Word of Charity and Exhortation to those Walking the Narrow Way
early Christian Bishop of Lyons [Province of France] named Irenaeus, in
his first book against Gnosticism [in many of its various sects]
explains to his "dear friend", perhaps another bishop, the formations
and contradictions of gnosticism, and the base character of its
adherents. It is very wordy and wearisome to read, and this he points
out to his "dear friend", "I will not, however, weary thee by recounting
their other interpretations," and, "Even to give an account of them is a tedious affair, as thou seest." Irenaeus says, "Impious indeed, beyond
all impiety, are these men, who assert that the Maker of heaven and
earth, the only God Almighty, besides whom there is no God, was produced
by means of a defect, which itself sprang from another defect, so that,
according to them, He was the product of the third defect."
But the point I am seeking to make with this post is in this next quote:
"I well know, my dear friend, that when thou hast read through all
this, thou wilt indulge in a hearty laugh over this their inflated wise
folly! But those men are really worthy of being mourned over, who
promulgate such a kind of religion, and who so frigidly and perversely
pull to pieces the greatness of the truly unspeakable power, and the
dispensations of God in themselves so striking, by means of Alpha and
Beta, and through the aid of numbers. [Irenaeus Book 1, Chapter 16, Part
3, Approx. 180 A.D.]"
Irenaeus understood that the doctrines
of the gnostics were absurd and worthy of derision, and so he tells his
dear friend, "I well know...that when thou hast read through all this,
thou wilt indulge in a hearty laugh over this their inflated wise
folly." Irenaeus understood that his friend would laugh and why.
Yet, he corrects his friend's behavior with these words, "But those men
are really worthy of being mourned over, who promulgate such a kind of
These are men whom Irenaeus interprets, "But as
many as separate from the Church, and give heed to such old wives’
fables as these, are truly self-condemned; and these men Paul commands
us, “after a first and second admonition, to avoid.” And John, the
disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he
desires us not even to address to them the salutation of “good-speed;”
for, says he, “He that bids them be of good-speed is a partaker with
their evil deeds [II John 9-11];” and that with reason, “for there is no
good-speed to the ungodly,” saith the Lord." [Irenaeus Book 1, Chapter
16, Part 3]
If Irenaeus corrected his dear friend for
"indulging in a hearty laugh" over the folly of others [even those who
left the church], then where will we stand in the judgment if we indulge
in laughing at the folly of other groups "Mennonites, Amish,
Hutterites, Baptists, Charity, Methodists, Emergents, and others who
leave our groups, etc."?
Many walking in a narrow way say
they "appreciate" the early Christians, because they have "fellowship"
or a "kindred" spirit with them. But do we really? If we make a sport
or fill our conversations mocking and deriding the other people's folly
and error, be not deceived, the early Christians would correct us, and
say, "Those men are really worthy of being mourned over, who promulgate
such a kind of religion, and who so frigidly and perversely pull to
pieces the greatness of the truly unspeakable power, and the
dispensations of God."
I do believe that many I know walking
in a Narrow Way reflect in many ways the spirit of Christ that was in
the early Christians...but we err; brethren we err, when we laugh and mock; we
ought to mourn instead.
It is true: "Because I have called,
and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But
ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I
also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."
Scripture does say that God will laugh at
the self-willed person's calamity, and that He will mock when his fear
cometh...but God is God, and this is one scripture...it is more
profitable, and ministers to humility to remember these scriptures: "As
I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the
wicked [Ezekiel 33:11]," and, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest
the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often
would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her
chickens under her wings, and ye would not! [Matthew 23:37]" and, "I
have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish
that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen
according to the flesh. [Romans 9:1-3]"