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I'm using a plan that has me reading through 10 of the Church Fathers during Lent this year. Today was St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Trallians.

Here's a part that I liked:

CHAPTER VI.--ABSTAIN FROM THE POISON OF HERETICS.

I therefore, yet not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, entreat you that ye use Christian nourishment only, and abstain from herbage of a different kind; I mean heresy. For those [that are given to this] mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does greedily take, with a fatal pleasure leading to his own death.
It appears that dealing with heresy is one of the main things St. Ignatius is working with in this letter. The history of Christ he provides a little later reads as though it is designed to refute claims that are being made:

CHAPTER IX,--REFERENCE TO THE HISTORY OF CHRIST.

Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.
I was also struck by the personal touches at the end of the letter. Like in the epistles that are part of the canon, reading the personal well-wishes always serve to remind me that the author of the letter is a real person, a person who struggles with day-to-day issues, as well as the weighty issues of theology that most of the letters deal with.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
naqerj
Feb. 25th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
The big heresy Ignatius was dealing with was Docetism—the teaching that Jesus was truly God but only appeared to be a man (there are hints of this same problem being dealt with in St. John's writings in the NT). I can't recall which epistle it is where St. Ignatius does this, but at one point, he says that you can spot the heretics in the congregation because they refuse to receive Holy Communion, believing that it cannot possibly truly be Christ's Body and Blood.

I'm not sure how much background reading you've done on Ignatius's epistles, but the personal greetings are particularly poignant, considering that they were written (possibly dictated) while Ignatius was journeying from Antioch to Rome under imperial guard to be eaten by lions.
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