To be a Heretic, or not to be a Heretic

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Marcion of Sinope

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

William Jackson

With the dawning of the first century common era a new religion was born – Christianity.  This fledgling religion did not start off with the same level of peace it pledged in its decree (Matthew 5:9, Mark 9:50, Luke 10:6, John 16:33). Granted there were many outside sources that came at it, like the Romans, but it’s most influential advisory was itself. The reason for this was because many of the groups within Christianity struggled to establish their own unique identities of God.  This lead to much end fighting.  Due to this, the term heretic was established for any point of view that was in conflict with another.  One sect that probably received the boldest charge of heresy was Marcionism.  Ionically, Marcionism, which was seen as a direct threat to the church, has actually taken the place of today’s main stream Christianity.

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So what can be said about this rogue religion that has taken over our current day Christian landscape?  Marcionism was established by Marcion of Sinope, a ship owner who was the son of a bishop.  Marcion was active and gave generously to the church.  In his studies, he determined that there were two Gods.  The first was the wrathful God of Israel, which he claimed could only be found in the Tanakh or Christian OT.  The second God, was a loving forgiving God found in the Christian writings.  He considered the Christian messiah to be the messenger who segued this new improved God into the Christian era.

In order to support Marcion’s claim, he had to select certain Christian writings.  This process is known as canonization.  He chose Luke’s gospel and ten of Paul’s letters to support his doctrine while dismissing the Tanakh altogether.  Even the gospel of Luke he chose was modified to fit into his theology.  At this point in history the church had not settled on any particular books so they had hundreds of Christian writings that they picked and chose from.  Christianity even had numerous gospels that portrayed the life of their messiah before they settled on just the four.  Sadly, for the church, it took Marcion’s canonizing his books for them to begin their own canonization.  You see, you can’t really call someone out as a heretic if you haven’t decided on your set of books to back up your own beliefs. Alas, it would take the church two more centuries after Marcion’s canonization to establish their New Testament which is the one currently hailed by Christianity.

As we examine this New Testament we see that it adds to the Tanakh.  For example, the Tanakh says that murder is a sin (Exodus 20:12, Leviticus 24:17, Deuteronomy 5:16), whereas the Christian Testament heightens the bar by saying being angry at someone is as equivalent to murder and thus a sin (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15).  Wow, talk about the law being impossible to keep. It is no wonder why a messiah that can take away sins was introduced (John 1:29, 1 John 3:5, 2:2, Hebrews 9:26). As a point of order anyone who goes through the Laws of the original Tanakh would not find them impossible to keep.  Yet, if you did sin, the Tanakh is pretty clear about the solution- repent to God (2 Samuel 12:13, Psalm 32:5, 51:19 and Proverbs 28:13).  Marcion was not looking hard enough for the true God in the Tanakh.

So as for Marion, he was excommunicated for his beliefs that there were two Gods in 144 C.E.  He then set out to establish his own religion which lasted for about 300 years.  Conversely, the church who opposed Marcion’s concepts developed a New Testament which was adapted in 393 C.E. at the Council of Hippo.  Ironically almost 250 years after Marcion being ousted from the church, the church father’s adopted a book that support Marcion’s concepts.  Think about it, how many Christians do you know that truly have a working knowledge of the Tanakh (their OT).  For those Christians that do respect the Tanakh, they remind us that we are no longer under its law (John 1:17, Romans 6:14, Galatians 5:18).  This certainly sounds like Marcion’s two God concept. Some might say that Marcion and the church’s appeal is that they are “heavy on the grace and light on the repentance”.

As for the church adding to the Tanakh with their testament, this could be seen as a form of heresy because we are not to add to the Tanakh (Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1, and Proverbs 30:6).  And as for Marcion’s concept of two God’s, one harsh and one loving, we know from the Tanakh that the one and only God controls all things both good and bad (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).  Also we need to add that God does not change whether before or after the birth of Christianity (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Psalm 105:7-10). Isaiah 44:6 sums it up nicely by God saying “…I am the first, and I am the last; besides me there is no God”

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