Pernicious Patterns in History

“[W]e ought to get help from orthodox Christian writers, not only from modern times but also from the ancient church. For Satan raises old heresies from the dead in order to retard the restoration of the church which has begun in our own time. The Antitrinitarians have simply painted a new coat of varnish on the views of Arius and Sabellius. The Radical Anabaptists repeat the doctrines of the Essenes, Catharists, Enthusiasts, and Donatists. The Swenkfeldians revive the views of the Eutychians, Enthusiasts and others. Menno follows the Ebionites, and Roman Catholicism resembles the Pharisees, Encratites, Tatians and Pelagians. The Libertines repeat the views of the Gnostics and Carpocratians. Servetus has revived the heresies of Paul of Samosata, Arius, Eutyches, Marcion and Apollinarius.

Lastly, schismatics who separate themselves from evangelical churches revive the opinions, facts and fashions attributed by Cyprian to Pupianus and of the Audians and Donatists. We do not need to look for any novel way of rejecting and refuting these heresies; the ancient ones found in the Councils and the Fathers are well-tested and still reliable” (William Perkins, The Art of Prophecying; underlining mine).

This is not an promotion of William Perkins as a true Christian, but I think this advice is pretty sound. Slight modifications or adaptations might need to be made to address or refute certain damnable heresies that are particularly idiosyncratic, sophisticated, or nuanced.  Or even slight adaptations (or riffing) to refute the same old tired and threadbare heresies and objections — from tolerant Calvinist canards to feminist fulminations; from the Arminian audacity to the clueless children of Belial seeking a whetstone wherewith to grind their axe. I possibly or hypothetically could “get help from” any number of sensible non-Christians to refute and expose as foolish the many objections of feminists and recalcitrant toddlers whose joint-desire is to invert created orders.