On Ancient Proto-Protestantism

St. John Damascene ca. 676-749

The Cataphrygians, or Montanists…accept the Old and New Testaments, but they also introduce other prophets of whom they make much — a certain Montanus and a Priscilla. (On Heresies, 48)

The Pepuzians… belong to the Cataphrygians, they hold other things which these last do not…Furthermore, they permit women to hold authority and to officiate as priests. (ibid., 49)

Aerius was a native of Pontus and, being still alive, he continues to be a source of annoyance… Since Aerius had not been appointed bishop, he gave out many things against the Church…he has gone to even greater excess by holding that it is unnecessary to offer Mass for the deceased. He forbids fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays and during Lent, and also forbids the celebration of Easter. He indulges without restraint in every sort of meat and food. Should any one of his followers wish to fast, he tells him not to do so on the stated days, but whenever he wishes — ‘For,’ says he, ‘you are not under any law.’ He further claims that there is no difference between bishops and priests. (ibid., 75)

The Aetians…say it is nothing serious to have erred in any way, whether by fornication or some other sin, since God requires nothing else save that one adhere to this faith which they hold. (ibid., 76)

The Antidicomarianites, say that after having given birth to the Savior, the blessed Mary, the Ever-Virgin, had marital relations with Joseph. (ibid., 78)

The Accusers of Christians are such and so called, because those Christians who worship one living and true God praised in Trinity they accused of worshipping as gods, after the manner of the Greeks, the venerable images of our Lord Jesus Christ, of our immaculate lady, the holy Mother of God, of the holy angels, and of His saints. They are furthermore called Iconoclasts, because they have shown deliberate dishonor to all these same and holy and venerable images have consigned them to be broken up and burnt. Likewise, some of those painted on walls they have scraped off, while others they have obliterated with whitewash and black paint. (ibid., 102)

The one-hundred-and-third heresy is that of the Apostichae (makers of schism) who are also called Doxarii (Gloriers). They seek after their own glory and submit neither to the law of God nor to His priests…although they are neither bishops nor presidents of the people, but only members of the common herd, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church… They differ among themselves and are in a state of utter confusion, because their falsehood is split into many factions. They have separated from the communion of the Church and pretend to a great severity of discipline, with each one vying to prove himself better than the next. Some of them do not admit Holy Baptism and do not receive Holy Communion, whereas others will kiss neither a newly made figure of the venerable Cross nor a holy image. What is worst of all, since they consider themselves to be superior to all men they will accept no priest, but ‘speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their consciences seared’ (1 Tim. 4:2) they contend in words of no profit and lay up for themselves wood, hay and stubble (2 Tim. 2:14, 1 Cor. 3:12) as most inflammable fuel for the eternal fire. May we be delivered both from the frenzy of the Iconoclasts and from the madness of the Aposchistae, which, although they are diametrically opposed evils, are equal in their impiety. (ibid., 103)

These heresies detailed above have been described in brief, because, although they amount to but a hundred altogether, all the rest come from them. The Catholic Church has kept itself from all these, as so many pitfalls, and, instructed by the Holy Trinity, it teaches rightly and religiously… (The Fount of Knowledge: On Heresies)

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