In One House

From Against the Heresies, 1.10.1-13 (ca. 174-189)

The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. By faith, we believe in one God, the almighty Father, “who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them.” We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became human for our salvation. And we believe in the Holy Spirit who through the prophets foretold God’s plan: the coming of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, his birth from the Virgin, his passion, his resurrection from the dead, his ascension into heaven and his final coming from heaven in the glory of his Father, to “recapitulate all things” and to raise up all mortals from the dead, so that, by the decree of his invisible Father, he may make a just judgment in all things and so that “every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth” to Jesus Christ our Lord and our God, our Savior and our King, and “every tongue confess him.”

The Church, spread throughout the whole world, received this preaching and this faith and now preserves it carefully, dwelling as it were in one house. Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition.

The faith and the tradition of the churches founded in Germany are no different from those founded among the Spanish and the Celts, in the East, in Egypt, in Libya, and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world. Just as God’s creature, the sun, is one and the same the world over, so also does the Church’s preaching shine everywhere to enlighten all who want to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Now of those who speak with authority in the churches, no preacher however forceful will utter everything different — for no one is above the Master — nor will a less forceful preacher diminish what has been handed down. Since our faith is everywhere the same, no one who can say more augments it, nor can anyone who says less diminish it.

St. Irenaeus (ca.130 – ca. 202) was a Greek theologian and missionary, who served as Bishop of Lyons. His Against All Heresies, which is primarily concerned with refuting the Gnostic heresy, was the first major surviving work of theology written after the New Testament. His feast is on June 28.


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