Century CE. The common understanding of early Christian history, the one put forth by Christian Orthodoxy, is that Christianity has always been a more or less unified belief system, with all factions/denominations accepting certain core tenets. As Elaine Pagel points out in the introduction of her seminal work The Gnostic Gospels, first-century Christianity was a much more diverse religion then most Christian traditions have led us to believe.

As I have said in other posts and pages, history is written by the victors. In the case of Christianity, the victors claim to be the truth, orthodoxy. Any group or individual not ascribing to the “truth” of Orthodoxy is considered heretical. However, as we shall see, Orthodoxy is not defined by the correctness, in any absolute sense, of their it’s beliefs. Rather, Orthodoxy becomes Orthodoxy because it wield more political power then any other group. Orthodoxy, to put things in Weberian terms, develops a bureaucracy, an institutionalization hierarchy that wields a great deal of political power, while charismatic groups are forced underground and even completely suppressed by that bureaucracy. Continue reading

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Jesus and the Law: Part Two

In the last post, I quoted several verses from Matthew in which Jesus explains how he understood his relationship to the Mosaic Law. The translation I used was the King Jamws Version, which is based on a translation of the Latin Vulgate Version of the Bible. The Vulgate originally was compiled by Saint Jerome in the late 4th century. [I suggest you read the Linguistics of Heresy Part One and Part Two before continuing.]
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Jesus and The Law Part One

What I want to talk about today is how Jesus understood who and what he was in relationship to the Mosaic Law. As i mentioned in the previous post, The Pauline Tradition has distorted/misunderstood this relationship. The following quote from Matthew will serve as the basis for how I believe Jesus understood his role within Judaism.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-19

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Successors of Jesus: Saint James Part Three

As I mentioned earlier, when I refer to Christian orthodoxy I am specifically talking about the Western Catholic tradition. At some point I may explore the differences between western orthodoxy and eastern (including Coptic) traditions. According to the Catholic tradition, there are two apostles recognized as Saint James. One is designated Saint James the Greater, the other Saint James the Lesser. Continue reading

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