The Ghost of Marcion
Marcion had a major impact on the church of the second century and his influence yet resides in Christianity both positively and negatively. Born in Sinope in North East Asia Minor, Marcion was a successful ship owner. He confronted the church with heresy on one hand while the Gnostics did on the other. Marcion moved to
What Marcion Believed
Marcion was an anti-Semite (which was not uncommon in the
Marcion believed that the church of his day had destroyed the pure faith of Jesus and Paul (especially Paul). By recognizing the books of the Jews they were mixing the Gospel with Judaism. But the “Jewish God” had nothing to do with “us” or Jesus. Since the New Testament writings (which had not all come together in the form we recognize today in his day) are filled with quotations from the “Jewish” Bible, Marcion declared them to be unfit. Thus the traditional Gospels were rejected except Luke. All the writings of other NT authors were also rejected because they preserved impure understanding of the true nature of the Gospel. Only Paul’s writings and Luke’s Gospel were accepted. These writings were themselves systematically edited to weed out Paul’s own mistaken references to
Consistent with Marcion’s views that the Demiurge created the world he embraced a rigid asceticism that rejected marriage and sexual intimacy. The world made by the Jewish creator god was not quite “spiritual” enough for Marcion. One can see that Song of Songs would be no more acceptable to Marcion than it was to J.W. McGarvey.
The Legacy of Marcion
The Church rightly condemned Marcion. Jesus is a Jew. He came to reveal the God of the Jews. The Father of the Lord Jesus is the Creator God of Israel. The Incarnation is God’s greatest complement to the goodness creation.
The church did more than simply condemn the theology of Marcion. Up until Marcion, and the Gnostic crises, the church had not really made an effort to define the canon of Scripture. THere was plenty of tradition for sure but no official canon.
One of the legacies of Marcion was the effort of the church to define what truly was her literary treasure. First she affirmed the oneness of God revealed in
Though Marcion was officially expelled as a heretic his ghost haunts to this day. It was the rejection of all things Old Testament and Jewish was a major factor that led to the horrors of the Holocaust in
In our next blog we will look at Alexander Campbell’s “Sermon on the Law” which tapped into a vein already present in historic Christianity that would bear poisonous fruit in generations restoration Christians.
P.S. Here is my sermon from last Sunday called "The Coming of a Strange King" from Zechariah 9. I got a little excited and forgot to check the clock ... but we got out on time anyway. I do not hold my sermons as models of how to preach from the Hebrew Bible ... but just showing that we need to get busy doing it.