Heresies from the East?

**Why did most of the great heresies come from the east?

Is there any logical reason for this? Church governance or something of the sort that allowed for so many heresies to creep in?

It’s hard to understand what you’re asking.

There are still quite a few churches in the Middle East and southern Asia that are non-Chalcedonian. Some of them hold miaphysite (single nature of Christ) and some of them hold diophysite (dual irreconcilable natures of Christ) views of Christology. These churches generally followed bishops that did not agree with the majority of bishops at the Council of Chalcedon.

These groups hold ancient beliefs about the nature of Christ, many of which didn’t get turned into doctrinal statements until hundreds of years after Christ. We do see some evidence of heretical claims in the Bible, for example, in 1 John 4: 1-2, it says:
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.a This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God,
This may reflect docetism, the belief that Jesus wasn’t really the physical incarnation of the divine, but just his appearance in human form. In fact, a form of docetism may be where Islam got its (false) narrative that the first followers of Jesus didn’t believe that he was the Son of God incarnate, and the Quran’s claim that Jesus was taken up to heaven without really dying.

Most of the Christians that followed such churches were in the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, and Central Asia. When Islam arose, those Christian lands became part of the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam), and most of the residents became Muslim.

There are still such Christians in the Middle East. The non-Chalcedonian groups of which I’m aware are the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt), the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Church of the East (Iraq, Syria, Iran, China). There are also some Malabar churches in India that are non-Chalcedonian. Some of the groups that were originally non-Chalcedonian have reconciled with Rome, while others have remained independent. I’ve heard it speculated the the Maronite Church of Lebanon is a church that was formerly miaphysite and is now Chalcedonian.

We should embrace these Christians as our brothers and sisters, not condemn them as heretics.

Thanks for your lengthy answer but that doesn’t answer my question. I’m asking in relation to heresies such as Arianism, Nestorianism etc…

How come most of the great heresies (like the ones a named above) came from the east? Is just mere coincidence or was there something about eastern philosophy and theology that allowed for such ideas?

Protestantism is a heresy as well. And that came through Latin theology.

Of course, from our perspective there are Western Heresies that are much more pervasive and still ongoing, but that’s beside the point.

It happened for several reasons, IMO:

  1. Education took place in the East. Greek was the scholarly language, being very nuanced and technical, and Latin and the other barbarian languages were not used seriously for academic works. The greatest Libraries and Universities were in Alexandria, which would be “the East.” The West was a backwater. Greater education always leads to new experimental ideas and heresies as people become too confident in their own reasonings and ideas.

  2. There were more Christians in the East. Rome, again, had many barbarians and pagan invaders. A lot of Germanic Christianity (which at one point would’ve been almost all of Europe north of Italy) was Arian even long after that heresy had been conquered in the East. That’s where your filioque comes from. The result was more Christians to have ideas in the East.

  3. This is a very small one: I believe historical revisionism has made Rome cover up or disregard heresies of her own. Again though, this is rarer and less to blame than the other two.

Those are the biggest, IMO. Greater education and greater populace led to greater heresies.

Yes , nobody denied that. I’m asking why most of the heresies came from the east

This was very helpful :slight_smile:

I personally agree with the whole school of though in Alexandria and education in the east. This is a credible reason for people coming up with new ideas and some of these became heresies. That flows logically

anybody else have other views?

No, that is the main and true reason why heresies come from the East in the early Church. The reformation just rehashed the heresies except for Sola Scriptura which is the only new heresy that came from it.

I think it has to do mainly with population, during the time of many of these, should we call them, “classical” heresies, the region around the Eastern Mediterranean had much higher Christian populations than the West. In addition, the great Christian centers of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, Baghdad and Jerusalem, could all be found here.

So when you think about it, if you have a lot of people that are thinking about the same thing(Christianity) in one area, you’ll get a higher variety of ideas, and with it a conflict of ideas.

Population and level of education. People were smarter there, there were more who are better educated, can read the texts, and thus argue. Just think of St. Paul on Mars Hill where the Greek Philosophers were discussing philosophy with one another. As Christianity grew, the same practice happens with Christians, but this time they discuss the faith.

It hasn’t been pointed out, but I think you might also consider that the true faith came from the East also.

Catholicism began in Jerusalem and spread from there. If that is the center of the Faith, all variations (heresies) would have more time there than in the West. Before the West could introduce a heresy, it had to have learned of the Faith.

As has been stated, the first millennium saw heresies rising in the East because the people tended to be better educated and had a higher standard of living. In the West there was constant strife, little education, and people were more concerned about where their next meal was coming from than the origins of Grace.
This trend began to reverse itself so that by the 15th century the heresies were all coming out of the West, while fewer and fewer Easterners had much education.

Thanks for this. Yeah then the ones that we call the Protestants came along :rolleyes:

I hear all your points and thank you all. Any more opinions are much appreciated

Amazing how more knowledge actually leads to less truth. The East focused on just surviving when the West flourised in the 15th century and onwards. The Turks, Communism, the focus of the East shifted. It was a reversal of roles.

Yep. Thus the mistrust of scholasticism and too much reason in Theology. Knowledge doesn’t lead to truth. Prayer does.

In the first few centuries of the Church, Christianity was itself “from” the east. Most Christians came from the East, most of the great teachers, theologians, and academics came from and lived in the East (as other posters have pointed out). Four of the five Patriarchates of the early Church were in the East (Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople). The early councils were held in the East, with some in north Africa; the first council in Rome did not occur until 1000 + years after the start of the Church.

So, the Church was Eastern. The ideas, the thinkers and writers, the center of its activities, were all in the East for a long time. It is not surprising then that both orthodox and unorthdox beliefs and practices originated there. As has been stated, they really could not have originated elsewhere until Christianity gained a foothold in the West.

That right there would be my signature if I didn’t have one already!:thumbsup:

Thanks for your comment but just to let you know, the first council in Rome happened in 382 AD to decide the canon of scripture. Check this out Council of Rome

Another thing we can add, is that the Eastern Mediterranean was a hubbub of merchants, traders, and trade routes. So ideas could grow and spread and have a better chance of permanence rather than dying with it’s originator.

The Catholic Church does not list this council as one of the Ecumenical Councils; the first such council held in Rome was the First Lateran Council in 1123. The council in 382 was held the year after the First Council of Constantinople, and has been labeled a general council or synod, and apparently did not have Church wide participation (It appears that Pope Damasus had several such synods or councils in Rome during his pontificate). Nor is there any official record of the proceedings. So we don’t know if deciding scripture was the only purpose of it, or if any such decision was actually made at the council.

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