Some definitions from The Catechism Paragraph 2089:
2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”
Father Linsky led an interesting and informative discussion on heresies and the struggles of Church leaders to battle them and arrive at “correct if incomplete” understandings of The Triune God.
Below is a link to a blog post I did in 2011, the same year I was received into the Catholic Church. It includes a list of 2000 years of heresies and comments I had about them at the time. In view of Father Linsky’s helpful comments this morning, I should modify the second sentence to omit “correct” and simply say, ” From a Catholic viewpoint, possible explanations that were rejected by the church carry the label, “heresy,” meaning that while we have no complete explanations of God, those particular rejected explanations have been judged to be wrong.” And, if I were publishing it today, I would change the title to suggest a struggle to “Defend the Faith” rather than to “Explain the Unexplainable.” But, that is what I wrote and think I shouldn’t revise history.
You will have to click on the chart listing the heresies to get a readable version. If you want a hard copy, let me know. Here is the link: HERESY!
Recent Heresy (1940’s)
In case of interest in digging into the most recent heresy on the list, Fenneyism, here is an analysis of it published on the EWTN website.
More on Nestorius
You can read a well organized summary of Nestorius and the Nestorian heresy on Encyclopedia Britannica.
I wish I could more often recommend the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (link to Nestorius), but I just can’t deal with those 500+ word fine-print paragraphs and abundant distracting hot links.
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
And, below is more detail on heresy from The Catechism of The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is from the section on The Creed about The Church, in particular the word, “One…” This is from the Vatican website.
Wounds to unity
817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church – for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.”269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 – do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271
818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers …. All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”272
819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth”273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.”274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”276
820 “Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.”277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me.”278 The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279
821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:
– a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;280
– conversion of heart as the faithful “try to live holier lives according to the Gospel”;281 for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;
– prayer in common, because “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name ‘spiritual ecumenism;”‘282
-fraternal knowledge of each other;283
– ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;284
– dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;285
– collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.286 “Human service” is the idiomatic phrase.
822 Concern for achieving unity “involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.”287 But we must realize “that this holy objective – the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ – transcends human powers and gifts.” That is why we place all our hope “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”288