On Normative Religion: An Ethos not a Fact (5 Pages) 7 March 2014 – Updated July 2019

On Normative Religion:  An Ethos not a Fact by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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On Normative Religion:
An ethos not A fact

Christianity has been, is, and will be no one single, universal teaching of salvation.  Since its origins in Palestine in the first decades of our Common Era, Christianity has been a plethora of schools of thought (αἱρέσαι; haireseis) that arrived at their individual self-understandings of the faith in the smithery of conflict.  Paul in I Corinthians 11:19 expressed the relationship among alternative positions in the church: “… there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized”, a passage referred to by Origen of Alexander in Contra Celsius Book III, chapter 13:

“… why should we not defend … the existence of heresies in Christianity? And respecting these, Paul appears to me to speak in a very striking manner when he says, ‘For there must be heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.’ For as that man is ‘approved’ in medicine who, on account of his experience in various (medical) heresies, and his honest examination of the majority of them, has selected the preferable system,-and as the great proficient in philosophy is he who, after acquainting himself experimentally with the various views, has given in his adhesion to the best,-so I would say that the wisest Christian was he who had carefully studied the heresies both of Judaism and Christianity. Whereas he who finds fault with Christianity because of its heresies would find fault also with the teaching of Socrates, from whose school have issued many others of discordant views.” [Indebted to Gérard Vallée, The Shaping of Christianity, 95, for reference to this text in Origen.]

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