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Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives


Heresies & Heretics Index

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Sects and Cults
Religious historians sometimes call the United States the most sectarian country in the world. Hundreds of independent religious groups have developed and flourished in the nation. While some have been distinctly Protestant in character, many other small sects and cults have been so divorced from the mainstream of Protestantism that they have been called the "third force in Christendom."
Prophets of Error
At least one Catholic professor in a large non-sectarian university on the West Coast makes it a point to discourage Catholic students from entering the institution where he teaches. Or if they have already entered, he urges them to withdraw as soon as possible. On one occasion he confided to a friend of the writer: "If a Catholic can keep his faith after spending one year in this university, I consider it a miracle. Naturally speaking it can’t be done."
Heresy, from the Greek αίρέσίς, hairesis, denoting "choice" or "thing chosen," in general refers to a doctrinal belief held in opposition to the recognized standards of an established system of thought. Theologically it means an opinion at variance with the authorized teachings of any church, especially when this promotes separation from the main body of faithful believers.
New Age Movement - Q&A Session
Questions given to Fr. Hardon by the Missionaires of Charity sisters on the: New Age Movement, Good News Bible, Religious Celibacy, World Tribulations, Guardian Angel, Sin and Charity, Loss of Peace, Divorce, Obedience, Self-Knowledge, Gift of Counsel, Baptism of Children.
New Thought
A movement embracing any form of modern belief in the practice of mental healing other than those associated with traditional Christianity. The name came into vogue in 1895 and was used as the title of a magazine published for a time in Melrose, Mass., to describe a “new thought” about life, based on the premise that knowledge of the real world of ideas has marvelous power to relieve people of various ills.
Albigensianism, a Christian heresy prevalent in western Europe, particularly in southern France and northern Italy, during the 12th and 13th centuries. Adherents were variously called Albigenses, from the city of Albi, where they flourished, or Cathari (Greek katharos, pure), from the earlier Manichaean sect, which sought purification from bodily and material things.
Arianism, a fourth-century heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. Its author was Arius (256-336), a priest of Alexandria, who in 318 began to teach the doctrine which now bears his name. According to Arius there are not three distinct persons in God, co-eternal and equal in all things, but only one person, the Father.
An Evaluation of Moral Rearmament
Catholics are not normally much interested in revivalist movements among Protestants, and are certainly not concerned whether such movements have the Church’s approval. A Catholic, for example, may read with perfect detachment about the crowds of a hundred thousand who listen to Billy Graham’s sermons. Graham is a Baptist, preaching to Protestants, and evidently doing them much good. But when a spiritual revivalism like Moral Rearmament is addressed to people of all faiths, and members of the Catholic Church, including lay leaders and theologians, co-operate in the movement—it is not only news but a matter for study and critical reflection.
Nestorianism, a fifth-century heresy which held there were two distinct persons in the Incarnate Christ, one human and the other divine, as against the orthodox teaching that Christ was a divine person who assumed a human nature. The name is taken from Nestorius, a leading exponent of the heresy, whose views were condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Defending the Faith
Somewhere near the center of the crisis in the Catholic Church today is confusion about the meaning of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Pope Paul VI recognized this crisis before the close of the Second Vatican Council. He identified the two principal errors about the Real Presence that were already current in his day. The errors were capsulized in two words, "transfinalization" and "transignification."
Donatism, at first a schism and later a heresy which profoundly disturbed the Church in Africa from the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305) to the Muslim conquest. The name is commonly derived from Donatus, successor in the see of Carthage to Majorinus who had been elected in 312 by a group of purists as rival to the legitimate bishop, Cecilian. These purists maintained that Cecilian's consecration as bishop was invalid, on the ground that he had been consecrated by a prelate who had weakened under Diocletian's persecution.
Feminism and the Language Wars of Religion
The roots of the feminism, as we know, are at variance with Christian principles. It argues from a massive discrimination of women by men, and urges women to revolt against men. The most famous proponent of this ideology was Karl Marx and his disciple, Nikolai Lenin. They urged "a revolution depends upon the degree of participation by women." On these terms, women’s liberation is simply part of the larger struggle for the eventual creation of a classless society.
Faith and Reason, and the Teaching Authority of the Church
We commonly think of the Church’s teaching authority in connection with controversies that arise among Catholic scholars or when some issue touching on faith or morals threatens the integrity of the Christian religion. No doubt the Church is called upon to exercise her magisterium (teaching authority) in circumstances that externally are controversial or that practically are dangerous to the spiritual well being of the faithful. On closer analysis, however, these occasions when the Church, as it were, steps in with her hierarchical authority are really situations in which some aspect of faith and reason is involved.

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