Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/50

This page needs to be proofread.


weak is good at heart. After He had arisen He revealed to Paul, His only Apostle (for the other twelve were mere pretenders, faithless to their trust) the true Gospel of justification through faith without works. The true Christian lives without fear because his God summons no man to judgment. He obeys because he loves. He does not think in terms of reward and punishment. Yet this freedom must not be misunderstood. Let all fast, eating fish and vegetables, and let all abstain from every sexual action, including marriage, which is mere lust, since matter is the source of all evil, and flesh is the spring from which all sin flows. Begetting and being begotten merely lengthen the rime during which the evil world of the Creator God can endure. Only he who renounces these things is ripe for baptism, nor must he expect that virtue will be rewarded here below. The beatitudes arc given to the "poor." The real believer must be prepared to experience misery and suffering, even though he mirror God's love for him in his own kindness toward the rest of men.

Such were the ideas of the first reformer. He repudiated all books of the Sacred Scriptures which did not fit into his system, and those he accepted he expounded in his own way. Thus he established free biblical inquiry. Personal Christianity now existed side by side with universal Christianity. The founder of a sect had termed his work the true and better Church. Therewith the Roman community saw a movement arise and grow, which surpassed in strength all the dis- sident cliques, lodges and esoteric schools. The breach came during the summer of 144. The Presbytery under Bishop Pius demanded of Marcion that he renounce his errors, excommunicated him, and re- turned the money he had given. His followers regarded this day as the founding-day of their counter church. Once when the aged Polycarp met Marcion he answered the latter's query if he knew him by saying, "Yes, I know the first-born of Satan!"

The ship-owner's church maintained itself long and impressively against the Church of the Fisherman. Yet Catholicism gained in firmness and awareness of its own powers as a result of this struggle* It would also profit by later similar struggles. It answered the theory of a supreme God and a subordinate God by proclaiming the unity of God who is good and just, manifest in grace and law. Against the teaching that broke up history into conflicting acts of good and evil