Last updated
The Gospel triumphs over Heresia and the Serpent. Gustaf Vasa Church, Stockholm, Sweden, sculpture by Burchard Precht. GustafVasakyrkan RightAltargroup1.jpg
The Gospel triumphs over Heresia and the Serpent. Gustaf Vasa Church, Stockholm, Sweden, sculpture by Burchard Precht.
A statue in Vienna portraying Saint Ignatius of Loyola trampling on a heretic AT-119587 Fassadendetails der Jesuitenkirche in Wien -hu- 8947.jpg
A statue in Vienna portraying Saint Ignatius of Loyola trampling on a heretic
The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus. In the background is the Gibbet of Montfaucon and, anachronistically, the Grosse Tour of the Temple. Illumination from the Grandes Chroniques de France, c. AD 1455-1460. Supplice des Amauriciens.jpg
The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus. In the background is the Gibbet of Montfaucon and, anachronistically, the Grosse Tour of the Temple. Illumination from the Grandes Chroniques de France , c.AD 1455–1460.

Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, particularly the accepted beliefs or religious law of a religious organization. [1] [2] A heretic is a proponent of heresy. [1]


Heresy in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam has at times been met with censure ranging from excommunication to the death penalty. [3]

Heresy is distinct from apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause; [4] and from blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things. [5] Heresiology is the study of heresy.


Derived from Ancient Greek haíresis (αἵρεσις), the English heresy originally meant "choice" or "thing chosen". [6] However, it came to mean the "party, or school, of a man's choice", [7] and also referred to that process whereby a young person would examine various philosophies to determine how to live.[ citation needed ]

The word heresy is usually used within a Christian, Jewish, or Islamic context, and implies slightly different meanings in each. The founder or leader of a heretical movement is called a heresiarch , while individuals who espouse heresy or commit heresy are known as heretics.


Former German Catholic friar Martin Luther was famously excommunicated as a heretic by Pope Leo X by his papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem in 1520. To this day, the papal decree has not been rescinded. Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk.jpg
Former German Catholic friar Martin Luther was famously excommunicated as a heretic by Pope Leo X by his papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem in 1520. To this day, the papal decree has not been rescinded.

According to Titus 3:10 a divisive person should be warned twice before separating from him. The Greek for the phrase "divisive person" became a technical term in the early Church for a type of "heretic" who promoted dissension. [8] In contrast, correct teaching is called sound not only because it builds up the faith, but because it protects it against the corrupting influence of false teachers. [9]

Tertullian (c.AD 155–240) implied that it was the Jews who most inspired heresy in Christianity: "From the Jew the heretic has accepted guidance in this discussion [that Jesus was not the Christ]." [10]

The use of the word heresy was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his 2nd-century tract Contra Haereses (Against Heresies) to describe and discredit his opponents during the early centuries of the Christian community. He described the community's beliefs and doctrines as orthodox (from ὀρθός, orthos, "straight" or "correct" + δόξα, doxa, "belief") and the Gnostics' teachings as heretical.[ citation needed ] He also invoked the concept of apostolic succession to support his arguments. [11]

Constantine the Great, who along with Licinius had decreed toleration of Christianity in the Roman Empire by what is commonly called the Edict of Milan, [12] and was the first Roman Emperor baptized, set precedents for later policy. By Roman law the Emperor was Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of the College of Pontiffs (Collegium Pontificum) of all recognized religions in ancient Rome. To put an end to the doctrinal debate initiated by Arius, Constantine called the first of what would afterwards be called the ecumenical councils [13] and then enforced orthodoxy by Imperial authority. [14]

The first known usage of the term in a legal context was in AD 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica of Theodosius I, [15] which made Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. Prior to the issuance of this edict, the Church had no state-sponsored support for any particular legal mechanism to counter what it perceived as "heresy". By this edict the state's authority and that of the Church became somewhat overlapping. One of the outcomes of this blurring of Church and state was the sharing of state powers of legal enforcement with church authorities.

Within six years of the official criminalization of heresy by the Emperor, the first Christian heretic to be executed, Priscillian, was condemned in 386 by Roman secular officials for sorcery, and put to death with four or five followers. [16] [17] [18] However, his accusers were excommunicated both by Ambrose of Milan and by Pope Siricius, [19] who opposed Priscillian's heresy, but "believed capital punishment to be inappropriate at best and usually unequivocally evil." [16] The edict of Theodosius II (435) provided severe punishments for those who had or spread writings of Nestorius. [20] Those who possessed writings of Arius were sentenced to death. [21]

In the 7th-century text Concerning Heresy , Saint John of Damascus named Islam as Christological heresy, referring to it as the "heresy of the Ishmaelites" (see medieval Christian views on Muhammad ). [22] The position remained popular in Christian circles well into the 20th century, by theologians such as the Congregationalist cleric Frank Hugh Foster and the Roman Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc, the latter describing it as "the great and enduring heresy of Mohammed." [23] [24]

For some years after the Reformation, Protestant churches were also known to execute those they considered heretics; for example, Michael Servetus was declared a heretic by both the Reformed Church and Catholic Church for rejecting the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. [25] The last known heretic executed by sentence of the Catholic Church was Spanish schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll in 1826. The number of people executed as heretics under the authority of the various "ecclesiastical authorities" [note 1] is not known. [note 2]

Although less common than in earlier periods, in modern times, formal charges of heresy within Christian churches still occur. Issues in the Protestant churches have included modern biblical criticism and the nature of God. In the Catholic Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith criticizes writings for "ambiguities and errors" without using the word "heresy." [31]

On 11 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI stated that some Protestant groups are "ecclesial communities" rather than Churches. [32] Representatives of some of these Christian denominations accused the Vatican of effectively calling them heretics. [33] [34] However, Pope Benedict XVI clarified that the phrase "ecclesial community" did not necessitate explicit heresy, but only that the communities lacked certain "essential elements" of an apostolic church, as he had written in the document Dominus Iesus.


Massacre of the Waldensians of Merindol in 1545. Massacre of the Vaudois of Merindol.jpg
Massacre of the Waldensians of Mérindol in 1545.

In the Catholic Church, obstinate and willful manifest heresy is considered to spiritually cut one off from the Church, even before excommunication is incurred. The Codex Justinianus (1:5:12) defines "everyone who is not devoted to the Catholic Church and to our Orthodox holy Faith" a heretic. [35] The Church had always dealt harshly with strands of Christianity that it considered heretical, but before the 11th century these tended to centre on individual preachers or small localised sects, like Arianism, Pelagianism, Donatism, Marcionism and Montanism. The diffusion of the almost Manichaean sect of Paulicians westwards gave birth to the famous 11th- and 12th-century heresies of Western Europe. The first one was that of Bogomils in modern-day Bulgaria, a sort of sanctuary between Eastern and Western Christianity. By the 11th century, more organised groups such as the Patarini, the Dulcinians, the Waldensians and the Cathars were beginning to appear in the towns and cities of northern Italy, southern France and Flanders.

In France the Cathars grew to represent a popular mass movement and the belief was spreading to other areas. [36] The Cathar Crusade was initiated by the Catholic Church to eliminate the Cathar heresy in Languedoc. [37] [38] Heresy was a major justification for the Inquisition (Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis, Inquiry on Heretical Perversity) and for the European wars of religion associated with the Protestant Reformation.

Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition. Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition.jpg
Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition.

Galileo Galilei was brought before the Inquisition for heresy, but abjured his views and was sentenced to house arrest, under which he spent the rest of his life. Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy", namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, and that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse and detest" those opinions. [39]

Pope Gregory I stigmatized Judaism and the Jewish people in many of his writings. He described Jews as enemies of Christ: "The more the Holy Spirit fills the world, the more perverse hatred dominates the souls of the Jews." He labeled all heresy as "Jewish", claiming that Judaism would "pollute [Catholics and] deceive them with sacrilegious seduction." [40] The identification of Jews and heretics in particular occurred several times in Roman-Christian law. [35] [41]

Between 1420 and 1431 the Hussite heretics defeated five anti-Hussite Crusades ordered by the Pope. Jensky kodex Zizka.jpg
Between 1420 and 1431 the Hussite heretics defeated five anti-Hussite Crusades ordered by the Pope.

Eastern Orthodoxy

In Eastern Orthodox Christianity heresy most commonly refers to those beliefs declared heretical by the first seven Ecumenical Councils. Since the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation, various Christian churches have also used the concept in proceedings against individuals and groups those churches deemed heretical.

The Eastern Orthodox Church also rejects the early Christian heresies such as Arianism, Gnosticism, Origenism, Montanism, Judaizers, Marcionism, Docetism, Adoptionism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism and Iconoclasm.


Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, who played an instrumental part in the formation of the Lutheran Churches, condemned Johannes Agricola and his doctrine of antinomianism  the belief that Christians were free from the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments  as a heresy. [42] Traditional Lutheranism, espoused by Luther himself, teaches that after justification, "the Law of God continued to guide people in how they were to live before God." [42]

The Augsburg Confession of 1539, which is among the foundational documents of Lutheranism, lists 10 heresies by name which are condemned: Manichaeans, Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, Samosatenes, Pelagians, Anabaptists, Donatists and "certain Jewish opinions". [43]


The 39 Articles of the Anglican Communion condemn Pelagianism as a heresy. [44]

In Britain, the 16th-century English Reformation resulted in a number of executions on charges of heresy. During the thirty-eight years of Henry VIII's reign, about sixty heretics, mainly Protestants, were executed and a rather greater number of Catholics lost their lives on grounds of political offences such as treason, notably Sir Thomas More and Cardinal John Fisher, for refusing to accept the king's supremacy over the Church in England. [45] [46] [47] Under Edward VI, the heresy laws were repealed in 1547 only to be reintroduced in 1554 by Mary I; even so two radicals were executed in Edward's reign (one for denying the reality of the incarnation, the other for denying Christ's divinity). [48] Under Mary, around two hundred and ninety people were burned at the stake between 1555 and 1558 after the restoration of papal jurisdiction. [48] When Elizabeth I came to the throne, the concept of heresy was retained in theory but severely restricted by the 1559 Act of Supremacy and the one hundred and eighty or so Catholics who were executed in the forty-five years of her reign were put to death because they were considered members of "a subversive fifth column." [49] The last execution of a "heretic" in England occurred under James VI and I in 1612. [50] Although the charge was technically one of "blasphemy" there was one later execution in Scotland (still at that date an entirely independent kingdom) when in 1697 Thomas Aikenhead was accused, among other things, of denying the doctrine of the Trinity. [51]

Another example of the persecution of heretics under Protestant rule was the execution of the Boston martyrs in 1659, 1660, and 1661. These executions resulted from the actions of the Anglican Puritans, who at that time wielded political as well as ecclesiastic control in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. At the time, the colony leaders were apparently hoping to achieve their vision of a "purer absolute theocracy" within their colony.[ citation needed ] As such, they perceived the teachings and practices of the rival Quaker sect as heretical, even to the point where laws were passed and executions were performed with the aim of ridding their colony of such perceived "heresies." [ citation needed ]


The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Churches teach that Pelagianism is a heresy. [44]

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist tradition, harshly criticized antinomianism, [52] considering it the "worst of all heresies". [53] He taught that Christian believers are bound to follow the moral law for their sanctification. [52] Methodist Christians thus teach the necessity of following the moral law as contained in the Ten Commandments, citing Jesus' teaching, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (cf. Saint John 14:15). [54]


Mehdiana Sahib: the Killing of Bhai Dayala, a Sikh, by the Mughals at Chandni Chowk, India in 1675 Mehdiana 1.jpg
Mehdiana Sahib: the Killing of Bhai Dayala, a Sikh, by the Mughals at Chandni Chowk, India in 1675

Starting in medieval times, Muslims began to refer to heretics and those who antagonized Islam as zindiqs , the charge being punishable by death. [55]

Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim regarded the Shia Qizilbash as heretics. [56] Shiites, in general, have often been considered heretics by Sunni Muslims, especially in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. [57] [58] [59]

To Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Sikhs were heretics. [60]

In 1989, Ruhollah Khomeini, supreme religious leader of Iran, issued a fatwa that declared the writing of Salman Rushdie to be heretical, and a bounty was issued for anyone who assassinated him. Heresy remains an offense punishable by death in some nations. The Baháʼí Faith is considered an Islamic heresy in Iran, with systematic persecution of Baháʼís. [60]


Orthodox Judaism considers views on the part of Jews who depart from traditional Jewish principles of faith heretical. In addition, the more right-wing groups within Orthodox Judaism hold that all Jews who reject the simple meaning of Maimonides's 13 principles of Jewish faith are heretics. [61] As such, most of Orthodox Judaism considers Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism heretical movements, and regards most of Conservative Judaism as heretical. The liberal wing of Modern Orthodoxy is more tolerant of Conservative Judaism, particularly its right wing, as there is some theological and practical overlap between these groups.

Other religions

The act of using Church of Scientology techniques in a form different from that originally described by L. Ron Hubbard is referred to within Scientology as "squirreling" and is said by Scientologists to be high treason. [62] The Religious Technology Center has prosecuted breakaway groups who have practiced Scientology outside the official Church without authorization.

Although Zoroastrianism has had an historical tolerance for other religions, it also held sects like Zurvanism and Mazdakism heretical to its main dogma and has violently persecuted them, such as burying Mazdakians with their feet upright as "human gardens." In later periods Zoroastrians cooperated with Muslims to kill other Zoroastrians deemed heretical. [63]

Buddhist and Taoist monks in medieval China often called each other "heretics" and competed to be praised by the royal court. Although today most Chinese believe in a hybrid of the "Three Teachings" (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucian) the competition between the two religions may still be seen in some teachings and commentaries given by both religions today. A similar situation happened with Shinto in Japan. Neo-Confucian heresy has also been described. [64]

Non-religious usage

In other contexts the term does not necessarily have pejorative overtones and may even be complimentary when used, in areas where innovation is welcome, of ideas that are in fundamental disagreement with the status quo in any practice and branch of knowledge.

Scientist/author Isaac Asimov considered heresy as an abstraction, mentioning religious, political, socioeconomic and scientific heresies. [65] He divided scientific heretics into: endoheretics, those from within the scientific community; and exoheretics, those from without. Characteristics were ascribed to both and examples of both kinds were offered. Asimov concluded that science orthodoxy defends itself well against endoheretics (by control of science education, grants and publication as examples), but is nearly powerless against exoheretics. He acknowledged by examples that heresy has repeatedly become orthodoxy.

Publishing his findings as The Dinosaur Heresies , revisionist paleontologist Robert T. Bakker, himself a scientific endoheretic, treated the mainstream view of dinosaurs as dogma: [66]

I have enormous respect for dinosaur paleontologists past and present. But on average, for the last fifty years, the field hasn't tested dinosaur orthodoxy severely enough. [66] :27

He adds that, "Most taxonomists, however, have viewed such new terminology as dangerously destabilizing to the traditional and well-known scheme." [66] :462 The illustrations by the author show dinosaurs in very active poses, in contrast to the traditional perception of lethargy.

Immanuel Velikovsky is an example of a recent scientific exoheretic; he did not have appropriate scientific credentials and did not publish in scientific journals. While the details of his work are in scientific disrepute, the concept of catastrophic change (extinction event and punctuated equilibrium) has gained acceptance in recent decades.

The term heresy is used not only with regard to religion but also in the context of political theory. [67] [68] The term heresy is also used as an ideological pigeonhole for contemporary writers because, by definition, heresy depends on contrasts with an established orthodoxy. For example, the tongue-in-cheek contemporary usage of heresy, such as to categorize a "Wall Street heresy" a "Democratic heresy" or a "Republican heresy", are metaphors that invariably retain a subtext that links orthodoxies in geology or biology or any other field to religion. These expanded metaphoric senses allude to both the difference between the person's views and the mainstream and the boldness of such a person in propounding these views.

See also


  1. An "ecclesiastical authority" was initially an assembly of bishops, later the Pope, then an inquisitor (a delegate of the Pope) and later yet the leadership of a Protestant church (which would itself be regarded as heretical by the Pope). The definitions of "state", "cooperation", "suppress" and "heresy" were all subject to change during the past 16 centuries.
  2. Only very fragmentary records have been found of the executions carried out under Christian "heresy laws" during the first millennium. Somewhat more complete records of such executions can be found for the second millennium. To estimate the total number of executions carried out under various Christian "heresy laws" from AD 385 until the last official Catholic "heresy execution" in 1826 would require far more complete historical documentation than is currently available. The Catholic Church by no means had a monopoly on the execution of heretics. The charge of heresy was a weapon that could fit many hands. A century and a half after heresy was made a state crime, the Vandals (a heretical Christian Germanic tribe), used the law to prosecute thousands of (orthodox) Catholics with penalties of torture, mutilation, slavery and banishment. [26] The Vandals were overthrown; orthodoxy was restored; "No toleration whatsoever was to be granted to heretics or schismatics." [27] Heretics were not the only casualties. 4000 Roman soldiers were killed by heretical peasants in one campaign. [28] Some lists of heretics and heresies are available. About seven thousand people were burned at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition, which lasted for nearly seven centuries. [29] From time to time, heretics were burned at the stake by an enraged local populace, in a certain type of "vigilante justice", without the official participation of the Church or State. [30] Religious Wars slaughtered millions. During these wars, the charge of "heresy" was often leveled by one side against another as a sort of propaganda or rationalization for the undertaking of such wars.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Christianity</span>

The history of Christianity follows the Christian religion from the first century to the twenty-first as it developed from its earliest beliefs and practices, spread geographically, and changed into its contemporary global forms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inquisition</span> System of tribunals enforcing Catholic orthodoxy

The Inquisition was a judicial procedure and a group of institutions within the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy, conducting trials of suspected heretics. Studies of the records have found that the overwhelming majority of sentences consisted of penances, but convictions of unrepentant heresy were handed over to the secular courts, which generally resulted in execution or life imprisonment. The Inquisition had its start in the 12th-century Kingdom of France, with the aim of combating religious deviation, particularly among the Cathars and the Waldensians. The inquisitorial courts from this time until the mid-15th century are together known as the Medieval Inquisition. Other groups investigated during the Medieval Inquisition, which primarily took place in France and Italy, include the Spiritual Franciscans, the Hussites, and the Beguines. Beginning in the 1250s, inquisitors were generally chosen from members of the Dominican Order, replacing the earlier practice of using local clergy as judges.

Priscillian was a wealthy nobleman of Roman Hispania who promoted a strict form of Christian asceticism. He became bishop of Ávila in 380. Certain practices of his followers were denounced at the Council of Zaragoza in 380. Tensions between Priscillian and bishops opposed to his views continued, as well as political maneuvering by both sides. Around 385, Priscillian was charged with sorcery and executed by authority of the Emperor Maximus. The ascetic movement Priscillianism is named after him, and continued in Hispania and Gaul until the late 6th century. Tractates by Priscillian and close followers, which were thought lost, were discovered in 1885 and published in 1889.

Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian Church</span> Ecclesiological term

In ecclesiology, the Christian Church is what different Christian denominations conceive of as being the true body of Christians or the original institution established by Jesus. "Christian Church" has also been used in academia as a synonym for Christianity, despite the fact that it is composed of multiple churches or denominations, many of which hold a doctrinal claim of being the "one true church", to the exclusion of the others.

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity that comprises all church congregations of the same kind, identifiable by traits such as a name, particular history, organization, leadership, theological doctrine, worship style and, sometimes, a founder. It is a secular and neutral term, generally used to denote any established Christian church. Unlike a cult or sect, a denomination is usually seen as part of the Christian religious mainstream. Most Christian denominations refer to themselves as churches, whereas some newer ones tend to interchangeably use the terms churches, assemblies, fellowships, etc. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, biblical hermeneutics, theology, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

During its long history, the Catholic Church has been subject to criticism regarding various beliefs and practices. Within the church, this often involves opposition or support for practices associated with traditionalist Catholicism. In the past, different interpretations of scripture and various other critiques contributed to schisms such as the schism with the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church has also been criticized for some of its historical actions, such as the church's promotion of the Crusades, and at various times by nationalist groups who feared the influence of Catholicism in undermining their regime. Furthermore, the Catholic Church has been criticized for not practicing ordination of women to the priesthood, its handling of incidents of sexual abuse, and various inter-faith interactions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bosnian Church</span> Christian church in medieval Bosnia

The Bosnian Church was a Christian church in medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina that was independent of and considered heretical by both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox hierarchies, but in reality, schismatic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anti-Protestantism</span> Bias, hatred or distrust against Protestantism and its followers

Anti-Protestantism is bias, hatred or distrust against some or all branches of Protestantism and/or its followers, especially when amplified in legal, political, ethic or military measures.

The history of Christian thought has included concepts of both inclusivity and exclusivity from its beginnings, that have been understood and applied differently in different ages, and have led to practices of both persecution and toleration. Early Christian thought established Christian identity, defined heresy, separated itself from polytheism and Judaism and developed the theological conviction called supersessionism. In the centuries after Christianity became the official religion of Rome, some scholars say Christianity became a persecuting religion. Others say the change to Christian leadership did not cause a persecution of pagans, and that what little violence occurred was primarily directed at non-orthodox Christians.

Branch theory is an ecclesiological proposition that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church includes various different Christian denominations whether in formal communion or not. The theory is often incorporated in the Protestant notion of an invisible Christian Church structure binding them together.

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the Great East–West Schism or the Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.

Heresy in Christianity denotes the formal denial or doubt of a core doctrine of the Christian faith as defined by one or more of the Christian churches.

The doctrine of the Trinity, considered the core of Christian theology by Trinitarians, is the result of continuous exploration by the church of the biblical data, thrashed out in debate and treatises, eventually formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 in a way they believe is consistent with the biblical witness, and further refined in later councils and writings. The most widely recognized Biblical foundations for the doctrine's formulation are in the Gospel of John, which possess ideas reflected in Platonism and Greek philosophy.

The tradition of the Catholic Church claims it began with Jesus Christ and his teachings; the Catholic tradition considers that the Church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by the Disciples of Jesus. The Church considers its bishops to be the successors to Jesus's apostles and the Church's leader, the Bishop of Rome, to be the sole successor to St Peter who ministered in Rome in the first century AD after his appointment by Jesus as head of the Church. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and administrative issues. Historian Eamon Duffy claims that by the 3rd century, the church at Rome might even function as a court of appeal on doctrinal issues.

The Edict of Thessalonica, issued on 27 February AD 380 by Theodosius I, made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. It condemned other Christian creeds such as Arianism as heresies of "foolish madmen," and authorized their punishment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in late antiquity</span> Christianity in the Roman Empire (c.313 - c.476)

Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire — the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proto-Protestantism</span> Precursors to the Protestant Reformation

Proto-Protestantism, also called pre-Protestantism, refers to individuals and movements that propagated various ideas later associated with Protestantism before 1517, which historians usually regard as the starting year for the Reformation era. The relationship between medieval sects and Protestantism is an issue that has been debated by historians.

Catholic–Protestant relations refers to the social, political and theological relations and dialogue between the Catholics and Protestants.


  1. 1 2 "Heresy | Define Heresy at". Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  2. "heresy – definition of heresy in English from the Oxford dictionary". Archived from the original on July 20, 2012.
  3. Sandle, Mark. 2007. "Soviet and Eastern bloc Marxism." pp. 59–77 in Twentieth-Century Marxism, edited by D. Glaser and D. M. Walker. London: Routledge. ISBN   978-1-13597974-4. p. 62.
  4. "Apostasy | Learn everything there is to know about Apostasy at". Archived from the original on 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  5. "Definitions of "blasphemy" at". Retrieved 2015-11-27.
  6. Cross, F. L., and E. A. Livingstone, eds. 1974. "Heresy." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  7. Bruce, F. F. 1964. The Spreading Flame. Exeter: Paternoster. p. 249.
  8. The NIV Study Bible. London: Zondervan / Hodder & Stoughton. 1987. Titus 3:10n.
  9. The NIV Study Bible. London: Zondervan / Hodder & Stoughton. 1987. Titus 1:9n.
  10. Michael, Robert (2011). A History of Catholic Antisemitism : The Dark Side of the Church (1st Palgrave Macmillan pbk. ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 28–30. ISBN   978-0230111318.
  11. W.H.C. Frend (1984). The Rise of Christianity. Chapter 7, The Emergence of Orthodoxy 135–93. ISBN   978-0-8006-1931-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) Appendices provide a timeline of Councils, Schisms, Heresies and Persecutions in the years 193–604. They are described in the text.
  12. Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Milan, Edict of". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. Chadwick, Henry. 1967. The Early Christian Church. Pelican. pp. 129–130.
  14. Paul Stephenson (2009). "Chapter 11". Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN   978-1-59020-324-8. The Emperor established and enforced orthodoxy for domestic tranquility and the efficacy of prayers in support of the empire.
  15. Charles Freeman (2008). A.D. 381 – Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN   978-1-59020-171-8. As Christianity placed its stamp upon the Empire, the Emperor shaped the church for political purposes.
  16. 1 2 Bassett, Paul M. 2013. "Priscillian." pp. 949–950 in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity (2nd ed.), edited by E. Ferguson. Routledge. ISBN   978-1-13661158-2. p. 950.
  17. John Anthony McGuckin, The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology (Westminster John Knox Press 2004 ISBN   978-0-66422396-0), p. 284
  18. "Priscillian". Encyclopædia Britannica. January 2024.
  19. Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church, Pelican, London, 1967. p. 171
  20. Jay E. Thompson (2009). A Tale of Five Cities: A History of the Five Patriarchal Cities of the Early Church. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 138. ISBN   978-1-4982-7447-0.
  21. María Victoria Escribano Paño (2010). "Chapter Three. Heretical texts and maleficium in the Codex Theodosianum (CTh. 16.5.34)". In Richard Lindsay Gordon; Francisco Marco Simón (eds.). Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference Held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept. – 1st Oct. 2005. BRILL. pp. 135–136. ISBN   978-90-04-17904-2.
  22. Griffith, Sidney H. (2010). The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam. Princeton University Press. p. 41. ISBN   978-0-691-14628-7.
  23. Wismer, Don (2016). Routledge Revivals: The Islamic Jesus (1977): An Annotated Bibliography of Sources in English and French. Routledge. The old opinion of John of Damascus continues to persist among Christian orientalists. The author here replies to Frank Hugh Foster (see 233), who said that Islam is in fact heretical Christianity.
  24. Murray, Douglas (2017). The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 131. ISBN   978-1-4729-4222-7.
  25. Caravale, Giorgio (2017). Censorship and Heresy in Revolutionary England and Counter-Reformation Rome: Story of a Dangerous Book. Springer. p. 3. ISBN   978-3-319-57439-4.
  26. Edward Gibbon (1862). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chapter 37, Part III.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  27. W.H.C. Frend (1984). The Rise of Christianity. Fortress Press. p. 833. ISBN   978-0-8006-1931-2.
  28. Edward Gibbon (1862). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chapter 21, Part VII.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  29. James Carroll (2001). Constantine's Sword . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 357. ISBN   0-618-21908-0.
  30. Will & Ariel Durant (1950). The Age of Faith . p. 778.
  31. An example is the Notification regarding certain writings of Fr. Marciano Vidal, C.Ss.R.
  32. Cf. the documents "Responses to Some Questions" and "Commentary" from the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith.
  33. "Dismay and anger as Pope declares Protestants cannot have churches." The Guardian . 11 July 2007.
  34. "Will the Pope's Pronouncement Set Ecumenism Back a Hundred Years?" Progressive Theology. 11 July 2007
  35. 1 2 Michael, Robert (2011). A History of Catholic Antisemitism : The Dark Side of the Church (1st Palgrave Macmillan pbk. ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 219. ISBN   978-0230111318 . Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  36. "Massacre of the Pure." Time . April 28, 1961.
  37. Joseph Reese Strayer (1992). The Albigensian Crusades . University of Michigan Press. p. 143. ISBN   0-472-06476-2
  38. Will & Ariel Durant (1950). The Age of Faith . Chapter XXVIII, The Early Inquisition: 1000–1300.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  39. Fantoli (2005, p. 139); Finocchiaro (1989, pp. 288–293).
  40. Michael, Robert (2011). A History of Catholic Antisemitism : The Dark Side of the Church (1st Palgrave Macmillan pbk. ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 76. ISBN   978-0230111318 . Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  41. Constitutio Sirmondiana 6, 14; Theodosius II Novella 3; Codex Theodosianus 16:5:44, 16:8:27, 16:8:27; Codex Justinianus 1:3:54, 1:5:12,21, 1:10:2; Justinian, Novellae 37, 45
  42. 1 2 Seelye, James E.; Selby, Shawn (2018). Shaping North America: From Exploration to the American Revolution. ABC-CLIO. p. 50. ISBN   9781440836695.
  43. Book of, Articles 1–17
  44. 1 2 Wilson, Kenneth (2011). Methodist Theology. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 87. ISBN   9780567317469.
  45. Wagner, John A.; Schmid, Susan Walters (2012). Encyclopedia of Tudor England. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN   9781598842982.
  46. Christenson, Ron. 1991. Political Trials in History. Transaction Publishers. ISBN   978-0-88738406-6. p. 302.
  47. O'Donovan, Oliver, and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan. 1999. From Irenaeus to Grotius. Eerdmans. ISBN   978-0-80284209-1. p. 558.
  48. 1 2 Dickens, A.G. The English Reformation Fontana/Collins 1967, pp. 327, 364
  49. Neill, Stephen. Anglicanism. Pelican. pp. 96–97.
  50. MacCulloch, Diarmaid. 1996. Thomas Cranmer. Yale University Press. p. 477.
  51. MacCulloch, Diarmaid. 2003. The Reformation. Penguin. p. 679.
  52. 1 2 Yrigoyen, Charles Jr.; Warrick, Susan E. (2013). Historical Dictionary of Methodism. Scarecrow Press. p. 30. ISBN   9780810878945.
  53. Hurst, John Fletcher (1903). John Wesley the Methodist: A Plain Account of His Life and Work. Eaton & Mains. p. 200.
  54. The Wesleyan Methodist Association Magazine. Vol. 12. R. Abercrombie. 1849. p. 368.
  55. John Bowker. "Zindiq." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997 [ ISBN missing ]
  56. Āl-e-Aḥmad, Jalāl. 1982. Plagued by the West, translated by P. Sprachman. Center for Iranian Studies, Columbia University. ISBN   978-0-88206-047-7.
  57. John Limbert (2009). Negotiating with Iran: Wrestling the Ghosts of History. US Institute of Peace Press. p.  29. ISBN   9781601270436.
  58. Masooda Bano (2012). The Rational Believer: Choices and Decisions in the Madrasas of Pakistan . Cornell University Press. p.  73. ISBN   9780801464331.
  59. Johnson, Thomas A., ed. (2012). Power, National Security, and Transformational Global Events: Challenges Confronting America, China, and Iran (illustrated ed.). CRC Press. p. 162. ISBN   9781439884225.
  60. 1 2 Sanasarian, Eliz (2000). Religious Minorities in Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.  52–53. ISBN   0-521-77073-4.
  61. Shapiro, Marc B. The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised. ISBN   1-874774-90-0. (A book written as a contentious rebuttal to an article written in the Torah u'Maddah Journal .)
  62. Welkos, Robert W.; Sappell, Joel (29 June 1990). "When the Doctrine Leaves the Church". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  63. Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1936), First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913–1936: E.J. Brill, ISBN   9789004097964
  64. John B. Henderson (1998). The construction of orthodoxy and heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and early Christian patterns. SUNY Press. ISBN   978-0-7914-3760-5.
  65. Donald Goldsmith (1977). Scientists Confront Velikovsky . Cornell University Press. ISBN   0-8014-0961-6. Asimov's views are in "Forward: The Role of the Heretic".
  66. 1 2 3 Robert T. Bakker (1986). The Dinosaur Heresies. Citadel Press. ISBN   978-0-8065-2260-9.
  67. "Religion: Anti-Religion". 6 May 1940.
  68. "Exploring the high moments and small mountain roads of Marxism".