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Document Details :
Title: Heresy and Catholicity in Economic Perspective
Subtitle: Irenaeus on Wealth
Author(s): BINGHAM, D. Jeffrey
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 92 Issue: 3 Date: 2016
Economic considerations played an important role in early attempts of Christian self-definition. In second-century Lyons, there was an economical dimension to Christian polemics and the attempt to identify the 'other'. 'Heresy' is costly. 'Catholicity' is free. As Irenaeus penned his polemic against his opponents toward the end of the second century, these would have been his convictions. From the root of all error, that charlatan Simon, who coveted the powers of the apostles for purposes of monetary gain, to that deceiver and seducer, Marcus the magician, false teaching comes with a love for money and at a price (Acts 8,9-11). On the other hand, the Church’s doctrine, the apostles’ teaching, comes without cost. To these two perspectives, issues of secrecy and openness are attached. The 'heretics' must pass along their teachings in hiding only to those with the wherewithal to trade. The Church, however, speaks its doctrines in public without regard for the hearer’s ability to make compensation, for what has been received without cost is distributed without cost (Matt 10,8). The Church is like a rich man, whose treasure, the water of life, is available to all who will draw from his wealth (Rev 22,17). For Irenaeus, there is little role for money within orthodoxy. The love of it is associated with perverse teachings while generosity is associated with the truth. The riches of righteousness are the concern of the Church’s members as they marvel at the unity of history that possesses grace in both economies, but in different degrees. As God has no need of money for he is self-sufficient, they have no need of loving it, for he gives all that is necessary within his ordering of all things.