[quote=Madaglan]Ok, I think this poses a problem I have. Many of these early Christian writers were also high up in the Church; and in these high positions, they instruted the faith to a large number of catechumens. This would mean that the catechumens under them would learn Catholicism with all the details then considered Catholic but later, heretical. Essentially the problem I foresee is that Catholicism may not be so much an unchanging and naturally developing faith as it is a doctrinal revision over time. In other words, it may be that Catholicism follows a dialetic history that redefines what is Catholic and what is heresy. Dialectic thought implies that society starts with a certain view or situation (called the “thesis”), is confronted with a new view or situation that opposes all or part of the “thesis” (called the “antithesis”), and that as a result of the combination of the thesis and the antithesis, society now becomes a “synthesis.” The synthesis then becomes a new “thesis” and the process repeats itself indefinitiely. With each additional antithesis the new thesis exponentially becomes more distant in content from the original thesis.
An hypothetical example of how dialectic thought might apply to the history of the Church. A bishop of the third century sets forth the Catholic faith in writing. The views set forth in that writing are considered completely Catholic by all his Christian contemporaries. In the fourth century a bishop revisits the work of the third century bishop. “Oh my!” screams the bishop. “Parts in this book are contrary to [my understanding of] the Catholic faith!” So, the fourth century bishop declares certain views of the third century bishop as heretical. To make sure that people know that the views of the previous bishop are wrong, the fourth century bishop writes a new catechismal work. The work is hailed by all the bishops of his time as an error-free presentation of the Catholic faith. Three centuries later, a seventh century bishop leafs through the work of the fourth century bishop. “The horror! The horror!” quavers the bishop. “There be mighty heresy in this work!” And so this seventh century bishop writes his own catechism to correct certain errors of the one previous. In the end, the writings of the third century bishop (considered by contemporaries as 100% Catholic) are now considered by the seventh century bishop and then by his contemporaries as only 70% Catholic. (And, of course, it becomes the duty of the present generation to fill in the 30% with clarifications of what constitutes the real Catholic faith and where the previous bishops supposedly went wrong.) In short, the Catholicism of the third century, while very much similiar to that of the seventh century, is still significantly different. It is important, too, since it would mean that some of the earlier writings, once considered completely Catholic, are now considered rank heresy. This is just a model, but I hope it shows some inherent dangers in labeling what is Catholic and what is heretical. If the dialectic process does occur, it is likely a lot more complicated.
The question we must ask: Are the practices of the Catholic Church today a natural, positive and gradual development; or, are they the result of dialectic forces which redefine what is Catholic and what is heretical?
I think you are making to much of a few people here first of all lets Cross Tertullian from your list he was a lay person who was a gifted writer and apologist but he was never a bishop or teacher in the church most of his heretical works were written while he was a montanists or on his way to being a montanists. He was reflecting personal opinion and not catholic church teaching during much of this time. His very early work often does reflect catholic teaching as he was a catholic then but you go to be careful on how use him and how you read him.
That leaves us with Clement of Alexandria, Origin, and Eusebius .
Clement of Alexandria is really not all that heterodox he uses some Platonic language that is difficult for the modern christian to understand thus many misinterpret him but he doesn’t explcitly deny orthodox teaching the reasons he was not a saint is that his teaching weren’t really that great he was not a great intellectual but he did hold a high position. The thing that stands out about him is that he is Origen’s teacher that turns out to be a curse for Clement of ALeandria as his pupil is controversial and brilliant thus the association give Clement of Alexandria a brilliance he does not deserve nor the teacher of heretic he also does not deserve.