Recovering the Art of Christian Polemics
UNCHARITABLE? DIVISIVE? STRIDENT?
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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