June 28, 2008

Irenaeus

Irenaeus is known as Bishop of Lyons in southern France and today, the 28th, is his day on the church calendar. He became one of the most important Christian writers of the second century - a great theologian. The institution of church was still in it's 'newness'. He was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John the Evangelist, who knew Jesus intimately.

His primary work, Against Heresies, was especially concerned with the Gnostics (Greek for "knowledge"). Irenaeus thoroughly investigated the various Gnostic sects and their "secret", and contrasted it with the teaching of the apostles. Many of his other writings are quoted in other people's writings.

Irenaeus opposed the Gnostic attitude toward creation by affirming both creation and redemption as the acts of God. The "One Creator God" worked through his "two hands".

"The things we learned in childhood are part of our soul," he wrote, and he cherished Polycarp's teaching "not on paper but in my heart"; "This is what I heard from the man who knew the man who saw and heard and recorded it".
Irenaeus was the first to state the four Gospels as canon, saying they are the ones we may trust.

"Give perfection to beginners, O Father; give intelligence to the little ones; give aid to those who are running their course. Give sorrow to the negligent; give fervour of spirit to the lukewarm."
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