Early Church Heresies

Derived from Ancient Greek haíresis (αἵρεσις), the English heresy originally meant “choice” or “thing chosen” (for a list of early heresies, see below).  However, it came to mean the “party, or school, of a man’s choice”.  According to Titus 3:10 a divisive person should be warned twice before separating from him. The Greek for the phrase “divisive person” became a technical term in the early Church for a type of “heretic” who promoted dissension. In contrast, correct teaching is called sound not only because it builds up the faith, but because it protects it against the corrupting influence of false teachers.  The use of the word heresy was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his 2nd-century tract Contra Haereses (Against Heresies) to describe and discredit his opponents during the early centuries of the Christian community. He described the universal Church’s beliefs and doctrines as orthodox (from ὀρθόςorthos, “straight” or “correct” + δόξαdoxa, “belief”) and the Gnostics’ teachings as heretical as they departed from the teachings handed down by the apostles to their successors, or bishops.

“It doesn’t do to say that heresy produces the development of doctrine, because that annoys the theologians. But it is true to say that as a matter of history the development of doctrine has been largely a reaction on the Church’s part to the attacks of heresy.”

-Ronald Knox (1888-1957)

The Early Heresies of the CHurch
& their Extant Writings:

*The list below is not an exhaustive list and is a only a reflection of what would be considered mainstream Christian orthodoxy.

Early Church Heresies