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BRIEF HISTORY
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH




 

HERESIES AND THE FIRST COUNCILS

It is said that the devil first attacked the early Church from without through persecution. But, failing in this, he changed his strategy. This time, he attacked from within, through heresies. The saints fought the heresies; while Holy Mother Church protected her flock through Ecumenical Councils. 

By the third century, the Church existed in relative calm and, in some parts, even in luxury. There was much time for everything specially for speculative theology. Instead of being concerned with how to live holy lives, people were speculating on the nature of God. The Hierarchy began to enter into politics and Emperors began to manipulate the hierarchy. The Church became splintered into several groups.

St. Jerome observed: that one day the whole world woke up to find itself Arian, a heresy propagated by the priest, Arius, and backed up by a bishop, Eusebius.

Before the Church could win her battle against the heresy of the priest, Arius, a bishop, Nestorius, arose with another heresy, denying that the Blessed Virgin was the Mother of God. This was followed by the heresy of the monk, Eutyches. As usual, God raised champions to refute the heresies; the Church summoned councils to protect the faithful: the Council of Nicea, to expose the heresy of Arius; the Council of Ephesus, to expose Nestorius; and the Council of Chalcedon, to expose Eutyches.

In fighting heresies, St. Irenaeus gave the cardinal rule: if anyone wants to know with certainty what is true in religious matters, he should study the teachings of the Church written by a line of holy bishops going back to the apostles, i.e., the Fathers, which are in the possession of the Catholic Church.

With heresies, the Church needed no attacks from without. The enemy was now within; from her own bosom, among her own priests, her own bishops and her own religious.

 

 

 

 

 

(07-29-03)

 

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                                                                                        - Teresa of Avila

 


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