St. Irenaeus on True Knowledge

St. Irenaeus died ca. 202

True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of  love, 2 Cor. 8:1, 1 Cor. 13 which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy and which excels all the other gifts [of God]. (Against Heresies 4.33.8)

St. Irenaeus’ formula for true knowledge consists of five major points:

1) Apostolic Doctrine

2) The Church founded in ancient times which extends throughout all the world

3) Bishops with Apostolic Succession

4) Reading Scriptures in harmony without falsification

5) Love

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