Rorate Caeli

Heresy is innovation

From the origin of Christianity, all heresies have had the same character, and, long before the age of Arius, Tertullian had said, "Heretics vary in their rules; namely, in their confessions of faith. Every one of them thinks he has a right to change and model what he has received according to his own fancy, as the author of the sect composed it according to his own fancy. Heresy never changes its proper nature in never ceasing to innovate...". ...

This nature of heresy has always been observed by Catholics and two holy authors of the eighth century wrote that "heresy, however old, is always in itself a novelty; to better retain their title of novelty, [heresy] innovates daily and daily changes its doctrine."

But, while heresies always vary, never agreeing among themselves and continuously introducing new rules..., Tertullian says that "in the Church, the rule of Faith is unalterable, and never to be reformed". It is so because the Church, which professes to speak and teach nothing but what she has received, does not vary; heresy, on the contrary, which began by innovating, innovates daily, and does not change its nature. ...

Two aspects cause this disorder of heresies: one drawn from the nature of the human mind, which, having once tasted the temptation of novelty, does not cease to seek with disordered appetite this deceitful allurement; the other originating from the difference which exists between the works of God and those of man.

The Catholic Truth proceeds from God and has its perfection at once; heresy, the frail offspring of the human mind, can be formed only by disordered patches. When ... we venture to remove "the ancient landmarks established by our Fathers" and to reform the doctrine once received among the faithful, we set events in motion without the slightest insight into the consequences of our attempt.

Jacques Bénigne Bossuet
Histoire des variations des églises protestantes


  1. Anonymous3:44 AM

    According to the late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., "America is a thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly protestantized nation." Protestantism is no doubt one of the most premier of heresies in modern day Christianity, if not the ultimate heresy. Why? Because it denies, according to Fr. John Hardon, S. J., the free will of man. It does this by denying the efficacy of grace on the human will: Protestantism to Fr. Hardon was "Old Testament, graceless Christianity" Old Testament? Indeed, because it denies the New Covenant: the Church, the Mass, the Sacraments (especially Penance), the Eucharist, and the authority of the pope amongst other things. Especially noteworthy here is protestantism denies Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, but it does not deny the Ark of the Old Covenant: the Ten Commandments. According to Fr. Hardon with protestants and grace: "The cardinal issue on the nature of justification was the familiar Protestant theory that when a man is justified two things happen to him. His sins are forgiven in the sense that they are covered over and not imputed to him, while internally he remains a sinner. And the justice he "acquires" is not his own as something inhering in his soul, but the alien justice of Christ or of God which is credited to him without being really his.
    The Council of Trent defined justification as 'a passing from the state in which man is born a son of the first Adam, to the state of grace and adoption as sons of God (Romans 8:15), through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our Savior.'
    There is no doubt, therefore, that justification implies the remission of sins, as a true, internal, and unequivocal removal, and not a mere covering-over. The year before, and four months after Luther's death Trent had defined that through the grace of baptism 'everything having the true and proper nature of sin is taken away,' and not 'only brushed over (radi) or not imputed.' This is not to say, as Barth insinuated, that forgiveness means 'to make what has happened not to have happened.' It means that the guilt and stain of soul contracted by sin are completely taken away. There is also a sense in which our sins are not longer imputed to us, once we receive grace, for the good reason that the sins are gone, which is quite otherwise than the nonimptutation of guilt for a sinful condition that still perdures."
    (from..."History and theology of Grace" John A. Hardon, S.J., Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, Ann Arbor, MI., pp.129-30) Let us pray to Mary for end of this heresy and the return of these misguided souls.
    j hughes dunphy

  2. "not many people in this multicultural setting of ours can keep to the religion they were born into without a lot of conscious choices being made along the way. Even orthodoxy is, in that sense, a choice, a “heresy.”

    ah yes, Jesuit sophistry in "First Things."


  3. Anonymous7:40 AM

    An odd statement from Oakes' essay in First Things:

    'I do hereby conclude: When the Western Church fissiparated in the sixteen century, the Reformers took a portion of the essential patrimony of the Church with them, and they thereby left both the Roman Church and themselves the poorer for it.'

    How is it possible for "a portion of the essential patrimony of the Church" to be taken from her? If the fullness of Truth resides in the Catholic Church, how can the Church be left "poorer" by the departure of those who deny the Truth (or portions of it) that she contains? Strange logic.

  4. Anonymous3:17 PM

    The doctrine of justification is a crucial point. A full understanding is just as you say, jhughesdunphy, except for one thing. Catholic absolution forgives the sin *actually,* yes, but it doesn't make it as if it hadn't happened. The bank is still robbed, the child still dead.

    That is really the miracle of forgiveness. It removes the stain of sin, which is a horrible primordial thing modern folks don't understand--completely removes it and makes one able to glanced upon by God again. Absolution has the breathtaking ability to reconcile us to God even after sins that cannot be undone--wars, murders, all of it.

    Protestantism denies that. It does nothing about the sin in the world but cover it over, as if God is blind to it. Indeed, it says horrible things about God which are much believed--that God doesn't really care enough to pursue evil and would be willing to let us roil in evil, that sins are able to be hidden, even that God might be optional. Protestantism is the root of many of our religious problems in the Church and out.

    However, Protestantism is not as bad as atheism, Islam or paganism which say even crazier things about God.

  5. Anonymous3:20 PM

    BTW, the fact that after absolution, the effects of the sin often still remain (as I before, the bank is still robbed, the child still dead) is recognized in the penance that one must do after absolution.

    You know that penance you get? That's an act that you do after absolution that serves as either:
    1) redress for the wrong, if possible, or
    2) a sign to God and the Church of one's willingness to redress when actual redress would be impossible or would cause further damage to the wronged.

  6. Of course I agree with every word Bossuet writes here. Everything God had to say he said in his one perfect Word, Jesus Christ. And it is the Church's joyous duty to persevere in this Word and tranmit it faithfully from one generation to the next.

    At the same time, I think Bossuet leaves something unsaid about how the Holy Spirit "guides the Church into all the truth." The expressions of our one immutable faith have certainly changed and developed (without contradiction per modernists) through the centuries.

    I think Bossuet's discourse should be complimented by Newman's Essay on the Development of Doctrine.

    PS. It's hard to speak so absolutely about "protestantism" particularly in the area of justification: They vary so much from one individual and one group to the next (which is probably my biggest criticism of Protestantism). I don't disagree with anything you folks have written, but I'm not sure all of it applies universally and evenly.

  7. Thank you for the words of Bishop Bossuet and for this great discussion which is a meditation in itself. I am delighted to have discovered this blog.

  8. Anonymous9:46 PM

    Michigan Catholic, I am indebted to you for your culminating statements and ne plus ultra reasoning as well as your very astute analysis of
    this unfortunate heresy of protestantism! God bless!
    j hughes dunphy

  9. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Speaking of self-serving innovation and its apostate offspring:

    This "Community of vowed women religious and covenant men and women who value quality relationships" is so innovative that their Mission and Philosophy statement does not mention the name of Jesus Christ; the word "Catholic" is also notably absent.

  10. Anonymous11:37 PM

    Innovation is good in its proper place, e.g., science and technology. In the realm of faith, it is deadly.

  11. God rest Fr. Hardon SJ. I read him often and his advice is taken. Thanks jhughesdunphy...

  12. This "Community of vowed women religious and covenant men and women who value quality relationships" is so innovative that their Mission and Philosophy statement does not mention the name of Jesus Christ; the word "Catholic" is also notably absent.

    sadly LOL.

  13. Anonymous5:54 AM

    Congratulations to Rorate Coeli for winning the best New Catholic Blog and for take the traditionalism to the top of almost every category in the Catholic Blog Awards 2007.

    Ad multos annos!

  14. Anonymous6:47 AM

    Okay, alright then, but what about the Moto Proprio?


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!