List of Heresies in Catholicism - Early Christianity - Other Early Church Heresies

Other Early Church Heresies

Other Christian heresies
Heresy Description Origin Official Condemnation Other
Antinomianism Any view which holds that Christians are freed by grace from obligations of any moral law. St Paul had to refute a charge of this type made by opponents because of his attitude to the Mosaic Law (Romans 3:8) Some gnostics (e.g. Ophites and Nicolaitans) taught that since matter was opposed to the spirit what the body was unimportant. Similar views were found among some anabaptists in the sixteenth century as a consequence of justification by faith and later among some sects in seventeenth century England. Decree on Justification, chapter XV Council of Trent Few groups have declared themselves Antinomian, and the term has often been used by one group to criticize another's views.
Audianism Belief that God has human form (anthropomorphism) and that one ought to celebrate Jesus' death during the Jewish Passover (quartodecimanism). Named after the leader of the sect, Audius (or Audaeus), a Syrian who lived in the 4th century. The First Council of Nicaea condemned quartodecimanism in 325. Cyril of Alexandria condemned anthropomorphism at his Adversus Anthropomorphites
Circumcellions A militant subset of Donatism* See Donatism. Outlawed by Emperor Honorius in 408 Relied on violence.
Donatism* Donatists were rigorists, holding that the church must be a church of saints, not sinners, and that sacraments administered by traditores were invalid. They also regarded martyrdom as the supreme Christian virtue and regarded those that actively sought martyrdom as saints. Named for their second leader Donatus Magnus Condemned by Pope Melchiades Donatists were a force at the time of Saint Augustine of Hippo and disappeared only after the Arab conquest.
Ebionites A Jewish sect that insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites, which they interpreted in light of Jesus' expounding of the Law. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah but not as divine. The term Ebionites derives from the Hebrew אביונים Evionim, meaning "the Poor Ones", Justin Martyr considered them heretical at Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapter xlvii In 375, Epiphanius records the settlement of Ebionites on Cyprus, later Theodoret of Cyrrhus reported that they were no longer present there.
Euchites /


Belief that:
  1. The essence (ousia) of the Trinity could be perceived by the carnal senses.
  2. The Threefold God transformed himself into a single hypostasis (substance) in order to unite with the souls of the perfect.
  3. God has taken different forms in order to reveal himself to the senses.
  4. Only such sensible revelations of God confer perfection upon the Christian.
  5. The state of perfection, freedom from the world and passion, is attained solely by prayer, not through the church or sacraments. ("Euchites" means "Those who pray")
Originating in Mesopotamia, they spread to Asia Minor and Thrace. Bishop Flavian of Antioch condemned them about 376 The group might have continued for several centuries, influencing the Bogomils of Bulgaria, the Bosnian church, the Paterenes and Catharism.
Iconoclasm The belief that icons are idols and should be destroyed. From late in the seventh century onwards some parts of the Greek Church reacted against the veneration of icons. In 726 the Emperor Leo III ordered the destruction of all icons and persecuted those who refused. The policy continued under his successors till about 780. Later Leo V launched a second attempt which continued till the death of the emperor Theophilus in 842 Condemned by Nicea II in 787 which regulated the veneration Leo III may have been motivated by the belief that the veneration of icons, particularly in the excessive form it often took, was the chief obstacle to the conversion of Jews and Moslems
Marcionism An Early Christian dualist belief system. Marcion affirmed Jesus Christ as the savior sent by God and Paul as his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the Hebrew God. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. This belief was in some ways similar to Gnostic Christian theology, but in other ways different. Originates in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144. Many early apologists, such as Tertullian on his Adversus Marcionem (year 207) condemned Marcionism Marcionism continued in the West for 300 years, although Marcionistic ideas persisted much longer. Marcionism continued in the East for some centuries later.
Montanism The beliefs of Montanism contrasted with orthodox Christianity in the following ways:
  • The belief that the prophecies of the Montanists superseded and fulfilled the doctrines proclaimed by the Apostles.
  • The encouragement of ecstatic prophesying.
  • The view that Christians who fell from grace could not be redeemed.
  • A stronger emphasis on the avoidance of sin and church discipline, emphasizing chastity, including forbidding remarriage.
  • Some of the Montanists were also "Quartodeciman".
Named for its founder Montanus, Montanism originated at Hierapolis. It spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire during the period before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal. The churches of Asia Minor excommunicated Montanism Around 177, Apollinarius, Bishop of Hierapolis, presided over a synod which condemned the New Prophecy. The leaders of the churches of Lyon and Vienne in Gaul responded to the New Prophecy in 177 Although the orthodox mainstream Christian church prevailed against Montanism within a few generations, labeling it a heresy, the sect persisted in some isolated places into the 8th century.
Pelagianism Belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Named after Pelagius (ad. 354 – ad. 420/440). The theology was later developed by C(a)elestius and Julian of Eclanum into a complete system. and refuted by Augustine of Hippo (who had for a time (385-395) held similar opinions) but his final position never gained general acceptance in the East. Pelagianism was attacked in the Council of Diospolis and condemned in 418 at the Council of Carthage., and the decision confirmed at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Semipelagianism A rejection of Pelagianism which held that Augustine had gone too far to the other extreme and taught that grace aided free-will rather than replacing it. Such views were advanced by Prosper and Hilary of Aquitaine, John Cassian and Vincent of Lérins in the west. Condemned by the Council of Orange in 529 which slightly weakened some of Augustine's more extreme statements. The label "Semipelagianism" dates from the seventeenth century.

* Donatism is often spoken of as a "schism" rather than a "heresy"

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