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Pertinacity, that is, obstinate adhesion to a particular tenet is required to make heresy formal .
Now faith is the most precious possession of man, the root of his supernatural life, the pledge of his eternal salvation. A sin, therefore, is the greater the more it separates man from God. In answer it suffices to remark that two of the most evident truths of the depositum fidei are the unity of the Church and the institution of a teaching authority to maintain that unity. Arianism is the first heresy that gained a strong footing in the Church and seriously endangered its very nature and existence.Privation of faith is therefore the greatest evil, and deliberate rejection of faith is the greatest sin. But infidelity does this more than any other sin, for the infidel (unbeliever) is without the true knowledge of God : his false knowledge does not bring him help, for what he opines is not God : manifestly, then, the sin of unbelief ( infidelitas ) is the greatest sin in the whole range of perversity." And he adds: "Although the Gentiles err in more things than the Jews, and although the Jews are farther removed from true faith than heretics, yet the unbelief of the Jews is a more grievous sin than that of the Gentiles, because they corrupt the Gospel itself after having adopted and professed the same. That unity exists in the Catholic Church, and is preserved by the function of her teaching body: these are two facts which anyone can verify for himself. Arius appeared on the scene when theologians were endeavouring to harmonize the apparently contradictory doctrines of the unity of God and the Divinity of Christ.In the constitution of the Church there is no room for private judgment sorting essentials from non-essentials: any such selection disturbs the unity, and challenges the Divine authority, of the Church ; it strikes at the very source of faith. Instead of unravelling the knot, he simply cut it by bluntly asserting that Christ was not God like the Father, but a creature made in time. The subject-matter of both faith and heresy is, therefore, the deposit of the faith, that is, the sum total of truths revealed in Scripture and Tradition as proposed to our belief by the Church. Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers on heresy VII. Church legislation on heresy: ancient, medieval, present-day legislation IX. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity : the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews ; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics.Pius X, scrutinizing the causes of Modernism, says: "The proximate cause is, without any doubt, an error of the mind. Curiosity, unless wisely held in bounds, is of itself sufficient to account for all errors. At once an internecine conflict began within the Arian pale, for heresy, lacking the internal cohesive element of authority, can only be held together by coercion either from friend or foe.
Sects sprang up rapidly: they are known as Eunomians, Anomoeans, Exucontians, Semi-Arians, Acacians.
The non-cogency of the motives of credibility may arise from three causes: the obscurity of the Divine testimony ( inevidentia attestantis ); the obscurity of the contents of Revelation; the opposition between the obligations imposed on us by faith and the evil inclinations of our corrupt nature. But far more effective in obscuring the mind and leading it into error is pride, which has, as it were, its home in Modernist doctrines. (Addis and Arnold, "A Catholic Dictionary", 7th ed., 1905, 54.) The Council of Nicaea anathematized the heresiarch, but its anathemas, like all the efforts of the Catholic bishops, were nullified by interference of the civil power.
To find out how a man's free will is led to withdraw from the faith once professed, the best way is observation of historical cases. Through pride the Modernists overestimate themselves. Constantine and his sister protected Arius and the Arians, and the next emperor, Constantius, assured the triumph of the heresy: the Catholics were reduced to silence by dire persecution.
The heretical tenets may be ignorance of the true creed, erroneous judgment, imperfect apprehension and comprehension of dogmas : in none of these does the will play an appreciable part, wherefore one of the necessary conditions of sinfulness--free choice--is wanting and such heresy is merely objective , or material .
The believer accepts the whole deposit as proposed by the Church ; the heretic accepts only such parts of it as commend themselves to his own approval.
But if the doctrine in question has not been expressly "defined" or is not clearly proposed as an article of faith in the ordinary, authorized teaching of the Church, an opinion opposed to it is styled sententia haeresi proxima , that is, an opinion approaching heresy. Their system, replete with so many errors, had its origin in the wedding of false philosophy with faith " (Encycl. In the last instance, they appeal to the sacred voice of their individual conscience which forbids them outwardly to profess what inwardly they honestly hold to be untrue. (b) Spread of Heresy The growth of heresy, like the growth of plants, depends on surrounding influences, even more than on its vital force.