Edward H. (Edward Henry) Hall.

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3 3433 07954987 3

)RTH0D0XY AND Heresy

Christian Church

Edward H. Hall



Leno:: Arenue Unitamn Sunday-School

Cor. Lenox Aveiine aiul l' Street,

LoMlied t(
















R 1928 L

Copyright, 1883,
By American Unitarian Association.








Paul and the Apostles i

Views of the Early Church concerning Christ 21

Arianism and the Council of Nic^ea .... 48

Controversy concerning the two Natures . . (y^

The Pelagian Controversy ........ 87


The Catholic Church 108

The Lutheran Heresy 131

Other Trinitarian Heresies 162

Unitarian Heresies 191


Religion and Dogma 220





'T^HE terms Orthodoxy and Heresy are so familiarly
-*" used that it seems to me worth while to attach to
them, if possible, a definite signification. Have they any
exact meaning in relation to Christianity, and if so, what
is it? What is Christian Orthodoxy, and what phases of
belief come legitimately under the head of heresy? To
answer these questions is the purpose of the present course
of lectures. If in accomplishing this purpose the lectures
shall also aid in answering the further question, Is Ortho-
doxy of faith essential to Christianity? or the question
larger still. Is dogma a necessary part of religion ? the en-
tire object of the course, as it now lies in my mind, will be

The first point to be made, in carrying out this plan, is
to determine the meaning of Christian Orthodoxy. The
term heresy, as commonly used, has no meaning unless
the religion in question has an estabHshed and authorized


system of doctrines. Had Christianity such a system at
the beginning, and if not, when did it form one ?

To determine this point, we must look first at the very
beginnings of the Christian Church. I invite you this
evening, therefore, to glance with me at Christianity as
held by its first disciples ; by the Aposdes of Christ them-
selves. Here are the historical records ; very scanty it is
true, and often vaguest where we should wish to have
them most exact ; and yet, scanty as they are, containing
far more than is commonly discovered. I propose to
look carefully, to-night, at the pages of the New Testa-
ment, and will do my best neither to put anything of my
own into them, nor to extort from them any meaning
which is not fakly theirs.

Exattly how soon after the death of Jesus the Aposdes
gathered again at Jerusalem, we cannot tell ; for all the
memories of this period, as is quite natural, were vague
and confused, and the dates in the Book of Acts are as
uncertain as the events described are misty and phantom-
like. No better illustration could be given of the state of
mind common to all who passed through the exciting
scenes of Christ's seizure and crucifixion, than the con-
flicting statements as to the time which elapsed before
what is called his ascension. This event, unknown to
Matthew, to John, and to Mark,^ but mentioned twice by
the writer of Luke and Acts, is described in the one case "^
as happening within one day of the Resurrection, in the

^ The last twelve verses of Mark's Gospel are commonly pro-
nounced spurious. '^ Luke xxiv. i, 13, 36, 51.


other,^ as happening after forty days. In other words,
when these two books were written, it was already for-
gotten whether Jesus was with his disciples, after his cruci-
fixion, for twenty-four hours or for more than a month.

The one thing which is clear in the early chapters of
Acts is, that the Apostles were gathered in Jerusalem, and
were living in daily expectation of their Master's return.
The cnicifixion, as you know, had astonished and scattered
them. It brought not only terror but despair; for it
seemed, at the moment, a final blow to all their hopes.
So firmly rooted in their minds was the behef, long tra-
ditional among the Jews, that their Messiah would not
die, but was to re-establish on earth the Kingdom of Is-
rael, and subject all nations to Jehovah's sway, that their
first feeling was that they had been wholly deceived.
"We trusted it had been he," they said, "which should
have redeemed Israel." ^ The crucifixion thus forced upon
them this stern alternative ; either Jesus was not the
Messiah, or he had not really or finally died, but had
passed up directly into heaven, to return as he had prom-
ised, "before that generation should pass," to establish
himself on earth as king.

Which side of this alternative they chose, we all know.
Their faith in Jesus proved stronger than all their fore-
bodings, and they came together again in Jerusalem, as he
had bidden them, to await his speedy coming. The state
of feeling with which they met appears plainly from an
examination of the language which all the writers of this
1 Acts i. 3. 2 Luke xxiv. 21.


period employ. With the idea of heaven then prevailing
as a local spot above the clouds, inhabited by God and
his angels, it was easy for the Jew to conceive of Jesus as
having been snatched up into the skies, where he would
sit " at the right hand of God," ^ until the time arrived
when he should come down " in like manner as they had
seen him go up into heaven," ^ and mount the Messiah's
throne. Everything indicates this expectation. Christ's
coming is not spoken of in these pages as an event which
has already occurred, but as something still to be. The
tense is not past but future. The Messiah has not
"come," he "is coming." "The Lord shall send Jesus
Christ which was preached unto you," says Peter in heal-
ing the lame man.^ Such expressions as " Waiting for
the coming of the Lord Jesus," " Waiting for the Lord,"
"The coming of the Lord draweth nigh," "We which are
alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord," are con-
stantly met in all the writings of this age. It is an hour of
intense expectancy, with all the high-wrought feeling and
excited imagination which always characterize such hours.
They are waiting for their Lord. Every unusual event
seems startling, providential, miraculous. Every stir in
the elements might be the descent of the Holy Ghost
which he had promised ; every breath of wind, his com-
ing down from the skies whither he had ascended.

The religious organization of this little band of primitive
Christians seems to have corresponded wholly with their
religious faith. Various sects have been at pains to trace
1 Acts ii. 33. 2 ^cts i. 1 1. ^ Acts iii. 20.


back their ecclesiastical forms to these early days. In
reality, I suppose, the simplest organization ever thought
of in our own times is far too complicated for the Apos-
toHc age. Indeed, why should we look for any distinct
organization at all? "The time was short." "The day
of the Lord was to come as a thief in the night." It
might be a few years, it might be a few months, it might
be but a few days, ere the Son of Man should appear.
What motive was there then for establishing special rites,
or ecclesiastical offices, or sacred places, or holy days ?

Plainly, nothing of the kind was done. Judging at least
from the evidence before us, the disciples of Jesus contin-
ued as before, living and worshipping among their fellow
Jews, sharing the universal expectation of a Messiah, dif-
fering from their fellow-countrymen only in considering
Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah, and cherishing his glorious
image in their hearts. There is no proof that as yet, or
until they were forced to do so, they separated themselves
openly from other Jews, or showed any disposition to for-
sake Jewish observances. Apparently, they considered
themselves the true Israel. They still read and quoted
the Mosaic Scriptures, they still baptized their converts
into the Jewish Church, they were found " daily with one
accord in the Temple," ^ they observed the Jewish Pente-
cost,^ Passover,^ and Sabbath,* they performed Jewish
vows,^ they were faithful to the Jewish hours of prayer,^
they "abstained from meats offered to idols, and from

1 Acts ii. 46. 2 Acts ii. i ; xx. 16; i Cor. xvi. 8. ^ Acts xx. 6.
* Acts xiii. 42, 44 ; xvi. 13 ; xvii. 2 ; xviii. 4. ^ Acts xviii. 18 ; xxi.
23-26. 6 Acts iii. I ; X. 9.


blood, and from things strangled," ^ they surrendered with
great reluctance, and only in course of time, the rite of
circumcision.-^ They were as yet a family rather than a
church ; a domestic, not an ecclesiastical group. " All
that believed were together, and had all things common ; "
" breaking bread from house to house , they did eat their
meat with gladness and singleness of heart." ^ In later
times, when they had ceased longer to expect Jesus, and
began only to remember him, this simple ceremony of the
"breaking of bread" assumed a memorial form, and be
came, after a few years, the Lord's Supper. But not at
first. For a time his followers were wholly absorbed in
the hope of his coming ; they were looking forward, not
backward. They were Jews still, with a fine expectation
in their souls.

Such was primitive Christianity. Such for the first eight
or ten years of its existence, at least, was the Christian
Church, if Church it could yet be called. Nor was its
doctrinal faith less primitive than its form. No one who
reads the accounts of the first preaching of the' Apostles,
and notices the appeals by which they won their first con-
verts, can fail to be struck by the limited range and ex-
treme simplicity of their discourses. Of the higher thought
which Jesus had spoken, no hint is to be found. Their
one consideration seems to have been, not the future
growth of Christianity, but the immediate change which
was impending. The single theme, reiterated in many
forms, which seems to have covered the whole ground of
1 Acts XV. 29. 2 Acts XV. I ; xvi. 3; Gal. vi. 12. ^ Acts ii. 44, 46.


their ministry, was this : Jesus is the Messiah ; he will speed-
ily come ; repent and be baptized in his name.

But it was impossible for this state of things to last.
Narrow and unspiritual as were these first teachings, still
the higher thought was there, for it had certainly been
spoken, and was waiting then for further utterance. Not
every one had forgotten it, or failed to comprehend it.
Among those who joined in the Jewish ceremonials, some
there must have been who were carrying in their hearts
those better words, " The sabbath was made for man, and
not man for the sabbath," "Ye hypocrites, who pay tithe
of mint, anise, and cummin," " Not every one that saith
unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is
in heaven." It was only necessary for some soul to ap-
pear, responsive to these nobler utterances, and conscious
of their inconsistency with the Mosaic faith, and the little
Christian community would learn a larger Gospel. It was
simply a question of time when the new truth should come
to an open break with the old.

The first warning note of the inevitable conflict came
from a quarter whence one would least have expected it.
While Peter, John, and James preached their gospel among
the Jews without exciting hostihty, the first serious offence
seems to have been caused by one of a little group of sub-
ordinates who had been appointed, somewhat contemptu-
ously perhaps, to "serve the tables," and wait upon the
widows, while the Twelve gave themselves " to prayer and
the ministry of the word." ^ Lowly as was their office, one
1 Acts vi. 2-4.


among their number rose at once above the very Apostles
who had so haughtily assigned them their work.

The fate of Stephen, the first martyr, is a familiar story ;
I ask you now simply to notice the exact cause of his
violent death. That he preached Jesus as the Messiah
could not have been his offence in the eyes of the
Jews, for Peter and John had long taught this without
being stoned. The charge against him was a more
serious one, — " We have heard him say that this Jesus
of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change
the customs which Moses delivered us."^ In other
words, Stephen was the first to be put to death, because
he was the first to catch the more spiritual purport of
Jesus' words, and set them in contrast with the Mosaic
ceremonial. Quoting, perhaps, such sayings as these,
" In this place is one greater than the Temple ; ".^ quot-
ing from their own Scriptures, " The most High dwelleth
not in temples made with hands," ^ — Stephen, like his
Master before him,-* was charged with blasphemy, and
when he bravely refused to retract, he was stoned to death
for having spoken " against Moses and against God."

Stephen's death, however, beautiful and heroic as it
was, gains its chief significance from the consequences
to which it led, and the impression which its heroism
seems to have made upon one greater than himself, or
one at least with larger opportunity to carry forward the
truth for which Stephen had become a martyr. This is
not the place for a full account of Paul's ministry ; yet

1 Acts vi. 14. - Matt. xii. 6. ^ Acts vii. 48. ^ Matt. xxvi. 61.


it is important to notice, just at this point, the exact cir-
cumstances of his actual entrance as a teacher and worker
into the Christian community.

Paul's apostleship by no means began immediately
upon his conversion, nor was his conversion itself the in-
stantaneous thing it might at first appear. Like all genu-
ine spiritual changes, it was evidently a gradual process,
culminating, no doubt, in one startling experience, but
prepared for, as we have seen, by the incidents of Ste
phen's death as well as by a general acquaintance with
Christian teachings, and followed by a long period of ap-
parent solitude and reflection. According to his own
account, he first spent three years in Arabia and Damas-
cus, either feeling as yet no call to engage openly in the
new cause, or not wholly at home in it, went then to Jeru-
salem to consult with the leading Christian Apostles, met
with no warm welcome from them, but only with suspicion
and fear, and finally retired, as if in discouragement, to
his native Tarsus, where he remained until certain new
developments brought him into active service.^

After the death of Stephen, the little community at
Jerusalem became naturally the object of greater suspicion
on the part of the Jews, and finally of a general perse-
cution, which does not seem to have affected the Apostles,
but which drove many of the more zealous members
abroad "throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria," ^
"as far as Cyprus and Antioch."^ But here arose at
once a new perplexity. Hitherto, as we have seen, the

1 Gal. i. 17-18 ; Acts ix. 26-30. 2 ^^ts viii. i. 3 Acts xi. 19.


whole movement had been carried on within the Jewish
church, nor did any of the Apostles seem to have con-
sidered that their mission extended beyond it. Recalling,
perhaps, certain words of Jesus himself,^ they evidently
regarded the coming of the Messiah as in consequence
of the promise made to the chosen people, and therefore
as concerning them alone. Acting on this principle when
they first left Jerusalem, they soon found themselves, for
the first time, face to face with Greeks, and some of their
number ventured to preach the Lord Jesus, and offer the
blessings of his Messiahship, even to them.^ At once
rumors of this bold proceeding reached the Apostles at
Jerusalem, to whom the action seemed so grave and the
moment so critical, that Barnabas, one of the most trust-
worthy of their followers, was instantly sent to Antioch,
where the new movement had begun, to take the matter
in charge. Barnabas in turn, with this new and serious
responsibility upon him, seems to have bethought himself
of the zealous convert, whom the Apostles had regarded
with so much suspicion, but whose worth he had recog-
nized from the first, and who was then in retirement at
Tarsus. Saul, visited thus in person by Barnabas, and
called to the new field which had opened outside of
Jerusalem, entered willingly upon the work, and found
himself, as events proved, exactly where his help was
most needed, and his powers could be turned to best
account.* His special mission was obvious at once.

1 Matt. X. 5, 6; xv. 24. 2 Acts xi. 19, 20. 3 Acts xi. 22-26; ix.
26, 27.


But few years passed after Saul's entrance upon his
labors, before an event occurred which proved how well
Barnabas had chosen, and how sorely the Apostles needed
precisely the element among them which the new convert
brought. The new experiment which had been initiated
at Antioch, of preaching the gospel to Gentile as well as
Jew, and inviting both to enter the heavenly kingdom on
equal terms, was by no means regarded with universal favor.
On the contrary, it was held by many to be subversive, as
it really was, of the ancient faith, and caused nowhere
greater scandal than in Jerusalem, in the sacred circle of
the Apostles themselves. Alarmed at the rumors which
reached their ears, they sent messengers to Antioch, who
were dismayed at discovering a far greater looseness
and freedom than they had supposed. They even found
that converts were admitted into the church without being
circumcised ; and felt called upon to tell the followers of
Barnabas and Paul, " Except ye be circumcised after the
manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." ^

The council at Jerusalem which resulted from this visit,
ajid which is so differently narrated in Acts xv. and Gala-
tians ii.,^ was evidently the most important event in the early
history of the church ; and the singular asperity with which
it was conducted shows how serious a point was involved
in its discussions. Paul himself, in writing of it to the

1 Acts XV. I.

2 The discrepancy between these two accounts has long been
familiar to Bible students, and has defied all attempts at reconcili-
ation. In choosing between them we are justified, of course, in
following the statements of Paul himself.


Galatians, about sixteen years later, betrays plainly enough,
by the exceptional severity and sarcasm of his tone, how
deeply he had been wounded, and how angry an opposi-
tion he had encountered at the hands of the Jerusalem
Apostles. The messengers whom they had sent to An-
tioch to examine into its affairs, he calls " false brethren,
unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our
liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might
bring us into bondage ; " ^ speaking of the Apostles them-
selves, he says " those who seemed to be somewhat (what-
soever they were, it maketh no matter to me : God ac-
cepteth no man's person)," "James, Cephas, and John,
who seemed to be pillars / " '^ while throughout the whok
account Paul is anxious to show the great diiference of
opinion between himself and the Apostles, and to prove
how little he allowed himself to be influenced by them.

The meaning of all this is unmistakable, and the attitude
in which Paul appears is admirable. Nothing in his whole
career brings out so clearly the strength of his character,
or the intensity and persistency of his purpose, as this first
great triumph over official blindness and bigotry. The
picture is a striking one. On the one side were Peter,
James, and John, the personal followers of Jesus, who had
heard his words and been eye-witnesses of his career, who
had been chosen to represent him and still bore un-
challenged the sacred title of "Apostles," yet who honestly
believed that the gospel was to the Jews, that every one
who accepted it must accept also the whole Law of Moses,
1 Gal. ii. 4. 2 Gal. ii. 6-9.


that the rite of circumcision, the eating of certain meats,
and the observance of Sabbaths and feast days, as being
part of the Law of Moses, were as incumbent upon the
follower of Christ as upon the Jew himself, and that to
admit Gentiles into the kingdom on equal terms was to
falsify all the promises of the Fathers. On the other side
appeared this new and almost unknown convert, but just
now their malignant persecutor ; this recent comer into
their ranks, who had never heard or seen Jesus, who
claimed no official authority whatever, yet who dared
boldly to dispute their word and deny their interpretation
of the new faith, to challenge the sanctity of the Mosaic
Law, and claim exemption from its " bondage " in the
name of Christ, to take open ground against the necessity
of circumcision, and to claim for himself the same right to
preach to the Gentiles which the Jerusalem Apostles had
to preach to the Jews. On the one side, official dignity
and traditional authority ; on the other, the force of per-
sonal conviction. It is proof enough of Paul's strength,
that in the unequal conflict he carried the day. It is a
happy thing for Christianity that in this first great struggle
between the letter and the spirit, the cause of Christian
freedom found so resolute a champion. Paul did not win
the Apostles over to his belief ; but he secured their recog-
nition and indorsement of his work. They consented
that the field should J^e divided between themselves and
him. " When James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to
be pillars, perceived the grace given to me, they gave to
me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship ; that we


should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circum-

That I have not exaggerated either the importance of
this event, or the gravity of the dissension between Paul
and his opponents, is amply proved by the frequent allu-
sions to these very points in Paul's several Epistles. The
danger that his followers would feel themselves still bound
by the Jewish Law seemed constantly upon his mind.
" Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath
made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke
of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye
be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing."^ "Why
turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, where-
unto ye desire again to be in bondage ? Ye observe days
and months, and times and years." ^ " One believeth
that he may eat all things : another who is weak eateth
herbs." "One man esteemeth one day above another;
another esteemeth every day alike." ^ " He is not a Jew
who is one outwardly ; neither is that circumcision which
is outward in the flesh." ^ "We are the circumcision,
which worship God in the spirit." ^ " Let no man judge
you in meat or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or
of the new moon, or of the sabbath." '

Certain passages prove that sides were early taken on
this great question, and parties threatened the unity of the
young church. " Every one of you saith, I am of Paul ;
and I of ApoUos ; and I of Cephas ; and I of Chriit. Is

1 Gal. ii. 9. 2 Oal. v. i, 2. ^ Qal. iv. 9, 10. * Kom. xiv. 2, 5
5 Rom. ii. 28. ''> Phil. iii. 3. ' Coloss. ii. 16.


Christ divided? " ^ "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark
them which cause divisions and avoid them." ^ Equally
significant are other passages which indicate either that
Paul was strangely sensitive as to his official title, or else,
as is far more likely, that his opponents strove to lessen
his authority by denying him the name of Apostle, and
taunted him with the fact that he had received no com-
mission from Jesus himself. " Paul, an Apostle, not of
men, but by Jesus Christ an 1 God the Father."^ "Am
I not an Apostle? am I not free? have I not seen
Jesus Christ our Lord? " ^ " I suppose I was not a whit
behind the very chiefest Apostles." " For in nothing am
I behind the very chiefest Apostles," ^

The character of the opposition which Paul encoun-
tered through life, and the source from which it came,
appear in passages like these, — "-His letters, say they,
are weighty and powerful ; but his bodily presence is
weak, and his speech contemptible." "Such are false

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Online LibraryEdward H. (Edward Henry) HallTen lectures on orthodoxy & heresy in the Christian church → online text (page 1 of 16)