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Heresy is the rejection of one or more established beliefs of a religious body, or adherence to "other beliefs." Christian heresy refers to unorthodox beliefs and practices that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. This list identifies beliefs and practices that have been categorized to one time or another as heretical by one or more Christian groups.

The term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of 1054. After the schism, both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church continued to use the term to identify what it considered to be unorthodox beliefs and practices. While individual Protestant churches have also used the concept in proceedings against individuals and groups deemed to be heretical by those churches, the lack of a central doctrinal authority has meant that no belief or practice can be officially pronounced to be a heresy from the Protestant perspective.

Early Christianity

Traditionally, orthodoxy and heresy have been viewed in relation to the "orthodoxy" as an authentic lineage of tradition. Other forms of Christianity were viewed as deviant streams of thought and therefore "heterodox", or heretical. This view was dominant until the publication of Walter Bauer's Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum ("Orthodoxy and heresy in ancient Christianity") in 1934. Bauer endeavored to rethink early Christianity historically, independent from the views of the church. He stated that the early church was very diverse and included many "heretical" groups that had an equal claim to apostolic tradition. Bauer interpreted the struggle between the orthodox and heterodox to be the "mainstream" Roman church struggling to attain dominance. He presented Edessa and Egypt as places where the "orthodoxy" of Rome had little influence during the second century. As he saw it, the theological thought of the Orient at the time would later be labeled "heresy". The response by modern scholars has been mixed. Some scholars clearly support Bauer's conclusions and others express concerns about his possible bias. More moderate responses have become prominent and Bauer's theory is generally accepted. However, modern scholars have critiqued and updated Bauer's model.[1]

Other Christian heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Antinomianism The idea there is no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities Few groups have claimed to actually be Antinomian, and the term has often been used by one group of Christianity to criticize another's views regarding the relationship of faith vs. obedience to moral law in determining salvation.
Audianism Belief that God has human form (anthropomorphism) and that one ought to celebrate Jesus' death during the Jewish Passover (quartodecimanism). Named after the leader of the sect, Audius (or Audaeus), a Syrian who lived in the 4th century.
Donatism Donatists were rigorists, holding that the church must be a church of saints, not sinners, and that sacraments, such as baptism, administered by traditores (Christians who surrendered the Scriptures to the authorities who outlawed possession of them) were invalid. Named for the Berber Christian Donatus Magnus Donatists were still a force at the time of Saint Augustine of Hippo at the end of the fourth century, and disappeared only after the Arab conquest of the 7th-8th century.[2]
Ebionites A Jewish sect that insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites,[3] which they interpreted in light of Jesus' expounding of the Law.[4] They regarded Jesus as the Messiah but not as divine. The Ebionites revered his brother James as the head of the Jerusalem Church and rejected Paul of Tarsus as an "apostate of the Law". Their name suggests that they placed a special value on religious poverty. In 375, Epiphanius records the settlement of Ebionites on Cyprus, but by the mid-5th century, Theodoret of Cyrrhus reported that they were no longer present in the region.[5]

Some scholars argue that the Ebionites survived much longer and identify them with a sect encountered by the historian Abd al-Jabbar around the year 1000.[6] Another possible reference to surviving Ebionite communities in northwestern Arabia, specifically the cities of Tayma and Tilmas, around the 11th century is made by Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela.[7] 12th century Muslim historian Muhammad al-Shahrastani mentions Jews living in nearby Medina and Hejaz who accepted Jesus as a prophetic figure and followed traditional Judaism, rejecting mainstream Christian views.[8]

Euchites / Messalians Belief that:
  1. The essence (ousia) of the Trinity could be perceived by the carnal senses.
  2. The Threefold God transformed himself into a single hypostasis (substance) in order to unite with the souls of the perfect.
  3. God has taken different forms in order to reveal himself to the senses.
  4. Only such sensible revelations of God confer perfection upon the Christian.
  5. The state of perfection, freedom from the world and passion, is therefore attained solely by prayer, not through the church, baptism and or any of the sacraments, which have no effect on the passions or the influence of evil on the soul (hence the name, "Euchites", which means "Those who pray").
Originating in Mesopotamia, they spread to Asia Minor and Thrace. The group continued to exist for several centuries, influencing the Bogomils of Bulgaria, whose name appears to be a translation of "Massalian" (see Bogomils) and, thereby, the Bosnian church, the Paterenes and Catharism.[9] By the 12th century the sect had reached Bohemia and Germany. They were condemned as heretical by the Council of Trier (1231).
Marcionism an Early Christian dualist belief system. Marcion affirmed Jesus Christ as the savior sent by God and Paul as his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and Yahweh. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. This belief was in some ways similar to Gnostic Christian theology, but in other ways different. Originates in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144.[10] Marcionism continued in the West for 300 years, although Marcionistic ideas persisted much longer.[11] Marcionism continued in the East for some centuries later, particularly outside the Byzantine Empire in areas which later would be dominated by Manichaeism.
Millennialism Belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" prior to the final judgment and future eternal state (the New Heavens and New Earth). Millennialism is a specific form of Millenarianism based on a one thousand-year cycle. This belief is derived primarily from the book of Revelation 20:1-6.
Montanism The beliefs of Montanism contrasted with orthodox Christianity in the following ways:
  • The belief that the prophecies of the Montanists superseded and fulfilled the doctrines proclaimed by the Apostles.
  • The encouragement of ecstatic prophesying, contrasting with the more sober and disciplined approach to theology dominant in orthodox Christianity at the time and since.
  • The view that Christians who fell from grace could not be redeemed, also in contrast to the orthodox Christian view that contrition could lead to a sinner's restoration to the church.
  • A stronger emphasis on the avoidance of sin and church discipline than in orthodox Christianity. They emphasized chastity, including forbidding remarriage.
  • Some of the Montanists were also "Quartodeciman" ("fourteeners"), preferring to celebrate Easter on the Hebrew calendar date of 14 Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it landed on. The orthodoxy held that Easter should be commemorated on the Sunday following 14 Nisan.[12]
Named for its founder Montanus, Montanism originated at Hierapolis. It spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire during the period before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal. Although the orthodox mainstream Christian church prevailed against Montanism within a few generations, labeling it a heresy, the sect persisted in some isolated places into the 8th century.
Pelagianism/Semipelagianism Belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Named after Pelagius (ad. 354 – ad. 420/440).


Gnosticism refers to a diverse, syncretistic religious movement consisting of various belief systems generally united in the teaching that humans are divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect god, the demiurge, who is frequently identified with the Abrahamic God. Gnosticism is a rejection (sometimes from an ascetic perspective) and vilification of the human body and of the material world or cosmos. Gnosticism teaches duality in Material (Matter) versus Spiritual or Body (evil) versus Soul (good). Gnosticism teaches that the natural or material world will and should be destroyed (total annihilation) by the true spiritual God in order to free mankind from the reign of the false God or Demiurge.

A common misperception is caused by the fact that, in the past, "Gnostic" had a similar meaning to current usage of the word mystic. There were some Orthodox Christians who as mystics (in the modern sense) taught gnosis (Knowledge of the God or the Good) who could be called gnostics in a positive sense (e.g. Diadochos of Photiki).

Whereas formerly Gnosticism was considered mostly a corruption of Christianity, it now seems clear that traces of Gnostic systems can be discerned some centuries before the Christian Era.[13] Gnosticism may have been earlier than the First Century, thus predating Jesus Christ.[14] Then continuing in the Mediterranean and Middle East before and during the Second and Third Centuries. Gnosticism became a dualistic heresy to Judaism (see Notzrim), Christianity and Hellenic philosophy in areas controlled by the Roman Empire and Arian Goths (see Huneric), and the Persian Empire. Conversion to Islam and the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229) greatly reduced the remaining number of Gnostics throughout the Middle Ages, though a few isolated communities continue to exist to the present. Gnostic ideas became influential in the philosophies of various esoteric mystical movements of the late 19th and 20th Centuries in Europe and North America, including some that explicitly identify themselves as revivals or even continuations of earlier gnostic groups.

Gnostic Heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Johannites A Gnostic sect that rejected Jesus Christ, and instead posited that the true savior was in fact John the Baptist. Some descendants of the original adherents to this doctrine are the Mandaeans,
Mandaeism strictly dualistic theology Discrete division between light and darkness, Syzygies and that the Torah is evil. Founded c. 1st century AD There are thought to be between 60,000 and 70,000 Mandaeans worldwide,[15] and until the 2003 Iraq war, almost all of them lived in Iraq.[16] The 2003 Iraq War reduced the population of Iraqi Mandaeans to approximately 5,000 by 2007.[16] Most Iraqi Mandaeans fled to Syria and Jordan under the threat of violence by Islamic extremists and the turmoil of the war.[17]
Manichaeism a major dualistic religion stating that good and evil are equally powerful, and that material things are evil. Group are also associated with gnosticism via their parent group Mandaeism Founded in 210–276 AD by Mani Mani was part of the Mandeans before founding his own sect. Thrived between the third and seventh centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world. Manichaean churches and scriptures existed as far east as China and as far west as the Roman Empire. Manichaeism appears to have died out before the sixteenth century in southern China.
Paulicianism A Gnostic and dualistic sect The founder of the sect is said to have been an Armenian by the name of Constantine,[18] who hailed from Mananalis, a community near Samosata.
Priscillianism A Gnostic and Manichaean sect Founded in the 4th century by Priscillian, derived from the Gnostic-Manichaean doctrines taught by Marcus. Priscillian was put to death by the emperor Gratian for the crime of magic. After the death of Priscillian and his folllowers, however, the numbers and zeal of the heretics only increased during the fifth century despite efforts to stop it including the convening of councils in 446 and 447. In the sixth century, Priscillianism began to decline and died out soon after after the Synod of Braga which was held in 563.
Naassenes A Gnostic sect from around 100 A.D. The Naassenes claimed to have been taught their doctrines by Mariamne, a disciple of James the Just.[19]
Notzrim Disparaged the Christian books as fiction, regarding Jesus as the literary invention (mšiha kdaba) of Paul of Tarsus, Emerged towards the end of the 1st century as the Mandaeans
Sethian A Gnostic sect that taught that the snake in the Garden of Eden was an agent of the true God and brought knowledge of truth to man via the fall of man. Smaller gnostic cults like the Sethians draw their origin from the Ophites Syrian sect Sect is founded around the Apocalypse of Adam.
Ophites Belief that the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve was a hero, and that the God who forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge is the enemy
Valentianism A Gnostic and dualistic sect Gnostic sect was founded by Ex-Catholic Bishop Valentinus


Christology is concerned with the nature of Jesus the Christ, particularly with how the divine and human are related in his person. Christology is generally less concerned with the details of Jesus' life than with how the human and divine co-exist in one person. Although this study of the inter-relationship of these two natures is the foundation of Christology, some essential sub-topics within the field of Christology include:

Christology is related to questions concerning the nature of God like the Trinity, Unitarianism or Binitarianism. However, from a Christian perspective, these questions are concerned with how the divine persons relate to one another, whereas Christology is concerned with the meeting of the human (Son of Man) and divine (God the Son) in the person of Jesus.

Throughout the history of Christianity, Christological questions have been very important in the life of the Church. Christology was a fundamental concern from the First Council of Nicaea (325) until the Third Council of Constantinople (680). In this time period, the Christological views of various groups within the broader Christian community led to accusations of heresy, and, infrequently, subsequent religious persecution. In some cases, a sect's unique Christology is its chief distinctive feature; in these cases it is common for the sect to be known by the name given to its Christology.

The orthodox teaching, as it developed, is that Christ was fully divine and at the same time fully human, and that the three persons of the Trinity are co-equal and co-eternal. This position was challenged in the fourth century by Arius. Arianism held that Jesus, while not merely mortal, was not eternally divine and was, therefore, of lesser status than God the Father (John 14:28). Trinitarianism held that God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all strictly one being with three hypostases. Many groups held dualistic beliefs, maintaining that reality was composed into two radically opposing parts: matter, usually seen as evil, and spirit, seen as good. Others held that both the material and spiritual worlds were created by God and were therefore both good, and that this was represented in the unified divine and human natures of Christ.[20]

Christological Heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Adoptionism Belief that Jesus was born merely human and that he became divine later in his life.
Apollinarism Belief that Jesus had a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) but a divine mind. Apollinaris further taught that the souls of men were propagated by other souls, as well as their bodies. proposed by Apollinaris of Laodicea (died 390) Declared to be a heresy in 381 by the First Council of Constantinople.
Arianism The teachings adopted by the theologian Arius which state that Christ had been given every honor but divinity, which conflicts with the doctrine of the hypostatic union (Christ's nature was wholly divine and wholly human) which was held by the Church. The doctrine is associated with Arius (ca. AD 250––336) who lived and taught in Alexandria, Egypt. Arius was first ruled a heretic at the First Council of Nicea, later exonerated and then pronounced a heretic again after his death.
Docetism Belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die Docetism was rejected by the ecumenical councils and mainstream Christianity, and largely died out during the first millennium A.D. Gnostic movements that survived past that time, such as Catharism, incorporated docetism into their beliefs, but such movements were destroyed by the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229).
Macedonians (religious group) or pneumatomachians Belief that Holy Spirit was a creation of the Son, and a servant of the Father and the Son Founded in 4th century by Bishop Macedonius I of Constantinople They professed a belief similar to that of Arianism, but apparently denying the divinity of the Holy Spirit,and regarding the substance of Jesus Christ as being the same in kind as that of God the Father. This is what prompted the addition of “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is equally worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets,” into the Nicene Creed at the second ecumenical council. They were regarded as a heretical sect by the mainstream Church. The sect's members were also known as pneumatomachians, the “spirit fighters.”.
Monarchianism Emphasized the indivisibility of God (the Father) at the expense of the other persons of the Trinity.
Monophysitism or Eutychianism Belief that Christ has only one nature (divine), as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human or the Miaphysite position which holds that the divine and human natures of Christ were united as one divine human nature from the point of the Incarnation onwards. After Nestorianism was rejected at the First Council of Ephesus, Eutyches emerged with diametrically opposite views. Eutyches was excommunicated in 448. Monophysitism and Eutyches were rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Monophysitism is also rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Churches,
Monothelitism Belief that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will. This is contrary to the orthodox interpretation of Christology, which teaches that Jesus Christ has two wills (human and divine) corresponding to his two natures Originated in Armenia and Syria in AD 633 Monothelitism was officially condemned at the Third Council of Constantinople (the Sixth Ecumenical Council, 680–681). The churches condemned at Constantinople include the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Maronite church, although they now deny that they ever held the Monothelite view. Christians in England rejected the Monothelite position at the Council of Hatfield in 680.
Nestorianism Belief that Christ exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as two natures (True God and True Man) of one divine person. The doctrine is identified with Nestorius (c. 386–c. 451), Archbishop of Constantinople. This view of Christ was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the conflict over this view led to the Nestorian schism, separating the Assyrian Church of the East from the Byzantine Church.
Patripassianism Belief that the Father and Son are not two distinct persons, and thus God the Father suffered on the cross as Jesus. similar to Sabellianism
Psilanthropism Belief that Jesus is "merely human": either that he never became divine, or that he never existed prior to his incarnation as a man. Rejected by the ecumenical councils, especially in the First Council of Nicaea, which was convened to deal directly with the nature of Christ's divinity.
Sabellianism Belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three aspects of one God, rather than three distinct persons in one God.


Medieval heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Bogomils A Gnostic dualistic sect that was both Adoptionist and Manichaean. Their beliefs were a synthesis of Armenian Paulicianism and the Bulgarian Slavonic Church reform movement, Emerged in Bulgaria between 927 and 970 and spread into Byzantine Empire, Serbia, Bosnia, Italy and France.
Bosnian Church Thought to be an indigenous branch of the Bogomils that existed in Bosnia during the Middle Ages. The church no longer exists and is thought to have disappeared completely by the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Catharism Catharism had its roots in the Paulician movement in Armenia and the Bogomils of Bulgaria, with a strong dualist influence. They held that the physical world was evil and created by Rex Mundi, the god of the world. The second god was a being of pure spirit, so Cathars denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God. First appeared in the Languedoc region of France in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. Catharism had its roots in the Paulician movement in Armenia and the Bogomils of Bulgaria with whom the Paulicians merged. After several decades of harassment and re-proselytizing, and perhaps even more importantly, the systematic destruction of their scripture, the sect was exhausted and could find no more adepts. The leaders of a Cathar revival in the Pyrenean foothills, Pierre and Jacques Autier, were executed in 1310. Catharism disappeared from the northern Italian cities after the 1260s, under pressure from the Inquisition. The last known Cathar prefect in the Languedoc, Guillaume Bélibaste, was executed in 1321.
Conciliarism Claims that the council (and laity) is always above the ordinary (and extraordinary) magisterium. The movement emerged in response to the Avignon papacy— the popes were removed from Rome and subjected to pressures from the kings of France— and the ensuing schism that inspired the summoning of the Council of Pisa (1409), the Council of Constance (1414-1417) and the Council of Basel (1431-1449). The eventual victor in the conflict was the institution of the Papacy, confirmed by the condemnation of conciliarism at the Fifth Lateran Council, 1512-17. The final gesture however, the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, was not promulgated until the First Vatican Council of 1870.
Free Spirit Mixed mystical beliefs with Christianity. Its practitioners believed that it was possible to reach perfection on earth through a life of austerity and spiritualism. They believed that they could communicate directly with God and did not need the Christian church for intercession. Small groups living mostly in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Fraticelli (Spiritual Franciscans) Extreme proponents of the rule of Saint Francis of Assisi, especially with regard to poverty, and regarded the wealth of the Church as scandalous, and that of individual churchmen as invalidating their status. Appeared in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, principally in Italy Declared heretical by the Church in 1296 by Boniface VIII.
Henricians According to Peter of Cluny, Henry's teaching is summed up as follows:
  • Rejection of the doctrinal and disciplinary authority of the church;
  • Recognition of the Gospel freely interpreted as the sole rule of faith;
  • Refusal to recognize any form of worship or liturgy; and
  • Condemnation of
    • the baptism of infants,
    • the Eucharist,
    • the sacrifice of the mass,
    • the communion of saints, and
    • prayers for the dead;
Henry of Lausanne lived in France in the first half of the 12th century. His preaching began around 1116 and he died imprisoned around 1148. In a letter written at the end of 1146, St Bernard calls upon the people of Toulouse to extirpate the last remnants of the heresy. In 1151, however, some Henricians still remained in Languedoc, for Matthew Paris relates that a young girl, who gave herself out to be miraculously inspired by the Virgin Mary, was reputed to have converted a great number of the disciples of Henry of Lausanne.
Waldensians (Waldenses or Vaudois) A spiritual movement of the later Middle Ages Begun by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant who decided to give up all his worldly possessions and began to preach on the streets of Lyon in 1177.[21] Waldensians were persecuted as heretical before the 16th century, and endured near annihilation in the 17th century. Descendants of this movement still exist in various regions. Over time, the denomination joined the Genevan or Reformed branch of Protestantism.


Heresy Description Origin Other
Heliocentrism A cosmological view that sun is the center of the solar system and that the Earth revolves around it. It was heretical in the sense that it contradicted several Biblical passages. Some Heliocentric publications were placed on the index of forbidden books, but it was not formally declared to be a heresy. Multiple, although Nicholas Copernicus wrote the text which would serve as the modern foundation for Heliocentrism. Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno are famous for having direct confrontations with Catholic authorities over the doctrine. In 1992 Pope John Paul II issued an apology on behalf of the Vatican over the Galileo affair.[22] This world view is considered heretical only by those fringe elements practicing Modern Geocentrism.
Girolamo Savonarola


Precursors to the Protestant Reformation
Heresy Description Origin Other
Hussites The program of the Hussites is contained in the four articles of Prague, which were agreed upon in July 1420. These are often summarized as:
  1. Freedom to preach the Word of God.
  2. Celebration of the Lord's Supper in both kinds (bread and wine to priests and laity alike).
  3. No secular power for the clergy.
  4. Punishment for the mortal sins.
Founded by Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), who was one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation.
Lollardy Lollards were effectively absorbed into Protestantism during the English Reformation, in which Lollardy played a role.
Taborites One of the most radical departures from the medieval Catholic Church. They rejected the outer veneer of the corrupted church and insisted on the normativeness of biblical authority. Even though Taborite theologians were versed in scholastic theology, they were among the first intellectuals to break free from centuries-old scholastic methods. Radical followers of Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), who was one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. The power of the Taborites was broken by the defeat of their army at the Battle of Lipany on May 30, 1434. 13,000 of the 18,000-strong army were killed.
Heresy Description Origin Other
Protestantism The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs in opposition to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day.
  • Solus Christus: Christ alone.
  • Sola scriptura: Scripture alone. Only teachings found in the Protestant bible are binding.
  • Sola fide: Faith alone, rejecting the value of good works or prayers towards salvation.
  • Sola gratia: Grace alone. Human initiative has no part in salvation.
  • Soli Deo gloria: Glory to God alone. Devotion to Mary and the Saints strongly discouraged.
Originated in the 16th century Protestant Reformation which is generally accepted to have begun in 1517 with Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church.[23] There are "over 33,000 denominations in 238 countries".[24] There are about 800 million Protestants worldwide,[25] among approximately 1.5 - 2.1 billion Christians.[26][27]

In addition to the Five Solas, most Protestants disbelieve in transubstantiation, giving a more symbolic interpretation to the presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Many Protestants also forbid the use of pictures and other images in worship.

Calvinism The belief that God chooses to save certain people, not because of any foreseen merit or good in themselves, but totally by his sovereign choice. Calvinism has been summed up in five points, known as TULIP. Calvinism was systemised by John Calvin in mid 16th century Geneva, being further rigorised at the Dutch 17th century Synod of Dort. Calvinism forms the basis of the doctrines of the Reformed churches, including those of the Netherlands, Scotland, and central Europe. Many Presbyterians and Congregationalists follow Calvinist teachings, which have also formed the basis for the theology of the Baptist and many Pentecostal churches.
Hyper-Calvinism an extreme form of Calvinism which denies that the call of the gospel to repent and believe is universal.
Eucharistic heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other


Restorationist heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Jansenism a branch of Catholic thought which arose in the frame of the Counter-Reformation and the aftermath of the Council of Trent (1545-1563). It emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. Originating in the writings of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, Jansenism formed a distinct movement within the Roman Catholic Church from the 16th to 18th centuries. Jansenism's supporters suffered a decisive defeat when Innocent X issued the bull Cum occasione on May 31, 1653. The bull condemned the following five propositions:
  1. that there are some commands of God which just men cannot keep, no matter how hard they wish and strive;
  2. that it is impossible for fallen man to resist sovereign grace;
  3. that it is possible for human beings who lack free will to merit;
  4. that the Semipelagians were correct to teach that prevenient grace was necessary for all interior acts, including for faith, but were incorrect to teach that fallen man is free to accept or resist prevenient grace; and
  5. that it is Semipelagian to say that Christ died for all.


Restorationism, sometimes called Christian primitivism, refers to the belief held by various religious movements that pristine or original Christianity should be restored, which usually claiming to be the source of that restoration. Such groups teach that this is necessary because Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians introduced defects into Christian faith and practice, or have lost a vital element of genuine Christianity.

Specifically, restorationism applies to the Restoration Movement and numerous other movements that originated in the eastern United States and Canada and grew rapidly in the early and mid 19th century in the wake of the Second Great Awakening. The term restoration is also employed by the Latter Day Saint movement.

The term is also used by more recent groups, describing their goal to re-establish Christianity in its original form, such as some anti-denominational Charismatic Restorationists, which arose in the 1970s in the United Kingdom[28][29] and elsewhere.

Earlier primitivist movements such as the Paulicians, Hussites, Anabaptists, Larndmarkists, and the Quakers have been described as examples of restorationism. The Radical Reformation was a 16th-century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many Anabaptist groups throughout Europe.

Restorationist heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Radical Reformation/Anabaptist
Jehovah's Witnesses
Millerites Emphasized apocalyptic teachings anticipating the end of the world, and did not look for the unity of Christendom but busied themselves in preparation for Christ's return. Millerites sought to restore a prophetic immediacy and uncompromising biblicism that they believed had once existed but had long been rejected by mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches. William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843.
Latter Day Saint movement /Mormonism A group of Restorationist religious denominations and adherents who follow at least some of the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith, Jr., Founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. who, in 1827, began to gather a religious following after announcing that an angel had shown him a set of golden plates describing a visit of Jesus to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In 1830, Smith published what he said was a translation of these plates as the Book of Mormon, and the same year he organized the Church of Christ. After Smith's death in 1844, the movement divided into several groups, the largest of which, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) migrated to Utah Territory.

Other groups originating within the Latter Day Saint movement followed different paths in Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The largest of these, the Community of Christ (originally known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), was formed in Missouri in 1860 by several groups uniting around Smith's son, Joseph Smith III. Most denominations existing today who follow the teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. have some historical relationship with the movement.

Seventh-day Adventists Grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863.[30]

Modern era

Other heresies

Heresies of the Modern Era
Heresy Description Origin Other
Americanism A form of ecclesial populism which forbids bishops from speaking publicly about faith and morals.
Anglo-Israelism Holds that English and to a lesser extent white peoples are the descendants of the ancient Israelites. Forms the Basis of the Christian Identity Movement.
Feeneyism A Roman Catholic theology that favors a strict interpretation of the doctrine extra Ecclesiam nulla salus ("outside the church there is no salvation"). Associated with Leonard Feeney (1897-1978), a Jesuit priest and founder of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Federal Vision
King James Only Movement A fundamentalist Protestant movement claiming the superiority and/or divine inspiration of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible. The charge of heresy only applies to the doctrine of Ruckmanism as well as claims that the King James Version was directly inspired and preserved by God. Textual arguments in support of the King James Version are not necessarily considered heretical.
New Perspective on Paul
Phyletism The principle of nationalities applied in the ecclesiastical domain: in other words, the confusion between Church and nation. The term ethnophyletismos designates the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one. Phyletism was condemned in 1872, at the pan-Orthodox Synod in Constantinople as a modern ecclesial heresy: the Church should not be confused with the destiny of a single nation or a single race.[31] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has declared that “nationalism remains one of the central problems of the Church." Phyletism has been a threat to Orthodox unity since at least the rise of nationalism in the 19th century, and its impact on Orthodoxy in America – and in other areas of the so-called “diaspora” throughout the 20th century and to the present-day is well known.[32]

The conditions behind modern-day phyletism are different from those surrounding the 1872 decision of the Synod of Constantinople. In the latter half of the 20th century, there has been a vigorous and sometimes contentious debate among the Orthodox concerning the problem of the Diaspora, specifically the organization of the Orthodox Church in countries to which Orthodox have emigrated, particularly since the Russian Revolution. The problem is that Orthodox dioceses (officially called "jurisdictions) in the Diaspora are superimposed on each other. The result is that there are usually several Orthodox bishops of different Orthodox churches in Diaspora cities. This situation violates the canonical principle of territoriality – that each city and province should have its own unique bishop.

Positive Christianity A term adopted by Nazi leaders to refer to a model of Christianity consistent with Nazism. With the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945, Positive Christianity as a movement fell into obscurity. It continues to be espoused by some Christian Identity groups,[33] but has been rejected by mainstream Christian churches.
Sedevacantism The position held by some Traditionalist Catholics who claim that the Papal See has been vacant since the death of Pius XII.
Other Christian heresies
Heresy Description Origin Other
Christian Zionism Belief that the "ingathering" of Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus. This belief is primarily, though not exclusively, associated with Christian Dispensationalism. The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism (August 22, 2006).[34] rejects Christian Zionism, concluding that it is a "false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation."

See also


  1. Hunt (2003). Pp 10-11.
  2. "Donatism." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  3. Kaufmann Kohler, "Ebionites", in: Isidore Singer & Cyrus Alder (ed.), Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906.
  4. Francois P. Viljoen (2006). Jesus' Teaching on the Torah in the Sermon on the Mount. Neotestamenica 40.1, pp. 135-155.  (PDF) Jesus' Teaching on the Torah in the Sermon on the Mount. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  5. Henry Wace & William Piercy (1911). A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  6. Shlomo Pines (1966). The Jewish Christians Of The Early Centuries Of Christianity According To A New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities II, No. 13. ISBN 102-255-998. 
  7. Marcus N. Adler (1907). The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Critical Text, Translation and Commentary, p. 70–72.. Phillip Feldheim. 
  8. Muhammad al-Shahrastani (2002). The Book of Religious and Philosophical Sects, William Cureton edition, page 167. Gorgias Press. 
  9. S. Runciman, The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy (Cambridge, 1947)
  10. (115 years and 6 months from the Crucifixion, according to Tertullian's reckoning in Adversus Marcionem, xv)
  11. Berdyaev Online Library
  12. Trevett 1996:202
  14. Bart D. Ehrman Lost Christianities. Oxford University press, 2003, p.188-202
  15. Iraqi minority group needs U.S. attention, Kai Thaler, Yale Daily News, March 9, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Save the Gnostics" by Nathaniel Deutsch, October 6, 2007, New York Times.
  17. Iraq's Mandaeans 'face extinction', Angus Crawford, BBC, March 4, 2007.
  18. Constantine-Silvanus." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 2 September 2008.
  19. Hippolytus Philosophumena 5, 2
  20. R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) p. 58
  21. Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 874-876
  23. Simon, Edith (1966). Great Ages of Man: The Reformation. Time-Life Books. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0662278208. 
  24. World Christian Encyclopedia (2nd edition). David Barrett, George Kurian and Todd Johnson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001
  25. Jay Diamond, Larry. Plattner, Marc F. and Costopoulos, Philip J. World Religions and Democracy. 2005, page 119.(also in PDF file, p49), saying "Not only do Protestants presently constitute 13 percent of the world’s population—about 800 million people—but since 1900 Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America."
  26. "between 1,250 and 1,750 million adherents, depending on the criteria employed": McGrath, Alister E. Christianity: An Introduction. 2006, page xv1.
  27. "2.1 thousand million Christians": Hinnells, John R. The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion. 2005, page 441.
  28. Evangelicalism in modern Britain: a history from the 1730s to the 1980s, David W. Bebbington, pub 1995, Routledge (UK), ISBN 0415104645, pg 230,231; 245-249
  29. Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction, Stephen J. Hunt, pub 2003, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd; ISBN 0754634108, pg 82,83
  30. "Seventh-day Adventists - The Heritage Continues Along". General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  31. Papathomas, Grigorios (1995). Course of Canon Law — Appendix VI — canonical glossary. Paris. 
  32. Pillar Two - Orthodox Relations
  33. Kinsman Redeemer Church: Positive Christianity
  34. "The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism". 
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at List of Christian heresies. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.