I wanted to introduce Heresium, a new Facebook page that is a collaboration between Kristyn Hood, Derreck Bennett, and me. Kristyn has worked over the past few years administrating Mythicist Milwaukee’s Facebook page – she approached me a couple weeks ago about Heresium, and I am very excited to be a contributor to the page. Also administering the page is Derreck Bennett, author of Addictus: A NonBeliever’s Path to Recovery.
If you’re on Facebook, please follow us. We’ll be sharing old and new content, and it’s going to be a great hub and resource for Christ mythicists and people interested in comparative mythology and other secular issues. If you have content you’ve written, or have an author, blogger, or content creator you want to plug, let us know, and (assuming they pass our rigid filtering rules), we’ll share them on our page.
Heresium’s first chosen cover photo was a painting by 17th century Dutch artist Jan Luyken, which depicts the Apostle John running out of a bathhouse in Ephesus – running from Cerinthus. The painting is a riff on a story originally told by Irenaeus of Lyon in Against Heresies (AH iii.3.4). Irenaeus wrote that the Apostle John encountered Cerinthus in a bathhouse in Ephesus, and ran away screaming.
Irenaeus is an important historical figure. Not because of his honesty, or his grand wisdom or logically coherent philosophies; rather, he is important because he was one of the earliest prolific Christian writers whose writings still exist. Based on tradition, internal clues, and authors who were aware of him, Irenaeus probably wrote at the tail end of the 2nd century.
The anecdote Irenaeus gave about Cerinthus and John is probably not true; but it raises an important point: Irenaeus must have considered Cerinthus one of the earliest Christian practitioners. As opposed to Valentinus and Marcion, who Irenaues placed in the mid-2nd century (which I suspect is later than they really were), Cerinthus is clearly put in the 1st. Irenaeus was concerned about constructing a timeline of Christian history – a timeline which I think has permanently inhibited accurate scholarship on real Christian history.
Ironically, it was following this Cerinthian trail that led me to the unapologetic conclusion that Jesus Christ was not a real, individual historical figure. The common feature of many early Christians is that they believed that a special Christ Spirit in the sky descended onto a man Jesus – Cerinthus, along with the Ebionites, those presumed “men from James” who were hostile to the Apostle Paul, believed this. In other words, it becomes economical (especially in light of a reasonable skepticism to Irenaeus) to presume that this Spirit-descending view was part of the earliest, or earlier, version of Christianity.
In my opinion, the very most economical conclusion in this matrix is that Jesus Christ was simply an abstraction of the ideal Paraclete, the encapsulator of the Christ Spirit.
We liked this painting as the cover photo for Heresium because it is a great metaphor for the current state of Christianity. The truth has the Apostles on the run.