chapter  8
29 Pages

Heresy, Trinity, and political strife in three parts

ByJeremiah W. Cataldo

By establishing a sense of uniformity, a sense of common identity, Irenaeus gives God an empire by establishing the attributes of citizenship. In much of his work, Irenaeus stressed the unity and transcendence of God and the coherence of God's dispensations. He connected the authority of the bishops of his day with the authority of the apostles, emphasizing a spiritual rather than physical line of succession. "This tradition is uniform and unchanging, in contrast to the ever-shifting positions of fissiparous heresy". In many respects, early Christian debates over the doctrine of the Trinity, including the range of "heresies" and accusations of, should be interpreted as also an attempt to navigate Roman perceptions of imperial authority and nature in contrast to the authority and nature of Christ as a heavenly emperor. The theological and political legitimacy of Christianity was already well established, and a better political strategy was to use it rather than fight it.