I started reading the ancient church fathers on CCEL again. I got out of the habit and want to come back.
I return with someone I can relate to. Irenaeus is best known for his polemics: Against All Heresies. I need to read this work because of my desire to steer people away from lies that are dressed up in cute tuxes and dresses for Sunday.
After reading the intro, two things stuck in my mind.
1) To quote Wayne Rogers, the devil is not going to be dressed up in a red suit and parading down Bourbon Street. He's going to wear an adorable tux and walk through the church doors like a cute young man younger than five.
indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus
exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in
an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the
inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the
It will come disguised as someone who cares for the poor, children, the marginalized. They sing good music and have good speeches. They are absolutely affectionate with you. But inside they deny the possibility of eternal damnation or they deny the deity of Christ. Or they decide that all that isn't important, that all religions are equally valid.
Or sometimes they do have all the good theology but they use it to tell people that they can use God as a vending machine to get healings, a good job, a good marriage, money, and all the comforts that Jesus never had. They have no sight of the invisible world that is more permanent, making all our gains here worthless in comparison.
2) Irenaeus was a relatively uneducated man, so his words will be more raw and uncultured than most people. He's not the slick professor on NPR. He's the southern guy next door with all the unconventional wisdom.
"Thou wilt not expect
from me, who am resident among the Keltæ, and am accustomed for the most part to use a
barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned,
or any excellence of composition, which I have never practised, or any
beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions."
It's funny, I've never really had an opinion on Duck Dynasty. All I know is I work at LifeWay and we sell their products. And some people like them and some people despise them. Both sides come into the store in South Atlanta and they come in all races on both sides. I don't know if they're becoming more of a cult classic among the younger boys around there, but they are picking up attention. They became more controversial last December with Phil's interview that got him suspended from the A & E network.
I'm sure they are nice moral people, but I always got the idea that their Christianity was more part of their Southern Culture then part of them. I'm glad they support Republicans and the 2nd Amendment, but y'all, there's more to conservatism than that.
I imagine Irenaeus being kind of like those guys but his Christianity is more than culture. It's a part of him. He may be unrefined and crude, but he does cuss and use anatomical language like Phil did, causing me to not really take a side in that debate. But just the same, I do side with right theology and rightly loving Jesus and being content with where God has placed you and how he's made you. I look forward to seeing what he says real soon.