Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter XVI

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Chapter XVI.—Apostolic Sanction to This Exclusion of Heretics from the Use of the Scriptures. Heretics, According to the Apostle, are Not to Be Disputed With, But to Be Admonished.

I might be thought to have laid down this position to remedy distrust in my case,[1] or from a desire of entering on the contest[2] in some other way, were there not reasons on my side, especially this, that our faith owes deference[3] to the apostle, who forbids us to enter on “questions,” or to lend our ears to new-fangled statements,[4] or to consort with a heretic “after the first and second admonition,”[5] not, (be it observed,) after discussion.  Discussion he has inhibited in this way, by designating admonition as the purpose of dealing with a heretic, and the first one too, because he is not a Christian; in order that he might not, after the manner of a Christian, seem to require correction again and again, and “before two or three witnesses,”[6] seeing that he ought to be corrected, for the very reason that he is not to be disputed with; and in the next place, because a controversy over the Scriptures can, clearly,[7] produce no other effect than help to upset either the stomach or the brain.


  1. De consilio diffidentiæ.
  2. Constitutionis, “prima causarum conflictio,”—a term of the law courts.
  3. Obsequium.
  4. 1 Tim. vi. 3, 4.
  5. Tit. iii. 10.
  6. Matt. xviii. 16.
  7. Plane, ironical.