It was great to have a little tour of Pittsburgh with Chris Chapman at the helm. Last evening I spoke to the Diocesan Adult Education Lecture Series on St Benedict and St Therese–The Little Rule and the Little Way. Met some blog readers, caught up on some reading and writing and am now heading back to Greenville. More and more airports provide free WiFi which means you can blog on the go.
I’m reading Kenneth Howell’s new commentary on Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Symrna. A review will be posted shortly, but Howell points out how much the early fathers fought against Docetism. Docetism is the heresy that proposes that Jesus Christ was not fully God incarnate, but only seemed to be God or that he was merely ‘godlike’. They also denied the reality of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, denied the miraculous, neglected the poor and were eventually schismatic.
The interesting thing for me was to see how the Docetists were the modernists of their day. What do the modernists teach except that Christ was not really God in the flesh. Instead combined with a feel good self help kind of religion they teach that Christ was ‘so fully man that he shows us God.’ In other words he ‘seemed’ like God or reflects the Divine in Man. Like the Docetists they also deny miracles and the Eucharistic miracle. They also don’t see the problem with schism.
Howell points out that Ignatius and Polycarp fought to defend the Catholic understanding of the faith. The fully incarnational view of Christ leads to the fully sacramental Catholic view. Jesus Christ was true God from true God. The bread and wine truly become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. The Church is the Body of Christ, the sacrament of salvation. Therefore schism is a terrible wound to the Body of Christ the Church and a terrible wound to the unity of that Body through the Eucharist. In Catholicism everything is connected, and the sin of heresy and schism is not just a matter of ‘well, I like this church better than that one’ or ‘this belief seems more reasonable to me’ but both heresy and schism are grievous sins against the whole Church which is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
Ignatius and Polycarp and the other fathers of the Church (as well as the apostles themselves) did not hesitate to condemn the heretics and schismatics as false teachers and enemies of the gospel of Christ. We are not so bold.