Recovering the Art of Christian Polemics

October 2002By David Mills

David Mills is a Senior Editor of Touchstone: A Magazine of Mere Christianity.

Most well-read Christians know the two most famous stories of the early Church's approach to dialogue. St. Polycarp tells us that the apostle John once went to the public bath in Ephesus and found inside a Gnostic teacher named Cerinthus. John ran out crying, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within."

Polycarp himself once met the heretic Marcion walking down the street. Marcion hated the creator-God of the Hebrews, and to get rid of Him had tossed out the Old Testament and much of the New and rewrote the bits he kept. Marcion asked Polycarp, "Do you know me?" and Polycarp answered, "I do know you. You are the firstborn of Satan."

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Good and loving fathers verbally correct and sometimes "spank" their children when they are disobedient. They love their children and want them to grow up to be responsible adults. Liberals are disobedient children. The Church has failed to love them properly by disciplining them consistently. When parents fail to consistently discipline their children, the children assume the parent role. Now, they are older but still immature, their irresponsible behaviors have solidified and have become lifestyles, they have assumed authority in the household, and they do not want to leave home (the Church). Sound familiar? Let us pray to our Father in heaven for more truly "loving" fathers on earth. Posted by: gwolak
August 22, 2006 10:44 AM EDT
Great article. The beautiful, if mostly forgotten encyclical, Mortalium Animos, by Pope Pius XI is an excellent guide in knowing how to discern truth and salvation from a misguided "ecumenism." Written is a spirit of charity, that blessed man didn't mince words. A truly good and faithful shepherd. Posted by: mjtridentine
November 03, 2010 07:00 PM EDT
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