CHURCH CONQUERS MARCION 37
principles, it established the doctrine of the unity of history. It grew more clearly aware of the law of its own form; and because it warded off the attack of alien forces, recognized as such in the light of tradi- tion, it was able to formulate a definition of heresy. This term had been applied to sectarianism and false teaching already in the New Testament. Even the aged Plato had phrased in The Laws his re- pudiation of heresy and contentiousness, his endorsement of unity and truth, with such passionate conviction that compared to his contempt for merely individualistic doctrines and his condemnation of those who desire novelty at any price, the Church's condemnation of irre- ligion and free thought seemed the mild reproaches of a mother to her children. She could not hesitate to expel from her midst what was alien and incompatible if she possessed a real character, a form and a law o life. Thus the Church appears from the beginning as a formed so- ciety, firmly knit and carefully defined. Roundabout her there ex- tends the kingdom of continuous becoming wherein the spirit follows its whim and sows wheat and weeds together. The expanding Church may absorb much of what is outside and may thus really or conceivably be in peril of laxity that verges on worldliness. Or in the act of repudiation she may risk becoming narrow and rigid. Ever since the days of the Gnostics and therefore almost from the very begin- ning the Church has had to wrestle with the opposition of the continuously modern, which is free thought and the right to heretical opinions* This modernity has always sought to find a way into the Church, thus proving that the Church is strong. The fact that all heretics seek primarily to conquer Rome demonstrates that they know who is the helmsman of the Ship.
The priority of the Roman Church in the Empire did not, however, imply all those rights of the Bishop of Rome which later times associate with the Papacy. An incident which occurred about the year 190, in the time of relative quiet which followed the persecutions of Marcus Aurelius, showed clearly that the will to govern was characteristic not only of the Roman community but also of Rome's Bishop in person. Yet the same incident testifies also to the resistance offered by the Eastern Churches. There some Churches celebrated the Feast of Easter on the day of the old Jewish Passover. Elsewhere, also in Rome, it was customary to observe the Feast on the Sunday following. A