Ancient Heresies

From almost the beginning of Christianity, churches have had to contend with the same five basic heresies. Although the people who devised these heresies may be dead, the heresies themselves are not. A very familiar passage in Ecclesiastes says:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was already here, long ago; it was here before our time.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, NIV

Virtually every cult and major false doctrine today – those who continually come knocking on your door – has a very close relationship to at least one of the five major heresies. Even a major Christian denominations like the Roman Catholic Church has ties to two of these heresies, Catholicism a mixture of the Judaizing and Pelagian heresies. The earliest heresy was that of the Judaizers, a synthesis Old Testament Judaism with New Testament Christianity. Next in history came Gnosticism which was an attempt to blend pagan philosophy with Christianity. While the Judaizers fiercely clung to the past, the Gnostics represented a radical break with the past, which is typical of what always happens. Christians, in reaction to one extreme, swing over to the other extreme. The five basic heresies that have plagued and continue to plague churches even today, and which may be clicked on to read more in-depth:

  1. Legalism (the Judaizers)
  2. Gnosticism
  3. Arianism
  4. Pelagianism
  5. Socinianism

Although there are other heresies, such as Marcionism and Sabellianism, such are subsets of the five. Sabellianism, also called Modalism, is a subset of Arianism, while Marcionism is a subset of Gnosticism. Each of the five heresies listed above are hyperlinks which lead to an in-depth article on the subject of that particular heresy.